- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2001

NEW YORK A new internal evaluation of the U.N. Drug Control Program faults the troubled agency's persistent inability to communicate with its own offices in the field and other U.N. programs engaged in similar work.
This failure to share program planning and information has led to a duplication of the efforts of other agencies and compromised the efficiency of donor-funded operations, according to the assessment.
The report also harshly criticizes the U.N. Drug Control Programs year-late "World Drug Report" for 2000, saying the narrowly focused project contradicts itself and has jeopardized the agency's credibility.
Recommendations made in 1998 "had not been implemented in a manner that addressed underlying problems," said the report, one of three recent evaluations of the Vienna-based organized crime and drug control agency by the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services.
A separate OIOS investigation, which could be released as early as today, examines charges by former UNDCP officials of mismanagement and fraud by Executive Director Pino Arlacchi.
Concerns about poor management and inefficiency have troubled donor nations, whose voluntary contributions make up nearly all of the drug program's roughly $100 million budget.
In an effort to shore up confidence, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has requested funding for a new deputy director to handle day-to-day management independent of Mr. Arlacchi. That post has not yet been filled.
The Dutch government, meanwhile, has suspended funding until it has digested the OIOS reports, and several other nations are either postponing their funding decisions or earmarking more of their contributions to specific programs, such as crop eradication in a specific nation.
The United States, by far the organization's largest contributor, has expressed concern about the management of the drug and crime program. However, U.S. officials praise Mr. Arlacchi's overall drug philosophy, which closely mirrors the American emphasis on interdiction and supply reduction.
The UNDCP is a bureaucratic cousin of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which publishes its own highly regarded biennial report on the illicit drug trade. The United States lost its seat on the INCB two months ago, a defeat that will have little impact on the running of UNDCP.
U.N. inspectors, following up on recommendations made in 1998, were dismayed to find lingering communication and coordination problems between UNDCP and other U.N. agencies and programs.
They also found the program should have done more to strengthen its role as an international clearinghouse for information on the drug trade.
The OIOS report also said the Vienna-based agency should work more closely with U.N. agencies in the field and headquarters, coordinating with legal, scientific and technical experts throughout the organization.
"There is no evidence of increased collaboration in the form envisioned," said the report, which was signed by Dileep Nair, the undersecretary-general for internal oversight services.
The inspectors were especially critical of the World Drug Report, which was issued in February, more than a year behind schedule and only a few weeks before a more comprehensive assessment was issued by the INCB.
"UNDCP was not able to maintain an approprate balance between advocacy and credibility," they said of the perfectly bound volume, singling out Mr. Arlacchi's "lengthy" 21-page introduction that highlights the program's successes and urges increased financial support.
The World Drug Report fails to mention relevent issues such as the surge in synthetic drugs or the link between illicit drugs and organized crime, law enforcement and corruption, according to OIOS.
Similar complaints have been made by one of the World Drug Report editors, Francisco Thoumi, who resigned complaining of repeated interference from Mr. Arlacchi.
OIOS inspectors also examined the data supporting the World Drug Report's sunny conclusions, and found that damaging trends, such as the rise of amphetamine-related abuse in the United States and Europe, were omitted.
The agency claims credit for successes more likely attributable to weather conditions, OIOS said. UNDCP officials in Vienna could not be reached for comment, and New York representative Zach Messitte declined to comment.
A draft of the inspector-general's report was submitted to UNDCP for comment and correction, and excerpts of those responses are included in the final version.
Mr. Arlacchi, a former Italian senator and noted Mafia foe, rejected many of the complaints.
There was some bright news in the OIOS evaluation. The $10 million Afghanistan pilot program to monitor poppy cultivation and reduce demand is entering its third year despite difficult circumstances.
"In view of the prevailing political and working circumstances in Afghanistan, to have sustained donor interest and funding … is a remarkable achievement by all standards," wrote Mr. Nair, the head of OIOS.

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