When UN’s Department of Public Information Goes Private, All Bets Are Off for Reform? FUNCA Presses Forward

The UN “Department of Public Information” needs to re-think the way it spreads information, or seeks to impede it.

   On February 22, DPI invited members of the Free UN Coalition for Access to a meeting, saying that a similar number of officials of the old UN Correspondents Association would attend.

    From the beginning FUNCA has made it clear that all meetings it attends are presumed to be on the record, particularly when with the UN Department of PUBLIC Information.

   When the word “Public” is in the name of your agency, you should not assume that what you say is in fact private — unless you explicitly say differently.

   And yet, DPI’s Stephane Dujarric in a letter sent February 27 at 6 pm says “we are deeply disappointed” with reporting on the meeting — reporting that, at least initially, did not name the speakers or even the venue.

   Dujarric, in a letter he sent five days after the meeting and two days after the referenced article was published, that “it was clearly understood by all sides that there would be no reporting or recording of the meeting.”

   This is a bizarre reconstruction of the past. It was and is not the understanding of FUNCA — nor even that expressed at the meeting by UNCA.

   The UNCA President said during the meeting, “he’s going to write this up.”

    Nobody present contradicted her, including her first vice president, who went on to complain in the meeting about his inability in 2012 to censor online reporting about UNCA, concerning UN Peacekeeping’s Herve Ladsous and UNCA film screening of a government film.  What’s to be “deeply disappointed” about now?

Click here where it is said, “you’re on the record” and  UNCA’s President says “he’s going to write this up.” Yes. But the letter of the UN’s Dujarric, who was there, pretends this was never said. And despite an immediate response and request from FUNCA, he has not explained it in the 36 hours since.

It appears, while the head of DPI is out of the country doing his job in Vienna at #AoC2013, that Dujarric is trying to use the accurate February 25 report as a rationale for not doing anything for example about the ten needed reforms FUNCA submitted on February 10. Is that his job, as the official in charge of accreditation, to formally criticize articles that are published?

   FUNCA has already told DPI that Dujarric may not be the right interlocutor, given his role in accepting and even encouraging in 2012 requests by UNCA to dis-accredit the investigative Press.

  His latest letter is just another reminder of why that is the case, at least for now.

   Dujarric himself, in DPI’s last meeting just with FUNCA (before it invited UNCA in to vent) told FUNCA it was free to tape record and publish. Note to Dujarric: if you try to change the rules, you have to announce it beforehand, not try to impose those changes retroactively.

  Now, going forward, there are clips of these previous meetings, of the UN’s Department of Public (?) Information and what has become its UN Censorship Alliance. FUNCA presses forward. Reforms and improved access remain our goals.