The rumblings of corruption within the United Nations have been heard for years, but an almost universal worship of the UN for its noble purpose seems to have suppressed the truth until now. Perhaps it was not this “worship” but instead Kofi Annan’s mastery of politics and media relations. In either case, the truth is that currpution has run amuck in certain UN programs. At last, with Annan now out of the Secretary General seat, it seems that the the suppression of these damaging stories is beginning to unravel. The first blow came in the form of the indictment early this week of Benon Sevan by U.S prosecutors for “taking illegal commissions from an Egyptian oil trader in exchange for helping him secure contracts to purchase Iraqi oil” (International Herald Tribune). Sevan headed the UN oil-for-food program until 2003. The same series of investigations, headed by former Federal Reserve official Paul Volcker, came up short in substantiating claims that Kofi Annan’s son Kojo engaged in corruption as an employee of an oil-for-food program contractor; however evidence sugggests that a massive coverup operation on the part of UN officials had a significant effect on this finding (Capitalism Magazine). Thus, the Sevan indictment was the first indictment related to the oil-for-food scandal.
And now another scandal appears poised to rock the UN. Fox News today reported that North Korea has been the beneficiary of tens of millions of dollars in UN development aid since 1999, funds which audits show may have never been used for their intended purposes. According to the Fox News article,
NEW YORK — Has North Korean leader Kim Jong Il subverted the United Nations Development Program, the $4 billion agency that is the U.N.’s main development arm, and possibly stolen tens of millions of dollars of hard currency in the process?
According to a top official of the U.S. State Department — using findings made by the U.N.’s own auditors — the answer appears to be a disturbing yes, so far as UNDP programs in North Korea itself are concerned.
And just as disturbingly, the U.N. aid agency bureaucracy has kept the scamming a secret since at least 1999 — while the North Korean dictator and his regime were ramping up their illegal nuclear weapons program and making highly publicized tests of intermediate range ballistic missiles.
Most disgusting is the fact that this story was brought to light by U.S. investigators, while the UN itself failed to recognize this slap in the face of the transparency it would like to pride itself in. The sense one gets is that much, much more lies beneath the surface. It is time to bring it out. Kudos to the U.S. diplomatic team responsible seeking the truth. If the UN is to honor its charter, it should at least be able to attempt the impossible without being hampered by massive corruption. And yet, this august conference of nations appears to suffer all the maladies of our own Washington, District of Corruption, muliplied by its international scope.