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.