UNSG Hits New Low, Meeting with P-5 FM Undisclosed, Amid Bribery & Rosewood Scandals, Still No Content-Neutral Media Access Rules

Today’s UN has hit yet another new low in which the Secretary General on January 18 meet with the foreign minister of a Permanent Five member of the UN Security Council without even disclosing it in his public schedule, making it Closed Press like his swearing in of the head of the Department of “Public” Information. (The Secretary General’s spokesman, when Pressed, called it a “private dinner” – but it had a very public topic, now published here.)

This while DPI has no content neutral rules for accreditation or the assignment of work-space and resident correspondent status, no due process for journalists, no Freedom of Information Act.

In the wake of the Secretary General’s belated January 16 press conference 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 the UN Global Compact. Then there’s his Deputy’s signing of 4000 certificates to export endangered rosewood still unresolved after the Geneva meeting of UN CITES. The questions must be answered, and abuses reversed, in the earliest part of 2018.

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. There must be content neutral access rules; independent / investigative media cannot be given lesser access. Watch this space.