It was Kofi Annan himself who, in his address to the UN General Assembly in September 2003, admitted that "the United Nations had reached a fork in the road." After the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the UN, as an organisation, needed to be modernised to keep pace with an ever-changing and increasingly globalised world.
It is for this reason that the findings of a review probing the UN's effectiveness entitled A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility was released at the beginning of December, outlining proposals for change. The High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change has set out "a bold, new vision of collective security for the 21st century."
It highlights that in the world today, conflict, genocide, poverty, infectious diseases, environmental degradation, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and transnational organised crime are the greatest threats to peace and stability.
To meet these challenges, the panel said the UN's existing institutions should work better. "It will take resources commensurate with the scale of the challenges ahead, commitments that are long term and sustained, and, most of all, it will take leadership--from within states, and between them," the panel said.
Yet, the man who is leading the reform agenda of the UN, Secretary General Kofi Annan, has come under attack by a Bush Administration which wants him to relinquish his post. Norm Coleman, the Republican chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which is probing allegations about the UN oil-for-food programme in Iraq, has already accused Annan of "incompetence and mismanagement."
The programme was established after the first Gulf War in 1991 to allow Iraq, which was then under economic sanctions, to sell oil and use the profits to buy food and medical supplies. It is alleged that the former Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, skimmed U$6.7bn of the proceeds and profited from an additional U$13.7bn through smuggling oil out of the country.
So how does Kofi Annan bear responsibility for this? The link lies in his son, Kojo, who was on the payroll of the Swiss firm, Cotecna, for consulting work in Africa. The same firm also inspected goods entering Iraq under the oil-for-food programme. Kojo was on their payroll until early 2004.
However, six separate investigations into the oil-for-food programme have not found any wrongdoing on Kojo's part, and no formal charges have been brought. …