The Rosett Report

Ethics, UN-Style -- A Confidential Memo to Remember and Send Around

Amid the sex-oil-food-fraud-bribery scandals of Kofi Annan’s final years as UN Secretary-General, the UN as part of its “reforms” set up an Ethics Office. One of the jobs of this Ethics Office is to protect whistleblowers on the UN staff.

But then along comes a whistleblower who worked in the UN Development Program’s North Korea office, Tony Shkurtaj. At considerable risk to his own livelihood, he points out huge problems of UNDP mismanagement, including the presence for years of $3,500 in counterfeit U.S. banknotes in the UNDP’s Pyongyang office safe — to which the UNDP never alerted the U.S. authorities. So, this spring, following his whistleblowing, Shkurtaj loses his UNDP job. He goes to the UN Ethics Office, and asks for protection from UNDP retaliation. And lo! the Ethics Office says that prima facie he deserves exactly that! — protection. So, do we get a happy ending?

Of course not. This is the UN. We now learn, that the UNDP — flagship agency of the UN — does not accept the “jurisdiction” of the UN Ethics Office. So far, still no protection for whistleblower Shkurtaj. It’s a fascinating system, but do you really want to trust these guys with your tax money, not to mention such matters as global peace and prosperity? If you want to, you can read the “confidential” memo of the ethics office for yourself — and forward it to anyone who still subscribes to the hallucination that the UN is a dependable guardian of global good behavior. It refers to a system in which some UN staff now qualify for Ethics protection, and others, apparently, don’t. For more on this, Matthew Russell Lee of Inner-City Press is out in front.