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.