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Open the door, De Boer!

Posted by Molly Walsh on December 17, 2009 at 03:36 PM

foei locked outWhat happened yesterday was a nail in the coffin for any belief I might ever have had left that the UNFCCC is an open democratic and transparent process.We heard a few days ago that every NGO group would only be allowed 20% of their registered people inside the Bella Centre. This was apparently because of capacity. WE were not pleased about this. If a process is to be open and transparent ngos must be able attend and see what is going on. Anyway we did what we were told and just like all the other observer organisations at the COP we picked some of our people to go in. These people were going to be given a white card that would now be needed along with our UN photo id that everyone has around their neck. I was lucky enough to be chosen as one for these people. This system of white cards and primary passes worked OK for Tuesday. Things were a bit quieter but we did manage to do a good flash mob action wearing blue ponchos and chanting "we stand with Africa, Kyoto targets now".Minister Eamon Ryan even joined in a bit, without really knowing what he was being dragged into!

The next day, Wednesday, I got up early and left the hostel in the cold and dark to arrive at the Bella Centre for 8am. With both of my required passes I was ushered through all the barriers by the Danish police. When I arrived at the final check of the ID badge by the scanner system of the UN suddenly there was a problem. The computer made a rejection noise and a red flash went across the screen along with the word SUSPENDED! The stoney faced UN security officer told me to step aside, I wasn't going anywhere. I soon found my other colleagues from Friends of the Earth also standing dejected in the lobby. Somebody was sent to negotiate with the secretariat of the UN to find out why they had suspended us. Initially the answer they gave was that the action we had taken the previous day in support of African calls for strong targets had been unsanctioned and so we were being punished. Our chair Nnimmo from Nigeria, was escorted inside to negotiate on our behalf. Those of us left behind sat around wondering what to do. We were only allowed to go to the toilet if we were escorted by a security guard. One of our team, a brilliant human rights lawyer from England was asked by security if she could be the ngo liaison for toilet trips!

Nnimmo returned having been fed a different story about why we were suspended that we were a sensitive group and they were afraid that we would walk out to join the protest outside that day. And then Yvo de Boer came to address us and fed us some crap about capacity restrictions and him being between a rock and a hard place. This was extremely frustrating to hear especially after we had accepted already the restriction of having to choose some people who could come in and some who had to stay outside. And if it was because of capacity restrictions why pick on Friends of the Earth? FOE is the largest grassroots NGO here, made up of member groups from 77 countries. Our organization represents millions of people around the world and provides a critical voice promoting climate justice inside the UN. Perhaps there was no room for climate justice inside that day. Perhaps the UNFCCC is reaching new levels in their attempts to facilitate back room deals by the rich countries, by excluding one ngo that they know will always call them on it. We had sat in the lobby from before 8am until about 2pm, when we left after being refused access to the most important talks of out time. Welcome to the UN.

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