Support for the World Cup, but not for interns?

At the end of March, it was announced that the United Nations are supporting Brazil in their effort to finish the stadiums they are building for the World Cup in 2014. The whole contract between Brazilian government and the United Nations is worth 17.6 million dollars. A lot of money that could be used for other things, like interns.

First of all, I am not against the World Cup in Brazil. I would love to go there, and I am sure it will be a huge sucess. However, the financial troubles, the corruption and huge waste of money are bothering not only me as the protests are showing and I am especially not agreeing with this kind of support the United Nations provides.

According to this report, the United Nations is “providing services and items such as generators, tents and security cameras.” There seems to be no direct financial aid, and the main reason for this contract was that the United Nations “can acquire goods and services without going through the complex and lengthy procurement process required by the Brazilian government.” This means that Brazil, the sixth largest economy in the world, is just using the United Nations to cover its own flaws. I think that instead of sending goods, the United Nations should support Brazil like they did with regard to Rio+20 when they helped, for example, “to ensure transparency in the procurement process, as well as accessibility for people with disabilities, environmental sustainability and social inclusion.” Maybe I do not see the whole picture but I do not understand how sending generators will help Brazil facilitate its acquire processes which seem to be the main problem here. The argument according to which this would help UNDP gain “visibility” in Brazil thanks to its participation might be right but as soon as the resources provided by UNDP are gone, this “visibility” is lost as well while the procedural problems in Brazil remain.

What bothers me the most is how much other things the United Nations could support with such an amount of money, especially with regard to the discussion about unpaid internships. The whole contract is worth 17.6 million dollars but, according to Boaz Paldi, a UNDP spokesman in New York, the value of the contract could rise, which means that the final amount of support by the United Nations is not clear by now.

While it would not be enough to pay all interns, this amount of money would definitely ease some of the burden. It could also be used to increase the number of interns from the least developed countries by establishing a specific program for this group. Interns at very expensive places like New York or Geneva could get some support as well. At least, the United Nations could provide “a daily meal ticket, a transportation pass, and/or contributing towards insurance costs for interns lacking financial sponsoring or to interns not from the local area” as its own Joint Inspection Unit has outlined in 2009.

I hope that the World Cup in Brazil will be a huge success, for Brazil, the United Nations and the whole world. Still, I would have preferred the United Nations to help Brazil facilitate its own working procedures and used its own financial resources to help solving an important issue especially with regard to the high rate of youth unemployment.
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Former Member of the Presidency of UNYANET, PhD student at the London School of Economics (LSE)

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