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Less Press Access to UNSC Under Ban, UK May Not Agree, Censorship Alliance

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 22 -- That press access at the UN is declining by design under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was confirmed to Inner City Press Wednesday night by UN official Stephane Dujarric.

  Since the time of Secretary General Kofi Annan, the UN press corps had access to a work table in front of the Security Council, to write stories on laptops and speak with diplomats on their way in and out.

  Now Ban's UN, via Dujarric and the UN Correspondents Association, seek to eliminate that access. Media Access Guidelines shown this week to Inner City Press and the new Free UN Coalition for Access state

"f. The Security Council stakeout area, including the Turkish Lounge, is not to be used as a permanent workspace for the media. When the Council is not in session, correspondents should minimize the amount of time in the area, unless interviewing or conversing with a U.N. delegate or official."

  FUNCA immediately protested this, and numerous other UN correspondents including regular UNCA members agreed on Wednesday.

   Inner City Press spoke with UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, who will be Security Council president in June, and who listened attentively. Inner City Press has shown him precisely where an unobtrusive work table could be located.

  On the evening of May 22, Inner City Press and FUNCA inquired again with the Department of Public Information. The chief is still away; in his place, Dujarric replied:

"On the guidelines, we gave you a chance to comment and I thank you for those comments. In the end, these are the UN's guidelines. While we give you a chance to input, we reserve the final say. What I can tell you know is that there will be no tables or work stations set up at the Security Council stakeout when we return. That area is reserved for stakeouts. If you need to work you can do that in the office which has been provided to you by the United Nations."

  This confirms the intent to change prior practice, which allowed journalists to work at a table in front of the Security Council. If the incoming President of the Security Council is not of this view, where does it come from? Watch this site.

Footnote: as an indication of that table existed in 2009, click here for Inner City Press story of when a single UN Security officer tried to take it away -- and failed. Inner City Press subsequently had a rapprochement with this UN Security officer, and wishes him nothing but the best. But the story stands, here.

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Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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