Kofi Annan takes fall for UN

Here’s something you don’t see everyday…

Updated! See Bottom
A “leader” taking the hit for his own transgressions, and that of his organization.

Before I start, I want to make one thing clear, this post has two parts. They are equal in value and equal in their criticism towards the two “leaders”. Just to make that clear, I see no difference between the two.

So on to Leader #1 “taking the hit”,

“This report unambiguously rejects the notion that business as usual at the United Nations is acceptable,” he said.”

Mr Annan said the findings were “deeply embarrassing”.

“The inquiry committee has ripped away the curtain, and shone a harsh light into the most unsightly corners of the organisation.

“None of us – member states, secretariat, agencies, funds and programmes – can be proud of what it has found.”

So the question becomes, will Kofi Annan announce his resignation when the UN meets in coming weeks? I certainly think he should… he has at least indicated that he is embarassed of the reports findings, so what else can and should he do.

Nothing. He’s got to be out of there.

So now comes the moment of irony and hypocrisy… come on, you knew it was coming… it’s the UN!

Paul Volker, former US Fed chief, and leader of the inquiry said, “that the problems were not an aberration but ran deep in the UN, which had been designed 60 years ago in a “simpler time”.”

He also said, “”Our assignment has been to look for mis- or maladministration in the oil-for-food programme, and for evidence of corruption within the UN organisation, and by contractors. Unhappily we found both,”

Alright.. here’s the kicker,

“Responding to the report, the US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, said it demonstrated that the credibility of the UN depended on those reforms.”

yet last week the word was,

“The [US] administration opposes language that would urge those council members not to use their vetoes to block intervention in states where such crimes are being perpetrated.”

This is precisely one of the key reforms that would bring the UN out of it’s 60 year-old time capsule… and remember that the US,

“would eliminate new pledges of foreign aid to impoverished nations, scrap provisions that call for action to halt climate change and urge nuclear powers to make greater progress in dismantling their nuclear arms.He has also objected to language that urges nations to observe a moratorium on nuclear testing and to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty”

So really, where is the reform going to come from exactly? Dumping Kofi Annan and a few of his cohorts certainly isn’t going to change anything.

It seems to me that a lot of people at the UN, including the US, are simply paying lipservice to this report and to the calls for reform generated by the populace and member states.

Next week during the summit we’ll see just how serious Kofi Annan was, and just how persistent member nations will be to force through the reforms that are so desperately needed to modernize and legitimize the UN.

On to Part 2:

There is another level of irony and hypocrisy here as well, something I touched on yesterday.

And that is the currently unnoticed scandal perpetrated by the Coalition Provisional Authority while Iraq was under their (and by extension, US) control.

All the same elements as those in the UN scandal are there on the surface for the CPA. One look at the story in the Guardian makes that quite clear.

So where is the call for inquiry?
Where is the call for justice?

What is the difference between Saddam building himself palaces in Baghdad with money gained from illicit trade… and an American official or contractor keeping a bit of a “nest egg” for himself?

THIS is the reason people are so cynical about government… this inherent hypocrisy in the system.

When will George Bush say that he is “embarassed” for what happened?

When will George Bush announce his resignation as I hope, and actually expect, Kofi Annan will?


Abu Aardvark has an excellent rundown of the 1000 page report and picks out the important conclusions in a concise manner.

Please, if you have any interestt at all in UN reform… READ THIS. (and then come back and talk about it. 🙂 )

6 replies on “Kofi Annan takes fall for UN”

  1. Well, WEBSENSE is preventing me from accessing the link you provided but I’m not in total disagreement with some of your suggestions and/or predictions.

    Personally I think the scope of the damage of the OFF scandal is the more severe of the two situations. Saddam was the main beneficiary of the corruption, it saved his regime, he went on killing and persecuting his own people, he totally circumvented his punishment for the invasion and terror ridden occupation of Kuwait, his people did not receive the humanitarian relief they so deperately needed. I must admit I haven’t studied the most recent money scandal so I’m not ready to make a judgement but I will as more time is available and more news is publicized.

    As for your prediction or suggestions, I don’t believe for a minute that Annan will resign. His admission of embarrassment will be as much as we get from him. I also don’t believe for a minute that any meaningful reform will take place at the UN. Too many vested interests will be damaged by such reform and we all know that those in power don’t go quietly.I believe that the UN will go on as it is for the better part of the 21st century. Just my opinion to be sure but it’s a good a guess as any.

  2. “WEBSENSE is preventing me”

    odd… I’d love to see the list of sites they do allow…

    “Saddam was the main beneficiary of the corruption”

    I’d say yes and no… not because Saddam didn’t benefit from the corruption… because he did… but rather because he benefited far more from illegal oil trading with Jordan and other countries. Trading that was alllowed, not by the UN.. but rather by certain powerful member states. You’ll see when you read the Aardvark article (or the report itself)

    “I don’t believe for a minute that Annan will resign”

    I am ready to be surprised… I do think though that Annan is an old-style politician in some ways, and as such, when the fire gets too hot, he’s going to get out. I may be giving him too much credit… but in a way.. at least he’s had the tenacity to show remorse and embarassement and call for action.

    ” believe that the UN will go on as it is for the better part of the 21st century.”

    That could very well happen… and if it does.. well you know as well as I that nothing good would come of it.

  3. My employer has websense in place for broad categories of sites such as “Message Boards and Clubs” or “shopping” (as well as the more common types such as porn or such). So if a site is catoragized as such, we can’t access it via our PC. We have library PCs where sometimes the block is lifted but not for message boards ever. I was able to access the indepundent and several other sites here at work but after a time the technology dept noticed I was spending time there and blocked it. They will probably do that to your site one of these days when they notice I’m coming here a lot.

    I hope that Annan is honorable enough to step aside although I’m not of the opinion that he is all that corrupt or evil. He seems like a reasonably good person but you have to be very strong in character to avoid being sucked into conspiracies of corruption IMO. He is not the only one to be sure who should go if the UN really wants to get a handle on this. Here in the States, just looking at the endemic corruption in Louisiana which every 10 or 20 years get’s a housecleaning and subsequently reverts in a year or two to business as usual is enough to raise your cynicism level to scoff at the idea that permanent solutions will be put in place.

    I’d love to be surprised and see the UN become a really important force for good in the world. I really would. But it seems to me that things don’t get better until melt-down occurs in a corrupt environment. And the UN is not in melt-down crisis. although all can see that it is extremely corrupt. It is in crisis but still in band-aid solutions mode as far as I can see.

  4. He seems like a reasonably good person but you have to be very strong in character to avoid being sucked into conspiracies of corruption IMO.

    When you read the notes at Abu Aardvark I’m sure you’ll like the part about Bhoutros Bhoutros Gali…

  5. Re: missing money in Iraq. I predict that a lot of that money has gone to Iraqis who either work for the Iraqi government or the CPA. I’m certainly in favor of finding out what happened and meting out punishment whereever deserved.

    I read the link. I must confess that both you and the author of the Aardvark site are much better informed than I on UN matters. For instance, I’m not sure why you highlighted the reference to Boutros Boutros Galli. I think I’m too tired on Friday evenings to muddle my way through the more complex matters of which I’m woefully uninformed in the first place. Sorry to confess but I dont always have an argument to refute your biased 🙂 opinion.

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