Tuesday, February 05, 2008

UNICEF - latest money scandal at UN

Hey, anyone monitoring closely the UN's latest frolics in terms of money wastage, corruption and incompetence will be pleased to see that the international organisation remains true to its historical form. It's been discovered that the German arm of UNICEF diverted about 20% of all donations (roughly 20 mio of 100 mio Euros) to pay its staff nicely exorbitant salaries, make plenty of external consultants happy etc. It could well be that this year, possibly for the first time, UNESCO might have to give up the mantle of most corrupt (and arguably most pointless) or most inefficiently run outfit in the UN bureaucracy, and might have to pass it on to UNICEF. No doubt UNESCO will fight hard, and, according to well-informed insiders, will almost certainly be able to claim the title back in 2009. Still, for 2008 it seems a remarkably close race. The only bit that's really funny about this are serial resignation of UNICEF 'ambassadors' (invariably actors, sports people, and the like, trying to do good by the world's children without wanting to think too much about it). It's as if it had never before occurred to them that any money poured into a UN outfit or a UN affiliated outfit is like attempting to fill a bottom-less pit.

This, of course, goes very much to the heart of the international do-good industry. Many such organisations these days have sufficient cash at hand, and are prepared to pay salaries sufficiently high to advertise in eg. THE ECONOMIST, a magazine in which a half-page advertisement costs probably about 15000 GBP. The question one has to ask in this context is whether poverty fighting organisations really need to pay many of their staff more in terms of salaries than most of their donors take home in a good year.

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