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At UN, Press Banned from Delegates' Entrance, Spokesman from Consultations

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 22 -- As the UN Security Council takes up the seemingly arcane subject of its "working methods," there was a development Thursday morning on the move by some Permanent Council members to give less access to the press.

 A convoluted series of rules, below, about how the press can use the stairs outside the Security Council, and essentially Banning the press from the Delegates' Entrance, were emailed to correspondents, on behalf of April's Japanese presidency of the Council.

  Spokespeople for other Council members, when shown the diktat, said it was more restrictive than they had agreed to. They pointed the finger at top UN security official Gregory Starr as responsible. We'll see, if the Spokesperson's Office answers.

  That Office, having been barred from Council consultations, now refuses to answer questions about why it was barred and what it is doing. On April 22 Inner City Press asked Spokesperson Martin Nesirky for an update on the Secretariat's access to the Security Council consultations. from the UN's transcript:

Spokesperson Nesirky: I told you before Matthew, that this is something that you could ask the President of the Security Council about. This is a matter for them. But, as I have also told you, we -- meaning my Office -- have a role to play in ensuring that the Secretary-General is up to speed on what is happening. And as I say, further to that, it would be better for you to speak to the President of the Security Council.

Inner City Press: That’s exactly why I was asking for the update. If you regain access or if there is some development, it seems like you know…

Spokesperson Nesirky: If there is a development you would know about it.


April Council President in front of surreal painting, Banning not yet explained

 Meanwhile, the UN has decided to install an unmanned camera to film the entrance to the Council. But it will not have sound. Inner City Press has dubbed them "drone cameras." Thursday morning there was a delay in installation, as the single key to the now storage space under the stairs could not be found. Then when the work began it was abruptly stopped as too loud for the Council.

  The Press' working conditions above the library continued to deteriorate, with all phone conversations audible and the decision to cancel in-house telephone calls to UN missions in the field not rescinded. A meeting with Capital Master Plan chief Michael Adlerstein and others on these subjects, delayed so that Ahmad Fawzi's replacement Eric Falt could attend, then conflicted with a stakeout by the International Civilian Aviation Organization. Now it is announced that Mr. Falt is already leaving, to take a post at UNESCO in Paris. Bon voyage.

Here is the stairway message send out to reporters:

Please find below the rules for press access in the Security Council area, including the stairs. This information was provided by the Japanese Mission, which is holding the Security Council presidency for the month of April.

- The press will, in principle, stay in the closed off area to the right of the stairs.

- The press will be able to call out to a PR (or a member of a delegation) and ask if s/he can follow that PR (or a member of a delegation) up the stairs to continue their conversation. If the PR (or a member of a delegation)

agrees, the member of the press may leave the closed off area, follow that person up the stairs, turn “LEFT” to go out to the entrance and resume their conversation.

- The press will not be able to go beyond a certain point from the stairs (something will be put up to indicate how far they can go).

- When the conversation is over the press will go back down the stairs and go into the closed off area.

- The press will not be allowed to roam around on the 1 st floor or the top of the stairs (Delegates' Entrance area), nor will they be allowed to accompany someone coming down the stairs.

- These restrictions are all for safety reasons.

- The Kuwaiti boat area (the area to the “RIGHT” of the stairs if you are going up) will be for delegates only.

    Ah, safety. One wondered how this would be policed: with ankle bracelets on the journalists? Watch this site.
* * *

At UN, Security Council Moves to Push All But 15 Nations into the Hall, Cut Press Access: Turf Wars

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, April 5 -- Outside the first consultation meeting in the new UN Security Council chamber, both reporters and members states not on the Council were Monday in disarray, on the verge of losing even more access.

  A representative of UN Security Council Affairs told Inner City Press that the media will be moved further back, where they can't even see Council members enter. And member states other than the 15 Council members will be relegated to an open hallway by the stairs, under the plan.

  The UN representative said that Council members complained of "involuntary interation" with the press and even other member states "like India and Germany," wanting a way to leave without seeing either. Inner City Press countered that the media, and non-Council member states, must be consulted, but was told to quiet down.

  In what passes for news, in the beginning of the month consultations led by April's Council president, Yukio Takasu of Japan, the U.S. asked for a briefing about the elections in Sudan. Since U.S. envoy Scott Gration is in Khartoum appearing to praise the process as "as fair as possible," the U.S.'s request struck some as strange.

  Nigeria requested a briefing about the chaos in Guinea Bissau, in which the police arrested the Prime Minister last week. Apparently Myanmar will not be discussed. Ambassador Takasu will hold a press conference later on Monday. Watch this site.

  The background: After its final March meeting, the Council was moved from its longtime location on the second floor to a suite of rooms in the UN's basement.

There are no windows, but the UN says it is secure, safer than Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's office atop the boxlike Temporary North Lawn Building.

But outside the Council, everything has changed. The suite of rooms has a closed metal door and a sign, "Consultation in session, Security Council members only."

This seems to mean that Permanent Representatives of member states not among the Council's 15 members -- including for example India, Germany and South Africa, to name a few -- can't even go into the Council's lounge, as for years they did upstairs.

Some Security Council reform -- getting less rather than more inclusive.

A stakeout with the 15 Council members' flags has been set up where the Vienna Cafe used to be. It is at some remove from the Security Council doors; members can leave by the stairs or garage without walking by the stakeout.

The new UNSC chamber under construction

Monday morning, reporters milled around between the stairs and the Council doors. Spokespeople of only two of the Council's members, one permanent and one in its second of two years on the Council, deigned to speak to the press scrum. By 10:15, Inner City Press was the only media left, on a rickety chair without a table by the stairs. Several Permanent Representatives asked Inner City Press how to get into the Council. "Through the General Assembly," was the reply. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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