Wednesday, August 29, 2007

At the UN: Ethics Tomorrow, Ethics Yesterday -- But Never Ethics Today

At the UN: Ethics Tomorrow, Ethics Yesterday -- But Never Ethics Today
By: Claudia Rosett

As the Ethics Charade at the UN drags on (see four previous posts), I’m reminded of Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass,” in which the White Queen tells Alice, “The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday — but never jam today.”

The same could be said of most UN “reforms,” but the never-present nature of UN ethics is showcased right now by the unhappy fate of the whistleblower, Artjon Shkurtaj, fired by the UN Development Program, which refuses to recognize the “jurisdiction” of the UN Ethics Office. Apparently that glitch in the system was of no interest to UN top management, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, until the Ethics Office earlier this month produced a finding supporting Shkurtaj, and urging investigation into his firing by the UNDP.

Here’s how it works:

Ethics Tomorrow: Here’s from Ban’s remarks in the Q & A at a press conference this morning: “Now let me briefly mention about this ethics issue. It is crucially important for the United Nations system to uphold the highest level of ethical standard and this ethical standard should be implemented across the board, system-wide, in a coherent manner… This is what we need. I’m going to consult with Member-States of the General Assembly.”

Ethics Yesterday: Scroll down in this June 12, 2006 Op-ed by Kofi Annan, which ran under the oxymoronic headline, “A Moment of Truth for the United Nations,” to the penultimate paragraph in which, along with the new Peacebuilding Commission (a joke), and the new Human Rights Council (a travesty), Annan touts the new ethics office and “tougher system for protecting whistleblowers.”

Ethics Today: Huh?

No comments: