WASHINGTON – 'FOX NEWS SUNDAY' HOST CHRIS WALLACE: The United Nations is under fire these days in a number of scandals, from the Oil-For-Food program to charges of sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeeping forces.
Here to discuss how the U.N. plans to deal with all that is Mark Malloch Brown (search), the new chief of staff to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
And welcome. Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Malloch Brown.
U.N. CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MALLOCH BROWN: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: What do you make of the nomination of John Bolton (search) to be the new U.S. ambassador, particularly given his critical comments over the years about the U.N. and his apparent assignment to shake things up?
MALLOCH BROWN: People forget a little bit more than 10 years ago he was a very effective assistant secretary of state in the State Department dealing with the U.N.
Second, you know, a U.S. ambassador to the U.N. has to be very effective in New York, but he also has to be very effective in Washington. And, of course, that's where there's a real silver lining to John Bolton's appointment, because if he can corral the different congressional points of view and the administration's point of view into a single set of recommended reforms for the U.N., which we can respond to, that's good news for us.
WALLACE: Bolton's appointment comes against a backdrop of growing disillusionment with the U.N. in this country.
I'd like you to take a look at a poll that we have here, a Fox News-Opinion Dynamics poll. Over the last three years, you can see a steady decline in support by Americans for the U.N. so that now only 32 percent approve of the job you're doing, while 46 percent disapprove.
Where has the United Nations gone wrong, sir?
MALLOCH BROWN: Well, I mean, I think the disagreements over Iraq really did sort of tear at the fabric of the U.S.-U.N. relationship. And, you know, it was very difficult because most of our membership were on the other side of that argument, and the U.N. was very much caught in the middle.
But I think, secondly, in a very real way, we seem to have lost touch with the great middle in America, a middle which very much believes in the aspirational ideas of the U.N., whose forbearers helped write the charter of the U.N. 60 years ago, and who feel that we've drifted away from a commitment to human rights, a commitment to help the poor of the world.
And I think we've got to kind of get back to those basics and demonstrate results that we genuinely believe we achieve every day out there.
WALLACE: But let me ask you about that, because critics say that there is a moral crisis at the United Nations and that one of the problems is that you make no distinctions between democracies and dictatorships.
Case in point, you mentioned human rights. The United Nations Human Rights Commission (search), your watch-dog for human rights abuses. Now, the immediate past chairman of the U.N. Human Rights Commission was Libya (search), and currently on the Human Rights Commission are countries such as Zimbabwe (search) and Cuba (search).
What is the U.N. doing giving countries like Cuba, Libya and Zimbabwe a forum, a platform, to be judging human rights abuses around the world?
MALLOCH BROWN: Well, I think the better question is, why are governments not stopping it? Because it's governments that vote for these countries' inclusion. And, you know, the U.S. and others went along with the idea that regional groupings could nominate, in a sort of Buggins turn way, a government irrespective of their human rights record.
WALLACE: But do you have a problem with those...
MALLOCH BROWN: I have a huge problem with it.
And, in fact, I think you're going to see in the coming weeks one of the reforms that Kofi Annan (search) is going to propose -- but governments will have to act on it -- is a complete revamping of the human rights machinery to try and restore the credibility of this and have people on that commission who really are people of stature and reputation and record and come from countries of the same thing, with real human rights standing in the world.
WALLACE: Let's talk about another criticism of the U.N., and that is that Kofi Annan's instinct, allegedly, is to cover up problems, not to deal with them.
Let me give you another case in point. The U.N. high commissioner for refugees, Ruud Lubbers (search), was accused of sexual harassment. Now, Kofi Annan received an internal investigation last July, which backed the woman's claims, and he said, "There is no need for further action."
Then this February, seven months later, seven months after he got the report, the report was leaked to Fox News, which broadcast it, and suddenly Lubbers is forced out.
I mean, forgive me, sir, but there does seem to be -- I think without being skeptical, one can suggest that Mr. Annan was more concerned about bad publicity than sexual misconduct.
MALLOCH BROWN: Well, let me just say, the Ruud Lubbers, this man who was high commissioner for refugees, had been a conservative, Christian Democrat, prime minister of his country, the Netherlands, for 12 years. He's a man of huge global public reputation.
So when these allegations were made, Kofi Annan turned the report over to an independent international lawyer, a judge of great reputation himself, who said these charges just would not stand up in a court. They don't merit ending the reputation and public life of a man of this distinction. So Kofi accepted that advice.
Then over the subsequent seven months, the story wouldn't go away. Other allegations surfaced. Mr. Lubbers himself continued to fight to clear his name, and in a way which just, we felt, lost respect for him and the organization he leads.
So when we forced his resignation, it was not because of the original allegations, it was because of his conduct since then, which was not becoming for someone who has to have the moral stature to represent the world's refugees.
WALLACE: But is it just a coincidence that he was forced out two days after the report becomes public and seven months after Kofi Annan got it?
MALLOCH BROWN: No, he'd been summoned to New York before those leaks. And, you know, I suspect the timing of the press reports may have been key to the fact people knew he was coming to New York. But this conversation and showdown had been planned well before these stories were published.
WALLACE: Let's turn to a far worse scandal, and that is the widespread sexual exploitation of children in the Congo (search) by U.N. officials and peacekeepers.
Mr. Malloch Brown, this went on for years, sometimes within yards of U.N. bases. And now there are new allegations of sexual misconduct in Burundi and Haiti and Liberia. Why doesn't the U.N. stop it?
MALLOCH BROWN: Well, it's devastating. It's a terrible set of allegations, that peacekeepers sent to keep the peace in poor, weak countries with vulnerable people who have not been able to have their rights protected for years, that some of them behave in this way. I mean, it completely undercuts our mission, and we recognize that.
And the secretary-general has made it clear that use of prostitution, sex with under-age children, that fraternization beyond strict limits, all of this is not allowed and will be a cause for peacekeepers to be sent home and, in some cases, to make them criminally prosecuted.
So he's coming down on it hard, and he's sent the equivalent of his vice president, the deputy secretary-general, out to the main missions over the last few weeks to lay down the law, make sure everyone understood it.
WALLACE: But why over the last few weeks? The fact is, in Cambodia (search), in the early 1990s, there were allegations of this, and a top U.N. official said at the time, "Boys will be boys."
This isn't a recent incident. This has been going on for more than a decade. Why are you sending officials out in recent weeks saying this will not be tolerated?
MALLOCH BROWN: Because it's happened in some missions, and when it happened in Cambodia, it was attacked there, and we tried to address it.
But I think the problem is, we are dealing with something which in some ways is as old as soldiering itself. And the difference is that the U.S. military or my own military, the British military, have in recent decades invested a huge amount of leadership and resources to break these old habits of occupying military groups, to make them realize that this abuse of women in the community is utterly unacceptable.
In our case, our very underfunded peacekeeping missions, with soldiers stitched together from Bangladesh, Jordan, many other different countries, all under their own different commands and without the resources to give them the other recreational options, that the standards of behavior have not been modernized in the same way that has happened with the American or the British military, and we've now got to tackle that.
And the governments who support us in the Security Council have to help us do it by improving the lines of command and putting the resources in it to give soldiers other options.
WALLACE: There's also -- and I don't want to pass over this, and we're starting to run out of time -- the Oil-For-Food scandal, in which billions of dollars were skimmed off.
U.N. investigators found that the U.N. director of that program, Benan Sevan (search), had a grave and continuing conflict of interest. They're still investigating whether Annan's son, Kojo, made money off this deal -- very serious allegations.
And yet, when Kofi Annan wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal just a few weeks ago, his first response to the investigation by Paul Volcker (search) was to say that the charges were overblown and a hyperbole.
MALLOCH BROWN: Well, look, you know, I think that sometimes the U.N. is like the sort of Washington politician who says, "Yes, I may have been in the midst of a scandal, but look at the other guys." Because it is a fact that, you know, a lot more money went missing from the sanctions that the U.S. and other Security Council members turned a blind eye to, when the oil was smuggled out, money went missing after the U.S. occupation. So it is the case that our bit of this is a part of a bigger scandal.
But having said that, for the U.N. to have had management breakdowns that led to this kind of abuse, even if it's on lesser scale than sometimes FOX and others implies, is a terrible problem. And it's why we're introducing a whole set of management reforms over the coming months, to make sure something like this could never happen again.
WALLACE: Let me ask you about one last area. And as you pointed out, I think a lot of Americans don't have ideological feelings about the United Nations, and I agree with you that they believe in the ideals on which it was formed in the 1940s as well. But they've come to the conclusion that it's useless. They look at what happened in Rwanda (search), where a genocide takes place and yet U.N. peacekeepers pull out. They look at what's happening in Darfur (search)now, and they ask, why doesn't the U.N. stop the killing?
MALLOCH BROWN: Well, look, take both those cases, you know, we're running at the moment more than a dozen peacekeeping missions in the world. They're all terribly overstretched. The total cost per year, the money we're allowed for running that, is less than a week or so of the U.S. costs of its military actions in Iraq.
This is underfunded. There's an absence of political will.
The secretary-general has challenged the Security Council, including the United States, to pass a resolution on Darfur. The resolution calling people to justice for human rights crimes, allowing the potential for deployment of U.N. forces -- because we have no authorization from the U.S. or anybody else to put troops into Darfur at the moment -- all of that is stuck in the Security Council because of a gridlock between the so-called permanent five. Now, we hope it'll come out in the coming weeks.
But for us the basic, fundamental critique here is not a weak U.N., it's weak support from governments, which just will not give us the kind of robust intervention support to take on these crises with the resources and the political will it needs to stop these kinds of small wars.
WALLACE: If I may just complete this with one final question, during the course of the last 10 minutes or so we have talked about problems with the Human Rights Commission, we've talked about sexual abuse among high officials and among peacekeeping forces, we've talked about the Oil-For-Food (search) scandal, we've talked about the failure to intervene and save people's lives in some of these most desperate parts of the world.
The question arises: Is it possible that the U.N. needs new leadership, that it needs someone -- instead of Kofi Annan -- who, if you say, "It's not the U.N.'s problem; it's the country's problem," can gain the confidence to get those people to come and solve the problem?
MALLOCH BROWN: Look, it's a fair question. But the fact is, the U.N. is a sum of its nations and it's a sum of global politics and the fragments and fragmentation and disagreements that we have.
We hope, with the repair of U.S.-Europe relations, with the U.S.'s new leadership on the Middle East, we can once again have a much stabler platform to work and that Kofi Annan, who really wants to use his last couple of years in office to lay out dynamic reforms to address these problems, can recover the support of the United States to achieve those reforms.
WALLACE: So he's not going anywhere?
MALLOCH BROWN: He's not going anywhere, because most of the world would look at it as a really, kind of, inappropriate political assassination. They don't look at him as responsible for these problems. They look at it as a lack of support from governments in general. And that's what we need to fix.
WALLACE: When you say political assassination -- by the United States?
MALLOCH BROWN: Not, I think, by the United States, because the U.S. -- Steve Hadley, who was just with you, and the U.S. position is support for him. So, no, I mean, I think it would be sort of a much smaller group of assassins than that, just certain elements who've run out of confidence...
WALLACE: Such as?
MALLOCH BROWN: Well, I mean, it's the case that certain members of Congress and others have called for his resignation. But 191 member states gathered in our General Assembly hall to express their universal support for him, including the American delegate.
So, at the moment, most of the world's with him. If that changes, he'd have to reconsider his position.
WALLACE: Mr. Malloch Brown, I want to thank you for coming in and answering a whole boatload of questions. Thanks so much. We appreciate it.
MALLOCH BROWN: Thank you.