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U.N. Report

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Taiwan unwanted

The Committee to Protect Journalists last week sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanding that Taiwanese reporters be accredited to cover the United Nations.

CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon noted in his letter that excluding journalists based on the passports they hold is "clearly interfering with the ability to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers," referring to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Writers from such reputable publications as the China Times and Taipei Times have been refused accreditation since the early 1970s, when the United Nations kicked out Taiwan and admitted mainland China in its place.

Ban spokeswoman Michele Montas deferred to the organization's China policy as well as a subsequent General Assembly decision that "no journalist coming from a country that is not a member of the United Nations shall be accredited here."

"We are an association of member states, and the Secretariat has a limited function and cannot go against the will of the General Assembly," she said.

The Chinese Mission says its objection to Taiwanese press is limited to reporters who present Taiwanese passports as identification, which it says is not a legitimate document.

Reporters for Taiwanese press and broadcast outlets who hold passports from other nations presumably would be acceptable.

Piqued Congress

Congress is starting to throw its weight around on U.N. funding issues.

Last week, the House made even more clear its disgust for the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, defunding it for recent decisions to end the ongoing inquiries of Cuba and Belarus while maintaining its scrutiny of Israel. The money, roughly $3 million, will be spent instead on the moribund U.N. Democracy Fund.

Lawmakers are also disenchanted with the U.N. Development Program, shaving an arbitrary $20 million from the U.S. contribution after U.N. audits confirmed Washington's suspicions that the organization was paying cash to North Korea and allowing the government to dictate local hiring.

The House also approved $1.3 billion for U.N. peacekeeping, rejecting the Bush administration's initial funding cuts.

Seven wonders?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is tetchy about a rival campaign to select the "New Seven Wonders of the World." The campaign was initiated in 2000 by self-proclaimed Swiss adventurer, filmmaker and antique plane enthusiast Bernard Weber, who UNESCO says has approached it several times for support.

UNESCO says it has refused.

"There is no comparison between Mr. Weber's campaign and the scientific and educational work resulting from the inscription of sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List," the organization said in a widely circulated e-mail.

The private campaign to rename the seven wonders allows anyone with an e-mail account or a telephone to vote.

"Scientific criteria must be defined, the quality of candidates evaluated, and legislative and management frameworks set up. The relevant authorities must also demonstrate commitment to these frameworks as well as to permanently monitoring the state of conservation of sites. The task is one of technical conservation and political persuasion," UNESCO says.

Adding to the sting, no doubt, is the presence of former UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor, who is listed as the chairman of the panel for the private campaign.

Mexico's Chichen Itza, the Taj Mahal, the Statute of Liberty, the Kremlin and the Sydney Opera House are among the 27 candidates, as selected by 60 million people.

The winners will be announced on July 7.

Betsy Pisik may be reached by e-mail at BPisik@WashingtonTimes.com

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