Good News Agency – n° 3
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 chartered 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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Canada ratifies legal instruments on prospective world court, and on child soldiers
Canadian Foreign Minister deposited on 7th July his country's instruments of ratification to the Rome Statute on the prospective International Criminal Court (ICC) and to the optional protocol to the children's rights convention regarding armed conflict.
In depositing these instruments with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Canada became the 14th State to ratify and deposit its ratification to the Rome Statute and the first to ratify the optional protocol, a UN spokesman said in New York.
The United Nations Children’s Fund hailed U.S. President Bill Clinton’s signing (5 July 2000) of two UN protocols that strengthen global standards for the protection of children.
The two protocols signed by the U.S. president are:
The optional protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography focuses on the criminalization of these violations of children's rights and emphasizes the need for increased public awareness and international co-operation in efforts to combat them.
The optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, among other provisions, makes 18 the minimum age for compulsory induction into the armed forces. Fifteen is the current minimum age.
International Conference on Self-Determination
August 11-13, Geneva
The International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) and the International Council on Human Rights (ICHR) are sponsoring an international conference on self-determination and the United Nations from August 11-13 in Geneva.
civil society’s successful efforts concerning the environment, land mines and
the International Criminal Court, once again international NGOs are stepping
into the breach to spur global policymakers to address another pressing global
issue: this time the particularly thorny and
difficult issue of self-determination. A series of workshops on four prototype national minorities - Kashmiris, African Americans, Native Americans and Dalits - will examine the issues in greater depth. Resolutions resulting from the Conference deliberations will be submitted to the UN Commission on Human Rights, as well as to the UN Working Group on Minorities, and other pertinent bodies, to contribute to the understanding of these issues
Source: Radio For Peace International: http://www.rfpi.org
On World Population Day (11th July), UN calls for changes to improve the lives of women
Under an overall theme of "Saving Women's Lives," the United Nations today marked the annual World Population Day with calls for action amid grim statistics about the risks that women face, including pregnancy-related deaths, HIV infection, violence, poor education opportunities and a lack of adequate health care.
"Change calls for commitment, action and leadership," said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Nafis Sadik. She stressed that men and women have equal rights to education and health care, and called for changes in laws, practices, attitudes, and behaviour. Leadership, she said, must "motivate change; set goals; remove obstacles; dispel fears; maintain momentum."
UNIFEM, ITU and UNDP Sign New Agreement to Ensure Women Benefit from Communication Revolution
New York - The U.N Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) on July 6th signed a formal agreement that will enable more women to shape the information, technologies and policies of the 21st Century.
The agreement guarantees that the impact of information and communications technologies (ICTs) on women is incorporated in policy dialogue and decision-making. The agencies will encourage governments and the telecommunications industry to recruit, employ, train and advance women's fair and equitable access to ICTs. The agreement, which will benefit both women and men, was signed by UNIFEM Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer, ITU's Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi and UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown.
New study examines links between asylum policies and human trafficking
A new, independent study commissioned by the United Nations refugee agency shows that human trafficking is the only escape route for many genuine refugees who flee persecution and seek protection in Europe.
The report, Trafficking and Smuggling of Refugees - The End Game of European Asylum Policy?, recommends that countries of that continent review their migration and asylum policies with a view to opening legitimate channels for people fleeing persecution in their native countries.
The study makes it clear that criminals exploiting the human rights of migrants through human trafficking deserve the full weight of international justice, but it also points out that traffickers and smugglers are often the last resort of genuine refugees who deserve asylum.
The report says enforcement measures alone are unlikely to provide a solution to the trafficking and smuggling of people. It emphasizes that in order to successfully tackle the problem, all refugees must be given legal and safe migration opportunities.
Human Rights Committee holds sixty-ninth session at Geneva from 10 to 28 July
Reports submitted by the Governments of Kyrgyzstan, Ireland, Kuwait and Australia on measures taken to implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are being considered by the Human Rights Committee at its sixty-ninth session.
The countries presenting reports are among the 145 States parties to the Covenant which was adopted in 1966 by the General Assembly. The Committee, as a monitoring body, periodically examines reports submitted by States parties on their promotion and protection of civil and political rights. Representatives of those Governments introduce their country reports and respond to oral and written questions by the Committee’s 18 members, who serve in their personal capacity.
Thirty-sixth session of International Law Seminar to be held in Geneva from 10 to 28 July
The thirty-sixth session of the International Law Seminar, which has been organized on the basis of General Assembly resolutions every year since 1965 by the United Nations Office at Geneva on the occasion of the annual session of the International Law Commission, is taking place at the Palais des Nations from 10 to 28 July.
The Seminar also serves as a forum for an exchange of views among jurists representing different legal systems on the agenda topic under consideration by the Commission and on international law in general, as well as on the various activities of the United Nations and other international organizations based in Geneva. Finally, the Seminar provides the participants with the opportunity of meeting with the members of the Commission and of benefiting from their experience as specialists in international law.
The Italian Senate approved on July 13th the law for the foreign debt reduction of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries. The Italian Government is now presenting this new law to the G7 meeting in Okinawa on July 21-23 in order to stimulate a productive discussion on this dramatic issue.
The approved law incorporates many of the instances of the “Jubilee 2000” campaign and constitutes a very meaningful precedent in the international arena. In addition to the parliamen-tary forces, this result has been achieved also with the contribution of the many voices of the civil society that, particularly in these last few months, joined “Jubilee 2000” in Italy, as well as with the thousands citizens who signed their support to the Campaign and to the request to cancel the debt of the poorest countries during the jubilee year. The number of signatures is rapidly reaching one million.
There are several innovative elements in this approved law. It is particularly important the request of advice to the International Court of Justice for an assessment of coherence between the international regulations that rule the external debt of the developing countries, and the general principles for man’s and peoples’ rights. This request, put forward by other countries, could be the first step to identify ways for an independent international arbitration for the regulation of debt at the international level.
Sdebitarsi Jubilee 2000 - MOVIMONDO: email@example.com
53rd Annual DPI/NGO Conference
Global Solidarity: The Way to Peace and International Cooperation
28-30 August - United Nations Headquarters, New York
This year's conference, Global Solidarity: The Way to Peace and International Cooperation, will provide a forum for representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the United Nations System, and Governments to explore ways in which civil society can work with the United Nations and Governments to implement the action plans that were agreed upon during the major United Nations and NGO conferences of the 1990s.
The world conferences, organized by the United Nations and NGOs during the 1990s, negotiated a remarkably cohesive set of actions plans designed to achieve sustainable development for all people in the coming decades. At the same time, the burgeoning of NGOs, spurred in part by the multifaceted process of globalization, has enabled the organization of potent civil society campaigns over the past five years. These have included campaigns to ban landmines, establish an International Criminal Court, cancel crippling foreign debts and address the negative aspects of the current global financial architecture. The conference will look at existing campaigns, and explore new areas where progress can be made.
Uganda’s petition scrolls to be hanged in Washington
Civil society organisations led by Uganda Debt Network, and Jubilee 2000 presented on July 11 scrolls of petitions to the World Bank country representative in Uganda. The World Bank country representative commended Uganda’s Poverty Action Fund for its performance so far and promised to use his office to air out the campaigners outcry to the delegates at the G8 summit in Japan on July 21-23.
On 20 June, 1990 the G8 approved the Cologne Debt Initiative (the Enhanced HIPC Initiative) which was to give deeper, broader, and faster debt relief. Under this Initiative, Uganda was the first to get extra debt service relief of about USD 1.3 billion. Uganda's eligibility for debt relief was partly recognition by the international community of the progress made in implementing sound economic reforms and poverty reduction programmes. Debt relief resources have been directed to poverty reduction programmes especially in the social sector where it is expected that poor people will directly benefit. The savings from Debt relief are channelled through the Poverty Action Fund (PAF). The areas identified include primary education, primary health care, water and sanitation, road infrastructure and agriculture. Other areas recently added in the PAF budget 1999/2000 include restocking, adult education, micro-finance and others.
The United Nations World Food Programme announced on 4th July that it is dramatically widening its emergency operation in the northern Caucasus to help an average 325,000 people affected by the long military conflict in Chechnya last winter.
WFP will address what it describes as a "critical" humanitarian situation by more than doubling the number of people to whom it gives food aid in the remote, mountainous region of southern Russia.
The new six-month operation, going into effect on 1 July with a budget of $14 million, targets two basic groups of displaced Chechens: an average 155,000 who fled to the neighbouring Republic of Ingushetia and an average 70,000 who remained inside the semi-autonomous region of Chechnya.
The remaining beneficiaries include the food-insecure local population in Chechnya -- people who got trapped in the territory, particularly the capital Grozny, when the bombardment began because they were too weak or otherwise unable to flee to the countryside.
Japan donates state-of-the-art machine to help UN demining effort in Afghanistan
The Government of Japan today officially donated on 7th July a new demining machine to the United Nations to aid in the removal of mines in Afghanistan, where the device is expected to speed up the clearance process by 300 to 500 per cent in difficult terrain conditions. Through UN agencies and other international organizations, Japan had donated more than $400 million worth of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people during the two decades of war, the Government spokesman said, adding that $15 million had been earmarked for mine clearance work.
Rotary: Post-War Trauma Center for Children Opens near Zagreb, Croatia
A revolutionary counseling center for Croatian children traumatized by the war in the Balkans opened the end of June, near Zagreb, Croatia. It is the first of its kind in Eastern Europe, helping to provide psychiatric counseling services to children suffering from conditions related to post-war trauma. A three-year, $420,000 grant from Rotary International has made the center possible along with a joint partnership between the Rotary clubs of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Zagreb, Croatia. Together, the two clubs worked for nearly a year to renovate a facility that can serve as a both a counseling and training center.
The center is located in the city of Velika Gorica, Croatia, which was considered the frontline of the Croatian-Serbian war. If successful, the Rotary clubs hope to open more centers in other areas of the Balkans that have been ravaged by war.
Casualties caused by mines in Kosovo have been reduced dramatically, from 140 per month last summer to 20 per month from November 1999 onwards, the head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Dr. Bernard Kouchner, said on 6th July.
Speaking at a live mine disposal demonstration in Pristina, he said over 14,350 mines had been removed or destroyed in Kosovo. "The speed at which clearance is occurring is unprecedented anywhere in the world," he said. At this pace, he added, Kosovo's mine problem could be solved in three years.
UNU and Kwangju Institute of science and technology announce joint scholarship programme in "Science and technology for sustainability"
The United Nations University (UNU) and the Kwangju Institute of Science and Technology (K-JIST) have agreed to cooperate in the development and implementation of programmes in the area of science and technology as well as in other joint activities of mutual interest.
K-JIST, located in Kwangju, Republic of Korea, is a government-sponsored institution of higher education. It was established in 1993 for the purpose of educating qualified scientists and engineers and promoting joint international studies to meet the ever increasing demands of academia and industry. The K-JIST graduate school, which has nearly 600 domestic and international students, offers academic programmes leading to master's and doctoral degrees in the various areas of science and engineering.
UN information summit urges global cooperation to close "digital divide"
Deeply concerned that the potential of information and communication technology for advancing development, particularly in developing countries, had not been fully captured, the Economic and Social Council has called on all members of the international community to work cooperatively to bridge the "digital divide" and to foster "digital opportunity."
The appeal came in the "Ministerial Declaration on Development and International Cooperation" that was adopted by the Council on 7th July at the conclusion of its three-day segment on information and communications technology. The high-level segment of ECOSOC's 2000 session, which was described as "historic" by the Council's President, Makarim Wibisono of Indonesia, featured statements by Heads of State, heads of international agencies, as well as representatives of the private sector.
Rotary and U.N. Population Fund hold Conference on Population Growth
Zurich, Switzerland, 28 – 30 July
The Conference on World Population Growth and Sustainable Development Concerns “will show how Rotarians can take action and use the programs of Rotary and the grants and scholarships of the Rotary Foundation to assist families struggling to feed, clothe, shelter and educate their children”, wrote Frank J. Devlyn, President of Rotary International in his address to the 1.2 million Rotarians all over the world. The trends that trigger this dramatic situation are summarized by these figures: world population doubled in the past 50 years and it grows by 8o million each year. The underlying theme of the Conference is represented by the conclusion reported to the world by the Cub of Rome in 1997 and included in the Conference programme: “There is no possibility of improving the living standards of the poorest populations until any economic improvement that is achieved, any quantity of food and water, any level of health care and education is reached, must be shared by an ever increasing number of people”.
Rotarian Initiative for Population and Development: www.rfpd.org
Close of governmental experts meeting on Convention to protect underwater cultural heritage
Two-hundred nine governmental experts representing 84 countries ended (Paris – 7th July) their third meeting on the Draft Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage at UNESCO Headquarters reporting progress towards a consensus, notably fine-tuning the definition of cultural heritage to be covered by the Convention.
While there is unanimous agreement on the need to protect underwater cultural heritage from destruction and pillaging, more negotiations are required in several areas, including: whether to place warships under the Convention; how to deal with cultural heritage vestiges located on the continental shelf beyond the 12-mile territorial waters; regional agreements; and whether rivers and lakes should be covered by the Convention.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) calls for replication and expansion of successful efforts to reduce AIDS drug prices
On the eve of the XIII International AIDS Conference (9th July), the medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) released a report demonstrating how some developing countries have already significantly reduced the prices of AIDS drugs, and suggested steps to replicate and expand upon these successes.
By producing quality generic medicines, countries such as Brazil have made AIDS drugs affordable to tens of thousands of people who would otherwise go untreated because they could not afford branded products. Through an analysis of ten essential drugs for HIV/AIDS in 8 countries, the report, entitled "HIV/AIDS Medicines Pricing," shows how the minimum price for AIDS drugs in the developing countries studied is on average 82% less than in the US. This difference has not resulted from discounts by multinational companies, but rather from generic competition and initiatives by national governments.
In parallel to the efforts of individual countries, the report also recommends the UN, led by UNAIDS, should develop a system to facilitate the bulk purchasing of AIDS drugs by putting out a tender to multinational pharmaceutical drug companies and local and international generic producers.
Following last year’s tragic accidents in the Mont Blanc and Tauern tunnels a UN/ECE (1) Ad Hoc Multidisciplinary Group of Experts on Safety in Tunnels has been created and met for the first time in Geneva on 10 and 11 July 2000.
The Ad hoc Group is expected to prepare a set of internationally agreed recommendations aimed at reducing the risk of traffic accidents in European tunnels and minimizing the consequences of such accidents in case they occur.
(1) The UN/ECE is the Geneva based European branch of the United Nations. Its membership comprises all European countries, the United States of America, Canada, Israel and the Republics of the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Recycled wine bottles will be used to resurface London streets under a local authorities' pilot scheme being launched today by Deputy Mayor Nicky Gavron, reported the Evening Standard, London, on July 13th. A new material called Glasphalt will be used. More than a million bottles are needed for a mile of road, and it could prove a huge boost to the waste industry at a time when London is said to recycle less household rubbish than any other comparable European city.
Developed by RMC Aggregates, in partnership with London Waste Action and Valpak, Glasphalt contains 30 per cent crushed glass and is used as a core layer beneath the main outer surface of the road. Up to 5,000 bottles go to make a ton of the material. If successful, the pilot project could go London-wide and signal a new used-bottle doorstep collection service.
Contact info for RMC Aggregates: http://www.jxj.com/suppands/iswa/companies/56780.html
Source: Radio For Peace International - http://www.rfpi.org
UN-sponsored meeting to combat harmful pesticides in Russia
Environmental, health and agriculture officials from 15 countries of Central and Eastern Europe as well as the Baltic States gathered in St. Petersburg, Russia from 11 to 14 July for a United Nations-sponsored meeting aimed at reducing the region's reliance on pesticides that are harmful to the environment, wildlife and human health.
The main objectives of the meeting are to review current pesticide use, identify more sustainable strategies for pest management, and explore realistic alternatives to "persistent organic pollutants." These substances stay in the atmosphere for a long time before they break down; travel long distances; accumulate in the tissue of most living organisms when absorbed through food, water or air; and cause wide range of toxic effects on humans and wildlife.
The re-emergence of malaria in the Caucasian and Central Asian region was also high on the agenda, as well as how to deal with the fact that countries of the region will need assistance in controlling this mosquito-borne disease without relying on DDT.
A number of churches and city governments in
California and other spots around the U.S. are leading the push for clean
energy by powering their houses of worship and city halls with solar, wind, and
other renewable sources. Twenty-five Episcopal churches in California
have switched to green power, as have Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant groups
in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Renewable energy company
Greenmountain.com is trying to make deeper inroads into religious communities
by offering $35 to church members in some areas who decide to buy the company's
green power for their homes. On the municipal level, Oakland, Calif., recently
became the largest
U.S. city to pledge to buy green power for its public facilities, following the lead of other cities in the state.
Advertising campaign in California for junking cars and trucks
Thousands of Californians are embracing a new state program that gives residents $1,000 to junk cars and trucks that fail to meet emission standards. The program, launched July 7, aims to take 50,000 polluting clunkers off the roads over the next four years. Residents can alternatively get up to $500 to make repairs that will help their vehicles pass smog checks. The state is spending $2.7 million on radio and TV ads this summer to advertise the program, and the publicity drive is working. Between 550 and 1,000 Californians have been calling the government each day for program information and applications.
Advertising campaign in California for junking cars and trucks
Travelers to some U.S. cities can now rent eco-friendly cars. EV Rental Cars opened its first site at the Los Angeles airport in December 1998 and has since expanded to several other California airports. The company recently struck a long-term deal with Budget Rent-a-Car and has plans to open sites this year in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. Its fleets include natural gas, electric, and gas-electric hybrid cars made by Honda, Toyota, and others.