Thursday, November 27, 2008

As UNDP's Kemal Dervis Dodges on Dome-Gate and Spain's Development Aid, Will Doha Conference Be a Dud?

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

UNITED NATIONS, November 24 -- In the run-up to the Doha meeting on financing for development, the UN Development Program's Administrator Kemal Dervis was asked what should have been a simple enough question, about Spain's use of its international cooperation and development aid budget for a $25 million dome at the UN in Geneva. Inner City Press asked Dervis, is that an appropriate use of development aid, in this time of financial crisis?

   "I was told that you might be asking that question," Dervis said. But then, instead of answering, he said "I don't have the details," but wanted to take the opportunity to "pay tribute to Spain." Video here. If some of the too-few funds available for the Millennium Development Goals can be spent on lavish rooms and the UN Development Program has nothing to say, the UN should not pretend to be survived when the MDGs are missed.

  Dervis was asked if any countries have curtailed their aid because of the global financial crisis. Dervis said no, which means either he is not paying attention, or worse. Iceland has already publicly said it is cutting the aid it had promised; other UN agencies have publicly named Italy as cutting back its aid. Dervis says he hasn't heard.

  The Financing for Development Review Conference upcoming in Doha threatens to be a dud. The heads of the IMF and World Bank have decided not to go. Dervis claimed this is only because of their busy schedules. But the Group of 77 has threatened to walk out of the Doha meeting, and no text has been agreed to. Success has multiple parents, but failure is usually an orphan. 

UNDP's Dervis with UN's Jomo K.S., $25 million ceiling not shown

  Inner City Press asked Oscar de Rojas, Executive Secretary of the Conference, about the threats. "I don't think anyone is going to walk out," he answered, after acknowledging that no agreement on a text has been reached. 

  On tax evasion, Jomo Kwame Sundaram, the UN's Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, told Inner City Press that this is one of the sticking points, and to to expect any breakthrough in Doha. No wonder the IMF and World Bank don't want to fly to the Gulf. Some joke that the head of the World Trade Organization is only going because he thought Doha meant the Doha round of trade talks. Whatever it takes...

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

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.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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