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As UNDP Withheld Its North Korea Plans, It Stonewalls on Zimbabwe, Muzzles Kosovo, Niger Drive and Mining Role

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 19 -- As North Korea throws South Koreans out, the UN Development Program continues a stealth effort to re-enter the reclusive military dictatorship, withholding documents it mentions in passing in reports. In DP/2009/L.1, under the heading "Country Programs," UNDP stated that

"In implementing the 'road map', UNDP is submitting for consideration by the Board a package of proposed measures for the resumprion [sic] of UNDP programmes in DPRK, including a request for UNDP to approve assistance to DPRK on a project-byproject basis until the end of 2010. The document outlines the programme interventions to be supported by UNDP, as well as a tentative agreement reached with DPRK on operational modalities that will be used – in particular in the areas of programme implementation, human resources and finance... Proposed measures for the resumption of programme operations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DP/2009/8)."

 But unlike the other country programs listed in DP/2009/L.1, UNDP's above-described North Korea document was not put online.

  On December 11, Inner City Press asked UNDP's Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, among other things, why DP/2009/8 about North Korea was not made available online.  While deferring answering the other questions, on North Korea Dujarric replied that

"On your first question, there is nothing to deny or confirm. You, like anyone else, can access the documentation being posted on the website in advance of the Exec Board. The document you refer to is, as of a few minutes when I checked, not yet posted. It will be in due time."

  While at odds with the UN system's repeated promises of transparency, this is consistent with previous UNDP secrecy.

UNDP's Dervis looks down on UN's Ban: whose transparency promises will out?

 After the last Executive Board meeting, at which UNDP's Asia and Pacific chief Ajay Chhibber read out a statement on North Korea, Inner City Press asked Dujarric for a copy of the statement. You can order an audio tape of the meeting and transcribe it, Dujarric said. Inner City Press told him what UN staff revealed: the meeting was not taped, having been characterized as closed or informal consultations. And so UNDP's impulse to secrecy continues.

  The other questions posted a week ago to UNDP, without any answers:

Please describe UNDP's involvement in the past 3 years in currency exchange in Zimbabwe, whether the rates given were determined by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe / government, how this compared to other rates available, in light of John Holmes (and Ms. Braggs') recent comments that there have been currency exchange issues / losses in Zimbabwe.

Any awareness you or UNDP have of inquiries into irregularities in Afghanistan procurement and construction, by UNOPS or UNDP, including but not limited to the use of Italian funds for a hospital.

How much rent to UNDP pay to Nigeria for space in Nigeria House in NYC, and how was it determined?

What has UNDP done, and what is it done, in the Niger Delta?

  None of the questions have been answered. And now there are more questions, not only about UNDP's role in Niger in mining -- and transporting UN envoy Robert Fowler without security to a Canadian-owned gold mine, about also about restricting free speech in Kosovo:

The incident occurred last week as Igballe Rogova, Executive Director of the Kosova Women's Network (KWN), was preparing to speak at a UN conference on women and governance in Istanbul. UNDP organizers told her that her speech was "too political" and that she could only speak if she removed all references to the plan from her remarks.

In an angry statement sent to UNDP headquarters, KWN accuses the agency of suppressing freedom of speech and undermining democracy. 'Evidently the UNDP organizers believed that women are allowed to participate in politics only so long as they are not too political or they avoid serious political issues,' it reads.

  That sure sounds like UNDP. But where are UNDP's responses?

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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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