Secretary-General in Kenya; Green Climate Fund; UNRWA; and more

Secretary-General in Kenya: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today discussed the situations in Somalia and Sudan with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, taking note of progress since the adoption by Somalia’s leadership of a political roadmap on the restoration of peace and stability in the Horn of Africa. Mr. Ban reaffirmed UN support for the implementation of the roadmap by the Transitional Federal Government with the support of the international community. The Secretary-General also welcomed the endorsement by the Kenyan Parliament yesterday of the Government’s decision to have the country’s troops join the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which he said needed to be brought to its full capacity.

On Sudan, Mr. Ban, the President and the Foreign Minister discussed the need to resolve outstanding issues in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement  between Sudan and South Sudan, particularly the question of the disputed area of Abyei.

Green Climate Fund:
Financing received through the proposed Green Climate Fund should not exacerbate developing countries’ debt burdens, an independent UN human rights expert said today, calling for international banking institutions not to have too great an influence on the fund. “Climate finance should be provided in the form of grants and not loans,” UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights Cephas Lumina said in a statement. Mr. Lumina called on UNFCCC members to ensure the fund adopts a “country-driven approach and promotes meaningful and effective participation of all stakeholders, including communities, farmers, workers, women and other marginalized groups.” Mr. Lumina also stressed the Fund’s financing decisions should not be disproportionately influenced by the joint World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Debt Sustainability Framework (DSF), due to the history of the two multilateral creditors.

Israel questioned the use of the U.N. aid agency created exclusively for Palestinian refugees.  Addressing the United Nations in Geneva, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon argued Thursday against the two-tier system whereby Arabs displaced by the fighting in British Mandatory Palestine around the creation of the Jewish state in 1948, and their descendants, are tended to by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, while other refugees must look collectively to the U.N High Commissioner for Refugees. Israel says Palestinian refugees should resettle in a future Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or elsewhere.

Global food prices:
Global food prices in November were virtually unchanged from October, and 10 per cent below their peak in February, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today. FAO’s Food Price Index level was 215 points last month – just two points, or one per cent, above its level in November 2010, according to a news release issued by the Rome-based agency. The report confirmed a record level of world cereal production of 2,323 million tonnes for 2011, which should be enough to cover the expected increase in demand in 2011/12 and also allow for a moderate replenishment of world reserves.

The report also pointed out that, despite some improvements in Somalia thanks to substantial humanitarian assistance and favourable rains, food insecurity is expected to remain “critical” in drought-affected areas until the harvest of short-season crops in early 2012. In the Horn of Africa as a whole, food insecurity remained critical for some 18 million people.

Anti-Corruption Day:
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging everyone to do their part to stamp out corruption, which afflicts all countries, undermining social progress and breeding inequality and injustice. “All of us have a responsibility to take action against the cancer of corruption,” he declares in a message for International Anti-Corruption Day, which is observed annually on 9 December. Mr. Ban highlighted the efforts of the UN in helping countries combat corruption as part of its broader, system-wide campaign to help bolster democracy and good governance.