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At the UN, Curt Eulogies for Dictator, Revolving Door and Budget Left for the Last Day

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 21 -- Left to the last day before Christmas holidays are the UN's scale of assessments for its budget, its revolving door policy, and the resolution on Iran. "I don't have much for you today," Kofi Annan's spokesman said to kick off his Thursday noon briefing. The dictator of Turkmenistan had died during the night, and Inner City Press asked:  "Does the Secretary-General have any comment about the passing of the leader of Turkmenistan?"

Spokesman:  Yes, as a matter of fact, as you were asking me questions, I was given a statement.  It says the Secretary-General has learned of the sudden death of Turkmen President Atayevich Niyazov.  President Niyazov made important contributions to United Nations peace processes in Tajikistan and Afghanistan.  The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the family of the late President and to the people of Turkmenistan.

            It is said that whenever a head of state dies, no matter how repressive, the UN is required to lower the country's flag, and to issue a statement, even if curt and perfunctory. A more artful statement might have said, "the UN feels as the people of Turkmenistan do." But this is, after all, the UN, a club of sovereigns, whatever their human rights records. UNDP praised Turkmanbashi right until the end - click here for analysis for earlier this Fall. And remember -- the just-left Under-Secretary General for Management now works at the (Deutsche) Bank where Turkmenbashi stashed three billion dollars. We're still waiting for a comment, from spokesmen here or there.

            The Deputy Secretary General, it is reported, was buzzing through the UN's basement, going to the General Assembly meeting where the budget was discussed, saying, we can tell them anything we want.

            Multiple sources place the Deputy Secretary General over the draft revolving door policy, which would have prohibited ex-officials from lobbying the UN for two years. The DSG wants that out; some say the plan is to set up a sort of private UNDP, to be funded with UN money. Time will tell.

Revolving door, but no revolving chair - farewell in Staff Cafeteria

            The president of the General Assembly gave a news conference, at which most questions concerned the budget-down-to-the-wire, and what each country will pay. What is the difference, you ask, between 4.5 years and the average between six and three? The European Union, which has been growing fasted, would like to include the six past years to calculate its income. Japan, more recently slowing, would like to count only the last three. Compromise and leave town, the staffers whisper.

            The GA president answered Inner City Press' question about the failure to enact the declaration on the rights of indigenous people by saying she has met with "three or four NGOs." Video here, from Minute 19:35. The UN's own write-up of the press conference does not even include the issue - click here to view. Perhaps it is the holiday season: only happy news.

            In other noon briefing action, Inner City Press asked rapid-fire about Kosovo, Nepal, the revolving door policy and the Office of Internal Oversight Services. From the transcript:

Inner City Press:  Yesterday, the [European Union] EU confirmed that it will oversee policing of the judiciary in Kosovo after the Ahtisaari announcement, and the quote was, "the international community does not want to remain doing this.  Has Ahtisaari said anything to predict this?" Is that the way itís going?

Spokesman:  I can't and I would not want to prejudge the conclusions of Mr. Ahtisaariís report.  There are obviously a lot of comments being made left, right and center but we have to wait for Mr. Ahtisaari's report.

Inner City Press:  In Nepal, there were earlier reports that everything was going smoothly and now the Maoists have called for a general strike.  Has Ian Martin or anybody said anything?  Is that a threat to the process?

Spokesman:  Obviously we would very much hope that all the parties in Nepal who signed on to the peace process follow the procedures that have been agreed to....

Inner City Press: I think earlier it was said that [Office of Internal Oversight Services] OIOS would give us a briefing, maybe before the end of this year.  Is that going to take place?

Spokesman:  OIOS told me they would be willing to give a briefing as soon as the resolution regarding OIOS has been passed in the General Assembly.  Gail isnít here.  I will check with her.  When that happens, we'll go back to OIOS.

Inner City Press:  If it's passed Friday, they wouldnít hold the briefing then.

Spokesman:  I would think early in the year.  The idea is not to bury the briefing.

Inner City Press: No, and also, not to say this is being buried, but the anti-revolving door policy?  Will it be announced tomorrow, before noon or after noon?

Spokesman:  We are determined to get it done before the end of the year.  It is being finalized.  I would be very happy to announce it for you tomorrow.

Inner City Press: And Ibrahima Fall, first we learned that there are two of them yesterday.

Spokesman:  Each person is their own person.  They just happen to share the same last name.

Question:  And first name.  That's what's confusing.  But the Great Lakes Ibrahima Fall, is he continuing on with his Great Lakes mandate?

Spokesman:  I think the mandate is continuing.  Who is the other Ibrahima Fall?

Q  The UNICEF Ibrahima Fall, who went to [ Central African Republic] CAR?

Spokesman:  That's two different people.

  The tale of the two Falls, twin Falls, Fall guys, will continue.

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At the UN, Iran Resolution Goes Blue as Ivory Coast is Traded Away With No Follow-up on Hmung

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 20 -- The featured bout at the Security Council on Wednesday was all about Iran, a "text in blue" circulating after the sun went down to the ten elected members who were excluded from the draft's negotiation. This exclusion perhaps explains the reference to them as the "E-10." E not for elected but for excluded. Ambassador Peter Burian of Slovakia asked reporters questions if he had felt cut out with the two word, "I agree," adding that "we are not involved in the negotiations" but should have been, "at an earlier stage."

            When P-5 Ambassadors de la Sabliere of France and Emyr Jones Parry of the UK emerged, they said that they are open to feedback, if other members want "a conversation." But voting is slated for Friday.

            On Wednesday in Abidjan, Ivorian strongman Laurent Gbagbo in a speech said that the UN-established buffer-zone should be eliminated, and that the UN "should leave soon." In light of the recent UN Security Council resolution demanding that Gbagbo finally hold elections, this speech gave rise to questions later on Wednesday at UN Headquarters in New York. Kofi Annan's spokesman first spoke vaguely about "the process," then in response to Inner City Press' question, more specifically about the Gbagbo speech. Video here. From the transcript:

Inner City Press: On Ivory Coast, Gbagbo gave a speech in which he said the buffer zone should be eliminated, and essentially, many people say, he wants to attack the rebels again.  Is there something more, itís not just that the process isnít going forward.  Itís that he said that the UN process and the resolution are not, have accomplished nothing for Ivorian.  Are either the envoys there or the Secretary-General going to say something more than "it's going too slow?"

Spokesman: We're obviously very concerned that no unilateral moves that would take place outside of the agreed framework of the road map thatís been agreed by the Security Council, with the African Union and ECOWAS.  The UN has been in touch with all the political parties to move together along the lines of the road map.

              Later in the UN's second floor, Inner City Press asked French Ambassador de la Sabliere what the Security Council would do. Reference was made to issuing a Presidential Statement or PRST. But when Inner City Press asked the Council's president for December, Qatar's Ambassador, he said the Council is too busy working on Iran, he's aware of no PRST. Another Council diplomat said France is taking the lead, and that because of the Iran negotiations, some others in the Permanent Five are given France more leeway on Ivory Coast than has recently been the case, apparently a trade-off for a harsher stance on Iran.

            A respected UN source, to whom this scenario was described, said "Welcome to the UN" and asked how this is different than the horse-trading in the U.S. Congress or many other national legislatures. But are pork barrel project to fill potholes in Oklahoma City different than peacekeeping forces in Abidjan?

Happier days in Cote D'Ivoire

            At Wednesday's noon briefing by Kofi Annan's spokesman, there were substantially more questions than answers, on issues ranging from Nepal to the Hmong refugees threatened with refoulement from Thailand back to Laos.  From the transcript:

Inner City Press:  In Nepal, part of the peace agreement, there's been a threat by the Maoists to call a national strike.  Is the envoy there, or anyone, what is the UN's position on whether the Government should have appointed ambassadors before the Maoists?

Spokesman:  I don't have anything specific on that, I'm sorry.

Inner City Press:  There was a letter by Mrs. Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, stating that there is no question of her reappointment, her appointment runs through 2008.  So, I guess I'm wondering with all these [Special Representatives of the Secretary-General] SRSGs, what is the process, is there any process for review by the next Secretary-General or do those terms just run?

Spokesman:  The contracts of the [Under-Secretary-General] USG's end, if I'm not mistaken, early next year.  For the SRSGs, their contracts -- some of them run longer, they're all on different terms.  Obviously, it'll be up to the next administration to decide how to proceed with those appointments or the retention of those people.  But, I can't speak to the post-1 January world.

   This will be re-visited in the "post-January 1st world," from which responses are awaited. And now regarding the Hmong:

Inner City Press: These Hmong, people that have left Laos and are in Thailand, governments in both Laos and Thailand have said that they are going to be returned to Laos, they say that they're facing death and attacks by the Laotian military.  I'm wondering, [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] UNHCR has said something.  Is there some way to find out thorough your office what is the status of that and what is actually?

Spokesman:  We can check with UNHCR. 

And finally, this question foreshadowing in the next day or two:

Inner City Press: On this anti-revolving door policy, is it going to be definitely announced before?

Spokesman:  I would very much like to be able to announce it before the end of this week.

Inner City Press:  Can you highlight to us, if there are any other policies that are going to be finalized before the end of the year or before your last briefing?  Is there anything else on your radar screen?

Spokesman:  Yes, the two issues I do expect to announce something on -- one is the revolving door policy and the other is the agreement having to do with the handling of the papers from the Volcker Committee.  Weíd like to get those two things out and done with before 31 December.

            As previously reported, Inner City Press' sources, as confirmed by a P-5 diplomat, indicate that a draft anti-revolving door policy that would have prohibited lobbying for two years is being watered down, by one of the 38th floor's powers in his final days...

At the UN, Jeffrey Sachs Answers the $75,000 Question But Not on UNDP, Still Laudable Goals for 2025

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN- 16th in a series

UNITED NATIONS, December 20 -- Two faces of development aid were on display Wednesday at the UN, and both on  the same person. Jeffrey Sachs took questions from journalists, urging them to "keep your eye on" aid "commitments and gaps" to ensure funding for such initiative and medicated bed-nets against malaria, and a Green Revolution in Africa project of the Rockefeller and Gates Foundations. Smaller-scale, he acknowledged having previously been paid $75,000 a year by the UN Development Program, but stated that he has quite recently decided not to accept such funds in 2007 "so that there will be no confusion." Some who welcomed the announcement expressed hope that UNDP might someday become equally as adverse to confusion.

            During the now three weeks of Inner City Press' daily series on the UN Development Program, sources in UNDP have described a process in which the entire staff of the UN Millennium Project, which Mr. Sachs has led since 2002, was merged into UNDP, in seeming violation of applicable recruiting and hiring rules. UNDP has stated in writing that it will not respond to questions about these employment practices, nor will it release audits, neither to the media nor to countries which fund UNDP. Regarding Mr. Sachs, several UNDP sources suggested that inquiry be made into compensation beyond the previously announced One Dollar a Year service to the Secretary General.

            On December 6, UNDP finally wrote to Inner City Press, as is relevant to this story, that

Subject: RE: Additional Qs re UNDP

From: cassandra.waldon [at] undp.org
To: Inner City Press
Sent: Wed, 6 Dec 2006 6:27 PM

   Dear Matthew...we have decided to merge the work of the Millennium Project into UNDP. To this end, UNDP has set up a new sub-unit in our poverty group, which will consist of some 20 positions. To complete the integration by the end of the year, UNDP management is using an expedited competitive recruiting process for five lead positions. These five positions have been advertised and are in the process of being filled. Five other positions do not require a competitive process under UNDP recruitment procedures and will be filled with people currently working for the Millennium Project. All other positions will be recruited according to standard UNDP recruitment procedures, and this process is on-going.

For the record, Jeffrey Sachs will continue to be involved with the UNís effort on the Millennium Development Goals. As of 1 January, he will serve as Special Adviser to UNDP on the Millennium Development Goals. His salary will continue to be $75,000 per year.

            Outside spokeswoman Erin Trowbridge had previously confirmed in response to Inner City Press' questions that Mr. Sachs was being paid $75,000; UNDP stated that this would continue in 2007.

            Wednesday Inner City Press asked Mr. Sachs for his view on whether UNDP should, like the UN Secretary, make full copies of its audits available to any member state which asks, rather than only providing summaries of audits, and then only to the 36 nations on UNDP's Executive Committee, as is currently the case at UNDP. Inner City Press had on Monday asked the same question to the prime minister of Spain, who said, yes, that should happen, "of course."

            "I don't have any considered view or any expertise on this," Mr. Sachs responded on Wednesday, declining to comment further on audits.

            Inner City Press then asked Mr. Sachs to comment on the complaints of UNDP staff that the Millennium Project personnel are being brought into UNDP in violation of staff rules -- "making a mockery," one impacted UNDP staffer called it.

            "I am not aware of any of that process," Mr. Sachs said. "I don't do that stuff."

            "But isn't it the case that you are paid $75,000 a year by UNDP?" Inner City Press asked.

            "That was during the Millennium Project. Is it not the case going forward," Mr. Sachs said. Video here, from Minute 12:20.

            Inner City Press wanted to ask about UNDP's statement, two weeks ago, that these payments would be made in 2007 as well, but the moderator turned to another reporter, promising to allow further questions from Inner City Press later.

Messrs. Sachs and Annan

            Mr. Sachs went on to speak of bed-nets and projects in Malawi, to praise Hillary Benn of the UK and a fertilizer conference in Nigeria. A reporter from a salmon-colored daily opined that UNDP's Administrator Kemal Dervis has been missing in action for 14 months, and that UNDP's communications office is barely function, other than to strike back at reporters in attempts at brand control; he referred to the sound of tumbleweed blowing down First Avenue. Mr. Sachs responded that Mr. Dervis has been busy with the high level panel on coherence, after which the level of emailing has "scaled up."

            Once allowed another question, Inner City Press asked about UNDP's email of December 6. "Was that not true at the time?"

            "That's not true," Mr. Sachs said. "I will take in one dollar in salary, honorary."

            Inner City Press asked Mr. Sachs to explain accepting the payments in previous years, after acknowledging that it's not a huge amount of money.

            "To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure," Mr. Sachs said. "I took a modest salary, it's not modest for most of the world [but] modest in the context of round the clock work for four years, sir." Mr. Sachs paused. "I did not do this job for the money, I can assure you," he said. Video here, from Minute 43:56.  This final line, but neither the correct figures or quotes, appear in the UN's official write-up of the briefing, click here to view. Then again, the write-up on UN's "unofficial" News Service did not mention any figure, or the issues, at all, click here to view. (The UN's reflexive is sometimes Orwellian defensiveness and revisionism is not, we're clear, the fault of Professor Sachs.)

            After the press conference was over and the cameras were turned off, Mr. Sachs repeated to Inner City Press, "I did not do this job for the money, I've had much more lucrative offers."

            Inner City Press asked when the decision was made to not accept the money in 2007.

            Very recently, was the answer. Presumably after UNDP's December 6 email. Why, then, didn't UNDP send Inner City Press an update, in which case the $75,000 question would not have come up at Mr. Sachs' press conference, and MDG questions could have been asked, such as the one Inner City Press posed afterwards:

            If in Chad the percentage of people with access to improved water systems rose from 19% to 42%, while that is in a sense cutting the problem in half, is 42% acceptable? Mr. Sachs pointed out at the Goal is to cut in half those without access to clean water. Can a metric be designed to not provide "false positives" of acceptable levels of being confined to unclear water? We'll see.

            Mr. Sachs said, "I know you mean well, but be careful."

            News analysis: While a right-tilting but sunny journalist afterwards quipped that he'd say the same to Mr. Sachs, Inner City Press wants to distinguish between legitimate journalistic inquiry into UNDP, and the wider UN's system of Dollar-A-Year promoters, and any attack on the goals Mr. Sachs promotes: the eradication of extreme poverty by 2025. There are lacks of transparency, and the wasting of bottled-up talents from below due to favoritism and a star-system at the top -- but eradication of extreme poverty is the goal, to be advanced in 2007 and beyond.  Mr. Sachs' defenses of Africa against stereotypes are also heartfelt and much needed, and should and surely will continue.

            A wider development scandal, as pointed out by Mr. Pink, is the World Food Program's function of dumping surplus U.S. commodities and thereby undermining Africa's own agricultural markets, and then swooping in as the hero to solve a problem WFP itself has helped create. With Josette Shearan Shiner slated to take the WFP reigns at year's end, that too will be a focus.

Again, because a number of Inner City Press' UNDP 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 UNDP and many of its staff. As they used to say on TV game shows, 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.

Burundi Spin at the UN, Amid Coup Trial and Ceasefire Not Implemented, Great Lakes Commission Moves In

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 20 -- As the UN Operation in Burundi is slated to end on December 31, at UN Headquarters on Wednesday a briefing was held, complete with "End of Mission Press Kit." This contained photos of Burundi and much happy talk about the country's future. But was Inner City Press asked in the briefing, the ceasefire agreement has yet to be implemented, and the previous president is currently on trial for an alleged coup attempt. In line with a recent cautionary speech by the UN's own William Lacy Swing, envoy to the Congo, is now the time for the UN to pull out?

            "It is an issue concern, there is no doubt," said Nureldin Satti, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Burundi. "The ceasefire has not been implemented," the problem turns on one of "provision immunity." Through the Arusha process, rebels and those in the "political class" are to receiving interim immunity until a truth and reconciliation commission and high chamber are established. The result, according to another UN staffer, is that there are young men with guns in camps around Bujumbura, and not enough jobs to be had.

            Inner City Press also asked about the coup trial of Domitien Ndayizeye. "I'd like to trust the government to respect and abide by due process," said Nureldin Satti. Good luck.

Thai peacekeepers leaving Burundi

            After a later Security Council briefing by Ibrahima Fall, about the Greak Lakes peace process, Inner City Press asked Mr. Fall about conditions in Burundi. Mr. Fall repeated, as if by rote, that the UN has done a great job in the countries of the Great Lakes, an assertion that many, including in the UN system, would challenge. Inner City Press asked about immunity not only in Burundi but also for Joseph Kony, the head of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Mr. Fall's response predicted a balancing of justice and peace. But when asked what this balancing might consist of, Fall only said it would be found in Juba. They're still looking.

            It turns out, as one generally sharp correspondent in French found out, that there are two Ibrahima Falls in the UN system, and it's the other Fall, the Fall guy, who recently visited the Central African Republic. Similarly there are two Lamine Cisse's, although at least each spelling somewhat different.

            The Great Lakes Commission is establishing its Secretariat in Bujumbura, clearly an expression of hope and confidence. We wish them well.

At the UN, Annan's Long Goodbye, With Oil for Food in the Air and Hothouse Musical Chairs

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 19 -- Tuesday Kofi Annan said multiple goodbyes. What he did not cast off was a deep-seated resentment of the press for its role in developing the story of the Oil for Food program. Even as staff were applauding him, he brought the issue up. As one Annan supporter told Inner City Press, "Kofi should have defended Oil for Food two years ago. Now it sounds defensive." Meanwhile more concrete and pervasive fixes to transparency have yet to be accomplished, and the pending anti-revolving door policy, slated to be signed by Annan this week, has reportedly been watered down (by Annan's Deputy, according to a Security Council source on Tuesday.)

            This column covers Mr. Annan's final press conference, his farewell to staff in the UN cafeteria, including staff members' tributes, and a final, similar speech he delivered to journalists later in the evening in the Delegates' dining room. Inevitably it touches on the still-heating-up search for jobs, the musical chairs and agita upstairs. Throughout the day Mr. Annan returned again and again to the Oil for Food scandal, and to a call that it was a "one-off," and that UN staff should not be painted with a broad brush. This last was said in response to Inner City Press' question at Mr. Annan's final press conference. Transcript below, and video here, from Minute 41:45. 

   Not raised at Mr. Annan's press conference was not only a car still-unresolved, not only Mr. Annan's ultimate non-action on human rights in Zimbabwe, but even the outright war heating up in Somalia. Many said the presser was too bland and made no news. Perhaps because he was leaving, questions such as "tell us your top three achievements" were asked. Click here for the full one-hour video -- one detail it misses was a fly that buzzed around the rostrum at the press conference began, incongruous and alive and then suddenly gone.

            At Annan's farewell to staff, there was a crowd standing out in the lobby. Some said the event should have been held in the GA hall or some larger venue. Inside the cafeteria, Mr. and Mrs. Annan were on a raised area where usually lunch is eaten. Tributes were given by staff members.

            Robin Delarocca spoke movingly of her service, and of to whom Mr. Annan says hello in the UN hallways. Gordon Tapper told a story about Mr. Annan given allergy medicine to his wife. Three of Mr. Annan's security team -- two left without last names, John and Louie, by the third, a comedian, who will also go unnamed -- handed him a mock-up grounds pass, two feet tall with the word "RETIREE" down the left side. "It's a good picture," the master of ceremonies said. "I should have used you more, as an M.C. at these things," said Ahmad Fawzi, previously a spokesman, now head of the media division of the Department of Public Information.

            To venture into the musical chairs of positions, because the topic is so much discussed within UN headquarters these days without being covered elsewhere, the current spokesman is said to be seeking a Fawzi-like position. Another opines that after a sufficient time away, Ban Ki-moon might bring him back. "They sure could do worse." The scuttlebutt on Peacekeeping is that the mysterious vote against Mr. Ban during a summer straw poll was from France, to signal it wanted to keep the DPKO slot. Whether it will remain Mr. Guehenno, who ambled into the staff cafeteria to hear Annan's goodbye, remains to be seen. DPKO deputy Hedi Annabi gave a speech, how Mr. Annan called his home on a Saturday evening and asked to speak to his wife. Mr. Annabi said this was Annan's way of apologizing for having to call on a Saturday evening. The scuttlebutt on the U.S. peacekeeping ambitions has them gunning for the Number Two spot. But who would take the Saturday evening call with the aplomb of Annabi?

   More reachable by email is Jan Pronk, former SRSG for Sudan, who was in Headquarters on Tuesday. Inner City Press caught up with him on the escalator, in the S-G's view; blogging was discussed and best wishes were offered. It is a charitable season: earlier on Tuesday, when Inner City Press asked the Vice President of Iraq for his review of SRSG Qazi, it was effusive. Video here.

Last presser, long goodbye

            During the cafeteria ceremony, the representative of New York UNICEF's staff association noted that Mr. Annan at his press conference earlier in the day had "reminded a reporter of the hard work" of the staff. See transcript below. There are many talented staffers who could do more to help the world than their supervisors, sometimes cronies and yes, sometimes abusive, allow. Beyond Oil for Food, which Annan mentioned twice in his cafeteria farewell, what for example of the ex-head of UNHCR and the charges of sexual harassment? In Inner City Press' ongoing UNDP series, what of Kalman Mizsei, until recently the head of Europe and CIS States? Did the lack of coverage of such behavior help the UN or its staff in any way? This is why aggressive investigative and workplace reporting should be encouraged and not, as Mr. Annan put it, "painted with a broad brush."

            From the press conference transcript:

Inner City Press: Mr. Secretary-General, Iím going to use the word ďtransparencyĒ rather than ďcorruptionĒ. UN reform has been a theme in recent years. But some are saying that it has been focused mostly on the Secretariat, not on the funds, programs and agencies of the UN system. Recently an investigative series about UNDP: your Deputy Secretary-General had only harsh words for it. But the Spanish [Prime Minister] yesterday, sitting where you are, joined a call for transparency or providing audits of UNDP to all the Member States, rather than as is the case now, only summaries to some Member States. I am wondering what you see as the next steps, in terms of increased transparency in the whole UN system, not only the Secretariat, and what you see as the next steps in UN reform more generally.

     The Secretary-General: Well, obviously, I donít know what my successor will have in mind. But the UN and its agencies have tried to be as transparent and responsible, for the resources entrusted to them, and they do provide records to their governing board and to the countries supporting them. Quite a few of these institutions have already gone through their own reform, from UNDP to UNICEF to UNHCR, and the other agencies -- ILO, UNESCO -- have gone through their own institutions and report to their own governing board. And I hope they will remain vigilant and continue to do so. I donít have the details of the issue you are referring to, but UNDP is a very responsible and serious organization and highly respected.

     Obviously, I cannot say that there may not be one or two bad apples, as we have here and we have in any other institutions. But again, we have to be careful not to generalize and tar every staff member with the same brush. I have often said that the UN staff and people in these agencies deserve our appreciation and thanks. They often serve in places where Governments are afraid to send their troops, and they really do a lot for the world. So we should also look at some of the contributions they make, not always trying to look for something to hit them on the head with. If thereís something that is wrong, you should criticize, but you should also look at the positive work that they do.

            As to the statement that he is unaware of the "specific issues" about UNDP's policy of not providing copies of audits to any members states that ask (as even the Secretariat does), but only summaries of audits to those on its executive board, Inner City Press' UNDP series has laid these differences out, and UNDP Number Two Ad Melkert last week acknowledged the difference and that it should be fixed

            Note that back on June 23, 2006, Inner City Press asked Mr. Annan about UNDP and documents. From the transcript:

Inner City Press: Mr. Secretary-General, this is also on small arms. Earlier in the week I asked your spokesperson about UNDP-funded disarmament in Uganda of pastoralist tribes that use the guns really to defend their herds. I guess what I want to ask is, although we are still pursuing it, there seem to be abuses in the program; we have asked how much funding UNDP provides for the disarmament of pastoralist tribes. I will say that for four days we have been unable to get even a number about how much is funded. So I guess, this idea of freedom of information act, which I once asked you about before? Is it your sense that a UNDP agency should be able to, in four days, disclose how much it is funding a program?

SG: I am not sure I would tie that to a freedom of information act. I am not sure whom at UNDP you asked, but this kind of information is generally open; the UN peacekeeping budgets are open, and the amounts of money we spend on disarmament efforts are public information, for the public. So I really don't know whom you asked in UNDP, and why you haven't got it. And really, don't expect me to give you an answer. But I wish you pursue it. They should be able to give it to you.

            The above concerned UNDP's funding of a plan involving disarmament in Karamoja, where soon the Ugandan army was killing women and children in the name of disarmament, as decried by the UN's own Louise Arbour. In June 2006, Mr. Annan stated he didn't know about these UNDP issues. On wider UNDP issues in December 2006, a similar answer. Is it time for more hands-on? Some say it is.

            But on the issue of treating UN staff fairly, there is much to be said. There are many talented staffers who could do more to help the world than their supervisors, sometimes cronies and yes, sometimes abusive, allow. So to not inquire into these problems is not a favor to staff -- quite the opposite.

            Mr. Annan's cafeteria talk ranged, as he put it, from P1 to the top, from WHO in Geneva in 1962, through applications for Brazzaville or Alexandria in Egypt, to ECA in Addis Ababa for six years through DPKO to the top. He praised his team on the thirty-eighth floor, including "Nadia and Sergio and Elizabeth Lindenmeyer and Riza." One wanted to hear thanks to, for example, Edward Mortimer, supervisor of words, who at the final goodbye of the evening confirmed not only that the same staffer wrote Kofi Annan's and Ban Ki-moon's jigsaw-like speeches for the Correspondents' Association dinner, but that the staff has done it two other times, on Monday night and at an IPA event. Annan on Tuesday thanked deputies past and present, and "the first woman chef de cabinet -- but hopefully not the last!"

            This seemed directed at Ban Ki-moon. For his deputy slot, there's talk of Colombia and foreign minister, of the head of UNFPA, and, perhaps more promising on human rights, of the head of UN-HABITAT, she of the detailed report on the Mugabe regime's mass evictions in Zimbabwe. Some concerns are being expressed about the speed, or lack thereof, in the naming of names.  One Security Council source on Tuesday told Inner City Press that this holiday season, with so many on vacation, is a time to keep watch on the still-smoke-filled rooms. Keeping watch is what we do -- check this site.

Again, as they used to say on TV game shows, 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.

Other Inner City Press reports are available in the ProQuest service and some are archived on www.InnerCityPress.com --

UNDP's Ad Melkert Says He Will Finally Increase Transparency, Describes Fraud in Russia, Dodges Uganda

In Eastern Congo, Kidnapper of UN Peacekeepers Is Made a Colonel, Clooney And Now Guehenno Might Stay

At the UN, Ocampo 1 Says Kony To Jail and Ocampo 2 Sees No Serious Bertucci Charges, Dueling Parties

In UNDP's Book, Strong's Scandals Are Missing, While Workers Complain, MMB Schmoozes the Korean Mission

At UNDP, Flighty Rhetoric Founders in Mismanagement, MMB's Net, a Genocidaire and Whither ECOSOC

At the UN, Disabled Are Freed from a Footnote, Murky Answers from Gbagbo to Kosovo to a Genocidaire

Countering UN's Vanity Press, UNDP Histories from Below, Brussels and Two Views of Omar Bakhet

At the UN, Indigenous Indignation, Revolving Door Mysteries and Peace Pipe Belatedly Smoked

At the UN, Questions of Congo Mass Graves and Kazana, Mugabe and Forests and Rich German Ships

UNDP Is Important For The Poor, and Therefore Must Be Made Transparent

As UN Speechifies, UNDP Audits Are Still Being Withheld, While War in Somalia and Sudan, Pronk Blogs On

Waste, Fraud and Abuse at UNDP in Vietnam, While UN Secretariat Urges Censorship

At the UN, Questions of Humanitarian Aid and Congo Body Count, Despots' Crackdown on Dissent

In UNDP, Questions of Money Wasted, Neutrality Trampled, Russian Office Audits Withheld and Sachs Expenses

From Baidoa to the UN, Denials on Ethiopian Troops Being in Somalia, Resolution Is Passed

Retaliation Found at UNDP, While Dervis Is Focused on Turkey, In Two Weeks Will Take Questions

Annan's Spokesman Silent on 150 Dead in Congo, War in Somalia - But in Loud Defense of UNDP's $567,000 Book

At the UN, Interlopers into Somalia Are Discussed, With Chadian Pull-Back, Peacekeepers and Uganda's Karamoja

UNDP Spent $567,000 on Book to Praise Itself, While the Well-Placed Feed Off UNDP's Core Budget and Prime Postings

As UNDP Questions Mount, Mark Malloch Brown Calls Them Irresponsible, Answers Only in Vanity Press

In UNDP Series, Questions of Jeffrey Sachs and Associates Payments, From $1 to $75,000

From Sleaze in Vietnam to Fights in DC-1, UNDP Appears Out of Control at the Top

On Somalia, Past Arms Embargo Violations Forgiven in Zeal to Contain Islamic Courts

In UNDP, Drunken Mis-Managers on the Make Praised and Protected, Meet UNDP's Kalman Mizsei

From Violent Disarmament in Uganda to the National Bank of Serbia, UNDP Leaves Others to Answer for It

UNDP Sources Say Dervis Fires Malloch Brown-linked Officials, Then Offers Hush-Up Jobs

On Somalia, Fiji and Oil-for-Food, UN Ambiguity Leads to Hypocrisy and Corruption

At the UN, Indigenous Rights Get Deferred, As U.S. Abstains, Deftly or Deceptively

At the UN, Threat and Possible Statement on Fiji Spotlights Selection and Payment of UN Peacekeepers

At the UN, China and Islamic Dev't Bank Oppose Soros and World Bank On How to Fight Poverty

At the UN, Misdirection on Somalia and Myanmar, No Answers from UNDP's Kemal Dervis

UNDP Dodges Questions of Disarmament Abuse in Uganda and of Loss of Togo AIDS Grant, Dhaka Snafu

At the UN, The Swan Song of Jan Egeland and the Third Committee Loop, Somalia Echoes Congo

UN Silent As Protesters Tear Gassed in Ivory Coast, As UNMOVIC Plods On and War Spreads in Somalia

In the UN, Uzbekistan Gets a Pass on Human Rights As Opposition to U.S. Grows and War's On in Somalia

At the UN, Cluster Bombs Unremembered, Uighurs Disappeared and Jay-Z Returns with Water -- for Life

From the UN, Silence on War Crimes Enforcement and Conflicts of Interest on Complaint from Bahrain

En Route to Deutsche Bank, the UN's Door Revolves, While Ban Ki-moon Arrives and Moldova Spins

As Two UN Peacekeepers Are Killed, UN Says Haiti's Improving, Ban Ki-moon on Zimbabwe?

Nagorno-Karabakh President Disputes Fires and Numbers, Oil and UN, in Exclusive Interview with Inner City Press

Inside the UN, Blaming Uganda's Victims, Excusing Annan on Mugabe, and U.S. Blocked Darfur Trip

U.S. Blocked Council's Trip to Darfur Meeting, Brazzaville Envoy Explains After U.S. Casts a Veto

At the UN, Council Works Overtime To Cancel Its Trip About Darfur, While DC Muses on John Bolton

UN Panel's "Coherence" Plan Urges More Power to UNDP, Despite Its Silence on Human Rights

On Water, UNDP Talks Human Rights, While Enabling Violations in Africa and Asia, With Shell and Coca-Cola

Will UN's Revolving Door Keep Human Rights Lost, Like Bush's Call and WFP Confirmation Questions?

On Somalia, We Are All Ill-Informed, Says the UN, Same on Uganda, Lurching Toward UNDP Power Grab

On WFP, Annan and Ban Ki-Moon Hear and See No Evil, While Resume of Josette Sheeran Shiner Is Edited

Would Moon Followers Trail Josette Sheeran Shiner into WFP, As to U.S. State Dep't?

At the UN, Positions Are Up For the Grabbing, Sun's Silence on Censorship, Advisor Grabs for Gun

In WFP Race, Josette Sheeran Shiner Praises Mega Corporations from Cornfield While State Spins

At the UN, Housing Subsidy Spin, Puntland Mysteries of UNDP and the Panama Solution

In Campaign to Head UN WFP, A Race to Precedents' Depths, A Murky Lame Duck Appointment

At the UN, Gbagbo and his Gbaggage, Toxic Waste and Congolese Sanctions

WFP Brochure-Gate? John Bolton Has Not Seen Brochure of "Official" U.S. Candidate to Head World Food Program

Ivory Coast Stand-Off Shows Security Council Fault Lines: News Analysis

At the UN, It's Groundhog's Day on Western Sahara, Despite Fishing Deals and Flaunting of the Law

"Official" U.S. Candidate to Head WFP Circulates Brochure With Pulitzer Claim, UN Staff Rules Ignored

Senegal's President Claims Peace in Casamance and Habre Trial to Come, A Tale of Two Lamines

A Tale of Two Americans Vying to Head the World Food Program, Banbury and Sheeran Shiner

At the UN, the Unrepentant Blogger Pronk, a Wink on 14 North Korean Days and Silence on Somalia

At the UN, Literacy Losses in Chad, Blogless Pronk and Toothless Iran Resolution, How Our World Turns

Sudan Pans Pronk While Praising Natsios, UN Silent on Haiti and WFP, Ivorian Fingers Crossed

UN Shy on North Korea, Effusive on Bird Flu and Torture, UNDP Cyprus Runaround, Pronk is Summoned Home

At the UN, Silence from UNDP on Cyprus, from France on the Chad-Bomb, Jan Pronk's Sudan Blog

Russia's Vostok Battalion in Lebanon Despite Resolution 1701, Assembly Stays Deadlocked and UNDP Stays Missing

As Turkmenistan Cracks Down on Journalists, Hospitals and Romance, UNDP Works With the Niyazov Regime

At the UN, Darfur Discussed, Annan Eulogized and Oil For Food Confined to a Documentary Footnote

With All Eyes on Council Seat, UN is Distracted from Myanmar Absolution and Congo Conflagration

As Venezuela and Guatemala Square Off, Dominicans In Default and F.C. Barcelona De-Listed

At the UN, North Korea Sanctions Agreed On, Naval Searches and Murky Weapons Sales

At the UN, Georgia Speaks of Ethnic Cleansing While Russia Complains of Visas Denied by the U.S.

At the UN, Deference to the Congo's Kabila and Tank-Sales to North Korea, of Slippery Eels and Sun Microsystems

At the UN, Annan's Africa Advisor Welcome Chinese Investment, Dodges Zimbabwe, Nods to Darfur

At the UN, Richard Goldstone Presses Enforcement on Joseph Kony, Reflecting Back on Karadzic

UN Defers on Anti-Terror Safeguards to Member States, Even in Pakistan and Somalia

Afghanistan as Black Hole for Info and Torture Tales, Photos and Talk Mogadishu, the UN Afterhours

Amid UN's Korean Uproar, Russia Silent on Murder of Anna Politkovskaya, Chechnya Exposer

UN Envoy Makes Excuses for Gambian Strongman, Whitewashing Fraud- and Threat-Filled Election

Sudan's UN Envoy Admits Right to Intervene in Rwanda, UNICEF Response on Terrorist Groups in Pakistan

At the UN, As Next S-G is Chosen, Annan Claims Power to Make 5-Year Appointments, Quiet Filing and Ivory Coast Concessions

Chaos in UN's Somalia Policy, Working With Islamists Under Sanctions While Meeting with Private Military Contractors

U.S. Candidate for UN's World Food Program May Get Lame Duck Appointment, Despite Korean Issues

At the UN, U.S. Versus Axis of Airport, While Serge Brammertz Measures Non-Lebanese Teeth

Exclusion from Water Is Called Progress, of Straw Polls and WFP Succession

William Swing Sings Songs of Congo's Crisis, No Safeguards on Coltan Says Chairman of Intel

Warlord in the Waldorf and Other Congo Questions Dodged by the UN in the Time Between Elections

In Some New Orleans, Questions Echo from the South Bronx and South Lebanon

In New Orleans, While Bone Is Thrown in Superdome, Parishes Still In Distress

At the UN, Tales of Media Muzzled in Yemen, Penned in at the Waldorf on Darfur, While Copters Grounded

US's Frazer Accuses Al-Bashir of Sabotage, Arab League of Stinginess, Chavez of Buying Leaders - Click here for video file by Inner City Press.

Third Day of UN General Debate Gets Surreal, Canapes and Killings, Questions on Iran and Montenegro and Still Somalia

On Darfur, Hugo Chavez Asks for More Time to Study, While Planning West Africa Oil Refinery

At the UN, Ivory Coast Discussed Without Decision on Toxic Politics, the Silence of Somalia

Evo Morales Blames Strike on Mobbed-Up Parasites, Sings Praise of Coca Leaf and Jabs at Coca-Cola

Musharraf Says Unrest in Baluchistan Is Waning, While Dodging Question on Restoring Civilian Rule

At the UN, Cyprus Confirms 'Paramilitary' Investigation, Denies Connection to Def Min Resignation, CBTB Update

A Tale of Three Leaders, Liberia Comes to Praise and Iran and Sudan to Bury the UN

UN Round-up: Poland's President Says Iraq Is Ever-More Tense While Amb. Bolton Talks Burmese Drugs, Spin on Ivory Coast

As UN's Annan Now Says He Will Disclose, When and Whether It Will Be to the Public and Why It Took So Long Go Unasked

At the UN, Stonewalling Continues on Financial Disclosure and Letter(s) U.S. Mission Has, While Zimbabwe Goes Ignored

At the UN, Financial Disclosure Are Withheld While Freedom of Information Is Promised, Of Hollywood and Dictators' Gift Shops

UN's Annan Says Dig Into Toxic Dumping, While Declining to Discuss Financial Disclosure

A Still-Unnamed Senior UN Official in NY Takes Free Housing from His Government, Contrary to UN Staff Regulations

UN Admits To Errors in its Report on Destruction of Congolese Village of Kazana, Safeguards Not In Place

As UN Checks Toxins in Abidjan, the Dumper Trafigura Figured in Oil for Food Scandal, Funded by RBS and BNP Paribas

Targeting of African Americans For High Cost Mortgages Grew Worse in 2005, While Fed Downplays Its Own Findings

The UN and Nagorno-Karabakh: Flurries of Activity Leave Frozen Conflicts Unchanged; Updates on Gaza, Gavels and Gbagbo

The UN Cries Poor on Lawless Somalia, While Its Ex-Security Chief Does Business Through Ruleless Revolving Door

At the UN, Micro-States Simmer Under the Assembly's Surface, While Incoming Council President Dodges Most Questions

"Horror Struck" is How UN Officials Getting Free Housing from Governments Would Leave U.S., Referral on Burma But Not Uzbekistan

Security Council President Condemns UN Officials Getting Free Housing from Governments, While UK "Doesn't Do It Any More"

At the UN, Incomplete Reforms Allow for Gifts of Free Housing to UN Officials by Member States

Rare UN Sunshine From If Not In Chad While Blind on Somalia and Zimbabwe, UNDP With Shell in its Ear on Nigeria

Annan Family Ties With Purchaser from Compass, Embroiled in UN Scandal, Raise Unanswered Ethical Questions

At the UN, from Casamance to Transdniestria, Kosovars to Lezgines, Micro-States as Powerful's Playthings

Inquiry Into Housing Subsidies Contrary to UN Charter Goes Ignored for 8 Weeks, As Head UN Peacekeeper Does Not Respond

On the UN - Corporate Beat, Dow Chemical Luncheon Chickens Come Home to Roost

Stop Bank Branch Closings and Monopolies in the Katrina Zone, Group Says, Challenging Regions- AmSouth Merger

Ship-Breakers Missed by UN's Budget for Travel and Consultants in Bangladesh, Largest UNIFIL Troop Donor

With Somalia on the Brink of Horn-Wide War, UN Avoids Question of Ethiopian Invasion

In UN's Lebanon Frenzy, Darfur Is Ignored As Are the Disabled, "If You Crave UNIFIL, Can't You Make Do With MONUC?"

UN Decries Uzbekistan's Use of Torture, While Helping It To Tax and Rule; Updates on UNIFIL and UNMIS Off-Message

On Lebanon, Russian Gambit Focuses Franco-American Minds, Short Term Resolution Goes Blue Amid Flashes of Lightening

Africa Can Solve Its Own Problems, Ghanaian Minister Tells Inner City Press, On LRA Peace Talks and Kofi Annan's Views

At the UN, Jay-Z Floats Past Questions on Water Privatization and Sweatshops, Q'Orianka Kilcher in the Basement

In the UN Security Council, Speeches and Stasis as Haiti is Forgotten, for a Shebaa Farms Solution?

UN Knew of Child Soldier Use by Two Warlords Whose Entry into Congo Army the UN Facilitated

Impunity's in the Air, at the UN in Kinshasa and NY, for Kony and Karim and MONUC for Kazana

UN Still Silent on Somalia, Despite Reported Invasion, In Lead-Up to More Congo Spin

UN's Guehenno Says Congo Warlord Just Needs Training, and Kazana Probe Continues

With Congo Elections Approaching, UN Issues Hasty Self-Exoneration as Annan Is Distracted

In DR Congo, UN Applauds Entry into Army of Child-Soldier Commander Along with Kidnapper

Spinning the Congo, UN Admits Hostage Deal with Warlord That Put Him in Congolese Army

At the UN, Dow Chemical's Invited In, While Teaming Up With Microsoft is Defended

Kofi Annan Questioned about Congolese Colonel Who Kidnapped Seven UN Soldiers

UN Silent As Congolese Kidnapper of UN Peacekeepers Is Made An Army Colonel: News Analysis

UN's Guehenno Speaks of "Political Overstretch" Undermining Peacekeeping in Lower Profile Zones

In Gaza Power Station, the Role of Enron and the U.S. Government's OPIC Revealed by UN Sources

UN's Corporate Partnerships Will Be Reviewed, While New Teaming Up with Microsoft, and UNDP Continues

BTC Briefing, Like Pipeline, Skirts Troublespots, Azeri Revelations

Conflicts of Interest in UNHCR Program with SocGen and Pictet Reveal Reform Rifts

UN Grapples with Somalia, While UNDP Funds Mugabe's Human Rights Unit, Without Explanation

UN Gives Mugabe Time with His Friendly Mediator, Refugees Abandoned

At the UN, Friday Night's Alright for Fighting; Annan Meets Mugabe

UN Acknowledges Abuse in Uganda, But What Did Donors Know and When? Kazakh Questions

In Uganda, UNDP to Make Belated Announcement of Program Halt, But Questions Remain (and see The New Vision, offsite).

Disarmament Abuse in Uganda Leads UN Agency to Suspend Its Work and Spending

Disarmament Abuse in Uganda Blamed on UNDP, Still Silent on Finance

Alleged Abuse in Disarmament in Uganda Known by UNDP, But Dollar Figures Still Not Given: What Did UN Know and When?

Strong Arm on Small Arms: Rift Within UN About Uganda's Involuntary Disarmament of Karamojong Villages

UN's Selective Vision on Somalia and Wishful Thinking on Uighurs

UN Habitat Predicts The World Is a Ghetto, But Will Finance Be Addressed at Vancouver World Urban Forum?

UN's Annan Concerned About Use of Terror's T-Word to Repress, Wants Freedom of Information

UN  Waffles on Human Rights in Central Asia and China; ICC on Kony and a Hero from Algiers

UN & US, Transparency for Finance But Not Foreign Affairs: Somalia, Sovereignty and Senator Tom Coburn

Human Rights Forgotten in UN's War of Words, Bolton versus Mark Malloch Brown: News Analysis

In Praise of Migration, UN Misses the Net and Bangalore While Going Soft on Financial Exclusion

UN Sees Somalia Through a Glass, Darkly, While Chomsky Speaks on Corporations and Everything But Congo

Corporate Spin on AIDS, Holbrooke's Kudos to Montenegro and its Independence

The Silence of the Congo and Naomi Watts; Between Bolivia and the World Bank

Human Rights Council Has Its Own Hanging Chads; Cocky U.S. State Department Spins from SUVs

Child Labor and Cargill and Nestle; Iran, Darfur and WHO's on First with Bird Flu

Press Freedom? Editor Arrested by Congo-Brazzaville, As It Presides Over Security Council

The Place of the Cost-Cut UN in Europe's Torn-Up Heart;
Deafness to Consumers, Even by the Greens

Background Checks at the UN, But Not the Global Compact; Teaching Statistics from Turkmenbashi's Single Book

Ripped Off Worse in the Big Apple, by Citigroup and Chase: High Cost Mortgages Spread in Outer Boroughs in 2005, Study Finds

Burundi: Chaos at Camp for Congolese Refugees, Silence from UNHCR, While Reform's Debated by Forty Until 4 AM

The Chadian Mirage: Beyond French Bombs, Is Exxon In the Cast? Asylum and the Uzbeks, Shadows of Stories to Come

Through the UN's One-Way Mirror, Sustainable Development To Be Discussed by Corporations, Even Nuclear Areva

Racial Disparities Grew Worse in 2005 at Citigroup, HSBC and Other Large Banks

Mine Your Own Business: Explosive Remnants of War and the Great Powers, Amid the Paparazzi

Human Rights Are Lost in the Mail: DR Congo Got the Letter, But the Process is Still Murky

Iraq's Oil to be Metered by Shell, While Basrah Project Remains Less than Clear

Kofi, Kony, Kagame and Coltan: This Moment in the Congo and Kampala

As Operation Swarmer Begins, UN's Qazi Denies It's Civil War and Has No Answers if Iraq's Oil is Being Metered

Cash Crop: In Nepal, Bhutanese Refugees Prohibited from Income Generation Even in their Camps

The Shorted and Shorting in Humanitarian Aid: From Davos to Darfur, the Numbers Don't Add Up

UN Reform: Transparency Later, Not Now -- At Least Not for AXA - WFP Insurance Contract

In the Sudanese Crisis, Oil Revenue Goes Missing, UN Says

Empty Words on Money Laundering and Narcotics, from the UN and Georgia

What is the Sound of Eleven Uzbeks Disappearing? A Lack of Seats in Tashkent, a Turf War at UN

Kosovo: Of Collective Punishment and Electricity; Lights Out on Privatization of Ferronikeli Mines

Abkhazia: Cleansing and (Money) Laundering, Says Georgia

Post-Tsunami Human Rights Abuses, including by UNDP in the Maldives

Citigroup Dissembles at United Nations Environmental Conference

Other Inner City Press reports are available in the ProQuest service and some are archived on www.InnerCityPress.com --

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