By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, April 5-- Amid the latest in a series of allegations of child rapes against UN and French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, the UN General Assembly convened a meeting on April 5 in the UN's Trusteeship Council Chamber.
Inner City Press for two days asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Office of the Spokesperson how, with its accreditation capriciously reduced, it could stakeout and cover the meeting without a UN minder. Amazingly, this proved to be impossible. But Inner City Press still covered it.
First, Inner City Press was told by the guard at the turnstile at which Inner City Press' pass no longer work to “Go get MALU,” the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit. But MALU, when they came, said they were understaffed and did not even have the time to be Inner City Press' minder. So Inner City Press missed more than 15 minutes of the diplomats entering the meeting about rapes.
(Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric had previously said that if Inner City Press couldn't get through the turnstile, “Don't tweet about it, go talk to MALU.” Inner City Press this time followed the advice - but MALU would not get it through the turnstile. So Inner City Press did then tweet about it.)
Then MALU said they had time to be the minder of Inner City Press. This was done, at least for part of the time, along with a board member of the UN Correspondents Association. But even under this sinister watch, Inner City Press managed to speak to at least some Permanent Representatives, while others respectfully declined to speak, citing the minder.
One said they weren't much impressed by Jane Holl Lute's excuse that the response had been slow because the site of the rapes was remote and dangerous.
Another said a major P5 country's “intervention” had been ill-informed and unprepared. But most with whom Inner City Press spoke said it was good the session happened, that if the UN doesn't “man up” as one Permanent Representative put it to Inner City Press, its reputation will be hurt for decades.
Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff Edmond Mulet, who spoke in the meeting, left and at least smiled at Inner City Press. He has received letters to give to Ban, from Burundi and elsewhere.
Several diplomats, including one who for this reasons wouldn't not comment to Inner City Press about the meeting, commented that the requirement of a minder for the Press was absurd, wasteful and "beneath the UN." Another said, "But she's nice," referring to the minder. Inner City Press does not disagree, and is trying to be agreeable. But the restriction is not sustainable, is unjustified and must be reversed, shared office and Resident Correspondent accreditation restored.
While Inner City Press spoke with a Permanent Representative it has long known, an UNCA board member - we are being diplomatic here - came up from behind and moved the Perm Rep's scart (it was a cold day), then hugged him.
The Permanent Representative turned and asked, “Who are you?”
This individual walked freely without minder, apparently not covering the meeting on UN rapes. We'll have more on this.
Footnote: while staking out the UN rapes meeting regarding which some Perm Reps wouldn't speak to the Press because of the minder, Inner City Press also covered as a bonus the election to some ECOSOC bodies. People emerged, some with swag bags, some saying they hadn't accepted the bag to not "be on Inner City Press."
On April 5 the Narcotics Board was completed; on April 6 it will continue on the indigenous and three other ECOSOC bodies. Watch this site - unless Inner City Press remains Banned from covering this.