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UN's Partner UNCA Selectively Expels Members, Leaving CBS Retirees In

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 30 -- While the UN preaches, or pretends to preach, multi-party democracy around the world, in its headquarters in New York it promotes and partners with the opposite.

   Last month the new Free UN Coalition for Access was launched. It is advocating for the rights of journalists to be accredited to, and get answers for, the UN.

  But the UN until now relies on the UN Correspondents Association, with which UN officials met "very quietly" in 2012 to try to dis-accredit the investigative Press.

  The same UN official involved in this has decreed that the UN's interface with UNCA is exclusive, to the comical extent that even the kitchenette in the renovated UN will be called the "UNCA Pantry."

  Today we have learned that a member of UNCA, asserting her UN accreditation rights through the new Free UN Coalition for Access, has been told by UNCA that continued membership is not possible, since "all UNCA members must have accreditation at the UN," according to UNCA's Melanie Randisi.

  But even a cursory review of UNCA's online list of members shows many who have long left the UN and not kept up accreditation. One, affiliated with UNCA's new president, is openly listed as "retired."

  And so it seems clear, including to the person now expelled from UNCA, that the targeting was to try to discourage joining the Free UN Coalition for Access.

   This is also true for a counterfeit social media account by UNCA "leaders" which mocks those discussing the Free UN Coalition of Access and UNCA's weak record of advocacy for journalists' rights, as well as scurrilously seeking to link Inner City Press with the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, as was done in an UNCA Executive Committee meeting in 2012, fueling Sri Lanka hate media and death threats.

  This is the UNCA Executive Committee with which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon blithely has closed door luncheon(s), doling out quotes that are not even shared with UNCA's regular membership.

  The Free UN Coalition for Access is asking and will continue to demand that the UN allow space for another organization, one which does not and will seek to dis-accredit other journalists.

  But the UN's Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, for example, suddenly cited an archaic rule about flyers to tell FUNCA it cannot exercise free speech by putting substantive messages in the place which UNCA had its own promotional posters.

  In fact, UNCA has a glassed-in bulletin board at the entrance to the UN press area, on which in 2012 it displayed for months a letter denouncing Inner City Press. Did this letter have UN approval? We have asked the head of DPI, several times, including on the evening of January 29. Watch this site.

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