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Unsubstantiated Allegations Against the UN Development Program

Recently, the UN Development Program (UNDP), which provides developing countries with assistance combating poverty, improving democratic governance, and achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals, has faced accusations of corruption and mismanagement from certain quarters. Responding to an April 1 editorial in The Wall Street Journal that claimed the existence of “fraud and corruption in U.N. Development Program operations in North Korea,” UNDP Director of Communications David Morrison today provided a strong rebuttal to these groundless assertions.

When the concerns about UNDP’s program in North Korea were first raised, the secretary-general directed the U.N. Board of Auditors to conduct an audit of the program. Contrary to [WSJ's] assertion, the audit did not find “fraud and corruption.” Instead, the audit reported that UNDP, similar to other U.N. and foreign organizations, had to alter some of its programmatic and administrative practices to operate in North Korea — a fact of which UNDP board members, including the U.S., were well aware.

Morrison also cites a Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report that also found no “fraud and corruption” in UNDP’s operations in North Korea. He goes on to quote Mark Wallace, the erstwhile UN Ambassador for Management reform whom the Journal’s editorial was extolling, as admitting that “we do not believe nor have we seen any corruption.”

When UN and U.S. auditing boards both find no instances of corruption, and the individual (Wallace) who has promulgated these charges also admits not having found corruption, one would think the matter settled. In the interest of full investigation, though, one more independent panel, chaired by former Hungarian Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth, will submit its findings in the North Korea matter within the next few months, and Morrison patiently advises skeptics to await its report.

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Sexual Violence Continues in Darfur

03-24-water-darfur.jpg

Human Rights Watch today released a report detailing the continued prevalence of rape and sexual violence in Darfur and decrying the impunity in which perpetrators continue to operate.

The 44-page report, “Five Years On, No Justice for Sexual Violence in Darfur,” documents the widespread prevalence of sexual violence throughout Darfur, and details incidents of violent rape perpetrated on girls as young as 11 years old. The government of Sudan has failed to rein in the abuse, much of which is carried out by their own soldiers and allied militia. In spite of the presence of international peacekeepers in Darfur, they have to date been under-resourced and unable to protect women and girls from rape and other forms of violence.

Marking the four-year anniversary of the Security Council’s first action on Darfur, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognized the particular plight of women and girls in Darfur, deploring the “violence targeting civilians, including women and girls, that continues at alarming levels with no accountability, or end, in sight.” In his monthly report on the status of UNAMID deployment, Ban called on all parties to “immediately focus” on both civilian protection and the peace process.

While Ban is correct that — as we have emphasized before — peacekeeping must be accompanied by “a peace to keep,” there are certain priorities that require a peacekeeping force as soon as possible. The protection of women and girls in IDP camps is one such priority — and one in which peacekeepers have a demonstrable record of success. The international community therefore needs to speed the deployment of UN military and police personnel — particularly high-ranking and experienced female police officers — who can help staunch this intolerable persistence of rape and sexual violence in Darfur.

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Sexual Violence Continues in Darfur

03-24-water-darfur.jpg

Human Rights Watch today released a report detailing the continued prevalence of rape and sexual violence in Darfur and decrying the impunity in which perpetrators continue to operate.

The 44-page report, “Five Years On, No Justice for Sexual Violence in Darfur,” documents the widespread prevalence of sexual violence throughout Darfur, and details incidents of violent rape perpetrated on girls as young as 11 years old. The government of Sudan has failed to rein in the abuse, much of which is carried out by their own soldiers and allied militia. In spite of the presence of international peacekeepers in Darfur, they have to date been under-resourced and unable to protect women and girls from rape and other forms of violence.

Marking the four-year anniversary of the Security Council’s first action on Darfur, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognized the particular plight of women and girls in Darfur, deploring the “violence targeting civilians, including women and girls, that continues at alarming levels with no accountability, or end, in sight.” In his monthly report on the status of UNAMID deployment, Ban called on all parties to “immediately focus” on both civilian protection and the peace process.

While Ban is correct that — as we have emphasized before — peacekeeping must be accompanied by “a peace to keep,” there are certain priorities that require a peacekeeping force as soon as possible. The protection of women and girls in IDP camps is one such priority — and one in which peacekeepers have a demonstrable record of success. The international community therefore needs to speed the deployment of UN military and police personnel — particularly high-ranking and experienced female police officers — who can help staunch this intolerable persistence of rape and sexual violence in Darfur.

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UN Plaza: Ambassador Thomas Pickering

In this week’s UN Plaza, former US Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering discusses his New York Review of Books article in which he and co-authors William Luers and Jim Walsh propose a sensible diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear stand-off. In the segment below, Ambassador Pickering explains why bombing Iran is a terrible, terrible alternative.

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UN Plaza: Ambassador Thomas Pickering

In this week’s UN Plaza, former US Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering discusses his New York Review of Books article in which he and co-authors William Luers and Jim Walsh propose a sensible diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear stand-off. In the segment below, Ambassador Pickering explains why bombing Iran is a terrible, terrible alternative.

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Talking HIV in Jamaica

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting launched a new, amazingly interactive site LiveHopeLove that brings together poetry, essays, documentaries, short video interviews, music, and photography to explore the AIDS crisis in the Caribbean. In the video below, poet and writer Kwame Dawes who returns to the country of his youth to speak with Jamaicans about the impact HIV has had on them and their country.

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