April 2, 2018 — Today’s UN has hit yet another new low in which the Secretary General on March 30 after a scripted stakeout left New York unannounced, location undisclosed. Only after multiple Press questions over 17 hours, and in connection with a Security Council emergency meeting on Gaza, did the Office of the Spokesperson acknowledge Guterres was, again, in Lisbon, this time for four days.
This while UN DPI has no content neutral rules for accreditation or the assignment of work-space and resident status, no due process for journalists — no hearings or appeals, no rules for restoration as resident correspondent, no Freedom of Information Act.
In the wake of the Secretary General’s March 30 “press encounter” with the questioners pre-selected, there remain questions to be answered about his UN’s use of funds from a group whose UN representative had already been indicted for bribery of a former President of the General Assembly, and the alleged bribery’s beneficiary still in consultative status with ECOSOC. Then there’s his inaction on retaliation against whistleblowers at UNAIDS and elsewhere, and admitted attempt to investigative Press sources and where leaked documents are printed. This is UNacceptable. The questions must be answered, & abuses reversed, as a precedent.
Now not only UN Resident Coordinators, from Cameroon to Kenya, and the UN’s Yemen envoy block media accounts on social media: this continues at the top or penultimate position of DPI.
Meanwhile as FUNCA has raised, still unaddressed, a journalist from Western Sahara was denied access for not being from media “formally registered as a media organization by the UN General Assembly.” This exclusion, like the UN’s wider two-tier system, is UNjustifiable. DPI, charged with pushing out a pro-UN message, also has unfettered discretion in granting work space and full access (or not) to the media which cover the UN. This is Unacceptable. Watch this space.