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At UN Press Banned from Budget Panel Ceremony, Transparency Reversed, Echo

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 14 -- The UN makes more and more claims about transparency, including financial transparency.

  For the "ribbon cutting ceremony to inaugurate the new Conference Room of the UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions" Tuesday at 3 pm, the "international media" was invited to attend.

  The UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit notice said that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would make remarks.

  And so Inner City Press, which covers ACABQ most recently on its review of UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous' Cote d'Ivoire drone proposal, for which he has no approval, went to cover the event.

   But in front of Conference Room 10, where ACABQ meets, UN Security stopped Inner City Press. No, they said, you cannot come in. Only UN Photo, the UN's in-house photo service.

  Particularly on the UN body dealing with money, wouldn't non-UN, outside indepedent coverage be important? To all other room re-openings, from the Security Council through ECOSOC to the Trusteeship Council Chamber, the press had been invited. And Inner City Press has covered each of them.

  And so the only way, for now, to "cover" the UN and its budget advisory group is to report that the press and thus public were excluded. The new Free UN Coalition for Access opposes and is fighting this trend.

  Now what FUNCA wants to know is who, between the invitation to cover sent Monday before 6 pm and the last minute 2:47 pm closure, decided that the media should be excluded? And why?

  Just the day previous, a UN correspondent complains to FUNCA she was attending an open meeting in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, moderated by Jim Clancy of CNN on the topic of human trafficking, when she was told to leave by UN Security, she says, related to a previous complaint she made of sexual harassment. Human trafficking and transparency, indeed. Watch this site.

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