THE US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has warned the United Nations that it must urgently reform itself if it is to survive as a significant force.
Rice said Washington needed to lead changes to fix an institution dogged by scandals over corruption in the Iraq oil-for-food programme and sexual abuse by peacekeepers.
Speaking to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Rice said:
"As important an institution as it is, one has to say that there are some things that are not so great about the United Nations right now. Everybody recognises that, and we’ve got to fix it."
Rice was especially critical of internal UN decisions such as allowing Sudan to sit on the world body’s human rights commission.
Rice’s State Department deputy, Robert Zoellick, toured Sudan’s ravaged Darfur region last week. Government-aligned Arab militias have ransacked villages in Darfur and an estimated 180,000 have died in fighting or its aftermath.
Rice also hit out at recent scandals over the UN oil-for-food programme in Iraq.
More than 50 internal UN audits of the programme have detailed how UN agencies squandered millions of dollars through overpayment to contractors, mismanagement and employee fraud.
"It is no secret to anyone that the United Nations cannot survive as a vital force in international politics if it does not reform," Rice said.