The Problem With Discharging Wolfowitz
To no great surprise, Paul Wolfowitz was stiff-armed out of his job as president of the World Bank on Thursday. The New York Times today has an op-ed by Christopher Burnham describing a victim of his departure -- the bank's anti-corruption drive.
Burnham, who was under secretary for management at the United Nations, contrasts the anti-corruption campaign at the bank with the investigation of the oil-for-food scandal at the UN:
New reforms proposed by Secretary General Kofi Annan and his successor, Ban Ki-moon, await approval from the General Assembly. Why hasn’t more been done? Claims of politicization — a common excuse for inaction — have prevented the organization from making all the changes it should.Even more crucial is a chief executive who will continue to fight corruption just as vigorously as Wolfowitz, but without the political baggage that made him dead meat. A good choice may be Paul Volcker, whose investigation of the oil-for-food scandal was lauded for its thoroughness.
My fear is that a reform agenda at the World Bank, absent Mr. Wolfowitz, faces a similar fate. . . .
One of the key reasons the oil-for-food scandal occurred was because the investigations division of the United Nations’ oversight office was undermined in the past by pathetic management and lack of staff. This is a mistake the World Bank needs to avoid. A rigorous independent investigations office is critical.
© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.
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