UN Denies Development Aid Used for $25 M
Ceiling, "Voluntarily Funded" Disaster Post Left Murky
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
November 17, updated -- The
UN on matters of
money, how it is raised and how it is spent, is either willfully out of
or intentionally misleading. In the space of one minute on Monday, UN
Spokesperson Marie Okabe claimed that a controversial
$25 million ceiling at
its Palais des Nations in Geneva is being paid for entirely by
the Spanish government has admitted that it is using part of its
aid budget to pay the UN for the ceiling. Specifically, Spanish
Ambassador Javier Garrigues has been quoted that "Funding the human
rights headquarters clearly falls into the category of development
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
is appearing in Geneva on November 18 to inaugurate the
ceiling, it seems impossible that his Spokesperson's Office has not
cursory review of Spanish governmental admission in even the English
press, in this case the Sunday Times of London.
City Press at Monday's UN noon briefing asked for Ban Ki-moon's
position on whether this is an appropriate use of development aid funds
that the global financial crisis is leading countries, including most
Italy and Iceland, to official reduce development aid. Ms. Okabe's
it is only foundation money seems designed to avoid Ban giving an
the appropriate uses of development aid, or even giving a no comment.
UN's Ban in Geneva, comment on use of
development aid for $25 million ceiling not shown
had announced earlier in the briefing that Ban has named to a
funded" UN disaster reduction post Margareta Wahlstrom, most recently
so-called Accountability Report about the December 2007 bombing of UN
in Algiers. Inner City Press asked the obvious, who is paying for this
explicitly "voluntarily funded" position. "You can ask
OCHA," said Ms. Okabe, who had just highlighted that the UN wouldn't be
paying for the post. While it may well be Ms. Wahlstrom's government,
how could Ms. Okabe and her office not anticipate that a question might
about who was funding the position? And if, as some assume was the case
the $25 million ceiling question, more and even difference was known
was said on-camera at the briefing, where is the UN going, in terms not
transparency, but more fundamentally of truthfulness?
the quote above from the Spanish government in
the Sunday Times of London that "Funding the human rights headquarters clearly falls into the
category of development aid," the UN
later on Monday put out a statement that
"The cost of the renovations
to the new Human Rights Council and Alliance of Civilizations (Room XX)
Palais des Nations were entirely funded by ONUART, a foundation in
collect public and private money from Spanish society."
kind of "public... money" did this ONUART foundation collect?
News analysis: Ban should further
disclose and speak out before standing
under the $25 million ceiling, including on, is or would this is a
correct use of development aid?
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