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As UNDP Re-Directs to Airline Ads, No Answer on $10 to Hear Clark, FUNCA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 4 -- While the UN Development Program has not explained a $10 charge to hear Administrator Helen Clark speak, after 24 hours, its Liberia website's "Delivering as One" section is re-directing traffic to airline advertisements.

  While the UN's main Twitter account @UN quickly responded to the Free UN Coalition for Access when @FUNCA_info raised this problem -- the UN deleted its own link, which it said worked when it had been "scheduled" -- UNDP has still not respond on that or the charging of money to hear its Administrator speak.

  Helen Clark, who will apparently be in her native New Zealand from July past the middle of August, also has not explained the $5 charge for children to hear her on August 7 at the Baycourt Centennial Theatre in Tauranga City, New Zealand.

  Rather, Clark has promoted her television appearances there and re-tweeted all praise and mentions.

  The advertisement for the August 7 talk says Clark "will be speaking about her work as head of the United Nations Development Program, the peak global body that coordinates development strategy globally, and works in over 170 countries to empower people’s lives while helping nations become more resilient. With a budget of over $US 5 billion a year."

  Five billion dollars a year but Administrator Helen Clark virtually never holds a question and answer press conference at UN Headquarters in New York. Last year after an inquiry by Inner City Press, she did disavow a previous award she'd given to a tobacco firm.

  That came through UNDP lead spokesperson Satinder Bindra, to whom along with Clark's "personal" spokesperson Christina LoNigro and Abdel-Rahman Ghandour the Free UN Coalition for Access has sent these questions:

"This is a timely request for an explanation of how (or if) it is consistent with UN system principles and rules for UNDP Administrator Helen Clark's upcoming talk "about her work as head of the United Nations Development Program" to have an entrance fee of $10, and even $5 for children:

"Given that this for-pay event is impending, please provide the requested explanation upon receipt / as quickly as possible and confirm receipt of this request for explanation.

"This is also a formal request that Administrator Clark belatedly hold a question and answer press conference in UN Headquarters in New York, and for an explanation of why she has done even fewer of these than Kemal Dervis or Ad Melkert. Thank you in advance."

  As said 24 hours ago, we will publish any substantive response -- one would think, well in advance of the August 7 event, which is listed (tellingly) as "sold out." Will those people be given their money back?

  Meanwhile, hats off to @UN for responding so quickly. Hats off, too, to UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant, who replied to a question from Inner City Press about the attack on the Indian consulate in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, if only to refer the question to the UN Mission of Australia, which was assigned the lead or "pen" in the Security Council about Afghanistan.

  No reply yet from them - but from Australia itself comes news, from foreign minister Bob Carr, that Australia wants the elections in Zimbabwe re-run. Will they raise that in the UN Security Council? It's been asked. Watch this site.

Footnote: The quick response, and "thanks," of @UN to the Free UN Coalition for Access stands in contrast to that of the sub-unit Department of Public Information, which has threatened to suspend or withdraw the accreditation of Inner City Press for merely hanging a sign of the Free UN Coalition for Access on the door of its shared office, click here to view.

   FUNCA asked questions that have not been answered, about this and that, and noted that the UN or DPI can't outlaw an organization like the Free UN Coalition for Access which would, has and will if necessary do its work without DPI. Watch this site.


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