UNITED NATIONS, September 11 -- As the UN Executive Board lurched through the fourth of its five day meeting, with UNDP management having stoked its its ostensible overseers into demanding it re-open the flow of money to Kim Jong Il's North Korea, one of UNDP's equally dubious programs on the other side of the political spectrum fell under fire. It involves UNDP having paid salary to Georgian president Saakashvili, with its own funds and those of George Soros' Open Society Institute. Inner City Press first reported on the program in December 2006, then again on August 25, 2008, click here for that story. This was picked up by Russia's Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin and by Russian media. See examples here, here and here.
The question to be answered is, are the members of UNDP's Executive Board really informed by UNDP management what type of programs are going on?
Meanwhile, despite the Executive Board president's gushing on September 10 that no member disagreed with the head-long rush to return to Pyongyang, even in the face of uncertainty if Kim Jong Il is on his death bed or dead, possibly toppled by even harder-line generals who have restarted that country's nuclear program, in front of the Security Council Inner City Press asked U.S. Ambassador Khalilzad for the U.S. Mission position, video here at Minute 6:43:
Inner City Press: UNDP has been meeting this week. The US position seems to be that the UNDP should go back to North Korea. Do you feel--
Ambassador Khalilzad: We have been under the view that there is a need for steps to make sure that some of the problems that have been listed will not take place again. Thank you.
But when Inner City Press asked UNDP's spokesman early on September 11 for a copy of Regional Director Ajay Chhibber's so-called "roadmap" to return to North Korea, which even the Executive Board president said should be distributed and made transparent, it was not provided.
UNDP's Dervis, thinking of funding to Saakashvili, roadmap and Russian response not shown
Also in front of the Security Council on September 11, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's envoy to Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari to explain the UN system's silence while it was losing 20% of aid funds to the Than Shwe regime. "Matthew, I hope you raise that with [OCHA's] John Holmes and with UNDP." Video here, from Minute 7:19.
Well, Inner City Press has had currency exchange loss questions pending with UNDP for weeks and weeks, and has repeated sent reminded, still with no response. This did not impinge on the self-congratulatory dream world of some Executive Board delegates cooking up rubber stamp resolutions in Conference Room C in the UN's basement on the night of September 11. Nor did it stop once and future UNDP-er Jan Mattsson for patting himself on the back for finally getting an audit of the UN Office for Project Services after seven years, and moving to pay off a blatant cost overrun for Afghan elections in 2005. It all cuminates, he told the Board on September 11, in a new UNOPS web site, in three languages: English, French and Spanish. Maybe that's why Russia didn't know about the funding to Saakashvili...
Meanwhile, UNDP has not provided answers as simple as the volume of fees it collects as a conduit for funding for prisons and military barracks all over the world, and to pay an ex-UN Kosovo Mission staffer to work for Kosovo's government. Not only could this dubious middle-man role raise more Russian questions about UNDP -- more generally, it is for reasons like these that many believe that UNDP is an opaque, unaccountable and even corrupt organization.