UNDP Stonewalls on Trust Funds for N.
Korea, Including S. Korean Money: Unanswered Questions
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, March 6, updated
March 16 -- In light of the
UN Development Program's suspension of its
operations in North Korea
earlier this month, following the January 2007 calls for an urgent audit by UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, several simple questions have been asked by Inner
money did UNDP expend in North Korea, and how much of this came from South
Korea, particularly during Mr. Ban's tenure as that country's Minister of
Foreign Affairs and Trade?
Sources tell Inner City Press that there
are funds beyond those disclosed by UNDP's Ad Melkert in January, which he put
the size of UNDP's North Korea program in 2006 at $3.3 million, and by spokesman
David Morrison on March 5, $4.4 million. These undisclosed funds are alleged to
be found in Trust Funds co-sponsored by South Korea's Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Trade (including under Ban Ki-moon) and the South Korean
reunification ministry, flowing to the North Korean government via a
pass-through mechanism, with UNDP reported taking a four percent fee.
Dervis and UNDP logo: how much passing through?
Inner City Press began asking these
questions after receiving confirmation from the UN World Health Organization
that it too accepts staff seconded from the North Korean government, one of the
grounds for Mr. Ban's "urgent audit," and that WHO is receiving $10 million a
year from the South Korean government (now, it is believed, through a Trust
Fund). WHO's spokeswoman wrote:
Ms. NcNab- Checking in for response to our previous questions, thanks
To: Inner City
McNab [at] who.int
Here are the answers below.
comment on: whether the World Health Organization, herein below "you", in North
Korea uses personnel seconded by the government...
A. WHO has 17
staff in its office in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK). There
are four internationally recruited staff, including the WHO Representative, and
13 national staff. As with all agencies working in DPRK, the national staff are
seconded from the government...
confirm or deny that in mid-2005 a South Korean contribution of some $10
million was received by WHO, and is so state the involvement of the South
Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its then-head and provide any and all
A. Yes, last year South Korea committed to
providing the equivalent of US 10 million per year as support to DPRK through
WHO for health-related humanitarian assistance, for three years, primarily in
the field of maternal and child health.
While there have been competing claims,
including from UN Secretariat officials, about whether UN funds and programs in
North Korea beyond UNDP are being audited, and will continue operation, on the
evening of March 6 Inner City Press asked UNICEF's Ann Veneman if her agency
will continue in North Korea.
Ann Veneman said, noting that UNICEF is in a different building that UNDP in
Pyongyang and is engaged, in her words, in more "humanitarian" activities then
UNDP. It is not clear that this was Ban Ki-moon's distinction in calling
for audits. Rather, Mr. Ban referred to paying in hard currency and allowing a
host-government role in staffing, both of which UNICEF below acknowledges.
(Inner City Press thanked Ms. Veneman for UNICEF's having made available for
interview its Senior Advisor for Children in
Armed Conflict, Manuel Fontaine; Ms. Veneman
countered by recommending a recent book on children and armed conflict, which we
will soon review.)
Ban Ki-moon called for an urgent audit of all UN funds, programs and agencies.
this was scaled back to a focus on North Korea and, at least in the first
instance, on UNDP. It has been said that the World Food Program and the UN
Children's Fund, for example, will also be audited.
while attending a press briefing by UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis, Inner City
Press asked Mr. Dervis how much money UNDP has spent in North Korea in recent
years, on its own before and for other agencies (or as a pass-through). Mr.
Dervis did not answer, and subsequently his communications staff declared that
"it would be inappropriate to comment" on its programs or spending in North
Korea until the audit is completed.
On March 2, Kemal Dervis
wrote to North Korea's
UN Ambassador that UNDP is suspending its programs in the country. Inner City
Press is informed that an impact, and even intent, of this announcement is to
make the audit more difficult. Inner City Press asked this question at Ban Ki-moon
spokesperson's noon briefing on March 5.
On March 6, the spokesperson
Ban Ki-moon has written to North Korea asking for access for the auditors.
Meanwhile, Inner City Press has been informed that the Board of Auditors,
meeting until late on March 5, acquiesced to an audit only in New York.
But on the question of how much UNDP
spent, and for and under whom, in North Korea, UNDP, the Secretariat and even
the South Korea mission have been asked. On March 4, Inner City Press emailed
questions to Kemal Dervis, Ad Melkert and other senior UNDP officials. For
Bruce Jenks, the head of UNDP's Bureau
for Resources and Strategic Partnerships was asked "The closing, will it
impact South Korean funds dedicated to the DPRK? What will happen with those
funds?" Mr. Jenks did not answer, and nor after two reminders did UNDP's
Shaw, Director of UNDP's Office of Finance, was asked:
"can all the numbers for the audit be
looked at in New York? Also, we still have a number of questions pending that
have not been answered, including the simple question about who many people
UNDP employs / pays. Perhaps you can answer that?"
Mr. Shaw has not answered, nor
after two reminders has UNDP's Communications Office. In fact, the
Communications Office has ignored a request on the afternoon of March 5:
"Most pressingly, please specify which of
the funds spending through UNDP in the past four years were from South Korea,
and within these, which if any had the involvement of the South Korea Foreign
Ministry and when?"
emailing to Inner City Press terse answering to unrelated questions, the above
"most pressing" question has been ignored by UNDP. Therefore Inner City Press
asked the UN's Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General,
particularly for volume of South Korean funds passed-through UNDP while Ban Ki-moon
headed South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Inner City Press
asked this question orally, not in the noon briefing, on the morning of March 5.
Inner City Press was referred to Soung-ah Choi, a 2007 addition to the
Spokesperson's office, and was told to put the question in writing, which was
"This is a question that I came into the
OSSG earlier this morning to ask, was advised to direct it to you by email:
--what role if any did Ban Ki-moon play
while with the Republic of Korea government in South Korean aid to the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea? If any, did any of this aid involve UN
funds, programs or agencies? If any, could any of this aid be within the scope
of the urgent audits Mr. Ban called for on Jan. 19, as modified Jan. 22?
Context: following UNDP's (quiet, online
only) announcement that it suspended its operations in North Korea on March 1,
Inner City Press has heard from sources information that gives rise to the above
question, as well as to other questions posed directly to UNDP and to the Board
of Auditors. (Including what impact the suspension of operations will have on
the audit, on which we understand the 90 clock is already ticking). I'd wanted
to just orally ask the above questions in your office, now do so by email."
In response, the UN's Soung-ah Choi told
Inner City Press this is not really a UN or Secretary General question, and that
it can only be asked to the South Korea mission, specifically to Ambassador Oh
Joon who, she said, was involved in North-South Korean relations and aid during
the time frame.
of March 16 -- it has been emphasized to Inner City Press that Amb. Oh's
post was for international organizations; point taken.]
On the morning of March 6, Inner City
Press three times called Ambassador Oh. First, his secretary said he would call
back in 15 minutes. Inner City Press explained what it wanted to know. Then, she
said that Amb. Oh had been called away on urgent business, and to leave the
question in his phone-mail. Inner City Press did so, along with an additional
question, and waited. The day ended with no response by the South Korean mission
to a question referred to them by the Office of the Spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon.
While Inner City Press did later on
March 6 get a response from UNICEF's Ann Veneman, that UNICEF's operations will
continue, we would be remiss to not note that UNICEF has acknowledged both hard
currency payments and acceptance of seconded staff. Here were
UNICEF's first responses to Inner City Press:
you pay salary, DSA, utilities, rent and other expense in hard currency (Euros,
dollars or otherwise) in North Korea
A: DPRK -- Of
the 30 UNICEF staff in the Pyongyang office, 10 are international professionals
recruited through New York headquarters and stationed in Pyongyang for up to
five years. They have the bulk of their salaries paid to personal overseas
bank accounts. Twenty are local staff. For local staff, UNICEF transfers
their salaries to the host government, which in turn is responsible for paying
each of the 20 national staff members... they are selected by the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs which then seconds them to UNICEF.
Inner City Press has asked numerous UNDP
officials, and spokespeople, to specify which of the three listed conditions,
including stopping payment in hard currency and acceptance seconded staff, could
not be met by March 1. In light of UNDP's refusal to answer this simple
question, it is difficult to understand Ms. Veneman's statement that that
UNICEF, with the same practices, can and will continue operating.
At the March 6 noon briefing, Inner
City Press again asked that UNDP's Administrator Kemal Dervis, who signed the
letter suspending operations in North Korea and who is reportedly the stealth
manner of the suspension's delayed announcement, come and answer questions. From
Press: Yesterday, Iím told the UNDP was here. I wasnít able to hear what they
said in the hall because we had a briefing on human trafficking. But Iím told
that they said they now put the value of UNDPís program in 2006 in North Korea
at 4.4 million rather than 3.2 as was previously said. So, Iím wondering, the
numbers are changing. Is it possible rather than have a briefing out in the hall
to actually have UNDP come and answer questions? Probably Mr. Dervis, since he
signed the letter to suspend operations in North Korea...
Iíll transmit your request to them... Only UNDP can answer.
Again, why are these questions, which
purportedly only UNDP can answer, being asked? Well, sources tell Inner City
Press that there are funds beyond those disclosed by UNDP's Ad Melkert in
January, which he put the size of UNDP's North Korea program in 2006 at $3.2
million, and by spokesman David Morrison on March 5, $4.4 million. These
undisclosed funds are alleged to be found in Trust Funds co-sponsored by South
Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (including under Ban Ki-moon) and
the South Korea ministry for reconciliation, flowing to the North Korean
government via a pass-through mechanism, with UNDP reported taking a four
percent fee. Recently, Inner City Press has heard of UNDP taken even higher
"overhead" fees for administering pass-through funds. We will have more on this.
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,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(and weekends): 718-716-3540
In Wake of UNDP's Stealth North Korea Shut Down, Spin
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, March 5, updated March 6, 10 am -- As
questions grew about the UN Development Program's decision to suspend operations
in North Korea, the UN's humanitarian coordinator on Monday said UNDP's program
have had little humanitarian impact, and that other UN programs should be able
to "operate reasonably normally" in North Korea. Video here, from Minute 35:46.
But since other UN funds and programs pay -- in hard currency -- through UNDP,
and since UNDP's Timo Pakkala is the Resident Representative of the UN in North
Korea and will be pulled out of the country, the story is clearly far from over.
Ironically, on March 13 Mohamed ElBaradei of the UN-affiliated International
Atomic Energy Agency will travel to Pyongyang, from which UNDP is departing.
Monday at Ban Ki-moon's
spokesperson's noon briefing, numerous reporters asked questions about UNDP's
suspension of operations on March 2,
while not announcing it to the press or public beyond an update, dated March 1,
slipped on its website. Inner City Press asked if the suspension has the effect
of slowing the "urgent audit" which UNDP called for. It remains Inner City
Press' understanding that this is the effect and, sources say, intent. This
analysis is missed or disagreed with the
Wall Street Journal
and by a
who congratulates the UNDP Executive Board for suspending operations. Currently
it appears that Mr. Kemal Dervis probably made
the decision to suspend,
and made the decision to not announce it to the press.
should speak, w/ or w/o ice water
In the back of the briefing
room stood UNDP's head of Communications, David Morrison. The spokesperson at
one point said that he -- "Jim," as in the band The Doors, one wag joked --
would answer questions. From the
just wanted to follow up. As I understand it, the UNDPís statement was posted
on their website but I donít think that we got any announcement. I would like
to put in a request that on announcements, such as this, those announcements
should be made to us, not just posted. We donít go and read the UNDP website
all the time.
Well, I think we have someone from the UNDP here. Iím not sure. Yes, we do
have Jim back there and he will be glad to answer your questions right after the
But Mr. Morrison never came to
the rostrum. Rather, between the noon briefing and a previously scheduled
briefing by new Under Secretary General of Management Alicia Barcena, Mr.
Morrison conducted what he called a scrum in the hallway outside the briefing
room. Later he stated to Inner City Press, in response to still-unanswered
written inquiries, that "all questions" had been answered in the scrum, which
Inner City Press could not attend due to the Alicia Barcena briefing, click
video, starting at Minute 33:08, and
Inner City Press' story.
[Update of March 6, 10 am -- Mr. Morrison writes that
is just to note that you have your facts wrong: I began the briefing outside of
226 AFTER the noon briefing was complete, i.e. after the segment with Ms.
Barcena. I did this so that everyone could attend."
We stand corrected. UNDP's David Morrison's hallways briefing did not conflict
with the press conference of USG for Management Alicia Barcena, but rather with
a long-scheduled press conference about the trafficking of women, which Inner
City Press also covered, click
here for that
story. A direct request has been made to Kemal Dervis and his spokeswoman for a
briefing in the UN's Room 226, rather than outside while another press
conference takes place inside. And a simple question has been asked. We'll see.]
Out in the hall, Mr. Morrison
told Reuters that
unnamed North Korean "officials want to discuss again a further narrowing of the
program." Mr. Morrison is also
quoted with a number
-- $4.4 million -- that is different than Ad Melkert's previous provided figure
of $3.2 million as UNDP's 2006 expenditure in North Korea. Which is it?
Mr. Morrison wrote, "Iím
responding to the questions youíve sent to Timo, Hafiz, etc. on DPR Korea. Itís
a shame you didn't come to the scrum I did outside of 226 following the noon
briefing, as I answered all questions at that time."
City Press immediately replied with specific written questions, not one which
have been answered. Some of the questions were also posed directly to
spokespeople for the Secretary-General, although one these incongruously
referred the questions to the South Korean mission to the UN. Whatever it takes,
wherever we have to go, we'll get to the bottom of this. For now, click
UNDP's Kemal Dervis' March 2 letter to the North Korean mission. As with the
U.S. mission inquiry, it was Ad Melkert rather than Mr. Dervis who attended and
spoke at the meetings. Where is Mr. Dervis? The time has come, as Inner City
Press has requested, for a Kemal Dervis press conference.
Suspending Operations in N. Korea, UNDP Slows Audit
Called for by Ban Ki-moon
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, March 3 -- The UN
Development Program, facing an "urgent audit" of its North Korea operations
called for by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has now
suspended its operations
in the country. Sources tell Inner City Press that the effect, and even intent,
of the suspension is to slow or stop the audit. The stand-off shapes up as a
test for Ban Ki-moon.
Mr. Ban called for an urgent audit of UNDP and other funds, programs and
he limited the initial scope of the audits to North Korea and unspecified other
countries where hard currency payments and government influence on hiring and
blocking of auditors' access might be issues. Mr. Ban said that audit would be
completed in 90 days or less. On
January 25 at
UNDP's Executive Board meeting in New York, a compromise was passed under which
UNDP was to modify its programs in North Korea on or before March 1. North
Korea, which has a seat on UNDP's 36-member Executive Board, did not vote
against this compromise.
Inner City Press exclusively
confirmed the presence in New York of UNDP's North Korea resident representative
Timo Pakkala in
New York on February 8,
by calling his room at the Crowne Plaza hotel. On
UN Controller Warren Sach confirmed to Inner City Press that he had met with Mr.
Pakkala in advance of the audit. Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson
on February 20 confirmed that the 90-day
clock has started.
With a dateline of March 1,
stated on its web site that
As of 1 March
2007, UNDP has no choice but to suspend its operations in DPRK as the necessary
conditions set out by the Executive Board on 25 January 2007 have not been met.
These conditions included adjusting the content of the current Country Programme
(2005-2006) and the proposed Country Programme (2007-2009) for DPRK to support
sustainable human development objectives; ending all payments in hard currency
to government, national partners, local staff and local vendors and
discontinuing sub-contracting of national staff via government recruitment as of
1 March 2007. UNDP's position in DPRK could be reconsidered if these
Source point out that North
Korea's seat on UNDP's Executive Board could be in jeopardy, given its seeming
refusal to comply with conditions voted by the Board. UNDP does not specify in
its statement -- of which Inner City Press was not told, despite an email from
Kemal Dervis spokeswoman on
another UNDP matter on
March 2 -- which of the three conditions was not met. UNDP has said it will not
answer about North Korea until the audit is completed.
Now Inner City Press is told that when
the terms of reference of the audit were passed by UNDP to North Korean
officials, the Kim Jong Il government responded with conditions, that no onsite
access would be granted, and that they wanted the right to approve who would do
the audit. Sources say that auditors, including Imran Vanker and others, have
predictably responded, "no audit without access." What then of the 90 day time
sealed with a handshake?
Inner City Press' questions to UN
Controller Warren Sach have been responded to by a message that Mr. Sach is out
of UN Headquarters until March 12. He is described as being "on mission," though
no location is specified. It has been pointed out to Inner City Press that South
Korea, including while Mr. Ban served as foreign minister, was a not
insubstantial funder to North Korea, including through UN-affiliated funds,
programs and agencies. UNDP, meanwhile, has said that it will not answer
questions about North Korea until the audit is completed. Whether that
essentially means "never, we'll never answer questions," remains to be seen.
Much of the audit could be done of papers
in UNDP's New York headquarters, in the offices of such officials as Darshak
Shah, Hafiz Pasha, David Lockwood and Bruce Jenks. Some within UNDP are calling
on Ban Ki-moon to remove immunity from such officials, so that a robust
investigation can occur. Developing.
* * *
Some of the
referenced communication: On February 9 the following statement from UNDP
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, continues and is also directed at the
still unanswered question Inner City Press directed to Kemal Dervis on February
1, and reiterated to Ad Melkert in the middle of February, 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.
UN Comptroller Warren Sach, on the other hand, was initially responsive to
questions on this topic. 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 Wed 7th 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.
Inner City Press has posed the following still-outstanding questions to Mr.
Goolsarran of the UN Board of Auditors:
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?
that UNDP has also neglected to answer simple factual questions about issues
entirely unrelated to North Korea.
And on March 2 --
Subj: Absence from
Date: 3/2/2007 4:04:23 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: Warren Sach
To: Inner City Press
I will be out of the office starting 28/02/2007 and will not return until
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, thereís a lot of agencies to be
Spokesperson: As you know, theyíre 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?
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...
Other, earlier Inner
City Press are listed here, and
some are available in the ProQuest service.
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