Sunday, May 06, 2007

"U.S. Fights Off Bid to Punish UNESCO Official"

Read the full article subtitled "Former Congressman Accused of Giving 'Preferential Treatment' on Contract to Chicago Firm" by Colum Lynch in The Washington Post of May 6, 2007.
The United States and its key allies last week fended off a campaign by developing countries to discipline UNESCO's highest-ranking U.S. official, Peter Smith, a former Republican congressman from Vermont. Smith resigned in March after an audit found he granted "preferential treatment" to a Chicago-based consulting firm that received $2.15 million in contracts -- often without competitive bidding.

The move placed the United States -- which has long called for greater transparency and accountability at the United Nations -- in the awkward position of opposing an initiative to improve accountability and fiscal integrity in the global body. Louise Oliver, the U.S. representative to UNESCO, recently told foreign delegates it is time to put the matter to rest and implement reforms Smith put in place before he left the Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

1 comment:

John Daly said...

As I understand what transpired at the Executive Council meeting, the Washington Post article appears unfair to Ambassador Oliver and her colleagues in the State Department. It appears that the United States was fully behind efforts to improve UNESCO's systems and avoid any future problems of the kinds identified in the audit.

It also appears that Oliver and her colleagues were successful in limiting or avoiding any damage to the U.S. government's reputation that might of occurred as a spill-over from the emotions engendered by the action of the highest ranking U.S. citizen on the UNESCO staff.

Importantly, they strongly supported the reform of the education sector of UNESCO, which is important in improving the support for Education for All and other education efforts worldwide.