Kofi's Rule

Kofi Annan has promulgated a new rule for the conduct of international affairs. But there were difficulties in applying it, in the case if the weak as well as the strong.

Issue: Winter 1999-2000

Kofi Annan was once a solid bureaucrat who could count on the loyalty of a so-called "African Mafia" among UN officials. He systematically promoted the career interests of the many Africans who found refuge in well-paid UN jobs from the chaotic, often violent politics of their home countries, and did nothing to energize the rare investigations of theft and corruption in the UN's notoriously leaky emergency relief programs for Africa (in which non-African UN officials were also involved). Even the worst offenders, who sold off food supplies meant for starving refugees, suffered no greater punishment than early retirement--with generous pensions. In return, Kofi Annan could count on the full support and admiration of the UN's African officials; and as he rose in the organization's ranks, he did so with the backing of the representatives of almost all African states.

You must be a subscriber of The National Interest to access this article. If you are already a subscriber, please activate your online access. Not a subscriber? Become a subscriber today!