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UN Censorship Alliance Seek to Ban New Media from Unused SC Space, Speech

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 5 -- The UN and its partner still seek to ban UN Security Council new media access, even more specifically, as well as free speech, according to "Media Access Guidelines" which the old UN Correspondents Association belated sent Wednesday to some but not all of the journalists that would be impacted by the rules.

  Back on May 21, the new Free UN Coalition for Access commented to the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) against a ban "media workspace" in front of the Security Council, a proposed ban on fliers and even for example a FUNCA sign on journalist's own office doors, and other absurdities.

  The president of UNCA for 2013 Pamela Falk told some she hadn't seen that draft. But on Wednesday her office sent out what was still called a "draft" rule -- with the ban on media workspace still in and made even more specific.

  On June 3 when Inner City Press sought to cover Security Council meetings on the program of work, it put in a small work table. DPI seized the table.

  To cover the Security Council in blog-style, one needs to be present throughout meetings, speaking with all manner of diplomats on all topics and writing stories right there. It may be different for television station or some big wire services - but this is new media style, and there is no reason or right for UN, much less the UNCA board, to ban it.

On June 4 to cover the UK Presidency's horizon scanning briefing on Syria, the Sahel and Iraq - Kuwait, Inner City Press sat with laptop on a staircase leading to a door that is said to always be locked.

At least two UNCA Executive Committee members -- Louis Charbonneau of Reuters and Tim Witcher of AFP -- took note, as did the "lady from DPI" who seized the table on June 3. (Immediately after this, anonymous social media accounts associated with UNCA and Reuters, among others, began messages opposing any push for the same media access that used to exist.)

The rule UNCA put out June 5 prohibits using that area to work, that is, arguably blocking access to a door thatthat is always locked.

  Only at the UN, is doing work prohibited. This remains in the rule sent by UNCA:

"f. The Security Council stakeout area, including the Turkish Lounge, is not to be used as a permanent workspace for the media."

Meanwhile while UNCA broadcasts its name on the door of a space given to it at the top of the third floor escalator, it proposes a rule to ban even a flier saying FUNCA -- on a journalist's office door. This is censorship, by the UN's Censorship Alliance, and an illegitimate attempt to impose what amount to a one-party system. To this has UNCA, and its partners among some in DPI, descended. We'll have more on this.

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