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UNFPA Pays PR Agency to Serve Praise of UN Report on Post-2015 Goals

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 30 -- This UN found a way to waste money and fool people even amid the hoopla about the release of its anti-poverty Post-2015 High Level Panel report on May 30.

Inner City Press dutifully covered the 12:30 John Podesta press conference on the report, and published on it right at the 3 pm embargo. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued statements as did many of the Panel's members and their governments.

Then just before 5 pm an e-mail came in headed "PRESS RELEASE: UN RESPONSE TO NEW REPORT BY PANEL LED BY DAVID CAMERON."

It seemed a bit strange, the UN responding to what is in a sense a UN report. The sender was not the UN or one of its agencies but rather a corporate public relations firm, Portland Communications. Their clients include Medicapital Bank, CBS and Maersk.

In this case, they were paid to put out a press release for a UN agency, the UN Population Fund or UNFPA. This agency, of course, has its own paid public relations staff, one of whom is listed on the bottom of the press release. So why pay an outside firm?

Perhaps because of this, the header is misleading. UNFPA knows or should know it cannot speak for "the UN." What if another agency -- UNDP, or the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, say -- has another view?

So why waste this money, on the UN praising itself?

 This on the same day when the chief of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, who has at least three spokespeople, chose for the first time not to put out a transcript of his press conference of May 29, when he outright refused to answer a question from Inner City Press about mass rape in the Congo by the UN's partners in the Congolese Army. Video here.

Instead, as if it couldn't afford to do a transcript despite the three spokespeople, DPKO used only a "summary," which did not mention Minova, the rapes, the question or that Ladsous refused to answer. Where is this UN going? Watch this site.

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