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Jan Egeland on Lessons for the UN

From the Financial Times: "[T]he tsunami showed that only the UN has the universal legitimacy, capacity and credibility to lead in a truly global humanitarian emergency. Days after initiating tsunami relief efforts, regional groups and other core group nations handed over the reins to the UN, in recognition that it alone could co-ordinate some 60 donor countries, military assets from 26 countries and hundreds of international, national and local humanitarian partners.... As we approach the 60th anniversary of the UN's founding, we must summon the courage to listen carefully to our critics and learn from not only our well-publicised failings but also our less-heralded successes. Some of the criticisms are justified, some are not. As Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general, has affirmed, we must fundamentally ramp up our performance, upgrade and modernise our management culture and become the transparent, accountable and effective 21st century institution the world expects the UN to be."
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“We Continue to Support the Work of the Secretary General”

From today's WH press briefing: QUESTION: Scott, two questions. First, Paul Volcker's report on the oil-for-food scandal at the U.N. is out. And while it shows that Secretary General Annan was not directly implicated in this scandal, it suggests strongly that he was at the very least negligent in his oversight of it and obtuse about the role his own son, Kojo, played in the fraud. Should he stay or should he go? MCCLELLAN: Well, first of all, let me back up. We've always felt it was important for there to a full investigation of the allegations of corruption and fraud in the oil-for-food program. We appreciate the work that the Volcker Commission is doing. We look forward to seeing the final results. This is another report that they are putting forward today. There needs to be a full accounting. We have always said that it needs to be an open, transparent and full investigation. And so we appreciate the work that's been going on by the Volcker investigation. We have just received a copy of the report today. It's just been made available today. We're going to carefully study that report and look at what it says. It's also important that we continue to move forward on reforms at the United Nations to make sure that it is addressing the challenges that we face in the most effective way and that things like this are prevented from happening in the future.
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Wirth Statement on 2nd Volcker Interim Report

STATEMENT BY TIMOTHY E. WIRTH, PRESIDENT OF THE UN FOUNDATION, ON TODAY'S INTERIM REPORT ISSUED BY THE INDEPENDENT INQUIRY COMMITTEE ON THE OIL-FOR-FOOD PROGRAM "Today's report from the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) brings us a step closer to getting to the bottom of the problems with the Oil-For-Food Program (OFFP) and the steps needed to fix them. The UN has kept its promise to fully and fairly investigate OFFP and let the chips fall where they may. Today's report makes important findings regarding the Secretary-General, his son, and his former chief-of-staff among others. But the report also makes clear that, despite some significant shortcomings on the part of the Secretary-General, the investigation did not find that he engaged in any wrongdoing. Now the most important priority for the UN and the U.S. is to work together to reform and strengthen the institution and ensure it is prepared to help confront the 21st Century challenges of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, infectious disease, poverty and more. The Secretary-General's recent report provides an excellent start on these UN reforms and we encourage the Bush Administration and the Congress to support these efforts."
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Annan Statement on 2nd Volcker Interim Report

New York, 29 March 2005 - Statement by the Secretary-General on the second interim report of the Independent Inquiry Committee I have this morning received from Mr. Paul Volcker and his colleagues the second interim report of their independent inquiry into allegations concerning the United Nations oil-for-food programme in Iraq. I thank them once again for their investigation. As I had always hoped and firmly believed, the Inquiry has cleared me of any wrongdoing. On the key issue of the award of the contract to inspect humanitarian goods entering Iraq under the oil-for-food programme, the report states clearly that "there is no evidence that the selection of Cotecna in 1998 was subject to any affirmative or improper influence of the Secretary-General in the bidding or selection process." I will meet the press later today to make a fuller statement on the findings contained in the report, and to answer questions. View Report (pdf)
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“He Has Our Confidence”

Transcript U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman Washington, DC March 28, 2005 QUESTION: Oil-for-Food. This week, a new Volcker report is expected and I'm wondering, in light of the fact that this scandal has clearly been a blight on the UN during Mr. Annan's time as Secretary General, if you believe that he has been sufficiently damaged by this that he can't carry through the reforms that the U.S. is looking for. MR. ERELI: Let's wait until the next Volcker report comes out. The fact of the matter is that we've said that it's important that all the facts be known, and when all the facts be known that appropriate accountability be taken. Secretary General Annan has been a firm believer in that and so let's just -- let's see what happens and see what we find out and make our assessments on that basis.
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Salon: Reinventing “We the Peoples”

"In an effort to increase the relevance of, and confidence in, the United Nations, which was created 60 years ago to prevent a repetition of World War II, Secretary-General Kofi Annan on March 21 presented several proposals for reform of the world body to reflect the changed nature of global conflicts since 1945. The title of his 63-page report is "In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All." In the biggest reinterpretation, he asks the Security Council, in place of the traditional sacrosanctity of national sovereignty, to deem mass murder, repression and ethnic cleansing to be threats to international peace and security that the international community has the right to intervene to stop -- and to adopt a set of principles to ensure that such intervention takes place only when there is no other option. In another bold step, he proposes a succinct definition of terrorism and the creation of an international convention against it, along with strengthened controls on weapons to stop terrorists from getting their hands on them. In case you think that's easy, remember that diplomats have been tying themselves in knots over a definition of terrorism since even before Sept. 11, 2001." Full Article (Subscription or free Site Pass required)
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Annan Calls for International Probe into Hariri Assassination

The UN continues to play a leading role in working to bring Hariri's killers to justice: "United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on the Security Council to launch an independent international investigation into last month's assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri after receiving the report of a mission he set up to probe the circumstances, causes and consequences of the murder." LINK
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Indian Ocean Nations Mark 3 Months Since Tsunami

"In a statement marking Saturday's commemoration, the United Nations' World Food Program said it is feeding 1.75 million survivors who lost their homes and livelihoods. The organization has so far moved more than 50,000 metric tons of food using helicopters, planes, cargo ships, landing craft and trucks. The United Nations pledged this week to stay in the region until rebuilding is complete. "This is not something that we are going to be able to recover from in weeks or months, it's going to be years," U.N. tsunami envoy Erskine Bowles said after touring Aceh." More...