Uganda, UNDP's Belated Announcement of Program Halt Leaves Questions Unanswered
Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N.
UNITED NATIONS, June
28 -- On June 29 in Uganda, ten days after Inner City Press'
questions about disarmament abuses began and two days after a more quiet
announcement, the United Nations Development Programme is slated to go public
with the news that it has suspended its programs in eastern Uganda. This follows
the newspaper The New Vision picking up on Inner City Press'
here to view; the
in New York has also followed up). In the field of public relations, the advice
is often to get out in front of events, rather than play catch-up. When that is
missed, it's spin, spin, spin.
Kampala-based New Vision, Ugandan
People's Defense Force spokesman Felix Kulayigye is
quoted as disputing Inner
City Press' reports, stating that "statistics showed that the cordon-and-search
had been more successful than voluntary surrendering of guns" and that "this
month, the UPDF recovered over 1,100 guns compared to 636 guns recovered in two
years ending March 2006." It all depends on the tactics used...
has UNDP's spokesman declaiming that "our operations in the region have halted
due to a continuing difficult security situation and concerns about Ugandan
military operations in the area." UNDP's letter goes further, referencing recent
"killings, beatings, arbitrary detention, intimidation and harassment."
Wednesday in New York, nine days after Inner City Press first raised these
questions, UNDP's spokesman came to speak to Inner City Press for
over an hour, describing the announcement to slated for Thursday in Kampala, saying it will
refer to "security" issues rather than human rights abuses, and arguing that UNDP was and is a "small player" in Uganda's Karamojo region. The spokesman
congratulated Inner City Press for raising the issues, and asked in essence what
more could the UN do at this time?
according to a source in the Prime Minister's Office (OPM) in Kampala. In a
second email to Inner City Press, the source paints a picture quite different
from that offered by UNDP's spokesman in New York, writing that
"OPM terminated the contract of the 4th
advisor, Techeste Ahderom, because of management and performance issues arising
out of this situation. We have brought these matters to UNDP attention but have
received no constructive feedback. As a result the program, support to
implementation of the IDP Policy, which Techeste was managing has suffered
serious setbacks. The human security / Karamoja program is having similar
problems and Robert Scharf has been warned on a number of occasions. One of
Robert's main responsibility was to support coordination of the implementation
of the KIDDP at the highest level including ministry of Defense and internal
affairs. For over six months now he has failed to convene a single meeting - OPM
role in the promotion of voluntary disarmament has been compromised... In the
Mine Action Programme a UK based NGO was recruited to conduct mine assessments
in northern Uganda - more than 90% of DFID money has gone to contracts of so
called experts. They have failed to produce a credible report and the financial
accountability is questionable but UNDP continues to disburse funds to this
question of UNDP's use of funds, the agency's spokesman did not bring any budget
documents during his visit Wednesday to Inner City Press. Asked to explain the
use of the $293,000 spent before the program was suspended, the spokesman
referred to start-up costs, including the need to "set up offices in huts." He
stated that now no UNDP program staff remain in the field. He congratulated
Inner City Press for raising the issues, which have now been picked up by
Ugandan press, click here
for The New Vision, and
with more UNDP involvement, the
Wednesday in New York, UNDP's
spokesman urged Inner City Press to shift the focus of its two week old inquiry, to turn to wider programs and
other funders. The story and its implications are certainly wider than UNDP, and
will be followed where they lead. But here are a list of questions provided to
the UNDP spokesman prior to his hour-long presentation, and still not answered:
-On what date did
UNDP suspend its support of programs in Eastern Uganda?
-What if any are the
conditions of the suspension?
-What is the overall
spending figure for UNDP's programs throughout Uganda for 2006?
-Your 6/27 message
states that 'cordon and search' operations "undermine the possibility of
achieving lasting peace and development for the region" and that "UNDP has
joined with other development partners in Uganda to voice concern about this
exercise to Ugandan authorities." Who are the "other development partners in
Uganda" referenced in this statement?
-Your message states
that UNDP "is aware of the allegations of abuse by the Ugandan military...
including the ones you have raised" but further claims that UNDP "does not have
the mandate to independently investigate accusations of human rights abuses by a
national military against citizens of that country."
-If UNDP does not
"have the mandate to independently investigate accusations of human rights
abuses by a national military against citizens" of a country where UNDP
operates, who in UNDP's opinion does have such a mandate?
Director, Cornelus Klein, made a speech on May 25, 2006 where he applauded
Ugandan Government efforts at disarmament and specifically singled out the work
of the UPDF with praise. He said "Uganda… is seizing the opportunity to address
small and light weapons concerns. While UNDP currently provides modest support
to the nation, it is Uganda that can support and lead other countries in doing
the same. Let me take this opportunity, therefore, to applaud the Government for
its strong leadership and commitment. I also wish to express our thanks to the
National Focal Point, the UPDF, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Safer Africa
whose excellent work we have all seen this morning, and all other partners that
have worked collectively towards this important achievement. I hope that the
well trained, hard working and dedicated people we have seen handling this
process will remain busy for a long time so that all illicit weapons in the
country are destroyed."
days prior to Mr. Klein's speech, as recounted in my first message to you nine
days ago, the first reported attack by the UPDF in Kotido sub-county, where on
May 19th the UPDF encircled a village and attacked to force the residents to
turn over their weapons, resulting in four people being killed by the UPDF or
its local defense units, including a 15-year old girl. Over 100 homes were
burned and the village's protective fence was destroyed. Many residents were
taken and detained in the UPDF barracks in Kotido. On the same day, May 19th, in
Nadunget sub county, the UPDF reportedly encircled a village at 4 a.m.. People
were ordered out of their huts and beaten while the army searched the village.
Although reportedly the army found no weapons or ammunition, ten men from the
village were taken and detained at the Moroto army barracks.
When he gave his speech on 25 May 2006, was Mr. Klein aware of these separate
attacks by the UPDF some six days earlier?
Klein left Kampala "at the end of May, after eight months in Uganda." Where is
Mr. Klein now? Can he and his successor Theophane Nikyema be interviewed?
these still unanswered questions, there were questions that were half-answered,
or answered through Internet research:
Does the Office of
the High Commissioner for Human Rights have a presence in Uganda and a mandate
to review Ugandan Government military operations against Ugandan citizens?
answer is yes - click
view, and to read on pages 61-63 that
sub-region of Karamoja, in northeastern Uganda, the traditional culture of
cattle rustling with its increasingly violent modern expressions, persistent
Government neglect, and an unsuccessful disarmament programme have led to
serious security concerns, human rights violations, violence, and a total lack
of protection for civilians. Administration of justice structures, law
enforcement institutions, and other central Government services are virtually
non-existent in the sub-region; as a result, a parallel system of traditional
justice, based on reprisals and revenge, has emerged instead... In recognition
of the need to consolidate peace with the need for justice, accountability, and
reconciliation, OHCHR will establish itself as the lead agency within the United
Nations Country Team, in cooperation with civil society actors and the Amnesty
Commission, to help to develop national reconciliation strategies, which could
include truth-telling, repentance, and compensation, to complement the ongoing
peace process. In the Karamoja sub-region, OHCHR will explore ways to enhance
the protection of civilians, combat impunity, help to restore security through
community-based mechanisms, and facilitate inter-ethnic dialogue on peace and
human rights education. These activities will be conducted in partnership with
the United Nations Country Team, which is deepening its engagement in Karamoja
in response to the Government's Karamoja Integrated Disarmament and Development
We will have more on this wider plan; for now we
note that the UNDP spokesman on Wednesday stated that while UNDP is usually
publicly quiet, it raises the human rights issues it sees to the head of the UN
Country Team, who in turn forwards the information to UN Headquarters. In this
case, UN Headquarters has yet to make a comment.
UNDP becomes "aware of allegations of abuse" by the national military of a
country where it works, does it provide this information to any UN entity with a
mandate to independently investigate such things?
question, Inner City Press asked to two representatives in Kofi Annan's
spokesman's office, without on-the-record response. UNDP's spokesman described
to Inner City Press UNDP's desire to stay quiet in order to be able to continue
to work in countries, as it does in Myanmar on HIV/AIDS. Asked about the wisdom
of such silence, or even incongruous UNDP praise, for as for the Millennium
Development Goals progress of Uzbekistan, also known for torture, the spokesman
only answered, "good question." But what's the answer?
Inner City Press asked Kofi Annan's spokesman to comment on UNDP's suspension of
programs in eastern Uganda due to disarmament abuse by the government. The
spokesman said that UN agencies are expected to monitor and ensure that funds
are not misused; on UNDP's suspension of programs in eastern Uganda, he said
there'd be no statement "yet." Perhaps UNDP's press release slated for June 29
in Kampala will trigger some response by the Kofi Annan's spokesman, even during
the Secretary-General trip, which will include the African Union's weekend
meeting in Banjul, where Mr. Annan will,
meet with Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.
Endnotes: most UN
reporters on Wednesday covered the lifting of the budget cap. Freer pundits
opine that the fireworks are still to come, Friday before the 4th of July (for
which UN grounds passes are much in demand).
both co-chairs of the S-G's Alliance of Civilizations took questions from
reporters. Fox News asked how the Alliance is funded. "We're transparent, ask
the Secretariat," was the answer. Inner City Press asked if the Alliance or its
High Level Group has discussed the crackdown on the Uighurs, Muslims in western
China's Xinjiang province. "I like that question," Spain's foreign minister
said. But he then did not really answer, except to note that both China and
India are represented in the High Level Group. But what about the Uighurs?
Global Compact Board Holds First Meeting, Closed to Press
In undercovered United Nations news, the Global Compact Board met on Wednesday.
Among other things, member Mary Robinson suggested a working group on human
rights. In terms of transparency, despite assurances that its members could be interviewed, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart
proved unavailable at the meeting's conclusion, heading he said to Washington,
DC. While the meeting was closed to the media, Inner City Press has learned that
three of the ten corporate members of the board were absent:
Anne Lauvergeon of France-based Areva, Mr. B
Muthuraman of India-based Tata Steel, and Hiroyuki Uemura of Japan-based
Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company. In baseball, that Middle American sport,
getting a hit three times out of ten is good. And speaking of baseball and
coming full circle (or around the bases), UNDP on Thursday, the same day as its
Kampala announcement, is celebrating for Dominican hurricane assistance one of
the owner of the Boston Red Sox, the corporate jet of which was used for
extraordinary rendition flights whisking terrorism suspects without any
process to parts unknown. And speaking of kidnapping, while clashing continues
for one soldier taken hostage, five UN soldiers from Nepal remain captive in the
DR Congo's Ituri region, now for more than one month...
From today's mail
bag, from within Uganda's Office of the Prime Minister
Subject: Re: Uganda's
From: [Name withheld]
To: Matthew Lee [at]
Sent: Wed, 28 Jun
2006 08:58:47 -0700 (PDT)
Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) was not involved in the selection and
recruitment of advisors/managers (2 in the Mine Action Programme - Hartmut
Thomas and Jane Brouillette and 1 Human Security - Robert Scharf). These
advisors/managers are paid from project resources to work with and build the
capacity of OPM. In practice these advisors do not recognize OPM structures and
prefer to report and take direction from UNDP while based at OPM. OPM terminated
the contract of the 4th advisor (Techeste Ahderom) because of management and
performance issues arising out of this situation. We have brought these matters
to UNDP attention but have received no constructive feedback. As a result the
programme (support to implementation of the IDP Policy) which Techeste was
managing has suffered serious setbacks. The human security/Karamoja programme is
having similar problems and Robert Scharf has been warned on a number of
occasions. One of Robert's main responsibility was to support coordination of
the implementation of the KIDDP at the highest level including ministry of
Defense and internal affairs. For over six months now he has failed to convene a
single meeting - OPM role in the promotion of voluntary disarmament has been
UNDP has imposed a
DEX execution modality that has not allowed us any say in the manner in which
resources are managed - in the Mine Action Programme a UK based NGO (Mine Action
Trust) was recruited to conduct mine assessments in northern Uganda - more than
90% of DFID money has gone to contracts of so called experts. They have failed
to produce a credible report and the financial accountability is questionable
but UNDP continues to disburse funds to this NGO. Reliable sources tell us that
this NGO used a local CBO to get registered with the NGO board and later
sidelined them when the UNDP contract was awarded.
continue to mobilize resources to justify extension of their contracts. If these
advisors work for OPM should we not have a say in these matters? It is common
practice for proposals to be written and sent to donors without our input. We
are forced to accept this kind of support because we do not have enough
resources of our own but is it fair?
We are disappointed
that such malpractices continue to tarnish the good name of the UN. If UNDP
genuinely believes in building national capacity this is not how to do it and
stories such as the one you wrote can only get worse. I hope you will use your
good offices to put an end to all this malpractices.
malpractice(s) is one of journalism's missions.
Copyright 2006 Inner City Press, Inc. To request
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