Oilforfood allegations will not derail UN reform initiative Annan says

“[Reform] is a long-term proposal, and it’s a proposal which is going to have a longer term impact on the Organization,” Mr. Annan said as he entered UN Headquarters in New York in response to a question on the Oil-for-Food issue.”I do not expect it to derail the reform process,” he replied. “We are determined to go ahead and I urge all the Member States to go” forward as well.The Secretary-General’s initiatives for the most sweeping overhaul of the UN in its 60-year history are contained in his report “In Larger Freedom.” Among other proposals, he urges an expansion of the Security Council from the current 15, a replacement of the UN Commission on Human Rights with a Human Rights Council made up of members elected by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly, the establishment of a new Peacebuilding Commission, the adoption of a comprehensive treaty against terrorism, and full adherence to targets for providing development aid to poor countries.In his comments, Mr. Annan acknowledged the seriousness of the allegations about Oil-for-Food as well as the mistakes made in connection with the programme. He added that the UN had worked to rectify those errors.”We are taking measures to strengthen our own administration and transparency,” he said, adding, “The Member States, who themselves are very much aware of how the Oil-for-Food [programme] was set up, how it was managed, how it was organized, I think are much more sanguine about the facts than most other people, and I hope they will focus on the work ahead and strengthen this institution.”Reflecting on the broader context, he said: “For some, the oil-for-food crisis will never die down.”The Secretary-General last year named a high-level panel headed by former United States Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker to investigate the allegations of corruption surrounding the $64 billion programme. All relevant documents and files have been turned over to Mr. Volcker’s Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) and all staff members have been ordered to cooperation with its investigation on pain of dismissal.The IIC has so far issued two interim reports. Its final report is expected this summer.

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