UNDP, Audit Is Said to Have Started, While Oversight Still Lacks, Says G-77
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, February 20 -- A month after Ban Ki-moon
called for "urgent"
audits, beginning with the UN Development Program in North Korea, his
spokesperson was asked if the audits have begun. While the spokeswoman said she
wasn't entirely sure, she said unequivocally that Ban Ki-moon's 90-day clock,
for the audits to be reported on to the General Assembly, has begun. Click
video, and transcript below.
Ambassador Munir Akram told Inner City Press that he and the Group of 77 feel
that "there is an issue of how well we are able to have oversight over the funds
and programs" like UNDP, and whether the Executive Boards are effective. Inner
City Press had asked about the
G-77's call for at least two UNDP reports
to be withdrawn, for lack of
consultation with the Executive Board and the General Assembly. Could there be a
relation between these two problems -- the behavior by UNDP in North Korea which
Ban Ki-moon called on to audit, and lack of oversight of UNDP -- and what can be
done about it? Amb. Akram referred to the development cooperation forum of the
UN's ECOSOC. Video
Minutes 29:48 through 31:28.
On February 15, Inner City Press had the
opportunity to ask UNDP's Ad Melkert to release at least the already-finalized
numbers reflecting expenditures in North Korea. Mr. Melkert said that it is
important to distinguish between money spent for UNDP, and that spend by UNDP
for other agencies. Certainly. But what is the number? On other, non-North Korea
matters, Mr. Melkert indicated that an attempt will be made to provide responses
on a more timely basis. We'll see.
While awaiting this new
information-providing regime at UNDP, and while awaiting a number of
long-delayed responses from UNDP, the rest of today's UNDP column, we'lldevote
to a letter to the editor from inside UNDP, handwritten but on substantive
issues. It begins with praise, which we're suckers for.
friend, you are going an incredible job. Now ask UNDP and its board members, why
Pippa Norris and Nora Lustig, the two new managers appointed by Kemal Dervis,
have changed policies previously approved by the Board, without consultation?
Why is Norris allowed to neglect important areas of work for UNDP - human
rights, gender, decentralization? Why is Norris making of UNDP an institution
concerned only with economic governance and Central Bank regulation, when this
is typically a task of the World Bank and IMF? These are hobby areas for Kemal.
Why is Norris using UNDP's (and taxpayers') money to finance her participation
in academic meetings that have nothing to do with UNDP's work? Why UNDP as a UN
neutral agency is providing financial assistance to political parties? Why is
UNDP abandoning its work on governance as in the past, as approved by the Board,
to focus no on parliaments, elections?"
Inner City Press' story from last week about Liberia. We've left it to the
absolute end of this report to note an employment move which we've known of for
some weeks, but were told about by other journalists today, triggering this
brief update. Former Spokesman for the S-G Stephane Dujarric, after a brief
sojourn in the Dag Hammarskjold Library, is now "helping out" at UNDP. They
certainly could use the help. Might it possibly result in more timely
answers to simple questions to UNDP, as projected on February 15 by UNDP Number
Two Ad Melkert? Here's hoping.
From transcript of Feb. 20, 2007, UN noon briefing:
City Press: Does the 90 days -- because he said it should be done in 90 days --
does the 90 days run from when he announced that the audits would begin or from
when they actually began?
Question: Have they begun?
Spokesperson: Actually, I know that -- yes, they have started it.
Question: Which ones have started?
Spokesperson: The external auditors have started on the process.
Question: But could you specify? I mean, there’s a lot of agencies to be
Spokesperson: As you know, they’re starting with the UNDP and the specific case
Question: You say they have started. You mean the one in North Korea?
Question: The clock is running?
Again, because a number of Inner City Press' UNDP
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 UNDP
and many of its 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,
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UNDP, Melkert Hides Behind Audit and Sharapova, Dervis on 1st Ave. and Still No
N. Korea Numbers
Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
February 14 -- Even as the UN Development Program held a press conference with
Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova on Wednesday, questions were asked and
left unanswered about the "scandals" at UNDP. Ms. Sharapova was asked if she was
aware of the "scandals," and she said, "Yes, I am aware, but I'll let them talk"
on the issue, gesturing at Associate Administrator Ad Melkert and Communications
director David Morrison.
Melkert declined to provide the requested figure, of how much UNDP spent in
North Korea including on behalf of the World Health Organization, the UN
Population Fund, the Food and Agricultural Organization and others. Inner City
asked Kemal Dervis for this number on
February 1, and has reiterated
it in writing to UNDP several times since. On Tuesday, February 13, seeing Mr.
Dervis on Ban Ki-moon's schedule at 3 p.m., Inner City Press asked if Mr. Dervis
could take questions after that meeting. While the spokesperson said she would
check into it, her office later said that Mr. Dervis had said no.
Avenue at 2:55 p.m., as Mr. Dervis and two associates including spokeswoman
Christina LoNigro strode, as it were, toward the Secretariat building, Inner
City Press greeted Mr. Dervis and said, "There are some requests that you take
questions after your meeting with the Secretary-General."
Dervis replied that he had another appointment after Ban Ki-moon, shrugging,
Melkert: Dollar figures not shown
And so on
Wednesday, the question was posed to Ad Melkert, for the simple number, how much
UNDP expended in North Korea in 2005 and 2006. Inner City Press apologized for
having to ask it, due to the previous non-responses, during the tennis-heavy
press conference. Mr. Melkert, who previously had spoken of transparency, said
"You can ask, that is not a problem... It seems to me logical to wait for
results of that audit and then look into all questions that may still be
outstanding then... including answers to your questions." Video
from Minute 16:37.
City Press noted that a simple number should be available without waiting
another 90 days. Particularly as to 2005, for which UNDP's vaunted computer has
long ago closed the books and the General Ledger. If UNDP is not confident in
these numbers, there is a major problem. Or perhaps UNDP sees the audit as a
blessing in disguise, as providing a rationale to no-comment the issue for at
least three months. We'll see. As noted, there are non-North Korea questions
which are not getting answered, either.
not permit questions about UNDP's programs in Russia, which have included
bypass tax and other rules for a French
chemical company, and the
rehabilitation of the Moscow planetarium with plush leather seats. These and
similar projects, as well as UNDP's approach to Chernobyl, were cooked up during
RBEC regime of Kalman Mizsei.
The poorest of the poor, as was said on Wednesday. The press package included
some seven month old "Fast Facts," including an enumeration of 5,382
serving worldwide. So UNDP can give numbers, when they want to...
For UNDP Audit, UN Controller Met With Timo Pakkala
While UNDP Refuses to Answer
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, February 12 -- While the UN
Development Program now uses the audit called for by Ban Ki-moon as a pretext to
refuse to answer any questions about North Korea, UN Controller Warren Sach on
Monday confirmed to Inner City Press that he met with UNDP's Resident
Coordinator for North Korea, Mr. Timo Pakkala, on February 9. Mr. Sach urged
Pakkala to meet with the head of the UN Board of Auditors, "to coordinate
on logistical arrangement for the forthcoming audit."
evening of February 8, Inner City Press contacted Mr. Pakkala at the Crowne
Plaza hotel on 42nd Street and asked him among other things to comment on the
purpose of his visit to New York from Pyongyang. "It is my job to be here,"
Pakkala answered. Inner City Press asked why he hadn't been in New York two
weeks earlier, when UNDP's Executive Board debated whether and how to continue
programs in North Korea.
Pakkala: UNDP's man in North Korea
repeated several times that the questions should be put to the head of UNDP's
Communications Office, David Morrison. Inner City Press explained that a simple
question about the volume of funds handled by UNDP in North Korea, asked
directly of UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis on February 1, had still not been
answered. Mr. Pakkala expressed surprise, and said he would urge Mr. Morrison to
answer at least these new questions.
February 9, however, the following statement from UNDP arrived:
Subject: Questions on UNDP & DPRK
From: Communications Office at undp.org
To: Inner City Press
Sent: Fri, 9 Feb 2007 6:18 PM
Matthew, Regarding your February 8
questions about UNDP and the DPRK: As you know, UNDP's operations in DPRK are
undergoing a thorough audit. We welcome this audit which will enable us to take
additional management action as needed. Until the audit is completed, it would
not be appropriate to comment on our work there beyond what we have already said
in the statements of January 19 and 25. (http://www.undp.org/dprk).
Presumably this invocation to the right against self-incrimination, embodied in
the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment, is also directed at the still
unanswered question Inner City Press directed to Kemal Dervis on February 1,
namely, how many money has UNDP processed, for itself and other UN agencies, in
North Korea? If it takes a full second audit to even venture a numeric response
to this simple question, something if very wrong indeed.
Comptroller Warren Sach, on the other hand, sent a response to questions the
same morning they were posed. While he referred most of the questions to other
parties, on the UNDP North Korea audit he told Inner City Press this:
Subject: Re: Press
questions on UNJSPF and audits / UNDP / North Korea
From: Warren Sach
To: Inner City Press
Sent: Mon, 12 Feb
2007 10:01 AM
Dear Mr Lee, Thank
you for your e-mail of earlier this morning which is hereby acknowledged. I did
meet with UNDP's Resident Coordinator for North Korea, Timo Pakkala on Friday 9
Feb. I advised him to contact the Executive Secretary of the Board of Auditors,
Mr Anand Goolsarran to coordinate on logistical arrangement for the forthcoming
audit. Mr Goolsarran would also be the best person for you to contact re Board
of Auditors matters. The ACABQ Chairman, Mr Rajat Saha has written on Friday 9th
Feb requesting that a special audit be conducted by the BoA in N Korea. This
followed my own formal request to ACABQ that the BoA be requested to undertake
an audit; in connection with that request the ACABQ held separate hearings on
Feb with both myself
and the representatives of the BoA on the request for an audit. I do know if the
BoA has yet begun the audit; I suspect they have a number of logistical steps to
take before field work begins; Mr Goolsarran can best advise you.
City Press has posed the following questions to Mr. Goolsarran of the UN Board
Dear Mr. Goolsarran --
Hello... When will the audit(s) actually
begin? We have heard a date of February 16. Is that correct? Who will perform
the audit? ... Have you spoken with Mr. Pakkala? We are also informed that you
met with the ACABQ on February 7. In the two meetings, what logistical
arrangement were arrived at?
Can you comment on the fact that the
DPRK issues were not mentioned in the most recent publicly available audit of
UNDP, which also refers, on Russia, to a document being "released" when it is
nowhere available? Will the audit include other agencies such as WFP, UNFPA,
WHO, FAO and others? If limited to UNDP, will it include the money that UNDP
pays on behalf of other agencies? Will any agencies be audited in geographies
beyond the DPRK? If so, when?
There has been difficulty for the press in
getting even basic information. UNDP, for example, has most recently told us
regarding all North Korea-related questions, including a simple total figure of
money UNDP handled for FAO, UNFPA and other UN agencies, that "Until the audit
is completed, it would not be appropriate to comment on our work there..." In
your position with the Board of Auditors, do you think it is appropriate for a
UN fund or program to cite the existence of one of your audits to, in the
American vernacular, expansively invoke the Fifth Amendment for at least 90
days on a wide range of issues of public concern?
Note that UNDP has
also neglected to answer simple factual questions about issues entirely
unrelated to North Korea. Developing.
Other, earlier Inner
City Press are listed here, and
some are available in the ProQuest service.
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