The UN Continues Corrupting Itself – A Chavez Connection

Cross-posted at Reject the UN

The United Nations simply cannot be shamed. The anti-poverty agency within the U.N., the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), is using it’s procurement power to favor Hugo Chavez.

This is a dizzying web of deceit…it isn’t easily explained, and the UN is hiding it’s paper trail as I write. All the details are not known but here’s my summary:

The UNDP is charged with fighting poverty – their mission is anti-poverty development. The UNDP needs to procure goods and services to fulfill its mission. The agency has rules governing how those procurements are made. The rules require that bids be “let” and that the bidding environment be “competitive.”

Fox News (April 18th, 2008) discovered that much of the bidding was anything but “competitive,” in fact, competitive bidding was waived “on more than half of the $1.5 BILLION in goods and services it paid for over the past three years.”

The same UNDP documents also show that by far the largest and most frequent requests for UNDP procurement cash — and their subsequent approvals — come from countries with questionable track records for government honesty and transparency. Among the big winners are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Honduras and Iraq.

William Easterly, a former World Bank economist, is quoted as saying:

The totals are “shocking,” and “scandalous,….There could be some extraordinary circumstances involved, but even those cannot possibly explain why the bulk of UNDP operations are waivers of competition.”

According to Fox News, the waivers for competitive bidding broke down this way:

The value of the waivers ranged from $259 million, or 50 percent of total purchases in 2005,…

to a high of $409 million, or two-thirds of the total for 2006,…

before settling back to $210 million, or 54 percent of the total last year.

Well, so far, this is not good…but then, it is the United Nations, and of course, it gets worse.

UNDP’s procurement procedures became an issue on April 1, when FOX News questioned the agency’s 2007 authorization of 19 airport walk-through body scanners worth $2.3 million, on behalf of the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez.

While it appears that corruption in bidding occurred, it is not clear who or what actually paid for the scanners for Venezuela, but it seems, at the least, UNDP acted as a mediator between a Venezuelan manufacturer and Chavez.

Fox News’ George Russell points out the obvious questions, at least obvious to those of us with reasonable common, and moral, sensibilities:

Behind the foggy complexities of UNDP’s role in the airline scanner puzzle lies a deeper question: what role is an agency devoted to alleviating international poverty playing as a general contractor for the authoritarian rulers of an oil-rich nation, who are also avowed supporters of terrorism in the Western Hemisphere?

And another question: whether the close, often secretive, and apparently quite profitable relationship that UNDP has forged in Venezuela really serves the high-minded goals of the United Nations as a whole.

Fox News on the benevolent UNDP’s affinity for Venezuela:

Oil-rich Venezuela, with an estimated GDP per capita of $12,800 in 2007, shares one characteristic with many of the biggest beneficiaries of UNDP funding: its low ranking on the Transparency International corruption perceptions index. In 2007, along with four other countries, it ranked 162nd — in the place immediately above the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Two Fox reports that I’ve linked to include PDF’s of UNDP documents, including “confidential UNDP minutes,” and a list of Venezuela’s waivers for 2007.

To add some more fuel for those warm fuzzies we’re feeling toward the U.N. right now, this also from Fox:

(The U.S., which is on the executive board, pays roughly 22% of UNDP’s $5 billion annual budget.)

Homeland Security speaks:

Sums up Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, a member of the U.S. Senate’s homeland security and government affairs committee: “We simply cannot afford to give President Chavez or the UNDP any benefit of doubt.”

Article End – Posted by Maggie


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