October 7, 2017
Today’s UN is becoming less and less transparent and accessible. Some examples: when Secretary General Antonio Guterres met the Foreign Minister of the Philippines on September 29, despite the issues obviously to be discussed, there was no UN read-out. (Press was even hindered from capturing the photo op by UN Security, which increasingly blocks access.)
After the September 22 Cameroon meeting, the UN belatedly claimed the read-out was incomplete. And when Egypt’s al-Sisi met Guterres the space was taken up by a supposedly “pool” reporter, who did not even provide a list of who attended, from the UN side. Such faux pooling (or cover-up) is rewarded with office space and resident correspondent access.
Meanwhile as FUNCA has raised, a journalist from Western Sahara was denied access for not being from media “formally registered as a media organization by the UN General Assembly.” This exclusion, like the UN’s wider two-tier system, is UNjustifiable. When the latter was announced on Sept 8, for the first time in years no UN Security official was there to be accountable. DPI Under Secretary General Alison Smale was not present or answering questions and still has not, five weeks in the job. This is UNacceptable, as is the weakened wi-fi and lack of LAN lines for journalists.
The trial and six guilty verdicts for UN bribery against Ng Lap Seng, sole funder of South South News, show the UN, its Department of Public Information and partners were compromised and need reform. But the UN still has no FOIA, no content neutral standards for accreditation and no rights to due process or appeal for journalists. All of this must be changed and reformed. Watch this space.