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France Uses Veto from WW2 to Own UN Peacekeeping, Mention Triggers Threat

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 19 -- The UN was founded from the ashes of World War Two. Five victors were given permanent seats on its Security Council, each with veto power including over selection of the UN Secretary General.

  How then can the UN Secretariat threaten journalists who link decisions, including on which countries are given which top UN jobs, with World War Two?

  Is this not censorship, or attempted censorship?

  Twenty four hours ago the UN's media accreditation boss Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press to contact him “urgently.”

  It turned out to be about a single tweet Inner City Press had sent on Thursday afternoon, noting that as the Police Adviser to Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN Peacekeeping, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had chosen to replace a Swedish woman with a German man, Stefan Feller.

  Along with a Twitter hashtag it launched earlier this year after Ladsous repeatedly refused to answer Press questions about 126 rapes in the Congo, #LADSOUS2013, Inner City Press added: #WW2.

  Dujarric had already pressured Inner City Press about its coverage of Ban Ki-moon, during Inner City Press' re-accreditation in mid-2012, and more recently about the #LADSOUS2013 hashtag.

But given that the rapes in Minova that Ladsous refused to answer Inner City Press about ended up being profiled on BBC News and in the Guardian, it might be unseemly to try to discipline or threaten Inner City Press about #LADSOUS2013.

  So why not about #WW2?

When Inner City Press returned Dujarric's call, he began by saying, “I'm trying to understand why on Earth you make any reference to World War Two?”

  He then said the reference -- three characters and a hashtag -- was “idiotic at best and insulting to Feller before he's German and millions of people victimized in the war.” He demanded an explanation, twice saying, “I'm giving a chance.”

  Or what?

  While Inner City Press as a matter of principle -- and perhaps to save breath -- saw no reason to recount it again to Stephane Dujarric, France only has a permanent seat and veto on the Security Council because it is deemed to have been one of the five victors of World War Two.

  In 1996 France used its veto, while Kofi Annan was seeking to replace Boutros Boutros Ghali as Secretary General, to extract a commitment with regard to the top position in UN Peacekeeping.

  It put Bernard Miyet in the position, then was allowed to replace Miyet with another Frenchman, Jean-Marie Guehenno, in October 2000.

  Then, under Ban Ki-moon who was also subject to veto power(s) to become Secretary General, France has kept UN Peacekeeping twice more, with Alain Le Roy in 2008 and then in 2011 the worst of the four, who was rejected for the position by Kofi Annan in 2000: Herve Ladsous.

  So Inner City Press shouldn't put UN Peacekeeping, Ladsous and now his new Police Adviser in the same tweet with “WW2”? By whose orders? For what purpose?

  Or is it that putting as Ladsous' Police Adviser a man from Germany, as opposed to any other country, makes it actionable to mention World War Two?

  Inner City Press, surprised by Dujarric's demands and threat -- “I'm giving you a chance” -- quickly wrote an article, including Dujarric's written statement, here.

  It noted that Dujarric's DPI led a raid on Inner City Press' office on March 18, rifled through papers and took photographs; the photographs were leaked on March 21 just after Ban's spokesman was contacted by BuzzFeed about the raid.

  Dujarric refuses to answer simple question: with whom did DPI share the photos that it took during the raid?

  We could also note that Dujarric on April 15 was involved in cutting off a Rwanda genocide survivor's story so that Ban could leave to attend another event, in the UN Tent.

 Inner City Press wrote about it -- perhaps Dujarric didn't like that. But didn't that pass bounds of decency? Wasn't it insulting?

  The problem here is the UN allow its top media accreditation official to grill smaller media about articles and even tweets, while controlling their continues access to the UN. This is ham-handed censorship.

  And now the Free UN Coalition for Access will be opposing it, and continuing to press for rules that will better guarantee freedom of speech and of the press at the UN. Watch this site.

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