Is it acceptable, in the UN Press Briefing Room, for the Permanent Representative of a P5 Security Council member to cut off a correspondent’s critical question and say, “You are not a journalist, you are an agent,” as French Ambassador Gerard Araud did on April 15? Video here.
The Free UN Coalition for Access says no. On April 16, UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric was asked to convey the generic principle that correspondents should be respected to the French Mission to the UN. He declined. Video here.
Nor would he answer how or if this principle is applied to the UN’s own officials, such as the Under Secretary General of Peacekeeping who has been allowed to refuse to answer particular media’s questions. Compilation here.
The Association which says it should not be named has done nothing about the latter. While on April 16 one of its Executive Committee members wanly raised the issue, when it actually happened others of its big wigs, on video, bemoaned the maligned correspondent even getting a question. See beginning of this video. This from an Association which claims some unwritten right to always take and brand the first question – even if no coverage at all results from it.
For these reasons, as well as the Association’s willingness to engage in outright censorship and to seek to get other journalists thrown out, as documented under the Freedom of Information Act, it is inappropriate that it set itself up as an exclusive intermediary to events of a Security Council presidency. The incoming presidency has been informed to this effect by FUNCA and has in at least moved toward greater access. There will be more.
As to the Spokesperson’s Office, it remains important that they publicly articulate a policy on in deference for whom and for which countries noon briefing will be postponed. Questions on which a later answer is promised should, in fact, be answered on a timely basis. Needless restrictions on access for non-resident “Green Ps” should be ended, and more information be provided in the UN Media Alert, for photographers and others. Nor only work tables but additional electrical outlets should be provided or allowed at the UNSC stakeout. We will have more on all this. Watch this site.