MAP Member Opinion "Peace" 

Call for Annan to quit U.N. post is biased, premature
by Anil T. Mangla
published 12-18-04, Star Tribune

I'm deeply disappointed that Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., demanded that United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan resign.

I know the secretary-general as a man of integrity; he is realistic, focused but most of all a gifted leader.

The investigation of the oil-for-food program is still underway and Coleman's call for resignation is prejudged, extreme and unwarranted. Annan has not profited from the program and it is wrong to accuse him or the United Nations.

Some facts about this program:

• The U.N. Security Council -- not the secretary-general or his staff -- had ultimate oversight authority for the oil-for-food program. Members of the Security Council's 661 Committee, including the United States, were responsible for monitoring all contracts awarded under the program.

• Evidence suggests the Security Council did not "rubber-stamp" the contracts; in fact, the United States and the United Kingdom held up about 5,000 contracts, suspecting that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was trying to import materials to make weapons of mass destruction. But Security Council members did not hold up a single contract for concern that Saddam's regime would profit. The U.N. Secretariat forwarded every contract to the committee for its review.

• Uncovering the truth about the oil-for-food program will require cooperation not only from the United Nations, but from dozens of governments and private corporations.

• The five permanent members, including the U.S. government, have not cooperated with Paul Volcker's investigation committee. Clearly, several of these governments were far more knowledgeable about what happened in the establishment and monitoring of the oil-for-food program than the U.N. Secretariat.

As secretary-general, Annan has revitalized the United Nations through a program of reform; strengthened the organization's dedication for peace and development; encouraged and advocated human rights, and restored public confidence in the organization.

He has served as undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations; served as special representative of the secretary-general to the former Yugoslavia, and overseen the transition in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the U.N. Protection Force to the multinational implementation force led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Annan has gone even further to establish programs to eradicate the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Under Annan's leadership we have the Global Fund and the Millennium Development Goals, programs that will save 30 million to 40 million lives within the next 10 years.

No independent government program globally has been as effective in combating disease and poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting maternal health, gender equality and the empowerment of women, reducing child mortality, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.

It is clear that the secretary-general is a noble man; his work has earned him the Nobel Prize.

Let his work move on, and let's not prejudge him without proof of involvement or guilt.


Anil T. Mangla, Woodbury, is the Global Health and Infectious Disease chair for UNA-MN

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