Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Annan and his U. N. digging deeper hole

More shoes drop on Kofi Annan and the staggering United Nations. Those people must feel like they're sitting under a well shod millipede. First comes Sen. Norm Coleman who is co-sponsoring a bill with Sen. Richard Lugar to withhold dues to the U. N. if reforms aren't instituted. With Lugar, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on board, the bill is probably a done deal. It's nice to see Dick Lugar getting off his dead ass for a change.

And, as if to put an exclamation on the point that the U.N. is in need of fresh leadership and an extreme makeover, comes this report that the U. N.'s United Nations Development Program, working through yet another U.N. agency called Program of Assistance to the Palestinian People, gave money to the Palestinian Withdrawal Committee to "help the Palestinian Authority communicate to the populace about the withdrawal and its economic and social impact." Think of the salaries and overhead involved here. Anyway, The Palestinians spent the money to produce thousands of banners, signs, mugs and T-shirts reading, "Today Gaza and Tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem." All part of a campaign by the Palestinians to portray Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip as a great victory for the Intifada. The U.N.'s defense? UNDP spokesman, William Orme, said that the UNDP was not told about the propaganda campaign or about the slogan. In other words, the U.N. had no idea where the money was to be spent. Great.

Oh, but that ain't all, not by a long shot. Carina Perelli, head of the U.N.'s Electoral Assistance Division, has been formally charged after a review into claims of an abusive and sexually offensive environment in her division. Perelli had been under investigation since April, after a U.N.-commissioned management review quoted staff as saying "sexual innuendo is part of the `fabric'" of the Electoral Assistance Division. She is also being investigated for permitting some staff to spend electoral money on inappropriate travel and to pay for a university degree for one worker.

All this in addition to sexual harassment charges against U.N. refugee chief Ruud Lubbers, forcing his resignation, formal criminal charges of accepting kickbacks in the massive Oil-for-Food scandal against Benon Sevon, forcing his resignation (after a two year paid vacation in Australia), investigations into Kofi Annan's son's involvement in the Oil-for-Food scandal, investigations of Kofi Annan's brother for accepting bribes in the U.N. procurement division, a guilty plea for accepting bribes by procurement officer Alexander Yakovlev, and numerous well documented charges of sexual exploitation and pedophilia by U.N. peacekeepers in Congo, Bosnia and elsewhere. Whew!

Sen. Coleman says, "If they don't put in place a system of management reform that provides for greater accountability ... they're not going to be worried about withholding of money, they're going to be worried about Congress simply not appropriating money. That's what's going to happen." To explain the significance of that threat, Congress can appropriate the money but withhold payment until satisfied with reform progress, which would include Annan's resignation. If Congress gets angry enough to refuse to appropriate money, then the gigantic, tottering U.N. bureaucracy would be S.O.L. for 60% of its operating budget for a full year. Ouch! I would hazard a guess that if the U.N. bureaucrats really thought that 60% of them were going to get the ax, it would be Annan, anon..

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