Ms. Ahlenius Withholds "Her" Report, UN Business Seminars Benefit Rich
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, March 11 -- "It's my
document, for my perusal," chief UN investigator Inga-Britt Alenius told
Inner City Press on Tuesday, by way of explaining her decision to
withhold all copies of a report on her agency, the Office of Internal
Oversight Services, and its embattled Investigative Division. The UN's
Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions noted that
"the Committee did not have the benefit of access to the review itself,
as OIOS declined to provide it."
Since Ms. Ahlenius is on record stating that
she wishes more of her reports could be public, if only the UN's General
Assembly would let her, Inner City Press asked both at
Tuesday's UN noon briefing and then to Ms. Ahlenius directly what
the basis is for this withholding. The UN Spokesperson said that the
question would be passed on to OIOS (video
here), but in the UN's basement just before five p.m. Ms. Ahlenius
said she'd not yet seen the question. Inner City Press repeated, why is
the report being withheld? "I am accountable to the Fifth Committee" of
the General Assembly, she said, emphasizing that the consultant who
prepared the review does not have to report to the Fifth Committee
(Budgetary and Administrative).
But who paid for the
report? On these questions, who watches the watchers? Who will do the
Ms. Ahlenius was
exiting a meeting about procurement, at which for example the Russian
delegate denounced the UN's no-bid $250 million contract with Lockheed
Martin for infrastructure for the Darfur peacekeeping mission. Ms.
Ahlenius' OIOS was directed by a December 18, 2007 General Assembly vote
investigate this contract and the
waiving of competitive bidding and hiring rules in Darfur.
Ms. Ahlenius has yet to give any substantive update on this inquiry;
again appeared not eager to answer
any questions. So much
Ms. Ahlenius in another
time and place, "It's my document, for my perusal"
At Tuesday's meeting,
the UN's acting chief procurement official
listened to member states complaints, not only about the
Lockheed Martin no-bid contracts
but also about so-called business seminar, for which host nations can
pay for the travel and "mission sustenance allowance" of UN staff. The
delegate of Brazil noted that this favors rich countries, and raises
"ethical issues." On this and most other topics, Mr. Buades said he
would be replying in "informal" session -- that is, out of the public
And on the most basic
of procurement issues, which company has the contract for UN helicopters
in Nepal, one of which crashed eight days ago, the UN has still refused
to answer, despite Inner City Press asking yet again at Tuesday's noon
briefing. While the UN to its credit has set up an
online condolence book for
the ten people killed when the helicopter went down, to stonewall all
requests for information underlying the crash is, so far, a troubling
* * *
These reports are
usually also available through
Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.
here for a
AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army.
for an earlier
piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's
$200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.
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