We’ve hit another of those seasons in which it’s simply getting hard to keep track of the UN scandals, outrages, hypocrisies, chronic nonsense and spectacular failures of the moment — between the allegations of Guns-for-Gold, Cash for Kim, diamond smuggling in Zimbabwe, fraud at the World Meteorological Association, the recent conviction of the head of the UN budget oversight committee for laundering kickbacks in cahoots with a UN procurement officer, the current bribery trial of another UN procurement officer, the lingering and massive questions still surrounding Oil-for-Food; as well as Zimbabwe heading the Commission on Sustainable Development, Iran re-elected to the Disarmament Commission, the obscene and useless “reformed” Human Rights Council, and the rolling series of peacekeeper sex scandals. Plus, of course, the chronic failures to help North Korean refugees or stop the genocide in Sudan — and, naturally, the gross failure to prevent North Korea from getting the nuclear bomb and Iran from pursuing it full tilt.
If you go to the official UN web site, it’s not much help in getting a handle on all this. Today I was browsing through the highlights in which the UN is busy condemning, urging, promoting, responding, you-get-the-idea, including such announcements as “Sport Can Produce Valuable Results in Development and Peace — UN Official” (the sports nuts of the dictator brat pack come to mind; for instance, Leo Mugabe, Seif Qaddafi and the late Uday Hussein).
While we should perhaps give credit that the UN with its $85 million-plus annual budget for public information has chosen thus to honor the visions of George Orwell, or perhaps Franz Kafka, there is a need for a web site that does a better job of organizing the UN news of the day. We already have one terrific resource, Eye on the UN , which provides documents and commentary (disclosure: this includes some of my own articles). But there’s still room for a site that breaks down the latest developments into basic categories, easy to follow — for instance, “Sustainable Sex Scandals,” “Cover-Ups in Progress,” “Bribery and Kickback Cases,” “Failed Resolutions to Contain Rogue States” (maybe these should also be made available in tastefully printed boxed sets) and “Hypocrite of the Week.”
Lest that sound negative, there should also be a section devoted to genuine good works and real heroes. The pity, of course, is that there are good people within the UN system — many of them much distressed by what goes on around them — but they work for an institution that is in violation of the same human rights standards to which it gives lip service, and if you add a section praising them by name — “Honest Defenders of the UN Mandate” — they’d be at risk of losing their jobs.