The Trump administration has cut more than $30 million in US funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

In the greater scheme of things; this is a relatively tiny amount, but this is a sign that the President is serious in implementing his Budget Blueprint and will reduce funding for the United Nations and other international bodies. It has been reported that he wants to make cuts of as much as 50% from the US contribution to these organizations.

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Aiming more for sensationalism than for accuracy, this is being portrayed by some as the United States turning its back on “international operations that keep the peace, provide vaccines for children, monitor rogue nuclear weapons programs, and promote peace talks.” The liberal media repeat the UNFPA claim that they helped prevent an estimated 10,000 maternal deaths and 100,000 unsafe abortions last year.

The truth probably lies somewhat less sensational – but the problem is that the UN has proved it cannot operate effectively or efficiently.

The UN cannot even recognise a moral obligation when clearly presented with one.

This is the Organization whose negligence resulted in the Rwandan genocide, the Srebrenica massacre, and a cholera outbreak in Haiti, the sexual abuse of children by “peacekeeping” troops – and has been allowed to just deny responsibility for any of it and walk away from the mess without consequence.

If no one is held accountable for any of that, why should they care about the taxpayer’s money?

No one in the UN is really concerned about how a budget cut might impact the Organization’s relief work; their real concern is that budget cuts are an unprecedented attack on their own livelihood, on their jobs that pay salaries that would otherwise be unavailable to them, for performing administrative tasks that are mostly unnecessary, and in the most inefficient manner possible.

From any management perspective, the UN is so egregiously and inexcusably inefficient as to defy description. Their concept of “management” is one that lacks any meaningful accountability and is wilfully blind to the risk of fraud or embezzlement, so taxpayers money can be squandered without consequence. The UN is run by bureaucrats - who think they are “managers” - for whom ‘efficiency’ is a dirty word.

When I worked there, my then supervisor tried to explain to me how I had to understand the UN was different from the private sector where I had hitherto spent my career. If someone makes a mistake in a private company - he explained - the company might lose money, but that is all; but in the UN, I had to understand that somebody else’s job was involved.

This all the more unbelievable because I worked in OIOS; “senior investigators” who were supposedly employed to investigate fraud, waste and abuse simply did not comprehend the basic concept of accountability, or even the role of accountancy. Wasting money was unimportant, all that mattered was that somebody was drawing a salary.

Like many UN staff, the “investigators” were appointed for their ability to follow a procedure - not to question the purpose of what they were doing. The end of my own career in the UN began the day I was instructed - in writing - that as an investigator I should never ask questions “just to satisfy my curiosity.”

Questions are dangerous, and an investigator that asks about fraud waste and abuse was clearly a dangerous subversive....

How much of the UN budget is lost to fraud?

No one knows, because the Organization is wilfully blind to the risk, and always has been, but it has an annual budget of $10 Billion.

If only 10% of that is lost to fraud; do your own math.

The risk is not just of embezzlement by senior UN officials – but that some of that budget might find its way into the hands of the rebel groups (and corrupt politicians) whose activities give rise to a need for UN peacekeeping presence in the first place. When (despite fierce opposition) humanitarian activities in Somalia were investigated, fraud of over 70% and connections to terrorist organisations were identified, and there is no reason to believe that the UN’s financial losses in other areas should be any less worrying

Enormous savings could be made across the UN budget without affecting the output of the Organization if the Secretary-General made a determined effort to simply stop losing money to fraud and corruption.

With “Socialist Tony” Guterres as Secretary-General however, the problem is two-fold; first is that senior management is unwilling to face this reality, and, second, they simply lack the skills to even recognise their own mismanagement.

The UN culture thrives on sitting back, taking the money and thinking up excuses why nothing can be done. The way to promotion in the UN is not to think, but always to defend the incompetence, the corruption or the illegality. Irrespective of how many civilians are murdered, women are raped or Haitians die of cholera; blind obedience is the route to success in the UN, and getting even more money for doing even less.

Budget cuts are not a threat to the services provided by the UN as much as they are a threat to the senior officials of the UN. In their world; Economy, Efficiency and Accountability are the three horsemen of the apocalypse - and any investigator who even thinks in terms of financial fraud must be an agent of the Devil himself.

Millions of tax dollars could be saved - but without President Trump’s budgetary pressure - the UN will not even try.

UNFPA now has to trim 7% from its budget. Let us see who suffers; the staff or the people they purport to help.

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