The integrity of the United Nations (UN) has deteriorated, as it has become a kind of refuge for officials involved in serious corruption cases.
The body, which is the largest existing international organization, has allowed people to walk its corridors with impunity, who are now facing criminal investigations and who have even been accused of serious crimes such as money laundering.
In 2015 one of the greatest cases of corruption in the history of the UN was uncovered, as John Ashe, a diplomat from Antigua and Barbuda and former president of the General Assembly of the United Nations, was arrested in New York after accepting bribes from Chinese businessmen
The frequency and severity of scandals leads one to believe that the international body has been discredited, to the point of doubting their true mission.
Bachelet: silence and corruption
One of the most recent examples is the appointment of the former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, as High Commissioner for Human Rights at the UN.
Until a few months ago, Bachelet openly supported the regime of Nicolás Maduro; she never dared to describe him as a dictator or to strongly condemn the violations of human rights in Venezuela; on the contrary, she preferred to remain silent.
But it is not just a matter of the hypocrisy of having this ex-president as the official UN defender of human rights. It is also the fact that both her and her son were linked to corruption in Chile in relation to a millionaire real estate business.
Heredia: money laundering
But Bachelet’s case is not the only one that helps to further discredit the UN. In 2016 Nadine Heredia, ex-first lady of Peru, was appointed a UN official for Food and Agriculture (FAO).
Heredia would receive diplomatic immunity when working for the international organization, despite being deeply involved in the Lava Jato case, the largest corruption case in Latin America.
While Heredia was being investigated in Peru for money laundering and fraud, the UN appointed her as FAO liaison officer in Geneva.
In May of 2017, Heredia decided to resign this position “due to the rules of conduct” imposed by the Judicial Power of Peru, because of the investigation she faced into money laundering; meaning, it was not the UN who decided to dispense with their services when they heard about the scandal.
But as if this were not enough, the loss of credibility at the UN is compounded with cases such as that of Venezuelans María Gabriela Chávez and Rafael Ramírez.
The daughter of former President Hugo Chávez Frías was appointed alternate ambassador of Venezuela to the UN. She is the richest woman in the South American country, and one of the richest in the world. According to Forbes magazine, she has more than USD $4 billion in her accounts in Andorra and the United States.
The daughter of the former Venezuelan president is alleged to be involved in a international criminal organization that has links to money laundering activities.
In addition, she has been involved in a scandal related to the sale of overpriced rice in Argentina.
According to the newspaper Clarín, rice shipments were sent to Venezuela, under the auspices of a shadowy firm, which sells rice at inflated prices and whose owners have direct contact with Julio De Vido, former Argentine ambassador in Venezuela, and with María Gabriela Chávez.
Ramirez: money laundering
But the most blatant case of how the UN has become a refuge for serious corrupt, is that of Rafael Ramírez, who until 2017 was the representative of Venezuela at the UN and had diplomatic immunity.
Currently, Ramírez is being investigated in the United States and Venezuela for corruption in the state oil company PDVSA. In December he went underground, after the Maduro regime let him escape.
The former UN official was heavily involved in money laundering in the United States and Europe. Ramírez’s guilt came to light after his brother, Fidel Ramírez Carreño, was accused of falsifying millions of dollars of invoices in order to further the scheme.
The organisation also has a serious internal problem with sexual harassment. An extensive investigation by The Guardian accused the UN of having allowed the proliferation of sexual harassment and hostile work environments for its employees in UN offices around the world.
The British newspaper interviewed dozens of current and former employees of the organization, who described a “culture of silence” within its structure. According to the investigation, despite the complaints, all alleged aggressors continued in their jobs.
And, in theory, the UN was created to facilitate cooperation on issues such as international law, international peace and security, economic and social development, humanitarian affairs and human rights. However, these objectives have only been discussed in theory.
Today, this organization not only does not require minimum standards of integrity and experience for its officials, but its independent bodies also leave much to be desired. The Security Council, for example, has remained silent before the dictatorship in Venezuela and disregarded the need for humanitarian intervention in the South American country in the wake of the serious political and economic crises the country is facing.