Thursday, November 24, 2011

As Helen Clark "Opts Out" of UN Financial Disclosure, UNDP Brags About Its Own

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 23 -- Weeks after the absence of UN Development Program Administrator Helen Clark from the UN's Public Financial Disclosure web site was raised without answer by Inner City Press, UNDP on November 23 issued a press release about online financial disclosure:

New York, 23 November 2011— Members of the public can now access financial data on the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) development activities for the most recent fiscal period, thanks to a new open data portal... 'UNDP is committed to being transparent and to being accountable for all the contributions we receive,' UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said. 'Accountability ensures we can be more effective in our work.'

The questions about Ms. Clark's own financial disclosure, which even deputies of hers have made, cannot be unknown to UNDP. Back on November 8 at the UN's noon briefing Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: On public financial disclosure, what I wanted to ask you, I think earlier this year the Secretary-General said that 99 per cent of his officials had filed public financial disclosures in the system that he himself has filed in. And a more recent review shows that that’s not the case… Just as one example. Why is Helen Clark’s name not listed?

While the UN nine days later provided an answer about another official, nothing was provided about Ms. Clark.

(c) UN Photo
Helen Clark and former Gaddafi FM Treki, financial disclosure not shown

And so on November 22 Inner City Press asked again:

Inner City Press: I still remain curious why Helen Clark’s name doesn’t appear on the list of high UN officials. And then I thought maybe the answer is that UNDP doesn’t file with the Secretariat, but has its own system. But then, I see Rebecca Grynspan, who is a UNDP official, with her filing on the Secretary-General’s public financial-disclosure page. I am asking, since the Secretary-General maintains this page and has made various representations about it, why isn’t this second or third highest official in the UN at least listed, even if she chooses not to disclose?

Spokesperson: I’d have to check; I don’t know the answer to that, Matthew. But, as you pointed out, there are many officials who are listed there.

Question: There seemed to be 23 that weren’t, and now Mr. Orr is listed, so now we are down to 22. But, it does seem, I mean, it seems, at least in this case, she is a pretty high officials and my colleague was just asking about her.

Spokesperson: Well, that’s fine, that’s fine. I’ll see what I can find out.

No answer was provided later that day, then the next morning came UNDP's press release about financial disclosure online, even quoting the elusive Helen Clark -- but no answer. As one observer put it, it looks like Clark has unilaterally "opted out" of Ban's already weak public financial disclosure program.

Clark has refused repeated requests to hold a Q&A press conference at UN headquarters. Watch this site.

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