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Letter to UN Secretary General, Kofi A. Annan


The Honorable Kofi A. Annan
Secretary-General of the United Nations
United Nations Headquarters
New York, NY, 10017

Dear Mr. Annan:

The Society of Professional Journalists, the largest journalism organization in the United States, again notes with dismay the denial of press credentials to the journalists of Taiwan who wish to cover events within the U.N. and its affiliates.

We have been informed that the World Health Organization has for the third year in a row refused to accredit Taiwanese journalists for press access to the upcoming 59th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland.

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.


David E. Carlson

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