United Nations headquarters in New York
UNITED NATIONS – A review of access-policy decisions by the United Nations has revealed a spotty history, with organizations such as the Nation of Islam and Hamas welcomed even though news site WorldNetDaily’s recent request for permission for a senior reporter to cover the organization’s Copenhagen global-warming summit was denied.
U.N. officials rejected WND’s request then stood by the decision even though their stated reason for rejection was shown to be based on false information.
Media coordinator Axel Wuestenhagen told WND’s legal counsel, Gary Kreep, that WND, “as a for-profit subsidiary of the nonprofit Western Journalism Center,” did not qualify for media credentials. However, Joseph Farah, founder of both WND and the Western Journalism Center, confirmed WND was not a subsidiary of the center.
While a proposed meeting between U.N. officials and WND is pending regarding any future news coverage of the world-government body, a review of U.N. access decisions reveals some interesting choices.
U.N. access decisions involved controversial religious groups, political-action groups and groups that appear on the Department of State’s terrorist watch list.
For example, Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, through its official communications organ The Final Call, has been recognized by the U.N. as a “bona fide” member of the international press corps for almost a decade.
The Final Call, the website successor to the newspaper Muhammad Speaks (a reference to Farrakhan’s predecessor Elijah Muhammad), sits alongside such news outlets as The New York Post and Voice of America at U.N. headquarters.
Claiming to be independent, Farrakhan has also publicly taken great pride in the support he has received from the Libyan government and its controversial leader Col. Muammar Gadhafi.
On several past occasions, Farrakhan has used his Libyan connections to gain access to the U.N.’s press-briefing room to espouse positions of the Nation of Islam.
Last September, Farrakhan’s followers paraded across midtown Manhattan to meet the Libyan leader, causing traffic jams as the New York Police Department just looked on.
While Farrakhan and his Libyan sponsors have been given unrestricted access to the U.N. and its facilities, the same cannot be said for press based in Taiwan or any other entity critical of the People’s Republic of China.
Since 1971, when the U.N. transferred the Republic of China’s seat to the communist government in Beijing, no media based in Taiwan have been granted access to the world body’s New York City headquarters.
The Chinese U.N. mission has insisted all the access China needs is already in place. That means Beijing-based media such as China Central TV and Xinhua are given free rein while The China Post and Taiwan Television cannot get in the door.
Another group, the religious/meditational Falun Gong, has also been a target of the PRC.
Officially labeled as subversive, Beijing diplomats have sought to suppress Falun Gong supporters wherever they may appear.
The group has routinely been denied access to U.N. headquarters, and reporters from their newspaper, The Epoch Times, commonly found on newsstands throughout Manhattan, have no accredited representatives at U.N. headquarters, unlike Farrakhan’s Final Call.
The Times, however, has often been able to penetrate the U.N. and get its newspaper unofficially distributed through sympathetic members of the press corps.
Dissident Chinese students are also routinely barred from U.N. headquarters.
In one instance, the U.N. Correspondents Club members saw the club doors nailed shut literally by U.N. security under direct orders from then Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Boutros-Ghali was under pressure by the Chinese mission to block an address by a student who had participated in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
A reporter photographing the lockdown had his film confiscated by the U.N.’s press spokesman Joe Sills.
The secretary-general explained to journalists at the time that the U.N. was a “house of quiet diplomacy.” He insisted allowing the Chinese student access to U.N. headquarters would have violated that rule.
That clampdown by the PRC military resulted in the deaths of more than 400 protesters, mostly students, according to the New York Times.
Hamas, an avowed terrorist organization, which has fought with Fatah for control of the Palestinian Authority but is not recognized internationally, was approved by the U.N. as a nongovernmental organization.
The group, which wasn’t shy about lobbying news organizations to push its controversial political agenda, especially the eradication of the state of Israel, is best remembered for gifts presented to selected journalists.
The gift? A pen with a “happy face” emblazoned with the message “from your friends at Hamas.”
Meanwhile, until the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, the Taliban, though never seated in the U.N.’s General Assembly, did get nongovernmental-organization status, which it used to lobby the U.N. press corps for its fundamentalist Islamic agenda.
But after the U.S. invasion in 2001, the Taliban representatives subsequently disappeared from the U.N. compound, never to be seen again.
Perhaps one of the strangest groups officially recognized by the U.N. was the North American Man/Boy Love Association.
The group, a well-publicized “gay” pedophilia organization based in New York and San Francisco, has been the target of undercover police campaigns in both cities.
The organization, publicly labeled by law-enforcement bodies as criminal for its distribution of child pornography, nonetheless was able to gain official U.N. recognition in the early 1990s.
How? NAMBLA was part of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, which was also granted U.N. nongovernmental-organization status.
Once NAMBLA was exposed in a series of published reports, the U.N., under pressure from the U.S. Congress, which threatened to block U.S./U.N. funds, moved to expel both organizations.
ILGA, which eventually distanced itself from NAMBLA and has itself not been accused of criminal activities, sought several times to regain its U.N. accreditation, the latest attempt coming in January 2006. It failed.
But more telling have been decisions taken by NBC and CNN to reduce their U.N. coverage.
Almost two years ago, CNN International canceled its weekly U.N. news show “Diplomatic License.” The reason, say insiders, was little continuing interest from commercial sponsors.
And NBC, in a network-wide cost-cutting move, recently abandoned regular staffing of its U.N. bureau for the first time in more than 15 years.
The networks “just don’t see much going on here any more,” confided one network-news reporter.
Ironically, a public-opinion poll taken earlier this year revealed more than 60 percent of Americans do not know Ban Ki-moon is the current U.N. secretary-general despite almost three years in office.
In a commentary column about the issue, Farah wrote, “It’s evident the U.N. is pulling out all the stops for a major global power grab in Copenhagen – and they don’t want any impartial witnesses around to report its shenanigans.”
If you’re a member of the press and would like to interview Joseph Farah, e-mail [email protected].