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September 04, 2003
The United Nations

Is the UN a failure?

UN fails to rally Sierra Leone force
U.N. Fails to Censure Sudan's slavery
United Nations fails in Angola
UN fails to guarantee justice and human rights in East Timor
Un Fails To Agree With Taliban On Bread For Poor
UN fails to wrap up genocide trials deal
UN fails to protect the displaced in Angola
UN fails to resolve Kashmir dispute
U.N. Fails to Condemn Rights Abuses
UN fails to agree on date to tackle North Korea
UN fails to secure border
UN Fails To Act On Gay Rights Proposal

I've been among those complaining that we should work with the U.N. instead of, you know, unilaterally invading other countries and stirring up a hornet's nest of hate against the USofA

It's hard to find details of the inner workings of the U.N., but I've been looking into their recent history.

Human Rights Abuses Rampant at United Nations-Run Mental Health Facilities in Kosovo, Finds New Report

Rape and sexual assault, physical violence, gross neglect and other human rights abuses are widespread in United Nations-run institutions for people with mental disabilities in Kosovo, according to a new report by Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI), "Not On the Agenda: Human Rights of People with Mental Disabilities in Kosovo" will be released at a news conference...

Kosovo has dropped out of the news headlines but there was a time, not that long ago, when the USofA public seemed to care about what happened there.

A Miasmia of Corruption: The United Nations at 50

by Stefan Halper, a former White House and State Department official, is a nationally syndicated columnist.

>Executive Summary

The United Nations is under increasing attack by critics in the United States and other countries. At the heart of the organization's mounting problems is an almost total lack of accountability, which gives rise to suspicions of wholesale corruption. Existing evidence indicates that corruption and mismanagement go beyond the routine fraud, waste, and abuse of resources that mark all public-sector enterprises.

UN budgets are shrouded in secrecy, and the actual performance of the myriad bureaucracies is translucent, if not opaque. There is no reliable way to determine whether the various and often competing specialized agencies (at least two dozen UN agencies are involved in food and agricultural policy) are doing their jobs, and many UN activities, even if they are of some value, can be carried out better and more efficiently by other groups. Other activities should not be undertaken at all. Available evidence coupled with the United Nations' unwillingness to undergo a thorough audit raise serious questions about its mission and the means used to carry it out. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's rationale that the world body is accountable to all its 185 member-states is meaningless. Such an amorphous standard of accountability is akin to saying no one is responsible.

The United Nations is in dire need of reform, starting with a comprehensive, independent audit. Even if a complete audit were performed, however, there is no guarantee anything would be done about the problems identified. And radical change may not be possible, no matter how obvious the need. Given all the earlier, failed attempts to put things right, even on a limited basis, optimism about meaningful reform may be an exercise in wishful thinking.

I think it's unquestionable that this organization needs to be changed if, indeed, and as I've heard from more than one source, the money paid by each nation is simply...spent. With no accountability, no requirement to produce anything in the way of results and, in fact, little in the way of definite outcomes actually defined most of the time.

THE UN DURBAN CONFERENCE ON RACISM

Large forests must have been chopped down to make enough newspapers for the stories about the UN conference on racism in Durban S Africa. The journalists wrote about the Middle East, Israel, slavery and the US-Israel pullout from the conference. The real story behind these stories was not covered. Maybe it was not politically correct. It is a story of how the UN itself came to organize this conference. What motivated the UN to organize a conference that was clearly designed to agitate hatred towards the US, Israel and other western countries and then to extort $billions from many of these countries because of slavery that occurred 200 years ago?

There is no parliament or opposition at the UN and they cloak their ambitions in the guise of human rights -- which to those living in dictatorships means exactly nothing.

The general assembly has 53 voting members from Africa compared to 3 voting members from North America. Therefore not only can these developing countries claim the moral high ground but they can also dictate the schedule of UN events -- conferences on racism, millennium assembly, the Earth Charter, the International Criminal Court. They also want the UN peacekeepers to solve their political problems and be involved in the various civil wars in Africa -- 30 wars in 30 years. They are not pleased that the Americans, the Canadians and other peacekeeping countries have pulled out of Africa. This displeasure and hatred is displayed continually in a hundred ways at the UN but is seldom if ever published in the media. It is not politically correct. It was on full display at Durban.

This UN conference demonstrated once again that the United Nations has now evolved into an organization of pressure groups and rogue nations with a clear mandate to disturb and agitate global events. These groups and countries claim the righteous moral high ground because they are mostly dictatorships where a loud dictator can distract people from their real issues of poverty, AIDS, famine, disease and hunger. These Third World dictatorships by themselves are insignificant but organized as a group at the UN, they may influence unknown future global events. It could be compared to playing poker with a mafia kingpin. You just don't know what is going to happen but you know it will not be good. If you are politically correct you will let him win everything.

If, as it appears, the General Assembly of the UN has turned into a rogue organization, then this organization should be curtailed before it is allowed to upset peaceful global events. Democracy should be a requirement for membership in the UN.

I'm not way impressed with the hatemongering here but there are a few nuggets worth considering.

Like the USofA, the UN is a representative body.

Unlike the USofA, there's no system of checks and balances. Aside from the Permanent Security Council members, I'm unaware of any attempt to construct an actual, workable political body out of the UN members. Purely population-based (or country-based) membership does, in fact, give a larger voice to those small countries who choose to band together. That wouldn't be as bad if they were banding together to demand that the UN do good in the world, but is that what happens?

HAS THE UN GONE MENTALLY ILL?

The concept of the United Nations was initially sold to the world as an assembly that would act as a goodwill ambassador in the resolution of conflict between sovereign states. Unfortunately nowadays, despite the platitudes and words, the UN seems inclined to dominate the world and extort billions from developed countries.

There is no parliament or opposition at the UN and they cloak their ambitions in the guise of human rights -- never individual rights. They want the UN peacekeepers to be involved in the various civil wars in Africa -- 30 wars in 30 years. Even though they want these UN soldiers to be called peacekeepers, they want them armed to the teeth with the most modern weapons -- even tanks.

Developed nations began scaling back their participation in UN peace missions following UN failures in Somalia and Rwanda in the early 1990s. This has caused bad feelings within the UN.

My memory is letting me down. I just don't know enough about the history of these conflicts to make a judgment. I do know that USofA involvement in African countries has far too often developed as the actions of private corporations seeking profit. Overthrowing governments, repressing rebellion, and other charming pasttimes, you know, but the UN's involvement is something I don't know the specifics of.

Choosing Engagement - Uniting the U.N. with U.S. Interests. William H. Luers.

FIXABLE FLAWS

First, however, the United Nations must honestly assess its own strengths and weaknesses. Limits on its efficiency partly stem from its multinational character. The 188 member states reduce General Assembly activities to interminable speech-making, while their demands for a quota of U.N. jobs hamper the secretary-general and other agency heads in selecting staff according to merit. But there are signs of genuine reform. A recent report from the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) gives high marks to Secretary-General Kofi Annan for improving the quality of staff and putting in place effective management practices. The U.N.'s financial weakness severely limits its capacity to respond to new challenges and prepare for unanticipated ones. At American congressional insistence, for example, the U.N. Secretariat's budget has been frozen at about $1.3 billion for the past four years. After accounting for inflation and delayed or defaulted payments by the United States and other nations, this means that the U.N. has far fewer funds to meet greatly expanded obligations.

Much of the financial weakness undermining the U.N. could be cured by a unilateral U.S. decision to pay its dues. Arrears in U.S. peacekeeping funds make up the lion's share of Washington's U.N. debt. These arrears largely result from the chronic skirmishes between the executive and the legislative branches. Both branches agree that a reduction in the U.S. assessment for peacekeeping must be achieved but differ on the strategy by which to achieve it. Despite recent efforts to improve coordination on peacekeeping needs, Congress has held up more than $200 million in peacekeeping monies for 2000 that was already in the budget that it had appropriated. Moreover, it seems likely to approve for the 2001 budget a sum substantially below what will be required for next year's higher peacekeeping costs. A large portion of the arrears ($658 million) that a Senate agreement was to settle -- provided that the U.N. members met American conditions -- will go to reimburse other states for their troops' role in peacekeeping operations.

If we've committed the money, we should pay it, but do we actually want to put funding an organization who refuses to account for their expenditure of the funds front and center while we so desperately need the twelve bucks Bush left us in tax revenue to fund several billion dollars worth of domestic projects?

Don't Take the UN Too Seriously

In their speeches before the United Nations both President Bush and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in different ways and probably for different purposes, made a couple of mistakes that could easily come back to bite them. The chief mistake was to take UN resolutions and statements by diplomats and political leaders too seriously, too literally. World affairs are always greased by a certain level of hypocrisy, by a reasonably shared understanding that most of the participants donít really mean what they are saying. If they did, they would probably make even more mischief for those over whom they claim authority than they do already.

Ponder these ideas while I go teach two people to use a system I spent two months documenting and still don't quite understand myself.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:01 AM


Comments

Jesse Helms, in one of his better-intentioned actions, launched a lengthy jihad against the bloated corruption and unaccountable spending of the UN bureaucracy. He took much abuse in the media for his efforts.

Helms succeeded in making a dent in the most egregious abuses because the UN secretariat wanted the US to start paying 25 % of the bills again. However, in the last analysis all that was achieved was some effort at self-restraint by the UN so as not to antagonize powerful critics in the US Congress. More or less, the UN is free to staff itself with intelligence operatives and career kleptocrats who are taking a break from looting their home countries.

Yes, in the field UN workers take great risks and do good works but these folks are not be confused with the top-heavy international bureaucrats who run the place in NY.

Posted by: mark safranski at September 7, 2003 01:47 PM