The UN needs a Freedom of Information Act, it needs to require senior officials to respond to questions from the media. But amazingly this year, Ban Ki-moon’s UN has shown a willingness not only to throw critical media physically in the street, seizing Periscope phone and laptop, but to follow up by throwing journalistic files out onto First Avenue, with no due process or appeal. This happened on February 19 and then April 16, 2016, at the direction of UN DPI. Video here.
Instead of looking in the mirror, the most senior UN officials informed of UN Security throwing the Press into the street on February 19, given a mere two hour’s notice by DPI’s USG, have circled the wagons. This despite the fact that USG Gallach is criticized in the UN OIOS audit of the John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng case, in Paragraphs 37-40 and 20(b).
In the UN’s media bullpen, even temporarily, the lack of high speed Internet for non-resident correspondents speaks volume. The UN’s interlocutor on media access is run by media which would never be thrown out — which cut off other media’s questions and are allowed to use the UN noon briefing to make statements that they are not corrupt, Vine here — and which seemingly engage in anonymous troll Twitter accounts to try to Ban any question of the UN on press freedom.
For now the Free UN Coalition says: non-resident correspondents at the UN should not be treated as second class journalists.
And, as asserted on January 29, 2016, and before that when the UN Spokesman tried to “lend” the UN Press Briefing Room to French President Francois Hollande, that room should not be privatized to some but not all UN journalists. On April 22 a non-resident correspondent was directed to leave the front row so that a French minister could set there. Principled disagreements in this regard cannot legitimately give rise to physical expulsion.
And an organization which cheers, narcs and brings about the expulsion of investigative media cannot be a legitimate representative of journalists covering the UN. It has all changed.Likewise, the Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, even with DPKO embroiled in sexual abuse scandals, rarely takes any questions, and even then only selectively.
Overall, media access must improve at the UN. The UN needs a Freedom of Information Act. FUNCA will work on this. Watch this space.