Oil-For-Food Probe Blasts U.N.

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.
A probe of the Iraq oil-for-food program faults U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Security Council and some United Nations member states for "egregious lapses" that allowed corruption and incompetence to cripple the operation, according to a preface of the final conclusions.

"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.

"The preface of the report released today does not point a finger at Secretary General Kofi Annan for corruption," Falk reports, "but it is critical of his administrative failings and says that Saddam Hussein was able to turn the Oil-for-Food program to his advantage."

The Independent Inquiry Committee's report, to be published Wednesday, criticizes Annan and the U.N. Security Council for a failure of leadership in the overall management of the program, according to the preface, released Tuesday on the committee's Web site.

"Neither the Security Council nor the Secretariat leadership was clearly in command," the preface said. "When things went awry — and they surely did — when troublesome conflicts arose between political objectives and administrative effectiveness, decisions were delayed, bungled or simply shunned."

The preface called for four central reforms, including the creation of a chief operating officer. The U.N. General Assembly should demand that the changes go into force no later than a year from now, the preface said.

"To settle for less, to permit delay and dilution, will invite failure, further erode public support, and dishonor the ideals upon which the United Nations is built," the preface said.

The conclusion of the committee, led by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, said Saddam Hussein used the largest, most ambitious humanitarian operation ever run by the United Nations to his advantage.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for