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At UN, Reports Withheld by Ahlenius of OIOS Are Put Online, Congo Cover-up Alleged

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

UNITED NATIONS, May 1 -- The UN's culture of secrecy and impunity has been punctured with week by a one-two punch. After reporting on UN Peacekeepers involvement in the trading of gold and guns in Eastern Congo, which the UN denied and dismissed but only off the record, now there is more support for the underlying reporting, including two reviews of the Office of Internal Oversight Services which OIOS chief Inga-Britt Ahlenius told Inner City Press she owned and would not release have been put online by Inner City Press, here (1st) and here (2nd).

  The reports are damning.  The first, by Erling Grimstad, states among other thing that

"OIOS suffers from an ineffective and unclear structure, lack of independent budget and limited to no administrative support (check in and separating procedures, travel arrangements, etc.), poor management, conflicts at the senior management level, lack of communication inside ID/OIOS as well as with stakeholders and clients of ID/OIOS, lack of standard operating procedures and constant disagreements with regard to the scope of some of the investigative procedures of the division. This has obviously resulted in instability, high turnover rates and non-optimal working conditions for investigators."

  The second report, on the "culture" of OIOS and compiled by Michel Girodo, states for example that, "secrecy and central control of information facilitated independence but also insulated managers from external review."

   The fact that Ms. Ahlenius refused to release these on her own is, if anything, more troubling. The refusal to disclose would not be blamed on member states. She told Inner City Press, "It is my document."

On the road, Jane Holl Lute and Clooney, reports on DPKO not shown

   Earlier this week, in a briefing in which the speakers insisted on being identified only as "senior UN officials," Inner City Press asked who had paid for the report. "The UN budget," the senior UN official replied. So how is it Ms. Ahlenius' report? Now it and a companion report are available for the world at large. While the UN speaks about moving away from impunity, who will be held responsible for all this?  We'll have more on this Friday, from the United Nations.

Footnote: UN insiders are wondering about the timing of BBC's report early in the week, without any quotes from HRW, and HRW's follow-up punch, put online early Friday. Did the UN's two "off the record" briefers earlier in the week know the second punch was coming? They certainly have their sources, including inside HRW. We'll see.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

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

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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