Ruud Lubbers

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Ruud Lubbers
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In office
1982 – 1994
Preceded by Dries van Agt
Succeeded by Wim Kok

Born 7 May 1939
Political party Christen-Democratisch Appèl

Dr. Rudolphus Franciscus Marie Lubbers or Ruud Lubbers (born May 7, 1939) was prime minister of the Netherlands from 19821994. A political conservative, Lubbers was regarded by many during his time in office as an ideological heir to Margaret Thatcher; one of his campaign slogans was: "meer markt, minder overheid" (more market, less government). After that, he was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, from 2001 until February 20, 2005, when he resigned because of continuous press attention about an allegation of sexual harassment. In July 2006, Lubbers acted as informateur of a new cabinet, after the second Balkenende cabinet handed over its resignation to the Dutch Queen.

Contents

[edit] Life and career

Lubbers was born in Rotterdam. He studied economics at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and was a student of the first Nobel Prize Laureate in economics Jan Tinbergen. As suggested by the title of his 1962 thesis - "The influence of differing productivity trends in various countries on the current account of the balance of payments" - his main interest was in monetary affairs. He originally planned an academic career, but was compelled by family circumstances to join the management of Lubbers' Construction Workshops and Machinery Fabricators Hollandia B.V.

From 11 May 1973 to December 19, 1977 he was Minister of Economic Affairs in the Den Uyl-government and a member of the Catholic People's Party (KVP). He was an effective, if sometimes somewhat bad-tempered minister. He chose to return to Parliament on the formation of the Van Agt-government in 1977, becoming Senior Deputy Parliamentary Leader of the CDA, the alliance between the KVP and the other two main denominational parties. His career got an unexpected boost when the leader of the parliamentary faction of the CDA, Willem Aantjes, had to resign in 1978 on accusations that he served in the Germanic-SS during the Second World War. Lubbers took over the position of Aantjes and suddenly found himself in a powerful political position.

In 1982 after the general election won by Prime Minister Dries van Agt, a similar thing happened when Van Agt suddenly announced he would not be available for a third term. Lubbers took over the post, a position he held three successive governments through to 1994, making him the longest serving prime minister in the history of the Netherlands.

Major aspects of his time in office:

  • Extensive cutbacks in public spending
  • The launch of far-reaching deregulation and privatization programs
  • A massive demonstration in The Hague (1983) against the planned installation in the Netherlands of nuclear-armed US cruise missiles (which was cancelled after all due to arms reduction talks between the US and the Soviet Union)

After leaving office, was put forward as a candidate for the head of NATO, but the US vetoed his appointment.

From 1995 to 2000, he taught Globalization Studies at Tilburg University in the Netherlands and at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in the United States. He was also vice-chairman of the Independent World Commission on the Oceans and chair of Globus, the Institute for Globalization and Development based in Tilburg.

On January 1, 2001 he became the ninth United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He succeeded Mrs. Sadako Ogata of Japan. In October 2003, his three year term was extended for another two years, to December 31, 2005. He annually donated some $300,000 to the refugee agency since he assumed his post in 2001, thereby covering his own $167,000 annual salary and travel expenses. He resigned for this job on February 20, 2005 due to a sexual harassment allegation.

[edit] Sexual harassment allegation

In May 2004 the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) has launched an investigation into an allegation by a 51-year-old American female administrator in the human resources department of the refugee organisation, that Lubbers had harassed her sexually while she left a meeting in December 2003. The OIOS expanded the investigation and questioned many UN personnel to determine if there was "a broader context." Lubbers claimed he just made a friendly gesture and that it was a misunderstanding, possibly caused by a colleague who jokingly gave the gesture a sexual connotation. The woman waited more than four months before filing a formal complaint.

In May 2004, OIOS reported confidentially to Secretary General Kofi Annan. The report found Lubbers guilty of sexual harassment. [1] However, on July 15, 2004, Lubbers was declared innocent by Kofi Annan, though Annan was critical about the way Lubbers handled the situation: he wrote a letter asking the woman to withdraw the allegation, and promised that in that case the matter would have no negative consequences for her. Some argue that this could be construed as a threat in the case that she would refuse.

John Danforth, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, during review in the General Assembly of the OIOS annual report stating they had substantiated the complainant's claims and the investigation had found Lubbers guilty of misconduct, asked Annan for clarification on declaring Lubbers innocent.

The woman appealed the Secretary-General's decision, but later withdrew the appeal stating little good could come from 5 to 7 more years of battle in the UN's internal justice system which seriously handicaps unprotected staff who bring irregularities to light.

In February 2005 the matter resurfaced after The Independent obtained a copy of the OIOS report and based a publication on it. The woman alleged that Lubbers had grabbed her and thrust his groin into her buttocks and held her in that position. Lubbers states that the woman made this up, that it must have just grown in her mind. He claims that he just ushered the woman out of the room with his hand on her back, like he still does with female friends, but he is now more cautious towards other women. Lubbers said the claims were slanderous and he would not step down. But on February 20, he resigned, though maintaining his innocence, and complained in an emotional farewell speech to UNHCR staff that he had been "raped and raped and raped" and that the handling of the case had added insult to his injury.

[edit] Honorary doctorate

On September 6, 2004, Ruud Lubbers received an honorary doctorate from the Radboud University Nijmegen.

[edit] External links

 
Prime Ministers of the Netherlands Image:Flag of the Netherlands.svg
Kappeyne van de Coppello | Van Lynden van Sandenburg | Heemskerk Azn. | Mackay | Van Tienhoven | Roëll | Pierson | Kuyper | De Meester | Heemskerk | Cort van der Linden | Ruijs de Beerenbrouck | Colijn | De Geer | Gerbrandy | Schermerhorn | Beel | Drees | De Quay | Marijnen | Cals | Zijlstra | De Jong | Biesheuvel | Den Uyl | Van Agt | Lubbers | Kok | Balkenende
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Ruud Lubbers

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