The Rosett Report

Groundhog Day at the United Nations

You remember that movie, in which no matter what Bill Murray does, he is forever stuck in Punxsutawney, PA, re-living Groundhog Day.

Well, here we go again at the UN, where on Thursday the head of the internal audit office, Inga-Britt Ahlenius, said her office is currently investigating some 250 cases of of alleged fraud, corruption and sexual exploitation. Ahlenius expressed surprise at the scale of the rot, telling reporters at a press briefing, “We can say that we found mismanagement and fraud and corruption to an extent we didn’t really expect.”

What’s surprising here is the idea that anyone at the UN could honestly be surprised. From Oil-for-Food to Sex-for-Peacekeepers to Cash-for-Kim, from procurement kickbacks to visa rackets to whistleblower firings, from Kofi Annan’s 10-year tenure to Ban Ki-moon’s first year at the helm, the UN scams just keep coming. From UN top officials we keep hearing that every scandal is a fresh surprise. And, somehow, all those endless UN reforms get sucked right into the endless replay — today, promising a solution; tomorrow, part of the problem.

In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray finally gets his act together and makes it to the morning after. No such resolution is in sight at the UN, where it would be heartening to hear there are now 250 investigations, except these UN inquiries too often serve more to paper over the wrong-doing than to mend it. Where are the concrete results?

The problem here lies in the UN system itself — a vast and murky committee, flush with other people’s money, diplomatically immune to law, reporting to itself, ever expanding, and rolling in vested interests. Until someone finds a way to fix that, stay tuned for endless UN replays of shock and surprise over all that so very unexpected waste, fraud, exploitation and corruption.