The Magazine

Crying Wolfowitz

. . . while the United Nations bankrolls dictators.

May 28, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 35 • By CLAUDIA ROSETT
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Then there's Mark Malloch Brown and the upmarket house he has been renting for years on the suburban New York estate of hedge fund tycoon George Soros--for whom Malloch Brown has now gone to work. Reporters queried Malloch Brown in 2005 about potential conflicts of interest in renting from Soros while running a UNDP that by his own admission was collaborating "extensively" with Soros's network of foundations. Malloch Brown's response was not to provide documentation on what he claimed was an arm's length arrangement. Instead, he denounced reporters for their "bile."

Last year, persistent questioning by Matthew Russell Lee of the Inner City Press finally extracted from the UNDP the information that a book about its own history, commissioned in 2004 by Malloch Brown, had cost the organization $737,000 (including such items as salary and travel money for the author, and purchase of copies from the publisher). The book was a paean to the UNDP, and to Malloch Brown in particular, describing his reforms as a model "of efficiency and effectiveness."

This is the institution and ethos that were at risk of exposure when Cash for Kim hit the headlines. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in a brief flash of wisdom, promised an independent audit of the entire U.N. system. But within days, a classic U.N. cover-up had begun. Ban scaled back the inquiry to include only U.N. agencies in Pyongyang, and turned over the job to the housebroken U.N. Board of Auditors, who are expected to deliver their overdue report any day now. The auditors did not visit North Korea. They never even asked for visas.

And so, here we all are, four months later, having heard from U.N. officialdom plenty about the pay package of Paul Wolfowitz's com panion at the World Bank, but almost nothing more about the UNDP. At the U.N., they call this development.

Claudia Rosett is a journalist-in-residence at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.