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Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


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For UN General Assembly Week, List Here, UN Limits "Pooling" to Insider Group, UNdisclosed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 14 – The UN is both unprepared and unfair in the run-up to the 72nd General Assembly high level week, which the UN has bragged will include 90 heads of state, five vice presidents, 36 heads of government, 3 deputy prime ministers and 55 ministers - but NOT Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi. Not only access, but also "pooling" opportunities, are limited without explanation or disclosure to insider correspondents, even for a "UN reform" event. At a background briefing on September 8, a UN Department of Public Information official told Inner City Press that “there will be a secondary pass for 'Resident Correspondents' to go to basement area, 1B, limited to resident correspondents” - a group of less than 200 of the several thousand journalist the UN says are coming. Inner City Press asked, Why are these passes limited in that way? The UN official said, “That's the arrangement with Security and with the UNCA [UN Correspondents Association] because we have to find some distinction." So the UN let a group of at most 200 insiders limit the access of thousands of other journalists, with no transparency. And now the UN has limited its offer of "pooling" opportunities to this group, several of whose members, disgusted, forwarded this to Inner City Press and the alternative Free UN Coalition for Access: "Dear colleagues, We have been notified by MALU of the approval for pool reporters at the following events during UNGA:Monday, September 18th: FAMILY PHOTO after President Trump's reform event: PRINT: 1 reporter, VIDEO: 1 reporter, PHOTO: 1 reporter. Tuesday, September 19th: SG's STATE LUNCHEON: 1:15 - 2:45, Delegates Lounge: PRINT: 4 reporters, VIDEO: 3 reporters, PHOTO: 3 reporters.Sherwin Bryce-Pease, President, United Nations Correspondents Association." This was only sent to people who pay UNCA money, and / or haven't (yet) chosen to quit the group, as Inner City Press did after seeing it host a Sri Lanka war crimes denial film for a previous tenant, here. Along with the limitation of passes to the UN Conference Building's 1B negotiated (only) with UNCA, this is inconsistent with the principles of freedom of press, and freedom of association, and limits access. We'll have more on this. This Department of Public Information has been headless since April 1 until this week; New York Times journalist Alison Smale was named by Secretary General Antonio Guterres as replacement. She has arrived but has not answered e-mailed questions about these elitist “distinctions.” Actually, the 200 UNCA insiders include numerous rarely seen state media, for example Akhbar al Yom from Sisi's Egypt, making the “distinction” all the more telling. Similarly, when Inner City Press was for assurance that at least the UN Press Briefing Room would be open to all journalists, the UN official said while missions are told that, there is no guarantee, the Media Accreditation office does not make the bookings. Those are done by the UN Spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, who has a history as noted by the Free UN Coalition for Access of "lending" the UN Press Briefing Room to the president of his native France, and to UNCA, evicting the Press which tried to cover the event with Periscope.

The UN is closing in on itself, while bragging about all the important people coming to see it. The reformed needed at the UN go well beyond those alluded to in the pre-signed outcome document of the September 18 event. That reform event, tellingly, is not even mentioned on the UN's list so far of UNGA72 events:

12 September: Opening of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly (Preliminary list of items in the provisional agenda);

18 September: High-Level Meeting on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse;

19-25 September: General Debate of the General Assembly 72nd Session;

20 September: Signing Ceremony of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons;

20 September: Security Council High Level Meeting: Reform of UN peacekeeping, implementation and follow-up;

ICP/FUNCA: JPCOA meeting on Iran, Sept 22;

ICP: a Yemen event Friday, September 22 at 8 am in CR 5;

26 September: High-level plenary meeting to promote and commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons;

27-28 September: High -level meeting of the General Assembly on the appraisal of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons (resolution 71/287).

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