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UN Tries to Bypass Its Critics, in Staff Union & Media, Secret Tours, No Answers

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 1 – The UN doesn't like to meet with its critics, only with its friends.

  That's what many in the UN Staff Union say, complaining they were not consulted with before Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's announcement that fully 70% of $100 million in budget cuts most come out of “posts,” or salary.

  After the Staff Union passed a resolution of “no confidence” in Ban Ki-moon, the elected leader of the UN Publishing Division cited the resolution to Ban's chief of staff Susana Malcorra.  Click here for Inner City Press' exclusive story on that.

  Thereupon, Publishing Division activists tell Inner City Press, Malcorra worked around them to meet with more Ban-friendly Publishing Division staff, particularly those not impacted by Hurricane Sandy and the cuts.

  At the UN noon briefing on March 1, Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy Spokesman Eduardo Del Buey about a UN Dispute Tribunal decision of February 22, first reported by Inner City Press yesterday, criticizing Ban's Secretariat for trying to eliminate 59 posts without authorization.

  Del Buey did not have an answer but said he would try to get one. After the briefing the UN sent an answer to the previous day's question:

Subject: Your question from yesterday on the Staff Union
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Fri, Mar 1, 2013 at 12:42 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

The Secretary-General and senior management fully recognize the importance of dialogue and consultation with staff representatives to ensure that the views and concerns of staff are taken into consideration.

This dialogue has continued subsequent to the 24 January resolution of the NY staff union and the Chef de Cabinet met with the New York Staff Council on 6 February. This meeting reflects the position of the NY Staff Council itself that consultations and engagement with the administration should continue.

Outside of such meetings, the Chef de Cabinet and other senior managers have and will, of course, continue to meet with managers and staff to discuss issues related to the management of the organization.

At least they sent an answer. Inner City Press, and the Free UN Coalition for Access, continue to wait for a response or explanation from UN Media Accreditation chief Stephane Dujarric, who sent a bizarre letter on February 27 claiming that everyone understood that a February 22 meeting with the UN-friendly UN Correspondents Association and the watchdog FUNCA was off the record.

  In fact, Inner City Press for FUNCA said loudly in the meeting that “this is on the record,” and UNCA President Pamela Falk said, “He's going to write this up.” Click here for audio.

  Dujarric's letter implied that because of the (now disproved) breach, he will not engage on the reforms FUNCA is demanding. The demands remain, it is seems he is not the right interlocutor.

  Just after the March 1 noon briefing, Inner City Press returned to covering the UN Security Council bilateral meetings. Inside the Council door was none other than Pam Falk and her first vice President Louis Charbonneau of Reuters, and some others.

  (Charbonneau does not answer questions: neither in writing last October about documents indicating Reuters' support for the route of Voice of America asking the UN to "review" Inner City Press' accreditation, nor on February 22 about a document reflecting that UNCA met with UN officials "very quietly" on the same subject. Click here for on the record audio.)

  A full list of those present is not possible as they turned around quickly. Later, Inner City Press is reliably informed, they were asked to leave the way they came in, from the General Assembly vistors' lobby and "stop hanging around" since Council President for March Vitaly Churkin of Russia was meeting Ambassadors in there.

 Click here for Inner City Press' exclusive interview with China's Permanent Representative Li Baodong about the draft North Korea nuclear test resolution.

   Inner City Press asked and learned that the Department of Public Information, which tells journalists they cannot enter the Security Council, did not know about and was not a part of the UNCA entry into the Council. Inner City Press for FUNCA has asked what the rules are. Whatever the rules are, they should be the same for all.

 Instead, while the UN has given UNCA a number of tours of the renovated spaced, to help them with their faux Astroturf advocacy, Inner City Press was told it can only see the spaces a month before move-back, already delayed to April.  FUNCA will Press forward. Watch this site.

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