UNDP Inks Agreement With Controversial John McCain Institute

Feb. 4, 2015 – The United Nations Development Program has signed a formal agreement with the controversial International Republican Institute (IRI) whose chairman since 1993 is John McCain. The IRI is considered by many as the foreign policy wing of the Republican Party.

It was established by former United States president Ronald Regan in 1983 as a response to a ban by previous president Jimmy Carter on CIA funding of individuals, political parties and non-governmental organizations favorable to US interests.

The mission of the IRI, which is funded by the US Congress, is to promote democracy and freedom and it is primarily involved in supporting and monitoring elections but it has also been accused of undermining democracy in Haiti, Venezuela and Honduras.

The UNDP said the memorandum of understanding it signed with the IRI on Tuesday “will strengthen the partnership and facilitate better coordination between UNDP and IRI in assisting countries to strengthen democratic governance systems and processes and achieve peaceful settlement of disputes.”

The UNDP is the development-arm of the United Nations and has an annual budget of some $5 billion. Its current administrator is former New Zealand PM Helen Clark. Clark is tipped as a potential next UN secretary-general and, if she decides to announce her candidacy, will need the support of the Republican-controlled US Congress to get the post. The United States, as a permanent member of the Security Council, has a veto on the secretary-general nomination.

Republicans have called for cuts in US support to the United Nations and its specialized agencies and last month a Republican senator, Rand Paul, said he would be “happy to dissolve” the UN.

The IRI’s current president, Mark Green, is a former congressman from Wisconsin. He supported a number of votes when in congress to decrease funding for the United Nations.

-Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz