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Press Banned From UNSC, FUNCA Fights, Scribes Cavort With Ladsous

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 1, updated -- Press access at the UN has continued to decline under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

  On October 1, with the General Debate over, Inner City Press went to cover the Security Council's bilateral meetings which begin the new month, presidency passing from the US to Argentina.

  But UN Security told Inner City Press it and any other media - none other tried - could not enter the second floor of the Conference Building without a "secondary pass" that the media cannot obtain.

  For the Free UN Coalition for Access, Inner City Press called the UN Media and Accreditation and Liaison Unit, which had the day before said the second floor would re-open. MALU came and told Inner City Press it could stay. But as soon as MALU left, UN Security ordered the Press to leave, just as US Ambassador Samantha Power approached the Security Council. No questions.

  This is the lack of press freedom and access in today's UN which FUNCA, UNlike others, is fighting.

Update: after publication of this story, the policy was changed and correspondents were allowed onto the second floor, still UNexplained.

  On September 27, Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous blocked Inner City Press' camera filming from the General Assembly media stakeout then got MALU to tell Inner City Press to stop filming. Video here. Scribes including Reuters followed Ladsous down the hall for a private briefing; Ladsous canceled his announced public Q&A stakeout about Mali.

 On both September 29 and 30, the Free UN Coalition for Access asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Ladsous' censorship and issued and posted a flier, here. The old UN Correspondents Association did nothing - in fact, the head of UNCA and the Reuters bureau chief, himself a habitue of censorship by misusing copyright, here, were seen cavorting with Ladsous. This is not defense of press freedom - this is capitulation and collaboration in censorship.

   During the week of the General Debate, journalists weren't even able to go to the General Assembly stakeout without an escort from the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit -- an escort that often did 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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