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March 1, 2011: Libya

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As UNDP Uses Arab Spring for Green, Had Aisha Gaddafi as Ambassador

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 2 -- In what some see as opportunism, the UN Development Program which had Aisha Gaddafi as a Goodwill Ambassador today proclaimed that "the 'Arab Spring' shows need for greener development." One wag wondered: is UNDP's reference to Gaddafi's Green Book?

   Then at UNDP's press conference, among the few questions was one about hydro-fracking. Despite opportunistically using environmentalism to raise money -- that is, "green" -- UNDP said it is no expert and to ask Nick Nuttall of UNEP. (Nuttall has repeatedly refused to answer press questions about Ban Ki-moon giving a UN post to Samuel Koo of South Korea.)

  During the Arab Spring, the UN system's coordinator for Libya, UNDP official Costanza Farina, had in fact been praising Gaddafi's regime. She said, “''Libya has made immense progress and is well positioned among the countries that will be able to say that they have reached 8 of the Millennium Objectives in 2015.”  And click here, 2010 "UNIC Tripoli organizes Reception at UN House in celebration of UN Day."

(c) UN Photo
Helen Clark in green & Gaddafi's Treki: Arab Spring not shown

  She also praised Gaddafi on women's rights, as Libya is on the board of UN Women:

the UN chief for Libya, Costanza Farina, said that the fight against violence against women was one of the priorities of the agencies operating in the country and announced that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), thanks to a contribution from the Dutch embassy in Tripoli, would be able to support the programme financially. Farina added that Libya is one of the 41 members elected to the executive committee of the new UN Women agency, which was created on July 2 to show the desire of governments to respect women. Farina also said that "Libya confirmed the equality in rights between men and women in 1969.”

Maybe she is unaware, as “local UN officials said, the new coordinator of the UN in Libya, Costanza Farina, credited only last June 1, is located in Geneva.”

On February 17, Inner City Press had asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky

Inner City Press: Is there any thought of using the existing UN programs on the ground, whether it is UNDP or otherwise? There was some criticism of this training of police in Egypt prior to the — there was criticism by NGOs that it didn’t bring in human rights activists but rather Government people. Is there some thinking of how — the UNDP website about Libya hasn’t been updated now in several months, I guess — it seems to some, due to the turmoil. What about these UN…?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Who might that be? Who is it, these people who think it might be?

Inner City Press: People that look at it and have seen that it was updated all the way, until suddenly there was turmoil in the country and then it is not updated any more. What’s the role, according to the Secretary-General, of the existing UN programmes in countries like Libya and Yemen, where Helen Clark visited and didn’t say anything about democracy?

   Even since then, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark has declined numerous requests from the Press and UN correspondents to hold a press conference at UN Headquarters and answer questions.

  Instead, UNDP sends out members of its extensive "communications" team, to block questions to each other and refer other questions to other UN system agencies.

  While the Human Development Report has interesting section that will surely be used in future articles, when an agency has this much money, and tries to raise more citing the Arab Spring despite its record, while its Administrator refuses to answer questions, this is the result.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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