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Blair's Office Procured with No-Bid $1 Million by UNDP, Voter-Buyer Whose Retaliation is Decried by UN Staff Federation

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
Click here for a copy of the International Civil Servants' Federation's resolution

UNITED NATIONS, August 31-- Tony Blair's office in Jerusalem is being procured by the UN Development Program, in what UNDP sources tell Inner City Press is a one million dollar, one year deal entered into without soliciting any other bids or even comparable prices.

            A week ago, Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Michele Montas who is funding Blair's office as envoy of the Quartet, of which the UN is only one-fourth. From the noon briefing transcript of August 24:

Inner City Press: On Tony Blair's office as the Envoy of the Quartet -- what is going to be the UN's role in paying the cost of that office?  Is it going to pay a quarter, is it paying all, is it paying none?  Where does that stand?

Spokesperson:  I'll try to find out for you -- I don't have that information.

Ms. Montas never provided the information, so Inner City Press on August 29 asked the UN's outgoing outgoing Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Michael Williams, at the stakeout beside the Security Council.

            "It's out of some trust fund," Williams said.

            Inner City Press asked, "Administered by the UN Department of Political Affairs?"

            Mr. Williams looked off-camera and asked a staffer. The answer? UNDP. Given the scandals surrounding that agency, from payment in hard currency to the Kim Jong-il government in North Korea through alleged involvement in diamond smuggling in Zimbabwe to openly rebuffing the UN's Ethics Office -- see below, about the UN International Civil Servants' Federation's formal "dismay" at UNDP's Adminstrator -- is it surprising that this is how Tony Blair is funded.

 Inner City Press then asked UNDP about it, and has twice been told an answer will be forthcoming. None has arrived, through regular channels. But from UNDP sources comes word of the million-dollar payout, which passed through UNDP's Advisory Committee on Procurement without following ACP's rules. It had been reported that Blair wanted to be in Government House, previously the seat of the British Empire, then in the American Colony Hotel like James Wolfensohn was. UNDP is willing to pay whatever, whenever, with or without bids.

Blair -- with UNDP, no bids, no questions, no oversight - TB re UNDP here - a YouTube video featuring, ignomiously, Gordon Brown while Blair speaks of... UNDP.

            Additionally, and perhaps relatedly, sources tell Inner City Press that UNDP is to relocate its Office of Procurement Services and its 61 jobs from headquarters in New York to Denmark. These sources note that Denmark has the chair of UNDP's Executive Board, the purported substitute for the UN Ethics Office to restrain UNDP from retaliating against whistleblowers. When UNDP can buy off its over-seer, in this case with 61 jobs and other related spending, these sources say, "there is no oversight."

[For Denmark, this is a new phase in their drive to become the new UN spot in Europe. Previously they paid to lure UN facilities, for example creating a slush fund to get UNOPS to relocate without the preapproval of the Executive Board, click here for that. Now it appears that Amb. Caspar Staur is trading votes with UNDP for support on UNDP's Executive Board to switch 61 more jobs. Meanwhile, UNDP's previous chief legal officer James Provenzano, who was passed over as retaliator-in-chief by Peri Johnson, will apparently have to either move to Denmark, or leave UNDP upon the expiration of his contract in November. Some call this, live by the sword, die by the sword. Others call it UNDP's culture of omerta...].

            The ramification of UNDP's stonewalling of the Ethics Office's 72-day inquiring into the case of whistleblower Tony Shkurtaj, and of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's acquiescence to date with UNDP's going it alone, continue to be felt. At Friday's UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe for Ban's response to the UN Staff Council's resolution urging him to apply the Ethics Office to UNDP's "culture of impunity." Ms. Okabe said Ban still stands behind his statement of Tuesday, before the Staff Council resolution, which implied that UNDP can be allowed to nominate its own investigator. Inner City Press followed-up, that the Staff Council on Wednesday clearly repudiated Ban's Tuesday statement. Ms. Okabe said that Ban "is over in Turin... I'm not sure he saw" the Staff Council resolution. Video here, from Minute 11:05.

            Well, now the UN International Civil Servants' Federation, UNISERV, has adopted a resolution on the matter, which calls on Ban to "instruct the Administrator of UNDP to submit to the jurisdiction of the UN Ethics Office," and to restore employment to Shkurtaj "in order the UN staff are not discouraged from reporting potential fraud and misconduct," as well as for an "Internal Justice Council." Click here for an exclusive copy of the resolution, from Inner City Press. Already in Turin -- while sending his Under Secretary General for Management Alicia Barcena back to New York -- will Ban Ki-moon also "not hear" the resolution of the UN International Civil Servants' Federation? We'll see.

* * *

Clck here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (which had to be finalized without Ban's DPA having responded.)  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent 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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