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My view of the oil for food kickbacks is similar to yours, but not quite the same. Yes it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black, and the instrumentalization of the scandal as a stick to bash SecGen and the UN as a whole was very annoying. However, I do think that Kofi deserves some blame here. My impression is that he is someone very reluctant to hold senior UN officials to account for serious ethical lapses and not at all sympathetic to whistleblowers. He is a highly competent product of the career UN bureaucracy, but very much part of its institutional culture. It's not just the OIF but also the sexual harassment stuff.  

And as a child of mid level international organization employees I was 'shocked, shocked' to hear that there might be corruption at the UN. Way too many senior international organization managers are there through patronage rather than merit. Accountability is close to non existent, petty corruption (junkets, gifts) is rife.  Again, I'm not saying that this is something unusual for a public bureaucracy, but one shouldn't have any illusions about the UN being any more pure than, say, the DOD or your typical US state bureaucracy.  At the same time, just as one seeks to eliminate that sort of stuff at home, one should also do so at the UN.

by MarekNYC on Fri Dec 2nd, 2005 at 11:31:44 PM EST
Way too many senior international organization managers are there through patronage rather than merit.

There is an unfortunate policy in the Secretariat and some of the larger agencies of geographical distribution of posts.  Some countries have reasonably transparent and competitive processes to select such staff.  Others are using the quota as a means to dispense favors.

There is a need for reform in the UN, and a decent initiative has been underway throughout this year - that is until Bolton showed up.  I did an entry on this back in late August.

by ask on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 09:53:39 AM EST
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The same is true of the International Olympic Committee, of course.

The US diplomatic corps may be highly professional, but at the highest levels it is just a way to give campaign donors a paid vacation.

The EU has, in many ways, become an elephant cemetery of sorts, at least as far as Spanish political parties are concerned. The losers of national political battles get sent to the EU Commision or the Parliament (Almunia, Borrell, Vidal Quadras, Mayor Oreja). The UK does the same, just look at Peter Mandelson.

So yes, not only is diplomat a fancy word for spy, but diplomacy is a dirty and corrupt. That doesn't mean that international institutions don't play a role, or don't play it well.

The current woes of the UN have a lot to do with the fact that the US does no longer control the international system that they set up after WWII (same with the WTO, for instance) and wants to dismantle it. The whole oild for food scandal (and the reversal of blame for the 1998 inspector crisis) are just for internal US consumption, to justify arrears or outright  undermining of the institution (a la Bolton) to the US public.

Which leads me back to the suggestion that the rest of the world should just increase their contributions by 28% to make the US's 22% unnecessary. After all, the UN already operated without US funds for several years in the 1980's.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 10:08:21 AM EST
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