December 11, 2017 — Today’s UN has hit yet another new low in which the Secretary General has decided to not even hold an end of the year press conference, which his predecessor held, while now closing to the press the swearing-in of his top Communications official and holding stakeouts at which no questions are taken.
This comes while there are 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 about 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 these evasions and closings off to the press should not be accepted, much less honored.
Now not only UN Resident Coordinators, from Cameroon to Kenya, and the UN’s Yemen envoy block media accounts on social media: this now happens at the top of the UN Department of Public Information, whose USG was belatedly sworn in with the press banned last week and declined to provide any explanation.
Meanwhile as FUNCA has raised, 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. When the latter was announced on Sept 8, DPI USG Alison Smale was not present or answering questions and still has not, thirteen weeks in the job. 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, as the charge for & exclusion from LAN lines for journalists – and the lack of due process & FOIA. Watch this space.