WASHINGTON – A top aide to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) told a congressional panel Thursday that a transformation of the United Nations (search ) is under way, but denied the U.N. is an out-of-control bureaucracy.
"For me, the United Nations is not oversized, over-resourced or under-supervised by its member states," Malloch Brown (search ) said in a written statement to the House International Relations Committee.
The panel is drafting legislation calling for major changes in the U.N.'s administration. The proposals could tie U.S. funding for the United Nations to reform efforts.
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U.S. congressional criticism of the United Nations has increased in light of a series of scandals, including reports of massive abuses in the U.N. Oil-for-Food program (search). The $64 billion program sought to provide food and other humanitarian items for the Iraqi people when Saddam Hussein's (search) government was under sanctions.
Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, of the majority Republican party, said "No one is opposed to the U.N.'s role in facilitating diplomacy, mediating disputes, monitoring the peace, feeding the hungry."
"But we are opposed to legendary bureaucratization, to political grandstanding, to billions of dollars spent on multitudes of programs with meager results, to the outright misappropriation of funds represented by the emerging scandal regarding the Oil-for-Food program."
Brown said Annan recognizes that the U.N. lacks adequate internal audit procedures, needs to improve its financial disclosure rules and protect whistleblowers.
"On these and many other management issues, we are already moving full-steam to get them fixed," he told lawmakers.
He urged them not to cut funding for peacekeeping, saying it has suffered from "doing it on the cheap." U.N. peacekeepers have been accused of sexual misconduct in Congo and other missions.
"Let's agree what we think the U.N. should do," he said. "And then give it the means, give its leadership, the secretary-general, the authority to get it done right."
He urged Congress not to try to force U.N. reforms on its own, but work with other member states.
"My plea to you is not to jeopardize our common vision of an effective U.N. by acting alone," he said.