International Organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank lack political and legal accountability. These supranational organizations are immune from any US federal, state or other national jurisdicitons, regardless of where they are headquartered. Furthermore, they generally lack political accountability. Although the country representatives in say the UN or the WTO are appointed by national executives (like the process for ministers), there is really no transparency or electoral feedback that evaluates these representatives and the organizations’ good governance. Worse, the IMF and World Bank chiefs are named by the EU and the United States respectively, thus alienating the rest of the world. At least the WTO (generally the most criticized of these organizations) allows each member state to have equal voting power.
In the US, the UN is continuously criticized for this lack of accountability and henceforth encrouching on US sovereignty. On the other hand, in Europe the UN is often hailed as the panacea for the world’s ills. Both are mislead. The US is wrong in that it is holding onto to sovereignty at a time in history where the trend is to yeild a degree of it for the better good of the entire globe. The EU is innocent in thinking that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Let’s be honest, a non-transparent, non-accountable international organization is nothing more than the sum of all of the corruption in each of its member states. What is needed is serious UN reform, something that is extremely difficult to achieve for it would mean that certain fat cats (such as France, the US, and Russia would lose their relative weight and veto power).
All in all what concerns me the most . . .
in the here in now is immunity from jurisdiction. For example, in Washington, DC, the World Bank Group (including the IBRD and its parts, the IMF, and the IDB) is the second leading employer after the Federal government. Nevertheless, the World Bank Group is not subject to labor or workplace discrimination laws (or any other laws for that matter). It is completely self governing. That means that any World Bank employee (be her a US citizen or not) has no independent forum to redress her claims if she has been sexually harrassed by a superior or discriminated against. As a matter of fact, I have seen these cases arise before. A claim is brought internally, and a staff member or ombudsperson evaluates the validity of the claim. These claims are almost always dropped and the injured party receives absolutely no redress and intimidation. So here you have an organization that employs large numbers of people, yet these people are unprotected by the law.
Beyond the problems of labor law, there are also serious questions of abuse, as seen in the article below. It may be comforting to know that not only US soldiers may be abusive while on duty, but also the beloved UN Peace Keepers.
U.N. investigated over 300 for sex abuse
By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer
The United Nations has investigated more than 300 members of U.N. peacekeeping missions for alleged sexual exploitation and abuse during the past three years and more than half were fired or sent home, according to a senior U.N. official.
The announcement came as the United Nations was trying to determine whether a report in a British newspaper involved new allegations or ones the U.N. had investigated or was investigating. The Daily Telegraph report alleged U.N. personnel in southern Sudan were involved in sexual exploitation and abuse of more than 20 children.
U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Jane Holl Lute said Friday that the U.N. has done more in the last two years than ever before to try to combat sex abuse in its 16 peacekeeping missions “but we’re not satisfied with where we are.”
With nearly 200,000 people from more than 100 countries rotating through the peacekeeping missions every year, some people “are going to behave badly,” she told a news conference. “What’s different now is … our determination to stay with this problem … and constantly improve our ability to deal with it.”
Between January 2004 and the end of November 2006, Lute said, the U.N. investigated allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse involving 319 peacekeeping personnel “in all missions” — from East Timor, the Middle East and Africa to Kosovo and Haiti.
This resulted in the summary dismissal of 18 civilians and the repatriation of 17 international police and 144 military personnel, she said.
According to the Department of Peacekeeping, during the first 10 months of 2006, 63 percent of all misconduct allegations involving peacekeeping personnel were related to sexual exploitation and abuse, a third of them to prostitution.
While allegations of abuse have dogged peacekeeping missions since their inception more than 50 years ago, the issue was thrust into the spotlight after the United Nations found in early 2005 that peacekeepers in Congo had sex with Congolese women and girls, usually in exchange for food or small sums of money.
Jordan’s U.N. Ambassador Prince Zeid al Hussein wrote a report several months later that described the U.N. military arm as deeply flawed and recommended withholding the salaries of the guilty and requiring nations to pursue legal action against perpetrators. It said abuses had been reported in missions ranging from Bosnia and Kosovo to Cambodia, East Timor, West Africa and Congo.
The U.N. peacekeeping department instituted a new code of conduct for peacekeepers and new training for officers and all U.N. personnel, and it reinforced messages of “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse.
A new anti-prostitution campaign is about to start “to target what has been a troubling pathway for sexual exploitation and abuse in the missions,” Lute said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Peacekeeping corrected information it supplied Thursday that four U.N. peacekeepers from Bangladesh have been sent home and 13 other peacekeepers serving in southern Sudan are under investigation for alleged serious misconduct including sexual exploitation and abuse.
According to the department, there are currently 13 sexual exploitation and abuse cases under investigation by the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services in Sudan (OIOS), half in southern Sudan.
These cases include an investigation into an allegation of sexual exploitation and abuse in June 2006 against a Bangladeshi peacekeeper in southern Sudan. While the OIOS investigation is continuing, the department said the peacekeeper was sent home and dismissed from the army.
In addition, three Bangladeshi guards on duty when the alleged incident took place and two officers were repatriated for poor supervision or poor command. The Bangladeshi army dismissed one guard, lowered the rank of the two others, and severely reprimanded the two officers, the Peacekeeping Department said.