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At UN, Meeting 6 Weeks Late Overlaps SC on Ukraine, UNCA 15 Didn't Ask

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 28 -- While the UN Secretariat has essentially broken the Staff Union by refusing to recognize the slate that got the most votes in the election held in December, citing procedural violations, today another more obvious procedural breech is scheduled by the UN Secretariat's partner, the United Nations Correspondents Association.

   That group, which in 2012 tried openly and by stealth to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN and became the UN's Censorship Alliance, is required by its own online "Constitution" to hold its general meeting and financial report in the first half of January.

    Under 2013-14 president Pamela Falk it never happened; it has twice been postponed. Now it is six weeks late, scheduled for today at 3 pm, simultaneously with a UN Security Council meeting about Ukraine.

   But the UN Secretariat and Spokesperson's Office, unlike the approach to breaking the Staff Union which actually at times challenges them, says nothing.

   In fact, a question and answer session was held this month by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the 15 members of UNCA's Executive Committee the transcript or tape of which was never given to other journalists, even UNCA members not among the fifteen.

  Inner City Press on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access asked Ban's outgoing spokesperson Martin Nesirky for a transcript and was told "get over it," video here.

   Nesirky confirmed that the UNCA executive committee members did not even bring up Ukraine and the disrepute the UN was brought into by the leak that former US official Jeffrey Feltman "got" Ban to send Robert Serry to Ukraine to, in the now-famous phrase, "F*** the EU."

  After not asking that critical UN question, now UNCA as representated by Falk repeats or retweets news about Ukraine, cc-ing UN_Spokesperson. Despite all this, and the fact that when deputy spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey left, his farewell was (appropriately) in the Spokesperson's large office, the farewell as week from now will be in the big room the UN gives UNCA, with its own kitchenette: the UN's Censorship Alliance.

  The censorship goes beyond trying to get the investigative Press -- and others -- thrown out. Inner City Press was ordered to remove from the Internet a story about Sri Lanka and seeming conflict of interest within UNCA's leadership, and was browbeaten about an article about UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous.

  While neither article was removed, one of the "for the record" complaints to the UN Accreditation official now slated to become Ban Ki-moon's new spokesperson on March 10 has been banned from Google's search following a bogus Digital Millennium Copyright Act filing, click here to view: outright censorship.

  (Ironically on February 28 when Inner City Press asked about the banning of a website by the Sri Lankan government, Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson said Ban is committed to free access to the Internet. What about this?)

 To the same UN official, an explicitly internal UNCA document was provided, with the notation "you didn't get this from me," three minutes after the pass-through committed that the document would remain within UNCA: click here for that.

  Under Falk, has UNCA even attempted reforms such as a commitment against censorship, not to spy for the UN or seek to get other journalists thrown out of the UN, or ban things from the Internet? No.

  While UNCA's "leadership" parties, some long time journalists have been thrown out of the UN; others are losing work space and working conditions at the stakeout have declined. The new Free UN Coalition for Access is taking this on.

  Tellingly, when a petition for at least a journalists' work table at the Security Council stakeout was submitted, the response was to browbeat those who'd signed and ask them why they'd signed. This is the UN. Watch this site.


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