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In UN Elections, Union On-Again, Off-Again, Samsung Censors Cite Ethics

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 9 -- Of two elections scheduled this coming week in the UN, the one in the UN Staff Union has new developments each day; the other smugly does not want to be covered.

  Days before the Union election, as Inner City Press reported while publishing the announcement, an attempt was made to "recall the polling officers."  Now that has been rejected, by the Chairperson of the Polling Officers:

Subject: Message from the Polling Officers
From: Polling Officers UNSU
Date: Sun, Dec 8, 2013 at 6:36 PM

To All Staff Members of the United Nations Secretariat in New York:

Last Friday night, 6 December 2013, a recall of the Polling Officers by the Group of Unit Chairpersons was broadcast to all staff from the official email account of the United Nations Staff Union, one hour after the Polling Officers have issued a statement clarifying the circumstances surrounding the nomination and determination of the ineligibility of the President of the Union.

The Polling Officer are greatly concerned that the Group of Unit Chairpersons which normally meets once every other blue moon, and had been late 6 months in electing the Polling Officers, has already had two emergency meetings within a week for the sole purpose to postpone the election.

The Polling Officers would like to assure the staff that the election of the Leadership and 45th Staff Council will be held as scheduled, on 10 and 11 December 2013.

  This back and forth has echoes of the election in Cote d'Ivoire that led to military intervention. By contrast, no Permanent Five members of the Security Council has enough of an interest here for even a public relations intervention, thus far.

   The other "election" -- though four of the six top posts are clean slates with no competition --  is of the UN Correspondents Association, whose more than a dozen board members participated in efforts to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN.

  Nothing has been reformed since; tactics in 2013 devolved into anonymous social media trolling and counterfeit Twitter accounts of the new Free UN Coalition for Access and of Inner City Press.

   An argument is made that the 2013 president of UNCA, Pamela Falk of CBS, is somehow not responsible for this, for trolling done under her watch, and for heading an organization which functions as the UN's Censorship Alliance. This is contrary to the very "command responsibility" principles the two top candidates awaiting coronation have espoused.

  The decision to accept "through" the UN a Samsung television is defended by referring to some vibrant debate, although there is no record of a vote being taken or even who was present for the debate. 

  Unaccountability is increasingly pervasive throughout the UN, in ways as small as this and large, for example on the scandal of UN Peacekeeping having brought cholera to Haiti and now refusing to even accept (or confirm denying) service of legal papers.

  At least in the UN Staff Union, when it was claimed last week that a vote was taken to recall the poll officers, a request was made for the names of who voted which way.

  In the UN's Censorship Alliance,  as documented by ongoing Freedom of Information Act requests including to Voice of America, "UNCA" reached out to the UN to seek the expulsion of Inner City Press without any vote even having been taken.

  There have been no reforms since -- but again, a re-coronation of Pamela Falk of CBS as the 2014 president of UNCA,now known as the UN Censorship Alliance, is set for next week.

  A midnight defense has been mounted, that Falk has not "done anything" to anyone. But in 2013, she was asked to reign in those UNCA "leaders" who used the organization to try to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, as they descended into anonymous trolling social media accounts, counterfeiting the new Free UN Coalition for Access and then Inner City Press.

  Falk's reaction in an on the record meeting was to demand that she not be written about, despite having sought this position, and putting herself forward at every opportunity to ask softball questions the answers to which are most often not published anywhere. Audio here, here and here.

  That United Nations Correspondents Association election also involves indicters and purported judges, and the Reuters successor to the scribe who spied (click here for that). That spying for the UN was done by UNCA first vice president and has not been addressed or acted on in any way. Such an organization is in no position to preach on ethics, journalistic or any other kind.

  This UN Censorship Alliance has just accepted a free Samsung TV, hiding behind the UN's own argument that this is fine. Here's Falk's explanation of UNCA's November 25 "General Meeting" with nowhere near quorum, as provided by an outraged member (Inner City Press quit UNCA and co-founded the Free UN Coalition for Access, yes, FUNCA):

"There was discussion about whether or not UNCA should receive a donation from Samsung and whether or not a Mission was involved. DPI was able to clarify the donation information, which does not involve a mission. This note was received: This is to confirm that once we get the donations from Samsung to the UN, DPI will loan a TV screen to UNCA to replace one of your old ones."

   Now it's said a vibrant debate took place. But only a handful of names are listed as attending, and no vote was taken because there was no quorum for a general meeting. 

Now this UNCA is poised to raise money, $250 a plate, for an event Ban Ki-moon is set to attend, after fielding softball questions two days earlier from his hosts (or censors). Can you say, conflict of interest? And this is another way that senior UN officials remain unaccountable. Watch this site.


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