The Volcker investigation has fingered Benon Sevan in UNSCAM to an extent that even Kofi Annan cannot ignore. I remain somewhat unimpressed, however, by the UN’s reaction so far:


Based on the report, Annan has decided to discipline Sevan and another U.N. official, Joseph Stephanides, said Mark Malloch Brown, Annan’s new chief of staff. Malloch Brown said the type of disciplinary action would be announced early next week but gave no details.

Brown acknowledged that there was limited action Annan could take because Sevan had retired. But Annan could discipline Stephanides, who was chief of the U.N. Sanctions Branch and deputy director of the Security Council Affairs Division in the U.N. Department of Political Affairs. The Volcker report found that Stephanides manipulated an Oil-for-Food contract.

Volcker and his panel were unable to conclude if Sevan actually took bribes because they were prohibited from issuing subpoenas.

Okay, so you can’t exactly fire a guy who’s already retired. But what Sevan and Stephanides did was illegal according to the laws of pretty much any country. Surely the World Court at The Hague would be interested in pressing charges. These guys need to go to prison for a long, long time. And if the World Court were to hand down an indictment, they sure as hell better not ignore it, or risk undermining the legitimacy of their precious international legal body (not that that would be a bad thing).

But if that doesn’t work, there’s always the law of the country of jurisdiction. I’m not sure which country that would be in this case. Where was the UN program considered to be incorporated? Belgium perhaps? They need to start arresting people and giving them more than another UN slap on the wrist.

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