Saturday, October 06, 2007

UN hit by tsunami

Back when the first inklings of the UN ‘Oil for Food’ scandal were surfacing, Indonesia and the Indian Ocean region were swamped by a massive tsunami.

Perhaps given the distraction of the Iraqi frauds or simply the compassionate need to get aid to those caught in the tsunami, the UN avoided a second major scandal, until now.

Certainly there have been mutterings about donations not reaching intended recipients. Part of the problem was Indonesia’s own reluctance to allow outside agencies to disperse aid. Especially to problematic provinces such as Ache.

Now there are claims of reconstruction funds worth $US500 million are being lost to fraud and corruption because of the failure by the United Nations to implement its own anti-fraud measures.

On top of this, a former deputy director of the United Nations' internal investigation arm claims only the liar, fraudster and nepotist can survive the UN's culture. Francis Montil says "Once one enters the international civil service, one is obliged to abandon the reality that the world outside is not at peace."

I have long defended the UN, essentially for want of something better. Many of its agencies do have long records of valuable and worthwhile contribution. But somehow, it now seems the rot has eaten too far into the dream.

Not that I believe the UN is a conspiracy, it is after all the sum of its parts, the collection of the worlds nations and their politics. But beneath that is a growing body of evidence that the organisation has developed its own sick internal corruption.

Among the allegations Montil makes are:

- Kofi Annan appointed UN secretary-general despite presiding over two genocides.

- American film star Angelina Jolie is inappropriately touched by the UN refugee chief.

- A Russian UN staffer has pleaded guilty to money laundering.

- UN officials in the secretary-general's office tried to discredit an American woman who made allegations against the UN refugee chief.

- A Bangladeshi peacekeeper escaped prosecution despite raping a 13-year-old boy.

- The UN ignored allegations of widespread corruption after the Indonesian tsunami.

Coming from a former insider, the charges are disturbing, to say the least. We could expect such charges against the World Bank or IMF, after all they were established as self serving organisations. The UN encapsulated loftier dreams, and now they are dissipating as truth emerges.


abi said...

I agree, these things are disturbing. But the UN does do a lot of good in the world, especially for children, so I'll keep rooting for them and hope they clean house and get past this.

Cartledge said...

Abi, it has been those agencies like UNICEF that influenced my giving the UN the benefit of a doubt.
It has been a big shift for me to really start doubting the value of the organisation. Not a happy understanding...