Proposed UN Rules Would Ban Press Work at UNSC, Limit Lounge Access, Interview Locations

This UN and its partners 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.

On May 20 new draft “Media Access Guidelines” were provided to the Free UN Coalition for Access for comment. Back in February, FUNCA had submitted ten proposed reforms But there are major changes in the new document. As to the Security Council, they propose that

“f. The Security Council stakeout area, including the Turkish Lounge, is not to be used as a permanent workspace for the media. When the Council is not in session, correspondents should minimize the amount of time in the area, unless interviewing or conversing with a U.N. delegate or official.”

This would represent a significant roll-back from the access the press had to the UNSCbefore the $2 billion Capital Master Plan renovation of the UN, and even what it has had at the interim SC in the basement under the GA. Previously at the SC, there was a round table which the press could use, to write articles or edit video. Likewise at the Interim SC there is a table.

The draft rules propose to limit entry into the Delegates’ Lounge to “resident” correspondents, defined as those with offices in the UN. As FUNCA has repeatedly shown DPI, it is unfair to deny such status for example to a photographer covering the UN for twenty years, but give a “resident correspondents” pass to a photographer for a wire service even if the photographer only rarely comes to the UN.

Tellingly, the new draft rules state:

“Posting of notices is restricted to the bulletin boards provided by DPI, including the UNCA bulletin board (by U.N. Correspondents Association officials), and the General Access Bulletin Board (by all accredited correspondents). Signs posted on doors are limited to entry restrictions, for example, ‘do not disturb’ or ‘on air’ or the identification of your organization. All other notices (e.g. announcement of meetings/event, press releases) are prohibited unless specifically authorized by Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit (MALU).

“Failure to adhere to guidelines in this document can be grounds for withdrawal or suspension of accreditation.”

Uh, whatever happened to free speech? FUNCA has written to the USG and others in DPI. Watch this site.