Agency of mercy or worthless fraud?

Pedophilia… child rape on tape. In just one country, 150 allegations of sexual misconduct, murder, prostitution, and, “sexually abusing the local inhabitants in exchange for food and other necessities.” Billions skimmed out of humanitarian relief funds. Kickbacks. Bribery. Genocide.

The UN is utterly corrupt. Yet there is no outrage. No media blitz. No media attention at all as far as I can see. Not even one counterfeit document for a CBS news story.

The UN is just another colossal waste of approximately $3 billion dollars of taxpayers money. Enough to finish retrofitting every last US military humvee.

In the past decade, increasing numbers of accounts have surfaced of violations committed by peacekeepers against civilians, in a particular women and girls, during UN peacekeeping operations. To date, violations by peacekeepers have been documented in Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Kosovo, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Somalia (UNIFEM'S Independent Experts' Assessment). Currently, the UN is carrying out investigations of sexual abuse by peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Within a French UN logistics expert's home in the Congo, a pornographic studio was setup to tape the rape of little girls. Odds are that this man will not get the punishment he deserves. Nor will the UN.

When the police arrived, the man was allegedly about to rape a 12-year-old girl sent to him in a sting operation. Three home-made pornographic videos and more than 50 photographs were found in his home.
Just one single isolated pervert? Sorry. There is more. More that the UN does not want you to know.
A book by three current and former U.N. employees about peacekeeping operations portrays wild parties with alcohol and drugs, and convicts and mental-asylum inmates passing as soldiers.

Embarrassed U.N. officials have threatened firing or other disciplinary action against two of the authors, Heidi Postlewait and Andrew Thomson. U.N. rules bar employees from writing about their work without approval, which had been denied in this case.

What is it that liberals champion above all? The whistleblower. But apparently they only trumpet whistleblowers in the Bush Administration. Had Richard Clark wrote a book about the UN, he would not have gotten any press. But in the Congo there has been real damage to world peace, and perpetrator is the UN.

''I don't know whether they are normal or not," said Aziza, who did not want to use her full name out of shame. ''I wonder whether all white people are like that."

Certainly some, even many, UN peacekeepers and civilian officers in this war-plagued region were. Aziza's story and at least 150 others tales of sexual abuse in Congo have come to light in recent months, shocking an institution that considers itself an agency of mercy.

The shock has inspired action toward an overhaul of the UN's 16 peacekeeping missions around the world. In Congo, home to the largest operation -- with about 11,000 soldiers and 1,200 civilians -- the allegations point to nearly all of the major peacekeeping contingents. But they also involve senior civilian officials, including a top security officer, a chief on the UN special envoy's staff, and an internal oversight investigator.

The charges range from rape to exploitation -- sex for a bottle of water or a military ration -- to ''relationships" or solicitations that are marked by a severe imbalance in power. One case, involving a French UN staffer who took digital pictures of underage girls, has caused concern that it could become ''the UN's Abu Ghraib" if the photos get out.

Charges of sexual abuse have haunted UN peacekeepers for years, most notably during operations in Cambodia, the Balkans, and Liberia in the 1990s. But the cases in Congo may mark a tipping point. Two years after the first charges were made, top UN officials have finally denounced the problem openly and vowed to punish those involved.

Last month, Secretary General Kofi Annan addressed the issue publicly for the first time.

Somalia, 1997
Belgian UN troops admit to 'roasting' Somali boy. Don't worry though, the two UN soldiers were fined £200 and jailed for a month.

Italian, Canadian, and Belgian UN troopers were all found to have murdered, tortured, and humiliated Somali's, (mostly children), during Operation Hope.

  • "...forcing a young Somali to eat pork, drink salt water, and then eat his vomit."

  • "...[UN soldier] murdered a Somali whom he was photographed urinating on."

  • "...[another] boy, who had been caught trying to steal food, died after being locked in a container for 48 hours.

  • "Fifteen members of the regiment were investigated in 1995 for "acts of sadism and torture" against Somalian civilians."

  • "Canadian paratroopers were investigated for torturing a Somali to death and killing three others."

  • "...gruesome photographs ... of Italian soldiers torturing a young Somali youth, and abusing and raping a young Somali girl."

  • "Last week an Italian paratrooper said: "What's the big deal? They are just niggers anyway."

In Kosovo, some of these women "are threatened, beaten, raped, and effectively imprisoned by their owners," Amnesty International reported in May. "With clients including international police and troops, the girls and women are often too afraid to escape, and the authorities are failing to help them. It is outrageous that the very same people who are there to protect these women and girls are using their position and exploiting them instead - and they are getting away with it."

But the problem goes beyond Kosovo and sex trafficking. Wherever the UN has established operations in recent years, various violations of women seem to follow:

Lax oversight. No real authority. Effort to cover up as much as possible. The UN is essentially an empty promise or worse, making a lie out of peace and mercy. The damage that follows in the UN's wake is worse than abu graib when you calculate the perversion of what they are supposed to stand for and the corrupt way they refuse to stop these acts by UN soldiers and employees.

The UN, with troops on the ground, failed to act in Rwanda and at least 800,000 people died. Most of them hacked to death with machetes over several months. The US and the UN stood by and did nothing.

The report highlights the role of Mr Annan, who was head of UN peacekeeping at the time, sharply criticizing his failure to act on a warning of the risk of genocide sent by the head of the UN peacekeepers in Rwanda.

It also criticizes Belgium for unilaterally withdrawing its peacekeepers after the murder of 10 of its soldiers.

The decision of peacekeepers to retreat from a school, leaving civilians inside to be butchered, is described as "disgraceful". bbc

At least 70,000 people have been killed in Darfur already. Possibly 1.8 million homeless. Is there any reason to believe that the UN can keep that number from growing?

Oil for Food
We've been talking about the evils of corporations, the dangers of monopoly, and how much regulation should be applied to the business sector in order to avoid scandals and corruption. Enron et al pales in comparison to the oil for food scandal, yet I cannot find a single liberal voice calling for stricter controls and greater openness for the UN. What gives?

The oil for food program was constructed to restrict Saddam's freedom to reconstruct his weapons program. Yet, the UN allowed Saddam to profit off of the program by bribing UN officials and hundreds of affiliated business and government contacts. The purpose of the program was essentially thwarted. We might as well have not had the program. The UN not only proved itself incapable, it proved itself all too corruptable.

I find it highly ironic that the UN resisted the Bush administration's call to hold Saddam accountable in the run up to war by moralizing about how the US was flouting international law, when the UN overseers were complicit in trading Iraqi blood for oil so that they could pocket bribes and kickbacks.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list by any means, merely a topical search of google. Given time, I'm sure that the full details available in press accounts alone would be sufficient to chill the heart, not to mention what full first person accounts might reveal about the depth of depravity done by UN officials and soldiers.

In short the UN is a gutless, immoral, hypocritical organization that should be dissolved. It no longer serves the purpose for which it was created. We need to revise our rationale for dealing with international crises. The UN as it is currently constructed must not continue. End it don't mend it.

Posted by Eric Simonson at December 28, 2004 5:09 PM