In a morally inverted world, where right is wrong and good is evil, Kofi Annan still is an abject failure and worse, guilty of war crimes, murder even. Annan has much to answer for.
Srebrenica is rarely mentioned nowadays in Annan’s offices on the 38th floor of the UN secretariat building in New York. He steps down in December after a decade as secretary-general. His retirement will be marked by plaudits. But behind the honorifics and the accolades lies a darker story: of incompetence, mismanagement and worse. Annan was the head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) between March 1993 and December 1996. The Srebrenica massacre of up to 8,000 men and boys and the slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda happened on his watch. In Bosnia and Rwanda, UN officials directed peacekeepers to stand back from the killing, their concern apparently to guard the UN’s status as a neutral observer. This was a shock to those who believed the UN was there to help them.
Annan’s term has also been marked by scandal: from the sexual abuse of women and children in the Congo by UN peacekeepers to the greatest financial scam in history, the UN-administered oil-for-food programme. Arguably, a trial of the UN would be more apt than a leaving party.
The charge sheet would include guarding its own interests over those it supposedly protects; endemic opacity and lack of accountability; obstructing investigations, promoting the inept and marginalising the dedicated. Such accusations can be made against many organisations. But the UN is different. It has a moral mission.
It was founded by the allies in 1945 to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights”. Its key documents – the Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the genocide convention – are the most advanced formulation of human rights in history. And they have been flouted by UN member states for decades.
A more specific charge would be that, under the doctrine of command responsibility, the UN is guilty of war crimes. Broadly speaking, it has three principles: that a commander ordered atrocities to be carried out, that he failed to stop them, despite being able to, or failed to punish those responsible. The case rests on the second, that in Rwanda in 1994, in Srebrenica in 1995 and in Darfur since 2003, the UN knew war crimes were occurring or about to occur, but failed to stop them, despite having the means to do so.
Thoroughly despised is Annan by his African "brothers" for enabling the Arabs to mindlessly slaughter hundreds of thousands of Africans.
UPDATE: Onward and upward (more like downward spiral.) Beny Avni writes of the "last Secretary-General" (Gd willing);
The new Turtle Bay chief — most likely the South Korean foreign minister, Ban Ki-moon — must realize that if he stays in office for two terms, he may go down in history as the last U.N. secretary-general.
Can this inefficient, corrupt institution, which was born of the victory over the Nazis, shaped during the Cold War, and kept on life support during the short-lived single-superpower era, survive another decade as new alliances shape a new international power structure?
Why should it? BTW, did you blog for Bolton (how insane that the Dems won't confirm him?)