Praise for Perez de Cuellar

In the Opinion page article rez de Cuellar's Legacy at the United Nations," Jan. 7, the author gives the impression that the United Nations staff do not regard former Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar very highly and blame him for the low morale so obvious throughout the international civil service.

I want to point out that the General Assembly was not alone in giving him a standing ovation; at its own well-attended farewell ceremony, at which I listed some of the ways in which he had stood by us, the staff gave him three standing ovations, the first of which lasted more than two minutes.

As the author reports, I have said that staff morale is at its lowest ebb ever; Mr. Perez de Cuellar's representatives themselves pointed that out. But I do not blame him for that.

In his statement at our ceremony, Perez de Cuellar said the following:

"In recent years you have faced massive staff cuts and reorganization. I have seen your conditions of service deteriorate despite the best efforts of my administration to defend them. It is a peculiarity of our organization that the authority for the establishment of conditions of service lies outside the administration. It is intergovernmental machinery that is the arbiter. Management, however, must propose and recommend, and this I have always tried to do."

Had the author been present at our farewell ceremony, it would have been clear to him that we do not blame Perez de Cuellar for the morale crisis at the United Nations. The fault lies elsewhere, and the reluctance of some member states to meet their financial obligations has a lot to do with it. Ronald Hewson, United Nations, N.Y., President, UN Staff Union

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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