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At UN, Legal Fight of Ban's Layoffs Approved, Censorship by his Scribes

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 23 -- While the UN more and more dubiously preaches democracy and even lack of censorship around the world, in two elections held last month inside the UN, disputes and decay were the rule.

  In the UN Staff Union election, in which an incumbent sought to stay on despite term limits, there were charges of illegal polling, and an attempt to stop paying the Elections Services Company.

  On the afternoon of January 23, though, there was an "Emergency General Meeting of Staff" held in the ECOSOC Chamber, at which a resolution was adopted concerning Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's New Years Eve layoff notices. The resolution foresees a legal defense for staff, and "decides" that the incumbent "should desist from claiming that she is still president."

  This situation in New York serves the Ban administration, even as Catherine Pollard meets with its staff in Geneva. In New York  back on December 20, Inner City Press asked the UN's acting deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: On the staff union election that just took place, given that itís budget crunch time, according to the Secretariat, who is its interlocutor? Who is the head of the staff union, the previous incumbent or the team that was announced as the winner on iSeek?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: Regarding the staff representatives, itís ultimately up to them members of the staff to determine who their leadership is. It would not, you know, I donít think itís appropriate for this Office to intervene in their affairs.

Inner City Press: So, who do you speak to now? If you had to talk to the staff union, which of the two would you call?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: They will have, like I said, theyíll have to resolve it. Iím not going to say anything prejudicial to their process, nor do I think that they would appreciate that.

  On December 17 Inner City Press published the results, putting the document online here:

Winner with 430 votes: Ticket 1 [They have thanked voters]

President Stephen Kisambira (DESA/PD)

First Vice-President Emad Hassanin (DGACM/MPD/PS)

Second Vice-President Leonid Dolgopolov (DSS/DSSS/SSS)

2d place with 231 votes: Ticket 2

President Nadir A. Dirar Bashir (DGACM/MPD/PS/DTPU)...

  Just before the January 23 "Emergency General Meeting of Staff" which authorized legal fight-back at the layoffs, Ticket 2 sent out an email bragging that

"the recent responses of the Administration to Leadership ticket No. 2 are clearly noted and respected."

  We will continue to cover that showdown, which is at least competitive. Even more decayed is the UN's Censorship Alliance, which while not even asking the UN to hold a briefing or answer questions about the crisis in South Sudan, re-emerged on December 22 through once and future president Pamela Falk of CBS hyping fashion photographs of herself with Ban Ki-moon.

   Ban's UN hands the first question and more to UNCA, which does not challenge Ban.  Technically they're called the United Nations Correspondents Association, and in 2012 its leaders tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, pointing at a factual article Inner City Press published about Sri Lanka, the UN and conflicts of interest.

  Ban's Secretariat now admits on Sri Lanka a "systemic failure" - his Deputy Jan Eliasson repeatedly says that -- but UNCA, which still has no rules against trying to throw journalists out of the UN, nor apparently any conflict of interest rules, makes no admission, no reforms.

  It demands the first question at press conferences even if it has nothing to ask, or the answers will never be published.

  Not surprisingly it is in decay. ng a 2009 trip to Sri Lanka with Ban Ki-moon and UK humanitarian chief Sir John Holmes not only didn't report Holmes on the record comment that he deleted all complaining emails from Tamils -- she said the Press reporting this "ruined" relations with Holmes for her and, for example, Reuters. Though over 2000 journalists are accredited at the UN, in December 2013 only 111 even tried to vote in the three days of polling -- and door to door demands to vote for -- the United Nations Correspondents Association. Seven of these ballots failed. The incumbent Pamela Falk of CBS, running unopposed, still managed to not get 26 of the 104 votes cast.

  But as a result of UNCA's "Ball" with Ban, she got her fashion photo in the NYT Styles section and made sure to hype it up, online and in the briefing room before being handed, only to waste, the first of four questions on the South Sudan crisis on December 23.

  Falk's vote total of 78 was lower than the 85 obtained in December 2011 by her predecessor, who was the one who first demanded that Inner City Press remove an article about Sri Lanka from the Internet, click here for that.

 The article UNCA "leaders" tries to censor reported on the previous financial relationship of Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative with UNCA's then president, in the context of this president screening in the UN the Sri Lankan government's war crimes denial film, without asking or the consent of Inner City Press then on the Executive Committee of UNCA.

  No reforms in UNCA were ever instituted after this.

 Inner City Press after withstanding a kangaroo court UNCA proceeding quit the organization and co-founded the new Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info, to actually defend the right of free press and free inquiry in and about the UN system.

    In 2012 UNCA "leaders" tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, as documented by documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Voice of America asked the UN to "review" Inner City Press' accreditation; VOA said it had the support of Agence France Presse and Reuters, click here for that.

The Reuters first vice president of UNCA spied for the UN, giving them an internal anti Press UNCA document three minutes after promising not to (story here, document here, audio here).

 While he has stepped off, the Reuters reporter he supervised (and who also tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN) campaigned to get on UNCA's board, demanded on camera in a UN noon briefing to all present, "Have you voted?" It's as if Reuters has a Permanent seat on UNCA's 15-member Executive Committee, like the P5 in the Security Council.

Here are the December 2013 results, compared to votes in December 2011 for the "candidate" or their predecessor

Dec '13 Dec '11

Prez: * 78 [85] Pamela Falk, CBS News TV and Radio

1st VP * 74 [79] Kahraman Haliscelik, TRT Turkish Radio & TV

2d VP * 48 71 Masood Haider, Dawn, Pakistan

* 48 [71] Sylviane Zehil, LíOrient Le Jour

3d VP * 55 [62] Erol Avdovic, Webpublicapress

38 Ali Barada, An-Nahar/France 24

Trez * 81 [71] Bouchra Benyoussef, Maghreb Arab Press

Sect * 79 [81] Seana Magee, Kyodo News

Members at Large:

* 57 1. Nabil Abi Saab , Alhurra TV

* 57 2. Talal Al-Haj ,Al-Arabiya News channel

22 3. George Baumgarten , Jewish Newspapers, Nation Media

* 50 4. Sherwin Bryce-Pease, South African Broadcasting (SABC)

* 51 5. Zhenqiu Gu, Xinhua News Agency

* 69 6. Melissa Kent, CBC/Radio Canada

* 56 7. Evelyn Leopold, Huffington Post Contributor

49 8. J. Tuyet Nguyen, German Press Agency DPA

* 67 9. Michelle Nichols, Reuters

41 10. Edwin Nwanchukwu, News Agency of Nigeria

27 11. Cia Pak, Scannews

*54 12. Valeria Robecco, ANSA

* 54 13. Sangwon Yoon , Bloomberg

  Some of the elected are new and their positions on UNCA Executive Committee members trying to get other (investigative) media thrown out of the UN, and the need to preclude this and UNCA leaders' anonymous social media trolling, are not yet known. (Some not elected were among the better / more diverse candidates.)

When the UN Correspondents Association leaders tried stealthy to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, and have failed to institute any reform since, it became the UN's Censorship Alliance. Party on. Watch this site.


 

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