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On Myanmar, UNDP's Clark Blames Poverty on Politics, UK Defends Sanctions, UNDP Conflict of Interest in N.Korea?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 17 -- Building the capacity of governments, even dictatorships and military regimes, is the approach taken the UN Development Program. Thursday Inner City Press asked UNDP Administrator Helen Clark to explain what she meant that because "'political factors' restrict what the UNDP can do in Myanmar.. 'it's not so easy to make progress there at this time' on the Millennium Development Goals.

  Ms. Clark backtracked, saying that it's not UNDP's restricted action in Myanmar that's to blame, its the politics of aid donors-- apparently meaning, sanctions. Clark emphasized that Myanmar gets the least development aid per capita of any country, including North Korea. "Politics," she said, "has been a complicating factor." Video here, from Minute 32:28.

    Well, yes. The government of General Than Shwe has dissolved the NLD party of Aung San Suu Kyi, and has stacked the upcoming election for military connected candidates. Is this the government whose capacity UNDP seeks to build?

UK's Lyall Grant at right hand of Helen Clark, regimes not shown

   UK Ambassador Lyall Grant jumped in to say that the sanctions only "target the regime" in what he called Burma.

The UN's Children and Armed Conflict envoy Radhika Coomaraswamy has said that Myanmar entirely stopped working toward an action plan on child soldiers, in the run up to the election. Inner City Press stopped Myanmar's Ambassador to the UN outside the Security Council on June 16 and asked why the country has stopped. The Ambassador insisted that his government works closely with Ms. Coomaraswamy, and wants to be take off her list of recruiters. Perhaps UNDP would support this?

Inner City Press also asked Ms. Clark about UNDP's role in the security sector in Somalia, where the government has been exposed as using 20% child soldiers. "We do not train soldiers," Clark answered. "We are nowhere near that one." Not so fast. UNDP has provided funds for training TFG security; the dispute has been how much they spend. We aim to have more on this.

Footnote: When UNDP re-opened its North Korea program and website, it listed Mr. Vijay Thapa as International Finance Officer. A whistleblower asks, isn't this a conflict of interest since Mr. Thapa has been Finance Officer in DPR Korea since 2003, therefore four years before the discovery of counterfeit? Mr Thapa is among those UNDP Staff of DPR Korea whom declined to talk to US Southern District Attorney on counterfeit and he is part of the "old cast" of UNDP DPRK management responsible for the wrong doings. One wonders, was the appointment of Mr. Thapa a request from DPR Korean Government ? Is this more capacity building?

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As UNDP's Clark Talks Haiti, Dodges Transfer of Retaliator, Kane for Mulet?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 29 -- Helen Clark the Administrator of the UN Development Program acknowledged Monday the finding that UNDP engaged in retaliation against whistleblower Ismael Ahmed in Somalia.

  Inner City Press asked about the case, and why two who Ahmed says were responsible for the retaliation, Eric Overvest and Bruno Lemarquis, were transferred to UNDP in Haiti. Video here, from Minute 36:19.

  Ms. Clark, who until Monday had rebuffed months of requests that she come to UN headquarters and take questions, said there is "no basis for concluding" Mr. Overvest was "involved in any wrongdoing in the Somalia program."

Beyond Inner City Press' previous exclusive report of Overvest's presumptive retaliation against UNDP consultant Edwina Thompson, an Australia national, who was hired to evaluate UNDP's contested remittance program in Somalia, document have emerged showing Overvest's direct involvement in irregularities. The vindicated Ismael Ahmed states:

When Eric’s various strategies for finding a way of releasing advance payment to PayQuik failed to work, he just simply decided to release the payment. In a blatant violation of UNDP procurement rules and regulations, a fraudulent payment of $382,200 (i.e. about 60% of the license) was made to PayQuik before it fulfilled any of the conditions such as a contract, bank guarantee or purchase of servers and software. Eric released this payment with full knowledge that the system does not even meet the minimum qualifying conditions required by the RFP and therefore should have been rejected. The transaction details are as follows:

Amount: $382,200
Vendor:, Inc., 150 Monument Road , Bala Cynwyd , Pa 19004
Date of Payment: 3 April 2008
Voucher No: 00022161
Vendor No: 0000001956
Project Code: 00036033

   So Helen Clark said there is "no basis for concluding" Mr. Overvest was "involved in any wrongdoing in the Somalia program." This then will be a test of Helen Clark.

Helen Clark and Edmond Mulet, one dodges, the other returns?

  Since assuming the top position at UNDP, Ms. Clark has refused repeated invitations to hold a press conference with Q & A in UN headquarters, as her predecessorsark Malloch Brown and even Kemal Dervis did. Through her spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who some say did not agree with her position, Ms. Clark said no. She did, however, come in to UNDP's offices early on a Sunday morning, in order to appear on television in New Zealand.

  Inner City Press made many of the requests for Ms. Clark to hold a press conference. Then, though the UN Correspondents' Association, the invitation was formalized. Still, nothing. On March 25, a vote was taken to raise the stakes, publicly. The next day, it was announced the Ms. Clark was coming, on the topic of Haiti. And none to soon.

  Of the UN's interim Haiti mission chief Edmond Mulet, Inner City Press asked if it is true he wants to return to his job at the UN in New York, and deputy chief of Peacekeeping. "I don't know yet," Mr. Mulet answered. "There are consultations" and there should be a decision, he said, "in the next few days."

  Some are saying that the UN is considering current Under Secretary General for Management Angela Kane to replace Mulet in Haiti. We'll see -- when she comes to her next, and delayed, press conference. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

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

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

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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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