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After Giving Prize to Tobacco Firm, UNDP's Clark Admits Error Unlike in Kabul

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 17 -- While the UN Development Program has been slow, to say the least, to provide comment to the Press about the series of internal Afghanistan audits it has been exclusively publishing, on Tuesday UNDP responded quickly to a question about Administrator Helen Clark.

  Inner City Press on Tuesday morning asked UNDP spokespeople two questions, including, "What is Helen Clark's response to the outcry over the award she gave to the largest tobacco firm in India?" The reference, and prize, was to India's largest cigarette maker, ITC, formerly Indian Tobacco Company.

  A few hours later UNDP replied to Inner City Press that while it is still "working on your Afghanistan request, but in the meantime please find enclosed a statement from Ms. Clark on your question below:

July 17, 2012

Statement from UNDP Administrator Helen Clark

I have worked tirelessly throughout my career to achieve a smoke free society in New Zealand, and was, thus, shocked to learn that a World Business Development Award, supported by UNDP, was given to a company which derives a substantial proportion of its profits from tobacco.

Unfortunately the criteria for the World Business Development Awards did not exclude projects implemented by companies from certain sectors like tobacco. This has clearly been a serious oversight. UNDP is reviewing its rules and regulations to ensure that an incident like this never happens again. UNDP will not participate in these awards in the future unless companies like this are excluded.

I retain my strong commitment to anti-tobacco policies and will continue to fight for the health and well-being of citizens in New Zealand and around the world.

While noting that the World Business Council for Sustainable Development also has companies like Dow Chemicals as members, why can't this approach be adopted toward the expanding UNDP scandal in Afghanistan? Watch this site.

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

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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

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