Media access has been in decline at the UN; now it must improve. For the UN General Assembly, rather than wall off the media, there should be more question and answer stakeouts, more open meetings, more answers given by UN officials and by the Office of the UN Spokesperson.
It starts from the top. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for the first eight months of 2015 did not hold a single sit-down Q&A press conference in UN Headquarters. The Free UN Coalition for Access says this is… UNacceptable.
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. On September 11, while refusing to answer about his role in trying to fire the whistleblower who revealed the Sangaris forces’ alleged rapes in the Central African Republic, Ladsous explained the rapes as related to a lack of “recreation” for peacekeepers, and suggested “relatively cheap R&R trips.” Video here. FUNCA says…UNacceptable.
During UNGA’s High Level segment, correspondents should be provided maximum access, for example to the 1B level of the UN Conference Building; no restrictions on the use of new / social media from there are acceptable, as FUNCA has raised. FUNCA supports pool coverage of photo-ops, but any pool reports should be disseminated to all correspondents, through MALU or through the Spokesperson’s Office.
The UN Press Briefing Room cannot be privatized to any member state, and no correspondents should be excluded, as was apparently agreed to when FUNCA asked on September 11, 2015 (but as previously was allowed to occur in September 2014, story here, video here).
Overall, media access must improve at the UN, during UNGA and beyond. The UN needs a Freedom of Information Act. FUNCA will work on this. Watch this space.