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As on Syria UNCA President Pushes for No Fly Zone, UN Tries to Ban FUNCA, Other Views

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 17 -- Whether a US no fly zone over Syria, or arming of rebels there, are good ideas gives rise to a range of answers around the world.

  But that range is decidedly narrower in the UN, in what press questions are taken and which groups of journalists the UN valorizes.

  When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had a "press encounter" on Friday June 14, his spokesperson said there would be only two questions and named both questioners in advance. The first was Pamela Falk of CBS News, the president of the UN Correspondents Association, who asked about "the US decision to send military aid to Syria."

  On Monday, June 17 Falk again asked about Syria, asking twice what it would take for Ban Ki-moon to support a "limited" no fly zone over Syria, "only twenty five miles in." Video here. and embedded below.

 To some it smacked of lobbying for the UN to support a no fly zone, by the president of UNCA with which the UN's Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit partners on rules that purport to govern all journalists, including those who choose not to have any part in UNCA

  (Inner City Press, which quit UNCA in 2012 and co-founded the new Free UN Coalition for Access, at the June 17 briefing questioned the UN about accepting post-coup peacekeepers for its Golan observer mission, video here.)

  Both on June 14 and June 17, Falk's questions were followed up by UNCA executive committee members pushing the same perspective on the UN. The other view -- not only of journalists for example from Russia or Iran, but even Western journalists skeptical of another US dalliance or slippery slope like Iraq -- was not allowed a question to Ban Ki-moon, and is pushed to the margins.

  Tellingly, on both June 14 and June 17, the UN's Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit told Inner City Press that a new rule it had agreed with UNCA would require the removal of a Free UN Coalition for Access sign from behind the glass on Inner City Press' office door. Inner City Press has appealed this higher, showing that even the UNCA-agreed rule would ban UNCA's signs too, if equally applied:

"Signs posted on doors are limited to entry restrictions for example, 'do not disturb' or 'on air.' DPI will provide a name-plate for each accredited media organization."

Beyond this argument based on the rule itself, it is unsavory for the UN to valorize a particular perspective, a single decaying organization associated with a particular view, and try to censor and even ban the signs of another organization, another view. Watch this site.

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