New UN General Assembly Hall Nearly Bans Media, While Pending UN Rules Still Would Ban Press Work at UNSC

While the need for media workspace at the UN Security Council remains unaddressed, at the new General Assembly hall in the North Lawn building, there is far too little media access. The Free UN Coalition for Access has raised this to the top of DPI:

The Press was not allow to enter the combined former ECOSOC and Conference Room; a Security Officer said to “call DPI.” It was explained that the ONLY way for media to cover the new GA is from a small number of booths above the GA floor (without translation). Clearly, this lack of media space won’t suffice for future GA meetings, particularly but not only during the General Debate week.

FUNCA has requested that media access be expanded to include the back of the GA hall, more booths, more access. FUNCA also noted that in the media booths there were no tables, and only one chair in each (tweeted photo here). Even to upload photographs via laptops, tables should be there.

This is even more true with regard to the Security Council stakeout. FUNCA is opposed to the currently pending draft media access guidelines, apparently agreed to by some, and continues to urge that it not be finalized until this issue is resolved. While a media worktable is the best solution — and is what existed at the UNSC before and during the relocation — recently FUNCA explored the idea of benches or seats with writing tables, as in the Press Briefing Room. That might be a solution, but even if later installed, a table or other writing surface is needed now.

FUNCA has emphasized again: for particular parts of the UN press corps (of which FUNCA has given examples) and also specifically for new media coverage of the UNSC, which involves speaking with diplomats about a range of issues and producing a number of shorter pieces while still taking in new information, workspace — at least a table or surface to type on — at the UNSC is imperative. It harms no one, and it should not be allowed to be blocked.

This UN and its partners — including the organization that apparently cannot be named, but wants its name only in the UN press floor halls –  seem to either misunderstand or have little respect for freedom of speech, or freedom of the press to interview sources and cover the Security Council as it has in the past.As to the Security Council, they continue to propose that

“f. The Security Council stakeout area, including the Turkish Lounge, is not to be used as a permanent workspace for the media.”

This would represent a roll-back from the access the press had to the UN Security Council before the $2 billion Capital Master Plan renovation of the UN, and even what it had at the interim Security Council. Watch this site.