Dervis Says, "I Am Not Answering Any of Your Questions," on Audits and Head of
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, June
18 -- "I am not going to answer any of your questions," said Kemal Dervis after
delivering a speech Monday in which he referred repeatedly to the alleged
transparency of the agency he heads, the UN Development Program.
scandals in which UNDP is embroiled,
Mr. Dervis urged the members of UNDP's Executive Board to "remain concentrated
on verified and transparent material facts." But when asked immediately
following his speech if UNDP would, as promised month ago, now be making its
internal audits available to Member States, Mr. Dervis refused any answer.
pointed out to him that, as technically the third-highest UN official, he should
at least purport to answer press questions, as do his peers, from
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Under Secretaries-General such as Lynn Pascoe
and Jean-Marie Guehenno, and also
UNICEF's Ann Veneman
and even UNFPA's Thoraya Obaid.
Dervis, who in his 20 months atop UNDP has held only two press conferences in UN
Headquarters, then said, "I am not going to answer any of your questions." Inner
City Press then asked, as had already been asked in writing to UNDP
Communications staff and the individual involved, if UNDP's head of budgets,
whom Inner City Press named in the question but will not name in this report,
was demoted last week. Mr. Dervis, hiding behind the spokeswoman to whom Inner
City Press had pre-asked the internal audits question, looked away, then rushed
up the UN's escalator and was gone.
Dervis: transparency, but not for me -- "I will not answer any of your
still-shifting position on making its audits available even to the Member States
which provide UNDP's funding was
covered last week, in connection with UNDP
Associate Administrator Ad Melkert's speech.
Since then, UNDP sources tell Inner City Press that UNDP's head of budgets had
found and was reporting inside the agency irregularities in UNDP's use of Euros
in North Korea -- the "hard currency" issue which is one of the subjects of the
preliminary Board of Auditors report issued June 1.
these sources say, the axe was dropped, in the first instance by UNDP's head of
the Department of Management, Akiko Yuge, but above her, the sources say, by
those at the top of UNDP.
context, Ms. Yuge was one of the eight UNDP officials to whom the Executive
Secretary of the UN Board of Auditors, Swatantra Goolsarran, sent his
March 1 memo scoping
out the audit including requested interviews. Then on March 19, just as the
preliminary audit began at UNDP headquarters, Ms Yuge left the country. Left in
charge, including of procurement, was... the head of budgets:
From: Bernadette Jones
Sent: Mar 16, 2007 18:10
Subject: O-I-C of BOM
This is to advise that Ms. Akiko Yuge will
be away from Headquarters from 18 to 31 March 2007, inclusive. During her
absence [the head of budgets] will be the Officer-in-Charge of the Bureau of
Management. Please also note that [the head of budgets] is the Acting Chief
Procurement Officer for this period. Thank you
Bernadette Jones , Executive Assistant to
the Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau of Management
sources say that the head of budgets was told if she speaks with the press or
others outside UNDP, she will be terminated in full. She was provided, in
writing and by phone, with an opportunity to comment on this story, but did not.
She has nearly reached her pension, having previously represented UNDP in Mali
and elsewhere in Africa. Where, many continue to ask, are the supposed
of budgets question was posed, explicitly for mid-day deadline, to UNDP
Communications staff -- who, Dervis-like and apparently receiving instructions
or "leadership" from Dervis, also refuse to answer questions, for example on the
specifics of acknowledged corruption within UNDP in
the complaints of UNDP
local staff in Georgia and elsewhere.
are legitimate policy debates about how the UN system should engage with
different kinds of governments (to put it diplomatically). But running from the
press and refusing to hold press conferences is hardly the way to forward the
debate, and hardly gives any reason for confidence in UNDP's desired central
role in UN service delivery in countries all over the world. That agenda... is
Speechifying by UNDP about transparency is scheduled to continue in UN
Conference Room on Monday afternoon. Developing.
Again, because a number of Inner City Press'
sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while
it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this
installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the
UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone
calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep
the information flowing.
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(and weekends): 718-716-3540 Matthew.Lee [at]
Other, earlier Inner
City Press are listed here, and
some are available in the ProQuest service.
Copyright 2006-07 Inner City Press, Inc. To request
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UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(and weekends): 718-716-3540