Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | March 6, 2008

Geography According to the UN Development Programme

Looks like the UN (or, to be more specific, the United Nations Development Programme) are at it once again. According to this link, passed on by friend and commenter Nicole,

“The Lebanese Republic is a small, mostly mountainous country in the Western Asia, on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east, and Palestine to the south.”

The UNDP purports to be”the UN’s global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life,” and it would seem that some of their colleagues on the ground in Lebanon are advocating a change of their own, taking liberties with regard to content by listing Palestine as its neighbor to the south.

While such text may be the work of local writers with obvious interests, the bottom line is that the UNDP is a UN-affiliated program, and as such, one would expect that content on an official UN website would reflect the official position of the organization (the official position being, of course, that the country bordering Lebanon to the south is Israel), and not local biases on the ground. It is disturbing (though sadly, not terribly surprising), that such content should be displayed, either as the result of oversight or other, more questionable reasons. In any event, such “mistakes” are simply unacceptable.

Let the UNDP know your thoughts on the subject. I have…

UPDATE 1: It seems that the above text about Lebanon is rather similar to the Lebanon entry in Wikipedia. Similar, but not identical, given that Wikipedia mentions Israel as the country to Lebanon’s south. (Thanks again, Nicole!)

UPDATE 2: The response I’ve received from the UNDP is as follows:

“Dear Madam,

Thanks for your message.

We appreciate your interest in our work and thank you for bringing this error to our attention.

We have taken immediate action and I have been assured that corrective measures will be taken soonest.

Best regards,”

Needless to say, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this to see if they follow through.

Update 3: The text in question was fixed as of Thursday evening, Israel time. I’ve written a new post on the subject here.

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Responses

  1. The most disturbing thing is not the offical stance of the UN but the simple fact that Isreal is an equal member in the UN for a long long time…

    Seems like the UN is an organisation that cannot respect its own members.

  2. I’m almost glad I didn’t get the job with them!

  3. What a poor week for fact checkers the world over!

  4. […] Development Programme Geography Update Following yesterday’s post, I’m happy to announce that I received a follow-up email last night from my contact at the […]

  5. Now the real question is whether they will correct the map….

  6. […] Something in the News Late last week, I posted two blog entries about a rather disturbing error on an official UN web site. I mentioned the story to a journalist friend, who agreed with me that […]

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