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As UNSC Renovation Limits Press Access, Who's to Blame, DPI and UNCA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 15 -- When Norway crows about the UN Security Council renovation, there should and will be critique of the reduction in press access. But those chiming in late on this issue should wonder: how was it allowed to happen, and who's to blame?

  At the south entrance to the Security Council, the area near the window which used to be for the press is no more. And X-ray machines have been installed, further delaying access to the stakeout area. There is, for now, no table to work at. These are all losses.

  Journalists' fair access to the UN has until now supposedly been handled between the UN Department of Public Information and the UN Correspondents Association, now known as the UN's Censorship Alliance.

  The new more accurate moniker is because UNCA's Executive Committee spent most of its meetings in 2012 trying to throw Inner City Press out, for articles it wrote about UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous -- now shown to have defended the flight of genocidaires from Rwanda in 1994 -- and about Sri Lanka.

  So UNCA was distracted. When it finally tried to claim to be pushing DPI, nothing was done. In fact, UNCA's Pamela Falk of CBS and Louis Charbonneau of Reuters spent a February 22, 2013 meeting with DPI telling Inner City Press “the problem is your website” and demanding not to be written about.

  DPI's Stephane Dujarric, in turn, wrote Inner City Press a formal letter that it should not have reported about the February 22 meeting -- at which Inner City Press said, “you are on the record” and Falk said, “he's going to write this up” -- but has not increased media access one bit.

  At the existing Security Council stakeout, when Ladsous directed his spokesman to seize the UN Television microphone to try to avoid an Inner City Press question about the 126 rapes in Minova by the Congolese Army, his partners, Dujarric did nothing publicly, merely speaking quietly to Ladsous' spokesman after a complaint for the Free UN Coalition for Access.

  As noted earlier today, FUNCA is pushing forward -- but NOT through DPI. Let's be honest: DPI didn't do anything to preserve what access the media had; UNCA collaborated in the reduction. It's time for a new approach, and failing to identify what happened in the past and why only ensures its repetition. Watch this site.

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