I'd also like to follow up on the post I wrote yesterday in which I argued that Kofi Annan ought to resign.
I am well aware that the problems with the UN are not necessarily Annan's fault. In fact, Annan does seem to work hard to improve the functioning of the UN and take seriously its failings, as evidenced by this
The United Nations needs a new, permanent human rights body if it is to prevent appalling suffering around the world, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Thursday.As any one who have been paying attention knows, the UN Commission on Human Rights long ago became a joke and is in dire need of renovation if it is ever to become an effective tool to protect human rights.
Speaking at the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Annan said that the world body is failing to protect against human rights abuses, particularly in Sudan's conflict-ravaged Darfur region, and should be replaced by a council with greater authority.
"We have reached a point at which the commission's declining credibility has cast a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole and where piecemeal reforms will not be enough," Annan told delegates.
"The commission's ability to perform its tasks has been overtaken by new needs and undermined by the politicization of its sessions and the selectivity of its work," Annan said.
But that decision is up to the UN, not Kofi Annan. And the fact many of the members like the fact that the commission is a joke, as it provides superficial cover for their own atrocious human rights records, does not bode well for reform.
And that is exactly the problem with the UN: reform requires that it hold itself accountable for its own failings. And Kofi Annan is a prime example of the UN failing to reform itself.
In 1994, Annan was head of the UN's Department of Peacekeeping and in that capacity, watched as a genocide unfolded. The UN mission on the ground repeatedly sought approval to confiscate weapons and protect civilians; approval that Annan repeatedly denied. The UN's own report concluded that Anna, his deputy Iqbal Riza, and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) overestimated the success of the UN mission and underestimated its needs, hamstrung the missions efforts to prevent the violence, and routinely failed to share relevant information with the Security Council.
But neither Annan nor Riza were disciplined. Instead, Annan went on to become Secretary General and Riza his chief of staff.
Annan's promotion was the result of the institution's basic problem, and if the UN is serious about reforming itself, it ought to start by replacing its Secretary General.