Foreign Assistance:

North Korea Restricts Food Aid Monitoring

NSIAD-00-35: Published: Oct 8, 1999. Publicly Released: Oct 14, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the procedures the World Food Program (WFP) has established and implemented to monitor and report on U.S. government-donated food aid provided to North Korea.

GAO noted that: (1) U.S. policy is that no food aid will be provided to North Korea if it cannot be adequately monitored; (2) WFP has established procedures to track and monitor food aid deliveries to North Korea; (3) however, the North Korean government has not allowed WFP to fully implement its procedures, and as a result, it cannot be sure that the food aid is being shipped, stored, or used as planned; (4) specifically, the North Korean government, which controls food distribution, has denied WFP full access to the food distribution chain and has not provided required reports on food use; and (5) consequently, WFP cannot be sure it is accurately reporting where U.S. government-donated food aid is being distributed in North Korea.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The State Department stated in a May 25, 2000, letter to GAO that it will continue to urge North Korea, both bilaterally and through its representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, to allow greater transparency and access to the World Food Program(WFP)to track and monitor food distribution. However, the State Department did not provide a detailed response on how it would strive to improve WFP access to track and monitor World Food Program food donations and provide required audit reports in a timely manner.

    Recommendation: In order to comply with Department of State policy that no food aid be provided to North Korea that cannot be adequately monitored, the Secretary of State should direct the U.S. Representative at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations (U.N.) Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome, Italy, to emphasize to the North Korean representative to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture the importance of meeting its commitments agreed to in agreements with WFP, including granting WFP staff improved access to track and monitor WFP food donations and providing required audit reports in a timely fashion.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The State Department, in its May 25, 2000, letter to GAO, stated that the WFP currently provides ample reporting on the use of U.S.-donated food in North Korea. State added that it will stay in close contact with WFP to ensure it continues to provide information to the Department of State on a timely basis. State also wrote that it will encourage the WFP to coordinate with USAID on AID's information needs. The State Department did not provide a detailed description of specific actions that it would initiate to improve WFP reporting on the use of U.S.-donated food in North Korea.

    Recommendation: In order to comply with State policy that no food aid be provided to North Korea that cannot be adequately monitored, the Secretary of State should direct the U.S. Representative at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome, Italy, to request that the WFP's Executive Director provide the U.S. government comprehensive and timely reports on the use of U.S.-donated food in North Korea, including information on: (1) North Korea's monitoring restrictions; (2) the impact of monitoring restrictions on the WFP's ability to provide independent, accurate reports on food use; (3) the WFP's efforts to persuade North Korean authorities to allow the WFP to perform independent monitoring; and (4) North Korean responses to the WFP's Executive Director of her authority to withhold food aid and fuel subsidies as one method of responding to North Korean-imposed constraints to effective accountability.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Given the sensitivity and complexity of overall U.S. policy towards North Korea, the State Department, in its May 25, 2000, letter to GAO, did not address the recommendation on changing U.S. food aid policy towards North Korea in the event North Korea does not work towards achieving commonly accepted food aid accountability standards.

    Recommendation: Should North Korea's cooperation in working to achieve commonly accepted food aid accountability standards--with emphasis on access and independent verification--be unsatisfactory, the Secretary of State should consider whether a change in U.S. policy on food aid operations in North Korea may be appropriate.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

 

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