June 17, 2004

U.N. Oil for Food - more info

Claudia Rosett has another excellent article on the U.N. Oil for Food scandal. (Hat tip to Kim DuToit for the link) bq. Turtle Bay's Latest Coverup The U.N. investigates itself--again. bq. In a stunning development that even the United Nations' fiercest critics will surely hail as a turn for the better, Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced yesterday that he is "entirely disgusted" with the way the U.N. investigates itself. "It's a way of deflecting criticism, not solving problems," said Mr. Annan, adding that "The U.N. Secretariat has become a secret society, swathed in privilege and shielded by immunities. WOW! Plain speaking from the head weaseal - let me check the temperature in Hell... Her next paragraph: bq. Just kidding. This is raw fantasy; Mr. Annan never said any such thing. In the real world, in the best tradition of setting bureaucratic backfires, the U.N. has now labored mightily, in collaboration with Deloitte Consulting LLP, to add one more item to the recent series of U.N. self-investigations--this one an inquiry into the U.N. Secretariat's perception of its own integrity. The resulting public document, which runs to 90 pages but somehow omits what were reportedly some lurid individual responses, was posted recently on Mr. Annan's U.N. web page under the title "United Nations Organizational Integrity Survey 2004." Dang! We can hope can't we. And what _is_ the U.N. doing about the current scandal and the possibility of future problems? bq. But all this is really just prelude to the true import of this U.N. investigation, which lies in Mr. Annan's proposal for the next step. And therein resides the art of the U.N. investigation. bq. Does Mr. Annan recommend throwing open the Secretariat's operations to daylight? No, that belongs to the realms of the fantasy above. bq. Does Mr. Annan propose that as boss of the entire shop, he himself should be held accountable for the failures, mistrust and fear of reprisals? Dream on. bq. Instead, as is customary, Mr. Annan says that most of the problems are now (and forever?) being fixed: "Many of the actions proposed can be linked to actions or processes already under way." He goes on to propose another action or process, this plan being to convene yet another group "to guide the process of follow-up to the survey." This bunch--let's skip the full names of the U.N. agencies and just zip through the acronyms--will include the Deputy Secretary-General and senior U.N. officials from the DPKO, DGACM, DESA, DM, OHRM, UNODC, UNEP and ECLAC, all to be supported by "a consultative group consisting of a wide cross-section of staff at different levels both from New York and from offices away from headquarters." bq. In other words, having gone so far as to discover that Secretariat staff don't trust the top management and are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals, Mr. Annan's response will be to convene a group of top managers and invite staff members to speak out. At some point they'll probably issue another report, and then everyone can do it all again. Disgusting. They need to be moved out of N.Y.C. and over to Belgum. Marginalise them more than they are now. Being in N.Y.C. gives them more credibility than they deserve... Posted by DaveH at June 17, 2004 10:16 AM