UNDP to return to DPRK

UPDATE (h/t Mike):
According to this UNDP board meeting in September 2008 (p.13):

84. The President of the Executive Board chaired an informal consultation on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He invited statements by the Associate Administrator and by the Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP.

85. The Regional Director presented a proposed ‘road map’ for the possible resumption of UNDP activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He detailed a proposed five-step process to be completed by early 2009, including: first, dialogue with Member States on the best way forward; second, technical discussions with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on human resources, finance and programmatic issues, which would build on preliminary discussions on the recommendations emerging from the independent investigative review (the Nemeth report), as well as the report of the external Board of Auditors and relevant Board decisions; third, the dispatch of a technical team to Pyongyang, following Board endorsement of the road map, to reach agreement on the modalities and content of the UNDP programme; fourth, following the successful completion of detailed discussions, submission to the Board for approval of a package of measures and a country programme to facilitate resumption of UNDP activities; and fifth, subject to approval by the Board, mobilization and recruitment of staff and establishment of physical facilities to initiate programme activities. 

86. Delegations expressed support for the resumption of UNDP activities as proposed. Some suggested that three extensive reviews had failed to confirm the initial allegations of wrongdoing, and one delegation asserted that the cessation of activities without the approval of the Executive Board had been inappropriate. While acknowledging that the reviews had revealed grounds for improvement in accountability and oversight throughout the organization, several delegations urged the Board to weigh the human development needs of the local population against the severity of those shortcomings. Most recognized the proposed road map as a viable means of moving from discussion to action, while others expressed support for further consultations on implementation of the ‘road map’.

87. Delegations encouraged UNDP to heed the findings and recommendations that had emerged from the investigations. Many urged the Board to bring the matter to a prompt resolution.

88. One delegation put forth a list of procedural questions regarding the overall management of the process of suspending, discussing and possibly resuming activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

89. The President recommended that UNDP proceed with the agreed ‘road map’. The Board approved the inclusion of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea under the country programmes agenda item in the tentative work plan for the first regular session 2009. 

I am not sure about the specifics in the above mentioned “road map.”  Here are a couple of strategy documents from the recent past: September 2006, Summer 2008.

According to Reuters:

The U.N. Development Program’s executive board “authorizes the resumption of program activities” in the reclusive and impoverished communist state, said a board document dated Thursday and obtained by Reuters.

The decision came after an external review last year cleared the agency of major financial wrongdoing, although it found fault with some practices.

The report said programs that UNDP would resume included rural energy development, wind power promotion, seed production and reduction of post-harvest losses in North Korea, which has suffered from flooding and famine in recent years.

The executive board also authorized the head of UNDP to approve other projects on a case-by-case basis. UNDP officials said it would take some months for the agency to resume operations in North Korea and gave no exact date.

So why did the UNDP leave the DPRK in the first place?  That is a long story…but here are links to three previous posts on the topic:

1. Here is a link to a previous post on the US Senate investigation of the UNDP’s activities in the DPRK.

2. Here is a link to the UNDP’s response to the US Senate report.

3. Here is a link to a post on the UN’s Nemeth Report which exonerated the UNDP.

How did US concerns influence the management strategy of the UNDP’s DPRK portfolio?

The UNDP report approved by the board this week said recruitment of local staff in North Korea would in future take place “on a competitive basis” and not depend on appointments by Pyongyang. Such staff would be paid directly and not through the government.

The report made clear, however, that the North Korean government would continue to have a role in finding local recruits, although UNDP would make the final decision. Agency officials said the proportion of international staff would be higher than before.

The report said under an agreement with Pyongyang, UNDP payments to the government and to local staff and vendors would be made in a convertible version of the national currency.

UNDP would bank with the state-run Korea Foreign Trade Bank, but this would have to meet the agency’s global standards for the services it provided.

When the agency’s board considered a possible return to North Korea at a previous meeting last year, diplomats said U.S. and some other representatives had expressed continuing concerns about UNDP management failures.

While the new report appeared aimed at allaying those concerns, the board’s approval, which officials said was unanimous, came just after the inauguration of the Obama administration, widely expected to have warmer ties with the world body. UNDP officials said that was coincidental.

If a reader out there has a copy of the minutes or a board report from UNDP Executive Board meeting please forward it/them to me. 

Read the more here:
Summary of UNDP activity in the DPRK from the UNDP web page

Censured U.N. agency to return to North Korea: officials
Patrick Worsnip


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