“Final” Media Access Guidelines Reduce Access to UN Security Council, Free Speech and General Assembly Access Banned

The UN on June 12 finalized new Media Access Guidelines which purport to ban journalists from working at the Security Council stakeout, including having any table to work on. The Guidelines, which attempt to limit all but one group’s free speech, do not address the elimination of space for the press and public at the General Assembly Hall now in the North Lawn Building.

Despite extensive comments and alternatives submitted by the new Free UN Coalition for Access to the top officials of the UN Department of Public Information, the “final” rules state for example that the Security Council stakeout “including the Turkish Lounge, may not be used as a permanent workspace for the media.”

Before the Security Council moved during the Capital Master Plan renovation, and during the relocation, there was a media worktable on which reporters could use laptops while putting questions to diplomats and UN officials as they entered and left the Council.

This rule bans the table that was in place, well, before Ban Ki-moon. It attempts to ban new media coverage of the Security Council: short pieces written while remaining at the stakeout to speak with diplomats on a range of topics. Who is against that? Some leading the Association which does not wish to be named, but is a party to these rules, lobbied FOR these restrictions.

The rule seeks to favor that Association and create, in essence, a one-party system. It states:

“Bulletin boards have been provided by DPI to the media for the posting of notices. All notices should be posted only on those bulletin boards. Signs posted on doors are limited to entry restrictions – for example, ‘do not disturb’ or ‘on air.’ DPI will provide a name-plate for each accredited media organization.”

But the UN gives that Association a big office on which it has a sign on the door, and another sign over the door, and a large glassed-in bulletin board. This anti free speech rule is a new low.

When the UN eliminates all seat for the press and public at the General Assembly Hall in the North Lawn building, UN DPI dissembles that it is not a reduction, and that Association is silent. FUNCA raised it, and will be raising all of this. Watch this space.