Matthew Russell Lee reviews former UNSG Kofi Anan’s new book of memories – Matthew Russell Lee reviews former UNSG Kofi Anan’s new book of memories – “Interventions: A Life in War & Peace” that lets a lot of UN Personel get away with financial shikaneris.”
Annan Memoir Downplays Oil for Food, Congo and Corruption, Ignores W. Sahara
By Matthew Russell Lee, of Inner City Press.
UNITED NATIONS, October 22, updated — There is a telling omission, among many, in Kofi Annan’s 2012 memoir “Interventions.”
The Oil for Food scandal is addressed, how ever self-servingly, in five page — Benon Savan, who is still on the lam, is not mentioned. Western Sahara, where the UN has had a peacekeeping if not referendum mission since before Annan came to head the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, is not mentioned at all.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, in which the UN has had its largest and longest running peacekeeping operation, barely figure in the book, except when Annan praises Jacques Chirac to sending French soldiers into Ituri as Operation Artemis. All four UN Peacekeeping chiefs since Annan have been from France, with the current boss Herve Ladsous refusing to answer any Press questions. On this, Annan was better than his successor(s).
Virtually nowhere in Annan’s book are UN scandals or the need to reform mentioned. Annan mentions and thanks his top lawyer Nicholas Michel — without any mention that he violated Article 100 of the UN Charter by having the Swiss government pay for his palatial Manhattan apartment while ostensibly working only for the UN.
Annan mentions Martin Griffith helping him, without noting that he left his employment in Geneva after money went missing under his watch. Alan Doss, who pushed UNDP to hire his daughter — and did nothing while the person whose job was taken for this nepotism was prosecuted in US courts — does not appear in the book (but did appear, at least until noted, on Annan’s Syria “dream team“). There is a thanks to “Angela King” – former adviser on women, NOT Angela Kane, still at the UN. (Page xiii).
There is something regal in Annan’s retelling of events. Even of the Rwandan genocide, he quotes President Paul Kagame that “he did not trust Daillaire’s [sic] ability to protect him when he made official visits to the UN field headquarters” (Page 53).
Annan claims that he established with the International Monetary Fund “an unprecedented level of cooperation” (Page 221). But even now, the UN’s ECOSOC and other bodies are subservient to and sometimes ignored by the IMF.
The failure to reform the UN he blames on developing world ambassadors like Munir Akram of Pakistan, writing that Akram was “typical” in that he “routinely claimed to have ‘very strong instructions’ but could then change those instructions if needed” (Pages 146-7).
Amid all this some good work is quietly done: by Department of Political Affairs officials like Craig Jenness (page 196) and Anna Tibaijuka.
Ban Ki-moon appears only twice in the book: asking Annan to deal with post-election violence in Kenya, then in connection with Annan’s failed Syria mediation which is now a selling point for the book.
Ironically, despite Ban’s spokesperson’s office’s denials or stonewalling when Inner City Press first asked about it, having heard bragging at Singapore’s mission to the UN, Ban has already collaborated on a book.
Our Matthew Lee did not look if Climate Change and Sustainable Development appear in the book – or this is a book only on military activities that involve the U.N.