Thursday, December 29, 2005

The UN and Tsunami Response

This is the UN we have all grown to know, love and respect. From the Heritage Foundation website comes the shocking (not really) information that the UN is still the UN. After the Oil for Food scandal and Kofi's missing Mercedes, you would think that maybe, just maybe there would be some actual reforms going on. Not. It seems that it is business as usual in the "World Body". (this is the same UN that was going to give that Global Test)
The research, done by the Financial Times (subscription required) focuses a spotlight on the tsunami relief effort taken over by the UN.

When the U.N. took over the tsunami relief operation in early 2005, the world body pledged full transparency, in light of its disastrous handling of the Iraq Oil-for-Food Program. The U.N.’s under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, Jan Egeland, boasted in an opinion editorial that “only the UN has the universal legitimacy, capacity, and credibility to lead in a truly global humanitarian emergency.”[2] Egeland had earlier criticized the U.S. contribution to the tsunami relief effort as “stingy.”[3]

A recent investigation by the Financial Times, however, has raised serious questions regarding the U.N.’s handling of the tsunami relief effort, in particular the way in which it has spent the first $590 million of its $1.1 billion disaster “flash appeal.” The appeal includes nearly $50 million from the United States.[4] The two-month FT inquiry revealed that “as much as a third of the money raised by the UN for its tsunami response was being swallowed up by salaries and administrative overheads.”[5] In contrast, Oxfam, a British-based private charity, spent just 10 percent of the tsunami aid money it raised on administrative costs.[6]

The Financial Times concluded that “a year after the tsunami, pledges of transparency and accountability for the UN’s appeal appear a long way from being realized. This is primarily blamed on dueling UN bureaucracies and accounting methods plus what in many cases appears to be institutional paranoia about disclosure.”[8]

This is an excellent overview and insight into what the UN is all about and should be read in its entirety.