UN vs Press Freedom

UN vs Press FreedomOn 29 April 2010, UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, made these Remarks at observance of World Press Freedom Day:

Thank you, Mr. Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for DPI,
Excellency Dr Mohamad; Acting President of the GA,
Your Excellency Ambassador Monteiro Lima; Chair of COI,
President of UNCA, Mr Pioli;
Ms Alfsen of UNESCO,
Excellencies,
Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here for our annual observance of World Press Freedom Day.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

But around the world, Governments and those who wield power use many different ways to obstruct it.

They impose high taxes on newsprint, making newspapers so expensive that people cannot afford to buy them.

Independent radio and TV stations are forced off the air if they criticize Government policies.

The censors are active in cyberspace too, preventing people from accessing websites for political reasons, and arresting citizen journalists.

In some parts of the world, journalists are imprisoned for years, on dubious or non-existent charges.

Elsewhere, they risk intimidation and harassment, and even their lives, simply for doing their jobs.

Simply for exercising their right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, through any media, and regardless of frontiers.

Last year, UNESCO condemned the killing of 77 journalists.

These were not high-profile war correspondents, killed in the heat of battle.

Most of them worked for small, local publications in peacetime. They were killed for attempting to expose wrongdoing or corruption.

I condemn these murders and insist that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

All Governments have a duty to protect those who work in the media.

This protection must include investigating and prosecuting those who commit crimes against journalists.

Impunity gives the green light to criminals and murderers, and empowers those who have something to hide.

Over the long term, it has a corrosive and corrupting effect on society as a whole.

Ladies and gentlemen, Distinguished members of the media,

Our theme this year is Freedom of Information: the right to know.

The good news is that there is a global trend towards new laws which recognize the universal right to publicly held information.

But these new laws do not always translate into action.

Requests for official information are often refused, or delayed, for years.

At times, poor information management is to blame. But all too often, this happens because of a culture of secrecy and a lack of accountability.

We must work to change attitudes and to raise awareness.

People have a right to information that affects their lives. States have a duty to provide this information. Such transparency is essential to good government.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I welcome today’s panel discussion on the right to know in South-East Asia. The countries of this dynamic region have a broad spectrum of standards for press freedom, and a range of serious problems, from impunity to state repression.

Publicising these issues, and advocating for solutions, are important ways of raising awareness and showing solidarity.

The United Nations stands with persecuted journalists and media professionals everywhere.

Today, as every day, I call on Governments, civil society and people around the world to recognize the important work of media, and to stand up for freedom of information.

Thank you very much.

* * *

On 29 April 2010 (the same day) a letter was sent from the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs to The UN Post, attempting to shut down our publication:

UN vs Press Freedom

UN vs Press Freedom

* * *

UN vs Press FreedomDo you see the UN’s contradictions, actions conflicting with statements, and downright confusion?

Did you notice that while the UN Secretary-General was saying “The censors are active in cyberspace too, preventing people from accessing websites for political reasons” on the same day his Office of Legal Affairs was writing to The UN Post saying “we demand that you immediately cease and desist from using the abbreviation of the United Nations in the title of your online forum or in any other manner in connection with your activities“?

Did you catch this interesting part of the last statement “or in any other manner in connection with your activities“? Do they really mean to totally censor the The UN Post from mentioning, discussing or exposing the UN?

Well, here are the facts, we never claimed to be a part of the UN or affiliated with it in any way, to the contrary, from day one, we stated that we will expose the abuse, waste, mismanagement, misconduct, harassment and corruption of the UN; and that we will provide independent insight into the United Nations and world affairs. Every page of The UN Post had this statement printed, not once but twice, at the top of each and every page “Independent Insight into the United Nations and World Affairs“, once as text that gets translated into over 50 languages and once as an image that is shown as is in any browser and under any computing environment. Additionally, at the bottom of each and every page of this website there is again the statement: “Independent Insight into the United Nations and World Affairs“.

Furthermore, the About page of The UN Post makes it abundantly clear that “The UN Post is not associated with the United Nations or any of its Funds, Programs or Agencies. The contents of The UN Post website are not official documents of the United Nations.

As you can see, the frivolous argument of the UN’s Office of Legal Affairs that The UN Post was misleading, is without any basis, furthermore the far-fetched claim by the same office that the United Nations owns the two alphabetical letters U and N is even more frivolous especially that the UN logo was never used in the logo of The UN Post or even resembled.

It is then clear that such a letter by the UN’s Office of Legal Affairs is designed to

  1. silence us, to that we say, we will continue our mission with even more determination.
  2. distract us, to that we say, we will not be distracted by arguments and debates about the two letters in the logo “The UN” we will continue our mission with even more focus, we have enough online presence as evident in the million plus online hits we get every month, we don’t even need the two letters “The UN” in a separate logo to continue to succeed, unpost.net is well established, well recognized and well respected for fair, independent, balanced and professional insights into the United Nations and World Affairs. Besides unpost.net, we now have another great domain name that is UNPo.st (www.unpo.st) without .org or any other extension.
  3. waste time and resources, to that we say, we are not falling for it and we whole heartedly wish that instead of wasting time and resources on writing these letters, the UN’s Office of Legal Affairs can better serve the organization by contributing to internally cleaning up the mess and being a force for reform and transparency instead of going after such frivolous and wasteful arguments over two letters that the UN does not own in the first place.

We did a quick Internet search for US companies that have ” UN ” in their names, the result is 65194 companies, that is more than sixty five thousand companies in the United States alone have ” UN ” in their names. If you do the same search of all countries, the number will be much larger. Is the UN Office of Legal Affairs going to demand all these companies to cease and desist using ” UN ” in their names? or is The UN Post being singled out because of its effective reporting and insight into the United Nations?

Another quick search on websites such as youtube, dailymotion, liveleak, metacafe, and vimeo for Internet postings that display the real UN logo; returned hundreds of thousands of pictures and movies displaying the UN logo. Is the UN Office of Legal Affairs going to demand all these sources to cease and desist using  the UN logo in their pictures and movies? or is The UN Post being singled out with this special treatment for political reasons, although we don’t  even use the UN logo?

The UN Secretary-General mentioned above Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, here it is:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

To my colleagues, reporters and contributors: Allison Ali, Gabriella Pickard, Justin Da, Melise Huggins, Tom McGregor, Venkatarama Muthuswami, Wimal Ediriwira and Yasamin Hamid; I say congratulations, they are trying to silence you because of your courage, excellent reporting, fairness and professionalism; that is the measure of success. So, carry on and keep up the great work you are doing; continue to support UN reform, transparency, fairness, effectiveness and the new Internal Justice System and its Honorable Judges.

To our readers, commenters and sponsors; I say thank you, it is because of your support, encouragement, comments, agreements and disagreements that we do what we do. Your patronage, support and companionship fuel our energy and guide our steps; and for that, we are eternally grateful.

Finally, today is 3 May 2010, happy World Press Freedom Day everyone.

M. Alaadin A. Morsy

Copyright © 2010 • UNPost • All Rights Reserved

3 Replies to “UN vs Press Freedom”

  1. As we bid farewell to erudite Judge Adams (he said he was leaving by 18 May 2010), his honest assessment of the existing UN administrative system should be made known to the UN General Assembly who should be responsible to ensure a truly independent and transparent judicial machinery, that is capable of rendering true “justice” not politically correct judgments to suit the whims of the powerful bureaucracy. This will not happen unless there is clear separation of powers, with the Internal Justice System fully independently resourced, managed and with the power to enforce its judgements.  UN General Assembly should  have the courage to unravel the mischiefs played elegantly and subtly by the bureaucracy and ensure that the ground rules of governance is strictly adhering to the accepted universal rule of law and human rights.

  2. Reviewing recent Judgments/Orders of the UN Internal Justice System, a Judgment and an Order are rather telling of the UN Administration attitudes towards the UN staff rights and the UN justice system.

    In Judgment No: UNDT/2010/095 Dated: 18 May 2010 Honorable Judge Michael Adams wrote:
    It strikes me as extraordinary that the loyalty of a staff member such as the applicant should be exploited by the Organization in this way, without any practical acknowledgment of her generosity. It is wrong in principle to take advantage of services for which the Organization is unwilling to pay yet whose work is thought to be necessary because of a lack of appropriate foresight of inevitable circumstances, (which need not be set out here). I am regrettably unable to make any orders in respect of this matter but, having now brought the issue to the attention (I hope) of senior officials, I can only trust that Organization will find it possible to do the decent thing and pay the applicant a gratuity for the work so generously provided and so ungratefully accepted.

    Honorable Judge Adams describes the UN staff member as loyal and generous. Honorable Judge Adams describes the UN Administration as exploiting and lacking of appropriate foresight. Bravo Honorable Judge Michael Adams for continuing to call actions and inactions with the right names and adjectives.

    In Order No: 83 (NBI/2010) Dated: 17 May 2010 Honorable Judge Nkemdilim Izuako wrote:
    The Tribunal does not find any ambiguity between the above-mentioned Appeal Judgment and Judgment No. UNDT/2010/089. Accordingly, pursuant to Article 30 of the UNDT Rules of Procedure, the Tribunal finds that this Application is not admissible and, REJECTS the Respondent’s Application for Interpretation.

    In an apparent attempt to delay and obstruct justice, the UN Administration filed the above Application on 13 May 2010, requesting clarification of Judgment No. UNDT/2010/089, instead of respecting and carrying out that judgment. Bravo Honorable Judge Nkemdilim Izuako for rejecting (in capital letters) the UN Administration attempts to manipulate the justice system.

  3. What a sad day that such things should happen from within UN when the “Freedom of Press day” (3 May 2010) being celebrated and written about in many of the world press.

    It is just common sense; if the United Nations consists of all member states, the symbol, its ideas and actions are related to the collective expression of all citizens of those countries. The same citizens have the right to express different ideas, opinions and arguments on any subject of human activitity. If the UN as an entity made up of ONLY a few thousand staff want to be the sole-owners of the name and form of the organisation, this can only show their lack of commitment to whatever that has been said in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN Charter. Copyrights for an invention maybe acceptable to provide recognition and reward to the inventor; however, it is foolish to hold on to the idea no other human being could not think or invent similar items or produce similar ideas. Physics tells us that we humans and all living organisms are connected; if this is so, how can any one person or organisation claim ownership of anything?

    Copyrighting “UN” and its mission objectives would amount to downfall of human civilisation, and death of human freedom. Allowing such intolerence to what others have to say, would only make the whole organisation weaker and less effective at a time when the world needs coherence, cooperation and collective wisdom for human progress.

    Hope good sense prevails before it is too late. Jai Ho!

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