A Run for the Money

Why a few competitors for the UN would be good for its business.

Issue: Winter 2005-2006

IN THE fading light of Kofi Annan's tenure as a "reform" secretary general, super sleuth Paul Volcker has made plain that Saddam Hussein and his Ba'athi regime plundered the Oil for Food program. Oil for Food was touted as a humanitarian benefice, entrusted to the United Nations. But an inquiry headed by Volcker, the former Federal Reserve Board chairman, has shown without a doubt that Saddam shaped the program to deliver kickbacks and surcharges, converting coercive economic sanctions into a global ATM. The UN also gained a tempting "administrative" surcharge from Saddam's oil sales, and no one inside Turtle Bay was willing to blow the whistle on a program gone haywire. Volcker and his colleagues have called for the reform of UN practices to prevent similar mismanagement.

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