Good News Agency – n° 1
Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations, and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day. Good News Agency is distributed through internet to editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address and is available in its web site: http://www.goodnewsagency.org
Good News Agency is a service activity of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale a registered non-profit educational organization founded in Italy in 1979. The Association operates in support to the Lucis Trust activities, the U.N. University for Peace, Radio For Peace International and other organizations engaged in the spreading of a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective.
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The aim of the Commission is to meet the mandated deadline of 30 June for finalization of the operational details of the Statute necessary for the eventual functioning of the Court.
The Court, which is to be a permanent judicial body with jurisdiction over crimes committed by individuals, will become operational once the treaty establishing it -- commonly referred to as the Rome Statute -- receives 60 ratifications. So far, 97 countries have signed the treaty and 11 have ratified it. Many others, though, have announced their intention to ratify by the end of the year, prompting the Chairman of the Commission to predict that the Court will come into being earlier than initially anticipated.
On 12 December 1997, the UN General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Economic and Social Council (decision 1997/251), proclaimed 26 June United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (resolution 52/149). The Day aims at the eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which entered into force in 1987.
The General Assembly special session entitled "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century" took place from 5 to 9 June 2000 in New York on the progress of Women’s Rights in 180 nations. The Governments that took part to this Special Session have reaffirmed their commitment to the goals and objectives contained in the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action adopted at the IV World Conference on Women in 1995.
The Governments recognised that “the goals and commitments made in the Platform for Action have not been fully implemented and and have agreed upon further actions and initiatives at local, national, regional, and international levels to accelerate its implementation”.
The Beijing Platform for Action identified 12 critical areas for priority action to achieve the advancement and empowerment of women. The Commission on the Status of Women has reviewed progress in each of the 12 critical areas of concern and since 1996 has adopted agreed conclusions and recommendations for accelerated implementation, which is the sovereign responsibility of each State.
The Governments at this Special Session have recognised that “progress has been made by pursuing a two-pronged approach of promoting employment and income-generating activities for women and providing access to basic special services, including education and health care. Micro-credit and other financial instruments for women have emerged as a successful strategy for economic empowerment and have widened economic opportunities for some women living in poverty, in particular in rural areas. Policy development has taken account of the particular needs of female-headed households. Research has enhanced the understanding of the differing impacts of poverty on women and men and tools have been developed to assist with this assessment”.
The twenty-third session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women -- the only United Nations human rights treaty body that deals exclusively with women’s rights – is taking place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 12 to 30 June.
The Committee monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1979 and came into force in 1981. The Convention, which as of 1 May had been ratified or acceded to by 165 countries, requires States parties to eliminate discrimination against women in the enjoyment of all civil, political, economic and cultural rights.
At this session, it will review the reports of seven States parties to the Convention: Cameroon, Republic of Moldova, Lithuania, Iraq, Austria, Cuba and Romania.
Countries that have ratified or acceded to the Convention are legally bound to put its provisions into practice. They are also committed to submit national reports, one year after becoming a State party and then at least once every four years, on measures they have taken to comply with their treaty obligations.
Statistics released by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in the first half of this month show that the representation of women in the two branches of the State - Parliament and the Executive - has changed very little since 1995, and has declined in some cases.
The numbers were presented to media at the Beijing + 5 conference at UN headquarters together with a colour-coded world map depicting the presence, or absence, of women in national parliaments.
1st Anniversary of ILO Convention Against Worst Form of Child Labour: June 17
The Convention 182 marked the first in International Labour Organisation history that a convention or treaty was adopted with the unanimous support of all members. Among the government, employer and worker representatives, there were 415 votes in favour of the Convention and no votes against it. So far eleven countries have ratified the Convention. These are Seychelles, Malawi, United States of America, Botswana, Brazil, Finland, Ireland, Indonesia, Kuwait, Slovakia and San Marino. There are ongoing activities on ratification in the rest of the countries around the world.
Global March movement is involved in assessing and lobbying for the ratification and implementation of the Convention. The partners of the Global March movement form an effective network around the world. Acting as vigilant observers and lobbying with governments in their region, they form the backbone of the movement. The Global March International Secretariat is located in New Delhi, India.
Former South Africa President Nelson Mandela and child rights champion Graça Machel proposed an ambitious new global partnership for children and pledged to play a direct and personal role in urging other leaders to join them. “Together with the Canadian Government and UNICEF we will be bringing together, for the first time, world leaders in September in Winnipeg, to ensure that as leaders we take action to protect children from violations of their rights in conflict" said Ms. Machel.
With UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy by their side, Mr. Mandela and Ms. Machel announced plans to build a partnership of global leaders who would be at the vanguard of a "bold new movement to turn the world around for millions of children."
President of Conference on Disarmament proposed (8 June) a programme of work in three parts, addressing the issue of a ban of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament and the prevention of an arms race in outer space.
Jean Lint, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations Office at Geneva, President of the Conference for period of four weeks, stated that to find an acceptable compromise was not an easy task, and called for a spirit of flexibility and understanding. He hoped he would be able to submit a programme of work before the next plenary meeting of the Conference.
At the seminar organized by Volontari del Mondo – FOCSIV – (Federazione Organismi Cristiani Servizio Internazionale Volontariato) amongst the many participants were representatives from CISDE (Coopération internazionale pur le Developpement et la Solidarité), Caritas Internationalis, the UN Finance and Development Branch, and the Pontiff Council for Peace and Justice.
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The conference, organised by INES, the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility, focussed on important issues for sustainability addressing four theme areas: a) Developing the culture of science and engineering; b) Science and engineering for a finite world; c) Humanizing the economy in a global context; d) Steps towards comprehensive security and lasting peace. INES was founded in 1991 and has become a network of over 80 member organizations and individual members in 50 countries.
IV Rome International Forum on national debt – 15-16 June.
The forum, organized by Sdebitarsi Jubilee 2000 and by the Rome Municipality, analyzed the situation and prospects of those poor countries with very heavy national debts. In his opening speech, the Prime Minister Giuliano Amato, underlined how the situation should be faced by combining the rules regarding the assigning of financial aid with the solidarity felt in shared responsibility. Participants studied the future prospects of national debt, the efficiency of the initiatives and the role of the various parties engaged in its solving, as well as the corrective factors necessary for hasty recovery from national debt, and the taking into consideration of the necessity of changing those unjust factors which contribute to the way national debt is created. The Forum then focused on Northern and Southern Africa, the contribution on the part of local networks for sustainable development between the north and south of the world, the Italian initiative to cancel national debt and for cooperation in development, and the laws relating to foreign debt.
Special Session of the General Assembly on the "World Summit for Social Development and beyond: achieving social development for all in a globalizing world " – 26-30 June – Geneva
Its objectives are to reaffirm the Summit's Declaration and Programme of Action, to identify progress made and lessons learned in implementing them, and to recommend actions to further their implementation.
At the Summit, held in 1995 in Copenhagen, heads of State or government from 117 countries pledged to give highest priority to policies promoting social progress, social justice, the betterment of the human condition and social integration.
On June 7th the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) ended its fifty-sixth annual Commission session. The Commission noted that given the irreversible nature of globalization and interdependence, the overarching challenge facing the region was to manage the risks and to seize the opportunities of globalization, so that the benefits could be shared equally.
Currently celebrated in more than 125countries.
The theme of world environment day 2000 is “2000 – The Environment Millennium : Time to Act”, a theme which urges institutes and society to demonstrate its pledge to protect the environment and to prevent further damage to our one and only Earth.
One of UNEP’s slogans is: “Not simply just another day like all the others”.
By a resolution of 1972, the un General Assembly designated 5 June as World Environment Day, to deepen public awareness of the need to preserve and enhance the environment. That date recalls the opening day of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972), which led to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Forty-two Brazilian lumber companies constitute an alliance called: Compradores de Madeira Certificada, pledged to buying only lumber recognized as being sustainable. The certificate of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) guarantees that lumber carrying the FSC stamp comes from forests treated with agreed social, economic and environmental standards. About 18 million hectares of forest in 15 countries carry the FSC certificate, including 1 million hectares in Brasil.
World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, 17 June, was proclaimed by the General Assembly in 1994 (resolution 49/115). On that date, the same year, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification was adopted. States were invited to devote the World Day to promoting awareness of the need for international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought, and on the implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification.
Europeans would be able to return their outdated electrical goods to the products' manufacturers under a new law proposed by the European Commission yesterday. The proposal aims to cut down on heavy metals and other pollutants in municipal waste by requiring manufacturers to take back electrical goods and recycle at least 60 to 80 percent of the products, starting in five years. Goods affected would range from computers to refrigerators to toys. The proposal needs approval from European Union member states and the European Parliament. The EU recently passed a similar take-back law for automobiles.
Theme – Entertainment and Tobacco Promotion- Countering the Deception
Slogan – Tobacco Kills – Don't Be Duped
Objective – To pave the way for national and global policy action banning the advertising and promotion of tobacco.
''The tobacco companies spend $6 billion a year enticing youth to smoke. …They make you believe that if you smoke, you're going to be sexy, attractive, successful, accepted by your peers, rocking, and macho, cool and sassy. They project this image in every media – from day—time movies to night-time movies, magazines and even cartoon characters,'' says former "Winston'' man turned tobacco control activist Allan Landers.
Thailand was the venue for the global WNTD event on May 31st, 2000.
With the object of stimulating the collective awareness of the dangers resulting from smoking, the 11th “World Conference on Tobacco OR Health” will be held in Chicago from 6 to 11 August.
This will be the first time in 25 years the U.S. has hosted the World Conference on Tobacco OR Health. Four thousand delegates are expected from more than 200 countries throughout the world.
Workshops and plenaries will address the full range of tobacco issues including:
The science of addiction: Current and future research
Alarming trends in international tobacco marketing
Cultural approaches to tobacco control
Television's glamorization of smoking
New cessation and prevention techniques
Tobacco and kids across the world.
The contribution of $28.6 million will provide crucial support to polio eradication in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Nigeria and Sudan -- six of the 30 priority countries where the disease continues to threaten millions of children with paralysis and death.
With this latest increase in available funding, Ms. Carol Bellamy (UNICEF Executive Director) expressed confidence that the 2005 target date for certifying the world polio-free is well within reach.
The Dutch government has announced a contribution of 20 million guilders (approximately US$10 million).
The Polio Eradication Initiative, launched in 1988, is spearheaded by WHO, Rotary International, CDC and UNICEF. Since the Initiative began, the number of polio cases has fallen by 95% to approximately 7000 reported cases in 1999. More than 190 countries and territories will have interrupted poliovirus transmission by the end of the year 2000.
An Australian company, Earth Sanctuaries Ltd., is aiming to turn a profit by protecting land and wildlife. The company, one of the first of its kind in the world, operates three Australian conservation sanctuaries and plans to buy land to create new sanctuaries. It intends to make money by attracting tourists, selling food and merchandise, and hosting conferences and other events at its facilities, as well as by consulting on wildlife and conservation management issues. The company's stock hasn't fared well since it began trading on the Australian Stock Exchange on May 8, but John Wamsley, Earth Sanctuaries’ managing director, is optimistic that the company has developed a model that will prove successful over the next five years.
The United Nations Millennium Art Exhibition in aid of UNICEF - "Our World in the Year 2000" - is the result of a competition that drew 22,500 entrants from 51 countries. (The competition has been recorded by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest international painting competition in the world.)
The paintings, which express concerns about the environment, impressions of the world and how war and technology affect people, are by young and old, amateur and professional artists.
The aims of the competition were threefold: to promote the art and craft of painting as a cross-cultural activity giving people a means to express their ideas, thoughts and feelings; to reveal the extraordinary diversity of artistic expression around the world; and to look at the world through the eyes of its artists, both professional and amateur.
The United Nations Postal Administration issued 6 stamps (2 in New York, 2 in Geneva and 2 in Vienna) using 6 of the winning paintings.
The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in partnership with the International Museum of Women (IMOW) of San Francisco organised an international art exhibition, Progress of the World's Women, with pieces of more than 70 artists from 50 countries.
30 June – 1 July – Oxfam – University of Hertfordshire
A conference on education for world citizenship open to teachers and educators concerned with methodological problems.
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7-8 July – Stresa (Verbania) - Italy
ISTUD Istituto Studi Professionali. Third edition of the Program for the development of Managerial Culture in non profit enterprises with seminar on the planning and handling of projects.
For information: 0323/933801
15-22 July – Cecina Mare (Livorno) - Italy
VI International Anti-racialist Meeting organized by ARCI, with the participation of hundreds of young people from all over the world. The meeting offers awareness and study of racialism and intolerance.
For information: 055/2638867 – www.arcitoscana.org
August 9 through 18 the Isodarco Summer Course will convene in the town of Rovereto on the eastern Italian Alps. The seminar “Nuclear Weapons in a Vulnerable World” will bring together scientists, historians, military analysts, and public interest leaders of diverse experiences. Presentations will elaborate answers to such questions as: How have these weapons of mass destruction affected political systems and relations among nations? What ere the prospects for their control, management and elimination?
by Sergio Tripi
Ervin Laszlo, scientist, philosopher, pianist and author of over 50 books, is the founder of the Club of Budapest, member of the Club of Rome, of the International Academy of Science, scientific consultant to UNESCO and Rector of the Vienna Academy. He taught as resident professor in several universities, among them Yale, Princeton and the New York State University. He lives in Italy, in the Province of Siena.
Sergio Tripi, an author and journalist, is the Representative in Italy of the U. N. University for Peace. He is the founder and president of the Associazione Culturale Triangoli e Buona Volontà Mondiale, a non-profit organization that operates in synergy with the Lucis Trust and with other international organizations engaged in the spreading of a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective.
Sergio Tripi: One of the thoughts that attracts most people is the fact that the world today is confronted with a number of basic emergencies requiring urgent attention. In your opinion, what are the most striking and pressing emergencies that the world today is facing?
Ervin Laszlo: I can summarise it in one word : sustainability – which, in a well recognised and international community, is not only an ecological issue but also a social and economic issue; of course it is thereby also a political issue. The single key factor that poses the greatest challenge is the fact that the kind of world we have created in the second half of the twentieth century cannot live for long into the early twenty-first century without causing major breakdowns. Therefore we have to change. Now this has ecological dimensions in terms of the deterioration of the basic ecological life support systems, and it has social-economic dimensions in terms of marginalisation when an increasing number of the human community, about one and a half billion people, that is one fourth of the human population, live below the minimum living standards, defined by the World Bank as one dollar a day. And the problem that consumption patterns, management styles, and political behaviour are still not adapted to a community of six billion people. They are more adapted to a nationally based industrial system of the middle of the twentieth century. But that is now on the way out. We are moving into a globally interconnected information based society which is not sustainable in the present mode.
S.T. : The picture you paint is the picture presented to us by certain attitudes of the human being: selfishness, aggressiveness, and the consequent exploitation of the world today. How do you think these attitudes should change and be anchored to a new set of values, and what should these new values be?
Ervin Laszlo : One could say again – using a single key word for this – one would have to re-socialise the human community into its new global condition. We are socialised into small regional communities, at the most into national states. We are having difficulty moving from the national state in Europe to a European Union and in finding common values. We are motivated here of course by open markets and by a common currency, but world wide, despite the presence of the United Nations, the human community is still very strongly centred on so called independent and sovereign nation states which cannot solve the problems that are confronting the overall community, or cannot create an equitable and peaceful system that includes about 190 independent national governments. We can only conceive such a world if people; if politics; if societies; re-socialise into a global community creating a foundation for peace. That means that the individual has to develop multiple loyalties; solidarities, beyond the level of his or her own family, enterprise, community or nation. These stands of loyalties have to move to the level of an entire cultural region, to the intercultural and international level, and finally to the global level. As long as people do not feel themselves to be members of a human community, developing on this planet as an integrated whole, interacting and sustaining themselves within the ambit of nature, its biosphere; and as long as people feel themselves separate from each other, from other cultures, from nature, they are going to behave selfishly, they are going to have consumption patterns that are intolerable for others, the rich are going to consume far too much – without respect for the needs and possibilities of the poor, the poor in turn will overload their immediate environment – over exploiting it in their own search for survival. And in some cases, with the present patterns of political and civic behaviour, the present consumption patterns, the present style of management of major international business organisations, and in the present style of political leadership in national government, we are creating a stress in the system which means that instead of integrating on the global level, this system is coming apart. It is becoming stressed and fractionated into rich and poor; into powerful and powerless; into those who have access to resources and those who do not have access to resources.
S.T.: Urgent issues requiring new attitudes; and attitudes based on new values. Do we have time to adopt these new values and new attitudes and, assuming that we do, in which areas do we need to intervene as quickly as possible to see them adopted?
Ervin Laszlo: We are in a race against time, against change. As H.G.Wells said at the beginning of this century: the future will be decided in a race between education and disaster. We could repeat this. We could say that our future in the early twenty-first century will be decided in a race between the evolution of a new, more global consciousness in the masses and the increasing fractioning, the increasing divergences that we have in the contemporary world. So the important elements are: information and education. Information obviously is a general term but it is not enough just to have information, it also has to be relevant. It also has to be the kind of information that people need in order to orient themselves in this world. It is not enough just to give immediate attention to sensationalistic items of information, to catastrophes, or to the doings of political leaders, or wars. All of these of course have their place in the media and in the information flow, but what we need is the understanding of the basic trends, the basic processes that shape our world and decide our destiny, our future. So we need more relevant information – this so as to reach the main stream population: adults and young people, old people, people of all ages. This is possible because we have the necessary flows of information; we have the technology.
The other area is obviously education, where we have to reach young people, those who will come onto the scene as the managers and the actors of the human community in the next ten or twenty years. Without their understanding, without the development of their consciousnesses, we have no future at all. So education has to start at a very early age; it has to start in the kindergartens and move on, through the secondary schools to the universities. It is not a hopeless task because humanity has always created the values that it needs to survive in a society that is becoming ever more complex. But right now we have a lag. Our system of values, our world views, the way we look at ourselves, look at nature, and look at other cultures, is below the needed threshold; is behind the times; it is obsolete. It was alright fifty years ago, it was alright perhaps thirty years ago, but in the last twenty years certain developments have overtaken it. So we need the kind of consciousness, the kind of values that permit all people to survive in this world, and young people have to understand from the very beginning that in order to achieve this they have to know what the basic trends are, why they occur, why our world is unsustainable, and how we can make it sustainable.
S.T.: Information and education then are the two most urgent areas that need to be stimulated and tuned up to synthesise with these new trends. This seems to be possible at least where education is concerned – in several countries there are examples of fresh approaches to educational issues. The media on the other hand seems to continue to be guided by its quest for quantity rather than for quality – looking for audiences and readers as desperately as ever. What possibilities are there of seeing this change in the future?
Ervin Laszlo: The problem with the media is that they underestimate the change in the public’s mentality. They believe that it is still the old context, the old values that dominate. They don’t realise that a lot of people: young people, intellectuals, sensitive people of all kinds are frustrated, fed up and are wanting something different, are more interested in understanding our future, understanding the evolutionary processes under way than just looking at sensationalistic headlines. Once media understand that there are more people interested in this kind of information I am sure that they will supply that information because what they are looking for is audience. Now they are dominated, as you say, by quantitative measures – what is the rating of a television or radio programme, how many people tune in to it, what are the subscription rates of a journal or of a newspaper, or a magazine. These are the issues that decide the media’s attention. If the media understand that they can sell (and I use this commercial term advisably, because they do want to sell) relevant information, I am sure they will provide relevant information.
S.T.: This picture seems to correspond with a new situation in the audiences and readership of the media. There is an increasing number of people who are losing interest in the information they receive. They are often disoriented and they are looking for something new. So it is a matter of becoming aware of that part of the public that is desperately looking for new viewing and reading material. And another factor that might endorse and support what you are saying is the presence in this country of over five million people making some sort of voluntary contribution to society in one field or another. Would you say that this is indicative of hope, of progress for the future?
Ervin Laszlo: Well, there are two sectors of society that are extremely important and representative of hope for the future. One is this voluntary sector, which is often consolidated in the non governmental organisations, whether national or international, and they try to do something that is more meaningful than the official inter-governmental and governmental agencies do. And the number of these NGO’s has grown exponentially in the past ten to twenty years. This is a very hopeful sector; an important sector. The other one is an informal sector which is sometimes called the alternative cultures and which ranges from the people who are close to the mainstream and who actually just want to live in a different way and to change there own life style, all the way to the sects, the somewhat crazy lunatic age people who ardently share a very different ideology, rejecting the establishment, society. So it’s a very wide spectrum. But very many people, even in this informal sector, are seriously trying to change their own lifestyle, their own patterns of consumption, their own political behaviour. Many of them are trying to leave the big cities, to go out to the country, to live more their own life. You can see this in Tuscany where many people come from big cities all over Europe and all of a sudden find themselves trying to do organic farming or to live a more self-contained, a more sustainable way of life. So both the formal and the informal sectors of society show a process of change. These processes of change need to be supported.
Ervin Laszlo: I think the two go together. The more the situation becomes critical, the more people are re-thinking their behaviour patterns and their values and are evolving their own consciousnesses. The hope for an entirely smooth, linear kind of a transition by little steps is actually fading. We are likely to see some major changes occurring quite suddenly, like we saw in Eastern Europe in 1989 and 1990 when all of sudden that whole, so called second world just disappeared, practically from one day to the next. We are likely to see major changes which are unforeseen even just the day before. But at the same time I think the preparedness of people is increasing. More and more people are coming on to wavelengths where they realise that a strongly non linear, a strongly qualitative kind of a change process is ahead of us. And especially young people are looking for new ways of being and of doing things and are ready to take responsibilities. So I think in this sense the desperateness of the situation is at the same time a cause for hope because it is coupled with a greater awareness and a greater willingness to change.
S.T.: Are there definite signs that support this view – signs of a response on the part of those people who are more aware?
Ervin Laszlo: There are some surveys being done in Europe – we still have to do more of them. In America some surveys have been conducted which show that there are over forty million Americans who belong to so called integral cultures – a term used to describe organisations or groups of people who are adopting an entirely different lifestyle and consumption pattern, and trying to live in a more sustainable way, a more modest way. Voluntary simplicity is another term used in this connection. So it appears that there are more people than one would think who are already attempting to change. The greatest need, and at the same time the greatest lack, is communication between these people. They are a bit lost. These people think that they are very few in number, think that yes, we are, or I am, willing to change but that few people in other parts of the world, or even in my country, are willing to do that. Yet this is not true. So I think joining these people together, finding a common platform for them, establishing communications between them, would be a very important activity.
S.T.: In conclusion, the message then is: work hard and look to the future with enthusiasm. Is that right?
Ervin Laszlo: That’s right. With hope but with the acceptance of responsibility. Not only asking for your own rights but accepting responsibility for yourself, for other people in this world, for nature, and even for future generations.