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At UN, Press Access Banned to GA Stakeout, FUNCA on French-Only Briefing

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 26 -- Press access at the UN has continued to decline under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

   During this week's General Debate, journalists haven't even been able to go to the General Assembly stakeout without an escort from the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit -- an escort that often does not come on time, or come at all.

  On September 25, the office of Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced there would be a question and answer stakeout at 3 pm. Inner City Press immediately ran there, but was banned from getting in. As the Free UN Coalition for Access, the problem was tweeted, and not only journalists but diplomats have been responding to it. But nothing from Dujarric or MALU.

  In fact Dujarric played a part in, at least defending, a French-only briefing in the UN Press Briefing Room.

On September 23, the entourage of French President Francois Hollande repeatedly but unsuccessfully ordered the UN accredited Press to leave the UN's Press Briefing RoomVideo here.

  On September 25 when the Free UN Coalition for Access asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who peaked out from the VIP / Green Room behind the Press Briefing Room, about the incident, he said sometimes countries try to reserve the Room.

   Asked if other countries had done so during this General Assembly, Dujarric said yes.

   Inner City Press then asked Dujarric which other countries, beyond his native France:

based on your answer at today's noon briefing, please state which countries during this UNGA have used the UN Press Briefing Room for briefing not open to all UN correspondents, other than France at 11 am on September 23. Also, what was your role on September 23 around 11 am in the room behind the Press Briefing Room podium?

 This has been Dujarric's response:

Subject: please state which countries..
From: Stephane Dujarric [at] un.org
Date: Thu, Sep 25, 2014 at 1:06 PM
To: Inner City Press
Cc: funca <funca [at] funca.info>

I don't have the information on the first point for you. On the second, I'm not sure that I understand it except that I was just looking into the room. I tend to be a curious person.

Stephane Dujarric (Mr.)
Spokesman for the Secretary-General
United Nations Headquarters

   FUNCA is left wondering: ARE there any other countries? The question has been asked again by FUNCA, elsewhere. And it has been on HuffPost Live, here. Watch this site.

Footnote: the old UN Correspondents Association, which is given privileged status and set-aside first questions nearly always used for softballs, has done nothing to improve or even defend press access. In fact, members of UNCA's Executive Committee have tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, and there have been no reforms since. It's become the UN's Censorship Alliance. They provide Ban Ki-moon with photo ops playing soccer with them. This is today's UN - and FUNCA is fighting to hold the UN to its stated principles.



 

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