|ON BAN KI-MOON'S ETHICS STANDARDS: HOW COULD HIS
ENVOY LARSEN AFFORD A $1,500/NIGHT MONTE CARLO HOTEL? (WITH A CHAUFFERED ROLLS!)
15 September 2007
On the evening of Thursday, 9 August, touristy crowds were swarming Monte Carlo Casino square. As usual, they
were stargazing; sometimes at people climbing the steps towards the prohibitively expensive Hotel de Paris, sometimes
at those dining at l'Atelier terrace; most often they were captivated by all those exotic cars -- Lamborghinis, Rolls
Royces, and even a new Mercedes without a steering wheel, displayed exactly at the opposite of that most prestigious
hotel. At about 10:30 p.m., a chauffeured black Rolls Royce, the newest model, made its way carefully amid stunned tourists
who watched as it deposited its two passengers. From the right side descended Terje Roed Larsen, "U.N. Envoy," while
his wife came out from the left, hugging on her shoulder a stuffed animal toy.
During that peak season, a minimum charge for a room at that Hotel is about $1,500 per night. Whether Mr. Larsen
paid it or some other party accommodated the couple is not for us to announce. We happen to know who else was in that same
hotel, the kind of relationship they would have with the "U.N. Envoy" and their link with the issues he is entrusted to
handle on behalf of the U.N. Secretary General. We will not get into the messy politics. As an aside, we would declare
that we unreservedly support full implementation of all U.N. resolutions on Lebanon; we support Secretary General
Ban Ki-Moon's efforts in that regard; and we fully support the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Politics
is not the question. The problem is the ethical standards or to be more precise, DOUBLE STANDARDS.
One would overlook an isolated incident. But many in the region perceive that Larsen had found a goldmine in Middle
East affairs. When accused a few years ago -- together with his wife -- of financial impropriety, an investigation
was held in Norway (but oddly not by the U.N.). His continued appointment while remaining as head of a fund-raising
International Peace Academy had raised questions on conflict of interest. Any government or interested politicians
seeking to influence his U.N. decision would be tempted to contribute to the Academy.
Even now Larsen meddles in local Lebanese politics by announcing positions different from those made by the
Secretary General or his Representative in Lebanon.
Regrettably, the impression is that Terje Roed Larsen would not be reproached -- he had gone way beyond Norway
to more protective quarters. But for how long? And why should the image of the U.N. and the ethics standards
proclaimed by its Secretary General continue to suffer in the meanwhile? Can't they find a more careful proxy?
Ban Ki-Moon worries abut the destitute of Darfur while his envoy on tormented Lebanon enjoys a chauffeured
Rolls Royce in Monaco!