Diplomats: Immune to National Laws?
Some diplomats seem to think they can be free from the laws that ordinary
people have to obey. This can be seen especially in New York City, one
of the U.N. headquarters. From April 1997 to October 2002, diplomats got
205,732 parking tickets in New York. Even worse, most of them refused to
pay for the fines, leaving about $18.1 million unpaid. Fortunately, the
past few years have seen improvement as about 87% of fines have been
paid. However, entire nations have refused to pay taxes they owe for
using New York facilities, the two highest debts being $29.6 million
owed by the Philippines and $27.8 million owed by India.
Procurement Scandals: Mismanagement?
investigations into U.N.
procurement of supplies have revealed a stunning
string of scandals, bribery, and security leaks which rival the
Oil-for-Food scandal. Even U.N. investigators call such scandal
“systematic abuse” and “a pattern of corrupt practices.” UN
investigators have examined $1 billion spent by the U.N. in supply
procurement funding, and they have found that nearly one-third,
specifically $298 million, of the money was wasted through corruption.
Currently eight UN officials from procurement and peacekeeping are under
Probably the most blatant scandal was in Burundi.
The U.N. payed the
Eurest Support Services (ESS) company $111 million to provide food
supplies to UN peace-keepers in Burundi. The ESS completely failed to
meet with the requirements of its contract, often failing to provide
such necessities as milk and water. It also failed to use refrigerated
transport vehicles, causing even frozen foods to melt under Burundi heat
and arrive unsafe at peace-keeping stations. The ESS also failed to have
appropriate lifting devices like forklifts and cranes for heavy loads.
This was not all, as the ESS was the recipient of confidential
information which was never supposed to pass out of U.N. hands. The ESS
received this information from U.N. food procurement officer Alexander Yakovlev, who gained $1 million through bribery. The scandal goes even
deeper into a tangled web of companies buying other companies and
bribery. (For more detailed information see
Finally, perhaps the worst part of the recent procurement scandals was
the blatant cover-up attempt of the U.N., the ESS, and associated
companies. None of them would reveal specific information about people
involved or actions taken to correct the problem, simply promising that
they were dealing with the problem. Investigators from the Office of
Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) announce that the U.N. has made
virtually no attempt to look into accusations of mismanagement and fraud
and that it has not held individual people responsible for their
actions. In fact, the United Nations has a committee known as the
Headquarters Committee on Contracts (HCC) which is supposed to look into
all contracts above $200,000. However, this was clearly not happening
since such scandals were allowed to happen.
Meanwhile, although Secretary-General Annan promises U.N. reform, many U.S.
government leaders do not think the reform will be enough, and 2/3 of
the world’s countries oppose any reform whatsoever. In September, 2005,
the UN finally reached an agreement about reform members, but the US
feels it is not enough. Much was removed from the original proposition,
including a definition of terrorism, the reinstatement of the U.N.
Commission on Human Rights, and nuclear restrictions. Since the U.S. pays
about 22% of the regular UN budget and 27% of the U.N. peacekeeping
budget, more than any other country in the U.N., it feels that it should
have a greater voice in the reform. John Bolton, the US ambassador to
the U.N., warned that the U.N. should reform if it wants to keep the 22% of
its budget supplied by the U.S. Not only John Bolton, but also Congress
threatens such action; in fact, the House of Representatives passed the
United Nations Reform Act of 2005, an act which would withdraw some US
funding of the U.N. unless it passes reform measures.