Thursday, October 30, 2008

Executions, Torture in North Korea 'Worse Than Animal Slaughter' - While Dervis's UNDP prepares to spend $8 million to build capacity of government


SEOUL, South Korea — 

The condemned inmate, his body torn apart by guard dogs, slumped unconscious as the three executioners fired. The bullets shattered his skull, splattering blood near other prisoners forced to watch.

His offense: trying to escape from the remote prison camp in North Korea.

"People were seized with fear but no one could say anything," former prisoner Jung Gyoung-il said, recalling the 2001 execution. "That's worse than the way animals are slaughtered."

For a decade, North Korea has denied such accounts from defectors, and South Korea has shied away from them to maintain good relations with its wartime rival. But now, under new President Lee Myung-bak, South Korea is investigating alleged abuses, including the prison camp system. South Korea's state-run human rights watchdog is interviewing defectors and is hosting a two-day international forum on the issue this week.

Meanwhile, U.S. President George W. Bush has made the push to crack down on rights abuses in North Korea one of his last missions before leaving office in January. He signed a law promoting the U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights to ambassador and making it easier for refugees from the North to settle in the U.S.

The focus on alleged abuses has infuriated North Korea, which dismisses the accusations as a U.S. plot to overthrow its government. The country's Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland called Seoul's moves proof that South Korean officials are "sycophants toward the U.S." and "maniacs" who risk confrontation with the North.

North Korea runs at least five large political prison camps, together holding an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 inmates, according to the U.S. State Department. The gulags remain one of the Stalinist regime's most effective means of controlling its 23 million people, analysts say.

During the rights forum that started Wednesday, the U.N. investigator on human rights in North Korea demanded Pyongyang reform its prison systems and terminate public execution, calling the country's gulags "appalling" facilities.

"With regard to the substantive issues of human rights as a whole, the pictures are still sadly very negative on many fronts," Vitit Muntarbhorn said.

South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o, in written remarks to the forum, also said "severe outrages against humanity" such as executions and vivisection are reported to have frequently occurred in the North's prison camps.

Satellite images show the camps in valleys tucked between mountain ranges, each covering up to 100 square miles. Former prisoners say the camps are encircled by high-voltage electrified fences and have schools, barracks and work sites.

Offenses meriting banishment to a prison camp include everything from disparaging North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to trying to flee the country, defectors say.

Former prisoner Jung said he spent three years in Camp No. 15 in Yodok, about 70 miles northeast of the capital, Pyongyang, on charges of spying for South Korea.

Jung, who was working for a state-run trading company, claims the charges were fabricated by security agents seeking promotion. After months of torture, Jung said he acknowledged the charge. By then he had lost nearly 80 pounds.

Shortly after his release, he fled to South Korea in 2004 with his wife and two daughters and now works for a civic group on North Korean prisons.

At Yodok, Jung said, the 400 inmates in his section subsisted on 20 ounces of corn each — the equivalent of one medium-size can daily — while toiling at mines, farms and factories for 13 to 15 hours a day. Many died of hunger and diseases brought on by malnutrition, he said. Some managed to trap vermin and insects.

"People eat rats and snakes. They were the best food to recover our health," said Jung, 46, adding he still suffers from ulcers, headaches and back pain.

One inmate, Choe Kwang Ho, sneaked away from his work for 15 minutes to pick fruit. He was executed, his mouth stuffed with gravel to prevent him from protesting, Jung recalled.

"I still can't forget his emotionless face," he said.

Life at the four other camps was even worse, Jung said. A former North Korean prison guard said only two inmates have ever escaped from the camps known as "total control zones."

"Inmates there don't even have time to try to catch and eat rats," An Myeong-chul said in an interview in Seoul.

An said he served as a guard and driver at four camps before defecting in 1994. If a female inmate got pregnant, he said, she and her lover would be shot to death publicly. Then, An said, prison guards would cut open her womb, remove the fetus and bury it or feed it to guard dogs.

Forced abortions are common, and if babies are born, many are killed, sometimes before the mother's eyes, defectors say. Grandparents also may be punished since whole families are imprisoned.

"We were repeatedly taught they were the national traitors and we have to eradicate three generations of their families," he said.

An, 40, defected after his father, a former Workers' Party official, killed himself after being accused of criticizing the government food rationing system as inefficient. Now working at a bank in South Korea, An said he pushes for the abolishment of North Korea's prison camps as the least he can do to offset his work as a guard.

Public executions are not limited to the gulags.

Before he was imprisoned, Jung took his eldest daughter, then 8, to the execution of a prisoner in 1997 in the city of Chongjin. She watched solemnly as the inmate's skull was smashed to pieces.

"She asked me, 'Hey Daddy, is he vomiting?"' Jung recalled, a bitter grimace curling his lips. "I should not have taken her there."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Human Rights Brought Low in UN Basement, North Korea Fight Back, Crack Down on the Press

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, October 28 -- Human rights were confined to the UN basement on Tuesday, as representatives of Belarus, Sri Lanka and North Korea lashed out at what they called the hypocrisy of their Western critics, notably France, which spoke for the European Union.  The representative of Myanmar, who walked out during France's presentation, didn't even assert its right of reply at day's end. One wag asked, why should they? They have an accommodating human rights rapporteur functionally protecting them, in the form of Tomas Ojea Quintana, to whom the rapporteur on torture, for example, says he defers.

   Tuesday afternoon, Inner City Press was told by a number of countries' representatives to the UN's Third Committee to expect fireworks at the session's end at six o'clock.  Running to the basement at 5:40, Inner City Press entered Conference Room 1 and took up a position against the wall at the back of the room as Belarus bragged about the transparency of its elections and the freedom it allows to the media. Suddenly Inner City Press was told, "You can't be in here," then was instructed to go and speak with the Secretary of the Third Committee, Moncef Khane, up at the front of the room. He's the one who told us to order you out, Inner City Press was told.

   Quick research finds that Mr. Khane, a native of Algeria, is one of two Senior Political Affairs Officers in the Economic and Social Council Affairs Branch of the UN's Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, DGACM. The Third Committee has hardly been receiving any media coverage, so one can wonder why Mr. Khane would be so quick to order other UN staff to tell a reporter to move, as soon as he entered the room to cover the meeting.  

UN Human Rights Council, press restrictions not shown

   After a briefing exchange, Inner City Press repaired to the raised "cheap seats" of the conference room, where for example there are no electrical outlets into which to plug a laptop.

   Down on the floor, the representative of Sri Lanka was denouncing France's accusation of the use of child soldiers in the country. No mention was made of Sri Lanka being ousted from the Human Rights Council in the last election, despite its swank reception just prior to the vote, at which for example Sudan's Ambassador ate French croissants and looked out over the East River into Queens.

  Next up was North Korea, whose representative said that for fifty years, North Koreans have been "enjoying" a political system that will not change anytime soon. Sitting near the front of the room, he said the Western countries are killing civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and are engaged in human trafficking and police brutality at home. While there's truth to this, North Korea's punishments of those who try to leave hit a new low in terms of human rights. As low as in the UN's basement.

  Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Statement by CCISUA at HLCM

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me begin by thanking HLCM on behalf of CCISUA for the opportunity to again address you and share with you some of the thoughts and concerns of the members of CCISUA with regard to some of the items on your agenda.

Our primary concern, as it has been for some time, is also the first issue on your agenda: Staff security.

Let me begin by a quote that might sound familiar to you:

"A major deficiency identified by the Panel is the lack of accountability for the decisions and positions taken by UN managers with regard to the security of UN staff. The United Nations needs a new culture of accountability in security management. Personal accountability of those entrusted with the safety of personnel as well as all staff in the field for their compliance with security rules should be paramount [...]"

It may surprise you that this quote does not come from the IPSS—or Brahimi—report, but rather from the Report of the Independent Panel on the Safety and Security of UN Personnel in Iraq, following the Canal Hotel bombing in 2003. It is clear from the above, and the similarity it bears with the content of the Brahimi Report, that the recommendations made in 2003 were not given due regard. While we are pleased to see the establishment of a steering group to come up with proposals to turn the IASMN, Brahimi and other recommendations into an action plan (in which CCISUA will participate), what the staff are really waiting for is concrete action and results.

We acknowledge the work already done by IASMN and the HR Network in following up on the Brahimi report. We note, however, the number of instances where the main recommendations consist of adding posts. We have already spoken strongly of our belief that more resources should be targeted to the area of security, and we hope that the gentlemen and ladies of the General Assembly, the Fifth Committee, the ACABQ, and various governing boards will see fit to make the necessary human and financial investment to ensure we can do their work in safety. Nonetheless we also have to prepare for them to act in the normal manner. Our only plan cannot be more posts or resources. Let me reiterate: we fully support the plan. But we have been here before. If we do not get the posts we are looking for, the next time there is an attack we will say, well, we did ask and we did not get, so it is not our fault. But our colleagues will still be injured or dead.

So we would like to urge a return to the basics: accountability; communication; responsibility; risk assessment; public relations; equity; and justice. The Brahimi report said nothing we did not already know as staff, and echoed what our members have been saying ad nauseam in every forum to every responsible party in the UN for years. We addressed the issue of security the last two times we spoke to the HLCM, and we have a detailed joint statement with FICSA attached to the IASMN report. Here are some basic reminders of our concerns:

  • The unequal treatment of national staff and the lack of protection at the time of evacuation.
  • Lack of MOSS compliance in some offices, especially those away from country capitals.
  • The need to determine whether common premises afford better protection or make UN offices easier targets.
  • The pressure placed on staff by high stress environments, and the need for increased stress counseling capacity.
  • The need for the UN to be more insistent that governments protect UN staff and that those who target the UN should be brought to justice.
  • The need for the UN to accept its responsibility as employer, while putting pressure on host governments to recognize their responsibilities under the Charter and other agreements.
  • Improper use of contracts, unfairly placing the security burden on employees rather than the Organization
  • The need to recognize the added risk for female staff in countries where women's rights are not fully respected.
  • Involvement of staff representatives in the security fora

The time for statements has passed.

We look forward to working creatively on the steering group and individually with our various management bodies on credible, realistic actions to create a safe environment and a real culture of security and accountability in the United Nations.

We will touch briefly on some of the other items on the HLCM agenda:

  • Professional salaries in Europeand elsewhere. We support the paper presented by IAEA and express our disappointment that the ICSC was unable to come up with a fix for the erosion of salaries consequent on the falling value of the US dollar. We urge a quick resolution to this grave problem affecting staff worldwide. In the worst case situation of the ICSC not providing a solution, we urge the SG to use his power, in accordance with the Staff Regulations and Rules, to revise post adjustment levels to ensure equitable buying power and prevent further erosion of salaries and benefits among staff. But this would only be a temporary fix. What is needed is for the ICSC first to recognize that there is a problem and then to change its criteria for setting the out-of-area factor. The current rates do not reflect reality and do not serve the purpose of maintaining stability.
  • The ICSC retention survey notwithstanding, we have widespread reports that the administration is experiencing difficulty in recruiting staff in the Euro zone, because salaries are no longer competitive. And this is not just in the Euro zone—IP and even local salaries are uncompetitive throughout much of the world including the 86 countries now listed by the World Bank as middle income countries. When you add the insecurity factor, it is no wonder we are becoming a less and less attractive employer. If staff are going to be working in unsafe conditions, they must at least be adequately compensated for having the courage to sign on in the first place.
  • RIAS & the UN-wide Evaluation System: In the areas of both audit and evaluation, we support the move to professionalize and harmonize these functions across the UN and, in light of many scandals over the years, believe these functions should report to the governing boards rather than to the executive heads of our various organizations.
  • Senior Leadership training: We fully support senior leadership development, hoping that eventually the lacunae in leadership which staff have identified and deplored over the years will be addressed. We welcome the progress made and urge that additional resources be diverted to this worthy initiative. As we noted last year, we believe it should also be open to the heads of staff unions and associations who are in full-time release, because, with over 1000 staff to manage, they fit the profile of senior leaders.
  • HR Network report: We note that the report of the HR Network mentions in detail the difficulty with release of the FICSA head. We assure you that other Federations have the same problem and believe that the release of the staff federation head, through the organization of the head or through cost-sharing, should become the practice in the United Nations.
  • ICSC Survey: We welcome the survey and congratulate the ICSC for its initiative. We look forward to being able to do a “deep dive” into the data, and would therefore suggest that this be made available to all, including the Federations, to allow us to derive the maximum benefit from such a laudable undertaking.
  • Harmonization of Business Practices: We believe the harmonization of business practices across the UN will be a critical step in enhancing mobility of staff among the agencies and organizations that make up the system. We hope that this will be followed by harmonization in other areas: human resource practices; application of the staff rules; job descriptions; and contractual modalities.
  • UN Cares: UN Cares is another worthy initiative which we fully support. The success so far has been outstanding, due to the excellent cooperation and cost-sharing among agencies. We hope this example is followed in other areas—including the release of Federation heads!

This has been a long statement, due to the fact that we, the Federations, are not invited to the rest of this discussion, and we therefore have to cram as much as we can into this “dialogue”. Ladies and gentlemen, it is full time for HLCM to change the way it operates. Contrary to conventional wisdom, staff representatives are not the enemy of management. When staff representation works well—and it can work well; we can give some examples—the staff body becomes an invaluable partner in helping in the smooth running of the Organization and organizations which we represent. Start here. Normally this item on the agenda is called a “dialogue” with the staff federations. But normally members of this Committee have nothing to say to us or to ask of us. Our friends from FICSA travel across the Atlantic to give a statement here, and when HLCM is not in NY the others of make the same trek. This is not a good use of the Organization’s resources. There is no such thing as a one sided dialogue. A monologue is conducive neither to good understanding nor to good relations.

I thank you.

FICSA statement at HLCM

Statement by FICSA

Ms. Chairlady and esteemed representatives of the HLCM,

FICSA appreciates the opportunity to address the High-Level Committee on Management under the item “Dialogue with Staff Representatives.”

Today I would like to address three subjects. The first is enhancing staff-management relations and staff representation in the UN system, the second is staff security and I would like to finalize by briefly sharing some of our views on the work carried out by ICSC this year.

Enhancing staff-management relations and staff representation in the UN common system

Earlier this year, FICSA met for the first time with the UN Secretary-General and found the discussion and exchange of views very useful. The value of this meeting only accentuated the regret in the inability to arrange for it earlier. During that meeting, FICSA expressed its appreciation for the remarks in the text version of the Secretary-General’s opening address of the 29th SMCC meeting in support of strengthening staff-management relations. The Federation strongly shared his expressed view that effective, open and meaningful staff management relations were essential to the success of the UN common system and would have a positive impact on the ability of the organizations to serve the Member States and to create a better world. FICSA agreed fully with the statement of the Secretary-General that the UN needed a new mindset.

Since 2000, eight years now, FICSA has been attempting to work with both HLCM and the HR Network to strengthen staff-management relations and staff representation in the UN common system. At the request of HLCM in 2002, FICSA provided information to the Committee and to the Network on the subject of release, facilities and funding provided to its members by their respective administrations. It was clear from that information that few organizations complied fully with the guidelines originally set out by CCAQ in 1982. Nor have organizations fully respected the Framework for Human Resources Management which calls for “communication, participation, transparency and teamwork”. In a number of organizations, the present climate does not enable or empower staff representatives and, even when the executive head may wish to empower staff, the message does not seem to reach other levels of management.

The subject of staff-management relations was continued at the 16th session of the HR Network in July of this year. However, because of its urgency, the discussion was limited to the question of arranging and financing the release of the FICSA President and General Secretary and deciding once and for all whether the organizations still approved of their 1982 agreement to include the option to share the costs for the release to serve FICSA. The Network decided that cost sharing was not a valid option and that each organization should finance the

release of the FICSA President and General Secretary when a staff member from their organization is elected to one of those positions. The Network further agreed that this arrangement should also apply to CCISUA and UNISERV. The implication of this decision is that each organization will need to budget for the eventual release of one of its staff members to serve as an elected officer in a staff federation.

However, all of the other issues that had been identified in a videoconference organized by the Network in 2005 were left unaddressed. The list was already presented to HLCM in 2005 (document CEB/2005/HLCM/30) but worth repeating here:

· Funding/financing

o Particularly financing of participation in meetings by staff representative bodies

· Communication

o Including identifying best medium to communicate on relevant issues

· Training

o Including training in conflict resolution for elected staff representatives

· Headquarters and field

o Including the importance of making a distinction between the role of staff representation at the local and inter-agency level

· Terms of office of staff representatives/bodies

o Including role of staff representatives in various internal processes, such as recruitment, management of grievances

· Release/official time for staff representatives

· Importance of recognizing the particular situation in each organization

· Role of staff representation in the common system

· Ways to enhance staff morale.

At the 67th session of ICSC last July, under the item “Alignment of the budget with strategic plans”, FICSA raised the subject of financing the staff federations’ participation in inter-agency meetings and requested ICSC to include the participation of staff representatives in its own budget. The Commission stated that “it would be more appropriate for any request of that type to be made through the HR Network to the HLCM of CEB”. One of the participants at the 16th Session of the HR Network suggested that FICSA approach ACABQ.

This situation can most politely be described as “being given the run-around”. FICSA has worked in good faith with all of the inter-agency bodies involved and has delivered all of the information that has been requested. However, our requests have been bounced from one body to another without any decisions having been taken. It would seem to us that it is time to get serious, to give credence to the words of the Secretary-General and to work together to improve staff-management relations and staff representation.

Indeed, the implementation of the objectives of the Member States cannot be done without staff, and therefore we cannot continue to ignore the real issues of staff-management relations and staff representation which, if addressed properly, will make organizations more effective.

To that end, FICSA would like to reiterate its request for a working group on enhancing staff-management relations and staff representation within the common system, which will be responsible for addressing the above mentioned list of items that were identified in 2005. We need to come to a common understanding and appreciation of the important role played by staff representatives in our organizations, and to develop ways to facilitate their work, recognize their competencies and contributions and empower all staff to play a larger role in decisions that are made about their working life. Over the next few years, many of the older generation will be leaving service for retirement. If our organizations hope to attract competent, qualified and capable younger people, they will need a new mindset, just as the Secretary-General said. One of the most important tools to recruit and retain a new generation of international civil servants is effective staff-management relations and

staff representation.

Let us not delay any longer. FICSA asks your strong commitment and firm support for a working group to enhance staff-management relations and staff representation.

Security issues

I would now like to present the Federation’s views on security issues. First of all, FICSA would like to acknowledge the work of Sir David Veness, Under-Secretary-General of the UN Department on Safety and Security, and to express the Federation’s regret at his resignation. Needless to remind the Committee that Sir Veness’ predecessor similarly resigned following the Canal Hotel bombing in 2003? When meeting with the Secretary-General, FICSA asked him whether staff should expect that every time that there is a tragedy on the scale of Iraq or Algeria, the Head of DSS would resign. This does not give staff much confidence in the security management system. While such events certainly warrant a closer examination of the way in which security is managed in the UN system, they most importantly provide an opportunity for a close examination of those responsible for managing the system.

The recent report of the Independent Panel on the Safety and Security of UN Personnel and Premises Worldwide mentions that the CEB should provide regular guidance and leadership of the security management system. At the same time, the report also argues for solidifying the role of the Department of Safety and Security and the Under-Secretary-General of DSS should have additional authority over security issues in the UN common system.

FICSA is of the view that the respective roles of the CEB and DSS need to be clarified when it comes to ownership and governance of the UN security management system. There seems to be too many layers and too many players, which not only makes it difficult to get to the root of any problem but also make it difficult to determine accountability. There should be no room for ambiguity when it is a question of saving lives and keeping staff safe.

Paragraph 109 of the Panel’s report cites the “open conflict between DSS executive managers over a number of significant issues”. While dealing with the security of our colleagues, there is no room for such conflicts and this is an area in which all staff should be working together for the same unquestioning goal.

FICSA reminded the Secretary-General that it is not only the internal functioning of the UN security management system that needs to be reformed but that more must also be done to hold Member States accountable for the protective measures provided to UN staff and premises. Member States have the responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of UN staff and operations in their own country. It is the

Member States who mandate the UN and its staff to carry out their work, often in dangerous and insecure locations.

FICSA hopes that the report of the Independent Panel on Safety and Security of UN Personnel and Premises Worldwide will be followed by changes which will lead the UN common system to a more secure workplace all over the world, and to that end FICSA welcomes the establishment of the Steering Committee.

ICSC 2008

I would like to close by making a few remarks about the decisions, recommendations and functioning of the ICSC this past year. The Federation’s first comment concerns the global staff survey that was carried out by ICSC alone to help in assessing the effectiveness and impact of recruitment and retention measures at difficult duty stations. Based on the data collected by ICSC, the Commission concluded that, although United Nations organizations did not seem to have significant recruitment or retention problems in general, there appeared to be problems in certain occupational groups and areas of specialization. In addition, there may be problems in the quality of staff hired in almost 25 per cent of the cases. The projections of the future supply and composition of the global labour market indicate that the general situation may well get worse, and that the specific issue of specialized talent will only get more acute. It would therefore be prudent for the organizations of the United Nations common system, in collaboration with the staff representatives, to begin taking strategic steps to mitigate these trends, in addition to addressing the immediate problems.

While the Federation welcomes the attention to staff views on recruitment and retention, it is not yet convinced that the response rate to the survey was high enough to conclude that the UN organizations do not seem to have significant recruitment and retention problems. In fact, FICSA is of the opinion that the analysis of the survey results might give the wrong message to the Member States and that, as the

Commission states in its Annual Report, it would be best to exercise some caution in drawing final conclusions from the initial analysis. FICSA would like to ask the organizations to bear this caution in mind in their discussions on this subject with Member States representatives, and would like to reiterate its availability to contribute to the development of staff surveys in the areas of competence of FICSA.

Our second comment is more general and concerns the overall atmosphere at the Commission’s sessions in 2008. The summer session of the Commission was particularly tough, due primarily to two contentious issues: the review of the education grant methodology and the review of the children’s and secondary dependant’s allowances. FICSA was pleased with the outcome of the session concerning the review of the education grant methodology, but regretted the Commission’s decision not to grant a 100 per cent transitional measure to compensate for the new lower rates for the dependency allowances in several duty stations. The discussions on the education grant led FICSA to question whether the Commission has the best interests of the organizations and the staff at heart.

On a more positive note, FICSA is pleased to report that it worked closely with the representatives of the HR Network, especially on the issue of the review of the education grant methodology. We hope that this return to a more collegial working relationship with the HR Network will continue and will be strengthened even in issues in which the views differ.

This concludes the Federation’s remarks, which we hope will provide ample substance for the dialogue with HLCM and I would like to thank you for your attention.

UN agencies move towards climate neutrality

Around 100 staff from more than 40 UN agencies, funds and programmes are attending workshops in Geneva from 1 to 3 September, and in New York from 8 to 10 September, to accelerate efforts to move their organizations towards climate neutrality.

UN workshop - Geneva15The staff members comprise a network of climate neutral focal points of the United Nations Environment Management Group (EMG), and include facility managers, administration and finance officers, and climate change technical experts across the UN system.

The initiative follows a commitment made by Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon and the Chief Executive Board to lead by example by moving the UN towards climate neutrality.

On the invitation of the EMG Chair and UN Environment Programme(UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner, and with the support of the EMG secretariat and UNEP’sSustainable UN (SUN) facility, these workshops provide training, tools and guidelines, and offer experience sharing among UN agencies on how to prepare greenhouse gas emissions inventories and implement emissions reduction strategies. Reference material, case studies, lessons learned and best practices will soon be housed on a web site to share knowledge on climate neutrality not just within the UN, but also for the benefit of other organizations, local authorities, businesses and individuals

UN Prayer: Please, God, Let Obama Win

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 26, 2008; A17

UNITED NATIONS -- There are no "Obama 2008" buttons, banners or T-shirts visible here at U.N. headquarters, but it might be difficult to find a sliver of territory in the United States more enthusiastic over the prospect of the Illinois senator winning the White House.

An informal survey of more than two dozen U.N. staff members and foreign delegates showed that the overwhelming majority would prefer that Sen. Barack Obama win the presidency, saying they think that the Democrat would usher in a new agenda of multilateralism after an era marked by Republican disdain for the world body.

Obama supporters hail from Russia, Canada, France, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Indonesia and elsewhere. One American employee here seemed puzzled that he was being asked whetherSen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was even a consideration. "Obama was and is unstoppable," the official said. "Please, God, let him win," he added.

"It would be hard to find anybody, I think, at the U.N. who would not believe that Obama would be a considerable improvement over any other alternative," said William H. Luers, executive director of the United Nations Association. "It's been a bad eight years, and there is a lot of bad feeling over it."

Conservatives who are skeptical of the United Nations said they are not surprised by the political tilt. "The fact is that most conservatives, most Republicans don't worship at the altar in New York, and I think that aggravates them more than anything else," said John R. Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "What they want is the bending of the knee, and they'll get it from an Obama administration."

The candidates have said little about their plans for the United Nations, but Obama has highlighted his desire to pursue diplomacy more assertively than the Bush administration, whereas McCain has called for the establishment of a league of democracies, which many here fear is code for sidelining the United Nations.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has avoided showing a public preference about the presidential campaign -- although he has hinted at a soft spot for Obama in private gatherings, according to U.N. officials. His top advisers say they think McCain and Obama would support many of Ban's priorities, including restraints on production of greenhouse gases that fuel climate change.

"The secretary general and the Secretariat of the United Nations take no position on the U.S. election," said Ban's chief spokeswoman, Michele Montas. "The secretary general deeply respects the democratic process, and he looks forward to working with whomever the American people choose."

Many U.N. rank and file are less circumspect, saying they see in Obama's multicultural background -- a Kenyan father, an Indonesian stepfather and a mother and grandparents from Kansas -- a reflection of themselves. "We do not consider him an African American," said Congo's U.N. ambassador, Atoki Ileka. "We consider him an African."

One U.N. official threw a party over the summer and asked guests to place stickers of either an elephant or a donkey on the front door to show their political preference. At the end of the night, the door was covered with about 30 donkeys and two elephants. "We found out that one of the Republicans was an American and the other couldn't vote," according to a U.N. official who attended. "So we convinced the American to vote for Obama."

"I have not heard a single person who will support McCain; if they do, they are in hiding," said another U.N. Obama booster from an African country. "The majority of people here believe in multilateralism," he said. "The Republicans were constantly questioning the relevance of the United Nations."

For the small minority of U.N. officials who have stuck with McCain -- only two of 28 U.N. officials and diplomats questioned said they favored the Arizona senator -- life in Turtle Bay can seem lonely. "I keep my mouth shut," said one American official here who plans to vote for McCain. "Everyone is knocking on wood, counting the days to the elections. Some Americans here are planning to move to Washington," in search of jobs in an Obama administration.

"It will be devastating if Obama loses," the official said. "There has been such an amount of faith placed on the outcome."

The official, who like all other Secretariat staffers spoke on the condition of anonymity, recalled that Democrats have not always been so supportive of the United Nations, citing the Clinton administration's lone 1996 campaign to block the reelection of then-Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. And some foreign delegations, including Georgia, have been outspoken in their support of the foreign policy approach of McCain, who reacted quickly and sharply to Russian intervention in Georgia.

Still, the Obama candidacy has enormous emotional resonance among delegates from developing countries, particularly for what it says about race in America. They recall that one of the United Nations' most famous civil servants, Ralph Bunche -- an African American who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his Middle East mediation -- could never have risen to the same heights in U.S. foreign policy circles. And Kofi Annan, the first black U.N. secretary general, said the prospect of an Obama presidency would be "phenomenal."

Even while critics of the Bush administration here root for Obama, they acknowledge that the U.S. attitude toward the United Nations has improved dramatically in recent years, citing cooperation on Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.

They say President Bush deserves much credit for supporting U.N.-backed initiatives, including the provision of billions of dollars in funding to fight AIDS and malaria in Africa as well as support for the largest expansion of U.N. peacekeeping in history. And they expect that whichever candidate prevails will be compelled by the United States' falling financial fortunes to work more cooperatively with foreign governments.

"We don't have voting rights," said Yukio Takasu, Japan's ambassador to the United Nations.

But, he added, "We expect whoever [wins] in Washington will have a fresh look at the U.N. and the utility of working through the U.N. And, of course, we have to adjust to them."

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Commissars Of Climate Change

Claudia Rosett 10.23.08, 12:01 AM ET


It's not just income taxes that might trash the dreams of Joe the Plumber.

Ready or not, Joe and the rest of us are also about to get mugged by the commissars of climate change. On this, I've got a bipartisan beef, since both John McCain and Barack Obama have bought into the panicked Al Gore storyline that the earth has a man-made "fever." Both candidates are promising to meet it with dramatic and costly new forms of government control.

This comes even as Europe, after its fling with the Kyoto treaty, is backing off from grand pledges to cut carbon dioxide emissions, having decided that the whole thing is too expensive. But United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls climate change the "defining issue of our time," and the U.N. early last year announced that scientific "consensus" had been reached: The climate is in crisis, and it's man-made. At the U.N. this has morphed into calls for wealthy countries to choke their own productivity and compensate the rest of the world for the weather.

So the plan now is that America, along with its bailouts and other burdens, will sacrifice to the global climate gods. Nevermind that an emissions cap-and-trade bill died in the Senate in June, sunk by the titanic price tag and regulatory overload it would have entailed. America's top politicians, not entirely averse to finding ever-new ways to control and plunder the electorate, are still chugging the climate-change Kool-Aid. Once this starts, where does it stop? Carbon is the basis of life itself; carbon dioxide is exhaled with every breath. Regulating and taxing such matters is a road map to state meddling in every aspect of daily life.

And is the alarm even justified? U.N. proclamations to the contrary, there are numerous dissenting scientists. Among the dissenters is MIT professor of atmospheric sciences Richard Lindzen. In a recent, richly documented paper, he warns that the huge shift over the past half century toward government funding of scientific research has "led to extreme vulnerability to political manipulation." He argues that today's climate "consensus" is much more a product of politics than of science. Big government begets a push toward more of the same. Grants, prizes and jobs go chiefly to those who produce what eco-activists and U.N.-o-crats want to hear.

Who are these folks setting the climate agenda?

Most Americans have never heard of Yvo de Boer, and certainly never voted for him. De Boer is a Dutchman, appointed by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006 to head the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

De Boer is not a scientist; his bio says he has a "technical degree in social work." Before joining the UNFCCC in the 1990s, he worked in the Dutch ministry of housing. These days, de Boer jets around the world presiding over conferences--such as last year's two-week climate summit at a Bali beach resort--aimed at creating a global "climate change regime." This regime rests on schemes for massive international wealth transfers, with multilateral bureaucracies calculating who owes, who pays and who gets special breaks--while related arms of these proliferating outfits crank out reports in which "science" is invoked to justify the entire set-up.

But didn't the Nobel Peace Prize go last year to Al Gore and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for their eco-warnings? Yes. And the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a committee of five Norwegian politicians, appointed by the Norwegian parliament. They may be nice people, but their judgment seems an odd basis for sweeping new controls on the U.S. economy.

As for the U.N.'s Nobel-winning IPCC--it is a joint enterprise of two other U.N. outfits, both shot through with back-scratching politics. One is the Nairobi-based U.N. Environment Program, whose director, Achim Steiner, a German, was appointed by Kofi Annan in 2006, just after serving on a panel that awarded a $500,000 environmental prize to Annan, for his personal use (which Annan surrendered only after that potential conflict of interest emerged in the press).

The other parent of the IPCC is the World Meteorological Organization, based in Geneva. The president of the WMO's executive council is an envoy of Russia, Alexander Bedritsky; his No. 2 man, First Vice President Ali Mohammad Noorian, has been at the WMO since 1981 as the permanent representative of Iran.

Among world leaders, there is almost no one left with the courage and vision to challenge any of this. A rare exception is Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who in the 1980s struggled to free his country from Soviet domination and is now sounding the alarm about the growing global tyranny of climate edicts. Last year he published a short book,Blue Planet in Green Shackles. In the subtitle of this book, he asks: "Which is endangered: climate or freedom?"

It's a pity that in America, a country built on free speech and free markets, neither presidential candidate seems willing to take a cue from Klaus. By now, the real question on climate is: Which candidate, once elected, is most likely to back off the campaign promises enough to leave America free to breathe?

Claudia Rosett, a journalist in residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracieswrites a weekly column on foreign affairs for

N Korea urged to end executions

North Korean lapel badges
The UN says North Korea is an entrenched hierarchy intent on self-preservation

A UN human-rights investigator has strongly criticised North Korea, urging it to end public executions and provide food for the people not just the elite.

In a report, Vitit Muntarbhorn also highlighted the continuing punishment of those who try to leave the country, as well as those forcibly returned.

Mr Muntarbhorn acknowledged some small advances, but said overall the rights situation was "very negative".

He is not allowed into the country, relying instead on testimony.

Mr Muntarbhorn - a Thai expert in human-rights law - was at UN headquarters in New York to present his report to the General Assembly.

He called for an end to public executions and for the North Korean authorities to stop punishing asylum seekers who have been forced to return - such as sending them to labour camps.

Asked about the number of people held in such camps, he said several sources had suggested they housed "very large numbers".

He added that collective punishment was also taking place. "If the dad falls out of favour with authorities, it is the whole family that is carted off to prison," he said.

Food shortages

Mr Muntarbhorn pointed to a number of areas in which the rights situation in North Korea appeared to have deteriorated, such as restrictions on mobile phones and long-distance calls.

He also highlighted reports of a crackdown on North Koreans who watch video and TV programmes from South Korea.

While the ruling elite has enough food, he said, there is a chronic shortage for everyone else, which has only been made worse by floods in 2006 and 2007.

The gap between the haves and the have-nots was on the increase, said Mr Muntarbhorn, who depicted North Korea as a society focused on its military, with an entrenched hierarchy intent upon self-preservation.

Mr Muntarbhorn noted some limited advances, including North Korea's recent invitation to the International Narcotics Control Board to visit the country.

He also welcomed the country's decision to give the UN and aid agencies greater access to those in need.

But he concluded, "the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [North Korea] remains grave" in key areas.

He also urged the international community to support long-term food security in North Korea.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Head of UNDP in Iran contradicts Ban Ki-moon: Iran well placed to meet Millennium Development Goals (whom should we trust Ban Ki-moon or UNDP?)

Posted: 2008/10/23
From: MNN

The Islamic Republic of Iran has made excellent progress and is well placed to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the United Nations Resident Coordinator said on Wednesday.

Knut Ostby made the remark at a press conference to mark the UN Day 2008 in United Nations Information Center in Tehran.

"Iran has acted successfully in the areas of poverty reduction, education and health," Ostby said.

Ostby underlined that some disparities and gap exist in Iran, in particular between some geographical areas, adding that in some other areas including gender equality, women empowerment, HIV/AIDS and environment it lags behind some other countries.

He cited this year as the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and UN's peacekeeping operations as well as for the Convention on Genocide.

"UDHR remains the first pillar of the 20th century human right law," the UN Resident Coordinator said.

"Today, UDHR is relevant more than ever because we live in a world threatened by racial, economic and religious divides," he said, adding "In this situation, we must defend and proclaim the universal principles enshrined in UDHR such as universities, interdependence, indivisibility, equality and non-discrimination are crucial in achieving justice.

Referring to the UN's main goals in Iran, Ostby stated that the goals help the Islamic Republic of Iran reach the MDGs set by world leaders at the 2000 Millennium Summit.

Referring to the presence of UN in Iran, he underlined that the UN has been presented in the country since 1950.

"Currently 17 UN organizations are active in Iran including FAO, UNAIDS, UNAMA, UNICEF, UNDP, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIC, OCHA, UNODC, UNFPA, WFP, WHO, LOM, IOM, UNDSS and World Bank," he said.

Ostby termed control of drug and crime, assistance of refugees, strengthening capacities and capabilities for achieving the MDGs, strengthening good governance, improving economic performance, management and generating employment, sustainable development, disaster management and energy, facilitating the transfer of science and technology for development in all areas of cooperation, gender equality and so on as the main objective of this center. --IRNA

UNDP's Dervis Admits Paying Saakashvili Unwise, Dodges on Congo Security and Kosovo Fees

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, October 22 -- After the UN Development Program had defended paying salary to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili since Inner City Press exclusively reported on it, on Wednesday UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis belatedly acknowledged that payments to such high officials "raises questions" and "may not be desirable." 

  Under the rubric of UNDP's lack of impartiality, and as limited by UNDP to post-conflict situations, Inner City Press asked Dervis about the Georgia program, about UNDP paying or processing the salary of an ex-UN employee who now works for the Kosovo government, and about a judgment against UNDP in favor of the widow of a UNDP consultant sent without security to Eastern Congo and killed. On this last, Dervis read an apology from notes, whilemistakenly locating the murder, and UNDP's negligence, as having been in Kenya. Video here, from Minute 28:15.

   After Inner City Press had reported on UNDP's Georgia program, in which it funneled money from George Soros' Open Society Institute to President Saakashvili and his inner circle, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denounced the program as a "privatization of the UN." Wednesday Inner City Press asked Dervis to respond to the criticism. 

   While quickly saying, "I fully agree with the Russian foreign minister," Dervis did not step away from processing such money for OSI or other -- apparently any other -- private foundation. UNDP takes a fee in such deals, although in recently months UNDP's spokesman has repeatedly declined to provide information about the fees UNDP charges. Ironic in light of this stonewalling, Dervis three times said that programs like that in Georgia "must be transparent."

UNDP's Dervis on Oct. 22, 2008, Kosovo and security answers not shown

  Regarding the verdict against UNDP of 143,000 pounds, Dervis said that UNDP now has the ability, through the freedom of so-called ex gratia payments, to provide support in such circumstances. Given the now-admitted inadvisability of UNDP's program to pay Georgia's president, it is doubtful that giving UNDP less oversight in payments is advisable. But what Dervis did not address -- along with the Kosovo question, which he did not answer at all -- was the lack of security that UNDP provided to Joe Comerford when they sent him to the Congo, where he got killed. Click here for more on the case.

   This seems to be a pattern with UNDP, which was criticized in the UN's recent reports about the December 2007 bombing of UN premises in Algiers Yet Dervis has yet to take any questions on UNDP's actions before the Algiers bombing, and his spokesman declined to comment on or even confirm UNDP's vacature of its premises in Amman, Jordan, despite the UN's head of security confirming it to Inner City Press. Transparency, indeed...

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Staff Union condemn the Retention of imminent retirees and use of consultants and retirees at the United Nations

in a report presented today to the General Assembly the UN Staff Union strongly condemned the mismanagement and illegal modalities used by UN manager in retention of retirees and consultants.

Click here to see the Staff Union Report

39. The poor rating of a staff member’s performance can be used to justify the hiring of consultants. To some extent too, the use of consultants appears to be in lieu of providing staff training. Rather than train their staff within existing resources, supervisors tend to engage the same consultants either frequently or for extended periods. There is no procedure for vetting consultants. The process of engaging consultants is at the discretion of programme managers. Sometimes, political considerations appear to be embedded in the process of engaging consultants. Yet there have even been instances where consultants have been allowed to supervise regular staff members.

40. Programme managers routinely rehire retirees and or retain imminent retirees as a stopgap measure in lieu of succession planning. Indeed, this concern has informed the sentiment against re-hiring retirees or extending the contracts of imminent retirees beyond the retirement age. However, not every staff member retires at the mandatory ages. Staff representatives find the discretionary practice to retain some staff members in active service to be selectively discriminatory. Programme managers may not comply with the requirement to initiate the prescribed recruitment process, that is, at least six months before the anticipated vacancies occur (ST/AI/2006/3), to favour certain imminent retirees. Programme managers then request for the retention, sometimes beyond the prescribed six months, and the Superannuation Committee obliges.

41. Even when it does not oblige, the Assistant Secretary-General, Office of Human Resources Management (ASG/OHRM) can ignore its recommendations and there is no feedback to indicate the actioned recommendations. In some instances, the request for retention is not in the interest of the Organization as required by ST/AI/2003/8. It is in the interest of the staff member to accumulate more months of contributory service with the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF); an enduring legacy of General Assembly resolution 35/210 which exempted General Service staff with less than 20 years’ contributory service from mandatory retirement at the age of 60. In other instances, programme managers retain imminent retirees to enable them reach the 10-year requirement for after-service health insurance or the 15-year residency requirement to gain permanent residency in the host country. With regard to retirees, programme managers routinely rehire them as consultants or on regular contracts soon after the expiration of the required three-month separation.

42. These selective and unfair practices point to a need to have a fair policy that is applicable to all imminent retirees. It is the considered opinion of staff representatives that the current retention procedures should be replaced with a non-discriminatory policy that allows staff members to retire at a later age, subject to satisfactory performance.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Going Gray -- and Making it Pay -- on Turtle Bay?

Tuesday , October 21, 2008

By George Russell


Double-dipping, anyone?

The United Nations, with a headquarters staff of approximately 15,500, is apparently relying on a battalion of retirees to fill important vacancies. The cost of keeping codgers on its payroll to do jobs that full-time employees apparently cannot handle has soared from $33 million in 2004-2005 to $50 million in 2006-2007.

In the process, the world organization appears to have been violating its own limits on how much retirees are allowed to earn after they take a U.N. pension, and how long they can be kept on the job. Those rules were seemingly designed to prevent double-dipping by former workers, or the filling of jobs that might otherwise go to full-time staff.

But one small group of pensioners — 135 people in all — appear to have done far, far better than anyone else in breaking through the post-retirement salary ceiling. That group, consisting of higher-level professional and administrative employees, and representing little more than 10 percent of the total number surveyed, pulled in $11.4 million, or more than 20 percent of the amount spent on the growing post-retirement work force, according to an internal U.N. study on the group.

This group earned much more on average than the $22,000 annual limit that the organization places on additional U.N. earnings of those already drawing a U.N. pension. About 130 people in the group averaged nearly $40,000 a year in post-retirement income, nearly twice the U.N. limit. Another group of five persons at the assistant secretary general level averaged more than $100,000 a year atop their pensions. (Staying on the job at this level post-retirement requires the direct approval of the Secretary General.)

The U.N. study, however, does not point out the rule violation.

• Click here to read the U.N. report.

U.N. rules, amended as recently as April 2006, emphasize the $22,000 annual limit of additional pay for pensioned workers, making exceptions only for language specialists. They also state that retired workers can only be hired back when a search fails to find an adequate replacement, and underline that even then, the hire should be short term.

Yet according to the study, currently under consideration by the U.N. General Assembly, the number of retirees called back into service — or asked not to leave it — has virtually doubled in the years 2006-2007, the most recently available for analysis (the U.N. works on a two-year budget cycle), to nearly 1,000, or about 6 percent of the total work force.

Only one-third of them fall into the category of hard-to-find translators and other language experts. Those skills are badly needed, apparently, to keep the U.N.'s schedule of conferences and meetings humming (roughly a quarter of all retirees, the largest single group, worked for the General Assembly and conference management departments of the U.N.).

But according to other U.N. documents obtained by FOX News, the existence of this entire group of retired-but-not-at-rest senior personnel may be the symptom of a deeper problem at the U.N.: a work force that is too old, but also gets to retire too early.

According to a report issued in late 2007 by the U.N.'s Joint Inspection Unit (JIU), a special group of experts tasked with improving organizational efficiency, the U.N. is facing a severe retirement crisis that is only now reaching its peak stage.

"In the current age structure of the UN system, staff members aged 50 years or over are dominant," the report says, adding that a "significant proportion of staff over 55." Translation: the number of retirements in the U.N. system is increasing "in the near future."

U.N. retirement is easily attained, and cushy. Staff hired before 1990 can retire at age 60; those hired after that must retire at 62. Many can retire at 55, with pension benefits after just 10 years' service, and with lifetime health and dental benefits for themselves and their families. By contrast, the JIU notes, other international organizations usually set mandatory retirement at 65.

Indeed, as FOX News revealed two weeks ago, the U.N. system is now agonizing over how to cope with a bill as high as $4.9 billion for the health care insurance liabilities of its current and future pensioners — a bill that the JIU report says flatly will get worse in the current retirement wave.

What to do about it? The JIU report is contradictory. On the one hand, it recommends that the U.N. start hiring younger people to counter a "stagnating" trend (only 12 percent of professional-level staffers at the U.N. are under 35).

And on the other, it suggests that older U.N. staffers need to stay at work longer, in part to retain institutional expertise, and also, perhaps, to ease the strain on the pension system.

• Click here to read the Joint Inspection Unit report.

Among other things, the report suggests that the U.N. retirement age be raised to 65, and in the meantime, the wage limits for post-retirement work also be raised.

It appears that in some cases the U.N. has already raised those limits, but without amending the rules that forbid it.

And if the JIU study is right, the life for retired double-dippers at the U.N. might well be getting better in the years ahead, even as the organization suffers through a severe financial crisis brought on by the demands on its pension system.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lord Malloch Brown's running of UN unit damned over Congo ‘murder’

Graham Duffill

The widow of a British engineer found hanged in a Congo hotel room while on a dangerous mission for the United Nations has been awarded a £143,000 payout in a ruling that is highly critical of a department then run by Lord Malloch Brown, now a Foreign Office minister.

The body of Joe Comerford, 41, a Cambridge-educated engineer, showed signs of being strangled with a belt and a pathologist’s report suggested he had been murdered. However, his family was denied a proper payment by the UN’s insurers after the agency presented a biased report implying his death could have been suicide.

The UN’s administrative tribunal severely criticised the department last week responsible for its “callous” treatment of his wife and said that the case was “seriously mishandled”.

Mark Malloch Brown, who was the UN’s deputy secretary-general and head of UNDP until Gordon Brown invited him to join the government last year, said: “There was no way I felt I could personally resolve the matter and I decided it had to be referred to the UN justice system.”

Dutch-born Deborah Comerford-Verzuu launched the action after her husband died working for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in August 2000. She has fought an eight-year legal battle with help from Andrew Granger of Taylor Wessing, a London-based law firm, who took her case pro bono.

Comerford had been sent to Congo ahead of 5,000 UN peacekeeping troops to assess structural damage caused by an occupying force of soldiers backed by neighbouring Rwanda. His report could have led to sanctions against Rwanda.

The troops, who controlled the Kisangani mining region, were robbing the country of diamonds, cobalt and ivory.

Comerford, from Bury in Lancashire, had left three children under the age of five with his wife at their home near the UN’s head office in Geneva, where she also worked for the UNDP. Over the previous 10 years he had been on similar UN missions, including supporting refugee camps for victims of genocide in Rwanda.

On August 16 he checked in to the Palm Beach hotel in Kisangani, which was also being used by the rebel troops for processing their illegal money and diamonds. Comerford had no protection even though the area was ranked a high security risk. Two days later his body was found in his hotel room, suspended from the window bars by a belt.

A Kenyan government pathologist concluded from severe bruises to the groin and broken bones in the neck that Comerford appeared to have been murdered. A report commissioned by the UNDP, quoting a pathologist from Guy’s hospital in London who saw pictures from the scene, said it could also have been suicide.

The tribunal awarded Comerford-Verzuu compensation “in light of the reckless and callous treatment” she received.

Comerford-Verzuu, who still works for the UN, said last week: “I never wanted a battle with the UN. All I ever wanted was to try and find out what really happened to Joe and to achieve a measure of justice.”

The UNDP said: “We regret the time it took to resolve these claims”, adding that it would pay the compensation “without delay”.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

UN Board of Auditors gives an unsatisfactory rating for UNDP Treasury (report shows)

223. During the biennium, the Office of Audit and Investigations performed an audit of the Treasury Division of UNDP covering the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2007. An “unsatisfactory” rating was assigned to the Treasury Division based on the
audit. The major findings of the audit were:

(a) The Atlas general ledger system contained numerous incorrect balances dating back to January 2004, lacked functionality, was not optimally configured and lacked security measures;

(b) Bank reconciliations were not completed in a timely manner, and unreconciled items had accumulated and were not investigated in a timely manner;

(c) Access controls surrounding Atlas, Treasury shared drives, and servers were inadequate or non-existent;

(d) There was inadequate segregation of duties;

(e) There was a lack of adequate resources, and limited guidance within the Treasury Division.
224. The Board noted, based on its audit findings, that bank reconciliations had been largely addressed by UNDP, but that some ledger accounts continued to reflect pre- Atlas transactions and balances. The Board also noted that UNDP had developed anaction plan to address other issues raised by the internal audit of the Treasury Division.

UNDP gives $1 Million Dollars grant to Columbia University for its role in covering up Investigation into North Korea's operations

Posted on on October 4th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

NYU, Columbia, Harvard disclose the Foreign Gifts they received. Harvard Returned to The president of the United Arab Emirates $2.5 Million When It Turned Out It Was For The Purpose Of Establishing A Chair For Antisemitic Speakers. NYU and Columbia got Funds From The Same Sorce Also - STRANGELY - COLUMBIA GOT Also $One Million from the UN Development Program - ? How Does This Impair The Vision of the UN?

The following was reported by the now defunct New York Sun - a paper we miss now badly. We did not post this article at the time because we did not think it had a news value to say that some Arab presents might influence the academics’ vision of the Middle East - but we realized that it might also harbor a view of the UN when UNDP, that is supposed to help countries in need, and had its share of problems by actually squandering money on unworthy recipients - the likes of the government of North Korea - also found in its pockets enough change to give to Columbia University $1 Million. We really would like to know how this impaired the vision of Columbia University when it deals with the UN. Was this money responsible for Columbia organizing now an important meeting on Climate Change, with appropriate UN folks - on exactly the Yom Kippur day which is practically a day business closes in New York City - with the exception of the UN? Or was this money a token of appreciation for Columbia's university role in the UNDP's Operations in North Korea?

UN's Board of Auditors express deep concern with the way UNDP handled North Korea Investigation and lack of access

462. During the biennium, pursuant to article VII of the Financial Regulations and Rules of the United Nations, ACABQ requested the Board of Auditors to carry out a special audit of the operations of the United Nations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including the United Nations funds and programmes which fall within the Board’s mandate, and to report its findings to ACABQ.

463. In accordance with the request of ACABQ, the scope of work for the preliminary phase was limited to four entities, including UNDP. The work focused on the five-year period from 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2006.

464. In accordance with the request of ACABQ, the Board focused on foreign currency transactions, the hiring of staff and access to reviewing local projects. Because of the limited scope of the assignment, the Board did not express any opinion on the financial results of any of the activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea of the four entities. The audit was limited to personnel and documents made available in New York.

465. The Board’s major findings in respect of the three focus areas were contained in its report addressed to ACABQ in May 2007. In that report, the Board dealt with the three focus areas and reported on the shortcomings it had observed. Accordingly, in respect of the initial request of ACABQ, the Board, in its report, had not suggested any further procedures for the Board to perform.

466. ACABQ further requested the Board to complete its audit and visit the agency offices in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Board accepted the assignment subject to conditions necessary to enable the Board to complete its work, which the Administration had confirmed. The Administration, however, was unable to obtain the agreement of the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that visas would be granted to the Board. The Board reported to ACABQ on its inability to complete its work.

467. The Board expressed its concern about the lack of access provided in this case to the independent external auditor of the United Nations to perform a field visit and stresses that all United Nations agencies must have irrevocable rights of access, monitoring and external independent review for their activities.