Full Secrecy for Host Country Committee under Cyprus, No More Summaries
Complaints by Nicaragua, Iran
September 1 -- The UN has become even less transparent in
the past three years. Take for example the Host Country Committee,
which deals with complaints about the treatments of diplomats in
their missions by the United States. In 2007, Inner City Press
attended the committee and wrote about it.
Mavroyiannis of Cyprus barred Inner City Press, but allowed
the UN itself it issue a press release summarizing the meeting.
Mavroyiannis also offered to do a press briefing summarizing the
2010, Inner City Press went to a meeting of the Host Country
Committee. Before it began, Inner City Press was asked to leave. The
new chairman, Mavroyannis' successor as Cypriot Ambassador, Minas
Hadjimichael, came over and said that instead of opening the meetings
to the independent press, the decision had been made to discontinue
even the UN's own press releases.
decision? The Committee by consensus -- that is, without a vote.
Inner City Press stood outside the meeting, asking those who came out
after the thirty minute session what had transpired inside. Some said
it was boring: oral complaints by Nicaragua about denied visas,
written complaints along with same lines by Cuba and Iran. Why then
make it secret?
Hadjimichael, access to or summary of Host Country Committee not shown
Surya Sinha told Inner City Press he will dig up the
citations justifying the exclusion of the Press. Would a request from
the media to attend be taken up by the Committee? No, was the answer.
The request would have to come from one of the 19 countries which are
members of the Committee. One member told Inner City Press they will
raise it next time. We'll see. Watch this site.
while Hadjimichael claims that the meetings are closed so
that problems can be solved, it was the Press which by
asking got the
UN to urge the US to loosen travel restrictions on those from Iran,
Belarus and others. So who is served by the Committee's secrecy?
* * *
Restricts UN Staff to 25 Miles from NY, UN Complains, After
Russell Lee, Exclusive
September 1 -- The United States, which is required to allow
entry by diplomats from countries like Iran, Cuba and Belarus to
attend the United Nations in New York, requires these diplomats to
register and seek permission to travel more than 25 miles from
Columbus Circle in Manhattan.
City Press learned that the U.S. has been imposing the same
restriction on UN staff members from such countries, despite the fact
that UN staff are deemed to be international civil servants, not
working for the countries where they were born. (In fact, some such
UN staff are opponents of their governments.)
Inner City Press asked
UN spokesman Martin Nesirky about this:
Press: It’s come to my attention that there are UN staff
members from countries that are on United States sanctions lists
that, whereas diplomats from these countries are precluded from
travelling beyond 25 miles outside of New York without getting
permission of the State Department, that there are UN staff members
that, although they are international civil servants, are similarly
being required to check with the State Department to travel beyond 25
miles. I think that there are Under-Secretaries-General aware of
their staff members in this situation. I wanted to know whether the
Secretariat believes it’s appropriate that UN staff members who are
international civil servants, not working for their underlying
Government, are subject to this restriction. Why hasn’t the
Secretariat fought for the rights of its staff members right here in
the United States?
Where you’re sitting now is not in the United States,
Press: No, no, I understand. I’m saying that the State
Department, in granting the G-4 visa, has imposed the condition that
these individuals, UN staff members…
No, I heard what you said, but I need to find out. I don’t
have anything for you on that. But thanks for the question and we’ll
look into it.
asked the question because it was aware of situations in which UN
Under Secretaries General threw up their hands and said nothing could
or would be done.
UN's Ban looking up at Obama, restrictions on UN
staff not shown
But when the UN answered Inner City Press'
question, here is what they said:
question on immunities for UN staff
To: Matthew.Lee [at]
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply
<unspokesperson-donotreply [at] un.org>
confirm that, in answer to your question, we have the following
Nations Secretariat has indicated to the United States
Government its position of principle concerning the treatment of its
staff solely on the basis of their nationality and has requested that
all travel restrictions be removed by the host country as soon as
Inner City Press asked when it was that the UN “indicated to the
U.S. government its position of principle.” No answer was given --
some assume because the UN only belatedly raised the issue to the
U.S. government AFTER the question was raised. Watch this site.