At UN's Decolonialization Meeting, Restrictions on
Some Press, Western Sahara Stand-Off
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
October 6, updated -- The
Committee on Decolonialization began its meeting on Monday, less than
after South Ossetia and Abkhazia substantially broke away from Georgia,
the questions of Western Sahara, New Caledonia, Guam, Gibraltar and
its agenda. Of the requests to speak, the majority concerned Western
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has picked Christopher Ross of the U.S.
Department to replace Peter Van
Walsum, who lost the confidence of the
Ross, who sources described to Inner City Press as State Department's
technical negotiator on the topic, as well as Ambassador to Algeria and
Syria, in the run-up to this
prospective assignment, has not yet been confirmed, not least by
As the meeting began, and Inner City Press
entered Conference Room 4 to live-blog it, a staffer of the UN's
General Assembly and Conference Management approached. She said, "You
cannot be here," and ordered Inner City Press out of the line for the
meeting's documents. Outside in the hall she said that journalists were
permitted on the floor of the meeting, "only NGOs, delegates and the
own press." Inner City Press noted
that there were other reporters in the room. "
them out to me,"
said the staffer, Emma Pioche. Inner
City Press declined. Further inquiry finds that Ms. Pioche, an
what in the UN is called a permanent contract. In 2005 she was noted
for her 25-year tenure at the UN. The chief of DGACM, Shaaban
Shaaban, has registered his displeasure at Inner City
Press' coverage of the
Department, particularly a piece based on interviews conducted at the
party of his deputy, and apparently perceived competitor, Yohannes
it DGACM's job to be restricting press coverage of such meetings? As noted,
Under Secretary General Shaaban Shaaban has yet to hold any briefing
with questions and answers about DGACM.
Africa's Ambassador to the UN, Dumisani Kumalo, approached Inner City
outside the door of Conference Room 4. Incredulous, he asked, "The
is pushed out of a meeting about decolonialization?"
UN's past SRSG makes public pitch
about Western Sahara, future exclusions not shown
territories listed in the meeting's documents include Tokelau,
Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands,
Islands (Malvinas), Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Turks and
Islands, and American Samoa. The Holy See wants it to be known that it
fully 10 scholarships to the Pontifical Universities in Rome to
America Samoa. (See, A/63/67). The
annual report of the Committee includes a decision concerning Puerto
A/63/23). Thrown off the meeting floor,
we do the best we can.
To try to be fair to the
UN's DGACM, it is some of their staffers who are responsible for the
new computer assistance window in the UN's Delegates' Lounge, at which
Ambassadors can get video clips of their speeches in meetings -- even
meetings the Press is pushed from. DGACM has a clear idea of whom it is
serving -- and, at least in Conference Room 4 on Monday, who it is
Update of 4:32 p.m. -- An hour and
a half after the
meeting began, and half an hour after the report above was published,
City Press was on appeal allowed onto the floor of Conference Room 4.
of Mauritania, with the recent coup, was walking the other way
through the UN basement hall. Inside, a Ms. Hill of the United Kingdom
speaking, about its commitment to its overseas territories. "The UK has
intention of imposing independence against the will of the people
themselves," she said, her voice breaking.
Update of 4:40
p.m. -- she then repeated this promise, not to give in to referendum,
on the Faulklands, unless the people ask for it. The Chair has already
said, on Western Sahara, that October 7 and 8 will be needed to hear
from all the requesters, even if only for five minute each.
Update of 4:50
p.m. -- the representative of South
Africa, not Amb. Kumalo now but an able diplomatic staffer, replied to
noting that he spoke also for the South African Development Community,
this have arrived where they are based on "the rejection by Morocco in
2007, and in 2005, of a proposal that the Security Council noted was
optimal" way to solve the situation. And now, two days more of debate,
starting October 7, 3 p.m.
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs.
* * *
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