The head of the New-York based UN Correspondents Association spoke on Thursday in defense of the right of Taiwanese journalists to enjoy access to the UN and its affiliated agencies and bodies.
Speaking at a conference marking 2008 World Press Freedom Day at the UN headquarters, association president J. Tuyet Nguyen said that while the UN continues to state the importance of and the need for freedom of expression, access and empowerment, there are still news workers who are excluded from access to the UN and its affiliated agencies and bodies.
Nguyen said that the Geneva-based Association of Correspondents Accredited to the UN passed a resolution in March asking UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to reconsider the policy of excluding media representatives who hold Taiwanese passports from covering the UN.
Nguyen said that while Switzerland and the US — where the UN headquarters and affiliated agencies and bodies are located — grant visas to Taiwanese journalists and camera crews, the UN nevertheless discriminates against them.
He added that the US Overseas Press Club and other international journalist groups had written Ban asking the UN to face the issue involving reporters’ rights to fair and transparent news coverage.
Noting that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right as stated in Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Nguyen said all news workers should be allowed access to direct news coverage.
Ban, in his speech to the conference, also quoted Article 19, which stipulates that people have the freedom of expression and freedom of seeking, accepting and disseminating news and ideas through access to media bodies.
World Press Freedom Day is a day designated by the UN to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression.
Proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, the day is celebrated on May 3, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991.