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On UN's Banning of Press from SC Stakeout, Adlerstein Tells ICP “In Evolution”

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 25 -- As the UN Security Council prepares to move back to its renovated chamber, the question of whether the press will have the same access it had before, and even had in the basement during the renovation, has yet to be answered.

In April 25, Inner City Press asked UN Capital Master Plan chief Michael Adlerstein about the so-called Turkish Lounge which has been installed in an area of the stakeout to which the media used to have access. Video here.

Adlerstein began by telling Inner City Press, “we offered a series of rooms for gifting,” based on a resolution by the General Assembly.”

Of the Security Council stakeout Adlerstein continued, “One of the areas we offered,” which he said “used to be a coffee bar... the Turks asked for that area. They furnished it, their architect came in.”

Inner City Press asked, who decided that the press would not have the same access it had before?

Adlerstein paused; there was laughter. Inner City Press said, “It's a press conference” -- albeit about the re-opening of the Trusteeship Council Chamber.

Adlerstein then told Inner City Press, “this was a discussion which is still ongoing. As the building opens, I think that dialogue with the press will evolve.”

While Inner City Press didn't say it, the UN's dialogue on press access, accreditation and other matters can no longer by limited to the old UN Correspondents' Association.

UNCA has been ineffectual; worse, it has tried to get the UN to throw out media that the wire services that dominate the UNCA Executive Committee don't like. It has become, at least at the level of the Executive Committee, the UN's Censorship Alliance.

  And so, here, the new Free UN Coalition for Access, which has been advocating on this and wider needed reforms.

Inner City Press asked Adlerstein if Turkey would have a say in whether the space would be accessible to the press, as it was before the renovation and Turkish “gifting.”

Adlerstein said, “it's not their area... it will be managed by who uses it.”

But wouldn't that be the press? Watch this site.

Footnotes: Adlerstein offered a detailed explanation of the re-designs of the Trusteeship Council Chamber, from a horseshoe facing front to a lower one facing outward, only two steps high to allow a ramp for accessibility.

Inner City Press asked why the coffee loft in the Delegates' Lounge was taken out. Adlerstein explained that its single staircase did not comply with fire code -- which the UN “voluntarily” allows “visits” to assess -- and the cost of installing an elevator would be prohibitive. So now you know.

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