An open letter to the UN and the Security Council
By: Izzadin Abdul Rasoul
The United Nations is symbol of democracy, leadership and good governance. In our local communities, if someone says, “I am one of the UN staff”, then every body looks at him as a pattern of good behavior in the service of humanity. The person chosen to serve in the UN is a person believed to be of good academic qualification and good human behavior, which enable him to be a model citizen of the world. My cousin who was working for UNDP in Addis Ababa, when he came back home was regarded as such a model. This is how UN personnel are regarded in our communities.
With all due respect for the high esteem in which the UN is held around the globe, let me to express my deep regrets concerning the behavior of the UNIMIS polices towards media personnel in Sudan.
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about seven reporters for different newspapers assembled at the reception, waiting for the statement from the ministry’s spokesman. One of the reporters read news from the conference held at UNIMIS headquarters and was asking his friend if he had attended that conference. The reporter answered his friend by saying, “You know the UN in Sudan has become the same as the Government of Sudan; they invite only those whom they think are on their line.” He said that any newspaper reporter who asks very critical questions is excluded from the next conference. These days they only call for certain reporters whom they think don’t cause trouble to them.” He continued to say, “My friend, the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN in Sudan, Jan Pronk has become an NCP member.”
These words made all the reporters present laugh. Another reporter said that UNIMIS in Sudan used to send text messages to those whom they want to attend their press conferences. I barged in the conversation of those two reporters, saying, “You guys, I was thinking that the Citizen newspaper is the only newspaper excluded from the conferences of UNIMIS.” Then I told them that I wrote an article protesting about such polices.
As far as I know, the presence of the UN in Sudan is to promote democracy. The promotion of democracy will never take place by following polices of exclusiveness and rejecting the counter opinions. I agree that any misconduct out of professional ethics is not acceptable by any means; however this does not mean that if any reporter from a certain newspaper misbehaves, it should lead to media house he or she works for being excluded from such important conferences as those of UNIMIS. The individual reporter might be banned, if that is what UNIMIS thinks best; but to my mind I think it wiser and more appropriate in such instances to enter a dialogue with the reporter in an effort to achieve a better mutual understanding. However, under no circumstances should the media house be froze out, even if a misunderstanding occurs that necessitates UNIMIS to dialogue with its editors.
In the event UNIMIS decides that it cannot tolerate a particular reported, it is proper administration that an official letter be sent explaining the reasons for imposing a ban on him or her, so that the newspaper will be able to send an alternative reporter.
Therefore I call upon the UN and the Security Council to consider this issue in the light of its good image in local communities around the world.
Sudan today is a focal point of the international community’s attention. If these peace agreements signed between the Government of Sudan and its counterparts succeed, the success will be largely attributed to the UN and the family of the international community, which did its best to bring peace in a war torn country like Sudan. If the UN is a good example, the possibility of realizing good governance will enjoy the faith of us all. Therefore, the UN must change some of its polices and clean its face before the international community.
As I am an individual belonging to the international community and my country is a member at the UN, I recommend that the UN have a special mechanism to follow up the behaviors of its senior staff around the world. I am sure that my complaint is not the sole problem in the realm of the United Nations, even though such problems may not occur on a wide scale. It looks very strange for an ordinary and meek individual like myself to write about fouls of the UN. But I do think every individual around the globe must be encouraged to mention the mistakes of the UN so that we could be able to create a healthy international body that could be able to handle the big problems of our small world in transparency.
God save the UN from the greedy mealy mouths, who always exploit the UN for personal interests and spoil the reputation of our international body. Amen