UNITED NATIONS – Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) said Monday he plans to remake his top team following the departure of several key members and criticism about U.N. management of the U.N. Oil-for-Food program (search) for Iraq.
After a year of headlines about alleged corruption in the U.N. program, Annan indicated he will install a new team as he starts his final two years at the helm of the United Nations (search). He had already announced plans for a series of changes at the top, but Monday's comments indicated plans for a more extensive shakeup.
Earlier this month, Annan said that Mark Malloch Brown, the administrator of the U.N. Development Program, would take over as chief of staff on Jan. 19 from his retired right-hand man, Iqbal Riza of Pakistan.
Annan said Malloch Brown, a media savvy and highly respected former World Bank (search) executive, would help lead initiatives to improve U.N. performance and overhaul its management.
Undersecretary-General for Management Catherine Bertini, who has been criticized by the U.N. Staff Union, and Controller Jean-Pierre Halbwachs are also leaving.
According to widespread reports, Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast will step down, and possibly replace the U.N.'s top Mideast envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, who left to head the International Peace Academy, a New York think tank.
Annan announced Monday that Peter Hansen, the head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the Palestinian relief agency, will also leave.
He named U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to replace Carol Bellamy, who this spring will end 10 years as head of the U.N. Children's Fund, which works in 158 countries to protect children's rights.
"I have made some changes and more are on the way," Annan said.
He said it was a combination of a management overhaul and the departure of key people.
"Several people were going to leave anyway ... so I decided to take a look at the whole team," he said. "It offered an opportunity to rethink the team and remake the team."
Annan said he also planned to take action following the release earlier this month of more than 50 internal audits of the oil-for-food program by U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, who is leading a probe into its operation.
The audits noted lapses in U.N. oversight and management, implying these could have led to Saddam Hussein's government skimming hundreds of millions of dollars from the program.
"I saw Mr. Volcker's comments on the audit reports which indicates we have work to do in the management area," Annan said. "We need a clearer management and clearer transparency which I intend to work on, and I will be making some proposals and taking some action very shortly."