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Polisario Banned from UNTV & Quiet Room, UN Says Stakeout for "Participants"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 4 -- Who decides who can speak at the UN Television stakeout outside of the Security Council, and who can go into the Quiet Room inside the Council's chambers?

Last week Inner City Press exclusively reported that the Frente Polisario, a party to the Western Sahara item on the Security Council's agenda, was told it could no longer speak at the stakeout, as it has in the past, and could not even go into the Quiet Room, previously always allowed.

  Since that report, other diplomats have approached Inner City Press with examples of other non- or not-yet states which have been allowed to speak on UNTV cameras, listed on Media Alerts prepared by the UN -- the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on September 28, 2013 comes to mind.

  Others asked why the 15 countries on the Security Council would control the "UN" stakeout there, and not all 193 states.

  On November 4, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Farhan Haq who controls who can speak at UN stakeouts in general, in front of the Security Council in particular, and who controls who can enter the Quiet Room.

Later one of these questions was partially answered:

Subject: Your question on stakeouts
From: UN Spokesperson [at]
Date: Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 3:26 PM
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at]

We have the following information in response to your question about stakeouts:

Regarding stakeouts outside the Security Council: When the Security Council meets, a stakeout is set up outside the Security Council, and is available for participants of the Council meeting.

  First, this doesn't answer the argument that UN stakeouts ultimately must be controlled by all 193 member states.

 Second, it doesn't address Polisario's exclusion from the Quiet Room.

  Third, it doesn't define who a "participant" is. When the Council meetings about Western Sahara, and Polisario is a formal party, isn't it a participant? Three strikes and you're out? The Free UN Coalition for Access contends there must at least be transparency on this. We'll have more on this.

Addendum: so if there is a consultation about a country under sanctions, for example, that the country can't enter -- the country can't speak at the stakeout afterward, even if another country goes to speak about them? To be continued.


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