Monday, January 22, 2007

U.N.’s ‘Cash for Kim’ Scandal

Crossposted from The HILL Chronicles.

The U.S. Mission to the United Nations for digging into the going on’s of the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) in North Korea and uncovering streams of cash flowing via the UNDP to Kim Jong Il’s regime is more proof of the corruption that lays within the UN.

The story broke last week by FOX News and the Wall Street Journal, presents the U.N.’s new secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, with his first big test. Ban has responded by promising an “urgent” outside investigation of the global U.N. system, in which this latest scandal tips the continual scandal ridden UN.

Claudia Rossett writes:

The challenge now is to ensure that Ban’s proposed investigation does not turn into yet another ritual cover-up, but instead marks the start of a real clean-up, both within the UNDP, and well beyond.

Most immediately under the microscope is some $27.7 million spent by the UNDP in North Korea over the past decades — with stunningly lax oversight.

The U.S. is questioning the extent to which the UNDP has been providing “Cash for Kim,” as the Journal, in deference to the U.N.’s Oil-for-Food debacle, dubbed the scandal.

In a press conference on January 19, defending the UNDP’s actions as perfectly aboveboard, Associate Administrator Ad Melkert, the organization’s No. 2 man, said, “We’re not talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.” Then, he added: “Over a period of 10 years it is of course tens of millions.”

Actually, this scandal points to a great deal more than that, even if Ban focuses for now only on U.N. operations in Pyongyang. The UNDP, while serving as coordinator of U.N. programs in Pyongyang, is just one of about a half dozen U.N. agencies that have been operating in North Korea, including UNICEF, the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Food Program.

Combined, these agencies have poured close to $2 billion worth of resources into North Korea over the past decade or so, according to U.N. records. They have done this on terms giving Kim big opportunities to divert goods and charge fees for the benefit not of hungry North Koreans, but for his military and his gulag-running, missile-vending, nuclear-bomb-testing regime.

Of these billions in U.N.-dispensed largesse, the biggest portion by far has come via the World Food Program.

With the exposure of this latest scandal, the new Secretary General Ban’s promise of a system-wide audit of U.N. funds and programs is a huge improvement over the stonewalls of his predecessor, Kofi Annan. But the real issue here does not stop with the book-keeping. should Ban goes down this trail, Rossett says, "he will quickly confront a core failing of the UN — the chronic bias, in the name of helping the downtrodden, toward supporting the dictators who tread them down. At that point, he may have to choose whose side he’s on."

It is a shame that one must chose whose side he’s on - but it has always been that way. Good vs. evil; good vs. corruption; evil vs. character and integrity. We are soon to find out just what Ban is truly made of.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

North Korea misusing UN funds

Should anyone be surprised that North Korea is misusing UN funds? The UN, of course, didn't want anyone to know that they had misplaced their trust, so they've kept this abuse secret since 1999, at least.

If Mark Wallace hadn't been so insistent on seeing such "management tools" as audit reports, the UN could have kept this hidden.

"Wallace relates in his letter that whenever the auditors, contracted from the consulting firm KPMG, tried to discover what was going wrong, they were either limited in what they were allowed to investigate, or they were forced to accept “sham” audits done by the North Koreans themselves.
"The picture painted by the auditors, according to Wallace, shows a U.N. agency that 'operated in blatant violation of U.N. rules.'"

But why should the UN care if Kim Jong-Il takes that money and uses it to develop nuclear weapons? After all, most of it is US money, anyway?

Wallace sent a letter to Melkert asking for a full audit and outlining some of the problems he found.

"A representative speaking for Ban Ki-Moon announced Friday that in response to the allegations regarding North Korea and the UNDP, the secretary-general has called for 'an urgent, systemwide and external inquiry into all activities done around the globe done by the U.N. funds and programs.'" It's a start, but what will be done to punish North Korea? More empty threats of sanctions? This is yet another reason the US needs to pull out of the UN. no more US funding, no more headquarters in the US, and a lot fewer problems like this.

Hopefully Ban Ki-Moon will get the UN to thoroughly address the problem, but I fear it will continue to do more of the same.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sevan was charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit fraud

Crossposted from The HILL Chronicles

Former United Nations oil-for-food chief, Benon Sevan, 69, of Nicosia, Cyprus, was charged today with taking a $160,000 bribe to influence who could buy Iraqi oil under the scandal-tainted humanitarian program. This brings the number to 14 people charged in the case and hits at the core of the corruption that pervaded the oil-for-food program.

Sevan was charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit fraud. Sevan, who worked at the U.N. for 40 years, repeatedly denies any wrongdoing.

Federal and state prosecutors have also announced the indictment of Ephraim Nadler, 79, of New York City, on the same charges. Nadler, a brother-in-law of former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, was accused of helping someone obtain the right to buy Iraqi oil under the program in exchange for commissions from the oil sales. He then funneled approximately $160,000 of these oil commissions to Sevan.

Unfortunately for us both men are overseas. The United States has lodged warrants for their arrest with Interpol. Of course, not surprising is the fact that Sevan’s lawyer did not return any calls for comment on the situation. It still is unknown if Nadler has retained a lawyer.

Back in 2005, a U.N. appointed investigation accused Sevan of a conflict of interest in his handling of the oil-for-food contracts. Sevan resigned not long after from the U.N. and returned to his native home Cyprus.

It is also noted that Sevan may not be able to be extradited to the U.S. because the U.S. does not have a withstanding agreement with Cyprus regarding extradition. Convenient for Sevan but it is hoped that the U.S. and Cyprus will be able to work this out.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Persian War

I ran into an article from some obscure Euro-educated internationalist pacifist, named Adel Safty, and despite his not too subtle insults to American foreign policy, he made some valid points. But his alternative solution is more of the blind faith in internationalism that has ironically, consistently necessitated American military intervention.

The only reason I felt the urge to argue this obscure pacifist, is that his argument parallels the thinking of the American Left.

First, Mr. Safty argues the Bush administration has been planning and implicitly hoping for a war with Iran:
In January 2005, while US President George W. Bush was propounding the lofty ideals of his project to transform the Middle East, the campaign to engineer consent for a strike against Iran was in full swing.

Vice-President Dick Cheney stated that Washington's chief concern was not democracy, was not even terrorism, but Iran's "fairly robust new nuclear programme".

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported that American Special Operation Forces were already operating inside Iran...
And so on. Bush's ambition for a war with Iran is arguable, contingency planning is always a good idea -it's not like we don't have a reason to stop Iran, but for the sake of argument let's say Safty is right

Then Safty goes on to say how Bush has been weakened by elections, while bogged down in Iraq. But what about Israel:
An American strike against Iran under these conditions is difficult to plan for publicly; but an American-supported Israeli strike against Iran is not.

Israeli leaders seem to have reached a similar conclusion and began a concerted campaign of propaganda and intimidation.

Shortly after it became clear that Bush had been weakened by the outcome of the Congressional election in early November, Israeli accusations against Iran intensified.


Last week, a British newspaper revealed Israeli plans for a nuclear strike against Iran: "Two Israeli air force squadrons" wrote the Sunday Times, "are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear "bunker-busters". (January 7)

In November, Israeli writer Michael Oren wrote that Olmert came to Washington in search of a green light for a strike against Iran. "The light Mr Olmert received in Washington," he wrote, "was probably not green, but neither was it flashing red." (Wall Street Journal, November 15, 2006).
So what does Safty say about a possible American and/or Israeli war against Iran? Doom and gloom, regional instability, fall of American support, etc. But what does he say of Iran, its nuclear ambitions, its anti-American and anti-Semitic language; what does Safty say about the Iranian threat?

Nothing. It seems the only threat Safty is concerned about is an American or Israeli attack. I give you, in its entirety, hi
s highly-detailed, thoroughly-planned, and well-established "lofty ideals:"
The international community and the UN have a responsibility to save the region from another war.
Just like they did before the U.S. invaded Iraq. Or just like they did before NATO came in to bomb Serbia, and just like they did in Bosnia.

It is rather ironic, where the international community and the UN have responsibilities for the sake of preventing war, America steps in to save the international community.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

UN scandals will be judged

Cross posted from The Hill Chronicles:

Annan musing over his time in office, told his last news conference that the UN should not be judged by its scandals.

"The UN is a UN that co-ordinates tsunami relief, a UN that is pushing for equality and a UN that is fighting for human dignity and the rights of others."

That is most laughable. Consider how the UN does not consider Israel a charter member. Consider the anti-Semitism that transpired over 2006. It was Annan himself that blamed Israel for the Hezbullah lead war against Israel. What a dichotomy. Lets look at the UN scanals that will be judged.

Problems for the U.N.

Kofi Annan is gone, but his scandals remain: The United Nations said it would launch an investigation after the London Daily Telegraph reported allegations that U.N. personnel have abused children in southern Sudan.

If these were U.S. troops, it would be proof that Bush is Hitler, and America is evil. Since we’re talking about the U.N., though, it’s just one of those regrettable incidents that can’t be helped, really.U.N. Peacekeepers.

Ending Abuse by U.N. Peacekeepers

In recent years, there have been harrowing reports of U.N. peacekeepers and personnel, notably in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Sudan, committing crimes ranging from rape to forced prostitution of women and young girls. The numbers, as reported by senior U.N. officials, are shocking:

…319 soldiers, police or civilians serving on missions have been investigated for sexual misconduct over the past three years, and 180 have been dismissed or repatriated.

These numbers do not include allegations levelled at members of the U.N.’s own staff. According to an internal U.N. report, these total 91, including 13 alleged to have had sex with minors, 15 who gave jobs in return for sex, 17 who had sex with prostitutes, five who face allegations of rape and one person who is alleged to have committed sexual assault.

The victims of these crimes are refugees—many of them children—who have been terrorized by years of war and look to the U.N. for safety and protection. In addition to the horrors that these victims have suffered under the protection of the U.N., such revelations of sexual exploitation and abuse undermine the credibility of U.N. peacekeeping.

Indeed, a 2005 report described U.N. operations as deeply flawed and recommended a number of steps to punish misconduct, including withholding salaries and requiring nations to pursue legal action against perpetrators. The U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations adopted a new code of conduct and new training for U.N. personnel, and Secretary-General Annan declared a U.N. policy of "zero tolerance" for sexual abuse.

However, these policies have not greatly improved the situation. Although peacekeepers found guilty of misconduct or criminal activity are now dismissed and sent back to their countries, they are rarely punished. The model status of forces agreement for U.N. troop contributors clearly grants troop-contributing countries jurisdiction over military members participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations, and the U.N. does little when countries fail to investigate, try, and punish those guilty of such crimes. As a result, serious allegations continue to emerge, with the most recent coming from Sudan.

Sexual exploitation and abuse in U.N. operations undermines the credibility of U.N. peacekeeping and must be addressed through an effective plan and a commitment to end abuses and ensure accountability. Secretary-General Ban must make addressing the problem of sexual misconduct and abuse a priority.

Oil for Food Scandal

Oil-for-Food had its beginnings in the UN sanctions imposed on Iraq following Saddam Hussein’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. After the 1991 Gulf War, the U.N. imposed economic sanctions on Saddam’s regime. Concerned that the sanctions were hurting the people of Iraq, in 1996 the Security Council established the Iraq Oil-for-Food Program (OFP). Under strict U.N. control, Iraq would be allowed to export oil and import food and humanitarian supplies.

Over time, the program grew. Over seven years, $65 billion worth of oil was sold through the program and $38 billion of goods was imported into Saddam-controlled Iraq. Inspectors, monitors, and local bureaucrats oversaw oil sales, imports, and distribution of the humanitarian aid. The other $27 billion went to Kuwaiti war reparations, to the UN for administrative costs, and to Kurdish-controlled Iraq.

Saddam evaded and abused the sanctions program as much as possible. He smuggled oil out of Iraq. He demanded kickbacks from both sides of the OFP: purchasers of oil and suppliers of goods. The GAO estimates that he earned $10 billion from smuggling ($5.7Bn) and kickbacks ($4.4Bn).

The UN gives validity to zealots and bigots. It helps to keep tyrannical dictators in power. It gives a voice to international terrorists.

The U.N are bigots and anti-Semitic

Delay. Negotiate. Recommend. Study. Reconsider. Do nothing. This is the game the UN has played in nearly every international crisis. It is the reason North Korea remains a threat after 50 years. And it is the reason why a terrorist nation such as Syria can be given a seat on the UN’s Human Rights Council.

The UN is buried under scandals. It has Oil-for-Food scandals. Smuggling scandals. And theft scandals.

UN peacekeeping missions — with their record of rob, rape and pillage — can actually bring fear to the local citizens they are supposed to protect.

To have heard Annan speak of all these issues they are just rumors and lies skewed by misinformed people - the U.N. according to Annan is romanticized. But it will not matter, the U.N. will be judged - they are fooling no one.

by Layla Gonzalez
Copyright © 2006-2007

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Scandal Surrounds the UN

By Layla Gonzalez
(cross posted w/permission from The Hill Chronicles)

When isn't there scandal surrounding the UN? According to Fox News today Ban Ki-moon will not be appointing an American Under Secretary, which has traditionally always been held by an American.

In Press reports over this past weekend it was reported that Ban might choose Alicia Barcena of Mexico to head up the administration and management office, but that report has not been confirmed. Barcena has been tied to the "Oil for Food Scandal."

If this is not enough to cause controversy considering the United States is the highest funder of the United Nations, UN peacekeepers are being accused of raping children in Sudan.

The Daily Telegraph is reporting that there are 20 cases of sexual abuse by UN personnel in southern Sudan. They also stated that hundreds of children could have been abused. This is an atrocity of the worst kind.

In the wake of all the UN scandals still looms the blaring fact that it is the most despicable and dishonest organization and shames it's original founders who wanted to help those less fortunate.

Copyright © 2007 Layla Gonzalez