|ACCOUNTABILITY FOR BAGHDAD. FORMING COMMITTEES IS NOT TAKING
ACTION. NOR IS SCAPEGOATING THE HELPLESS MYAT TUN.
1 December 2003
Four months have passed. The stonewalling continues. The scapegoating of lower level staff seems to
be the order of the day. Higher level officials who competed in taking decision now compete in
disclaimers. Yes, they did attend meetings, but did not really follow all the points raised. They
did receive reports but actually passed them on to officers with more time on their hands. They
knew, of course, that there were risks and threats. They even heard the fallen Special Representative
declare in the Security Council that he and his staff were "vulnerable." But you know how things
happen, goes the argument. A very senior person hardly has time to focus on any particular issue
more than a
few minutes -- half an hour max.
Well, these pompous utterances will not work this time. This was the biggest tragedy that hit the
United Nations. People want accountability. A first "investigation
team" was formed by Mr. Ahtisaari who by the way is now "Special Representative of the Secretary
General for Northern African" or something similar. After a "thorough study" of his "half and
half" report, another committee was formed from distinguished individuals who are expected to
come out with another report requiring further study and continued thought. The only "action"
taken thus far was to hit the politically helpless "Security Co-ordinator," a citizen of
isolated Myanmar. Certainly his permanent representative will not be knocking doors down to
defend him; even if he did, he will be reminded of a potential visit by Razali Ismael to raise
human rights violations. Even the preliminary Ahtisaari report points out, however slightly, to
specific officials in the higher chain of command. But then they are either too connected or too
well informed to be provoked by tough action, however deserved. Maybe a way out could be found
with the help of their government -- like a semi-ministerial appointment in a new government or
another prestigious international posting. Meanwhile, the attempt from "those above" seems to
focus the issue and the blame on "security." That will not work. There is so much emotion,
credibility and conviction at stake to disregard through time consuming committees. Take your time, one
month or two more. But then real action is required. And, by the way, the teflon is wearing out.