MAY 21, 2009
The scandal-plagued world body that supposedly strives to protect human rights can’t even resolve shameful sexual harassment complaints within its organization.
Long the pillar of fraud, corruption and severe mismanagement, the United Nations has never the less benefitted from tens of billions of U.S. tax dollars for its worldwide missions. Among them is maintaining international peace and security and, particularly, guarding human rights.
It turns out that the U.N. has struggled to deal with an embarrassing string of sexual harassment complaints within its own ranks, according to an expose published this week by a major newspaper. It reveals that the U.N.’s system for handling complaints is arbitrary, unfair and mired in bureaucracy.
Several women who complained of harassment say they faced retaliation and many U.N. managers escaped punishment because they have diplomatic immunity from criminal prosecution or civil litigation, leaving the agency’s dysfunctional internal justice system as the sole method to solve cases.
When sexual harassment concerns first surfaced last year U.N. Secretary Ban K-moon issued a stern warning that all discrimination, harassment—including sexual harassment—and abuse of authority is prohibited. The U.N.’s official public policy is zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace, which hasn’t served as much of a deterrent.
This marks the latest of numerous scandals involving the 60,000-employee United Nations. Over the years corrupt diplomats have been jailed for taking bribes, most procurement contracts are tainted with waste and corruption and peacekeeping troops systematically violate the human rights of the people they are charged with helping.
Among the U.N.’s most famous scandals was the Iraq oil-for-food program, created to bring food and humanitarian goods to the Iraqi people. Instead, it was a $64 billion scam operated by corrupt bribed officials and thousands of companies that paid Saddam Hussein illegal kickbacks while the U.N. stood by silently.
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