Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the United Nations to Wall Street to the Inner City

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Follow us on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis



ICP on YouTube

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

On UN Syria Study, No Request for Proposals As Benetech Told ICP

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 9 -- Among the questions that have arisen about Benetech's study of deaths in Syria for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has been one raised by Inner City Press (and some Security Council diplomats) since the day of the launch.

  How did OHCHR selected Benetech, which lists funding from the US State Department and National Endowment for Democracy? And was there a Request for Proposals or RFP, as Benetech has claimed?

  The answer to the latter, if there was an RFP, turns out to be "no."

While understandably busy fielding questions from broadcasters, OHCHR spokesman Rupert Colville did answer Inner City Press' question on how much Benetech was paid: $25,000.

But Patrick Ball of Benetech had told Inner City Press that "yes there was an RFP for this project. For the specific selection mechanism, you should contact OHCHR who can provide the details."

  So Inner City Press did ask OHCHR, respectfully but repeatedly.

   And today Colville has responded to Inner City Press' questions about the selection / Request for Proposals process with this:

From: Rupert Colville [OHCHR spokesperson]
Date: Wed, Jan 9, 2013 at 3:38 AM
Subject: Re: Q re Syria study, Benetech & its funders, how chosen, update on Minova / HRDDP
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at]

Dear Matthew,

Because of the need for confidentiality and the highly specialized nature of this contract -- there are only a very few organizations qualified (and properly equipped) to do this type of work -- we did not issue an RFP as such. Instead, as permitted by the rules in exceptional cases such as this, we approached three organizations working in this field. Of the three, only one -- the Benetech Human Rights Program -- was both available in the required time-frame and able to demonstrate the necessary experience and expertise.

The criteria were experience, expertise and credibility -- and, of course, availability. The individuals working in the Benetech Program have considerable experience and expertise in this type of work, and are well known to the UN, having worked on several important projects in the past. As I stated in an earlier email, we agreed a sum of 25,000 US dollars (which is a modest sum given the quantity of work that Benetech undertook during the five months it took to complete a study of considerable complexity, and which continued to evolve as it went along -- e.g. because of additional lists becoming available late on in the process). We have no concerns about their independence. Nor do we have concerns about the fact that Benetech has other sources of funding: that is quite normal for most non-profit organizations and NGOs with whom we, and many other UN organizations, work on a regular basis.

I hope this puts to rest your concerns.

Best regards,

Rupert [Colville, Spokesperson / Head of Media, OHCHR]

  We appreciate the answer, but must note that Patrick Ball's response that there was an RFP is no longer consistent.

  Nor do we understand why, given that public money was used, the name of the other two organizations OHCHR decided to approach is not being made public.

  How can the public assess the use of money, and the price arrived at, without this information?

  How can the comparative credibility / independence of the three firms be assessed by the public? Particularly when Benetech cites an "anonmyous" funder? Click here for that.

   While polite and more elaborated, the answer may still smack too much of "just trust us" for a public institution. It is appreciated, but watch this site.

Share |

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-253, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

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

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

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

            Copyright 2006-2012 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]