With the recent developments inside UNDP, and the exposure of major internal corruption, transferring funds to terrorist organizations, awarding contracts to suspended vendors, miss-management of human resources, one question is bothering many member states and UN staffers here in New York: - Should Mr. Kemal Dervis leave UNDP?
Well...many staffers as well as donors are now convinced that the answer to that question is "yes".
But will Mr Dervis leave UNDP on his own? The answer to that question is unkown. The UN Secretary General appointed Mr Dervis in his position and is only him who can really decide whether he is to stay. While many describes Ban Ki-moon and Kemal Dervis's relation as "excellent" and "Dervis as a loyal friend", we wonder if Ban Ki-moon could find the strength to get rid of this loyal henchman. But with all the trouble Dervis has brought to him, he should do so, none the less.
After the recent meeting of UNDP's Executive Board, it's evident that leaving such decision to them would be absurd. The executive board is made of former colleagues of Mark Malloch Brown and for them retaining Mr. Dervis is imperative to cover-up the corruption and the myriad of Trust Funds that they (executive board) and Mark Malloch Brown have set-up in past years, and which have flourished under Mr. Dervis's regime. But now many developing countries seating in the board have grown skeptic to the effectiveness of oversight, and groups like G77 have raised their voice on this regard. As one G77 Member said recently: "It will be difficult to bring normalilty in UNDP's operations and restore the trust of staff - with current leadership.."
But nevertheless Ban Ki-moon should decide what he wants to do with this trouble-maker agency which have tainted his tenure since the very first days of his arrival in January 2007, and continue to raise clouds of concerns on the capacity of Secretary General's Office to ensure effective oversight and take preventive measures instead of trying to cover-up and patch situations.
Ban Ki-moon as a Korean tends to be loyal to those he regards as loyal to himself. It is not surprising, therefore, to hear his Spokesperson declare that Mr Dervis continues to have "SG's full confidence". That then would seem to be the end of the matter: Mr Dervis will survive because the UN Secretary General has decided he should.
Yet this ought not to be the end of the matter. To place loyalty above all other virtues is the ethics of a mafia boss not of the leader of the only World Body. The UN Secretary General also needs to consider what is both right and in the interests of the United Nations.
That the United Nations, after the oil-for-food scandal, has lost a great deal of moral credit around the world is undeniable. But one area where the present UN Secretary General has claimed that he would restore, was the internal accountability and transparency and the way the UN would deal with growing internal corruption and budget deficits. Ban Ki-moon in his acceptance speech said that he would: "put much weight on the need to tackle corruption and improve coordination of all UN agencies and bodies."
The best justification for having Mr Dervis at the the helm of UNDP and One-UN System, was his past experience as Finance Minister and his proclaimed determination to give transparency and accountability inside UN/UNDP overriding priority. It is possible to debate the wisdom of this, since the quality of governance, albeit hugely important, is not the sole determinant of development. But one point nobody can debate: if the UN Secretary General has decided that this is what he wants UNDP to achieve and deal with, it cannot sustain an Administrator who is no longer a credible spokesman for that cause. Allowing Mr. Dervis to continue in his current post, would only further destroy Ban Ki Moon's authority and ultimately his decision making power.
Loyalty is indeed a virtue. But loyalty is not the overriding virtue. The United Nations and Secretary General needs to perceive its true interests in having an effective and credible UNDP as its only operational presence in the ground. It needs also to preserve its own credibility as a campaigner for good governance, ethics, professionalism and most importantly transparency and accountability. Mr Kemal Dervis now needs to go.
The choice for Ban Ki Moon has become as simple as that.