Friday, July 17, 2009

UNDP and Libya: A Partnership Worth Looking Into

Just to show that it is not above dealing with any shady dictatorship – and not just North Korea or current Iran – the United Nations Development Programme just completed a deal to manage a $1.5 million donation by the Libyan government “to build a school of Muammar Abu-Mnyar Al-Gaddafi in the Gaza Strip” to replace the school “destroyed during the Zionist aggression to Gaza.”

Oh, and Dr. Aisha Muammar Al-Gaddafi was appointed “the Libyan Goodwill ambassador in to the UN’s Development Program” because she embodies the “highest ideals and principles of the United Nations through her assistance to those who need help.” I’m sure the $1.5 million donation by her father – Muammar “Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution” Al-Gaddafi – had nothing to do with it.

Congress passed legislation in 2007 that required the U.S. to withhold 20 percent of U.S. contributions to the UNDP unless the secretary of state certifies that UNDP has given the U.S. adequate access to information on its programs and activities, is conducting appropriate oversight of UNDP programs and activities globally, and is implementing a whistleblower protection policy equivalent to that of the U.N. Ethics Office.

The law was intended to allow the U.S. to investigate UNDP programs, such as its activities in North Korea and other countries where the regime might be misusing UNDP funds. Considering neither the donor (Libya) nor the possible recipients (Palestinian Authority or the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) nor the UNDP itself are paragons of transparency, accountability or good governance, Congress should press the U.S. administration to look carefully into this project.

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