Ban's UN, Whistleblower Attacked by UNDP, Placed Among the Crazies
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, July
6 -- In an effort to cut short or divert from the slow but
investigation of the UN Development Program, UNDP's spokesman David Morrison on
Friday appeared at Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's noon press briefing in order to
dismiss its former chief of operation and security in North Korea, who has
charged UNDP with wrongdoing, as a mere short-time consultant, and to deny it
has retaliated against him.
response to questions from Inner City Press, Mr. Morrison acknowledged that it
was UNDP who told security guards in not only its headquarters building but also
in the UN's landmark glass-faced building not to allow in the whistleblower, who
was named for the first time last Friday, in the New York Times: Tony Shkurtaj.
said that because Shkurtaj's "short term" contract expired in March, but his
pass to enter the UN extended to July 1, UNDP informed UN Security to add
Shkurtaj's photo to the array of individuals, including alleged terrorists and
"crazies," not to be let into the UN. Video
from Minute 23:44 to 27:15.
UNDP's authority to block access to the Secretariat building is unclear, as is
the veracity or repercussions of the alleged contract - grounds pass
discrepancy. Asked by Inner City Press if UNDP has ever before made such a
notification, Morrison said he didn't know. Eight hours later, no other examples
had been provided.
attempt to claim that Shkurtaj's warnings, about the use of hard currency,
counterfeit and domination by Kim Jong-il's government, were listened to,
Morrison stated that earlier this year, Shkurtaj met with UNDP Administrator
Kemal Dervis. But the retaliation followed, and even intensified after that
Ban and Mr. Dervis, July 5, 2007, whistleblower not shown
Morrison tried to say that Shkurtaj refused to cooperate with UNDP's own
investigation, Inner City Press has seen a June 5 e-mail in which UNDP's auditor
Antoine Khoury informed Shkurtaj, "we cannot accept
to have a representative from the Staff Council present at this meeting" with
you. It should be noted that the Board of Auditors allowed UNDP Staff Council to
be present during their interview with Shkurtaj.
As it turns out, Khoury was responsible for the audits of UNDP in North Korea in
2001 and 2004, which failed to disclose among other things the counterfeit
currency in UNDP's safe, and payments in hard currency in UNDP's program.
Council wrote, in a June 15, 2007, letter, that "we do not believe it is
appropriate to characterize you as a short term consultant, while your
responsibilities included managing the operations of the DPRK office including
the authorization of disbursement of funds on behalf of UNDP and other agencies
-- being core functions performed by core staff."
[The wider Staff Union's talk with Mr. Ban on whistleblower's' topics will be
covered by Inner City Press immanently.]
contrary to Morrison's characterization of Shkurtaj as a "short term consultant"
is a message that Shkurtaj sent on Friday morning to Morrison and other UNDP
representatives, including Associate Administrator Ad Melkert and Asia and
Pacific operations official David Lockwood, that
number is [ ]. Run it thru ATLAS HR and IMIS, and you will find that
I was not a 'Short-Term Consultant.' UNDP still owns me the Pension
Contributions for 2006. Check your internal documents in Comptrollers/Treasurer
office and you will see that the following statement still standing in UNDPís
website is a slander attempt and yet another retaliation. Be professional and
don't become ridiculous on these statements otherwise if I was a 'short term
consultant' awarded all the authorities that I had and all checks I signed and
the diplomas paid by UNDP during the assignment, some of you have to resign
immediately for allowing that to happen."
Friday's press conference, Inner City Press asked Morrison about several other
recent demotions within UNDP, including of the head of budgets,
Jocelline Bazile-Finley. When Inner City Press asked Kemal Dervis about this
Dervis replied, "I am not going to answer
any of your questions."
Morrison on Friday said that people change jobs all the time, and said he had no
awareness of the UNDP's hiring of any new information technology contractor.
Rather than answer Inner City
Press' direct question of whether he denies that UNDP legal officers
James Provenzano and Peri Johnson
told Shkurtaj that he would have to leave the country, Morrison said he had
already answered this question. But what was the answer? UNDP has refused to
answer Inner City Press written questions for months, including for example a
June 18 question, referred by Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson's Office of whether
UNDP has funded the
police or security forces of the
Transitional Federal Government of Somalia.
Asked for an update on the
previously discussed controversy surround UNDP's support for a
diamond mine in Zimbabwe --
the allegation is that UNDP was involved in diamond smuggling -- Morrison Friday
provided no update. He said he could not provide any update on Ad Melkert's (and
Kemal Dervis') previously
claims that UNDP would begin making copies
of audits available to member states,
at least those on UNDP's Executive Board. We've been busy with DPR Korea,
this, when Inner City Press asked Morrison about reports that UNDPs' David
Lockwood told Shkurtaj that if he kept quiet, another UNDP job could be
arranged, Morrison replied that he had just "run into David Lockwood," who said
that he had never spoken with or laid eyes on Shkurtaj until December 2006. But
in Shkurtaj's job, as verified by the UNDP Staff Council, Lockwood was
Shkurtaj's direct supervisor, and, according to Shkurtaj, signed his
While Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Michele Montas, when asked by Inner City Press
for Mr. Ban's views on UNDP's actions, said that Mr. Ban has discussed this with
senior advisors and is taking care of it, what this means remains unclear.
Meanwhile, UNDP's actions send the message to others in the agency, do not
speak, or face the photo array and more.
City Press asked Morrison if he denies Shkurtaj's statement, made to the UN
Ethics Office, that "on 19 January 2007 -- the same
day as the Secretary-General ordered an inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing
by UNDP in North Korea, UNDP Associate Administrator Ad Melkert informed a
colleague that he suspected that I may have shared information [and] ordered
that my access to ATLAS be terminated, and that my contract be allowed to expire
as of the end of March 2007."
After some equivocation,
Morrison denied this. Video
from Minute 35:08, for the record, on camera. We'll continue on this.
Again, because a number of Inner City Press'
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 the
UN agencies and many of their 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 Matthew.Lee [at]
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UN Office: S-453A,
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(and weekends): 718-716-3540