By: David Eisenberg
Pace International Law Review, Junior Associate
Peter Galbraith, the United Nations former second-highest ranking official in Afghanistan, brought legal action against his former employer for his alleged wrongful termination on September 30, 2009. Mr. Galbraith’s termination is believed to be closely related to his ongoing quarrels with Kai Eide, the Norwegian diplomat heading the Afghanistan mission. In addition to conflicting with Mr. Eide on a series of issues, the dispute culminated when Mr. Galbraith exposed voter registration fraud in the Afghani President election on August 20, 2009.
Prior to his dismissal, Mr. Galbraith had written a letter to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in which he accused Mr. Eide of concealing fraud in the election that ultimately led to the re-election of incumbent President Hamid Karzai. More specifically, Mr. Galbraith accused Mr. Eide of downplaying credible reports of widespread fraud, preventing United Nations staff members for stepping in to avoid the fraud, and effectively siding with Mr. Karzai at critical junctures of his campaign.
Mr. Galbraith’s legal action is premised on the belief that he was wrongfully dismissed from his position at the Afghani mission, especially in light of the fact that his contentions about the voter registration fraud were eventually proven accurate. Mr. Galbraith claims that the United Nations is trying to damage his reputation with unfounded and untruthful allegations. For example, Mr. Galbraith claims that statements made at an October 12th press conference, in which he was accused of proposing unconstitutional solutions to the Afghani crisis, are wholly without merit. Martin Nesirky, a spokesman for Secretary General Ki-Moon, recently came out with a statement in which he declared that Mr. Galbraith was terminated by Mr. Ki-Moon because such action was in the best interests of the organization. Mr. Nesirky then stated, however, that he could not elaborate on the situation any further because Mr. Galbraith was challenging his dismissal.
The legal action brought by Mr. Galbraith will be dealt with by the United Nations’ own independent and internal justice system.