You’ve probably heard the expression, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” This adage is especially applicable at the United Nations, where levels of corruption and mismanagement are surpassed only by the agency’s ability to deny, obfuscate and cover up it’s growing insignificance.
On Monday, London’s Financial Times published the results of an investigation into the U.N.’s expenditures for Indian Ocean tsunami relief, of which the global organization sent out a hasty appeal for funding to member nations a year ago in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. In all, the effort netted $1.1 billion and so far, the United Nations has spent $590 million of that amount, FT reported.
But here’s the catch: As much as one-third of that money was spent on U.N. “administration, staff and related costs,” a figure that understandably alarmed investigators at the London-based paper.
Only, when reporters attempted to find out the details of what seemed like disproportionate “related costs,” they were thwarted by U.N. agencies who, just months ago and in the wake of a damning report detailing the obscene oil-for-food scandal, pledged to be more “transparent” in their operations.
So many broken promises, so little time for honesty.
Of the few that did provide financial details, FT found agencies such as the World Heath Organization and World Food Program spent anywhere from 18 percent to 32 percent of relief funds just on overhead. Based on previous U.N. operations, there is no reason to believe the other agencies who chose not to respond to the paper’s transparency requests spent any less on overhead.
That assumption could, of course, be disproved if U.N. Secretary-General Kofi “I am not a crook” Annan would step up and force these agencies to reveal their financial data to the globe of nations paying the organization’s bills.
But I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that order, since Annan is still in denial over oil-for-food and, in particular, his own son’s involvement in that monstrous scandal.
Overhead costs for tsunami relief is just the latest U.N. episode in a string of them demonstrating the utter irrelevancy of this organization as a viable, productive, contributing institution to the betterment of societies everywhere. If the United Nations were a corporation, not only would it have had to declare bankruptcy several times over, but it’s chief officers would be serving so many life sentences for corruption they would have to be cats to complete it all.
So why is the United Nations still taking up prime real estate in New York City? Why are American taxpayers made to continue to support this global criminal cabal? What is it that the United Nations does that can’t be done better and more efficiently by nations themselves?
There may have been, at one time, justification for the development of a world organization designed to serve as a forum for nations to utilize in a bid to air their grievances and, hopefully, talk out their problems before resorting to war. In 2005 as in 1945, the year World War II ended and the United Nations moved closer to becoming a reality, this is a noble concept and a worthy pursuit.
But the United Nations, like the League of Nations before it, has never lived up to that expectation. Worse, over the years, it has been transformed into a bastion of socialism that, ironically, favors the world’s thugs while castigating purveyors of peace and promoters of democracy.
At the same time it has become a stronghold of corruption, using its vast web of bureaucracy to shield its criminality from the world that sustains it.
Regarding this latest scandal in the making, “The toughest time after last year’s devastating tsunami may be yet to come,” U.N. chief Annan said during a visit to tsunami-struck Banda Aceh on Monday. He must be talking about the difficultly in fabricating a plausible explanation as to why his organization has squandered so much of the world’s tsunami contributions.
Either way, it is obvious the United Nations’ “usefulness” – if it ever was of any real value – has passed. Maybe it was just never meant to be. Nations have historically pursued policies of war and peace that serve their own narrow interests anyway, and they will continue to do so for as long as the nation-state exists.