The following is the text of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's statement in response to an interim report on the Oil-for-Food Programme, which is sharply critical of the programme's chief official.
As chief administrative officer of the United Nations
Organization, I am responsible and accountable to the
member states for its management.
Last year, in order to
fulfil that responsibility, I set up, with the full support
of the Security Council, an independent inquiry into the
administration and management of the Oil-for-Food
Programme, including allegations of fraud and corruption so
as to get a clear idea of what was wrong, and what remedial
actions are needed.
I asked Mr Paul Volcker, Justice
Richard Goldstone and Professor Mark Pieth, three men of
extraordinary distinction in their respective fields of
finance, law and criminology, men whose integrity and
competence is beyond doubt to conduct that inquiry.
Today they have presented, to me and to the public, an
interim report, which I have immediately passed on to the
Mr Volcker has said that "the findings
do not make for pleasant reading", and I agree.
they make especially uncomfortable reading for all of us
who love this organization and have done our best to serve
it over the years for two reasons:
First, colleagues alongside whom we have worked face
serious accusations. I made clear when I set up the inquiry
that appropriate action, with full regard for due process,
would be taken against individuals or entities found to
have violated the rules or procedures of the UN.
Accordingly, I have today initiated disciplinary
proceedings against Joseph Stephanides, the person named in
the report who is still on active duty, and against Benon
Sevan, the former head the Office of the Iraq Programme,
against whom the report contains extremely troubling
evidence of wrongdoing.
Mr Sevan has retired from active
duties but has, until now, been kept on staff at a token
salary to ensure his availability to the inquiry.
I made clear from the outset that no-one found to have
broken any laws would be shielded from prosecution. I stand
by that pledge.
Should any findings of the inquiry give
rise to criminal charges, the United Nations will co-operate
with national law enforcement authorities pursuing those
charges, and in the interests of justice I will waive the
diplomatic immunity of the staff member concerned.
'Significant step forward'
Secondly, while I am very glad to note the finding that
United Nations budgeting, accounting and administration
were in general disciplined in maintaining the use of funds
for programme purposes, I must also take note of the
findings that the initial procurement process for companies
to carry out banking and inspection services fell far short
of the standards of fairness, objectivity and transparency
required by the Charter and by United Nations rules, and
that the management controls and systems set up for the
programme were, in many cases, inadequate to the task.
Measures have already been taken to remedy some of these
defects. Other steps will be announced soon.
Meanwhile I wish to thank the members of the inquiry
committee for this report, which I regard as a significant
step forward, since it clearly demonstrates their
determination to get to the bottom of all the allegations,
and to identify deficiencies in the mechanisms that we used
to administer the programme.
I note, in particular, their
intention to publish a further interim report dealing with
questions related to the procurement of a contractor that
employed my son. I hope that report will come soon, and I
await its findings with a clear conscience.
Finally, let me also thank the committee for judging the
United Nations "against the highest standard of ethical
behaviour", and for their acknowledgement that "few
institutions have freely subjected themselves to the
intensity of scrutiny entailed in the committee's work".