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At UN, Darfur No-Bid Contract to Lockheed and Budget Confined to Secret Meetings

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 13 -- After briefing the Security Council about the prospective UN - African Union hybrid force in Darfur, the deputy chief of the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Edmond Mulet, appeared to take questions from journalists. He made much of Sudan releasing communications equipment it had impounded for two months. But when asked by Inner City Press to explain DPKO's responses to questions raised in the UN's budget committee about the UN's no-bid $250 million contract with Lockheed Martin's Pacific Architects & Engineers (PAE) to build and maintain camps for peacekeepers in Darfur, he pointedly refused to answer. That is a question for the Department of Field Support, he said, one that I am not prepared to answer. With that he left the microphone. On his way to the elevator, Inner City Press asked when a briefing or availability by DFS could be arranged. You have to ask them, Mulet said. So the split of peacekeeping into DPKO and DFS allows public questions about the UN's largest peacekeeping contract, given out without bidding, to go unanswered for two months. Ah, UN reform...

  In any event, the head of DPKO, Jean-Marie Guehenno, wrote a letter as far back as December 2006 pitching Lockheed's PAE for the sole-source Darfur contract, click here to view.

UN's Edmond Mulet surveys Port-au-Prince, Lockheed Martin no-bid contract not shown

            Meanwhile the UN's budget committee, the Fifth, continues its late night meetings in the basement of the UN. Thursday night the signs outside Conference Room 5 mere said, "Closed." While at the U.S. Mission predictions were made that at least some parts of the UN budget will be deferred to the Fifth's "resumed" session beginning March 2008, Committee insiders scoffed, saying that deals always get done before the deadline. Staff Union source worry that the reductions from the Secretariat's budget proposal will come out of the hide of relatively lower level staff. From a journalist's perspective, the story is the near total lack of coverage. But as one well-meaning observer tried to argue, at the UN transparency does not mean to the public, but to the member states. The late night meetings in the UN's basement continue as outside snow and sleet fall, on police cars checking packages more suspicious now than ever. So it goes at the UN.

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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

  Because a number of Inner City Press' UN 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.

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-07 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540