Inner City Press


In Other Media-e.g. Somalia, Ghana, Azerbaijan, The Gambia   For further information, click here to contact us          .

Home -

Search is just below this first article

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07 7/19/07 6/29/07 6/14/7 6/1/7

How to Contact Us


Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"

Inner City Press Podcast --

At UN's DESA, Still No Accountability for Faked Work of Greek Center, New Chief Says

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, November 28 -- The new head of the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Sha Zukang, spoke for his first time to the UN press corps on Wednesday. He addressed it head-on, saying he has been called "bad-tempered... aggressive, emotional and tough." It is "all true in a way," he said. "I hope you like me. If not, I don't mind." He added, "I am incapable of not saying what I think." Here's hoping.

            Inner City Press asked for an update on the Office of Internal Oversight Services investigations of DESA: Guido Bertucci, the Thessaloniki Center for "Public Service Professionalism," and consultants' contracts. Sha Zukang pulled out a piece of paper and read out from it. "My colleague provided this, anticipating some questions from you," he said. "Don't ask further questions, I don't know the details."

            In sum, OIOS released its audit of the Thessaloniki Center on August 2, 2007. While Sha Zukang said that DESA has fully implemented Recommendations 3 and 4, and part of the first recommendation, it is significant to consider the one still unacted upon:

"The Department should establish accountability for the inefficient use of consultants, including the irregular sign-off of a consultant's contract indicating that deliverables had been provided when no such deliverables had actually been received."

            This is as good a definition of corruption as any. But where is the accountability? Sha Zukang said to wait for the end of the year. One month remains. The OIOS report, A/62/176, also says that "[i]n its response to the draft audit report, the Department did not accept responsibility for the failure of the project. In addition, the Department rejected three of the four recommendations made by OIOS." Sha Zukang pointed out that the "OIOS investigative taskforce" did reach a finding of "no inappropriate conduct" with regard to one consultant, Catherine Elizabeth Gazzoli. Good for her. As to the rest of the investigation, Sha Zukang said it is still pending, with "no available timeline for completion." Typical OIOS.

Sha Zukang at WEF, Thomas Friedman not shown

            DESA's Johan Scholvinck answered Inner City Press' question about the report being launched, on the "World Social Situation 2007." Scholvinck said that DESA is an "analytical" body, without much of an "operational" side (which may be a blessing, see above), and that DESA does not try to overlap with the International Labor Organization. Rather, DESA works with the ILO, as well as with the World Bank, on such issues as youth employment.

            DESA has an implicit recommendation for the World Food Program, tucked into the report on page 140:

"the World Food Programme (WFP) has been a major driver of food-for-work schemes... those engaged in what is often onerous labor end up burning more calories than are gained."

            How or if WFP chief Josette Sheeran Shiner will respond is not yet clear. She has yet to speak to the UN Headquarters press corps.

            Wednesday, Sha Zukang recited the litany of issues on which DESA works, and said that since he assumed his post on July 1, he has been trying to focus more on the central mandate, "development for all." He said, twice, "it is a lot of work," adding ""without much outcome or productivity." Inner City Press welcomed him -- such candor is rare at UN Headquarters. Here's hoping.

* * *

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

  Because a number of Inner City Press' UN 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.

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Search WWW Search

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 reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540