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Amid Corruption, UN in Quest to Ban Dissent Might Break In or Has "Other Ways"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 19 -- On a day when the UN was belatedly criticized by WorldVision and WatchList for moving to include an army on its own list of child soldier recruiters in its peacekeeping mission in Mali, and had no convincing response, the UN spent more than an hour telling Inner City Press why it should remove a simple sign from its office door, for the Free UN Coalition for Access.

   The UN tries to ban dissent as it accepts, for years, corruption as exposed tonight regarding its "UMOJA" program, here.

  Even on the issue of media access, the UN is failing: it has banned reporters and the public from the General Assembly, has made covering the Security Council more difficult, and has left many journalists without work space while giving its UN Censorship Alliance UNCA three rooms, one of which is locked up with only UNCA's wine glasses inside it.

  Some call it the personal wine cellar of UNCA's 2013 president, Pamela Falk of CBS, who has presided over UNCA's descent into vindictive attempts to use the UN to outlaw any more active entity advocating for access for all, not just insiders.

  Meanwhile, promised intra-UN telephones on which reporters in the past could speak to staff at UN peacekeeping missions were first not put where promised and now, FUNCA is told, will be put out in the open in a "no-whistleblower" zone.

  But instead of addressing any of this, the UN remains focused on trying to ban the sign of FUNCA, which had advocated to try to turn around this decay.

  Wednesday morning at the Security Council stakeout, the UN told Inner City Press that it will only deal with UNCA, because "it has been around 70 years," since the League of Nations.

  That is hardly a good reference. FUNCA never asked the UN for an inch of office space, or even for a minute of meeting time. It collects and puts forward problems of access, and advocates for solutions.

  That is apparently not what the UN wants. Amid insistence that the FUNCA sign came down, Inner City Press asked: is the UN going to break the glass to do it, as the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit raided Inner City Press' office on March 18, 2013?  Portion of raid video here.

  Then, MALU staff took photographs including of Inner City Press' desk and bookshelf which they shared beyond the Department of Public Information and which were then leaked to BuzzFeed immediately after that publication called Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky to ask about the raid.

  On Wednesday morning, the UN's answer was "we have other ways to do it."

  What - to throw Inner City Press out, as was requested in June 2012 by UNCA Executive Committee members from Reuters (Louis Charbonneau) and Voice of America, which said it also has the support of Agence France Presse?

  DPI has been shown documentary evidence that some of these complaints were sent to the non-UN email account of Accreditation boss Stephane Dujarric, who solicited more complaints and refused a subsequent request by the New York Civil Liberties Union to state what due process rules, if any, the UN has for journalists.

  Now the UN is seeking to ban even a single sign of dissent, while favoring with three offices, two signs and the first question its UN Censorship Alliance.

  FUNCA voluntarily at MALU's request took down substantive fliers but has said: the UN cannot outlaw FUNCA. Nor does FUNCA have to suck up to the UN or its DPI. Any entity which does so as UNCA has done is suspect -- as recent history shows. There is more to be said, but we will leave it there for now. Watch this site.

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