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After UN Spox Misleads, Invited to Soccer with Censors, No UNCA Reforms

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 2 -- Moments after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric had refused on July 2 to explain his inaccurate or misleading answer to a Press question about the UN flying a sanctioned FDLR militia leader around the Democratic Republic of Congo on June 27, he was invited to play soccer or football with a group of some reporters. UN Video here, Minute 16:22.

  This group, the old UN Correspondents Association, in 2012 demanded the censorship of Inner City Press reporting on its screening in the UN of Sri Lanka's goverment film denying war crimes, which noted that UNCA's President had previously had a financial relationship with Sri Lanka's Ambassador.

  After that, the UNCA Executive Committee not only tried including through Dujarric to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN -- they also refused to implement any reforms or best practices in its relationships those it is ostensibly covering. Financial relationships? No problem, apparently.

  Nor has UNCA adopted any rule that it will not seek to censor or get journalists thrown out of the UN - it continues as the UN's Censorship Alliance.

   So Inner City Press quit UNCA, to whose Executive Committee it had been elected, and it co-founded the new Free UN Coalition for Access, which is for example pushing for, wonder of wonders, accurate answers in the UN Press Briefing Room by the UN Spokesperson.

  Typically, when on April 15 outgoing French Ambassador Gerard Araud right in the Briefing Room told a Lebanese reporter, who had paid dues to UNCA, that "you are not a journalist, you are an agent," UNCA dragged its feet.

  The Free UN Coalition for Access formally asked Dujarric to convey to Araud and the French mission the stated position, that accredited journalists should be treated with respect. But Dujarric declined.

  This is the context of the (softball) soccer game that UNCA President Pamela Falk has been promoting, including with photographs of a jersey branded “UNCA” just as she (and Dujarric) try to brand each UN press conference with the name “UNCA.”

  They have said a ceremonial kick-off will be performed by Ban Ki-moon, who hasn't held a press conference in New York in months, instead faux "press encounters" and now an interview, on LinkedIN.  They have whispered that Ban's senior adviser Kim Won-soo will play... on the “Ambassadors” team.

  Some ambassadors were told this confab of is all journalists covering the UN -- it is not. Several Permanent Representatives asked Inner City Press if it or FUNCA would participate -- the answer is no -- and some questioned the appropriateness of the marketing and of UNCA's direction generally. So it goes - for now: softballs with censors. Watch this site.


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