While the U.S. and NATO demand that Libyan despot Muammar al-Qaddafi relinquish control and stop slaughtering his own people, the United Nations Development Program is secretively planning for a quick return to action in the country, even if Libya’s rebels fail to drive him from power.
UNDP, the U.N.’s flagship anti-poverty agency, abandoned its previously close embrace of the Qaddafi family as the anti-regime protests turned into widespread armed rebellion and NATO air forces began supporting the often-beleaguered rebels. The agency’s non-Libyan staffers left the country, along with other U.N. personnel, and now work out of Cairo.
But now, UNDP bureaucrats are planning to return with a “forward looking framework of likely recovery policies,” even if the rebels are not successful, according to a planning document obtained by Fox News. The proposed price tag: $25.3 million, though the document also says the numbers are “no more than estimates of what would be required to kick-start program initiatives.”
Evidence of the detailed contingency planning was hastily scrubbed from a UNDP website the day after Fox News raised questions about the activity, and sensitive wording was rephrased in the text that remained. A Fox News request for the specific six-page document that summed up UNDP’s thinking was denied, on the grounds that the document “is in draft form and is still under discussion.”
Now, “in anticipation of the possibility of a ceasefire/political agreement or a victory by the opposition, UNDP is already preparing to adjust and scale up its programming inside Libya,” according to the internal document on “recovery and transition in post-crisis Libya,” obtained by Fox News despite UNDP’’s refusal to provide it.
Even if rebel control is limited to the eastern half of the country, where the rebellion is strongest, the “recovery policies” can be used by the U.N. agency to “support early recovery activities, including capacity development support for local government and civil society.”
And if Qaddafi falls, as NATO leaders and European government leaders are demanding, UNDP intends to be quickly in place to provide “advisory support to the new government on transitional arrangements and processes” (including a new constitution and elections) as well as a strategy for “public administration reform,” and “support for national dialogue and reconciliation,” according to the contingency document.
“UNDP has a critical role to play,” the paper declares, “given its expertise in such areas as transitional governance, national dialogue and reconciliation; youth and civil society; strengthening national and local governance institutions and restoring public service delivery; and (re-)establishing the rule of law and community safety.”
There is considerable irony to UNDP’s claims of expertise, as the agency has been responsible for many similarly-named policies in the previous decade, all carried out with the full support, and very often the full financing, of the Qaddafi regime itself.
UNDP, which has operated inside Libya in close cooperation with the government since 1974-- put its $19.7 million local program for 2011-2014 on hold when the fighting became heavy.
That program was developed entirely in cooperation with the Qaddafi government, using Libyan money, and called for programs under such headings as “Strengthening national institutions toward public service delivery; and strengthening national data management systems,” and “Strengthening Government efforts on economic diversification through increased focus on small and medium enterprises, youth capacity development, and economic empowerment of women.”
The programs were to be carried out in close cooperation with a variety of Qaddafi government ministries, as well as non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations—all of which, in pre-upheaval Libya, were closely controlled by the Qaddafi government or members of the despot’s family.
UNDP’s previous Libyan program, for 2006-2009 (later extended through 2010), was also developed in close cooperation with the regime, and had such headings as “Improved governance at local and central levels.”
Under the governance rubric, it included the promise to “continue to support national capacity building efforts in the area of good governance, including human rights,” and conduct “a comprehensive technical review of the legal system in Libya, in support of the country's efforts to promote the rule of law, and to modernize the judicial system at the national and local levels.”
The projected cost of that program was initially estimated at $16 million, with all of the money likewise coming from the Qaddafi regime.
The program, along with its successor, was carried out under an arrangement known as “national execution,” or NEX, which is, according to a UNDP handbook, “a cooperative operational arrangement entailing...overall responsibility and assumption of accountability for the formulation and management of the program country of UNDP-supported programs and projects.”
Translation: the programs were run by the Qaddafi government itself, with UNDP providing technical advice and its seal of approval. For its role, UNDP takes a management fee of about 3 percent of total program spending.
(The NEX “modality” is used by UNDP in many if not most of the 167 countries where it operates, including some of the world’s worst despotisms—Zimbabwe, for example.)
In its latest, confidential “post-crisis” planning paper, however, UNDP admits that ordinary Libyans do not think highly of some of the institutions the U.N. agency “supported” in its previous multi-year development plans in Libya.
“Rule of law institutions, including the justice sector and police, have suffered a severe erosion of trust among the Libyan people,” the document declares. “Reforming these institutions to regain that trust is indispensible to ensure security and stability during the recovery process.”
Among other things, as a medium-term priority, it suggests “Increase access to justice for vulnerable communities by establishing legal advice services, raising awareness of rule of law and human rights, and training for traditional justice providers.”
Those solutions seem pallid alongside the description of the failings of the Libyan justice system in the U.S. State Department’s latest human rights examination of the country. There, the system is described as essentially a sham. As the report puts it: “At his discretion Qaddafi and his close associates may interfere in the administration of justice by altering court judgments, replacing judges, or manipulating the appeal system. The judiciary failed to incorporate international standards for fair trials, detention, and imprisonment.”
Libyan local government institutions, the UNDP document says, were also not very commendable; they “were weak and had limited planning and implementation capacities.” The paper noted that “immediate and longer-term support to local authorities and development institutions would be critical.”
The paper also suggests “scaled-up support” for a campaign to rid Libya of land mines, noting that “the use of landmines and the proliferation of small arms during the conflict are creating new risks to community security.” (Over the past seven years, the paper notes, the regime had imported $1.7 billion worth of small arms “from European countries.”)
As it happens, a similar anti-land-mine campaign was previously carried out under UNDP auspices in Libya, in cooperation with a local non-government organization that was supervised by the Qaddafi Charity and Development Foundation.
The foundation was run by Muammar al-Qaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, considered before the latest rebellion as Libya’s most likely benign reformer. (In those not-so-long-ago days, UNDP hailed its relationship with the Qaddafi Foundation as a “long and healthy partnership.”
Since the situation in Libya remains highly fluid, the latest post-crisis paper says, “needs and options will obviously vary depending on what happens.”
But whatever direction comes next, the document makes clear, UNDP intends to remain as close to the center of things as possible—just as it did in the Qaddafi-dominated past.