August 22, 2007

The UNDP Is A Loose Cannon

Claudia Rosett, one of the best resources on the United Nations in the national media, gives a lengthy explanation of the UN Development Program at National Review -- and it's not pretty. The UNDP, which retaliated against whistleblower Artjon Shkurtaj and refuses to abide by UN ethics reforms, has operated independent of UN leadership for years, assisted by its cozy ties to the worst regimes in the world:

Quite simply, the UNDP is, for most practical purposes, morphing from a development agency into a species of highly privileged rogue state — operating, it seems, outside any jurisdiction. In theory the UNDP reports to the General Assembly, but to suggest that any actual oversight takes place is a joke. The General Assembly is a sprawling 192 member-state committee. Last year its members scrapped a package of U.N. management-reform proposals rather than jeopardize via even a slight increase in transparency and accountability their vast lattice of politicized U.N. berths, boondoggles, and special interests. You’d get better results reassigning the UNDP to report to a random group of shoppers at your local supermarket.

Nor is the UNDP some trim little outfit that confines itself to sending bednets to the impoverished. It operates in 166 of the U.N.’s 192 member states, in cahoots at high levels with a roster of thug governments from Syria to Iran to China to Zimbabwe. Until public scandal forced the closure of its Pyongyang office this March, the UNDP had a weirdly cozy (and cash-based) relationship with the totalitarian government of North Korea. That is part of what Shkurtaj was trying to call attention to when he lost his job.

For its own programs and on behalf of other U.N. agencies, the UNDP dishes out more than $5 billion per year, worldwide — more than twice the core budget of the Secretariat. This means that about one-quarter of all money spent every year by the entire U.N. system flows through the ethics-rejecting UNDP. In scores of countries, UNDP offices shovel millions into projects that according to some U.N. staff get a no more than a cursory glance at the UNDP’s executive board meetings. Most are approved in big batches, often without any inquiry into details, budgets, or what the projects are really doing under such labels as “governance,” “empowerment,” and “capacity building.”

Funding for the UNDP does not all come from transparent streams, either. Contributions come from at least hundreds of sources which bypass the UN Secretariat. The agency redistributes these funds with no oversight and no transparency, a situation which lends itself to abuse. No meaningful audit process appears to exist at all, which seems extremely familiar to anyone who knows anything about the Oil-for-Food Program, which turned into the largest corruption and embezzlement case in human history.

Not surprisingly, Kofi Annan acolyte Mark Malloch-Brown was instrumental in building the UNDP's funding base and increasing its opacity.

Rosett calls the UNDP a "global empire", and that appears correct at least on the basis of attitude. The manner in which it has answered for the treatment of Shkurtaj exemplifies this. Not only did they flagrantly violate the much-vaunted reforms the UN adopted with promises of ending the very corruption the UNDP represents, they now essentially reject the oversight of the UN Secretariat -- and appear to have succeeded in doing so.

Obviously, Ban Ki-moon has to do something to respond to the UNDP's challenge to his authority. Rosett suggests appointing a special investigator -- someone who knows the UNDP and its inner workings, who can find the skeletons, and who can root out the corruption and arrogance. It turns out that one candidate who fits the bill is available -- because he just lost his job at the UNDP for trying to expose its unethical practices. If the UN is serious about reform, putting Shkurtaj on the case of the UNDP would be a good start.


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Comments (10)

Posted by MarkD | August 22, 2007 6:50 AM

Putting Bolton on it would work for me.

Posted by pilsener | August 22, 2007 6:51 AM

"If the UN is serious about reform........." would close its doors!

There is no possibility of reforming the United Nations, it is a mostly impotent beast that must be fed prodigious quantities of money so that it can consume even more prodigious quantities of money, and grow ever larger. If the UN still has a function, it is to allow dictators free rein for their depravities.

The role of Secretary General is to protect the beast, not change it.

Posted by docjim505 | August 22, 2007 6:57 AM

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

Get US out of the UN!

Posted by Clyde | August 22, 2007 7:03 AM

For me, the appropriate quote is the one from Star Wars, when Obi Wan Kenobi shows Mos Eisely to Luke Skywalker and says "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy." That line could have been written to describe the United Nations.

I agree with docjim505. It's time for them to go. Send them to Paris or Zurich or Timbuktu. Just get those freeloading, corrupt leeches out of my country!

Posted by Cybrludite | August 22, 2007 7:15 AM

If the UN is serious about reform, putting Shkurtaj on the case of the UNDP would be a good start."

Bwah-hahahahahaha! Pure. Humor. Gold. The UN makes state & local politics in Louisiana seem the platonic ideal of good government.

Posted by Kevin | August 22, 2007 7:45 AM

The UN itself is a loose cannon, by it's very nature. The only question is whether it's loaded with blanks.

Posted by burt | August 22, 2007 9:45 AM

"If the UN still has a function"

The only functions the UN has ever had have been villainous. Other than the implication that the UN once had virtuous functions, pilsener is right on the money.

Posted by immolate | August 22, 2007 11:10 AM

MarkD... that was my instant reaction too. Great mind, etc.

Posted by bill | August 22, 2007 12:08 PM

Appoint John Bolton as a special investigator...that should put their panties in a wad...heh.

Posted by bman | August 22, 2007 2:52 PM

Get the U.S. out of the U.N.

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