Ban Memo Foretold UNDP Resumption in N. Korea A Month Before Audit Was Released
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
UNITED NATIONS, June
4 -- As questions mount about the UN's no-visit audit of programs in North
Korea, on Monday Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson refused to confirm or comment
UN memo to Mr. Ban which
recommended, more than a month before the North Korea audit report was released,
that the UN Development Program resume operations there. Also on Monday other
audited agencies did not come forward with responses to the report.
City Press obtained a copy of the "Korea
Peninsula UN Policy and Strategy Submission to the Policy Committee" memo on
Thursday and in a story on the eve of the audit's release
memo's recommendation that "Unless it is reversed, the UNDP program risks being
terminated. Rather than being able to support the six-party talks process and
international engagement with North Korea at this critical juncture, the UN will
lose its unique comparative advantage in that area altogether."
On Monday, Inner
asked spokesperson Marie Okabe:
Inner City Press: On the Department of
Political Affairs, there’s this memo from DPA called Korean peninsula: UN policy
and strategy. It's dated April 25th and it proposed to Ban Ki-moon three
proposals about how to deal with North Korea, one of which is to get the United
Nations Development Program (UNDP) back involved. Do you confirm that this
document is what it is and what happened? What happened with the policy
committee? What did they decide after this presentation? And how does it
relate to the UNDP audit?
Deputy Spokesperson: It doesn't relate.
First of all, you're talking about reports of a paper that was circulated in
some news media. I can tell you that it has nothing to do with the Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) audit, which you had extensive briefings on on
Friday. But what I can tell you about what you read about in these reports is
that the United Nations is constantly reviewing its work in all the countries in
which it is engaged and a normal part of the process involves preparing options
for the consideration of the Secretary-General. The United Nations does not
comment on internal documents developed as part of its ongoing work. And that's
my response on that.
Question: And there is a policy
Deputy Spokesperson: There is a policy
committee that meets frequently. As the Secretary-General is a new
Secretary-General, obviously, he is reviewing all the policies of the United
Question: Do you know who is on the
Deputy Spokesperson: It's an internal
setup. I'm sure I can find out for you. But it's composed of his senior
advisers. I think I'll leave it at that.
[The Deputy Spokesperson later drew the
correspondent’s attention to the Secretary-General’s bulletin (ST/SGB/2005/16)
that set up the policy committee and lists its membership.]
Inner City Press did not base its question on media reports about the
memo, but rather on the memo itself, which it now in the interest of
transparency makes available to all, click
view in PDF format.
group photo -- how many of
authors are pictured? See below.
the document to which Ms. Okabe referred states that the Policy Committee is
made up of
"the Deputy Secretary-General, the Chef de
Cabinet, the Chair of the Executive Committee on Peace and Security, the
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations (alternate Chair), the Chair
of the United Nations Development Group, the Chair of the Executive Committee on
Economic and Social Affairs, the Chair of the Executive Committee on
Humanitarian Affairs, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Legal Counsel,
the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information and the
Special Adviser on Africa."
the UN and its press corps wonder if Ban uber-advisor Kim Won-soo,
technically the deputy to Chef de Cabinet Vijay Nambiar, is nonetheless present
in the Policy Committee. Inner City Press asked for the names of those on the
Policy Committee, and continues to await those names, in keeping with Mr. Ban's
promises of transparency as he ran for Secretary-General. For now, speculation
regarding at least the physical authorship of the
the spiritual authorship, it is said, comes from at least as high as the 38th
floor -- centers in DPA's Asia unit on Deputy Director Vladimir Goryayev, Senior
Political Affairs Officer Aleksandr Ilitchev, Political Affairs Officer Victor
Poliakov, all on the 33rd floor. The impetus comes from 38; but can't tell the
players with a scorecard. By even Team Ban's logic, political appointees should
conflicts, since the Chair of the UN Development Group is Kermal Dervis of UNDP,
one wonders of recusals by him or his better half, as some quip, Ad Melkert.
Ad Melkert Disclaims Spam
of Mr. Melkert, he emailed all UNDP staff on June 2, disclaiming some spam sent
in his name:
From: Ad Melkert [at] undp.org
To: undp.global.staff [at] undp.org
Subject: DPRK: UNDP Statement and SG
Date: Sat, 2 Jun 2007 02:03:39 +0200
Further to the e-mail that you must have
by now received entitled: "UN Auditors Find Development Program Broke Rules in
Offering Aid to North Korea," I would like to clarify that this is an
impersonation and the message has NOT been sent by me.
confirms that it has been discussing with UNDP finally providing the
long-requested regular press briefings (demanded of UNDP since 2006, with as yet
no change). At UNICEF's Executive Board meeting on June 4, U.S. representative
William Brisben said
"The Board of Auditors released its report
late last week and we would like to know when the Executive Board can expect a
full report from UNICEF... We believe that reports of the Office of Internal
Audit and the Evaluation Office should be available to the Executive Board."
has been asked for its response. Meanwhile, having received no response at all
from the UN Population Fund, also named in the North Korea audit, to a series of
email questions, Inner City Press caught up with the UNFPA's Thoraya Obaid on
Monday and asked, will UNFPA be making its management response to the
haven't decided yet," Ms. Obaid said. "We're looking at where we are."
City Press invited Ms. Obaid to brief the UN press corps about UNFPA, and asked
about its recent report on the
case of Alaadin Morsy
against UNFPA, which resulted in a call for an Office of Internal Oversight
Services investigation by the Joint Appeals Board. Click
that story. Ms. Obaid on Monday declined to comment. "Due process is due
process," she said.
hallmark of due process is not making up one's mind or tipping one's hand before
fact-finding is done. But Team Ban's DPA recommended clearing UNDP's name and
resuming its programs in North Korea, more than a month before even the
preliminary audit report was available. Due process? Developing.
Again, because a number of Inner City Press'
sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while
it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this
installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the
UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone
calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep
the information flowing.
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(and weekends): 718-716-3540
Other Inner City Press
reports are available in the ProQuest service and some are archived on
Copyright 2007 Inner City Press, Inc. To request
reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] innercitypress.com - phone: (718) 716-3540