Sunday, January 30, 2011

Where is NETAID money? Maybe Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover know smth about ?!

NetAid Weaves a Complicated Web

By Colum Lynch and Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writers

Danny Glover
Actor Danny Glover has also withdrawn his support
from NetAid. (Michael Lutzky — The Washington Post)

UNITED NATIONS – It is supposed to be the feel-good event of the fall, a melding of music, technology and anti-poverty activism. Tomorrow, millions around the world will watch pop-music stars such as David Bowie, Bono and Puff Daddy perform in London, Geneva and New Jersey for NetAid, a U.N.-sponsored effort to engage wealthy westerners in the hardships of the developing world.

The concerts will be carried live on MTV, VH-1, the BBC and other broadcasters to 60 countries; radio broadcasts will reach 120 nations, potentially making these the widest heard musical performances in history. The shows will promote NetAid's Web site, which will serve as a kind of clearinghouse for donors and organizations dedicated to relieving hunger and eradicating poverty.

But even before the first chords are struck, the novel charitable alliance is caught up in controversy, deflecting charges of self-interest and self-dealing. Harry Belafonte, the actor and musician who helped organize the event, said he and actor Danny Glover were quitting in disgust. The event, he said, had "been reduced to a trade show" promoting the U.N. bureaucracy and a corporate sponsor, Cisco Systems Inc.

U.N. sources said that in his letter of resignation, Belafonte also complained that proceeds would be funneled back into the U.N. Development Program and Cisco before money reached the world's poor.

"When you deal with the flesh and the blood that makes up the hungry and disenfranchised of this world, you must play in a field of trust," Belafonte said in an interview. "I find that sacred ground. There shouldn't be any cynicism or agendas."

NetAid is the brainchild of a Cisco executive, Diane Merrick, who last year began considering ideas for an attention-getting stunt for her company, based in San Jose, Calif. To promote Cisco, which makes the routing and switching equipment that is the Internet's plumbing, Merrick considered staging an event that would be accessible to millions online.

Among other ideas, she thought about using the Internet to "stream" live video of a fashion show or the worldwide premiere of a Steven Spielberg film. The company particularly wanted to generate attention during Telecom '99, a huge trade show being held this week in Geneva (one of the NetAid concerts will emanate from Geneva, with an audience specially invited by Cisco).

"We were really looking for a way to demonstrate the power of the Internet outside the business realm," Merrick said. "Business has already embraced the Internet. What we wanted to do was give everyone else a glimpse of the future."

Casting about for a more populist vehicle, Cisco eventually contacted music promoter Ken Kragen, who had organized the Hands Across America event in 1986 and the "We Are the World" benefit for famine relief in 1985. By coincidence, Kragen had received a call a week earlier from Belafonte, who wanted Kragen's help in producing an event to mark the United Nations' World Poverty Week, also scheduled at the same time as Telecom '99.

"It was just serendipity," said Kragen. "There was something magical about" the coincidental timing of the U.N. event and the business conference. The company and Belafonte soon began discussion to merge their events.

Belafonte, who was active in the civil rights movement, was asked last year by the United Nations to harness the drawing power of the pop music and film elite in the cause of fighting global poverty. Backed by Cisco's initial commitment of $3 million, he recruited Glover, former South African President Nelson Mandela and U2's Bono, who has advocated that wealthy nations forgive the debts of impoverished countries.

But by August, less than two months before the concerts, Belafonte began privately criticizing the organizing effort. Specifically, he is upset about the makeup of the board overseeing the NetAid foundation, which is dominated by U.N. officials and corporate executives. He is also critical of an arrangement whereby Cisco will be reimbursed about $5 million from NetAid concert-ticket receipts and broadcast rights fees. The company made cash advances to reserve Giants Stadium in New Jersey and Wembley Stadium in London for the shows.

Cisco also has donated $10 million to the NetAid Foundation and contributed roughly $10 million to $12 million more in services, time and equipment. The company says that none of this will be reimbursed.

U.N. officials and NetAid organizers said the reimbursement arrangement is standard practice. They characterized the dispute as driven by oversized egos and a conflict over leadership of the event, not financial impropriety. They said Belafonte lashed out because he could not exercise absolute control over a project that grew dramatically in scope and political importance since its inception.

Organizers also noted that NetAid has continued to attract endorsements and involvement from political figures and celebrities. In September, President Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Nelson Mandela were the first to log on to the NetAid Web site ( The event has also had no trouble attracting performers such as Sheryl Crow, George Michael and Mary J. Blige.

The departures, nevertheless, could prove embarrassing for the United Nations, which has gingerly begun to seek alliances with corporate sponsors to help fill the funding gap caused by shrinking contributions from wealthy governments. NetAid represents the first major collaboration between the United Nations and a private corporation to tackle a specific global problem.

In addition to Cisco, the consulting firm KMPG and the computer company Akamai Technologies have been involved in setting up the Internet site. Several of the aid organizations have links on the NetAid site, which also carries links to the homes pages of Cisco, Akamai and KMPG.

"The point is not to raise money from the concerts; the point is to build a constituency of activists for development" through the Internet, said Mark Malloch Brown, UNDP director.

The NetAid Web site also attempts to dramatize the gulf between industrialized nations and the developing world. It offers implicit and sometimes overt critiques of Western lifestyles. Visitors to the site are likely to learn that "the richest 20 per cent of the world's people eat 11 times as much meat and seven times as much fish as the poorest 20 percent" as well as the following: "In the minute it will take you to read this, 13 children will have died in the world's poorest countries. Each day, the rich West gets $35 million in debt repayments from the poorest nations in Africa. . . . Debt can kill."

The site avoids much discussion of corruption, waste, ethnic warfare, governmental oppression, political strife or cultural practices that impede progress in developing countries.

Cisco says the NetAid Web site will be the most powerful in the world, capable of handling 60 million "hits" every hour or up to 125,000 simultaneous video "streams" of the concert.

Both U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and Malloch Brown have met with Belafonte to try to address his concerns.

According to the sponsors, the net proceeds from sales of concert tickets – which cost from $30 to $75 – will go to poverty relief programs in Africa, Kosovo and elsewhere. Additional funds collected from private donations made over the Internet will go to a variety of programs, including hunger-relief projects and refugee resettlement programs, officials said.

Malloch Brown said Belafonte had proposed to distribute the money throughout the U.N. system. Malloch Brown argued in favor of creating a nine-member panel, composed of representatives of the U.N., various charities, corporate sponsors and entertainers.

Belafonte said he was asked last year by the head of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, Jacques Douf, to "please use whatever creative resources [were] at my disposal in the name of ending hunger."

He said he approached an acquaintance, Djibril Diallo, the communications director of the UNDP. But he says UNDP and Cisco Systems quickly seized control of the project.

"They co-opted the ownership of the Web site and the logo," Belafonte said. "I then decided I could not stay with the project and give it the grace of my presence, for whatever that was worth

Mubarak's police forces who killed 80 demonstrators were trained from Helen Clark's UNDP for nearly 10 years

Egyptian Police Forces trained by UNDP use "democratic" practices to talk to demonstrators

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the U.N.'s flagship organization led by former NZ socialist Helen Clark has trained the Egyptian Police Forces for nearly a decade, in what UNDP in its reporting to Executive Board and donors called a "successful project":

Project Title: UNDP Human rights Capacity Building Project

Project Objective: One of the most important and unique targets BENAA is working with is police officers. BENAA is training officers, at Department of Correction, police stations, central security, training department, security officers, state security, criminal investigations department and public security department.

Project Budget: US$ 6,015,986.00

Helen Clarks discusses with Egyptian Prime Minister the successful police training

As also described by latest Cables, published from the Guardian:

9. (C) Ambassador Ahmed Haggag, who is detailed from the MFA as the coordinator for the UNDP Human Rights Capacity Building Project, described for us the organization's efforts to train the Interior and Justice Ministries and the Public Prosecutor on human rights issues through lectures and workshops. Acknowledging that torture is a "problem, but not a daily occurrence," Haggag said the UNDP trains police officers on international human rights conventions, and is trying to convince police officers to solve cases using "legal and ethical means," instead of torture. Haggag told us he "doubts there is still torture against political prisoners." Staffers from the quasi-governmental National Council for Human Rights described the council's workshops for police officers where professors give lectures on human rights law and prisoner psychology.

But the same cables warn Washington and highest US officials that the above UNDP project is ineffective and that UNDP basically funds staffers of the Ministry of Interior of Egypt who were/are complicit in torture to give human rights presentations on behalf of UNDP:
NGO contacts have privately criticized the UNDP project as ineffective, complaining that it has banned credible human lawyers from giving lectures to the police because of their political opposition to the NDP, and instead invites MOI officials complicit in torture to give human rights presentations.

So Mubarak Killers were "successfully trained" from UNDP to "respect human rights" of peaceful demonstrators. The results 80 demonstrators killed !



Friday, January 28, 2011

Gift Bags filled with what?

At the end of her first visit to UNV headquarters in Bonn, Germany, Helen Clark (right) receives gifts from Yasmin Khalil (centre) and Jake Kaberia (lower left), children of UNV staff members. (P. Sen/UNV) (Click here for this)

Helen Clark: Queen of corruption?

The Fairfacts Media Show
Click her to view this on The Fairfacts Media Show

Uncle Helen has been busted over at the UNDP watch blog for receiving gifts while on her overseas trips and not disclosing them. The gifts are said to be worth several hundred dollars apiece and maybe over $1000. And we are talking US$.

Funny thing is, as the blog notes itself, UN staffers do not have to disclose such gifts. On top of first class flights and a salary exceeding that of Eurocrats or Hillary Clinton, Uncle does seem on a nice little earner.

But surely, if she does not have to declare such gifts, what is to stop her from being unduly influenced by a particularly generous gift. What safeguards stop this? How can anyone check? Can it be all on trust?

This latest controversy comes on top of corruption and waste involving charity funds involving the UNDP, as reported by the Associated Press and others and picked up by RedBaiter of TrueBlueNZ.

They note some curious practices at the UNDP.

An AP investigation last year found the United Nations cut back severely on investigations into corruption and fraud within its ranks, shelving cases involving the possible theft or misuse of millions of dollars. That happened after the U.N. dismantled its anti-corruption Procurement Task Force at the end of 2008.

Mmmm. Helen Clark got the UNDP job in March 2009.

And as well as fraud, we get secrecy.

Parsons said that money — roughly a fifth of the fund’s portfolio — is effectively off-limits to investigators becauseUNDP won’t share their internal audit reports. As a result, the fund’s investigators can’t look more closely at some of the fund’s biggest multimillion-dollar losses.

In Mauritania, where UNDP manages the grant money, for example, the fund’s investigators say as much as 67 per cent of an anti-HIV grant was lost due to faked documents and other fraud. They say 67 per cent of the TB and malaria grant money they examined in that country was eaten up by faked invoices and other requests for payment.

UNDP, the U.N.’s main anti-poverty program, told AP it is reviewing its policy of keeping those audit reports to itself but “takes its responsibility towards our donors and the beneficiaries very seriously.”

UNDP Watch has already mentioned this latest scandal, but there’s more.

Recently a UNDP staffer alleged corruption, getting a curt response.

UNDP corruption came to light last month in the Southern Sudan.

Helen Clark orders a UNDP boss to attack the US Republicans and the Heritage Fundation, following their criticisms of the UN.

So scared is the UNDP of whistleblowing leaks, in November it announced it would spy on all staff and computers.

And there’s even more, especially if you look at the UN itself.

Of course, the issue for us, is how guilty is Helen Clark herself.

It does seem unlikely that she is directly feathering her own nest, syphoning off funds to her own Swiss bank account.

But as UNDP head, she is presiding over much and continuing corruption at the UNDP.

Perhaps she is too busy globetrotting on UNDP business, she’s in Yemen this week, to oversee and stamp out such matters.

Indeed, maybe she’s picking up too many undisclosed gifts and freebies!

Hat tip: TrueBlueNZ

Thursday, January 27, 2011

FOXNEWS: UNDP spends $288,000 to create "green jobs" in countries where income per capita is less than $4000 a year.

click here to view this on Fox News - Fair & Balanced

How Well Does a U.N. Agency Do Its Pricey 'Green Job'? Not That Well, Study Says

By George Russell

Published January 27, 2011



How much money did the United Nations Development Program, the U.N.'s flagship anti-poverty agency, spend to create 5,280 "green" jobs around the world?

UNDP has said the price tag is $53.9 million—an average of $10,208 per job spent in 2010 on 135 environmental projects world-wide.

But according to documentation obtained by Fox News, the projects that generated those jobs have a total cost of about $1.68 billion—which would work out to a much more staggering average figure of about $288,700 per job.

The wildly differing size of those price tags for a fairly trivial amount of employment emerged as part of a muted rebranding effort at UNDP. Top management is trying to burnish some of its credentials in the face of internal critics who feel that when it comes to merging environmental management and economic development to solve poverty problems, UNDP is not very good at its job.

The stakes for UNDP are high. UNDP spends about $570 million a year on implementing environmental programs and projects, mostly on behalf of outside donors.

Half of that funding comes from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), which calls itself the world’s "largest funder of projects to improve the global environment." GEF is a partnership which includes 182 governments, as well as numerous international institutions, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. The United States contributed $86.5 million to the GEF last year, according to a U.S. Treasury official.

Since 1991, GEF has dispensed $9.2 billion, plus more than $40 billion in additional co-financing, around the world, on its environmental mission. Its focus is on fostering environmental projects that cut carbon emissions and preserve the planet, and that have "global benefits."

Much of that project money, about $286 million a year, has been showered on UNDP. According to an internal evaluation of UNDP’s environmental stewardship, environmental projects funded by GEF and managed by UNDP’s array of national offices around the world are now a substantial portion of the global bureaucracy’s livelihood.

Indeed, the report says, “GEF financing has become essential in at least 15 of the 29 country offices interviewed [for the study], to pay for professional staff and maintain a substantial portfolio of activity. The poverty area [of UNDP’s work] receives much less external funding,” and instead comes from the organization’s regular, or “core” budget. Moreover, “the GEF is not mandated to tackle poverty,” as the study puts it.

In other words, UNDP manages environmental projects in part to pay the rent. For the most part, the evaluation notes, its environmental work has been kept separate from its main focus on development and energy projects in the poorer parts of the world—a situation that the study concludes has not been necessarily good for either.

All of that, however, appears to be about to change—because the world-wide environmental movement is also apparently changing its view of the relationship between development and the environment, especially in the wake of the failed attempt to get a new, global climate agreement in Copenhagen in December, 2009.

The old view was that poverty and environmental decay went hand in hand, as poor people abused scarce natural resources in the struggle to survive. The new view is that the so-called “poverty-environment nexus” can be managed differently so that environmentalist projects can lead poor people to win new employment and better standards of living in the global “green economy”—especially at a time when traditional anti-poverty aid from budget-conscious Western nations is drying up.

The new, virtuous “poverty-environment nexus” is increasingly hailed by environmental activists as a vehicle for transferring new wealth to the poor. And that praise is likely to rise to a crescendo in the months ahead, culminating at a new Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in May, 2012—two decades after the first Earth Summit in the same city put environmentalism solidly on the global agenda.

The explicit aim of the Rio+20 Summit is to give increased momentum to the notion of “sustainable development in a global “green economy,” and to establish new instruments of “global governance” to make those changes permanent.

One sign of the impending change of emphasis is UNDP’s curiously specific claim about creating 5,280 jobs through its environmental projects. The claim popped up—with no price tag attached—in a top management response to the internal evaluation, which is highly critical of the agency’s effectiveness and desire to use environmental tools to manage that nexus differently.

Both the study and the response are due to be presented to UNDP’s 36-nation supervisory Executive Board, which meets starting on Jan. 31.

According to the 112-page study document, UNDP’s ability to marry its environmental projects and anti-poverty efforts has been “haphazard” and uneven; “monitoring and evaluation for the poverty-environmental nexus is almost entirely missing in UNDP”; and the agency’s environmental agenda is driven mainly by opportunities to secure funding from outside sources for its activities.

Moreover, the study says, some UNDP staff are “genuinely not convinced that the poverty-environment nexus is necessary or workable,” and “hard data on the benefits of the approach are not available.” It adds that “if integrating environmental management and poverty reduction is to become a widespread reality, evidence must be available demonstrating that it produces benefits in a timely and efficient manner.” But currently, “there is little incentive to include, monitor and evaluate the role and benefits of including poverty-environment linkages in projects.”

Above all, the study says UNDP itself apparently does not yet know how to go about the task of blending its environmental role with its anti-poverty mission.. According to the internal report, the agency’s “strategies and policies do not provide a conceptual framework or model on how to include the poverty-environment nexus in policy advice or programs.”

The lack of anti-poverty consciousness on the environmental side of UNDP’s business is matched, apparently, by a lack of environmental consciousness on the economic development side of the house.

Buried in a footnote in the study is the observation that “UNDP does not currently require environmental impact assessments for its projects, though a new safeguards policy is being developed that may require environmental assessments for some projects.” Elsewhere, the report snipes that the lack of environmental safeguards is “based apparently on the assumption that UNDP projects do not cause environmental harm.”

(By contrast, the World Bank, which is the mainstay of global anti-poverty financing, has an environmental impact policy that dates from 1991.)

Bottom line: UNDP has learned how to talk a good game on using environmentalism to alleviate poverty, but “policy is not yet systematically translated into practice.”

Yet the evaluation also argues that UNDP still has a major part to play in the global green transformation, in large measure due to the fact that its country office are the most widely spread U.N. presence around the world and it already plays an important role as a development coordinator. It also gives UNDP credit for helping GEF to “recognize how these projects affected poor people in the areas around [them]"

Finally, the study warns that “if these efforts are to be more successful in the future, UNDP will need a better understanding of why mainstreaming environment, particularly in relation to poverty reduction, is proving so challenging.”

Click here for the full report

In its 11-page rejoinder, UNDP is clearly eager to show the Executive Board that it is getting with the program. It declared it will start breaking down the barriers between its traditional anti-poverty efforts and environmental areas early this year. New environmental safeguards on its work—approved by management just as the critical evaluation was being finalized-- will be rolled out through 2011. (But they will apply only to new projects, a UNDP spokesman told Fox news.)

“There is a need for further analytical work to broaden the measurement of poverty,” the agency’s management declares in its response. Moreover, “UNDP will continue to further integrate poverty reduction and environmental protection into GEF-financed projects,” saying this new, improved approach is “is already generating relevant socio-economic quantitative data that previously was not captured.”

Click here for the UNDP management response

Then comes its highly specific and very modest jobs claim: “2010 data obtained from 135 project implementation reviews (47 percent) of GEF projects implemented by UNDP indicate that approximately 5,820 jobs have been created and 2,730 (46 per cent) of these jobs are held by women.”

But where did those curiously specific figures come from? And what was the full cost of creating them, which UNDP did not mention?

UNDP initially provided summary details of the projects that generated the employment figures—but not the total cost—to Fox News on request.

UNDP also said that the 5,280 job figure was “likely an under-estimate,” since it had never tallied the employment impact of its environmental work before 2010.

But when asked the total cost of the 135 projects, UNDP at first did not answer. It later added that “total disbursements for these projects was $53.9 million in 2010”—which only added to the fog, since the agency also told Fox News that they were among a group of GEF projects “that have been under implementation for more than one year as of July 2010.”

Using GEF websites, Fox News was able to locate the project documents for 128 of the 135 GEF projects on the list provided by UNDP, and discovered they were funded roughly 25 percent from GEF resources, and the rest from various governments agencies and other participants.

But there the figures provided by UNDP and those recorded on the GEF website parted company. According to the GEF website, the projects cited by UNDP appear to have cost the trust fund alone at least $430 million. With co-financing added in, the total jumped to a whopping $1.675 billion.

Click here for a list of the UNDP projects and their cost

Those would be eye-popping figures anywhere. But they are even more dramatic when measured against the average annual incomes of the countries where the GEF projects are located.

These range from desperately poor nations like the Democratic Republic of Congo (per capita income : $160 in 2009) and Niger ($340) to moderately more prosperous Pakistan ($1,000) and Uzbekistan ($1,000) to such middle-class nations as Chile ($9,470) and Croatia ($13,720).

Moreover, most of the programs had little or nothing directly to do with poverty in any form. Mostly, they are concerned with such legal or quasi-legal matters as zoning, regulatory improvement, or augmenting the boundaries of environmental protection zones.

Those on the list provided to Fox News, for example, include “consolidation and implementation of the Patagonian Coastal Zone Management Program” (cost: $2.8 million), “Capacity building for planning, decision making and regulatory systems and awareness building/sustainable land management in severely degraded ecosystems “ in Cuba ($29.3 million) , and “Integrated conservation of priority globally significant migratory bird wetland habitat” in Kazahkstan ($38.4 million)

Other projects appeared to be directly concerned with upgrading the skills of bureaucrats. One such: “Strengthening national capacity in Rio Convention implementation through targeted institutional strengthening and professional development” in Uzbekistan ($640,000).

Moreover, the documentation associated with many of the projects appeared to be in vast disarray. A number of the projects on the UNDP list appeared to have ended years ago. In others, parts of the documentation were not included on the website. In still others, portions of the electronic paperwork appeared to have been openly altered.

Whatever the helter-skelter state of affairs, it seemed clear that in many cases, substantial amounts of money had gone into government and regulatory offices in countries where corruption is often not unknown, and perhaps to pay for consultants who were helping those officials renovate their administrations.

But that too raised a question: didn’t those people already have jobs?

George Russell is executive editor of Fox News