UN Press Restrictions, P-5 Wax and Wane as CPJ Decries Hypocrisy
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, April 7 -- Two days after the Press was
to move back from the UN Security Council because two Permanent
member nations wanted less "involuntary interaction" with
reporters, Inner City Press asked last month's Council President from
Gabon about the controversy.
complaints, but ascribed them to a lack of any controls when the
Council first moved to its new location in the UN basement. Meanwhile
the Council's 15 members met Wednesday afternoon and heard a proposal
from three representative of the UN Secretariat.
stood alone in the still limited stakeout area when the three emerged
at 4:15 on Wednesday. They heard our proposal and are discussing it,
Inner City Press was told.
involves moving the stakeout
back up on front of the Security Council, allowing a similar stake
out by the first floor Delegates' Entrance, and trying to allow
journalists to walk up the same stairs as diplomats. (Imagine that).
Permanent Five ambassadors named as having triggered the restrictions
backtracked and expressed support for press use of the stairs. The
host country, which on Monday denied
having begun the discussion,
still refers to safety concerns.
Security Council's president Takasu, resolution not
Protect Journalists released the following statement on the
controversy, through its deputy director Robert Mahoney:
fully support the United Nations Correspondents Association in its
opposition to proposed new restrictions on press access to UN
Security Council members. The public will see straight through the
argument that delegates’ safety is enhanced by keeping them
shielded from the press. Both diplomats and reporters are already
inside a secure zone with visible ID. The United Nations should be a
beacon for the human rights it was established to uphold. Those
include freedom of expression and a free media. To deny reporters
access to public officials would be hypocritical."
sometimes the norm at the UN. We'll see -- watch this site.
* * *
UN, Deal on Press Limits Faces Safety Block, Turf War Council Meeting
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, April 7 -- In the hall of mirrors that is the UN, it wasn't
clear under whose authority the Press was pushed back from the
Security Council's new basement home on April 5. After a day of
reporting and fight back, April's Council President Yukio Takasu of
Japan on April 6 told Inner City Press that media access should not
be reduced, and would be negotiated. Video here.
on April 6,
five reporters including this one accompanied the media liaison of
the UN Department of Safety and Security and three Department of
Public Information officials in front of and above the Security
Council suite of rooms. The DPI representatives assented to access at
street level, from the Delegates' Entrance to the stairs.
enlarged pen in the basement, shifting the non-Council member states
to south of the stairs. But the UN
Security representative, who
previously told Inner City Press that "your table's gonna move,"
said that it was all subject to re-negotiation.
of the DPI
officials told Inner City Press after close of business on April 6
that the following day -- today -- they would meet with the Security
Council members to "seal the deal." Which Council members,
Inner City Press asked -- all 15 or only the Permanent Five?
of the UN's Security Council Affairs branch on April 5 said that
there was no reason to meet with the Council's president from Japan,
since he and his country are transient members. But now, Japan is
requiring that all 15 be met with, the DPI source told Inner City
Press. Which members will stand for press access, and which against?
Council in its new Chamber April 6, press access not shown
Ambassador Gerard Araud began the complaining about the press in the
Council's consultations on April 5, now said it agrees the Press must
have access to the staircase and both lobbies. The hang-up, it
emerges again, is the United States, according to well placed
sources. The US Mission has denied they first raised the issue. But
who is keeping it going, under the guise of safety? Watch this site.
unaddressed by President Takasu is the question of who moved to bar
from consultations UN Peacekeeping and Political Affairs staff, and
the Office of the Spokesperson, and why? When Inner City Press asked
Takasu this on camera at the stakeout, he turned the question back to
press access, on which he promised action. Video here,
who on the
Council is so concerned with leaks that they are willing to leave
DPKO and DPA, which do the actual work, in the dark about the
Council's views? The suspicion is the Council most upset about the
North Korea leaks, later accused of leaking, perhaps only through
Nairobi, the Somali Sanctions report. We will have more on this.
end with this
telling vignette. As the reporters and staff of DPI and DSS milled in
the Delegates' Entrance, Sudan's Permanent Representative, his
mandate just renewed, asked how he could help. Inner City Press asked
him, "Do you support press freedom?"
always," drew laugher from the UN officials. But this is what