Belling the Cat at Turtle Bay

UNCCPEveryone knows that the UN is a sinkhole of corruption.

When I say “everyone”, I really mean “everyone who reads this blog or the Belmont Club or Mark Steyn or Eye on the UN.” For most ordinary people, however — at least in the United States — the UN still brings to mind trick-or-treating for UNICEF, or those kindly blue-helmets who help keep the peace in faraway places, or all those international programs to alleviate famine and prevent cholera.

Unfortunately, any more-than-cursory examination of today’s United Nations will reveal the organization as an international clearinghouse for global corruption. The UN’s primary functions are to enrich the well-connected, divide the spoils gleaned from the contributions of its richest member states, and carve up the world’s real estate into lucrative fiefdoms for thousands of unelected apparatchiks.

All major countries represented at the UN have a stake in this sleazy transnational game. Their delegations are either chowing down at the trough themselves, or are beholden to others who do. As a result, anyone involved is hardly likely to speak the truth in public.

A rare exception occurred last week when a retiring functionary in the UN’s anti-corruption office spoke out about the cesspool that the United Nations has become under the leadership of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The brave woman who decided to bell the cat is Swedish, which is a reminder that Swedes used to be renowned for their personal integrity.

According to The Washington Post:

Departing U.N. Official Calls Ban’s Leadership ‘Deplorable’ In 50-Page Memo

UNITED NATIONS — The outgoing chief of a U.N. office charged with combating corruption at the United Nations has issued a stinging rebuke of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, accusing him of undermining her efforts and leading the global institution into an era of decline, according to a confidential end-of-assignment report.

The memo by Inga-Britt Ahlenius, a Swedish auditor who stepped down Friday as undersecretary general of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, represents an extraordinary personal attack on Ban from a senior U.N. official. The memo also marks a challenge to Ban’s studiously cultivated image as a champion of accountability.

Shortly after taking office in 2007, Ban committed himself to restoring the United Nations’ reputation, which had been sullied by revelations of corruption in the agency’s oil-for-food program in Iraq.

So how did the Secretary General set about restoring the luster of the institution? His first task was to subvert the operations of the anti-corruption office itself:

But Ahlenius says that, rather than being an advocate for accountability, Ban, along with his top advisers, has systematically sought to undercut the independence of her office, initially by trying to set up a competing investigations unit under his control and then by thwarting her efforts to hire her own staff.

Ms. Ahlenius pulls no punches in her report:
– – – – – – – –

“Your actions are not only deplorable, but seriously reprehensible…. Your action is without precedent and in my opinion seriously embarrassing for yourself,” Ahlenius wrote in the 50-page memo to Ban, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. “I regret to say that the secretariat now is in a process of decay.”

Ban’s top advisers said that Ahlenius’s memo constituted a deeply unbalanced account of their differences and that her criticism of Ban’s stewardship of the United Nations was patently unfair.

“A look at his record shows that Secretary General Ban has provided genuine visionary leadership on important issues from climate change to development to women’s empowerment. He has promoted the cause of gender balance in general as well as within the organization. He has led from the front on important political issues from Gaza to Haiti to Sudan,” Ban’s chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, wrote in a response.

“It is regrettable to note,” Nambiar added, “that many pertinent facts were overlooked or misrepresented” in Ahlenius’s memo.

The departure of Ahlenius, 72, coincides with a period of crisis in the United Nations’ internal investigations division. During the past two years, the world body has shed some of its top investigators. It has also failed to fill dozens of vacancies, including that of the chief of the investigations division in the Office of Internal Oversight Services. That post has been vacant since 2006, leaving a void in the United Nations’ ability to police itself, diplomats say.

And how does the United States react to this sorry state of affairs? It is “disappointed”:

“We are disappointed with the recent performance of [the U.N.’s] investigations division,” said Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations. “The coming change in… leadership is an opportunity to bring about a significant improvement in its performance to increase oversight and transparency throughout the organization.”

Change in leadership… significant improvement… transparency… etc blah yak; we’ve heard it all before.

Who in his right mind would seriously believe that this time will be any different?

If the situation gets any worse, maybe we’ll take a cue from the UN itself, and express “concern”. And if the Secretary General is caught absconding from the building with a steamer trunk full of hundred dollar bills, we might even have to escalate to “grave concern”.

But real reform? Nope.

Or, better yet, withdrawal from the UN? Never!

Read the rest of the article, which has a link to a pdf of the full report. It’s good to see all this in the WaPo, but there’s no reason to believe that Ms. Ahlenius’ candor will have any lasting effect on the corrupt culture of the United Nations. As usual, the truth will disappear into the murk of Turtle Bay without leaving a single bubble in its wake.

Hat tip: LN.

4 thoughts on “Belling the Cat at Turtle Bay

  1. Those folks who wrote the Bible story about the Tower of Bable had an idea about how things like the UN work out. It was being built to reach to the heavens, like the high ideals of the UN, so was sited in a valley, of course. And it was constructed using bricks instead of stone and to hold the bricks together they used slime instead of mortar.

  2. During the past two years, the world body has shed some of its top investigators.

    Perish the thought that they might have dispensed with their Nobelist top investigator, Mohamed ElBaradei, who was entirely unable to ascertain whether Iran intended to construct nuclear weapons until Ahmadinejad did him the courtesy of tattooing it across this waste of skin’s forehead.

    Then again, expecting or even hoping that a Muslim might somehow detect the least bit of skullduggery on the part of fellow Islamic entity is a fool’s errand at best.

  3. Not to defend Ban Ki moon, but I doubt that anybody could correct the corrupt self-serving mess left behind by his predecessor. Indeed, that’s probably why Ban was appointed.

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