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UN Questions of Access Re-Heated & Dodged, FUNCA Presses Forward

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 18 -- The UN is a game of access, sometime withheld for no good reason at all. Yesterday after Kenya's Ambassador complained of access for people with disabilities, Inner City Press asked and wrote a piece about the UN's claims and a forthcoming Secretary General's Bulletin on accessibility.

  This morning during Mandela Day, Inner City Press was blocked on the UN's second floor, from entering the re-opened Delegates' Lounge. So, on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access, a question was posed to the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, why this access was blocked.

  Further inquiry by FUNCA revealed that it was a Department of Safety and Security “Post Order.”

  While MALU as is too typical did not response to the simple Tweeted question (it tweets out messages all day, and has replied to a favored leaking correspondent, but now goes silent), it did send a representative to the post at issue, and access was granted. But what is the written rule?

  To get a written ruling, according to the rule of law the UN speaks so much about, among the questions Inner City Press planned for Thursday's noon briefing, beyond Mali and a troubling video it highlighted from South Sudan, here, was a request for an official statement of the rule, to help all journalists with access.

  But before that, the spokesperson called on the 2013 president of the UN Correspondents Association. She had a question about access, but not this one. Video here, from Minute 14:21.

  Rather, she asked a day-old, already answered question about what Kenya's Ambassador had said. Since the spokesperson's answer to Inner City Press' questions had been e-mailed to all journalists, it was surprising. Oh, access.

  When Inner City Press asked the FUNCA question about access to the Delegates' Lounge, the spokesperson said Security must have its reasons, but committed to look into it and provide an answer. Video here, from Minute 18:45.

  That's all we're asking. Well, that and a media work table at the Security Council stakeout as existed before and during the relocation, better photo booths, an end to arbitrary threats to accreditation and respect for freedom of the press. Step by step. Watch this site.


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Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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