Friday, April 07, 2006

Inquiry faults Kosovo's UN governor on corruption

By Irwin Arieff1 hour, 23 minutes ago
The United Nations' internal watchdog accused Kosovo's U.N. governor on Friday of turning a blind eye to widespread fraud, corruption and mismanagement at the Pristina airport since mid-2004.

A two-year inquiry by the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services, working with European Union investigators, found that "fraud and mismanagement were rife and there was systematic corruption" at the airport, the OIOS reported.

The report comes as broad management reform proposals, put forward after allegations of widespread mismanagement in the now-defunct oil-for-food program for Iraq, are running into strong resistance from many U.N. member-states.

Some U.S. legislators have threatened to cut Washington's U.N. dues payments if the reforms fall short.

The United Nations has run Kosovo since 1999 after a NATO bombing campaign to halt Serb repression of ethnic Albanians, who make up about 90 percent of the province's population.

The world body is now leading international negotiations on whether Kosovo should be granted independence, as the Albanians demand, or remain an autonomous part of Serbia.

In Kosovo, the watchdog said, "the inevitable conclusion is that accountability for mismanagement and abuse of funds does not exist in the operation, management and supervision of the airport" in Pristina, the provincial capital.


Soren Jessen-Petersen of Denmark, Kosovo's U.N. administrator since June 2004, rejected the office's conclusions as "entirely unwarranted" and unsubstantiated.

He argued that as Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special representative for Kosovo, he had no mandate to investigate publicly owned enterprises such as the airport, according to the report.

He also argued against publicly issuing the OIOS findings.

The OIOS said a special task force including European Union investigators produced 33 reports between August 2004 and June 2005 detailing problems at the airport and how to remedy them.

While nine matters were referred through Jessen-Petersen's office to the U.N. Mission in Kosovo's Department of Justice for criminal investigation, most of the reports were not acted upon because it was not part of his job, Jessen-Petersen said in a written response to the report's findings.

The U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in separate comments, supported that view, the OIOS said.

It said the U.N. mission's inability to address fraud and corruption at Kosovo's publicly owned enterprises dates back to the mission's origins in 1999. "Even though it has become clear that corruption is rampant in Kosovo ... mission management is reluctant to take action," the OIOS report said.

With the mission set to withdraw once Kosovo's future status is determined, expected later this year, this reluctance "will have a devastating impact on public perception inside and outside Kosovo, as the United Nations will be seen as escaping from the problems rather than solving them," it said.


WARchild said...

Airport is only the tip of the iceberg. Even without any criminal intent, many of the UN staff in Kosova did not meet the education and skill levels necessary for the jobs they held. Add to that the ridicilous level of salaries they recieved and one will understand why it took seven years and riots for the mission to complete.

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

They found JUST the airport?

Even if they are genuinely incompetent (and that is surely true), there is more than enough criminal intent in UNMIK to ruin several missions.

Its not just the money : Too many UNMIKs come from countries where corrupt parctice is a way of life. For instance, how many of those "motels" in Kosovo with red lights, mirror windows and pink decoration are there without at least one marked UN vehicles standing oustide at evening? Its almost like mandatory decoration. What manner of morals have such people, that UN cars are openly left standing outside bordellos?

The UN in practice is little than a dupe, a front for a shifting variety of organized criminal operations. Its importing various national government corrupt practices across borders (from the more genteel first world style corporation kickbacks to third world nepotism and straight bribes). The worst of Globalisation, and hateful to see.

Anonymous said...

Funny that the largest fraud prosecutions to date have been of Europeans (see KEK). It's not staff "from countries where corrupt parctice is a way of life" that are are really the problem in the problem, but the holier-than-thou attitudes of Europeans towards people in Kosovo.

Anonymous said...

Hey it seems Petersen adapted perfectly in the local culture.

Carry on Petersen.

Justme said...

The title of this article is misleading! It says that the "inquiry faults Kosovo's UN governor on corruption" but when you read the article you see that it is blaming UN administration. I have no intent to protect the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) but even though it is the highest authority in Kosovo, he or it (as in institution) has no real power over many parts of the robustly inflated UN administration in Kosovo (UNMIK). UN, in general, is one corrupt organization and the UNMIK did only mimic what its founding body does best!

Dardania 2006 said...

Exactly, Petersen is not being accused of corruption

Anonymous said...

"he or it (as in institution) has no real power over many parts of the robustly inflated UN administration in Kosovo (UNMIK)."

A very perceptive comment, so clearly by someone who's worked around/in this wretched mission. In addition to its ridiculously unfocussed mandate, UNMIK also inhereited more of the UN system's accountability and staffing problems than any other UN mission in history.

Anonymous said...

It was Pettersen that recommended scaling down the mission. He made a good choice.

Anonymous said...

"Exactly, Petersen is not being accused of corruption"

But he has the commanding responsibility and surely he knew what was going on and did nothing to prevent it.

Anonymous said...

Right blame Peterson, while pathetic "leaders" like Steiner or whoever were first in charge. Don't you think Peterson has a hard job enough, do you know how hard is to do anything when you have NY watching your every move. I would blame the workers, not the leader. Second or Third in charge is responsible for such things.

Anonymous said...

Sure, but Petersen is the one in charge did nothing as proven to prevent this corruption, didn't he? He may have a hard job, but that doesn't justify that he closed his eyes in front of corruption.

Anonymous said...

...and maybe Steiner or Kuschner are those that started this system, but Petersen hasn't stoped it and therefore it is in his time that this is discovered and he has to face the consequences.

Hajdar said...

Petersen, just like his predecessors, does not pay attention to the nation-building and state-building processes in Kosova. He is not interested in democratizing the country and establishing functional institutions and the rule of law. By democracy he means good interethnic relations (serb-albanian, forget about other minorities - not important)and he wants to see Kosova status resolved. For as much as Petersen cares Kosova can end up as a mafia state ruled by thugs. Anyway, often he calls them friends.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that Petersen and the others before him are put on this position to create a new nation-state. They are there to keep law and order and develop democratic institutions, which apparently they failed, or even worse, assisted the development of corruption.

Mitrovica pika pika said...

I've read somewhere that hell is an organization that has germans as cooks, english as lovers, french as mechanics, the swedes are in charge of entertainment and the whole thing is organized by italians. Any UN operation is a joke and I am positively sure that getting rid of the entire thing would be better for humanity then UN has done since its birth. You cant have paedophiles, rapist, torturers sent to some other country to modernise its police force. On top of it all these fucking crooks have immunity from any law. UN in itself is a paradox, you have countries fairly democratic trying to get a balance on human rights or peace with countries that dont even know what democracy or peace are.

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