Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A Miasma of Corruption: The United Nations at 50

by Stefan Halper

Stefan Halper, a former White House and State Department official, is a nationally syndicated columnist. [Senior Fellow at the Centre of International Studieswww.polis.cam.ac.uk/contacts/staff/halper-stefan.html]

… Bureaucracy Run Amok

Since the Third World majority took control of the United Nations and its budget, total UN employment has ballooned from 1,500 to more than 50,000 worldwide. The latter figure does not include the nearly 10,000 consultants or the peacekeeping forces, which at their height in 1993 numbered some 80,000. No exact figure on total employment including consultants--the hiring of consultants is a popular and much-abused practice at the United Nations--can be given. That is because until 1994 there was no central, computerized list of personnel. Even today there are no records of many appointments in the Secretariat.[18]

The personnel costs (including generous pension benefits) of that army of bureaucrats consume an estimated 70 percent or more of the UN operating budget. Given the lack of transparency, the percentage could be even higher. That leaves relatively few financial resources for the actual missions of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, including the organization's much-touted humanitarian programs.

The salary and benefits packages of UN employees based in New York City are incredibly lucrative. Statistics compiled in 1995 revealed that the average annual salary for a midlevel accountant at the United Nations was $84,500. The salary for a comparable position in non-UN businesses and agencies was $41,964. A UN computer analyst could expect to receive $111,500 compared to $56,836 paid counterparts outside the UN bureaucracy. An assistant secretary general received $190,250; the mayor of New York City was paid $130,000.[19] The raw figures do not convey the extent of the disparity, however, since the salaries of UN employees are free of all taxes. In addition to their bloated salaries, UN bureaucrats enjoy an array of costly perks, including monthly rent subsidies of up to $3,800 and annual education grants (also tax-free) of $12,675 per child. The UN pension program is so generous that entry-level staffers whose pay rises only as fast as inflation can retire in 30 years with $1.8 million.[20]…


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