I would like to think were I the chief executive of an organization that permitted – even facilitated – billions of dollars of graft from a program intended, among other things, to bring medicine to indigent children, I would have the good grace to step down, whatever my degree of personal culpability. But what do I know? Most of us like to think the best of ourselves and I have never been in a position remotely like that. Maybe I would cling to power no matter what.
It seems Kofi Annan intends to. Even after accepting criticism for the unparalleled corruption of the Oil-for-Food Programme (with an “mme” as it is referred to in UN speak), he apparently made no mention of resigning his post. According to the NYT:
The 847-page report issued Wednesday excoriated Annan and the Council for their management of the program and said the United Nations must be extensively overhauled if it is to earn global credibility and meet 21st century demands.
“The organization requires stronger executive leadership, thoroughgoing administrative reform and more reliable controls and auditing,” it said. At stake, it said, was “the United Nations’ ability to respond promptly and effectively to the responsibilities thrust upon it by the realities of a turbulent, and often violent, world.”
Endorsing the harsh prescription, Annan asked, “Who among us can now claim that UN management is not a problem, or is not in need of reform?”
Who indeed? And who shall spearhead this reform? Why the man who oversaw the corruption in the first place. Orwell himself could not have imagined a more bleakly ironic scenario.
Of course, Volcker himself gives Kofi some cover, informing us that responsibility for the program’s lapses “must be broadly shared, starting, we believe, with member states and the Security Council itself.”
The report blamed the Security Council and its sanctions committee for tolerating smuggling that went on outside the oil-for-food program.
“Turning a blind eye to smuggling,” it stated, “surely undercut a sense of discipline in conducting the program.”