UN Spox Takes Only 1 Press Q, Dodging on CAR, Nothing on Union: FUNCA
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, April 4 -- How should the UN Spokesperson's Office function?
On April 2 the Office gave answers on the takeover of Kassab in Syria to other media but not Inner City Press which asked about Kassab on April 2 (video here).
On April 4 the same spokesperson allowed Inner City Press only one question in the April 4 noon briefing, after calling on another media twice in a row. Video here at Minute 4:49 and 7:06, when Haq said, "Back to you, we're going round robin a bit."
But Inner City Press was only allowed to ask one question, about the Central African Republic, on which Haq despite a damning report from High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay earlier in the day repeatedly said, we have to wait, it is preliminary, you have acknowledged, you've used the formulation "some have said."
The question, still not answered, was whether given the abuse ascribed by the UN's Pillay to the Chadian military, UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous will continue to use Chadian soldiers in Mali, or will seek accountability. Note that Ladsous decided to allow the Chadian Army into the Mali mission despite it being on the UN's own list of child soldier recruiters.
When after a mere 12 minutes Haq said the briefing was over, Inner City Press - on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, if it must be said -- protested, saying that more questions existed. Haq said he he been standing up too long -- he didn't have to stand -- and then came and asked Inner City Press what its next question was. Inner City Press explained, and followed up with this e-mail minutes later:
Attached as you requested is the document I asked about, as Inner City Press' second question of today's noon briefing after the briefing, despite Inner City Press having four questions to ask, was ended.
A variation of the first page, but with the same draft SG Bulletin, has been widely circulated among UN staff, "in coordination with the UNOG Staff Coordinating Council."
Please confirm or deny this proposal at the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund and respond to the criticisms in the attached cover page.
Inner City Press has other questions but there remain long-outstanding unanswered questions, for example the March 13 question below on the dollar a year USGs (said to be on the "to do list"), and about the Qatar sponsored event held in the North Lawn building, March 21-1, first one below. When will those be answered?
Beyond Haq, this was sent to lead Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, who had said the $1 a year / envoy question was from March 13 was on his "to do" list.
But four hours later at 5 pm there had been no answer, not even an acknowledgement. And so Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access asked, how should the UN Office of the Spokesperson be allowed to operate?
Still unanswered: what is the UN policy on postponing its noon briefings in deference to particular countries? To whom does the Office of the UN Spokesperson answer?
... On March 27 arriving there at 12:10 pm, the briefing was already over. Inner City Press went and told deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq, "I wish you'd delayed it" to allow coverage of both Churkin's stakeout and the noon briefing.
Haq replied that there had been seven to eight people in the briefing room, so he began. (Actually, as the UN video shows, it was nearly empty and Haq joked, "Full house, I see" - click here to view: http://webtv.un.org/watch/daily-press-briefing-sg-in-greenland-sg-travels-security-council-darfur-south-sudan-afghanistan-myanmar/3399472188001/
...When new / old UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric phoned in a briefing from Moscow on his eleventh day on the job, the questions Haq chose for him all pointed in one direction, the type of favoritism growing ever worse at the UN.
Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq, who ended his truncated eight minutes of Q&A on the "rest of the world" by chiding Inner City Press for asking too many questions -- actually, only South Sudan and a UN Staff Union protest against Ban Ki-moon's mobility plan -- selected for Dujarric only one type of question.
In fact, the questions were repetitive, trying to get a statement from Ban even if only spokesperson-mediated that the Crimea referendum was illegal. Haq called on a series of executive committee members of the old UN Correspondents Association, which previously lobbied Dujarric to try to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN. Several of these, it has been noted there is no record of them writing or reporting about Ukraine. But this is how the UN works, or doesn't work, now. InnerCityPress.com