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UN Blocks Press From Rwanda Minister Photo Op, of DSG and UN Women, Bloggers Blocked Too?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 19 -- The UN on Monday barred any media except its own UN Photo unit from the beginning of a meeting between Deputy Secretary General Asha Rose Migiro and Louise Mushikiwabo, the Foreign Minister of Rwanda who is a finalist to head the UN Women agency.

   Inner City Press has exclusively reported the candidacy of Ms. Mushikiwabo to take the UN Women top post, about which Inner City Press asked DSG Migiro on July 16. When DSG Migiro's official schedule for July 19 included a 5:30 meeting with Ms. Mushikiwabo, Inner City Press went to cover it with UN Photo.

  There was without question a photo op: UN Photo had been asked to come to memorialize the meeting. But Inner City Press was told to place a separate call to UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, to gain access. MALU called and was told that the meeting was open -- it had to be, since UN Photo would be there. MALU sent a staff member to the North Lawn building, who summoned a UN Security officer to screen Inner City Press.

  Upstairs, in the DSG's conference room with its view of the East River, Ms. Mushikiwabo and her staff arrived first. It was noted that DSG Migiro does not like chairs in the photo op, so chairs were dragged to the side. Inner City Press took a photograph, but was told by Ms. Mushikiwabo's colleague “don't take photos yet.”

  There was a pause -- Inner City Press followed the rules and did not even try to ask about UN Women -- and then the MALU staffer was summoned into the hall. What could the problem be?

  When the MALU staffer returned, he told Inner City Press to leave. No explanation was given.

Mushikiwabo pre photo-op, DSG and UN Women not shown

   “We don't mind if you stay and take pictures,” Minister Mushikiwabo said.

  “It's not up to them,” Inner City Press was told. It was the UN's call, to restrict even this photo op to the UN's own in-house media. There are totalitarian states that operate this way. Ironically, Rwanda and Mushikiwabo favor restrictions on the press. But the UN?

  One might surmise that the UN's paranoia in this case means that Ms. Mushikiwabo is actually quite close to the job. But it could just be paranoia. Watch this site.

Footnote: in other UN versus the press news, while Inner City Press earlier reported that the UN Department of Public Information was near to finally including bloggers in its accreditation guidelines, for now that has been blocked by UN DPI. The UN Correspondents Association, after an internal discussion including Inner City Press, submitted a series of proposed changes to the accreditation guidelines to DPI, with the word “blogger” included.

DPI accepted all of the changes EXCEPT bloggers. This version was nearly finalized on July 16, until objection was raised. Now it appears that UNCA will meet again, and DPI and its chief -- and “blogger” -- Kiyotaka Akasaka will be asked to explain their aversion to including bloggers. Watch this site.

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To UN Women, $100 M Offer by Qatar for HQ, But UNFPA Inks 15 Yr NYC Lease

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 14 -- Less than two weeks after the formation of “UN Women,” to consolidate the UN's agencies working on the issue, one of the agencies has gone forward with a major lease of real estate in Manhattan.

   The UN Population Fund, UNFPA, has just reportedly signed a 15 year lease for three floors (131,000 square feet) at 605 Third Avenue in midtown Manhattan.

   Meanwhile, multiple sources tell Inner City Press that during the negotiations to form UN Women, Qatar offered $100 million if it the headquarters would be put in Qatar.

   But as Inner City Press reported earlier this month, Qatar is one of only three countries which has never sent a female athlete to the Olympic Games, along with Brunei and Saudi Arabia.

  So now matter how much money is offered, some ask how could the headquarters of UN Women be in Qatar?

UN's Ban and Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, $100 M not shown

A Group of 77 source complained, as to UN agency headquarters, that an effect of the European Union's push to form a UN Environment agency would be to undermine the status of Nairobi, where the current UN Environment Program is headquartered.

  But maybe if UNEP stepped out and signed a big long term lease for more Kenyan real estate...

Footnote: while following a series of stories by Inner City Press on the hypocrisy of the UN closing its after school program on two days notice as it discussed UN Women and "work life balance" Deputy Secretary General Asha Rose Migiro said alternatives are being explored, so far nothing has been announced. Watch this site.

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Candidates for Top UN Women Post From Rwanda, Tunisia, Malaysia, No Bachelet

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 2 -- As UN Women, the world body's so-called Gender Entity, was birthed Friday in the General Assembly, Inner City Press learned for a well placed Mission about six of the eight candidates for the Under-Secretary General position at the top of UN Women.

These are the Rwandan foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, UN gender advisor Rachel Mayanja (nominated by Gabon), a Malaysian official who heads up the gender work of the Non Aligned Movement, officials from Tunisia and Norway and, Inner City Press is told, Sri Lanka's Radhika Coomaraswamy.

The biggest donor, assured for that reason a seat on the Executive Board, is said to agree that the USG should come from the Global South. So the Norwegian, it seems, has little chance.

UN's Ban and Bachelet, UN Women not shown

Earlier on Friday, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Secretary General Asha Rose Migiro to name the candidates, since she had said the process would be open and transparent. Eight countries, she said, have submitted names, including one country naming another's national. She gave as an example the United States nominating her. “Have they?” Inner City Press asked. No, she said.

Not on the list is Michelle Bachelet of Chile. Some say she wanted UNICEF and is miffed. Others say she will only take it if offered: i.e., if it is not a competitive process. We'll see. Watch this space.

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 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.

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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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