Thursday, September 11, 2008

GAP: UNDP ignores again the Ethics Recommendations on North Korea Whistleblower opting out of UN system of justice

September 11, 2008 -- GAP strongly protests the UN Development Program’s decision to ignore the recommendation of the UN Ethics Committee Chairman in the landmark whistleblower case of Artjon Shkurtaj. The Ethics Committee Chairman recommended that Shkurtaj be compensated for violation of his due process rights after an ad hoc review panel set up to review his disclosures and the retaliation to which he has been subject published allegations against him without allowing him to respond. On September 3, however, UNDP revealed that it would not implement the Ethics Committee Chairman’s recommendation, pending the outcome of another internal proceeding, which may delay for years the relief owed to Shkurtaj. This step represents flagrant disregard for whistleblower protections at the United Nations, although such protections were mandated by the General Assembly at its 2005 session.

At his recent press conference, Ad Melkert, UNDP Associate Administrator, announced that Kemal Dervis, UNDP Administrator, would not follow the recommendation of the UN Ethics Committee Chairman in the case because Shkurtaj had initiated a complaint in the formal UN justice system. UNDP, he said, would only act (or not act) on the Ethics Committee recommendation after a decision is made in the formal process. 

Ironically, this position represents yet another violation of the due process rights of Artjon Shkurtaj, the whistleblower who disclosed significant irregularities in the UNDP operations in Pyongyang, North Korea . The ‘whistleblower protection policy’ at UNDP states that: 

“The procedures set out in this policy are without prejudice to the rights of an individual who has suffered retaliation to seek redress through the internal recourse mechanisms.” 

In brief, actions taken by the whistleblower through an appeal to the Ethics Office for relief have no relevance to the actions taken in the formal judicial proceedings at the UN, and vice versa.

Melkert’s statement about Dervis’ decision is direct affront to the authority of the Ethics Office and the UN Secretary-General, who has endorsed the Ethics Committee Chairman’s recommendations in this case. 

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