How Corrupt Is the United Nations?


zoofer
#1
Quote:


How Corrupt Is the United Nations?


Claudia Rosett

Recent years have brought a cascade of scandals at the United Nations, of which the wholesale corruption of the Oil-for-Food relief program in Iraq has been only the most visible. We still do not know the full extent of these debacles—the more sensational ones include the disappearance of UN funds earmarked for tsunami relief in Indonesia and the exposure of a transnational network of pedophiliac rape by UN peacekeepers in Africa—and we may never know. What we do know is that an assortment of noble-sounding efforts has devolved into enterprises marked chiefly by abuse, self-dealing, and worse.
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Is any of this likely to help? Behind the specific scandals lies what one of the UN’s own internal auditors has termed a “culture of impunity.” A grand committee that reports to itself alone, the UN operates with great secrecy and is shielded by diplomatic immunity. One of its prime defenses, indeed, is the sheer impenetrability of its operations: after more than 60 years as a global collective, it has become a welter of so many overlapping programs, far-flung projects, quietly vested interests, nepotistic shenanigans, and interlocking directorates as to defy accurate or easy comprehension, let alone responsible supervision.
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Staff numbers are likewise a matter of mystery. The new ethics office proposes to offer its services to 29,000 UN employees worldwide. That number is well short of the total staff of the Secretariat plus the specialized agencies alone, which, according to Malloch Brown, consists of some 40,000 people. And that figure itself does not include local staffs—such as the 20,000 Palestinians who work for the UN Works and Relief Agency (UNWRA) or the many employees, some long-term, others transient, at hundreds of assorted UN offices, projects, and operations worldwide, or the more than 85,000 peacekeepers sent by member states but carrying out UN orders and eating UN-supplied rations bought via UN purchasing departments. Whereas the number of UN member states has almost quadrupled since 1945 (from 51 to 191), the number of personnel has swollen many times over, from a few thousand into somewhere in the six figures.
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Kofi Annan was spinning a different story, telling a London audience that “only one staff member was found to maybe have taken some $150,000 out of a $64-billion program.”

This was an artful lie. The staff member in question was Benon Sevan, whom Annan had appointed to run Oil-for-Food for six of its seven years. If indeed Sevan took no more than this relative pittance, then Saddam Hussein scored the biggest bargain in the history of kickbacks. According to Senator Norm Coleman’s independent investigation into Oil-for-Food, the real figure for Sevan’s take was $1.2 million. Clearing up this discrepancy is difficult, however, because Sevan, who was allowed by Annan to retire to his native Cyprus on full UN pension, is outside the reach of U.S. law and has denied taking anything.
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The result of what Annan now placidly describes as “instances of mismanagement”—as if someone forgot to reload the office printer—was that Saddam skimmed and smuggled anywhere from $12 billion (according to the incomplete numbers supplied by Volcker) to $17 billion or more (according to the more comprehensive totals provided by Senator Coleman’s staff).

And what did Saddam do with those profits? What Annan describes as “instances of mismanagement” did not simply entail theft, corruption, and waste. They enriched and supported a tyrant and a mass murderer. Saddam used his UN-blessed loot not only to build palaces and buy luxury cars but also to provide patronage to loyal Baathists, reward Palestinian suicide bombers, and restock his arsenal, conventional or otherwise. .
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Then there is the saga of Annan’s son, Kojo, who turned out to have received more than $195,000 from a major UN Oil-for-Food contractor, Cotecna Inspection, after he had formally stopped working for it. In investigating Kojo’s UN-related ventures, Volcker came across the paper trail of a by-now famous green Mercedes: in 1998, Kojo had saved some $20,000 by buying this car at a diplomatic discount in Germany and shipping it duty-free into Ghana, all under the false use of his father’s name and diplomatic privileges and of the UN seal.


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Nevertheless, the UN negotiated terms with Saddam under which the Secretariat would collect 2.2 percent of his oil revenues to cover its costs in running and monitoring the relief program. With oil sales topping $64 billion, that meant $1.4 billion for the Secretary-General’s administrative spending over the seven-year life of the program. In other words, the UN Secretariat was being paid big money by Saddam to supervise Saddam—an intrinsic conflict of interest that surely played a part in the expansion and easy corruption of the program. On top of whatever bribery he managed to deploy, Saddam became for a time one of the largest direct contributors to the Secretariat’s budget. Publicizing itself as Saddam’s probation officer, the UN in effect became his business partner.
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On matters involving Israel and the Palestinians—unlike nuclear proliferation, this may be the UN’s one genuine obsession—hypocrisy has been outdone only by mischief-making and blatant anti-Semitism. UN programs set up to help the Palestinians over the past half-century have not only failed to produce decent lives but have helped create a culture of entitlement and violence—fueled in large part by the UN’s own anti-Israel agenda. The UN condemnation of Zionism as racism in 1975, finally repealed in 1991, was followed by the grotesque transformation of the UN’s 2001 Durban conference on racism into an anti-Semitic festival. The UN Security Council invites totalitarian Syria to take the chair, but democratic Israel has never been so much as allowed to hold a seat.

Then there is peacekeeping, which since the end of the cold war has been a boom area for the UN. Here again the expansion of UN missions has brought everything from widespread allegations of corruption to drug-dealing to rape and the sexual exploitation of hungry children—“Sex-for-Food,” as the columnist Mark Steyn has aptly put it. In large parts of the undeveloped world, the appearance of blue-helmeted forces has come to signal a warning: stay away, and keep your children away.

But neither have those blue-helmeted forces been visible when and where they might actually be needed. Provided with manpower plus a budget that ought to qualify the UN itself as a formidable military power, the organization stood passively aside during the massacres in Rwanda and Srebrenica and has yet to act in the case of Sudan. Indeed, it has yet to muster even the integrity to kick Sudan off its Geneva-based human-rights commission, which has doubled as a clubhouse for the world’s worst regimes. (Current members include China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe.)6

As for disaster relief, the record is similarly deplorable. When the tsunami hit Asia in December 2004, the U.S. and countries like Australia rushed to help the victims. The UN rushed to help itself. Demanding exclusive rights to direct the aid effort (and the money), UN officials warned loudly of a health crisis that never materialized, denounced the U.S. as “stingy,” and promised transparent use of funds. A year later, the Financial Times reported that, from what little could be gleaned of the UN’s largely incomplete or secret accounts, the organization’s expenditures on overhead (i.e., travel, hotel rooms, lavishly funded international talk-fests, and the like) were triple those of private charities.
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There will never be enough John Boltons to counter all of this—not that it was easy to come up with even one.
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—March 8, 2006

Claudia Rosett, a journalist in residence with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, is at work on a book about the United Nations in the age of terror. Her article, “The Oil-for-Food Scam: What Did Kofi Annan Know, and When Did He Know It?,” appeared in the May 2004 Commentary. In 2005 she won both the Mightier Pen award and the Eric Breindel award for excellence in opinion journalism.

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6 UN promises to “reform” have translated into a plan to replace the Human Rights Commission with a “Human Rights Council,” a largely semantic exercise. Attempts by Washington to hold out for genuine reform of this body central to the United Nations mandate have turned into an occasion for UN officials and others to criticize not the world’s worst human-rights offenders but the U.S.

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/ar...aid=12104031_1

 
Jersay
#2
This is a bunch of conservative anti-UN BS.

Health crisis, tell that to the hundreds of people who died in tsunami camps because of diseases before UN aid workers were able to clamp down on the situation.

I'm sorry for the author hundreds of thousands of more people did not die for that persons pleasure.

What about Abu Gharib of America, what about the 9 billion dollars missing from Iraq because of American contract workers.

What about the 2 billion missing because of the American administration that governed Iraq.

The U.N mistakes have been highlighted and there was reforms that was suppose to occur that was blocked by many nations, including the United States.

A bunch of BS.
 
zoofer
#3
LMAO.
BS?
Look in the mirror.
 
zoofer
#4
Quote:

The truth about the UN

David Frum, National Post
Published: Tuesday, April 11, 2006
'How corrupt is the UN?" That's the question asked by Claudia Rossett in the current issue of Commentary magazine. If any reporter on earth can offer a definitive answer, it is Rossett. A former editor at the Wall Street Journal, Rossett has led the investigation of the oil-for-food scandals -- and the broader issue of corruption at the United Nations.

The UN is a large and poorly understood institution. Although it declares a formal "core" budget of only US$1.9-billion per year, the UN and the various quasi-autonomous agencies under the direct control of the Secretary-General spend between US$8- and US$9-billion per year, or about the size of the Canadian defense budget. Semi-autonomous UN agencies like UNICEF and the UN Development Program spent US$8- to US$10-billion more, for a total of about US$18-billion.

The UN directly employs some 40,000 people. Local field staffs employ thousands more, among them the 20,000 Palestinians on the payroll of UNRWA, the agency created to serve Palestinian refugees. (Another agency, the UN High Commission on Refugees, serves all the rest of the planet's refugees.)

Rossett observes: "Little of this system is open to any real scrutiny even within the UN, and no single authority outside the UN has proved able to compel any genuine accounting."

The overthrow of Saddam Hussein, however, has cast some unexpected light upon the UN.

In 1990, the UN Security Council had imposed sanctions upon Iraq. Those sanctions remained in place after the Gulf War left Saddam in power -- and over time, they wrought great hardship upon the Iraqi people. In 1996, the Security Council created a humanitarian program, Oil for Food, that allowed Saddam to sell restricted quantities of oil to buy food and other necessities for the Iraqi people. The UN Secretary General accepted responsibility for overseeing and auditing the program to prevent abuse.

Over the next seven years, the Secretariat oversaw US$64-billion worth of transactions. The opening of the Iraqi archives after 2003 has revealed where this money went.

Between US$11-billion and US$17-billion was skimmed off by Saddam personally.

Money ostensibly spent for food was redirected to buy weapons. Thus, Saddam bought "milk" from a major Chinese weapons manufacturer. He purchased all of Iraq's supplies of "detergent" from the following list of countries: Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. He claimed to have imported Japanese cars from Russia.

The UN rarely questioned any of these transactions. Although the UN collected some US$1.4-billion over the life of the program in handling fees, the Oil-for-Food program spent less auditing Saddam's contracts than it did redecorating its own offices.

Why so uncurious? The head of the program received at least US$1.2-million in kickbacks from Saddam. Kofi Annan's son was paid US$195,000 by an oil-for-food contractor. And, Rossett reports, the UN's own inquiry into the scandal discovered that Canada's "Maurice Strong, a long-time UN Undersecretary-General, accepted in 1997 a check bankrolled by Saddam in the amount of US$988,885. Strong (who has denied knowing where the money came from) was then serving as chief co-ordinator of UN reform, no less."

Neither Annan nor the UN seem to feel much remorse over the Oil-for-Food scandal, or much urgency for reform. The disgraced head of the program continues to collect a UN pension.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated scandal, two senior UN officials -- including the head of the UN budget oversight committee -- have stepped down for allegedly accepting bribes in cases involving close to US$1-billion of procurement contracts. They were caught not by the UN, but by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Undeterred, UN officials continue to strike moral attitudes against the developed and democratic world. Remember how the UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland, blasted the U.S. as "stingy" after the December 2004 tsunami -- and then demanded that all aid donations flow through the UN and only the UN?

After examining the UN's customarily cryptic accounts, the Financial Times reported last year (as Rossett reminds us) that the organization ended up spending three times as much on overhead as private charities.

The UN could and should be a powerful force for good -- a place where democratic countries can work together to speak out on behalf of the conscience of mankind. Canadians have believed in the UN with special intensity. Too often, however, Canadians have tried to support their idealistic beliefs by refusing to acknowledge the truth about the UN -- by championing the UN-as-we-wish-it-were and not the UN as it actually is: corrupt, systematically biased against democracy, and often actively dangerous to world peace.

Those who still cherish the UN-as-we-wish-it-were need to stop making excuses for it -- and start working to change it.

http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/n...f-2e812308a7be

 
zoofer
#5
Quote:

Too often, however, Canadians have tried to support their idealistic beliefs by refusing to acknowledge the truth about the UN -- by championing the UN-as-we-wish-it-were and not the UN as it actually is: corrupt, systematically biased against democracy, and often actively dangerous to world peace.

Those who still cherish the UN-as-we-wish-it-were need to stop making excuses for it -- and start working to change it.

Ring a bell?
 
Jersay
#6
The UN is just as corrupt as any nation and conservative believers who despise the U.N and have no solution and don't want to help reform it only try to note its failures. But everything has failures, nothing will ever be perfect.

The U.N

feeds millions of people if not tens of millions that would die because individual nations would not do anything without a world force pushing it. With some of these famines, I haven't heard a peep out of the U.S once.

The U.N tries to demoblilize armies and tries to ban land mines. Which America still uses.

The United Nations has tried to end conflict, throughout the world and tries to uphold human rights. America, its human right record along with other nations would be worse with no guidelines.

Fact the United Nations has won the Nobel Peace Prize twice for the work it does in all its fields that it works in.

Does it have faults? Yes.

However, without the U.N the world would be in a worst off position today than with the U.N
 
cortezzz
#7
without the UN we dont have a hope in hell of establishing or enforcing an international order based on the rule of law
agreed -- these scandals should be exposed and dealt with-
AND the UNs work should continue

having said that im skeptcal about the figures and details simply because the US has launched a massive propaganda war against the UN--- since it percieves that the UN is making it difficult for it to find legitimacy for its own illegal rapacious wars of aggression and
imperialism

overall may gut feeling is that the levels of govermental and corporate corruption in the US----- is orders of magnitude greater than
that present in the UN
 
Jo Canadian
#8
Quote:

corrupt, systematically biased against democracy, and often actively dangerous to world peace.


I've heard the exact same reference to other institutions & administrations. The UN's main purpose on the modern stage seems to fill the role of whipping-boy or scapegoat to divert attention away from other groups that are being even more idiotic.



 
Jersay
#9
Exactly. Jo Canadian and Cortezz.
 
Toro
#10
Good article zoof. Telling it like it is.
 
#juan
No Party Affiliation
#11
comment | posted November 18, 2004 (December 6, 2004 issue)
UN Oil for Food 'Scandal'

Joy Gordon

The CIA's Duelfer report may have confirmed the gross falsity of the WMD claims invoked by the Bush Administration to justify its war against Iraq, but it has also triggered a feeding frenzy in the growing attacks against the United Nations. In January the Iraqi newspaper Al Mada published a list of people and organizations, including UN personnel, who supposedly received vouchers from the Iraqi government to purchase oil. In April the General Accounting Office (since renamed the Government Accountability Office) published a report claiming that the Oil for Food (OFF) program had been rife with corruption and that through smuggling and kickbacks, Saddam Hussein had managed to acquire more than $10 billion in illicit funds. A series of Congressional investigations followed, featuring conservative witnesses who pilloried the UN for incompetence, corruption and general unfitness. In the latest hearings chaired by Republican Norm Coleman, the committee staff claimed that Saddam's access to illicit funds totalled over $21 billion--twice the sum claimed by the CIA--and that the money went to terrorists around the world, not to mention (rather astonishingly) the post-Saddam insurgency.

If it is true that Benon Sevan, former head of the OFF program, accepted illicit oil vouchers, then that may well constitute fraud (although the evidence cited against him so far has been tenuous). But it would also have been in direct violation of clear UN policies--hardly an indicator of institutional corruption.

Rarely mentioned, either at the hearings or in the press coverage, was the fundamental distinction between the policies established by the Secretariat and the UN agencies and those that result from decisions of particular member states within the highly politicized Security Council. For example, the CIA report says that the bulk of the illicit transactions were "government to government agreements" between Iraq and a few other countries, for trade outside the OFF program. According to the report, they resulted in income to Iraq of $7.5 billion.

CONTINUED BELOW
The largest of these arrangements was with Jordan--revenue from which totaled about $4.5 billion. This trade arrangement was the single largest source of Iraqi income outside the OFF program. From 1990 until the OFF program began in late 1996, "Jordan was the key to Iraq's financial survival," according to the report. Why didn't "the UN" do something about it? Because the Security Council--where the United States was by far the single most influential member--decided in May 1991 that no action would be taken to interfere in Iraq's trade with Jordan, America's closest ally in the Arab world.

Likewise, the maritime smuggling that took place under the nose of "the UN" in fact took place under the nose of something called the Multinational Interception Force, a group of member nations that responded to the general invitation of the Security Council for nations to interdict Iraqi smuggling. The "UN" Multinational Interception Force turns out to have consisted almost entirely of the US Navy. The commander of the MIF was at every point, from 1991 to 2003, a rear admiral or vice admiral from the US Fifth Fleet. The United States contributed the overwhelming majority of ships--hundreds in fact. Britain provided the deputy commander and some naval forces and other countries contributed a few ships. The UN itself provided no forces or commanders. "The UN" failure to interdict Saddam's tankers of illicit oil turns out, in nearly every regard, to have been a US naval operation.


The much-vaunted kickbacks on import contracts also turn out to be not quite as advertised. Saddam, the claim goes, inflated the price of import contracts by 5 to 10 percent, then received the difference in cash from the contractors. Thousands of contracts, stretching over years, were involved; how could the UN have been so incompetent as not to notice? In fact, prices inflated by only 5 or 10 percent were difficult to detect precisely because the amounts were so small and often within the normal range of market prices. But when pricing irregularities were large enough that they might have indicated kickbacks, the UN staff did notice. On more than seventy occasions, the staff brought these to the attention of the 661 Committee, the Security Council body charged with implementing the sanctions. On no occasion did the United States block or delay the contracts to prevent the kickbacks from occurring. Although the United States, citing security concerns, blocked billions of dollars of humanitarian contracts--$5 billion were on hold as of July 2002--it never took action to stop kickbacks, even when they were obvious and well documented.

Far from giving Saddam a free hand, the OFF program involved extensive monitoring and oversight. The government of Iraq first had to submit a list of every single item it hoped to purchase in the coming six months, and the UN staff had to approve the list. Once Iraq had signed a contract with a vendor, the contract was circulated to UNSCOM (later UNMOVIC), to see if there was anything that could be used for military purposes. Every member of the Security Council had the opportunity to review every contract, and each member could block or delay any contract for imports. Every member of the Security Council also had to approve every contract for the sale of oil. If there was cash paid under the table, it did not happen for lack of oversight. It happened despite the most elaborate monitoring system imaginable. And if the members of the Security Council--including the United States--failed to do their job, that is not the fault of Kofi Annan.

The Duelfer report, along with eight sets of Congressional hearings, vitriolic press coverage and considerable ranting by the right, suggest an antipathy toward the UN that goes well beyond election-season maneuvering. The consequences of this scandal will be considerable. We witnessed the ill-fated decision to invade Iraq without Security Council authorization; we might recall that the Security Council would not grant the American demand to authorize an invasion, precisely because the United States was unable to provide any compelling evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. If the world's most respected institution of international governance is rendered impotent by accusations as distorted and exaggerated as these, we should all fear the consequences

Edited as link skewed page
 
Jersay
#12
America will lose its war against the United Nations, since it is pretty crappy at its job of World policeman.

And since the U.N is well respected around the world, why the U.S isn't I can only see one clear victor.
 
Jo Canadian
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by Toro

Good article zoof. Telling it like it is.


You know man, there's telling it like it is, then there's telling it like it is according to your own idiom.
(in other words what color of the sky is in that little world)

The UN is not as perfect as I'd like it to be but it certainly does make a difference.

That article serves the same purpose as blinders do on a horse.
 
Toro
#14
Hey Jersay

If the UN wants to be the global policeman, go for it!

Americans don't want their soldiers getting involved in wars they have nothing to do with.

And good luck!
 
Jersay
#15
The UN is already the world's global policeman with soldiers from various countries in over 60 missions, helping people all over the world.

And has a better success rate than America it seems.
 
Toro
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by Jo Canadian

Quote: Originally Posted by Toro

Good article zoof. Telling it like it is.


You know man, there's telling it like it is, then there's telling it like it is according to your own idiom.
(in other words what color of the sky is in that little world)

The UN is not as perfect as I'd like it to be but it certainly does make a difference.

That article serves the same purpose as blinders do on a horse.

Sounds like you're telling it like it is through your own idiom.

The UN is a corrupt, bureaucratic talking shop, employing the offspring of corrupt leaders from around the world.

The majority of its members are not democracies. Why should we put stock in a so-called democratic institution where most of its members don't allow its own citizens to vote?

It makes a difference in things like UNICEF. And it has had some success in peace keeping. But it has been an abject failure in places like Sudan.
 
cortezzz
#17
with respect to democrasies--
its still better to have representation --even if a government isnt--- democratic
that a governmant is not democratic--- does not--strangly enough completely discredit it--

and its a DYNAMIC thing---
the struggle is towards some kind of democratizing rule as best and as encompassing as possible---
nations states vary according to how far along they are in process---
as im sure youll agree we ourselves have a way to go
remember-- the UN-league of nations was born out of a reaction of the unspeakable horrors of ww1 and ww2--
the prevention of illegal wars-- its first priority

the US-- the founding member of the UN
has become almost antithetical to the institution--- largely because --- it doesnt have all the control over it that it would like to

for all its talk about democrasy-- it doesnt seem to be able to or want to play that game at an international level
 
Jersay
#18
Absolutely right cortezz.
 
Jo Canadian
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by Toro

Sounds like you're telling it like it is through your own idiom.

Yeah, so. I see the good and the bad, the successes and failures. You're out there with the tar and feathers and ye olde posse lookin for a tree for yur rope.

Quote: Originally Posted by Toro

The UN is a corrupt, bureaucratic talking shop, employing the offspring of corrupt leaders from around the world.

Boy, you've nailed every democratic and non democratic regime in the world with that one.

Quote: Originally Posted by Toro

The majority of its members are not democracies. Why should we put stock in a so-called democratic institution where most of its members don't allow its own citizens to vote?

The world is full of different people, if we were needing an institution to work globally it would make sense to cover the variety of differnences in the world and not seem exclusive.

Quote: Originally Posted by Toro

It makes a difference in things like UNICEF. And it has had some success in peace keeping. But it has been an abject failure in places like Sudan.

At least your seeing some of its successes, but what I find confusing is that there's not much to hear about the UN until there's some sort of big problem pressing down on the US administration, suddenly there's a renewed fervor on bashing the UN. When delivered like that its sometimes hard to take seriously.
 
darkbeaver
Republican
#20
The UN must become what it was intended to be.
 

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