Thu, 26 Feb 2009 22:15:15 +0000 – By Nile GardinerDirector, Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, The Heritage Foundation
American taxpayers give more than $5 billion a year to the United Nations, but regularly find their money squandered and misused. Case in point: The UN's own internal judicial body, the Administrative Tribunal (UNAT), has just ruled that the world organization must pay the legal fees of Benon Sevan, the former chief of the disastrous $60 billion United Nations Iraq Oil-for-Food Program.
This is not the first time UNAT has issued a ludicrous decision. In 2004 the Tribunal ordered the United Nations to pay one year's back pay to a former official with the United Nations Development Program who was accused of killing 32 people during the 1994 Rwanda genocide, including fellow UN employees. Despite a public outcry, then-Secretary General Kofi Annan issued the payment in accordance with the tribunal's recommendation.
UN officials charged with corruption need to be brought to trial, not have their legal bills paid. The United States should condemn UNAT's decision and demand that Benon Sevan be extradited to the U.S. to face justice. Congress should also withhold from the UN any money that is paid from UN coffers to Sevan's lawyers, sending a clear message that the United Nations should not be rewarding criminal behavior in its ranks.