Durban Platform; Israel; UNESCO’s Mobile Education Initiative; and more

Durban Platform: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed yesterday the set of decisions reached by countries at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, saying they represent a significant agreement that will define how the international community will address climate change in the coming years. After extended negotiations over the weekend, the 194 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed on a package of decisions, known as the Durban Platform, which include the launch of a protocol or legal instrument that would apply to all members, a second commitment period for the existing Kyoto Protocol and the launch of the Green Climate Fund.

The Green Climate Fund was created last year to help developing nations protect themselves from climate impacts and build their own sustainable futures, but had not been launched yet, and Mr. Ban had urged developed countries throughout the two-week conference to inject the necessary capital to kick-start it.


Israel: The United Nations on Monday called on Israel to halt settlement activity after reports surfaced regarding the publication of tenders for 40 new homes in the Efrat settlement, located just outside of Jerusalem in the Gush Etzion bloc. “Such activity is contrary to international law and the Roadmap, and prejudices final status negotiations,” UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon said in a statement his office released to the media. “These actions by the Government of Israel come at a critical juncture when the Quartet continues efforts to facilitate the resumption of direct negotiations between the parties. For this to succeed, the parties must refrain from provocative actions and help create a positive environment for negotiations,” he said.

UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC):
 More than 2,000 participants, including political and corporate leaders, civil society activists and faith communities have gathered at the UN Alliance of Civilizations Forum (UNAOC) to discuss how to improve relations across cultures, combat prejudice and build lasting peace.

At the opening session of the forum in Doha, Qatar, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged members of the Alliance to combat extremism and promote tolerance at a time when universal values are being tested in many parts of the world, particularly in countries undergoing political transitions. Mr. Ban stressed the Alliance’s responsibility to prevent conflict and violence by promoting dialogue and laying the groundwork for mutual understanding. He also told members of the Alliance that empowering women and youth, along with achieving sustainable development, should also be key areas of focus to ensure a positive future.

Cote d’Ivoire:
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on Ivorian political parties and candidates to continue to act peacefully as counting gets under way in polls to elect the 225 members of their country’s National Assembly. In a statement issued today by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said the election marked “an important step towards the full restoration of constitutional order in Côte d’Ivoire, and should contribute to national reconciliation in the country.” He also commended the Ivorian Independent Electoral Commission, known as IEC, and its national and international partners for their efforts in organizing and conducting the polls.

Mobile education initiative:
With mobile telephone access reaching over five billion of the world’s population, the United Nations educational agency today announced the launch of an initiative to harness the technology and bring mobile phone use into the classroom. In a statement issued in Paris, UNESCO declared the opening of a global summit and symposium gathering experts from around the world to discuss the impact of the mobile telephone on education and learning. Dubbed Mobile Learning Week, and organized in partnership with the conglomerate Nokia, the meeting has brought together close to 200 policy-makers, educators, academics and researchers from across the globe in an effort to provide insight on how mobile telephones can support teachers and students alike.

Land Distribution and Corruption:
Corruption caused by weak governance is leading to unequal land distribution and poor resource management, according to a United Nations report released today, which argues that this lack of transparency is undermining social stability, investment and growth in developing countries. The report, jointly produced by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Transparency International, found that in more than 61 countries, weak governance has increased the likelihood of corruption in land occupancy and administration, intensifying the impact of pressures on land use, agriculture and food security worldwide.

The report also underscores the importance of strengthening governance to ensure land benefits can be enjoyed by all citizens. FAO is currently working with its partners to improve land governance through proposed guidelines by the international community.