UNDP’s worldwide practice is to require its field personnel to conduct site visits to development projects to ensure that the projects are progressing as expected. Providing adequate access to projects is an explicit condition to receiving development funds in most country agreements, including the 1979 Standard Basic Assistance Agreement with North Korea.72 Despite the importance attached to site visits, the DPRK government did not permit UNDP to access a project site without prior approval, requested at least one week in advance of a visit. Moreover, project visits were conducted under the direct supervision of North Korean authorities.73
UNDP maintains that the restrictions on its project visits did not prevent it from conducting adequate oversight because: (1) many of the projects it funded were training programs, where the monitoring was effected by simply confirming attendance, and (2) the on- site monitoring performed in the company of North Korean officials was sufficient to ensure that funds were applied appropriately.74 Under the SBAA, however, the North Korean government was obliged to permit UNDP “free movement within or to or from the country, to the extent necessary for the proper execution of UNDP assistance.”75 The requirements of prior notice and government supervision appear inconsistent with this obligation.
UNDP's representatives at the hearings of US Senate and USUN underlined in different occasions that UNDP had "experienced no major problems with access and restriction to visits in the field".
The basis for this decision is the DPRK government's position on several outstanding issues which have created structural barriers to our ability to ensure an adequate level of programmatic oversight. The government was unable to meet the requirement to provide staff of the Global Fund and our Local Fund Agent with free access to the country in order to conduct program monitoring and oversight. Further, the government was unable to meet the Global Fund requirement to provide unfettered access of staff to project sites without advance notice.
This damning letter is contrary to statements made at the time by Ad Melkert (former USG), David Morrison (former spokesperson) and Darshak Shah (former Comptroller) to US Senate Investigative Committee, United States Mission to the UN (USUN) as well as to media briefings.
Maybe is about time that the public get to know what's more inside the UNDP North Korean boxes that are under custody of Ban Ki Moon.