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UN's Ban Doles Lunch and Quotes to UNCA Insiders Attacking Free Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 7 – In a UN annual ritual which like so many has outlived its time, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday doled out lunch and a few quotes to 15 members of the Executive Committee of the UN Correspondents Association.

  Ban either did not know, or did not care, that in 2012 this UNCA Executive Committee spent months trying to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN.

  Documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act show that in asking the UN to “review” the accreditation of Inner City Press, Voice of America said it has the support of Louis Charbonneau of Reuters, who was in a blue blazer at the lunch and still afterward pursuing Iran outside the Security Council's Yemen meeting, and Tim Witcher of Agence France Presse.

   Tellingly, five hours after the lunch AFP's Witcher published a story with Ban quotes about North Korea, sourced as “Ban told a small group of reporters, including AFP.”

   (Only after this ran were "key quotes" distributed to other journalists, here -- none of which concerned Sudan, Haiti or the Congo for example.)

   The “small group” was not random: it was the 15 members of UNCA's Executive Committee, including the bureau chief of Xinhua who also wrote a story (albeit paradoxically behind a paywall.)

   But Ban either did not know or did not care that for more than a month these UNCA “leaders” have been defacing, counterfeiting and tearing down substantive flyers of the new Free UN Coalition for Access.

  The ongoing series of FUNCA flyers raise the due process rights of journalists and the need for the UN to accredit journalists no matter where in the world they come from.

   UNCA has not raised the latter issue, and cannot raise the due process issue, since it was UNCA which tried to get the UN to throw journalists out.

Ban UNCA Lunch of the Lost, Feb 7, 2013, credit Evan Schneider, UNPhoto

   Nor has UNCA's new president Pam Falk – to Ban's left and elected like all five other officers including Charbonneau, over her left shoulder, without any competition but with lower vote counts than the previous year – said anything as FUNCA flyers have been torn down and counterfeited just outside her office.

   Falk has also remained silent about UNCA's descent into censorship.

   As reported, the UNCA “leaders” created an on again, off again counterfeit social media account to attack not only Inner City Press but others seen joining FUNCA. They expelled a journalist after she joined FUNCA. Now more have joined FUNCA including confidentially, and have gained through advocacy fairer treatment.

   Recently the chief of Ban's Department of Public information has indicated for example that work continues on some fair treatment for the Free UN Coalition for Access, for example permitting it a bulletin board like UNCA has to avoid the UNCA tear-down of flyers every night. We were heartened, but are awaiting this simplest of reforms.

    But it remains archaic and now inappropriate, this Ban lunch and the exclusive quotes, not given to the journalists who actually went to the day's noon briefing (and Security Council stakeouts in the morning about Sudan, and in the afternoon about Yemen).

  This is a monopoly for a decayed and debated organization which has lost that right. And it is inappropriate.

  Ban speaks about democracy and the rule of law, but UNCA's Executive Committee violated its constitution by not having their election by December 15, and staying in office past January 1. When challenged, they shouted down the questioner, video here.

  One of the origins of the UNCA Executive Committee's dis-accreditation push was Inner City Press' reporting on Sri Lanka, as issue on which Ban has appeared in different lights.

  UNCA does not defend journalists: it attacks some journalists. We will work for a better, fairer and less corrupt future, with free speech and press for all. Watch this site.

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