Arabian Business Weekly Update September 18, 2005

Leader must go if the UN has any chance of repairing its tarnished image. Global leaders assembled in New York last week to discuss urgent reforms to the UN. Unfortunately, the one crucial decision that could help heal this decrepit and diseased organisation was dodged and ducked and that is the removal of Kofi Annan, the UN’s besieged General Secretary. However genial and charming he may be, it is clear he has proved himself incapable of ensuring that the UN runs in a minimally efficient and uncorrupt fashion.

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By  Stuart Qualtrough Published  September 18, 2005

Time is up for Kofi|~||~||~|Leader must go if the UN has any chance of repairing its tarnished image. Global leaders assembled in New York last week to discuss urgent reforms to the UN. Unfortunately, the one crucial decision that could help heal this decrepit and diseased organisation was dodged and ducked and that is the removal of Kofi Annan, the UN’s besieged General Secretary. However genial and charming he may be, it is clear he has proved himself incapable of ensuring that the UN runs in a minimally efficient and uncorrupt fashion. Under Kofi Annan, the “oil for food” programme lined the pockets of UN officials while Iraqi children were left to starve. Designed to throw a lifeline to the suffering population, the scheme was riddled with corruption and greed. Annan has even proved himself incapable of preventing his son from corruptly obtaining a tax-free Mercedes by securing a fake letter from the General Secretary’s office. Given the forensic detail laid out in Paul Volker’s report into the oil-for-food scandal, there would be little chance of survival if Annan had worked for a national government or a private company. If he hadn’t felt compelled to fall on his sword, his resignation would surely have been forced. Annan, however, expects to be able to serve out his third five-year term, which ends next year. The difference between good and poor governance is reflected in the pitiful state the UN finds itself in today. Its institutional inability to hold anyone to account for their failings guarantees that those failings infect the UN at every level. As a result, the UN is comprehensively incapable of doing anything effectively. Keeping Kofi Annan will send a very simple signal to every one of its bureaucrats — your job is safe, no matter how serious your incompetence. The British Government is pressing for Annan to be allowed to stay on the grounds that his removal would alienate developing countries. But there is no point in an incompetent UN whose only function is to provide tax-free jobs for fat bureaucrats from Third World nations. If the UN is to achieve any of its noble and laudable goals, it needs to be a minimally efficient organisation. That requires root-and-branch reform. Without it, the organisation might as well cease to exist.||**||Calm after the storm|~||~||~|Hurricane Katrina is exhausted both meteorologically and politically. Power has been restored to the whole of Mississippi, New Orleans is being pumped free of water far ahead of anybody’s expectations and it appears the death toll may be lower than first feared. Stories of the “orgy of violence” appear to have been exaggerated and grossly distorted and as the US petrol pump prices dropped back below US$3 a gallon, it was clear that talk of New Orleans becoming the world’s first vacant industrialised city was premature. Many commentators believed that if George Bush were in his first term, he would be facing certain defeat in the polls. But as petrol pump prices dropped back below US$3 a gallon, it’s fairly clear that the White House administration has weathered the storm. Now the remnants of the hurricane’s destructive force must be repaired as we look to the future and develop contingency plans for the next disaster nature has to throw our way.||**||Ashes cheer|~||~||~|The England cricket side must be congratulated this week for delivering one of the most outstanding sporting team efforts in a generation. Their combined skill, determination and courage have kept fans spellbound for the whole of the summer. And in the best spirit of the game of cricket, it is only right to offer heartfelt commiserations to the Australian XI on losing the Ashes, after clinging on to them for 16 years and 14 days. The visitors helped to lay on the most gripping Test series in living memory and some of the finest cricket ever played. Nobody could possibly say of the Australians that they fell below their country’s highest standards of skill and sportsmanship. It was just their bad luck to come up against a team that was even better. It’s appropriate that while the game of cricket has never enjoyed such popularity, the blueprint for its future success is being devised and developed at the ICC’s new headquarters in Dubai. ||**||

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