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Free Press Rights at UN Advanced by FUNCA, Amid Resistance to the New

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 5 -- Is the UN trying to modernize? Parts of it may be. On Tuesday morning ten stories above the East River issue was joined between three representatives of the Free UN Coalition for Access and the top brass of the UN Department of Public Information.

  Certain FUNCA-won reforms were confirmed, though not yet in writing. Small as they sound, these include that, going forward, all correspondents will have equal and unfettered access to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's 38th floor meetings.

  "There will be no more UNCA [UN Correspondents Association] pool," it was confirmed (with the exception of if Barack Obama comes to the UN -- no policy yet for the 2016 US President.) Passes to cover the General Assembly will no longer be distributed through UNCA, but the UN Documents Center.

  As FUNCA requested, at least Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's New York City events outside of the UN will be disclosed in the UN Media Alert.

  While never put in writing, DPI confirms that it told the spokesman for UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous that it was inappropriate when he on December 18 seized the UNTV microphone, rather clearly to try to avoid a Press question about 126 rapes in Minova by the Congolese Army, which which UN peacekeeping works. Video here.

  We will have more on this, including a further explanation (and elaboration) of the #LADSOUS2013 hashtag and video, which at least one DPI official stated went too far.

  FUNCA countered, on the topic of going too far, that the repeated tearing down of its substantive flyers, and the anonymous use of a fake social media account, only confirmed the decay of UNCA and the absolute need for and rights of the Free UN Coalition for Access.

  There appears to belatedly be a recognition that the UN must publicly promulgate due process rules for journalists when a complaint is filed against them.

  No notice was given of such complaints in April and June 2012, and the identifies of the UN officials who met with UNCA "very quietly" then about dis-accrediting the Press have yet to be disclosed. We will have more on this as well.

  At Tuesday's noon briefing, the UNCA president asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman about the very issues she'd written to DPI on February 1 about; the spokesman was solicitous.

  And so, while in the past FUNCA issues about due process have been dismissed, this time a question was taken: how can the UN be banning journalists based solely on where they come from?

  These are the issues on which FUNCA is working; like due process, it is terrain on which UNCA cannot legitimately work, since it was UNCA which sought to expel other journalists with stealth complaints, and partners in the offending UN rules.

  On the fundamental point of free speech and equal access, the issues were squarely raised, as they have been for weeks. Watch this site.

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