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At UNSC After 3 Week FUNCA Fight, UN Installs 2 Benches, Issues Remain

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 21 – Two press benches were put in front of the UN Security Council on Friday morning, after three weeks of journalists having to stand all day or sit on the floor, and a month of advocacy by the Free UN Coalition for Access for a media worktable and electrical outlets.

  While certainly better than nothing, the two benches seat five reporters. It's strange, because the Department of Public Information's response to FUNCA's request that the media worktable be restored has been that DPI would not serve only five journalists, but rather the entire resident press corps.

  Since not all journalists want to cover all Security Council consultations, having a table that sat five or six was never a problem. It should be restored, and FUNCA will continue to push for it, having already delivered a full page of signatures on a petition on just this issue to DPI.

  The problem has been a new set of Media Access Guidelines that DPI agreed with the old UN Correspondents Association's Executive Committee this month. FUNCA commented against the Guidelines on May 21 and since: the draft tried to say that reporters should only be at the stakeout when there was a formal Council meeting.

  FUNCA pointed out that there are bilateral meetings at the beginning of the month, and meetings by the Council president with non-Council members. Inner City Press reports and will continue to report on these.

  That line was dropped, but UNCA agreed or obtained other provisions it wanted, including trying to outlaw FUNCA fliers and even, it seems or seemed, the single FUNCA sign in the third floor press floor. Photo here, by FUNCA co-founder Luiz Rampelotto.

   On this floor, UNCA has two signs, a big meeting room, a separate office and even a locked pantry in which it stores its wine glasses. All this while journalists don't have a space to work, and while the press and public have been banned, other than a few photographers, from covering the General Assembly FUNCA will continue fighting. Watch this site.

Footnote: Confronted with an inordinate DPI focus on a simple Free UN Coalition for Access sign, after voluntarily making concessions on the posting of fliers, FUNCA has expanded its advocacy for greater access at and openness by the UN.

  This now includes on the record social media / Twitter (@FUNCA_info, click here), at UN Peacekeeping missions like that in Liberia, and UN entities like the Alliance of Civilizations and even “Greening the Blue,” which has been asked to disclose the carbon footprint of Ban Ki-moon's entourage and its traveling. Now, Ban's deputy spokesperson has been asked. We'll see.

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