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As UNSC Moves, UN Stonewalls on Rule Banning SC Media Workspace: When, & Who Favors?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 31 -- With the UN Security Council already moving from the basement back to the second floor, and the media table in front of it already gone, Inner City Press at Friday's noon briefing asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey for the status of the draft rule which would for the first time ban media workspace in front of the Council. Video here, from Minute 10:04.

  Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access was shown, "for comment," a draft Media Access Guideline on May 20 which along other things would provide:

"f. The Security Council stakeout area, including the Turkish Lounge, is not to be used as a permanent workspace for the media. When the Council is not in session, correspondents should minimize the amount of time in the area, unless interviewing or conversing with a U.N. delegate or official."

  As FUNCA commented on May 21, and Inner City Press has reported in stories since, this proposed rule would reverse the media workspace -- a work table -- that existed in front of the Security Council before its temporary move to the basement, and that continued in the basement, until today.

  A week ago, Del Buey claimed that the rule would not reduce media access. Now he has been repeating to Inner City Press that it can only ask the Department of Public Information, whose Stephane Dujarric has not provided the date of implementation, nor acted on or even provided a substantive response to other complaints lodged with him.

(Beyond those complaints, including involving a UN Security camera about Inner City Press' and FUNCA's office door, other FUNCA members have raised their banning as non-resident correspondents from the Delegates' Lounge; the rules would also trample on free speech rights.)

  Del Buey on Friday again said, "Ask Stephane," saying that while Ban's Office of the Spokesperson is listed as a party to the Guidelines -- tellingly, so is the old UN Correspondents Association, although no membership meeting on these has been held -- it is DPI which "implements" the rules.

 So it's DPI banning media workspace and access, using or being used by the Gulf & Western wires who run the UNCA board? UNCA's 2013 president Pamela Falk of CBS claimed to UNCA members who asked that she hadn't seen the Media Access Guidelines. (One member specified, the most recent version.) More recently the spin is that it is up to Security Council members.

  Two anonymous social media accounts associated with UNCA / Reuters, and now analogized by one observer to "Mean Girls," have opposed the press for maintaining media workspace by the Security Council. And Ban's DPI?

  The incoming Security Council presidency has acknowledged that having a media table in front of the Council hurts no one, and helps coverage. So by what right would it be eliminated?

  The issue of the impending and unnecessary banning of media workspace in front of the Security Council has been raised above Dujarric, politely, with the offer of any additional information necessary. Watch this site.

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