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UNDP Disses Palau To Avoid Layoff Questions Using UN's Censorship Alliance

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 24 -- The UN Development Program, which under Helen Clark is moving for massive layoffs of its staff, held a press conference in UN Headquarters on June 24, very rare for UNDP.

 Three UNDP officials stood in the front of the UN Press Briefing Room, along with the Permanent Representatives of Papua New Guinea (also a player on Security Council reform) and Palau -- a proponent of a Sustainable Development Goal on Oceans.

  Inner City Press had question to ask to each, and obviously to UNDP, having reported in detail on the layoff plans, and earlier in the day on a survey of 600 UNDP staff members, on which UN (and former UNDP) spokesman Stephane Dujarric had no comment when Inner City Press asked at the June 24 noon briefing.

  UNDP, present during the noon briefing, arranged it so that the question on layoffs would not be asked. It set aside the first question for Pamela Falk of CBS, for the United Nations Correspondents Association (which represents less than 10% of journalists who get accredited by the UN each year).

  Falk's softball question ignored what Palau's representative said on the record in February. Will CBS be reporting on this press conference, or was the question essentially wasted such that layoffs could not be asked about?

  Then the UNDP spokesperson gave Falk's sidekick the second -- and LAST, he said -- question, which was wasted on a mere follow up to Falk's. Inner City Press objected to the mere two question press conference; it and the Free UN Coalition for Access formally oppose the setting aside of the first (and here, second and last) question for UNCA a/k/a the UN's Censorship Alliance.

Under Falk, even more than under her rarely present predecessor, UNCA has taken to branding and claiming the first question press conferences and even stakeouts, even if Falk does NO reporting on the topic.

  On June 24, Falk lamely asked exactly the same question that had already been asked, not only about illicit financial flows but even the important topic of the journalists in jail in Egypt. Al Jazeera had already asked, but Falk asked exactly the same question (when there were many real questions to ask about the jailing and the wan response by the UN, whose credibility on press freedom is in question -- for example, in Sri Lanka.)

  Falk then tweeted that #JournalismIsNotACrime -- strange, from a person who shouted in a meeting she'd already said she knew would be reported, on the record, that covering her and UNCA made a one not a reporter but a “mugger” -- audio here, here and here.

  That is the logic used by Egypt, that if you don't like coverage, the reporter is not a journalist but a criminal, or mugger. This is the UN's Censorship Alliance.

Footnote: After UNCA's Falk and Evelyn Leopold wasted the two and only questions at UNDP, mid-layoffs, they had UN (and former UNDP) Spokesman Stephane Dujarric's office squawk over the loudspeaker system that UNCA would be showing the World Cup in the large room the UN gives it, usually to sit empty, while the UN evicted the News Agency of Nigeria for lack of space. Here background on UNCA's television games under Falk. Watch this site.


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