By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, January 30 – One year and one day ago, covering the UN corruption scandals which have resulted in two sets of indictments for bribery involving the UN, Inner City Press was ordered to leave the UN Press Briefing Room by then Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Other correspondents were allowed to stay in the briefing room, which Dujarric had "lent" to the United Nations Correspondents Association. But he insisted that Inner City Press leave. Video here.
This was used as a pretext by Ban Ki-moon's head of communications Cristina Gallach to evicted Inner City Press and keep it, still now a year later, confined to minders to cover meetings on the UN's second floor. The UN Correspondents Association, which made Ban Ki-moon its guest of honor on December 16, 2016, has done nothing to diminish the restrictions on non-resident correspondents: quite the opposite.
On January 30, when UNCA again scheduled its annual meeting, Inner City Press informed and got the OK from the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, in advance, to stake the meeting out.
Last year the topic it sought to cover was UNCA's view of having put Ban together with the then- and now-indicted Macau based businessman Ng Lap Seng. This year, Ban's brother and nephew have been indicted for UN-related corruption. Do UNCA's leaders have any second thoughts about having made Ban Ki-moon their guest of "honor" barely six weeks ago?
Several correspondents paused and said no comment; there was an energetic "absolutely" to the idea of revoking Ban's guest of honor status. (Inner City Press wishes to make clear, as it was informed, it was guest of honor, not an award, rather a compass about climate change. Duly noted).
There was some complaining about a prospective rise in dues. One of the agenda items was "Proposal to membership on annual UNCA dues." Another was "proposal to the Secretary-General to visit the UNCA room."
And so it starts again? Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose?