Two Republican lawmakers — Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California — sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan asking for a number of audits from the United Nations. Hyde is chairman of the House International Relations Committee, one of the congressional panels probing Oil-for-Food (search). Following is the text of the letter:
February 9, 2005
Secretary General Kofi Annan
First Avenue at 46th Street
New York, NY 10017
Dear Mr. Secretary General:
We are writing today concerning the disclosures made in today's edition of the New York Times regarding corruption investigations at a United Nations Specialized Agency in Geneva, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
In addition to evidence pointing to gross mismanagement and corruption in the Oil for Food Program, UN peacekeeping operations, and personal misconduct by senior UN officials in various agencies, we have now concluded that a wider problem of corruption and mismanagement in the UN might exist. The failures reported in recently released internal audits of the Oil-for-Food Program undertaken by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) as well as developments reported in the Times, portray systemic weaknesses plaguing the UN that require further investigation. Accordingly, we are considering a proposal to expand the scope of the International Relations Committee's inquiry from that of the Oil-for-Food Program to a wider examination of the management practices of the United Nations. To this end, we would like to begin by respectfully requesting copies of all audits performed at the WMO and the other 15 specialized UN agencies.
We keenly understand the important role played by international organizations including the UN. We also understand that the effectiveness of an organization depends in large measure on public confidence. To enjoy such confidence, the UN must show a better record of accountability and efforts to curb corruption. Sadly, it can now be argued, as many of our colleagues are now doing, that a UN lacking in accountability suffers from crippling questions about its effectiveness. These doubts cannot fester unanswered without consequences for the UN among a growing number of Americans who are concluding that the world body is hopelessly crippled.
You should be aware that the committee is now preparing a draft Foreign Relations Authorization Act for legislative consideration later this year. We anticipate that the legislation will address vital changes in the organization's procurement, finance, personnel and auditing functions. In light of today’s news and other stories of corruption at the UN, we urge you to immediately make all internal and external audits of the UN and its affiliated organizations available to member states as a matter of routine. Such audits should be made available to member states within thirty days of delivery to UN management. Additionally, you should look toward the establishment of strong and workable ethics codes, a sufficient financial disclosure requirement, and the creation of a culture of transparency necessary for an institution with such a broad world-wide mission as the UN. I think we can all agree that for the UN to work, it must be above reproach.
Rep. Henry J. Hyde
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher