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B. Thematic campaigns
8. Question of Palestine
35. The Department held its annual International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East on 8 and 9 October 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey. The event, organized by the Department in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, was aimed at sensitizing public opinion to the question of Palestine and the peace process. It focused on evolving media-related dynamics in the Middle East and explored how the media covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
36. The event began with a keynote address on the status of international peace efforts given by the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority. Following this, the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, shared his perspective about Palestine and the United Nations.
37. The panel phase included discussions on shifting media coverage of Middle East peace efforts and the question of Palestine; youth activism, digital journalism and social media in the Middle East; and the role and impact of visual media on coverage of the question of Palestine. The last panel was followed by a screening of the Emmy-winning and Academy Award-nominated documentary Five Broken Cameras. More than 100 journalists, media experts, peace and youth activists, current and former policymakers, representatives of civil society, academics and senior officials of the United Nations attended the event. In addition to the lively discussions at the two-day event and on social media platforms, the seminar was widely covered in Turkish online, and in print and over broadcast media, including those with a regional reach, such as Hürriyet Daily News, Cumhuriyet, Today’s Zaman, TRT TV, the Anadolu news agency, and others.
38. The Department hosted its annual training programme for Palestinian media practitioners from 4 November to 6 December 2013. The programme, which aims to strengthen the skills and capacities of young Palestinian journalists and expose them to the work of the United Nations, focused this year on online journalism and digital media. In addition to briefings by senior officials of the Organization, including the Secretary-General, representatives from the Departments of Public Information and Political Affairs, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and the United Nations Information Centre in Washington, D.C., among others, the group attended meetings of the General Assembly and the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
39. At the same time, participants worked through an intensive curriculum taught by two expert trainers, with regular assignments and final projects. The programme made extensive use of the many opportunities that New York and Washington, D.C., offer as global hubs for journalism and digital communications to connect the group with industry leaders who briefed them on the latest developments in online journalism.
40. The Department provided support to the Department of Political Affairs and UNRWA for the 2013 observation of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at United Nations Headquarters (observed in 2013 on 25 November), which included a concert by UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador and 2013 Arab Idol winner Mr. Mohammed Assaf, and the musician Ms. Nai Barghouti.
41. United Nations information centres and offices around the world also undertook a variety of activities in commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity, including in Antananarivo, Brazzaville, Cairo, Canberra, Jakarta, Prague, Pretoria, Tbilisi, Teheran and Yerevan.
42. The Department’s Graphic Design Unit updated and redesigned the permanent exhibit on the question of Palestine, which is on display at United Nations Headquarters in New York. A travelling version of the exhibit was produced for use at meetings and conferences. The updated text was translated into the six official languages of the Organization by the end of 2013.
43. The Department provided additional seed funding to field offices in Baku, Jakarta, Mexico City, New Delhi, Pretoria, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Teheran to produce the permanent exhibit on the Question of Palestine and the United Nations in their local languages.
83. The Department will continue to develop, lead and implement communications campaigns on the priority issues defined by Member States by utilizing traditional communications tools, as well as by taking advantage of the wide opportunities for interactive outreach enabled by the use of social media platforms. The Organization’s presence and impact on social media will expand, providing new avenues to spread its core messages globally. The Division will also strengthen communications coherence and collaboration across the United Nations system via its lead role in the United Nations Communications Group and its issue-specific task forces.
84. The Department will develop innovative ways to streamline administration, implement cost-effective ways of communications between Headquarters and field offices and enhance the delivery of programmes both on digital and traditional platforms and through strengthened partnerships with international and local actors.
85. The Department’s field offices will identify those locations where it can share premises with other United Nations entities and those where it can achieve efficiencies in smaller premises that meet the Minimum Operating Security Standards of the Organization. The Department seeks ways to enhance the skills of its staff to strengthen the communications role that United Nations information centres can play and to diversify the types of information products and campaigns they can offer.