Thursday, October 9, 2008

With UN Report on Algiers Bombing Late, UNDP Out of Jordan, Reports Say, N. Korean Kudos

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

UNITED NATIONS, October 6 -- As the UN released a report on human rights in North Korea quoting all UN agencies except the UN Development Program, sources told Inner City Press that UNDP is curtailing operations in Jordan, without coordinating with the other UN agencies there, and that specific UNDP staff members have been identified for accountability for the bombing of UN premises in Algeria in December. That report is already some weeks late, but UN Security sources tell Inner City Press is will be released this week.

  In the Algeria case, UNDP's Mark de Bernis demonstrably did not effectively forward or act on the warnings from other staff member. Now, while UNDP may claim be to proactive in Jordan, it does so again without coordinating with other parts of the UN System. UNDP's attempts to control so-called "One UN Systemwide Coherence" are called into question by its lurching actions on security.  In fact, Somalia sources say that threats in that country are directed more at UNDP than other UN agencies, due to UNDP's perceived side-taking in conflicts.

   UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Report on the "Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea" which was released this week contains statements from and about six separate UN agencies, from the World Food Program to UNICEF, but nothing from UNDP. In fact, UNDP is the unnamed elephant in the room of Ban Ki-moon's report, having pulled out of the country in response to charges of among other things not tracking money it gave the Kim Jong-il regime.

  Ban's report states that he "is further encouraged by the positive developments under the six-party talks aimed at the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula." Given the renewed enrichment action in North Korea, the statement seems ludicrous.

UNDP's Dervis talks down to Ban Ki-moon, safety reports not shown

 To be fair the report, while issued this week, is dated August 26. The above-quoted still seems strange to many, particularly since the report says on its first page, "The present report was submitted after the deadline so as to include the most recent developments."

  On the other hand, Ban's spokesperson on October 2 did not initially announce a pull-out from Pakistan. So Inner City Press asked, at that day's noon briefing

Inner City Press: Forgive me if missed it, but did you say anything about raising the security level and pulling out family members of UN staffers from Pakistan?

Spokesperson:  I didn’t say anything, but we have, as standard UN procedures, regular security assessments, and they take place at every duty place around the world.  Due to recent attacks in Pakistan, we determined it was appropriate to take the precautionary measure to raise security levels in the country, in Pakistan, so that family members of staff could temporarily be relocated to other sites.  I’m talking about dependents, family members.  All essential staff will remain on duty and all UN work will proceed as normal.

Inner City Press: The whole country, not just Islamabad?

Spokesperson:  No, it covers some specific regions.

  Why did the UN leave it for a question in order for this move to come out?  On October 7, there will be no UN noon briefing, in deference apparently to a Ban Ki-moon press conference at 11 a.m., called the "first of his regular monthly press briefings."  Will Press questions be allowed?

 Footnote: Attempts to reach UNDP on Monday about events in Jordan were not successful. Numerous past questions have remained unanswered, including the fees UNDP has collected for processing topping-off salary payments to President Saakashvili of Georgia, and for the Peacebuilding Commission.  On these and other questions, UNDP's spokesman on September 18 told Inner City Press, "as for the other questions, I'll let you know when I have answers for you." In the nearly three weeks since, nothing. System-wide coherence, indeed.

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

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