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article imageUnited Nations Facing More Corruption Allegations

By Susan Duclos     May 5, 2008 in Crime
The controversy surrounding the United Nations and claims of corruption within the body, continues today with allegations that members of the UN have engaged in a cover up stemming from allegations they have been trafficking in gold and arms.
The most recent allegations which are denied by the United Nations follow a pattern of what at best has been called incompetence and at worse, corruption within the United Nations body.
The BBC alleges that the UN ignored or suppressed evidence that its troops in DR Congo gave arms to militias, and smuggled gold and ivory.
According to Marie Okabe, deputy spokeswoman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the claims made by BBC, the allegations are old and after an investigation only three member soldiers were found to be involved.
After the internal probe the United Nations demanded Pakistani authorities punish the soldiers implicated in the case, including the commander, according to an April 15 letter to the BBC from Jean-Marie Guehenno, chief of UN operations, which was released Monday.
The United Nations have been accused of worse than other recent allegations, which claim that members of the peacekeeping force have traded guns for ivory, with with rebel fighters.
Poachers in Congo have slaughtered 14 elephants in Congo's Virunga National Park since the demands from China for ivory have soared and conservationists believe that UN peacekeepers have played a role in the death of those elephants and the ivory trade business which has been banned since 1989 but hasn't slowed the poachers down one bit.
The ivory trade has been banned since 1989, but that has not stopped poachers from harvesting elephant tusks for sale, especially to China, Japan and Thailand. The elephant population has plummeted from 3,500 in 1959 to 350 today.
According to a spokesperson for the UN, Kemal Saiki, these allegations have been investigated and "These investigations found cases of misconduct by a handful of individuals but no evidence of systematic wrongdoing."
Corruption allegations against members of the UN are not new and over the years many have been proven true.
Painting in the UN
Massive mural that depicts the past, present, and future of the world, located in the General Assembly area of the United Nations
by riacale-Flickr
SEXUAL ABUSE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST UN PEACEKEEPERS.
Over a decade ago, in 2004, the Washington Post obtained a copy of a 34 page report in which there were accusations of at least 68 cases of alleged rape, prostitution and pedophilia, leveled against UN Peacekeepers in Pakistan, Uruguay, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa and Nepal, with more than 150 allegations of sexual misconduct.
Sexual exploitation and abuse, particularly prostitution of minors, is widespread and long-standing," says a draft of the internal July report, which has not previously been made public. "Moreover, all of the major contingents appear to be implicated."
At that time UN officials had already confirmed that that a senior U.N. official in Congo was suspended from his job with pay in recent weeks pending an investigation into allegations of "inappropriate conduct."
In 2005, the UN was facing even more allegations about their peacekeepers in Burundi, Haiti, Liberia and elsewhere, which led to Jane Holl Lute, a senior U.N. peacekeeping official who heads a U.N. task force on sexual exploitation, telling a congressional committee, "The blue helmet has become black and blue through self-inflicted wounds. We will not sit still until the luster of that blue helmet is restored."
Report after report showed levels of abuse that were seen as a pattern, one that the UN seemed incapable of getting a handle on.
In November of 2006, the BBC published the findings of an investigation showing that children have been subjected to rape and prostitution by United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti and Liberia.
Girls have told of regular encounters with soldiers where sex is demanded in return for food or money.
A senior official with the organisation has accepted the claims are credible.
The UN has faced several scandals involving its troops in recent years, including a DR Congo pedophile ring and prostitute trafficking in Kosovo.
Lute also commented for that report saying, "We've had a problem probably since the inception of peacekeeping - problems of this kind of exploitation of vulnerable populations. My operating presumption is that this is either a problem or a potential problem in every single one of our missions."
That is but one example of confirmed corruption that runs rampant throughout the UN and their missions.
OIL FOR FOOD SCAM.
The Oil-for-Food initiative was established by the United Nations in 1995 (under UN Security Council Resolution 986) and terminated in late 2003, was intended to allow Iraq to sell oil on the world market in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian needs for ordinary Iraqi citizens without allowing Iraq to rebuild its military.
As the program ended, there were revelations of corruption involving the funds.
United Nations Monument
Monument at the United Nations Headquarters in New York
by sabershadezero-Flickr
Saddam Hussein's dictatorship was able to siphon off an approximate $10 billion from the Oil-for-Food program through oil smuggling and thievery, by demanding illegal payments from companies buying Iraqi oil, and through kickbacks from those selling goods to Iraq--all under the noses of U.N. officials The members of the U.N. staff administering the program were accused of gross incompetence, mismanagement, and possible complicity with the Iraqi regime in perpetrating the biggest scandal in U.N. history.
On Monday August 8th, 2005, an independent commission has found that Benon Sevan, the former head of the UN’s oil-for-food program in Iraq, “corruptly benefited” from kickbacks while he was in charge. Another UN official, from the procurement office, is accused of soliciting bribes.
It bears noting that the son of the secretary general of the United Nation Nations, Kofi Annan, turned out to have been receiving payments as recently as early this year from a key contractor in the oil-for-food program.
UNITED NATIONS AND RWANDA GENOCIDE-1994.
The Rwandan Genocide was the systematic murder of the country's Tutsi minority and the moderates of its Hutu majority, in 1994. This was both the bloodiest period of the Rwandan Civil War and one of the worst genocides of the 1990s.
In 1999, an international panel of experts issued a report which held the United Nations as well as other member countries, including and primarily, the United States, responsible for not preventing nor ending the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
But the leader of the investigation, Ingvar Carlsson, a former Swedish prime minister, did not place all the blame on the United Nations. At a news conference today he said it would ''always be difficult to explain'' why the Security Council -- managed by the world's major powers and not the United Nations bureaucracy -- drastically cut the peacekeeping force in Rwanda, reducing it to a few hundred from 2,500 when the genocide began, and then increasing it to 5,500 when the weeks of massacres were over.
In 2004, a decade later, Kofi Annan, who at the time was the secretary-general for the United Nations, admitted their failings and said, "The international community failed Rwanda and that must leave us always with a sense of bitter regret and abiding sorrow. If the international community had acted promptly and with determination, it could have stopped most of the killing but the political will was not there, and nor were the troops.
Worse than that though was testimony given before the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, by General Romeo Dallaire, revealed that the UN was warned three months before genocide about the stockpiling of arms and that they refused "his request to raid the arms caches later used in the massacre of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus."
Taking his stand in the witness box for the second day, the former commander said he requested authorisation to raid arms caches in January 1994.
But General Dallaire said UN headquarters informed him this was outside the mandate of his mission.
Three months later, a wave of killing swept Rwanda.
These scandals, allegations and investigations is just the tip of the iceberg of the problems that have plagued the United Nations since it was created in 1945 to replace the League of Nations.
Other claims and convictions include bribery scandals, accusations of bias in the Arab-Israeli conflict and anti-Semitism, a UN ambulance was videotaped transporting Palestinian armed forces in 2004 as well as what has been listed above.
More about United Nations, Corruption, Elephant poachers
 
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