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After Exposure, UNCA Tells ICP Reversed Samsung TV Decision: But Wiring?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 2 -- On December 10, Inner City Press asked the UN about a donation of Samsung televisions.

  Inner City Press had been sent by a whistleblower, and published, the following from the November 25 minutes of the United Nations Correspondents Association, with which Secretary General Ban Ki-moon exclusively partners (and leaders of which tried to expel Inner City Press, including for its reporting on Sri Lanka and conflicts of interest)

"There was discussion about whether or not UNCA should receive a donation from Samsung and whether or not a Mission was involved. DPI was able to clarify the donation information, which does not involve a mission. This note was received: This is to confirm that once we get the donations from Samsung to the UN, DPI will loan a TV screen to UNCA to replace one of your old ones."

  This turned out not to be accurate, specifically the statement that the donation "does not involve a mission."

  In fact, as the UN put in its written answer 26 hours later to Inner City Press' December 9 question:

"The new Samsung sets in the UNCA room were donated by Samsung to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations. The Mission then donated them to the Department of Public Information (DPI) and DPI is loaning them to UNCA."

  It was false, then, to state that the donation does not "involve" a mission. And note the tense of the UN's response to Inner City Press: "the Samsung sets IN the UNCA room WERE donated."

   On December 31, Inner City Press witnessed workmen inside the room the UN gives to its UN Censorship Alliance, working on wiring, and saw a large screen TV. Inner City Press mentioned this in a story.

  Now, on the first work day of 2014 -- perhaps the first move of the "new" UNCA Executive Committee? -- this email arrived, which is published here in full:

From: Contact UNCA
Date: Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 10:43 AM
Subject: Correction
To: Inner City Press

Mr. Lee:

Please be advised that there are no “new Samsung TV sets” in the UNCA room (and have never been) and the U.N Correspondents Association has not accepted a donation or loan of new Samsung TVs.


  We publish this in full, despite what the UN formally responded, despite UNCA previous e-mail, and what was witnessed on December 31. 

Update: at the January 2 noon briefing, UNCA's 2013-14 president Pamela Falk essentially read the email above into the record, and acting deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said he had received a similar letter and would check on the language his office got. Video here and embedded below. Whatever he comes back with, the UN answered as it did, and UNCA's minutes (and subsequent defender's correspondence) is what it is. Watch this site.

Background: Previously, a defender of the dubious deal had written to Inner City Press claiming that despite the minutes not reflecting any vote, one was in fact taken. But was it based on the false information included in the minutes? Who voted how? Even the list of those voting is not included in the minutes.

Here is what Inner City Press asked the UN on December 9:

Inner City Press: is there a comprehensive place to go to see what donations the UN receives from corporations? In particular, I’m asking about what I understand to be a donation of television screens or sets from Samsung and I wanted to know, what are the rule applicable to these donations? Is the UN aware of pretty serious organizing drive in South Korea about occupational diseases at Samsung? What are the rules applicable and is there a database of such contributions?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: I’ll check, Matthew.

Twenty six hours later, after insisting to Inner City Press that even the amount it pays to France in Mali under a letter of assist it now acknowledges but will not make public, the UN sent this to Inner City Press:

Subject: In response to your question yesterday on corporate donations to the UN
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 2:55 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

In response to your question yesterday on corporate donations to the UN, here is what the Office of Legal Affairs and Controller's Office can say:

In accordance with the Financial Regulations and Rules of the United Nations, the UN can and does accept voluntary contributions, in cash and in kind, from governments, from non-governmental entities (e.g., associations, corporations, including those for-profit and not-for-profit), and individuals, provided that the purposes for which the contributions are made are consistent with the policies, aims and activities of the United Nations, and provided further that the acceptance of voluntary contributions that directly or indirectly involve additional financial liability for the United Nations require approval of the General Assembly (see Financial Regulation 3.12 and Financial Rule 103.4).

Normally, the Controller signs all the agreements for voluntary contributions after ensuring that there is no additional financial liability and that the envisaged activity to be funded from the contribution is in line with the programmatic mandated activity of the Organization. However, this authority is also delegated to several responsible officials in offices away from Headquarters, for their respective jurisdictions, subject to adherence to the financial regulations and rules.

Direct cash contributions to the United Nations from corporations are extremely rare. In-kind contributions of goods and services are more prevalent and are usually made in response to a natural disaster, such as in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti. The new Samsung sets in the UNCA room were donated by Samsung to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations. The Mission then donated them to the Department of Public Information (DPI) and DPI is loaning them to UNCA.

The United Nations is not in a position to disclose information on the contribution of individual donors in view of confidentiality requirements provided in some of the contribution agreements. However, the volume of contributions, including contributions for specified and non-specified purposes, are reported on the website of the UN System Chief Executives Board. The following link provides very useful information not only for the United Nations but also the entire UN system organizations.

  The answer is appreciated and we will report on it more. But we highlight: "The new Samsung sets in the UNCA room were donated by Samsung to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations. The Mission then donated them to the Department of Public Information (DPI) and DPI is loaning them to UNCA."

What then of UNCA's leadership's claim that the donation "does not involve a mission"?

a re-coronation of Pamela Falk of CBS as the 2014 president of UNCA,now known as the UN Censorship Alliance, is set for next week.

  A second midnight defense has been mounted, that Falk has not "done anything" to anyone, or even spoken badly. Well, the UNCA trolls are attributable to her, including under command responsibility.  In 2013, she was asked to reign in those UNCA "leaders" who used the organization to try to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, as they descended into anonymous trolling social media accounts, counterfeiting the new Free UN Coalition for Access and then Inner City Press.

  Falk's reaction in an on the record meeting was to demand that she not be written about, despite having sought this position, and putting herself forward at every opportunity to ask softball questions the answers to which are most often not published anywhere. Audio here, here and here.

  The United Nations Correspondents Association election also involves indicters and purported judges, and the Reuters successor to the scribe who spied (click here for that). That spying for the UN was done by UNCA first vice president and has not been addressed or acted on in any way. Such an organization is in no position to preach on ethics, journalistic or any other kind.

Now this UNCA is poised to raise money, $250 a plate, for an event Ban Ki-moon is set to attend, after fielding softball questions two days earlier from his hosts (or censors). Can you say, conflict of interest? And this is another way that senior UN officials remain unaccountable. Watch this site.

Watch this site.


Here are the December 2103 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, L’Orient 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 (9)

* 57  Nabil Abi Saab , Alhurra TV

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

22  George Baumgarten , Jewish Newspapers, Nation Media

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

* 51  Zhenqiu Gu, Xinhua News Agency

* 69  Melissa Kent, CBC/Radio Canada

* 56  Evelyn Leopold, Huffington Post Contributor

49 J. Tuyet Nguyen, German Press Agency DPA

* 67  Michelle Nichols, Reuters

41  Edwin Nwanchukwu, News Agency of Nigeria

27  Cia Pak, Scannews

*54  Valeria Robecco, ANSA

* 54  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.)


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