[oil for graft]

The BBC reports on the results of the commission to look into the UN Oil-for-Food program, and they aren’t pretty. Among other things, the commission blames the Secretary-General for mismanagement, as is right: he is the highest executive authority in the UN, so any large-scale mismanagement is his responsibility, either because he knew about it and allowed it to happen, or because he didn’t know about it and should have.

Annan’s immediate response, however, is exemplary:

Mr Annan said the findings were “deeply embarrassing”.

“The inquiry committee has ripped away the curtain, and shone a harsh light into the most unsightly corners of the organisation.

“None of us – member states, secretariat, agencies, funds and programmes – can be proud of what it has found.”

Annan has also been pushing hard for precisely the kinds of reform that would make another such scandal much less likely.

None of this absolves him of responsibility, of course, but compared to the way certain other world leaders deal with their mistakes — pretending they don’t exist, blaming others, giving medals to those most directly responsible for the biggest disasters, supporting disinformation campaigns — I give Annan high marks.