Thursday, 28 January 2010

Keep An Eye On The U.N.

Claudia Rosett,
01.28.10, 12:01 AM ET

If you don't like your tax bill now, watch out for the plans of the United Nations. The U.N. has been cooking up proposals to tax you every time you fly, drink, bank, use the Internet or earn a buck.

For an institution that has yet to master the art of policing its own accounts, that's awfully ambitious. But an urge to dig ever deeper into your wallet, dear tax-payer, has become a staple on the drawing boards of U.N. plan-o-crats.

The U.N. already collects billions in both dues and voluntary contributions from the governments of the developed world--first and foremost from the U.S., which typically foots the bill for roughly one-quarter of most major U.N. activities. The actual U.N. budget is a slippery number. The book-keeping is opaque, often tardy or incomplete and spread across many parts of the U.N. archipelago, with no single U.N. office fully accountable for the entire system. In 2006 then-Secretary General Kofi Annan said the U.N. system-wide budget was about $20 billion; by now, with ever-expanding U.N. operations, funding appeals and hazily defined "partnerships," it is certainly larger. But for U.N. spenders this torrent of other people's money is not enough.

Since its founding in 1945, as essentially a diplomatic talking shop headquartered in the U.S., the U.N. has ballooned into a sort of post-colonial global empire, involving scores of thousands of staff, peacekeepers, agencies and proliferating agendas worldwide. With that has come a voracious hunger for money, in which U.N. planners keep casting an acquisitive eye at global commerce, looking for ways to tap in and open the spigots straight into the U.N.'s coffers.

Some years back, the U.N. welcomed the new millennium with a proposal that wealthy nations start turning over 0.7% of their gross national product for aid to the developing world. At the same time the U.N. ramped up its "climate change" campaign for de facto taxes and controls on carbon emissions (based on the U.N.'s politicized "science"), with visions of the command-and-control transfer of billions--or ultimately trillions--around the globe. In such schemes, the U.N. envisions itself manning the main switch.

The U.N. has also been debating a raft of ideas for more targeted global taxes. Just this month comes a dispatch by George Russell, executive editor of Fox News, that the World Health Organization has been honing a "suite of proposals" for asking member states to levy tolls that would be paid directly to the U.N. The WHO notions range from taxes on Internet use, to financial transactions to alcohol, tobacco and weapons.

These campaigns have yet to pan out into the full bonanzas the U.N. hopes for. But for the U.N., there is little cost to trying again and again, gaining traction here and there. All it usually takes is the ability of ambitious U.N. bureaucrats to put together a conference. The planning group for the conference becomes a secretariat. That secretariat becomes the seed of the next U.N. mandate, department or initiative, with the next suite of tax proposals on the table.

So who is keeping an eye on these increasingly acquisitive ambitions of the U.N.? And who is minding the books for its ever-expanding budgets?

The sorry answer is that while U.N. ambitions and spending have soared, U.N. reform efforts have largely fizzled. Oversight has been receding to dismal levels. In a Jan. 12 story headlined "U.N. cuts back on investigating fraud," John Heilprin of the Associated Press outlined just how bad the situation now is. In the wake of Oil-for-Food plus a slew of other scandals, a special task force was set up at the UN in 2006 to probe corruption. That task force uncovered, Heilprin reports, at least 20 major schemes "affecting more than $1 billion in U.N. contracts and international aid." The U.N. response was to dissolve the task force at the beginning of 2009. Since then, reports Heilprin, "Not a single significant fraud or corruption case has been completed, compared with an average of 150 cases a year investigated by the task force." Several reports from late 2008 "still await a final decision from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon more than a year later."

The U.N. has an office of internal oversight, set up at U.S. behest as part of a push for U.N. reform in the mid-1990s. But this office has itself been bedeviled by favoritism, erratic coverage of U.N. activities, under-staffing, under-funding and cover-ups. The U.N. also has a so-called external Board of Auditors, which devotes itself chiefly to inside baseball--cranking out lengthy but largely toothless reports. This board is run by rotating trios of U.N. member states; the current trio consists of France, South Africa and China.

Among the U.N.'s 192 member states, the only member with any record of serious effort to clean up the U.N. is the U.S. (with the U.K. running a distant second). Right now, despite President Barack Obama's professed interest in the U.N., the U.S. is largely missing in action on U.N. oversight. In recent years, for instance, the U.S. Mission to the U.N. began doing its bit for U.N. transparency by posting U.N. internal audits on the U.S. Mission Web site. That ended, quietly, with the beginning of the Obama administration and the arrival of Ambassador Susan Rice. Since late 2008, no more U.N. audits have been posted (I hope that mentioning this does not result in the U.S. Mission scrubbing even the old audits still there).

The U.S. Congress has also largely lost interest in how the U.N. handles the money of U.S. taxpayers. A few legislators still try to keep watch, such as Sen. Tom Coburn and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. But the congressional staffers who developed expertise in delving into the U.N. money maze are mostly gone from government. Sen. Norm Coleman, who did sterling work digging into billions in corruption under Oil-for-Food, is now gone from the Senate. That seat is now filled by Sen. Al Franken, who has displayed more interest in riding herd on Sen. Joe Lieberman than on the U.N.

There are few subjects more tedious than audits and oversight of the alphabet soup empire of the U.N. But the current mix of an ever-greedier U.N. with less and less oversight has the makings of scandals ahead that will dwarf Oil-for-Food. With President Barack Obama lauding the U.N. as a forum for global peace and progress, what's Washington going to do about this mess?

Claudia Rosett, a journalist in residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, writes a weekly column on foreign affairs for Forbes.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

New Study Suggests U.S. Ambassador Rice Isn't Engaging the UN


We actually heard from Susan Rice more during the presidential campaign when she was a foreign policy adviser to then-candidate Barack Obama than we have over the last year, when she has been representing us at the UN. It has been just over one year since Rice was confirmed by the United States Senate to be the Permanent Representative to the UN and she so far has been wildly inattentive in New York. While Rice has been active in the social scene of Washington and the White House, a new study released by the uber-serious Security Council Report suggests that this past year has been the most inactive Security Council since 1991. For an Administration that promised to utilize the UN and improve our reputation around the world, its dinner-party circuit strategy isn't making America more secure.

Much of the blame for that belongs to Rice and her habitual silence. Rice has not conducted the hard negotiations nor done the sometimes unpopular work of engaging the UN on the United States' priority issues. When Rice does attend UN negotiations, she is all too willing to avoid confrontation. She has instead opted to spend time networking in Washington and making nice with her colleagues in New York. While other foreign Ambassadors speak fondly of Rice and her easy ways, she has been a weak negotiator for the American people.

This lack of American leadership has resulted in the general Security Council inactivity spotlighted in the new study by the Columbia University-affiliated Security Council Report.

The Report says:

"In 2009 the total number of Council decisions (resolutions and presidential statements) decreased by 26 percent from 2008. The number dropped from 113 to 83, the lowest level since 1991.

Resolutions dropped from 65 to 48 and presidential statements from 48 to 35.

This significant trend is also mirrored in a matching reduction in formal Council activity. The number of formal Council meetings decreased by 20 percent, from 243 to 194.

The number of press statements, which is one indicator of Council decision making at the informal level, also decreased by 23 percent, from 47 to 36."

Rice has been spending several days a week in Washington with her larger than normal DC-based staff and spending less time with the 200-plus employees who work for her in New York. While Rice launched her tenure with a glamour spread in Vogue Magazine by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz showing her kicking back in an empty Security Council Chamber, she seems to not enjoy the Chamber when it's full of diplomats. During the recent Haiti crisis, Rice was not only absent from the Security Council vote to expand the UN's peacekeeping operation but she also failed to call an emergency meeting in the immediate aftermath to request more help. In fact, 7 days after the Haiti earthquake left tens of thousands of people in the streets without food or shelter, it was UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that came to the Security Council to request more troops - the American Ambassador hadn't bothered.

Rice has gambled this past year that keeping America unengaged at the UN is the best way to keep the Obama Administration and herself popular with other countries. But while the newly released report suggests that the Security Council has been cordial and pleasant in 2009, the number of crisis situations, international conflicts and peacekeeping operations haven't decreased. No meaningful improvement has been seen to the international issues monitored by the Security Council; in fact, the study suggests that some situations have gotten worse. Without American leadership at the UN, countries just continue to talk and socialize and spend taxpayer dollars. The Security Council Report also highlights the fact that fewer decisions were made by the Security Council in 2009 than in previous years. Tough decisions are never popular to make and even less popular to force upon the UN. But the American people expect their representative to utilize the UN to further America's priority issues and demand that their money is spent wisely.

For Rice, the UN budget reform efforts started by the Bush Administration have been too controversial to continue. Rice has avoided tough negotiations and public feuds and has made little to no effort to engage her colleagues on reforming the UN budget process. U.S. citizens pay 22% of the UN's regular budget, 26% of the UN Peacekeeping Budget and give millions more in voluntary contributions to a plethora of other UN programs. They deserve an ambassador who doesn't duck even a messy public fight with other countries looking to spend American taxpayers' dollars.

According to several UN veteran reporters and some US Mission staff, Rice has been missing from crucial negotiations on Iran's continued enrichment of uranium, too. She's failed to build on Bush Administration progress on sanctioning Iran. While the Russians and Chinese have historically complained publicly about a vote forced upon them, in the end they voted for such resolutions. Despite multiple deadlines missed by the Iranian government, Rice and her team have so far been unsuccessful in getting a single sanctions resolution. The irony that the French are tougher than the Americans on the Iran issue has prompted former Bush Administration officials to say, "thank God for the French".

Although Obama and Rice campaigned on the promise to restore America's reputation internationally, they have chosen the easy path of popularity over progress. Ambassadors will always be loved at the UN when they ignore the important debates and discussions that will keep America strong and safe. It is short-sighted and dangerous to choose likability over the safety and security of those who actually pay your salary. And one sure way to weaken the UN is to placate it, neglect it and marginalize it, as Rice has done this past year. The UN and the American people deserve better.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Who is duplicating Who?


DESA's DPADM un-authorized work on eGovernment and Information Technology raises eyebrows and questions with many UN member states - whom have invested so far 170 Million a year to develop UNESCO's eGovernance Programme as well as in development of UNESCO's eGovernance Databases.

UNESCO has now brought the issue to ECOSOC and General Assembly.

DPADM illegal, unauthorized and non-mandated work in eGovernance and Information Technology, but more importantly in "so-called DATABASES", is a total duplication of the already existing first class Databases from UNESCO in the same exact areas.

We call upon USG Sha Zukang and SG Ban Ki Moon to stop throwing down the drain the tax-payers contribution and re-organize UN-DESA based on a detailed assessment of current structure and services and identify the niche for our organization.

This Chinese way of doing business is taking DESA no where but bringing more shame reminding us of the Italians.



E-Governance is the public sector’s use of information and communication technologies with the aim of improving information and service delivery, encouraging citizen participation in the decision-making process and making government more accountable, transparent and effective.
The principal on-going UNESCO activity in the field of e-governance is a cross-cutting project on E-Governance Capacity-Building. This project aims at promoting the use of ICT tools in municipalities to enhance good governance through the development of training modules for local decision-makers in Africa and Latin America.

Past UNESCO activities on e-governance are described in the Documents/Publications under "Resources" section. The "Global survey on on-line governance" and the "Country profiles of e-governance" were undertaken in cooperation with the Commonwealth Network of Information Technology for Development Foundation (COMNET-IT).

Further information on the e-governance survey and the country profiles can be found in the form of a database in the COMNET-IT website.

U.N. Dues: Obama Lets American Taxpayers Down

by Brett D. Schaefer

WebMemo #2747

The debate over whether the United Nations will continue to overcharge American taxpayers is over--and the U.S. wound up on the losing end. In a dramatic turnaround from steady declines since 2001, the percentage that the U.S. will be charged for U.N. peacekeeping has been sharply increased for the next three years, and U.S. taxpayers will end up paying roughly $100 million more each year than they would have if the 2009 assessment rate had been maintained.

Even more troubling than the outcome, though, is the seeming disinterest of the Obama Administration in opposing this increase. Indeed, the Administration did not even bother to demand a vote on the resolution. To avoid similar setbacks, the U.S. must see the U.N. for the tough political environment that it is and be prepared to defend its interests more aggressively.

Hitting the U.S. Taxpayer

Every three years, the U.N. considers proposals to modify its formula for charging member states for the expenses of the organization--its "scale of assessments" for the U.N. regular budget and the U.N. peacekeeping budget.[1] The discussions are contentious, as small changes in the formula can result in some states being charged millions of dollars more or less than in previous years.

The U.S. has fought for years to lower its U.N. assessment--it even wrung a promise out of the U.N. to lower the U.S. regular budget assessment to 22 percent and its peacekeeping assessment to 25 percent in return for paying nearly $1 billion in U.S. arrears to the U.N. as part of the 1999 Helms-Biden legislation.[2]

The good news is that the formula for calculating assessments remains unchanged.[3] However, it is hard to give the U.S. credit for bowing to a continuation of the status quo desired by influential developing countries (particularly rapidly developing countries like China and India) under which they are substantially undercharged.[4]

In addition, the U.S. allowed the U.N. General Assembly to pass a substantial increase in the U.N. regular budget that will cost American taxpayers millions of dollars over the next two years without demanding that the U.N. implement overdue reform or offset new spending by eliminating outdated or ineffective mandates.[5]

Keeping the Peace

Although the U.S. assessment for the regular budget remained the same, the U.S. was not so lucky in terms of its assessment for U.S. peacekeeping. Under the assessment formula, permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (like the U.S.) are charged a "premium" above their normal U.N. assessment in order to subsidize lower peacekeeping assessments for other countries--giving them a "discount" of up to 90 percent.

Prior to Helms-Biden, the U.S. assessment for the peacekeeping budget was more than 30 percent. The U.N. reduced the U.S. assessment to 22 percent of the regular budget in January 2001. However, it agreed to lower the U.S. peacekeeping assessment to 25 percent only over the course of several years. The U.S. assessment gradually fell to 25.9624 percent in 2009.

This downward trajectory was dramatically reversed in the 2010-2012 scale of assessments, which charges the U.S. 27.1743 percent in 2010 and 27.1415 percent in 2011 and 2012.[6] Compared to the 2009 assessment rate, the U.S. will be charged an additional 1.2119 percent in 2010 and 1.1791 percent in 2011 and 2012. It may not sound like much, but based on the current $7.8 billion U.N. peacekeeping budget,[7] this means that U.S. taxpayers will be charged approximately $100 million more for U.N. peacekeeping annually over the next three years than would otherwise be the case.

All the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council face increases, but theirs are not as high as the U.S. increase.[8] The increases are being applied in order to lower the assessment for two dozen countries. Japan is the main beneficiary, which is appropriate since it volunteered to increase its assessment in order to help the U.N. reduce the U.S. assessment in the first place. But it is a travesty that the U.S. assessment for peacekeeping is increased while the gross under-assessment of the wealthier developing countries like Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, and Turkey remains unaddressed.[9]

A Predictable Outcome

The decision of U.N. member states to increase the U.S. peacekeeping assessment was eminently predictable.[10] Indeed, the U.S. practically invited this outcome when it increased the cap on U.S. payments for U.N. peacekeeping from 25 percent to 27.1 percent in the Fiscal Year 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2764).[11]

The decision was bad policy. It rewarded the U.N. by permitting payment of arrears even though it has failed to adopt critical reforms to prevent sexual abuse and other misconduct by U.N. peacekeepers or enhance transparency, accountability, and oversight. It ignored an opportunity for the U.S. to use its financial leverage to pressure the U.N. to adopt rules, procedures, and practices to address those issues. It also removed the key incentive for the U.N. to follow through on its promise and lower the U.S. peacekeeping assessment and demonstrated that the U.S. is no longer intent on lowering its peacekeeping assessment to 25 percent.

Indeed, by increasing the cap, the U.S. practically invited the other U.N. member states to increase the U.S. assessment. It is no coincidence that the U.S. peacekeeping assessment was increased to roughly 27.1 percent to match the new U.S. cap. Ironically, because the new U.S. assessment (27.1743 percent in 2010 and 27.1415 percent in 2011 and 2012) is above the cap established by Congress, each year the U.S. will likely accumulate millions in new arrears. Preventing U.S. arrears to the U.N. was precisely the outcome that advocates of increasing the cap were hoping to forestall.[12]

Despite the cavalier backtracking by the U.N. on its promise to reduce the U.S. peacekeeping assessment to 25 percent, the Obama Administration will undoubtedly argue that the new assessment must be paid as part of America's legal obligation under the U.N. charter. Congress should give this argument little weight. In the past, the most effective means for spurring U.N. reform has been to use America's financial leverage. Congress should demand that the U.N. abide by the agreement to lower the U.S. peacekeeping assessment to 25 percent and reduce the legislative cap to that level to encourage compliance.

An Abdication of Responsibility

The U.S. should have fought the increase in its peacekeeping assessment by calling for a vote and demanded that the U.N. member states honor the promise to reduce the U.S. assessment to 25 percent. Instead, in an abdication of its responsibility as steward of U.S. taxpayer dollars at the U.N., the Obama Administration let the General Assembly increase the burden on American taxpayers without even demanding a vote.

This will only further embolden the other U.N. member states to demand that the U.S. pay even more money to a mismanaged organization that is lacking in transparency and accountability, prone to record-breaking budget increases in recent years, and resistant to reform.

Brett D. Schaefer is Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation and editor of ConUNdrum: The Limits of the U.N. and the Search for Alternatives (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2009).

Friday, 22 January 2010

Tax and Spend: U.N.'s Rx for New World Medical Order

Friday , January 22, 2010

By George Russell



A member of a World Health Organization (WHO) panel of experts that is pondering new global taxes on e-mails, alcohol, tobacco, airline travel and consumer bank transactions, has charged that she was given only selective information at group meetings, that deliberations were rushed and that group was "manipulated" by the international pharmaceuticals industry.

All of her charges were strongly denied by the head of WHO's Expert Working Group on Research and Development Financing (EWG), a 25-member panel of medical experts, academics and health care bureaucrats which is due to present a 98-page report in Geneva on Monday, after 14 months of deliberations on "new and innovative sources of funding" to reshape the global medical industry.

A copy of the executive summary of the report was obtained by Fox News on January 15 — the same day, as it happens, that the EWG's dissident member first aired her charges in a letter to members of WHO's 34-member supervisory Executive Board.

The executive summary first revealed the possibility of a multibillion-dollar "indirect consumer tax" as one means of financing an epic shift of drug-making research, development and manufacturing capabilities to the developing world that is the central aim of WHO's fund-raising strategy.

Fox News has obtained a copy of the full EWG report, Research and Development: Coordination and Financing, in advance of its publication Monday, which lays out in greater detail the working group's proposals for fund-raising. These include not only indirect consumer taxes but also greater donations by wealthy governments as a percentage of gross domestic product, voluntary individual payments tied to such things as individual mobile phone use, health care lotteries, new commitments from charitable and philanthropic organizations, and the possible diversion of current philanthropic giving from developed-world causes into developing world health care.

The report lays out, and generally endorses, a number of public-private partnerships in the developing world with some of the world's biggest pharmaceutical firms. But it also raises the idea of a tax on pharma-profits from low-income countries that could raise as much as $160 million a year.

The report labels that tax idea a "particularly attractive" option for funding health research and development, and says that revenues from it would "rise considerably if the profits from one or more high income countries was included."

One dissident member of the working group, Cecilia Lopez Montano — a federal senator of Colombia and former national environmental minister — insisted that working sessions of the group she attended were truncated, that her suggestions of looking critically at intellectual patent rights held by Big Pharma companies were ignored, and that neither she nor "the majority of the members of the group" actually participated in the findings "in a full manner."

In a telephone interview on Thursday with Fox News, Lopez Montano declared that she did not "understand, if we are talking about getting cheaper medicines for poor people, how we could discuss this without talking about intellectual property rights."

Frustrated, she says, she walked out of the group's last working session in December 2009, and did not return.

"The only comment I would make for public consumption is that her allegations are completely unfounded," replied the EWG chairperson, Sir George Alleyne, to an email query by Fox News about the incident. A tropical medicine specialist from Barbados who served as a onetime U.N. Secretary-General's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, Alleyne wrote that "to my knowledge, not a single member of the group has associated himself or herself with her comments."

The tempest created by Lopez Montano's accusations is liable to fade quickly as people around the world — especially Americans, who are far and away the world's biggest funders of medical research and development — absorb the variety of the EWG's revenue ideas and the full extent of WHO's ambitions to reshape the international health care industry in favor of research and development for the "neglected" diseases of developing countries.

The full EWG report lays out in some detail a battery of other possible consumer taxes on citizens of rich countries for such things as alcohol and tobacco use, weapons sales, and airline travel, to create a burgeoning medical R&D industry spread across the developing world.

Click here for the full report.

A 5 percent to 10 percent increase in alcohol taxes in developing countries, it notes, could raise anywhere from $5.5 billion to $11 billion per year.

It also cites approvingly a 0.38 percent Brazilian tax on bills paid online and unspecified "major withdrawals" that was raising an estimated $20 billion a year before it was revoked. "There is scope globally for expansion of bank transaction taxes," the report notes.

The Internet or "digital" tax offered up as an example by the EWG would amount to 1 cent per 100 emails, yielding a conservative $3 billion a year. It "might be appealing to politicians and consumers, who will accept a low tax across a broad base with an altruistic purpose." But almost in the same breath, the document observes a complication, that "introducing a new tax or expanding an existing tax may require legal changes, nationally and internationally, and ongoing regulation to ensure compliance."

Getting mobile phone users to sign up for a voluntary medical fee per call could yield anywhere from $280 million to $1.8 billion, depending on the tax bite and the consumer enthusiasm for the idea, while a voluntary fee tied to airline ticket purchase, the document says, could raise nearly $1 billion.

The report estimates WHO would raise $7.4 billion a year if donor nations hiked their percentage of GNP targeted on the new health care model. But the report still holds out hope for substantially more money if "donors diverted current financial support" from medical research that meets their own current requirements to WHO's agenda.

After itemizing all those potential sources of new money, however, the report suggests that only a "balance" of options be selected, which it projects would amount — again, conservatively — to about $4.6 billion a year. That would "nearly triple current research and development funding for neglected diseases in developing countries."

How would all the money be channeled? Mainly, it appears, through institutions that in many of cases have close ties with WHO.

The report that will be released Monday suggests that a global blossoming of developing-world research networks, many of which appear to be rapidly sprouting up in tandem with WHO's efforts to create new ways of financing them, could be "coordinated" via an "effective global health governance structure" by WHO itself — an organization whose 34-member executive board is made up largely of non-elected health bureaucrats from around the world.

Funding for the burgeoning medical research industry would be dispensed by a not-yet-created "global health research and innovation, coordination and funding mechanism."

The new money-dispensing machine would ladle out funds for "new drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and intervention for the poor, as well as medical research in low- and middle-income countries, new centers for the collection and analysis of research and development data, and new authority to distribute research assignments among public and private entities.

Its estimated cost, in the early stages: anywhere from $3 billion to $15 billion per year.

Many of the new parts of the proposed medical industry network in developing countries would also appear, according to the report, to be fostered by WHO itself, with collaboration from other parts of the United Nations' system of funds, programs, agencies and other institutions.

The report singles out favorably, for example, a new and fast-growing group of research institutions known as the African Network for Drug Discovery and Innovation (ANDI), launched in 2008. ANDI was created under the auspices of an institution known as TDR, a tropical disease research program that is part of WHO, and is now jointly sponsored by WHO, UNICEF, the United Nations Development Program, and the World Bank (also a U.N. institution).

According to the EWG report, networks like ANDI, which could involve a welter of local public and private financing, government participation, international agencies and global pharmaceutical firms, could not only coordinate regional research policy in such areas as traditional African medicine, but also fund-raise, allocate funds between different developing countries in Africa, and work to harmonize local medical regulations.

It would all be, as the report puts it: "a multi-level, multi-party, multi-purpose partnership for global health governance, a platform coordinated by WHO and supported by high-level political commitment and policy coherence."

Not by coincidence, new health research networks like ANDI cropped up in 2008 — at about the same time that WHO's legislative World Heath Assembly adopted a global strategy and plan of action that mandated the organization, as the EWG report puts it, to "play a strategic, central role in the relations between public health and innovation and intellectual property."

Among other things, that meant driving the global health-care agenda "to promote a new approach to innovation and access to medicines, which would encourage needs-driven rather than market-driven research." The aim: "to target diseases that disproportionately affect people in developing countries."

Behind that new direction is the U.N. organization's belief, evidently shared by many medical researchers, that medical research and development in rich countries aims to cure the ailments of their rich citizens, while the diseases that afflict poor nations, like malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, are "neglected." Even when the medicines are appropriate, the EWG report relates, they are too expensive.

"In 56 of the 58 countries in which the bottom billion [poorest people] live, virtually every person has at least one neglected tropical disease," the report states. It adds that "95% of the 33 million people living with HIV are in low- and middle-income countries (68% in sub-Saharan Africa), and 27% of new cases and 31% of registered deaths from tuberculosis were in Africa."

Only a massive shift in research and development capacity to low- and medium-income countries — fueled by funds from rich ones — will correct that imbalance, the report, and the WHO strategic plan, argue.

The EWG report maintains that argument even as it also reveals that poor countries are increasingly afflicted with the same non-communicable diseases as rich ones: cancer, cardiovascular ailments, diabetes. Indeed, the report cites a projection that $84 billion in lost income will result between 2006 and 2015 in 23 low- and middle-income countries as a result of heart disease, stroke and diabetes alone."

Regardless of the afflictions, the WHO remedy remains "the production of new knowledge, especially through the investments in research and development." Especially under the many-faceted initiatives of WHO.

George Russell is executive editor of Fox News.

REUTERS: U.N. death toll from Haiti quake reaches 61

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The death toll for the United Nations in Haiti has reached 61, the greatest loss of life the world body has suffered from a single incident in its 65-year history, U.N. officials said on Thursday.

The number of U.N. workers killed by the Jan. 12 earthquake, which caused the organization's Haiti peacekeeping mission's headquarters and other buildings to collapse, involved 25 civilian U.N. workers, 24 military personnel and 12 police, spokesman Farhan Haq said.

Chief U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said that $207 million had been received toward an emergency U.N. appeal for aid funds, and $106 million pledged. He said the amount received so far was 36 percent of the requested sum of $575 million.

Separately, Nesirky was asked about media reports the Haitian government had rejected an offer from the Dominican Republic to send troops to Haiti. The two countries, which share the island of Hispaniola, have a long history of tense relations.

He said that, on the contrary, the Dominican Republic would be contributing to an enlarged Haiti peacekeeping force totaling 12,651 troops and police.

Earlier this week, U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said the Dominican Republic had offered a full battalion of some 800 soldiers. Several senior Western diplomats and a U.N. official told Reuters on Wednesday that Haitian President Rene Preval had rejected that offer.

But the U.N. official said the rejection was not definitive and negotiations on a smaller contribution from Haiti's neighbor continued.

Le Roy's deputy and acting head of the U.N. peacekeeping operation in Haiti, Edmond Mulet, said by telephone from Port-au-Prince on Thursday that 130 Dominican Republic soldiers would be joining the peacekeeping operation.

Nesirky said the Dominican Republic's "military personnel" would accompany a Peruvian contingent of blue helmets and help secure a humanitarian corridor stretching from the Dominican-Haitian border to Port-au-Prince.

He added those troops would be deployed soon.

Asked about the deployment of troops from the Dominican Republic, Haitian U.N. Ambassador Leo Merores said his government would issue a statement on the issue and that the two countries' relations were a "sensitive" issue. (Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Peter Cooney)

NYPOST: Haiti: Job for the UN

Help still needed after US leaves

Last Updated: 9:49 AM, January 22, 2010

Posted: 2:39 AM, January 22, 2010

The United Nations has elevated Bill Clinton to be its top coordinator for Haiti. It's an excellent move that should help the eventual transition back to UN leadership of world efforts there.

No one is doing more heroic work in Haiti now than the US military. But the 82nd Airborne and the Marines will soon be needed elsewhere, and Haiti is a rare case where the United Nationshas done a good job.

Critics of the UN secretary general have unfairly dubbed this crisis "Ban Ki-moon's Katrina" -- even though the shell-shocked UN, which suffered the largest loss of lives in its history, operated adequately.

Clinton: Great pick to be UN point man.
Clinton: Great pick to be UN point man.

Of course the UN's efforts couldn't match those of the US military, dispatched to Haiti since last week and now 20,000 troops strong. America's military is best positioned to handle huge emergencies in chaotic field conditions.

The UN's set up for longer-term work -- and it will be needed, when US troops inevitably leave once the immediate emergency is over. Ideally, the tragedy could help pull Haiti out of the multigenerational, self-made crisis that has rendered it the hemisphere's poorest nation.

Happily, the UN's Haiti stabilization force is one of its better operations. With Brazilian troops as its backbone, the mission has met fire with fire since 2004, fighting violent armed gangs in Cite Soleil and other slums, and winning -- or at least achieving enough calm for some outsiders to consider investing in Haiti.

Which brings us back to Clinton, whom Secretary-General Ban last year named as his special envoy for Haiti.

Haiti's ambassador to Washington, Raymond Joseph, tried for years to lure US and international corporations to invest in his country. Though at first no Clinton fan, Joseph told me at the time that the ex-president's involvement prompted many skeptical investors to "get off the fence" and move in.

And so, relative calm in the streets, Clinton's star power and some good moves by the government of PresidentRene Preval created an atmosphere of hope. Haiti wasn't there yet -- but, for the first time in decades, it was moving in the right direction.

Haiti needs more outside help now. President Obama has already pledged $165 million in federal funds, while Americans have donated $40 millions privately, with more sure to come.

Americans should be wary, though, of funneling their money through the UN, which has just launched a $562 million "flash appeal" for donations to Haiti.

Consider what happened to the $13.6 billion, raised in 2005 to help Indonesia after a tsunami killed 2 million there. The Financial Times found that the multiple UN agencies that handled those funds spent a much higher share of the cash for administrative and bureaucratic costs than did aid groups like Oxfam. The UN was also much less transparent when asked to account for the money.

Money and outside help won't suffice, either. For example, earthquake experts can help Haitians devise new construction codes, so fewer buildings collapse next time -- but only Haitians can obey and enforce those codes.

America should help Haiti as much and as long as we can, but (as Obama & Co. are fond of saying) we can't solve all the world's problems alone. Where there's no direct threat, as in Haiti, we should move aside and let other good neighbors (along with our private citizens, our former presidents and the UN) shoulder most of the work.

Aid makes it to Haiti, but not onto streets

  • NEW: Supplies pile up at airport but no distribution system seems to exist, Sanjay Gupta reports
  • Authorities push to clear earthquake-relief bottlenecks, focus on pier
  • Canadian troops work to open an airport in seaside town of Jacmel
  • U.S. officials acknowledge medical supplies haven't been getting through fast enough

On "Hope for Haiti Now," Anderson Cooper joins Wyclef Jean and George Clooney on Friday for a global telethon to air commercial-free across multiple networks and CNN. At 8 p.m. ET/PT Friday.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- Aid is reaching earthquake-torn Haiti, but getting it to the people who need it remains a challenge.

Large quantities of medications, baby formula and other relief supplies are sitting on the tarmac and in warehouses at the Port-au-Prince airport, but no one is moving it out, according to CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta.

"It's like everywhere we go, just walking through the airport, outside the airport even, people are saying, 'We need supplies,' " Gupta said.

Gupta found pallets of formula, pain medication and antibiotics standing unattended next to the runway.

U.S. military personnel in a warehouse tent at the airport gave Gupta a trash bag full of supplies to take back to a hospital he had visited earlier but couldn't explain why there seemed to be no organized system for distribution.

"There is stuff here waiting to be taken out, that's a true statement," said Air Force Col. Ben McMullen, deputy commander of the Joint Special Operations Air Component. "Is it a lot? I can't speak to it. I will tell you the reason you got it is that everyone on this side, specifically the U.S. government side, is dedicated to getting as much stuff outside as they can. ...

"It's a shame, because you would hope that everything could get out there within seconds. But that kind of infrastructure just isn't in place."

Over at the city's port, authorities pushing to clear bottlenecks hope to restore two-way traffic at the south pier sometime Friday.

The magnitude 7.0 quake that rocked the impoverished nation on January 12 damaged its capital's north and south piers. Haitian authorities and the U.S. military had restored one-way traffic to the south pier, which is the smaller of the two, by Thursday.

Port-au-Prince's north pier remains unusable.

The bottlenecks have delayed food and medical aid to the estimated 3 million Haitians who have been affected by the quake.

At least 72,000 people have been confirmed dead in the quake, according to Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.

Canadian troops, meanwhile, were working to open an airport in Jacmel on Thursday, another step that could speed delivery of relief supplies. Jacmel, a seaside town about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Port-au-Prince, is considered Haiti's cultural capital.

Delayed relief supplies have led to at least five deaths, according to the aid group Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières.

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Working under adverse conditions with limited supplies, medical teams have been forced to improvise.

Renzo Fricke, field coordinator for Doctors Without Borders, said staffers had to buy a saw in the market so surgeons could do amputations. A CNN crew loaned a medic a pocketknife for another operation.

Lacking rubbing alcohol, doctors have used vodka to sterilize equipment and instruments. Surgical patients are receiving over-the-counter pain medicine because doctors lack stronger medication. One nurse used a string of Christmas lights as a makeshift extension cord. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen saw a belt used as a tourniquet. When that broke, a garden hose was used.

U.S. officials have acknowledged that not all aid, particularly medical supplies, has been getting through fast enough. The situation is improving, however, they said.

That offered limited comfort to some Haitians.

iReport: List of missing, found | Are you there?

"I have not eaten for two days," 32-year-old Anderson Bellegarde said Thursday. "I'm only drinking water."

Bellegarde had waited more than six hours outside a money-wiring branch. Businesses such as Western Union are starting to reopen and are attracting the longest and most visible lines in Haiti's capital, as quake survivors scramble for cash.

Sidewalks were crowded with street vendors and kiosks, and many small food stores were open. Dozens of stalls sold fruits and vegetables at a dusty market along a pocked and rut-filled dirt side street.

More than 300 aid distribution sites are up and running, a senior U.S. administration official said. More than 700,000 meals and 1.4 million bottles of water have been delivered, along with 22,000 pounds of medical supplies, said Lt. Gen. Douglas Fraser of the U.S. Southern Command.

About 120 to 140 flights a day are coming into the single-runway Port-au-Prince airport, compared with 25 a day just after the quake struck last week. More than 840 have landed since the airport was reopened, but there is a waiting list of 1,400 to come in, Fraser said.

To improve air traffic, the U.S. military said Wednesday it had obtained landing rights at the Dominican Republic's air base at San Isidro, about 135 miles (220 kilometers) east of Port-au-Prince.

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International aid contributions since the quake have totaled hundreds of millions of dollars. U.S. spending for relief in Haiti has hit $170 million, the federal government announced Thursday.

About 13,100 U.S. troops are in and around Haiti -- nearly 2,700 on the ground and 10,400 more offshore. Many Marines spend time in Haiti during the day but sleep on ships at night. More U.S. troops are to arrive by this weekend, bringing the total to about 4,600 troops on the ground.

CNN's Arthur Brice, Susan Candiotti, Jill Dougherty, Eric Marrapodi, Lisa Desjardins and Elise Labott contributed to this report.