Such a parcel of rogues in the United Nations
WAKEN up and smell the Kofi scandal: that has become the preoccupation, focus or spectator sport among the caviar connoisseurs in the United Nations headquarters in New York and their implacable enemies in the newly renascent Republican Party.
The real scandal is that the UN was not discredited and dissolved many years ago: there is no organisation in the world more hypocritical, greedy and power-hungry (although the European Union is coming up fast on the outside lane). Insofar as the United Nations has any significance, it is as a sinister template for future World Government. Its strength has been to exploit the guilt complex of western citizens, posing as a vehicle of material improvement for poor countries and as a forum of world ‘peace’, while cynically pursuing its supremely selfish agenda. Nave young people who have never been exposed to religion embrace the UN’s secular, one-world, brotherhood-of-man cant as a substitute.
It is all as phoney as the similar fraternal slogans of the Nazis and the Communists. If you hear news of any catastrophic famine in Africa or Asia, you may be sure the delegates of the nation concerned are swilling champagne and guzzling foie-gras in New York in solidarity with their emaciated countrymen. The latest corruption scandal is typical of this merciless indifference to suffering among the world’s poor. The Oil-for-Food scheme aimed at permitting Saddam Hussein to export a limited amount of Iraqi oil, exempted from economic sanctions, to enable the rgime to buy food and essential medical supplies for the population.
This scheme began in December 1996 and continued until the fall of the dictatorship. The Iraqi people, however, did not benefit. Saddam did a deal with the administrators of the programme and with France, Russia and China, enabling him to evade sanctions while lining the pockets of his collaborators. The UN administrator of the scheme, Benon Savan, reported directly to his chief, Kofi Annan. Savan has been accused of siphoning off half of the 14 million barrels of oil allocated to the UN as its fee. Kofi Annan’s son Kojo had worked for Cotecna, the Swiss-based company that was awarded the main contract, and last week it emerged that he was still receiving money from Cotecna while the programme was in operation.
The scam that took place was on an almost unimaginable scale. It only came to light as a consequence of the capture of Iraqi government documents at the fall of Baghdad. By April this year scandalised critics were claiming, in good faith, that the amount of the embezzlement was as much as $10bn, the greater part of which went to Saddam Hussein. They were wrong: the latest estimate is $21bn. During the period of the scheme the infant mortality rate in Iraq soared, hospitals festered and the population starved.
Why is anybody surprised? Graft and corruption is the leitmotif of the United Nations. Soldiers of the UN peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone were accused by Human Rights Watch of systematic rape of women. In Bosnia, UN police stand accused of trafficking in young women from eastern Europe as sex slaves. Staff of UN relief agencies and peacekeepers have similarly been denounced for sexual abuse of refugee children in Liberia and Guinea. On October 28 this year, a report from the UN’s in-house watchdog revealed that Kofi Annan had personally dismissed the claims by an American woman staff member of sexual harassment at the hands of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, overruling the findings of an independent UN investigative panel that endorsed the allegations.
Yet nobody talks the feminist talk like the UN. Despite these sordid realities, its International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) is claiming that its $500,000 budget is inadequate for its important work and a further $1.31m is needed. The reaction of any woman in an area of conflict to the sight of a blue beret provides a more realistic assessment of how the organisation is regarded by those who have direct experience of it.
Human rights is another great UN shibboleth. Yet its interpretation of this subject is eccentric, to say the least. The repeated re-election of Cuba to a seat on the UN Human Rights Commission epitomises the moral tone. The Castro rgime, since 1959, has imprisoned more than 100,000 people and shot 16,000. Never say the UN apparatchiks lack a sense of humour. So far as western ‘progressive’ opinion is concerned, the only human rights abuse ever to have taken place in Cuba was in the Guantanamo Bay compound.
The United Nations neither wishes nor is able to protect human rights. In Bosnia, 600 Dutch UN ‘peacekeeping’ troops stood by as hundreds of civilians were killed in Srebrenica. During the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s, the UN spent more than $75m on building and refurbishing apartment blocks for its administrators and aid workers, while its failure to assemble vehicles for transport left vital food supplies rotting on the dockside. Nor has it learned any lessons: in the recent crisis in East Timor, the UN spent more than $50m putting up hotels and supermarkets for hoped-for tourists, while ignoring the need for hospitals and welfare projects.
Yet this mouse roars, on occasion. Not long ago, two UN agencies called for the criminalisation of those who criticise the homosexual lifestyle ("Pope John Paul II? You’re nicked, sunshine!"). Since such a law would criminalise a billion Catholics and almost as many Muslims, the prison-building programme that it would necessitate would dwarf all the UN’s previous construction follies. The organisation’s ambition to prohibit criticism demonstrates where it stands on free speech - squarely alongside Red China, a permanent member of the Security Council. Today, Britain is the fourth largest contributor to this Disneyland of corruption. Can we find no better beneficiary for our money?
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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