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Friday 19 December  
Ruud Lubbers in 2007
Iain Macintyre's picture
New York, United States of America
New York, United States of America

Sexual harassment case continues to haunt former Dutch PM

Published on : 2 June 2010 - 9:09am | By Iain Macintyre (photo: ANP)
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UN employee Cynthia Brzak has decided to pursue her case of sexual harassment against former Dutch prime minister Ruud Lubbers and asked the US Supreme Court to revoke his diplomatic immunity. Ms Brzak submitted the request together with a colleague.

She claims she was indecently assaulted by Mr Lubbers in December 2003 when he was UN High Commissioner for Refugees and she worked for the UNHCR personnel department. The then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan found against Ms Brzak but reprimanded Mr Lubbers for sending her a letter while the internal UN investigation was still taking place, warning her that her job could be at stake if she didn't withdraw her complaint.

Mr Lubbers resigned when this became public in February 2005. Ms Brzak's job at the UNHCR was abolished the same year. She claims Mr Lubbers worked behind the scenes to exact his revenge and she took her case to the US courts.

In March this year, a court of appeal in New York dismissed the case on the grounds that UN personnel enjoy diplomatic immunity. If the Supreme Court takes the case, a verdict is not expected until after the summer.

Mr Lubbers continues to insist that the alleged indecent assault was simply "a friendly gesture".



claudej 15 July 2013 - 6:37pm / USA

Whatever the outcome of the case, I congratulate the women who have spoken out against sexual harassment. They took many risks that affected their personal livelihoods in order to force a change within the system.

jallen1128 13 July 2013 - 6:14pm / USA

While the UN this week is full of talk of women's rights, the UN has repeatedly invoked immunity to fight of the sexual harassment lawsuit of Cynthia Brzak, most recently in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. The UN not only said it is "absolutely immune against such cases, it also gave the impunity to former UN system employee Ruud Lubbers.

Anonymous 7 June 2012 - 4:15am / Canada

This man is such a creep. If he is accused of these sexual harassment cases, what other sex scandals could he be involved in? We've heard of the after, what about the before and during his time as Prime Minister? There is no doubt in my mind that this so-called "Stallion of Rotterdam" has abused his positions of authority to take advantage of women. Disgusting.

JohnN 5 October 2010 - 3:39am / Canada

Very doubtful that money is the motive for Ms Brzak's complaint, but given the confirmation by UN investigators that Lubbers did indeed engage in "unwanted touching" of staffer Cynthia Brzak following a December 2003 meeting in Geneva, there should be justice for both her, for Angelina Jolie - and for many other women who have suffered sexual harassment in the UN. It is a systemic problem that must - and will- be addressed given the political realities in America, in Holland, and even in the UN proper.

sandraV 2 June 2010 - 2:01pm / Nederland

I get the feeling that somehow money will be the motive of this womans case in the end.

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