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UN Uses UNCA to Ban Free Press, Hypocrisy Like Haiti, Astroturf like Darfur

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 9 -- The UN too often preaches one thing but does another. It preaches accountability, then covers up its proven role in introducing cholera into Haiti.

  At a different level, it criticizes governments for dictating with which groups they will negotiate -- for example these days in Syria -- while the UN in New York undermines free press by only negotiating such things as physical access and conditions for reporting with the one entity it has chosen, the UN Correspondents Association.

  The UN has "Media Guidelines," and claims these are legitimate because they were negotiated with "the media." But by "the media" the UN actually only means "UNCA."

  This is similar to the way the Sudanese government created then negotiated with the Liberty & Justice Movement in Darfur, thereby marginalize the actual opposition.

  LJM was founded and is headed, as Inner City Press exposed, by a former UN staff member who for a time was a UN-paid Darfur "rebel." LJM has been dubbed "Astroturf," a synthetic grassless sports surface: fake grassroots.

   The UN's Media Guidelines, formally the "Guidelines on Media Access at United Nations Headquarters," say they are an agreement involving the "Office of the Spokesperson of the Secretary-General" (Ban Ki-moon) and "the United Nations Correspondents Association."

  How can the UN's media access guidelines be dictated by an agreement with UNCA, which does not represent (or defend) all journalists at the UN?

  This is particularly problematic because anyone deemed, without due process, to have violated these UNCA-agreed guidelines will face "withdrawal of their accreditation."

  As previously exposed, a stealth allegation of violation was filed with MALU by UNCA Louis Charbonneau First Vice President. Charbonneau is the bureau chief of Reuters which on May 21 made unauthorized uncredited use of Inner City Press' March 28 exclusive story that US official Jeffrey Feltman will come work at the UN.

  So big media can use the UN-legitimated UNCA to seek to expel smaller media which beats them on stories. Then the UN's MALU does not even inform the small media (in this case Inner City Press) that the complaint has been filed. Due process? Not at the UN.

  As simply another example, the UN / UNCA rules agreed with UNCA state that "No cameras or photographers will be allowed in the cordoned off area by the stairs." But some are allowed, and others not.

  Likewise, those on the UNCA Executive Committee have been allowed by the UN to make decisions, fraught with conflicts of interest and payback, on which media get offices, big offices, studios. UNCA Executive Committee members have spend much time ensuring themselves big spaces, mostly furthering their own interests and not even those of the other "general" UNCA members, much less non-UNCA members.

  Then there is the question of accreditation of bloggers, which Inner City Press has fought for since arriving to cover the UN. The President of UNCA Giampioli Pioli first proposed agreeing with the UN on a rule that would not include bloggers, then would confine them to a footnote, and impose on them a different standard than is applicable to other media.

  In light of the special status the UN accords to UNCA, legally, UNCA's acts can be attributable to the UN.

(An aside on law: on June 8 UNCA's Pioli announced he was "suspending" Inner City Press, an act for which there is no provision in the UNCA Constitution. But he did it, and this is the organization the UN exclusively negotiates the rights of all journalists with.)

So, for example, when the UNCA Executive Committee proceeds with a witch hunt and kangaroo court against Inner City Press, and the process is amplified and turned into threats by Sri Lankan government media and Sinhalese extremists around the world, including in New York -- all of this is attributable to Ban Ki-moon's UN.

  This is particularly true because the UN Secretariat, its Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, senior advisers to Ban and others have all seen this witch hunt developing, have formally been given copies of the Sri Lanka newspaper articles, and have done nothing.

Apparently, they like it.

  When UNCA President Giampaolo Pioli on June 8 for the upteenth time threatened to sue and bankrupt small media Inner City Press if it did not take down its reporting that Pioli accepted rent money from Palitha Kohona, the UN official who is now, through another revolving door, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN -- this too might be attributed to Ban Ki-moon's UN, if not to the Sri Lankan government.

There are other connections. When Inner City Press tried to cover the meetings of Ban Ki-moon's Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations to see if alleged war criminal Sri Lankan government Shavendra Silva was still attending, Ban's MALU told Inner City Press No, citing a meeting with UNCA.

It's all very convenient. But in fact, the acts of UNCA are attributable in these ways and many others to the UN. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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