As ever, when the UN investigates itself and reports back, it’s been illuminating — on many levels, and not in a good way. First came the smoke machine. On the morning of Monday, June 2nd, the UN Development Program released the much-delayed report of its panel inquiring into the Cash-for-Kim scandal that erupted last year when the U.S. Mission questioned UNDP activities in North Korea. Following release of the report, the UNDP allowed reporters about two hours to speed-read the 353-page tome, and then at an abruptly scheduled 11 A.M. press conference, the head of the UNDP, Kemal Dervis, appeared to take questions and tell the press “We finally have some closure on the allegations made against UNDP.” With a few exceptions (as noted in my post of June 3), there followed a slew of immediate accounts, in which assorted speed-readers declared the scandal dead, implied the UNDP and its top officials were blameless, and so forth.
But during the past week or so, some have actually been toiling through the report. This, I can tell you from firsthand experience, is no small endeavor. It is written in classic UN-ese. You can hear the gears grinding as the authors try to avoid any phrase that would impart actual meaning. It full of lines such as the following, from page 113:
“It was impossible to evaluate the appropriateness of these allocations as the total amount allocated and the allocation methods were not evident in the documentation reviewed.” (Translation: The UNDP records were such a heap of Swiss cheese that we don’t have a clue where the money went).
Now, from those who traversed the entire report and stayed awake to tell the tale, the real story is rolling in. Fox News came out Wednesday with an excellent account from George Russell, who has been all over this story from the beginning. Another account here.
Not only did the UNDP funnel millions in hard cash to Kim Jong Il’s regime, buy and ship into North Korea scores of dual-use items potentially helpful to Kim’s weapons programs, store counterfeit $100 bills in its office safe and savage the whistleblower who tipped off the U.S. to this UN version of “development.” In the long unfolding of the Cash-for-Kim saga, with its many subplots, it has become clear that the UNDP is a willing consort of rogue regimes, catering to their whims and — if confronted — wrapping itself in UN privilege and immunity. “Closure” –? Shades of Kofi Annan on Oil-for-Food: “If there was a scandal… .”