“Reinvigorated” UN development system made for corruption?
by Bhaskar Menon on 22 Sep 2018 0 Comment

If inaugural dates are omens, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ choice of the anniversary of 9/11 to introduce delegations in New York to the ‘implementation plan’ for a “reinvigorated Resident Coordinator System” cannot escape comment. Especially as the plan is likely to be a blatant promotion of corruption in the international development system. How is that obvious? There’s not a single word about the Internet or the Worldwide Web in his plan, tools that could have allowed revolutionary improvements in the transparency and accountability of the global bureaucracy of multilateral development. Mr. Guterres is famously shy of accountability.


In June 2016, the UN’s main watchdog body, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), faulted UNHCR with gross mismanagement when he retired after a decade as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Its report pointed out that UNHCR gave out over $400 million to non-governmental partners in 2015 with little monitoring of how the money was spent. In many cases, it did not even assess its own capacities to deal with situations before giving out the money. Based on those findings, OIOS gave the agency an “unsatisfactory” audit rating.

That happened in the wake of a new “Policy and Procedures on Procurement by Partners” adopted by Guterres in 2014, a year when the refugee agency gave out over $500 million to some 900 partners. 
?The OIOS found that the agency had not done the basic cost-benefit analysis required by the new policy to decide if an external partner was necessary. Nor had it assessed the capabilities of the partner organizations in 12 of those countries. In the 4 countries where such assessments were made, they were inadequate and information provided by partner organizations went unverified.  


The report was not a factor when the UN Security Council picked Guterres to be Secretary-General over several women candidates of high integrity, but it might surface when he is asking for $290 million to fund a system with little transparency and many little holes into which money can disappear unnoticed. The supposedly new system Guterres is now selling will consist of

-        129 Resident Coordinators with a minimum complement of two support staff and three national professional staff.

-        A “fully restructured Development Operations Coordination Office (DOCO), to manage and support the new RC system, with enhanced capacities to ensure sufficient backstopping and oversight to … respond to the heightened demands of the 2030 Agenda.”

-        And an “adequate funding base to ensure smooth and effective operations through our first year.”


Member States are meant to be enthused by those arrangements into providing the $290 million necessary to “maintain the momentum.” So far, there have only been “soft pledges from 15 countries,” amounting to $75 million. “We need many more, and faster, commitments to guarantee success,” the Secretary-General reminded delegates. “We need to be sure we can underwrite personnel contracts and rental agreements from Day One. Let’s be clear. A repositioned UN development system depends on a reinvigorated RC system. And a reinvigorated RC system depends on adequate resources.”??


Transition Team


A “transition team to manage the change process in the Organization in a coordinated manner across all reform streams,” will be headed by Under Secretary-General Jens Wandel of Denmark, a veteran UNDP official Guterres appointed at the end of July to be in charge of UN Reform. He will be working “under the guidance” of someone with little experience of the UN System, Deputy Secretary-General” Amina Mohammad.


However, Ms Mohammad, a Nigerian national raised in Britain by her British mother, has more than enough other experience to make up; in 2017 she faced charges of corruption in her previous capacity as Environmental Minister in Nigeria. Guterres, who made a deal with Britain to appoint Ms. Mohammed, has stuck by her. He told delegates in New York she had been, as a member of the UN Team, “in close dialogue with member states and in very close cooperation with the leadership of the Organization.”




Despite these dismal circumstances, the $290 million will undoubtedly trickle in, for the holes into which the money will flow lead back to the coffers that provide it. A rule of thumb in international giving has been that the developed countries that provide “multilateral aid” not only get to direct policy but also receive back five to ten times their contribution in business. Contributing to that dynamic is the “counterpart funds” each developing country contributes to get UN aid. Only South-South Cooperation is not part of that hypocritical system; it is based on open recognition of mutual benefit.


Courtesy https://undiplomatictimes.com   

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