CONTACT: Dan Kubiske, co-chair, International Journalism Committee, email@example.com
INDIANAPOLIS – Society of Professional Journalists President Irwin Gratz today sent the following letter to the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, protesting the denial of accreditation for Taiwan journalists seeking to cover the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland:
May 20, 2005
Dear Mr. Annan:
The Society of Professional Journalists, the largest journalism organization in the United States, notes with dismay the rules for accreditation the United Nations recently enacted.
We have recently been informed that earlier this year the United Nations added language to its accreditation policy that excludes news organizations and journalists. The policy demands a passport and other identification from “a State recognized by the United Nations General Assembly.”
This policy of exclusion is in direct violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which states, “Everyone has the right…to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Article 19 says nothing about political recognition of states or entities. Its language is clear and unambiguous. The people of the world have the right to seek, receive, and impart information without regard to borders. To deny legitimate news organizations access to the proceedings of the United Nations and its affiliated organizations does a disservice to the people served by those news organizations as well as the United Nations itself.
We call on the United Nations to return to its original policy of providing credentials to news organizations regardless of the origin of the organization or of the journalists. We call on the United Nations to adhere to Article 19 of the UDHR.
Irwin L. Gratz
The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. SPJ is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, and based in Indianapolis, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed public, works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists, and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.