UN Critic Testifies Before US Senate Committee
Claudia Rosett, veteran journalist of international affairs testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on June 20, 2006 unmasking the “secrecy, lack of accountability, abuse, and corruption” of the United Nations organization.
Rosett’s testimony touched on many areas of UN corruption and secrecy. Commencing her appeal of “UN Headquarters Renovation: No Accountability Without Transparency” she highlighted many areas of weakness within the United Nations infrastructure and uprooted the overwhelming lack of transparency within the organization.
The heart of Rosett’s testimony is that the UN is shrouded in such a secrecy that it is a disservice to those around the world which it supposedly serves. Her account of “generic UN documents” in regards to the Oil-for-Food program shows that Saddam Hussein was purchasing large quantities of “detergent” from terrorist affiliated counties. Through these documents it is clear that something in the relief program had run awry, and if the data were clearer, it may have led to an earlier discovery of the scandal that allowed Saddam to generate over $10 billion in illegal revenues.
The UN feeds the world bits and pieces of the whole story, said Rosett, leaving the population starving for details. Internal monitoring and handpicked employees have led to a myriad of scandals through the years. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been at the eye of the storm while scandals have swept through the UN. Rosett claims, “It was only after Congress had scheduled hearings, in the wake of damaging press reports, based on confidential documents found in Baghdad and leaked to the media, that Mr. Annan conceded the need to authorize an ‘independent’ investigation.”
Paul Volcker headed up the investigation of the UN and found that Benon Sevan, personally selected by Annan to be director of the Oil-for-Food program, had “corruptly profited” from the program.
As more scandals are uncovered, the United Nations has limited access to the general public. The UN website, which once contained several years of “minimally informative” documents, currently allows the web user to view the past eighteen months of data. When the press probes for details, the UN usually solicits a “confidential” or “refusal” statement, often stating that an “ongoing,” “underway,” or “over”” investigation silences them.
Currently the UN infractions read like a laundry list. Rosett testified: “[T]his judicial reform commission found that the UN, in its treatment of its own staff, is in volition of the human rights standards it prescribes for others. In effect, the UN has become a sort of aspiring super-state which lacks anything resembling a healthy judiciary.”
The United Nations has listened to the criticism of infractions and, in January, launched an Ethics Office. Keeping with true UN tradition, the Ethics Office is an internal office that appears to already be infected by the UN’s susceptibility to corruption.
Rosett remains steadfast in her resolve to uncover the wrongdoings of the UN. “The UN represents, among other things, a poorly supervised and very large pot of money, combined with a logo that confers diplomatic immunity, a variety of special privileges, and a calling card recognized around the globe.”
To read Claudia Rosett’s June 20, 2006 testimony in full, please click here.