Report on UNDP in North Korea
Raises More Questions Than It Answers
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
June 2 -- As the UN Development
Program prepared put its gloss on a report by Hungarian prime minister
Nemeth, in a hastily called press conference by UNDP Administrator
Dervis, questions arose about the irregularities that the report
confirms, in places begrudgingly. As so often happens at the UN, these
confirmations are buried deep in the report. A wire service emphasized
report "concluded that [Tony] Shkurtaj's claims of retaliation are
merit. As a contract employee he could not have been fired, it was just
his contract was not renewed, it said."
formally selected and notified Shkurtaj of his selection and hiring for
UNDP staff position as UNDP's North Korea operation manager, out of a
174 applications and a finalist list of 29 applicants. (Click here for Inner
City Press' interview with Shkurtaj at the time.) Then UNDP
retracted that offer from Shkurtaj. This
fits any credible definition of retaliation. Significantly, despite UN
Officer Robert Benson's plea to Dervis to allow his office, the UN
in whistleblower protection, to investigate the case, UNDP said no.
said that this panel, which also included former World Bank official
Vasudev of India and former U.S. and U.N. official Mary Ann Wyrsch,
the air. But consider these questions about UNDP's operations:
conducted "[a] review of documentation related to the Selected Projects
budgets" and concluded that "[f]or 77 transactions (74%) the
available supporting documentation was insufficient to determine
ultimate beneficiary is consistent with the payee name indicated in the
system (pg 158).
"38% of disbursements
UNDP-DPRK" were to DPRK "government agencies" which constituted
11 of the top 20 of all payees and totaled $9.13 million (pg 100-101).
analysis does not even include "disbursements made on behalf of
Korea by UNDP country offices and other UN agencies" which totaled in
range of $33.3 million -- $48.5 million (pg 118). If at the same
percentage payment rate to the DPRK government, then an additional $1
million to $18.43 million was paid directly to the DPRK government as
the UNDP DPRK program.
review of the most sensitive items - those the Panel classifies as
Level I and
II -- exported by UNDP to North Korea focused on 151 pieces of
equipment and found
that 95 items were "classified as being on the Commerce Control
[and] would have required a licensee from the U.S. Commerce Department
export or re-export to the DPRK"? (pg. 210) The Panel found
many such items were "controlled by the U.S. for national security and
anti-terrorism reasons.... and were of heightened concern" (pg. 213).
"At the suspension of the UNDP program in the DPRK
in March of
2007, the UNPD transferred a large amount of equipment in closed
agencies in the DPRK government.... [and] to the extent that this
included U.S.-origin items, the UNDP's retransfer to the DPRK
U.S.-origin items subject to U.S. license requirements would likely be
considered by the U.S. to contravene its export policies prevailing at
Secretary General for Legal Affairs Larry Johnson reportedly opined to
that UNDP required a "retransfer authorization" from the U.S. to
transfer the equipment to the DPRK or other third parties and
did not obtain any such "retransfer authorization" prior to
transferring these items to the DPRK government (pg. 220). But what did
UN's Office of Legal Affairs, of which Larry Johnson is the Deputy, do
UNDP's panel of three, with Mr. Ban, findings about
North Korea not shown
Panel concluded "that in the course of his duties and areas of
Shkurtaj in fact reported conduct and facts about UNDP operations in
that required resolution and may well have been in violation of UNDP
as well as applicable agreements with the DPRK" (pg. 312).
noted a "management
lapse" in UNDP's handling of the counterfeit currency (pg. 269).
Panel "noted discrepancies" in the accounts that UNDP Comptroller
Darshak Shah gave to the Panel regarding the counterfeit currency issue
What action will be taken against Mr. Shah for his inconsistent
UN system become ever-better known for lack of accountability, at UNDP
rises to the level of impunity.
City Press has previously reported, well-placed sources said Friday
that UNDP long-prepared whitewash of its retaliation against the
irregularities in its North Korea programs was to be unfurled Monday
and that, not
surprisingly, the whistleblower is not protected. But as noted above,
even the Kemal
panelists admitted systemic breakdown of safeguards within UNDP. On
Sunday night, the UN te-mailed to the press that Dervis would brief, or
11 a.m. Monday (Inner City Press' UN bureau chief is in Africa, click here
for the next of many articles.) The
Office, which backed down or was called off this case once already, now
another chance, on this, the Koumoin /
Cote d'Ivoire case, and the Somalia /
KPMG cases, along others. Watch this site.
Footnote: back on
Inner City Press asked UNDP these two questions, which have yet to be
ever happened to the promised
investigation by OAPR of UNDP's award of no-bid contracts to a
PRO-FIT? At the time, UNDP promised its own investigation.
did it ever
happen? will UNDP make it public? So
far not answered.
Undp claimed a couple months ago that internal
investigations and a
Kimberly Process investigation had cleared undp from any wrongdoing in
Zimbabwe, concerning undp's support of
diamond mining operations. but
undp refuses to make public the investigations. what is the basis for
sharing copies of these investigation reports: Will UNDP release
reports? So far not answered.
UNDP, what about the question of UN requiring letter from a media's
mission for accreditation?
thusly: " I have
been advised that for regular accreditation missions do not get
However, they do get involved when a visiting senior official travels
press corps. In those instances, the mission would sent the UN Media
and Liaison Unit a list of journalists who need to get a one or two day
less sure of this
last answer, as several journalists have been asked to get letters from
country's mission to the UN. Developing.
* * *
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