UN Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth Remarks on the Independent Inquiry Committee’s Final Oil-for-Food Report

September 7, 2005


Megan Rabbitt

Today marks a turning point from focusing on the problems of the Oil-for-Food Program (OFFP) to moving ahead with UN reform. The exhaustive Independent Inquiry Committee’s (IIC) report tells us both what went right and wrong with the program. Clearly, the UN made mistakes in the operation of the OFFP. The organization will learn from these lessons and by implementing recommendations offered by the IIC, as it has already begun to do, help ensure that these problems are not repeated in the future.

“At the same time, the report includes important contextual points on the OFFP. It validates the humanitarian accomplishments of the OFFP, points out structural issues with the UN Security Council’s oversight of the program, and finds that the main source of illicit revenue for the Hussein regime was illegal oil smuggling, over which the UN had no oversight responsibilities.

“The UN fulfilled its commitment to help this inquiry by cooperating fully with the investigation, providing unrestricted access to all relevant UN records and information and personnel. Moreover, the Secretary-General kept his word by dismissing and lifting the immunity from those officials found to have acted improperly.

“The focus should now be on completing the necessary reforms. The UN already is taking action on important reforms and this momentum must be continued. The upcoming World Summit and the reform agenda proposed by Secretary-General Annan present important opportunities for every member nation to ensure a UN prepared to confront the challenges ahead.

“I also want to thank Paul Volcker for all of his good work on behalf of the UN. This has been a long and hard year; but he has done a real service to the institution, and we thank him for that. So many support and believe in the UN and he has helped to make it stronger and more effective.”


The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support United Nations’ causes. The UN Foundation promotes a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world through the support of the UN. Through its grant making and by building new and innovative public-private partnerships, the UN Foundation acts to meet the most pressing health, humanitarian, socioeconomic, and environmental challenges of the 21st century. (www.unfoundation.org)