ABCs at the U.N.: Audits, Bolton, Corruption

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jan 25, 2006 2:30 PM

I saw John Bolton speak this morning.

He managed to get through his talk and a long question-and-answer session without becoming red-faced, throwing anything, or yelling at anyone. I saw very little hint of meanness. Could it be that he doesn't actually breathe fire?

The talk was off-the-record, but I'm totally meeting Regis for drinks later, so I'll see if I can get him to comment. I hear he's a straight-talker.

Bolton did speak about a U.N. audit completed Tuesday (the audit itself won't be made public), which shows hundreds of millions mispent in procurement. I couldn't find much news coverage of it, but here's the AP's story:

A U.N. inquiry into fraud and corruption in purchases made for global peacekeeping operations has expanded to include more than 200 investigations, according to a top official.

"That has doubled the investigations from just a few months ago," said Christopher Burnham, the U.N.'s undersecretary-general for management.

In monetary terms, Burnham said that "the potential abuse could go into tens of millions of dollars."

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton _ a strong advocate for top-to-bottom reform at the global body _ said Monday's developments show that drastic changes are needed.

"It's a very disturbing report and will require very careful study," Bolton said. "It reinforces our view that activity the Security Council and the General Assembly authorize has to be under careful supervision and scrutiny."

Last week, the U.N. said it ordered eight staff members to take paid leave as part of the fraud investigation.

The United States provides 27 percent of the budget for peacekeeping operations, so just imagine how many of those hundreds of millions of dollars might be yours. Just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it?