Russia’s Fight to Keep the UN Corrupt – Foreign Policy

An illuminating investigative article The Inside Story of Russia’s Fight to Keep the U.N. Corrupt, from bullying out reformers to blocking efforts to save millions by Foreign Policy on the issues and special commercial interests undermining the UN’s financing and Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon’s reform efforts.

This article exposes the weakness of the UN’s own instruments and leaders in resisting the special interests of its most powerful members, and suggests that Russia may not be the only country pulling strings. Member nations, especially the P5, have a multitude of ways they can privately bargain with and threaten the UN.

The dispute [caused by Russian obstructionism that paved the way for preferential treatment of its aircraft providers in the sourcing of planes for UN peacekeeping missions] provides a textbook example of the difficulties of implementing basic financial reforms at the United Nations when major powers have conflicting commercial interests in the outcome.

From an economic point of view, this is Russia putting up artificial barriers to entry (through obstructing legislation, pressuring UN leaders, and outright bribery) on what may not be the most lucrative market for aircraft in the world, but nonetheless a trade that can put entire peacekeeping missions at risk.

In the following years, the U.N.’s capacity to police itself has suffered, and the internal financial controls have not performed up to expectations, particularly in aviation […] Russia has resisted efforts to modernize the U.N.’s air fleets with greener technologies, upgraded safety systems, and more fuel efficiency.

This may only be the tip of a very large iceberg, but hopefully incremental steps can be taken informally, without Russia’s formal consent, to curb the influence of corrupting commercial interests.

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