UN-ited Bureaucracy

by MaxPower

A lot of people have problems with the UN, my personal view is that the UN is a hallmark for exactly what’s wrong with intergovernmental organizations today; An overwhelming desire to do good and a structurally incapability to do so. All large organizations have this problem, the more staff the organization has the harder it is to achieve a set goal. Many private companies break up staff by starting different ‘business units’ or functionally different business (ie. all of the different business units at Microsoft). At the UN, however, the majority rules and everything is based on consensus making.

I stumbled across this headline recently; “MOSCOW (AP)–Russian President Vladimir Putin took a tough stance on postwar Iraq Tuesday, saying U.N. sanctions should not be lifted until it is clear that the threat of weapons of mass destruction has been eliminated and insisting on a central role for the U.N.”

Riiiiiight, so in February and March, Russia said no one needed war to determine the threat of weapons of mass destruction, however, in APRIL Putin says that the UN can’t lift the sanctions until someone determines the threat of weapons of mass destruction. All through this Russia, France, Germany et al. had whined continuously that the sanctions were geared towards Saddam not the Iraqi people. It follows that no Saddam equals no sanctions.

As with everything in UNland it’s just not that simple. Iraq had exported oil under the UN’s Oil for Food program. Visit the UN’s website http://www.un.org/Depts/oip/ and you’ll see that its an exercise in backslapping. We’re so great, we allow for Iraq to sell oil and get food back!! Do a little digging and it becomes obvious the UN has a LOT to lose by the termination of this program.

Take the following examples:

“72% of Iraqi oil export proceeds fund the humanitarian programme, of which 59% is earmarked for the contracting of supplies and equipment by the Government of Iraq” Um ok, so 59% of oil revenue is not actually for food but rather for ‘equipment’ for the Government of Iraq.

UN: Hey what do you need this French furniture and marble for?
Iraq: Uhhhh, well definitely not the construction of palaces! Food yeah that’s it food.
UN: And this Russian T-72 tank?
Iraq: Yes that is for food as well.

So fine, Iraq gets some cash to build Saddam more palaces, big deal right? Won’t somebody please think of the children? Well not really.

“Included in the balance from the total oil revenues are: 2.2% for the United Nations administrative and operational costs for the programme.”

Oh ok 2.2% that’s not too bad. I mean they have to sell the oil, which requires what, two guys and a computer in Houston? Maybe one at the IPE in London? Couple over at UN HQ in NY. Don’t forget about secondary HQ in Geneva, maybe someone in Brussels too to look after the EU guys. Maybe some body camped outside OPEC’s HQ in Vienna. But hey its only 2.2% of total oil revenues over the entire program – no problem.

Well I’ll say this much; 2.2% is over US$1 billion dollars. And they have never produced one financial statement of where this money is going, let alone having a financial statement audited to prove that the money isn’t just drifting off into the UN abyss.

US$1 billion – that’s a boondoggle of Canadian Liberal proportions. No one wants the US running the country. The UN couldn’t hack running the country – look at former Yugoslavia for any indication – so the best for everyone is drop the sanctions and let the Iraqi’s start enriching their own lives.

  • UN-ited Bureaucracy
  • by MaxPower
  • Published on May 1st, 2003

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