Failures of United Nations (part 2 – other UN agencies)

In the first part of the “Failures United Nations,” I started off by documenting some of most glaring blunders of the Security Council, in charge of global peace/security- related  matters. As far as military and political interventions were an issue, the UN SC showed itself incapable to say the least.

What about other agencies of the UN and their areas of responsibility and action? Besides the maintenance of global peace/security, the UN has a three-pronged raison d’être: economic, social and political betterment of the world. How has the UN been fairing on these dimensions?

Ivory Coast (political)

The United Nations had a plan for Ivory Coast: to oversee elections and install a “winner-takes-all” state president.  Having failed to secure a political solution, the UN joined with French forces and one side in the civil war in Ivory Coast to forcibly overthrow the government that had lost the election but refused to quit. The discovery of mass graves of civilian victims of gruesome violence suggests that the UN may have reignited the North-South civil war instead of healing it.

Kenya (health/society)

The orthodox account of how HIV is transmitted in African countries is inherently racist.

UNAIDS have rarely been heard to refer to any kind of non-sexually transmitted HIV except to deny that it exists. And they have to spend their time thinking up ad hoc explanations of why a virus that is difficult to transmit sexually is almost always transmitted sexually in (some) African countries and hardly ever in non-African countries.

Syria (political)

It is deplorable that some members of the United Nations Security Council – most disappointingly, Brazil, India and South Africa – were reluctant to pass a resolution condemning the Syrian military’s continual attacks on unarmed demonstrators. At long last, on Wednesday, the council issued a “statement,” which does include the verb “condemn,” but carries less authority than a resolution.

Iraq (economic/social)

“I went to the U.N. as a die-hard supporter of that organization. I left as one of its most outspoken critics,” Spertzel, who formerly led the U.N. biological weapons inspection team in Iraq after the first Gulf War.

“The Oil-for-Food people spent most of their time in the cafeteria, as opposed to being out in the field making sure that the material was going to the locations that it was supposed to,” Spertzel said. “It was such common knowledge it had to be known.”

In an arrangement negotiated by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the UN collected 2.2% of every oil sale — totaling $1.4 billion in all — to ensure Oil-for-Food was on the up-and-up. Instead, Saddam stole billions, collecting kickbacks from oil buyers and dishonest aid suppliers who often stuck the Iraqi people with third-rate food and medicine that was unfit for human consumption.

DR Congo (human rights/social)

The UN has consistently failed Congolese women, at every level from the troops on the ground to the Security Council that deploys them, from the array of UN agencies present in the DRC to the Secretariat in New York and the Secretary-General charged with leading the bureaucracy. It has failed to understand the problem, to address it, to acknowledge its own mistakes, to assign responsibility, and to substitute effective action for rhetoric.

Hutu members of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) who had participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide fled that year over the border into the DRC. By 1996 they had penetrated deep into the Congo. Now there are about 6,000 FDLR fighters who use the DRC as a base, and are deeply involved in exploiting that country’s minerals. They have raped women without pause or hesitation since arriving.

Against this background, the UN’s actions and inaction over the last 14 years have led to the latest episodes in Luvungi and other areas in eastern Congo. Local Congolese rebels together with the FDLR took over Luvungi from July 30 to August 3 and raped hundreds of women. The world was informed not by the UN, but by an NGO, International Medical Corps, which was approached by victims who sought help. This is astonishing until one looks carefully at the UN’s role in the DRC.

Pakistan (environment/social)

“The United Nation’s One UN Joint Program is a wonderful project, but unfortunately this pilot and test project was totally failed due to the recruitment of the incompetent staff at the key posts.”

… people hired are only those who have been recommended by the incumbent government. He said that the hiring process favors hiring family members of other UN employees.

… initiated by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). A best example of these failures is the Mountains Areas Conservancy Project (MACP), which has failed badly. This project was considered a failure because the UN didn’t generate any awareness among the Pakistani people about the conservancy of the mountains.

Needless to say that the bigger picture here looks quite as bleak as for the SC.

What is to be done – if there is anything possible – to make the United Nations to live up to its name and act more responsibly, effectively and in a more considerate and impactful manner? The part-3 will elaborate on that..