You would think that with managing the Oil for Food scandal, working to undermine U.S. foreign policy, pushing for global taxes and advocating a sweeping restructuring of the Security Council, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan would be going out of his way to avoid creating more problems for himself and the world body.
Not so much.
On October 28, a report from the U.N.s in-house watchdog revealed that Annan personally dismissed sexual harassment charges made by an American female U.N. staffer against the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, overruling the independent U.N. investigative panel that had backed the womans claims.
According to spokesman Fred Eckhard, the Secretary General "found the allegations unsustainable on a legal basis." An Agence France-Presse wire story reports that when "pressed to explain what that meant, a visibly irritated Eckhard replied: Legal basis, legal basis, legal basis."
(Is it just us, or does this sound an awful lot like "no controlling legal authority?" Maybe Eckhard attended the Al Gore school of public relations.)
In response, Edward Patrick Flaherty, the attorney representing the accuser, told The New York Times, "This demonstrates that there are two sets of rules at the U.N., one for the protected class and one for the rest. [The High Commissioner] is part of that class. My client is not."
That sounds about right. The first class, of which the High Commissioner is a distinguished member, includes those U.N. employees and officials who engage in nepotism, corrupt activities and abusive behavior. The second, apparently shrinking class, includes those U.N. employees who work hard trying to pursue the world bodys ideals and objectives.
Its increasingly clear that, like his allegedly lecherous colleague, Kofi Annan is part of the corrupt class. In this case, Annan went to a great deal of trouble to pardon a senior U.N. official who, at least according to the U.N.s investigative panel for such matters, was guilty of sexual harassment and was quite possibly a repeat offender.
Previously, the senior U.N. official in charge of the U.N.-Iraq Oil for Food program allegedly took bribes from Saddam Husseins regime. Meanwhile, Annans son helped an outside contractor win a lucrative Oil for Food contract from the world body.
The stories out of the United Nations are sounding like a broken record, with one report of corruption following another. The U.N. leadership increasingly appears to be little better than a multinational kleptocracy. And its clear that no matter how Herculean the efforts of the committed, hard-working U.N. employees, the world body is doomed to fail in anything and everything it pursues.November 11, 2004