As Blix leaves office Annan lauds UN arms inspectors steadfast integrity

“Few United Nations officials have demonstrated the calm, grace and professionalism that you have in the face of virtually unprecedented pressure and attention over the past several months,” Mr. Annan said in a letter to Mr. Blix, who had served as Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission for Iraq (UNMOVIC) since January 2000.”Your steadfast integrity, objectivity and sound judgment were an asset to the organization and the international community as a whole,” Mr. Annan wrote in the letter that was made public today at UN Headquarters in New York. Earlier in June, after Mr. Blix presented his final report to the Security Council, members of the 15-nation body also paid tribute to his leadership and dedication in guiding the work of UNMOVIC in pursuit of the disarmament of Iraq. As of 1 July, UNMOVIC’s Deputy Executive Chairman, Demetrius Perricos, will serve as acting head of the UN weapons inspection team. Today was also the last day in office for another senior UN official, Under-Secretary-General Kenzo Oshima of Japan, whose work as UN Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator was highly praised by Mr. Annan.”Whether responding to drought in Africa, conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, prolonged food shortages in the Democratic Republic of Korea, or natural disasters in many countries, your efforts to alleviate suffering always showed great skill and sensitivity,” the Secretary-General wrote in a letter to Mr. Oshima, who will be replaced by Jan Egeland of Norway.”Your professionalism and strong commitment to the ideals of the United Nations endeared yourself to colleagues throughout the world,” Mr. Annan added.