May 4, 2006

Kofi's Half Mil

Claudia Rosett

Here’s one for the new ethics office at the United Nations: Not only do we now know that Secretary-General Kofi Annan accepted a $500,000 prize from the ruler of Dubai, courtesy of a judges’ panel rife with U.N. connections, one member of which Annan then appointed to a high U.N. job. Less well known is that Annan was advised to take the prize money by another senior U.N. official, Mark Malloch Brown—according to Malloch Brown himself in an interview this past February.

Since then, Annan has promoted Malloch Brown from U.N. chief of staff to the U.N.’s number-two post of deputy secretary-general. With role models like these in the executive suite, small wonder the U.N. remains gridlocked over reform...

...what kind of precedent has Annan set? Exactly how early in a secretary-general’s term does the U.N. now deem it appropriate for the top boss to start collecting personal cash prizes?—dedicated, of course, to his personal, charitable ventures after retirement. Is $500,000 per prize the limit, or just the beginning? Who polices the use of such funds? And which tycoons, monarchs, or dictators qualify as acceptable prize-givers? Is Hugo Chavez allowed to give Annan a prize? Or Iranian President Ahmadinejad? One has to wonder at what point a responsible U.N. member state—are there any?—might finally be moved to call the secretary-general to account for such stuff.

Posted by dan at May 4, 2006 1:35 PM