The UN is in need of urgent sweeping reform after instances of “illicit, unethical and corrupt” behaviour. That is the conclusion of a damning report into the failures of the oil-for-food programme. The inquiry was headed by Paul Volker. It concluded that responsibilities for the scandal must be broadly shared. But he said it began when too much responsibility was given to Iraq.
Volker said: “That basic difficulty was compounded by a failure to clearly define the complex administrative responsibilities shared between the 661 committee and the secretariat and by continuing political differences.” 661 was the UN committee that oversaw the oil-for-food programme.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told the assembly that the truth was painful, but he accepted responsibility for management lapses. He said: “The report is critical of me personally and I accept the criticism. Earlier this year the committee concluded that I did not influence or attempt to influence the procurement process and I am glad to note the conclusion is reaffirmed.”
The report criticises UN management for allowing Saddam Hussein to exploit the oil-for-food programme and what was called its “wholesale corruption” among private companies.