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April 20, 2005

UNSCAM UPDATE: Everything old is new again:

Yet more scandal at the United Nations? Secret deals, millions in bribes, leading to billions in global kickbacks? What to do?

Have no fear, reform is here. The United Nations has already put in place a sweeping set of improvements, with Secretary-General Kofi Annan reorganizing and streamlining the world body to bring about, according to a U.N. reform dossier, "a culture of greater openness, coherence, innovation and confidence." A blue-ribbon panel has "set more stringent standards for judging the performance of peacekeepers, in the field and at Headquarters." And there is now a system for dealing with U.N. staff, that "gives more precedence to merit and competence and less to tenure and precedent."

All of which sounds terrific. Except that the reforms cited above, heralding the new era of openness, coherence, competence, integrity and improved peacekeeping are all plucked from a U.N. dossier released almost three years ago, in June 2002. These reforms were shepherded through by Mr. Annan starting in the late 1990s, with the help of his handpicked special adviser, Undersecretary-General Maurice Strong.

In the course of telling the press on Monday that he "cannot recall a single instance" of contact or discussion with officials responsible for the scandal-plagued Oil for Food program, Mr. Strong did confirm that he has been friendly for years and had a business relationship back in 1997 with a Korean, Tongsun Park. Mr. Park achieved prominence in the 1970s as the go-between who shuttled hundreds of thousands in bribes from the regime of former South Korean dictator Park Chung-Hee to assorted members of the U.S. Congress, in the scandal that became known as Koreagate. . . . U.S. federal prosecutors charged Mr. Park last week with accepting some $2 million from Saddam Hussein to convey yet more millions to two (so-far unnamed) high-ranking U.N. officials in an effort to shape the 1996-2003 Oil for Food program to facilitate Saddam's sanctions-busting embezzlement of billions meant for the people of Iraq.

It's like they're all a bunch of crooks, or something.

UPDATE: Here's more on the Canadian scandals, which, as noted earlier, do seem to overlap with the oil-for-food scandals.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:

I believe that Kyoto, with the carbon credits will be one of the biggest boondoggles around. Who's going to check that everything's on the up and up, the UN? Kofi? Strong? Martin? The French?Chinese? Iranians?

If I were an American company or worker or citizen I'd be keeping a close on on this program. Why do you think they're holding up Bolton's appointment? He won't them get away with it and they know it.

There are already many ways of cutting back on greenhouse emissions by using new technology, scrubbers on coal fired plants, etc. without resorting to
this. The further the international organization is from the local voter, the easier to pull off scams. There aren't enough forensic accountants in the world that will be able to track the money once it gets revved up.

Though it seems like a growing field . . . .