Annan: U.N. Embarrassed By Report

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan during a conference devoted to the so-called Global Compact, a voluntary charter of rules of ethics for businesses, Tuesday June 14, 2005 in Paris.
In a devastating assessment of the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq, investigators strongly criticized Secretary-General Kofi Annan, his deputy and the Security Council for allowing Saddam Hussein to bilk $10.2 billion from the giant humanitarian operation and oil smuggling operations.

Annan said he took personal responsibility for the lapses but he stressed he had no plans to resign. "The report is critical of me personally, and I accept the criticism," he said.

"The final report of the U.N.-appointed oil-for-food inquiry is scathing in its criticism of corruption, large-scale smuggling and grievous lack of oversight by member states and administrative staff," said CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst Pamela Falk from the U.N.

Falk adds, "The investigation of the scandal is far from over: U.S. Rep. Henry J. Hyde, R-Ill., chairman of the House International Relations Committee responded to the report saying that the Oil-for-Food program provided Saddam Hussein with a license to steal."

International Relations Committee staff told CBS News that the committee will be releasing their own report shortly based on documents obtained by subpoena as well as based on their own investigation.

The Independent Inquiry Committee's report on the oil-for-food program said those managing the program, including U.N. member states and the world body's staff, failed the ideals of the United Nations, ignoring clear evidence of corruption and waste that flourished after it was created in 1996 to help ordinary Iraqis.

"The inescapable conclusion from the committee's work is that the United Nations organization needs thorough reform and it needs it urgently," the report said.

The report's conclusions and its strong urging for change came a week before world leaders gather for a summit in New York to consider a host of Annan's own reform initiatives. Many of his proposals have stalled, including some similar to the committee's because of deep divisions among member states. The United States and other supporters of U.N. reform hope the report will provide much-needed impetus.

"This report unambiguously rejects the notion that business as usual at the United Nations is acceptable," U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said. "We need to reform the U.N. in a manner that will prevent another oil-for-food scandal. The credibility of the United Nations depends on it."

Former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, who headed the investigation, presented the report at a Security Council meeting attended by Annan.

"In essence, the responsibility for the failures must be broadly shared, starting, we believe, with member states and the Security Council itself," Volcker said.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for