UN Development Programme to hold independent probe into DPR Korea work
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced today that it plans to set up an independent inquiry to examine allegations about its recent operations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) that are not being considered by an existing probe by the UN Board of Auditors (UNBOA).
Ambassador Carsten Staur of Denmark, President of the Executive Board of UNDP/UN Population Fund (UNFPA), issued a statement saying that he was proposing a complementary inquiry to be “led by one or more individuals who are highly respected internationally, neutral, and external to the UN system.”
The review will look into all issues not covered by the UNBOA probe, “including allegations of retaliation against individuals who have raised concerns and other complaints” about UNDP’s activities in the DPRK.
It may also scrutinize UNDP’s broader policies on accountability and oversight, including the protection of whistleblowers, although this will be determined after the Executive Board meets next month.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the plan to proceed with an independent review, Mr. Staur said, adding that UNDP’s senior management also “fully supports the external review and has assured that it will cooperate fully and make sure that all relevant documentation and information are made available.”
In January Mr. Ban ordered the UNBOA audit amid allegations aired in the media that funds used by UN agencies to help in humanitarian efforts in the DPRK were being channelled improperly to the Government in Pyongyang, including to its nuclear programme.
That inquiry into the operations of UNDP, UNFPA, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is now preparing to enter its second phase after the first phase found there had been no large-scale or systematic diversion of UN funds.
But UNBOA has also noted that the second phase will not cover the full range of allegations and issues raised specifically about UNDP’s work in the DPRK.
Mr. Staur said he would work with the rest of the Executive Board to determine the details of the new review, including the terms of reference and the selection of the individuals to head it.