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Lockheed Rep on US Committee for UNDP, like UNICEF Germany, Raises Conflict Questions

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

UNITED NATIONS, February 18 -- A representative of Lockheed Martin, the military contractor's head of business development in Africa and the Middle East James F. Jamerson, serves on the board of directors of the U.S. Committee for the UN Development Program. Lockheed Martin in October 2007 was awarded a $250 million no-bid contract to build infrastructure for UN - African Union hybrid mission in Darfur, UNAMID. Previous board members have included representatives of JPMorgan Chase and Honeywell, and also a board member regarding whom nothing is disclosed. Might these involve conflicts of  interest? UN agencies like UNDP and UNICEF finds uses for the U.S. committees, but claim to have no control over them.

            This sleight of hand was on display earlier this year when UNICEF refused to answer questions about a fundraiser held for it and for Madonna's organization Raising Malawi by the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, to which Inner City Press was referred but which never, after the fundraiser, provided promised information about its partnerships and safeguards. Across the Atlantic, UNICEF Germany is embroiled in a scandal in which, among other things, consultants were being paid $1200 a day, not based on any written agreement,  now-resigned director Dietrich Garlichs' house appears to have been repaired with UNICEF Germany funds and UNICEF Germany was paying to maintain benefactor Gustav Rau's art collection, including making payments to his private secretary. Click here for a benign summary translation of one of KPMG's two reports on the matter. While the other report, and more detail, has been promised, UNICEF's director has not spoken publicly about the controversy, nor answered public questions about the U.S. Fund for UNICEF's Madonna - Gucci event, which Gucci claimed was to celebrate its opening of a store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue.

   Telling, "people close to UNICEF" have said that the favorite to take over UNICEF Germany is  Klaus Zumwinkel, who "German authorities said earlier this week they are probing for possibly evading $1.5 million in taxes by transferring money to Liechtenstein."  But does he have an art collection?

            UNDP's relation with its U.S. Committee can be shown by the role of Fred Tipson. While he testified to Congress earlier this year in a hearing about irregularities in UNDP's now-suspended programs in North Korea as UNDP's Washington liaison, he is listed on the U.S. Committee for UNDP's web site as a previous board member, who moved on to work at AT&T and Microsoft. Any conflict there? UNDP is active in suggesting to developing countries which technology to use.

UNDP's Kemal Dervis, Google's Michael T. Jones, Ban Ki-moon and Cisco - c/o UNDP-USA's own "blog"

Mr. Tipson at the hearing told Congress, in defense of UNDP having taken local staffer dictated by the Kim Jong-il government and having paid their salaries directly to the government, "when I worked in China with AT&T, as the private sector we had to hire people through a government agency. That's the way China required it to be done."

            The relation between UNDP and its ostensibly independent U.S. Committee is made clearer still by James Gustave Speth, UNDP Administrator from 1993 to 1999, later serving on the board of the U.S. Committee for UNDP. Currently on the board is a representative of Wall Street's Goldman Sachs.

            The US Fund for UNICEF, under "About Us," lists corporate partners, including not only Gucci but also Citigroup, GE and ExxonMobil. Its board of directors includes representation from Kimberly-Clark and the ubiquitous JPMorgan Chase. Are these the directors who are supposed to be ensuring that other corporations, like Gucci, don't exploit the UN for commercial gain? A $600 "Gucci Loves New York" handbag is one thing, a $250 million no-bid contract for Lockheed Martin's something else. In both cases, further transparency is needed. Watch this site.

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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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