Good News Agency – Year X, n° 156


(with this issue a cumulative numbering is adopted, instead of a numbering by year)


Weekly - Year X, number 156 – 22nd May 2009

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.            

 “…In conveying the appreciation of the Head of State for the passion and the professionalism with which you spread, above all among the young, the culture of "good news", I would like to take this opportunity of adding my personal greeting”. (From the letter of the Adviser for the Press and Information of the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, to the Editor of Good News Agency, 12 October 2007.)



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. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of 4,000 media in 49 countries and to 2,800 NGOs and 500 high schools, colleges and universities. It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace” and it has been included in the web site  




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education

Poverty diminishes as human development increases



International legislation



Good practices in legislation to address harmful practices against women

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 25 to 28 May

The United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDAW/DESA) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) are convening an expert group meeting on good practices in legislation to address harmful practices, to be held at the United Nations at Addis Ababa, from 25 to 28 May 2009. (…) The expert group meeting is a follow up to an expert group meeting organized by UNDAW/DESA and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, from 26 to 28 May 2008, on good practices in legislation on violence against women. That meeting prepared a model framework for legislation on violence against women, including detailed recommendations, commentaries and examples of promising practices.

The framework contains two types of recommendations: those that are applicable to all forms of violence against women; and those that are specific to domestic violence or sexual violence. The purpose of this expert group meeting is to further develop the framework by elaborating specific recommendations for legislation on harmful practices against women.


High-powered chief executives back UN anti-corruption pact

8 May - In a letter addressed to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chief executives from some of the world’s leading companies have thrown their support behind a United Nations treaty aimed at combating corruption. The CEO’s noted that the UN Convention against Corruption - signed by 140 countries and ratified by 136 to date - holds “the promise of curbing corruption and creates a level playing field for all participants in the global economy.” The letter characterized the Convention as “an essential instrument in the fight against corruption,” which is crucial in the current period of financial and economic turmoil to prevent an “erosion of ethical standards that will be hard to reverse.” (...) “The adoption of a rigorous implementation review mechanism will send a very positive message to international business,” read the letter, whose signatories included the CEOs of Fuji Xerox of Japan, General Electric Company of the United States, IKEA of Sweden, Royal Dutch Shell of the Netherlands, Sinosteel Corporation of China, Tata Sons of India and Zurich Financial Group of Switzerland. (…)


The European Parliament sets out new rules on asylum policy

7 May - A package of measures to improve the way the EU asylum system works and strengthening asylum seekers’ rights has been adopted today by the European Parliament. MEPs adopted amendments to enhance solidarity between Member States when managing asylum applications, and call for a binding mechanism to be set up before 2012.

The first piece of legislation is the report from by Antonio Masip Hidalgo (PES, ES), adopted by 431 votes in favour, 69 against and 43 abstentions and is intended to beef up the right of asylum seekers to adequate reception conditions.  The Commission proposal lays down standards that must be guaranteed in terms of housing, food, clothing, health care, financial benefits, and freedom of movement and access to work.  It also includes provisions on the protection of vulnerable people, such as minors, unaccompanied minors, pregnant women and victims of torture and violence. (...)

The European Parliament also adopted by 467 votes in favour, 42 against and 18 abstentions a report by Jean Lambert (Greens/EFA, UK) approving the creation of a European Asylum Support Office. This body will provide expert assistance to help implement EU asylum policy and will boost cooperation between Member States and help those subject to particular pressures. (...)



Human rights



As Sri Lanka conflict ends, WFP responds to IDP challenge

WFP is boosting food stocks and preparing nutritionally-rich food for women and children in order to meet the needs of IDPs displaced in the final days of Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war.

19 May - WFP is already feeding 250,000 people in temporary transit camps in the northern areas affected by recent fighting but the number of IDPs is expected to rise to more than 280,000 in coming days. Over the last few months, more than 265,000 people have been displaced by the battling between Sri Lankan government forces and the LTTE Tamil Tiger rebel movement. They include about 80,000 who fled the conflict zone over the weekend as the civil war came to an end. The majority of the IDPs have already passed through the government-screening point at Omanthai, a town in the northern Vavuniya district. They are now in more than 40 temporary transit centres/welfare villages - primarily in Vavuniya. The IDPs are currently completely dependent upon humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs. (...)


Justice and equality for all regardless of gender or sexual orientation

15 May - In a strongly worded statement High Commissioner Navi Pillay has come out against discrimination directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.

Pillay was speaking in a pre-recorded message to delegates at an international Congress in Paris organised by the French Government. The Congress aims to build on the progress made late last year when the UN General Assembly heard a statement endorsed by more than 50 countries which called for an end to rights abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While the statement was non binding, it was squarely based on and reaffirmed existing protections for human rights in international law. It was historic, in that it was the first time that the condemnation of human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity was publically criticized by a large number of states, in the context of the General Assembly. (...)

The World Congress on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity is being held at the National Assembly in Paris. The Congress has been organised with the participation also of the Norwegian and Dutch governments and in the framework of the celebration of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on 17 May.


UNA-USA sees new opportunities to advance a Human Rights agenda now that the United States has been elected to the Human Rights Council

May 12 - The United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) hopes that today’s election of the United States to the United Nations Human Rights Council marks the beginning of a period of sustained US participation in the council that will result in significant advancement of the human rights agenda at home and abroad. Ambassador Thomas Miller, UNA-USA’s president, congratulated the US government for having stood for election to the council and winning a seat on the 47-member body in elections held in the General Assembly. (…)

UNA-USA leaders and members throughout the country have urged the United States to participate in the work of the Human Rights Council since its creation by the UN General Assembly in 2006. Today’s action is all the more important since UN member states will meet in 2011 to review the council’s working methods.This review conference will set the stage for member states to adopt changes that can improve the council’s structure and procedures. By joining the council, the US will be able to work as a partner with others to develop and propose the kinds of changes that will enable the Human Rights Council to fulfill its important mandate. (…)

The United Nations Association of the USA is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to educating, inspiring and mobilizing Americans to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations, strengthening the United Nations system, promoting constructive United States leadership in that system and achieving the goals of the United Nations Charter.


UNICRI launches the first Summer School on Fundamental Rights – Rome, 1 to 7 July

Fundamental Rights - The protection of Fundamental Rights in European Law

The case law of the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights

The first UNICRI Summer School on Fundamental Rights will take place in the University of Rome, Sapienza’s campus in Pomezia, from July 1st to July 7th, 2009. The course will be organized in cooperation with Ce.A.S. (Centre for Advanced Studies on Terrorism and Political Violence) and the Consorzio for the University of Pomezia. The first International Summer School on Fundamental Rights aims to provide students and young professionals with a comprehensive understanding and a detailed perspective on economic, legal and social aspects related to fundamental rights in the European Law. (…)

The programme will cover topics such as the European Treaties and EC regulations; the European Court of Justice and the EU Normative System of Fundamental Rights Protection; the European Convention on Human Rights; the European Court of Human Rights and the National Courts; the introduction of Minimum Standards on Fundamental Rights Protection in Criminal Trial; Social; Security Rights and Basic Income.



Economy and development



US$3 million IFAD loan to Rural Finance Programme in Belize

Rome, 19 May - Efforts by poor rural people in Belize to lift themselves out of poverty are being bolstered by a US$3 million loan from IFAD to Belize, for a Rural Finance Programme, that will help poor people realise their economic potential. The loan agreement was signed today in Rome by Audrey Joy Grant, Ambassador of Belize in Brussels and Jessie Mabutas, IFAD Assistant President. Lack of access to credit and other financial services (savings, insurance, remittances) has hampered economic growth in Belize and there is untapped economic potential among the rural population. (...) The expansion of rural financial services for smallholder farmers and other rural groups is a critical means to catalyse rural development in Belize, complementing government and other international agencies initiatives. The programme will target 11,500 poor rural households nationwide, including many women and young people who are small scale farmers, subsistence fishers, craft workers, and members of indigenous communities. More than 15,000 poor and extremely poor rural people are expected to benefit directly. To date, IFAD has funded two projects in Belize for a total of about US$ 4 million.


EU € 1 billion “Food Facility”: Commission signs the first contribution agreements with UN partner agencies                     

Brussels, 15 May - Today Koos Richelle, Director-General of EuropeAid Co-operation Office, will sign on behalf of the European Commission the first contribution agreements of the Food Facility with three UN implementing partners: FAO (€106M), UNRWA (€ 39.6M) and UNICEF (€8.2M). Similar contribution agreements with the World Food Programme (€38.7M), and UNOPS (€ 10M) are expected to be finalised shortly, to be followed by agreements with the World Bank, IFAD and UNDP. These agreements are financed under the € 1 billion Food Facility, which will support actions implemented by International Organisations, recipient governments and regional organisations. Also under this facility a €200 million call for proposals will be launched on the 26th May 2009, to finance projects to be implemented by NGOs, EU member states development agencies and local authorities active in 35 priority countries.

The signature of these agreements underlines the importance of the European Union as the world’s first donor in improving food security across the globe. (…)


Gaza: inauguration of the first phase of a project to upgrade a wastewater treatment plant

Fragments of border wall used to patch up water treatment plant

Geneva/Jerusalem, 12 May (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will inaugurate tomorrow, 13 May, the first phase of a project to upgrade a wastewater treatment plant in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. When the entire project is completed, the plant will treat 20,000 cubic metres of wastewater per day and serve 175,000 inhabitants. (...)

In the Gaza Strip, efforts to provide the population with even the most basic services, such as water and sanitation, are severely hampered by restrictions on imports of construction materials, fuel and electricity. The only way to fix up the Rafah plant is to recycle existing materials, such as water pipes, and to use components manufactured within the Strip. The shortage of cement has been overcome by salvaging concrete segments of the old Rafah border wall that lay abandoned after its partial demolition in January 2008. (...)


SUCCESS alliance farmers provide beans for new Davao specialty dark chocolate bar

11 May - U.S.-based Askinosie Chocolate company recently launched its new product line “Davao 77% Dark Chocolate Bar,” made from cocoa beans produced by Davao City farmers in the Philippines, including ACDI/VOCA beneficiaries under our SUCCESS Alliance program. The bars are available now for sale in the U.S. It is the first time a chocolate maker has exported Filipino cocoa beans in 25 years. (...) ACDI/VOCA promotes a value chain approach to cocoa develop­ment through the SUCCESS Alliance, which is a public-private partnership active in Asia, Latin America and Africa. The SUCCESS Alliance comprises USAID, USDA, the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), Mars, Inc., local partners and ACDI/VOCA. Askinosie represented a significant opportunity for Davao City farmers to connect directly to the specialty market. (…)


Bill Gates, FAO chief ponder anti-hunger fight

Agriculture key as hungry approach 1 billion worldwide.

Rome, 11 May - Bill Gates co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf met in Rome today to discuss the role of agricultural development in reducing world hunger and poverty. They also addressed the longer-term challenges to agriculture, including the impact of the global economic crisis on poor countries.

“With nearly one billion people going hungry worldwide, we must act urgently, but also have the foresight necessary to make sustainable, lasting increases in agriculture,” said Diouf.

“World hunger is not an option. Access to sufficient, nutritious and safe food is fundamental not only to the well-being of poor households everywhere but also to economic development, peace and security in every corner of the world,” the FAO chief added.

“Our challenge is to produce food for an additional three billion people who will be living on our planet by 2050.” (...)


IFAD to provide Cameroon with US$13.5 million loan and US$0.2 million grant for microfinance development

Rome, 11 May - A US$13.5 million loan and a US$0.2 million grant from IFAD to the Republic of Cameroon for the Rural Microfinance Development support project will help to reduce poverty, increase income and improve the livelihoods of poor people in rural areas. The loan agreement was signed today in Rome (...) The IFAD project will target the rural populations in the Centre, Extreme-North, North-West and Western Regions of Cameroon. The target groups comprise smallholder farmers with limited access to inputs and technologies and who have difficulties in accessing suitable financial services. The project will also help young people, particularly young women who despite their heavy workload and financial constraints undertake many rural microenterprises involved in processing, storage, transport and handicraft activities. To date IFAD has funded seven rural development projects in Cameroon for a total of US$ 85 million.

IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency. It is a unique partnership of OECD, OPEC and other developing countries.


Afghanistan: incentives driving economic alternatives for the north, east and west program

5 May - ACDI/VOCA has won a $20 million subaward under the USAID-funded Incentives Driving Economic Alternatives for the North, East and West program (IDEA-NEW). DAI is the prime implementer. The purpose of IDEA-NEW is to increase incentives that create jobs and sales by promoting licit and sustainable commercial agriculture and related agribusiness in provinces affected by poppy growing, thereby helping local economies transition away from dependency on illicit opium production and sales.

The development of a thriving economy in the target regions will be assisted by a range of activities including: increasing the competitiveness and diversity of regional subsectors with clear comparative advantage (fruit, vegetables, poultry, carpets and textiles);  improving access to markets, inputs and business services;  addressing the particular needs of women and the landless;  improving productive community infrastructure;  building capacity in both the public and private sectors.


West Bank - Tubas rainwater drainage project launch

Tubas, West Bank, 23 April - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Municipality of Tubas today inaugurated a Rainwater Drainage Project to improve the town’s drainage infrastructure. ANERA will implement the $300,000 project as part the USAID-funded Emergency Water and Sanitation Program (EWAS) and under the supervision of the Municipality of Tubas. The project will generate 900 days of employment for local workers over the next three years. (...) The new rainwater drainage system will consist of 1,100 meters of pipeline that will allow the rainwater to drain safely into nearby collection areas, or wadies, which will recharge the underground aquifers. (…) The projects are part of USAID’s overall $2.2 billion in assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to help combat poverty, create jobs and improve health and education, water services and infrastructure. (…)


EuroNanoForum 2009 - Nanotechnology for Sustainable Economy

Prague, Czech Republic, 2-5 June, 2009

European and International Forum on Nanotechnology

EuroNanoForum 2009 is the fourth conference of a set of international nanotechnology conferences organized within the framework of national Presidencies of the European Union. It will be a 4-day conference taking place from 2nd to 5th of June 2009, at the Prague Congress Centre, as an official event of the Czech Presidency, under the auspices of the Czech Ministry for Education Youth and Sports and with the support of the Industrial Technologies Programme of  the European Commission.

Focusing on “Nanotechnology for sustainable economy”, EuroNanoForum 2009 will address the contribution and challenges of nanotechnology research for a sustainable development of European industry and society, such as the need for reduction in carbon emissions and fossil fuels dependence, the substantial increase in energy demand, pollution control, clean water management and sustainable quality of life of the European citizen, as well as material production sustainability and efficiency. In this respect, nanotechnology presents many opportunities and challenges that have to be analyzed at international level through a safe, responsible and integrated approach, as first presented by the ENF2003 conference. (...)






Greater Horn of Africa: the European Commission allocates 54 million euros to address major humanitarian needs in five countries 

Brussels, 18 May - With five new financial decisions, the European Commission is providing a total of €54 million in humanitarian aid to vulnerable people in Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Uganda. The funds are channelled through the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department under the direct responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel. “The Greater Horn of Africa faces humanitarian threats on a lot of fronts,” said Louis Michel. “In this region ravaged by extreme weather conditions, chronic conflict and deep poverty, millions of people are now on the brink of collapse. Our help is crucial in saving lives and tackling misery. The complementary decisions we have just adopted reflect our global approach in this region, which is designed to address these difficult humanitarian challenges consistently and effectively.” (...)


ESPN promotes ‘Soccer Saves’ program with Save the Children to help African youth

Sports Network to air new public service announcement featuring Seattle Sounders FC, starting.

16 May - Seattle Sounders FC, the newest soccer franchise in Major League Soccer in the USA, has partnered with their fans and the new Seattle nonprofit organization Soccer Saves to support Save the Children’s work with older youth in Africa. A new public service announcement is scheduled to air on ESPN starting May 16, and continuing throughout June, highlighting the initiative, which launched in April. Read Press Release. The initiative will help disadvantaged young people in Africa who deserve a chance to grow up with support to lead healthy lives. (…)

Thanks to a $50,000 pledge from Soccer Saves, the project will kick off in 2009 in Ethiopia with a series of trainings of soccer coaches in life skills for youth, and an organized club soccer program using the acclaimed Sports for Life curricula. This is aimed at working with young people and their coaches to support healthy lifestyles for young people. (…) After learning from the lessons of the pilot phase, the larger program will serve hundreds of youth, coaches and clubs, and this will kick-off in the later part of 2009. (…)


Indiana Rotarian assists AIDS orphan from Uganda

by Peter Schmidtke

Rotary International News, 13 May - Allan Akamura’s friends used to push him to school in a homemade wheelchair. Now the 13-year-old from Uganda, who has cerebral palsy, pedals himself around on a tricycle through the corridors at University Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. He received surgery there to correct problems with his hips, knees, feet, and hands, with help from Ira Zinman and his club, the Rotary Club of Bloomington North, Indiana. Allan, who lost his father to AIDS when he was a year old and now lives with his uncle, attends the Nyaka AIDS Orphans School in southwestern Uganda. Zinman became acquainted with him while working on a documentary about the school. (…) When Zinman learned that the medical procedures that could improve Allan’s condition were unavailable in Uganda, he enlisted the help of the Children Waiting Everywhere Foundation to lobby University Hospital to provide the surgery free of charge.

Allan flew to Michigan in November for the surgery and is staying with a host family while he undergoes physical therapy to build his strength and flexibility and to develop neuromuscular connections. Doctors are hopeful that he will be able to walk.

In March, Allan’s host family took him on a visit the Bloomington North club, during which he traded smiles and laughs with Zinman and other club members. The club has contributed $5,000 for travel and other costs associated with Allan’s surgery, and it has committed to providing $3,000 annually in support of the Nyaka school.

Zinman hopes to accompany Allan back to Uganda in mid-November and is planning to shoot footage of him returning to school. The film will tell the story of the school and its 260 students, all of whom have lost one or both of their parents to AIDS, in a country with over one million children orphaned by the virus.


Caritas: schools and houses for Iran

6 May - A primary school built by Caritas Italiana as part of a development project following the Bam earthquake in Iran has recently opened its doors in the village of Abad Chehel Tan. During an inauguration ceremony for the school at the end of the April, the heads of Caritas in Iran, Laurence Banapour and Christine Vishnesky, were given honorary citizenships to the town of Bam. Over 25,000 people died and many more were injured when an earthquake hit Bam on 26th December 2003. (…) Caritas initially gave people a hand to pay for medical and hospital costs as well as providing items such as food, clothes, shoes and heaters after the disaster. It then set up a series of development projects to help the population recover from the earthquake. Apart from helping rebuild schools, Caritas has built houses for vulnerable people such as single mothers and a people who were paralysed in the earthquake. (…) providing support for development has given a big boost to relations between the local population and Caritas aid workers. In a speech at the inauguration ceremony, Joseph Farah, President of the Middle East and North Africa region of the Caritas network, emphasised the importance of love between nations and how it can be expressed through global solidarity. (...) Caritas works in Iran through Caritas Italiana.


ADRA shifts to long-term development in India’s flood affected Bihar

Silver Spring, Md., 5 May - Eight months after the worst flooding in 50 years devastated large areas in northeastern India leaving millions of people homeless, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is beginning a long-term recovery phase to bring development opportunities to communities in the state of Bihar. “Now that the waters have receded and families are back in their homes, our attention turns to helping the most vulnerable families recover from the effects of this devastating flood, as well as helping them to be more resilient against future natural disasters,” said Nitin Kenny, emergency management coordinator for ADRA India. To meet those needs, ADRA is preparing a recovery project in the Supaul district that will begin in mid-May. The project will continue to help survivors through livelihood development initiatives, including livestock replacement and the provision of animal fodder, as well as water and sanitation projects and disaster risk mitigation education. Approximately 20,000 families will benefit by the end of the 12-month project. (…)



Peace and security



Security Council, African Union agree to bolster cooperation

16 May - Members of the United Nations Security Council today held talks with their African Union (AU) counterpart today in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, today, agreeing to enhance cooperation, especially in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peacekeeping and peace building. During today’s consultative meeting, a follow-up to two previous gatherings in 2007 and 2008, the Security Council and the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) “agreed to pursue their consultations on ways and means to strengthen their cooperation and partnership,” according to a communiqué issued after the talks. They reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing collaboration in areas including the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Africa. Among topics discussed by members of the Security Council and the PSC were the situations in Somalia and Sudan relations between Sudan and Chad and unconstitutional changes in African governments. (...)


Agenda set for UN-backed 2010 review of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

15 May - The committee preparing for next year’s United Nations-backed conference of States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty today agreed on a president and an agenda for the May 2010 meeting in New York. Ambassador Boniface G. Chidyausiku of Zimbabwe, the chairman of the preparatory committee’s third session, held in New York from 4-15 May, said full agreement on the agenda was a “good omen” for next year’s review of the 1970 treaty which must be reviewed every five years. (...) “There’s a lot of good will, good political will in the air,” he said, citing specifically “the current relations between the US and the Russian Federation, and the willingness of the US administration to engage in the international community.” The committee agreed on Libran N. Cabactulan, Ambassador of the Philippines to the United Arab Emirates, as president of the 2010 conference. The agenda includes elaboration on the three pillars of the treaty - disarmament, non-proliferation, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy - and discussions on nuclear-free zones. (...)


Norway contribution to ITF in 2009

15 May - International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) has again received the Kingdom of Norway donation for 2009 in amount of 3.304.900 EUR. The thirtheenth donation of Kingdom of Norway will be earmarked for continuation of mine action activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The donation will be used for the support of NGO “Norwegian People’s Aid” mine action activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1.731.080 EUR) and Croatia (1.573.820 EUR) and will significantly contribute to the mine clearance efforts in both countries. (...) During the 11 years of ITF presence in the region of South East Europe, ITF with the widespread community of its donors raised more than 246 million EUR, cleared more than 93 million square meters of land, rehabilitated almost 1000 mine victims and enabled mine risk education to more than 150.000 children in the region of South East Europe.


Sri Lanka: MAG (Mines Advisory Group) steps up its clearance efforts

15 May - As the Government of Sri Lanka feels that an end to the war is in sight, areas of land are now being released for mine clearance. The Government has stated its intention to return 80 per cent of the displaced people by December, while publicly acknowledging that Humanitarian Mine Action will be an important requirement in the process. In response to the expected return of the internally displaced population, MAG has moved additional assets from Batticaloa, in the east of the country, to the district of Mannar in the north-west. MAG now has three teams conducting Community Liaison surveys. One mechanical team and one team of deminers are deployed to conduct technical surveys. MAG focuses on defining safe areas that can be used immediately by the civilian population, and to identify high risk areas for further potential clearance activities.

MAG’s survey teams collect data from various sources to establish the level, location and impact that mines and unexploded ordnance have on the communities and their plans for return. (…)


Destruction of Norwegian cluster ammunition

The destruction of Norway’s arsenal of cluster ammunition started last week. Thursday, April the 3rd, the first 1500 of a stock of about 300.000 cluster bombs were blown up to be destructed.

7 May - “The signals we send today, to every nation that has signed the convention or will sign it in the future, is that Norway commits to its obligations. We prove that we do not store, nor hide our stocks of cluster ammunition, we destroy them. These weapons will never again appear on the earth’s surface”, says Per Nergaard, Head of Humanitarian Mine Action Department, Norwegian People’s Aid. Per Nergaard was represented when the first destruction took place, in a mine located 900 metres under the ground in Løkken, Trondheim. The operation was executed by Espen Barth Eide, State Secretary of Ministry of Defence. Norway has been leading on the process, which in December last year resulted in an international convention banning usage, storing, production and distribution of cluster ammunition. 94 nations signed the convention in Oslo in December 2008. As a sequel to Norway’s contractual obligations, the Norwegian Ministry of Defence initiated the commission of destroying the total Norwegian arsenal of such weapons. Destruction of the total arsenal is estimated to be completed by July 2010.;action=Article.publicShow;ID=8080


Ban pays tribute to new forum promoting reintegration of ex-combatants

4 May  - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the opening of a new forum for the United Nations to advance its work on the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process in countries emerging from armed conflict. Mr. Ban noted that there have been nearly one million beneficiaries of DDR efforts worldwide over the past 20 years, in a message to the International DDR Congress in Cartagena, Colombia. “DDR is designed to advance security and stability in post-conflict environments so that recovery and development can firmly take root,” Mr. Ban said in a message that was delivered on his behalf by Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions Dmitry Titov. (...)


Cluster Bomb Ban Campaign accepts peace prize in Ireland

Author(s): Site Admin

Tipperary, Ireland, 1 May - The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) today accepted the 2008 Tipperary International Peace Award in recognition of its successful five-year campaign to outlaw cluster bombs. (…) Ireland hosted the diplomatic negotiations of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was adopted on the final day of the conference on May 30 2008. The Convention was opened for signature on 3 December 2008 and to date a total of 96 countries have signed, of which six have ratified (Austria, Holy See, Ireland, Lao PDR, Norway, Sierra Leone). A total of 30 ratifications are required for the Convention to take effect. “We are only now beginning the really challenging work with respect to cluster munitions,” said Mr. Branislav Kapetanovic, a Serbian cluster bomb survivor and former deminer who accepted the award on behalf of the CMC. “We now need to ensure that the Convention on Cluster Munitions is fully implemented and respected by all.” (...) The Tipperary International Peace Award was accepted by CMC representative Branislav Kapetanovic at a special ceremony held in Tipperary, Ireland on 1 May 2009. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the award. (…)






Putting a STOP to polio

by Dan Nixon

Rotary International News, 15 May - “As a health professional, working toward the eradication of a disease has to be one of the greatest programs one can participate in.” The words of Jenny Horton, a nurse and member of the Rotary Club of Kenmore, Queensland, Australia, helped mark the 10th anniversary of the Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program, established by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC hosted a celebration at its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, in January. Attendees included Horton and other STOP team members, representatives from Rotary International and the World Health Organization, and current and former CDC staff.

STOP has taken Horton to Botswana, Ethiopia (twice), Nigeria, and Pakistan. She is one of more than 1,000 volunteer team members who have traveled to 60 countries to provide technical support for polio eradication since 1999. The volunteers conduct field surveillance, train local health care providers in surveillance techniques, and help plan and monitor polio and measles vaccination campaigns. STOP also sends volunteers to support UNICEF in social mobilization, advocacy, and communications for immunization efforts in Africa and Asia. (...)


Democratic Republic of the Congo: ICRC steps up efforts to help displaced people and their host communities

Geneva/Kinshasa, 15 May (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is stepping up its humanitarian activities in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in response to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation that has taken place since autumn 2008. The lack of security arising from ongoing clashes and military operations is exacerbating the already bleak conditions for displaced people (IDPs) - estimated to number more than 300,000 - and their host communities in North Kivu and is having a devastating impact on people’s livelihoods. As a result, joint ICRC and Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo assistance programmes for displaced people, their host families and returnees in the Kivus will be more extensive than originally planned. To finance the expanded activities, the ICRC is asking donors for over nine million Swiss francs in additional funding, bringing its total 2009 budget for the DRC to over 62 million francs (more than 55 million US dollars). (…) This budget extension will enable the ICRC and the DRC Red Cross to maintain and extend ongoing assistance programmes so that more people will benefit. (...)


Maldives pave way for National Red Crescent Society

by Azza Hameed, Information and reporting officer in the Maldives

13 May - The President of the Republic of Maldives has ratified a bill that lays the legal foundation to create a National Red Crescent Society in the island nation. (...) Besides endorsing the formation of a local Red Crescent Society, the ratification of the Maldivian Red Crescent Act, on 7 May 2009, is a clear recognition of the humanitarian work that Red Cross Red Crescent has done in the country. (…) The head of delegation noted that experience has proven that local communities and volunteers are best placed to assist themselves, to become better prepared for and to respond to natural disasters because they come from those communities and are, therefore, perfectly placed to know what their community’s vulnerabilities. With the legal foundation of the Maldivian Red Crescent firmly established, the society’s first General Assembly is scheduled for 16 August 2009. (...) Like 186 other National Societies around the world, the Maldivian Red Crescent will adhere to the seven fundamental principles of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.


Treatment for uterine prolapse becoming more accessible in Nepal

Silver Spring, Md., USA, 12 May - Hundreds of thousands of women in Nepal suffer from uterine prolapse, a debilitating condition that can be prevented with adequate care, treatment, and education, says the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). In order to provide a lasting solution to vulnerable women in the Mid-Western Region of Nepal who have uterine prolapse and other reproductive health conditions, ADRA is giving improved access to reproductive health services in the districts of Rukum, Jajarkot, and Dailekh. ADRA expects that an estimated 12,600 women will receive medical care at mobile reproductive health camps where uterine prolapse surgery is performed, as well as other reproductive health services. Nearly 200 adolescents will also receive valuable education in life skills. In addition, by the completion of the project in October 2009, more than 150 health care providers will have been trained in reproductive health in emergency settings, uterine prolapse, and gender-based violence.

ADRA will also distribute informative materials (...)


Project HOPE launches Rehabilitation Program to address needs of thousands recovering from injuries sustained during the May 12, 2008 earthquake

70,000 people injured during the earthquake require long-term specialized care to properly heal.

Millwood, VA and Beijing, China, 11 May - On the one-year anniversary of the  massive earthquake  that devastated China’s Sichuan Province, Project HOPE, an international health education and  humanitarian assistance organization, is officially launching the China Rehabilitation Medicine Program. The three-year program is a collaboration between Project HOPE and China’s Ministry of Health, with support from several of Project HOPE’s corporate and foundation partners. The purpose of the program is to increase both the accessibility and quality of rehabilitation services in the earthquake-affected areas of the Sichuan Province, as well as contribute to the improvement of rehabilitation services throughout China. (...)


Pakistan polio teams prepare for communities fleeing conflict

11 May - Pakistan’s polio program is preparing for more than 600,000 people expected to flee the escalating violence in Swat, Buner and Lower Dir Districts for the relative safety of camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) to the west and south.

With tens of thousands already fleeing the district following the escalation of a military operation against anti-government forces on Wednesday, 6 May, the polio program has established nine transit teams - two on the route to Malakand, three on the route to Swabi and four on the route to Mardan - to immunize internally displaced children with trivalent oral polio vaccine. More than 9000 children were vaccinated by these teams in the first two days alone.

Since October 2008, none of the target population (377,000 children under five years of age) in Swat has been vaccinated, with the province classed “inaccessible” to immunization teams due to the security situation. As a result, this new displacement of the Swat population provides both an opportunity to reach under-immunized children and a threat, with the possibility that these children could be carrying wild poliovirus out of inaccessible areas into crowded camps. (...)


World No Tobacco Day – 31 May

On 31st May each year WHO celebrates World No Tobacco Day, highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce consumption. Tobacco use is the second cause of death globally and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide. In 2008, the theme of World No Tobacco Day was Tobacco-Free Youth. Young people are aggressively targeted by the tobacco industry which spends billions of dollars each year marketing its products. To protect the world’s youth from experimenting with tobacco and becoming regular users, the World No Tobacco Day 2008 campaign called for a ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

WHO created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and its lethal effects. Tobacco is the number one preventable epidemic that the health community faces.



Energy and safety



17 May 2009, World Telecommunication and Information Society Day

(e-Civicus, 15 May) - The purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.

World Telecommunication Day has been celebrated annually on 17 May since 1969, marking the founding of ITU and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865. It was instituted by the Plenipotentiary Conference in Malaga-Torremolinos in 1973. In November 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society called upon the UN General Assembly to declare 17 May as World Information Society Day to focus on the importance of ICT and the wide range of issues related to the Information Society raised by WSIS. In November 2006, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya, Turkey, decided to celebrate  both events on 17 May as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.

Worldwide initiatives on the occasion of WTISD 2009


Toyota to lease over 150 experimental PHVs in Europe

14 May - Toyota Motor Europe (TME) will lease over 150 units of its experimental Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV), to selected fleet customers across Europe as a critical next step towards commercialisation. France will be the first country to participate in the three-year pilot, with discussions ongoing in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. Based on Toyota’s full hybrid technology, the new PHV will come equipped with a powerful lithium-ion battery, extending the vehicle’s range in electric vehicle mode for a silent and zero-emissions drive. The first wave of PHVs will reach Strasbourg in late 2009. (...)


Australian government will invest A$4.5 billion in clean energy


14 May - Australia’s government will invest A$4.5 billion ($3.4 billion) in the development of infrastructure to generate energy from clean sources such as solar and wind power and to reduce carbon emissions ( source: )

The government will invest A$2.4 billion in low-emission coal technologies, including funding of A$2 billion for industrial- scale carbon capture and storage projects, according to its annual budget released in Canberra today. The government will invest A$1.6 billion over six years in large-scale solar electricity generation projects, the budget said. (...) The solar-energy program aims to create an additional 1,000 megawatts of generation capacity, which is similar in scale to a large coal-fired power station. That target is three times the size of the largest solar energy project currently operating anywhere in the world, according to the Australian government.

The government will also establish an organization, called Renewables Australia, which will receive A$465 million over four years to support the development and commercialization of renewable-energy technology. The government is committed to ensuring 20 percent of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020, the budget papers said.


EU economies to be put on road to recovery

6 May - The wind industry is hailing the newly-agreed EU Economic Recovery Plan as the right economic medicine at the right time. The European Parliament passed the €5 billion Plan at its plenary session earlier today. (…) The €565 million the EU Recovery Plan allocates to offshore wind energy projects will stimulate Europe’s largest indigenous energy resource. Moreover, part of the €3.98 billion the Recovery Plan earmarks for energy projects will go towards interconnecting Europe’s power grids, and initiating the first stage of an offshore electricity ‘supergrid’. This should speed up offshore development and network integration even further. As a result, it will also benefit consumers directly by improving cross-border electricity flow and driving down the power price. (...) [tt_news]=1499&tx_ttnews[backpid]=1588&chash=b38252468b


Evergreen solar panels to power electric Vehicle Recharging Station in Frankfurt, Germany

Station helps promote cleaner transportation for eco-minded travelers.

Marlboro, Massachusetts, USA, 15 April - Evergreen Solar, Inc., a manufacturer of STRING RIBBON™ solar power products with its proprietary, low-cost silicon wafer manufacturing technology, announced today that its panels are being used to provide the electricity for a new electric vehicle battery recharging station in a high-traffic area in Frankfurt, Germany. The solar “fuel” station provides free battery charging for small-scale electric vehicles including Velotaxis, Segways, electric bikes and scooters. The station contains six charging ports all of which receive their power from the Evergreen Solar panels located on the building’s roof. The installation is located in a major shopping district allowing people to power their vehicles while they shop. (...) The charging station became fully operational on March 31, 2009. It is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.


12th United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF) - call for entries

October 17-25, 2009 Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, San Francisco and Stanford University -

celebrates the power of international documentary films and videos dealing with human rights issues, environmental themes, protection of refugees, famine, homelessness, racism, disease control, women’s issues, children, universal education, war and peace. In addition to our ongoing celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this year we emphasize the theme:

Energy & The World - Formats: 16mm and 35mm film; Beta SP, DVD (NTSC)

Preview: on 1/2” VHS (PAL/NTSC), DVD (NTSC region 0 or 1) - All lengths are eligible (…)

Early Deadline – May 25, 2009 - Regular Deadline - June 1, 2009 - Late deadline - June 9, 2009

The Entry Form:  Print from or

Awards: • UNAFF Grand Jury Award for Best Long Documentary

  • UNAFF Grand Jury Award for Best Short Documentary

  • Stanford Video Award for Cinematography

  • Stanford Video Award for Editing

Please submit screening materials and background info to: UNAFF 2009, Stanford University - 10 Alvarado Row - CERAS/CFLP, Room 125, Stanford, CA, 94305-3084- USA. Questions or comments:  or call (650) 724-5544



Environment and wildlife



World Business Summit on Climate Change, May 24-26, Copenhagen

At this event, CEOs will discuss how their firms can help solve the climate crisis through innovative business models, new partnerships, and the development of low-carbon technologies. They will send a strong message to the negotiating governments on how to remove barriers and create incentives for implementation of new solutions in a post-Kyoto framework.

"We, the politicians of the world, have a responsibility to reach a truly global climate change agreement in Copenhagen in December 2009. But it is the business society that can deliver the tools to turn our vision into reality. Businesses can provide the clever solutions to make it possible to live in a both modern and sustainable society." Connie Hedegaard, Minister of Climate and Energy, Denmark.

 The results of the World Business Summit on Climate Change will be presented to the Danish government, host of COP15, and to world leaders negotiating the terms of the next international climate treaty. Registration for the summit is now closed. Please visit this site for live webcasting of the Summit beginning Sunday, May 24. For media not able to attend, TV2 will be providing a signal as Host broadcaster.


Emissions trading: EU ETS emissions fall 3 % in 2008

Brussels, 15 May - Emissions of greenhouse gases from EU businesses participating in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) fell 3,06 % in 2008 compared with a year earlier, according to the information provided by Member State registries. With the 6.5% reduction in emission allowances that the Commission has secured for the second trading period, the EU ETS really started to make a difference to emissions in 2008. Last year marked the beginning of the second trading period of the EU ETS, which runs from 2008 to 2012.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “The 3 per cent reduction was partly due to businesses taking measures to cut their emissions in response to the strong carbon price that prevailed until the economic downturn started. It confirms that the EU has a well functioning trading system, with a robust cap, a clear price signal and a liquid market, which is helping us to cut emissions cost-effectively. This should encourage other countries in their efforts to set up comparable domestic cap-and-trade systems, which we would like to see linked up with the EU ETS to create a stronger international carbon market.” (…)


UN Chemicals Conference ends on positive note

Geneva, 15 May - The second International Conference on Chemicals Management - ICCM2 - has ended here, with significant progress in several key areas and greater clarity on its priorities for future work. The ICCM is the governing body of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, SAICM, which is part of the United Nations Environment Programme.

The co-ordinator of the SAICM secretariat, Matthew Gubb, said: “The Conference has been a major milestone in the evolution of SAICM, taking us beyond the establishment phase to new challenges and equipping us for accelerated implementation in the years ahead. SAICM has already been successful with its Quick Start Programme, a start-up trust fund which is currently running projects worth USD 20 million in close to 80 countries.”  But he added: “The Conference considered that more efforts were necessary to achieve the goal of minimizing the risks of chemicals to human health and the environment.” (...)


Stemming the tide of marine waste with market-based instruments

Manado/Nairobi, 13 May - From paying fishermen to ‘fish for litter’ to laws banning food vendors from using plastic cups and plates in coastal parks, governments and local authorities around the world are increasingly turning to market-based instruments to cut litter and waste entering the sea. These are among the findings from a new UN Environment Programme (UNEP)-commissioned report presented today at the World Oceans Conference in Indonesia, where over 120 nations are gathering to boost the health of the global marine environment. (...)


UN drive turns to Internet to reach goal of 7 billion new trees


12 May - Ahead of World Environment Day, celebrated globally on 5 June, the United Nations today announced an ambitious tree-planting target in a bid to push governments into reaching agreement on a climate change pact in Copenhagen this December.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has appealed to the world to help its effort to plant seven billion trees by the end of the year, coinciding with the UN Climate Change Conference which aims to draw up a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

To date, some 3.1 billion trees have been planted in 166 countries, and “whether you choose to plant one tree or thousands,” UNEP would like you to register your tree planting pledge on its Billion Tree Campaign website, it said a news release. In addition, the agency has pledged to plant a tree for each person who joins its campaign on the internet-based social networking site “Twitter” between now and 5 June. UNEP hopes to attract 100,000 people on Twitter by World Environment Day and in turn plant the same number of trees for its Billion Tree Campaign. (...)

The World Environment Day global tree-planting drive is the first in a series of mass participation events planned as part of the UN-led “Seal the Deal!” campaign in the lead-up the UN climate change meeting in Copenhagen.


Winners of 2009 SEED Awards announced

Local entrepreneurship celebrated at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development.

New York, 12 May - The winners of the 2009 SEED Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development were announced today at a high level award ceremony and reception. The international award recognizes innovation in local, environmentally-responsible and sustainable entrepreneurship. 

Twenty local initiatives from across the developing world received this year’s award. Together, the winners cover a diverse range of promising business models that will tackle poverty and environmental stewardship in areas such as water and waste management, sustainable energy, recycling, and fish farming.

The SEED Award is the flagship programme of the SEED Initiative, a partnership founded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). (...)


Biodiversity loss and climate change: the need for an ecosystem approach

6 May - Last week was a turning point for biodiversity policy discussions. Two crucial meetings - the G8 environment meeting in Syracuse, Italy, and the high-level conference in Athens, Greece, organised by the European Commission - recognised the close links between climate change and biodiversity loss and the fact that neither can be solved without addressing the other. An integrated approach, aimed at greening our economy was called for. ‘Syracuse and Athens confirm that the political will to halt biodiversity loss is now here. The solutions must be embedded across the political sphere from climate change to the economy. We need to strengthen our knowledge of what biodiversity means to us, and the services and benefits we get from the natural world. (...)


HSBC and FEE launch global environmental education programme

HSBC and the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) announced a global programme, backed by a financial commitment from HSBC of US$2.5 million over three years, to teach five to 18 year olds about protecting the environment through FEE’s Eco-Schools International Programme.

The HSBC Eco-Schools Climate Initiative will involve HSBC employees, initially in 11 countries, who will volunteer time to help schools address a variety of environmental themes ranging from energy, transport and waste to water and biodiversity in relation to climate change. (…) Students, with help and support from HSBC volunteers and Eco-Schools Programme staff, will join an eco-committee and help perform an audit to assess their school’s environmental performance. Through consultation with the rest of the school and the wider community, students will decide which environmental themes they want to address and how they are going to measure and monitor progress.

The programme will culminate each year with the HSBC Eco-Code Climate Competition which will encourage the sharing of best practice and the celebration of achievements with other schools around the world.

A 2007 pilot programme involving HSBC and Eco-Schools in Sheffield United Kingdom, assessed by an independent evaluator found that 85 per cent of schools agreed that children learnt new skills from this programme with regards to protecting the environment. (…)  



Religion and spirituality



Globalisation for the Common Good: “The Challenge to America

Loyola University Chicago (Lake Shore Campus) - May 31 - June 4

Loyola University, Chicago’s Jesuit University, is delighted to announce that it will host the eighth annual conference of Globalization for the Common Good. The Event will be a featured part of Loyola University’s 2009 celebration of 100 years as a university. The conference will also be the eighth in the annual international series, under the auspices of Globalization for the Common Good - An Interfaith Perspective (founded by Dr. Kamran Mofid).

The Conference is convened by four organizations: The Interreligious Engagement Project (IEP21), the Center for Ethics, Loyola University Chicago, the Center for Global Studies at Purdue University Calumet, and Globalisation for the Common Good. (...)

The 2009 Chicago Conference will host several members of the Peace Council, who will help us to focus on the interreligious dimension of globalization for the common good. To learn more about the Council, visit their web site.


Interreligious dialogue, a priority


Written by Administrator   

18 May - The Pope’s voyage to the Holy Land has proved that “interreligious dialogue has become a priority in Benedict XVI’s pontificate.” This is a matter of fact according to card. Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who accompanied the Holy Father on his pilgrimage to the Middle East. In an interview with the French Catholic newspaper “La Croix”, the cardinal reflected on the highlights of the voyage and on future perspectives in the dialogue between Jews, Muslims and Christians. “Benedict XVI - he said - has clearly and pedagogically demonstrated that this dialogue between the three monotheist religions can be grounded.” (…)

As for the consequences of the Pope’s voyage on the peace process in the Middle East, card. Tauran declared: “For the Pope, and for the Holy See, peace must be based on justice, with the establishment of two States, and it is essential that the international community commits itself to finding a settlement to the conflict.” Then a reflection on the possibility and willingness to establish peace in the region: “we can reflect on this. The Pope said he had perceived signs of good will. I believe that both sides have understood that they cannot be happy without the others, nor can they live with a wall separating them, literally and figuratively speaking”.


Churches in many countries preparing “World Week” of action for peace in Israel and Palestine   

5 May - World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, 4-10 June 2009 is intended to generate joint church action for a just peace. Churches in 20 countries have already sent news of their plans to the convenors, the World Council of Churches (WCC). A Palestinian community organization is offering a way for many more countries to join - by sending peace prayers to Bethlehem. (...) The action week starts on 4 June each year to mark the last day - 4 June 1967 - of internationally recognized borders between Israel and a future Palestine. The action week is part of the WCC’s Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum. It was initially called International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel.



Culture and education



UNESCO celebrates Cultural Diversity from 11 to 22 May

The numerous cultural events held on and around the World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (21 May) at UNESCO Headquarters and elsewhere in the world are meant to underscore not only the intrinsic value of specific cultural productions, but also and above all the fertility of their diversity. Together, they remind us that humanity’s fundamental wealth lies in its diversity. By bringing out what is primordial to the human condition, art is a catalyst for the building of peace in the minds of men.


Givat Haviva’s Arabic newspapers digitized

A 1st project of its kind.

7 May - A unique and endangered collection of Palestinian newspapers consisting rare and fragile publications from the early 20th century, stacked in cardboard boxes at the Givat Haviva Peace Library, are now available on-line – thanks to state-of-the-art digitization. Ambassadors, politicians, researchers, international archivists, artists and other well-known personalities, from Israel and abroad, have browsed through the amazing collection of yesterday’s news dating from the early 1930s through to present times. “The Givat Haviva Institute has promoted equality between Jews and Arabs in Israel since 1949 and has always sought to provide tools to this end,” explained Dudu Amitai, Givat Haviva spokesperson, a professional librarian and archivist. “Studying and presenting the diversity of Palestinian voices within Palestinian society in the past, will hopefully contribute to the shaping of the future relationship between the State of Israel and an independent Palestinian state,” said Amitai.” (...)


War Child Film selected for 2009 Cannes film festival

May - ‘‘The Silent Army’ - which brings the plight of child soldiers in Africa to the screen - has been selected for viewing at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Having consulted on the original Dutch version of the movie, ‘Wit Licht’, War Child Holland is extremely pleased with the international attention this will bring to the struggles of children in war zones. (…) The stories of the child soldiers in the movie are based upon real life experiences of children who have taken part War Child’s programmes. The actors in the movie were also taken through our programmes in order to help them prepare for their roles.


A new notion of media? The 1st Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for media and new communication services Reykjavik (Iceland) 28-29 May

22 April - Facing technology developments and the media–related change they trigger in the society, the Council of Europe decided to address fundamental questions that will set the working direction for the coming years to meet these new challenges.

Democracy does not exist without free, independent and diverse media. The social, cultural and technological changes that are occurring today have a dramatic impact on the media. New communication services and media are appearing, whereas the more traditional types of media are exposed to enormous challenges. (...) Studying how these new media are creating new risks and opportunities for the protection of human rights is indispensable.

More information about the Conference


Reconciliation and the Healing of Nations – The Voices of “We the Peoples…”

A Seminar Held in Observance of World Invocation Day

To Invoke and Evoke Healing Energies for the United Nations and Planet Earth

You Are Invited to Participate:  Friday, 5 June 2008; 1:00–3:30 p.m. United Nations Church Center, 2nd Floor Conference Room (44th St. & 1st Ave.) Pre-Registration Required at:  or by phone: (718) 705-492 –no later than Wednesday, June 3rd

Inspired by this year’s UN International Year of Reconciliation, which when first introduced into the General Assembly, was referred to as a vehicle for creating a fraternal human society, based on values such as truth and justice and restoring the unity of humanity, this program will feature keynote talks, sacred music, discussion and meditation.

Since 1952 World Invocation Day has been observed as a global day of spiritual healing.

Sponsoring Organization: Aquarian Age Community.

Co-sponsoring Organizations: Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale; Legion of Good Will; Operation Peace Through Unity;  Spiritual Dimensions of Science and Consciousness Working Group; UN Days & Years Meditation Initiative and Other Fellow Supporting Organizations.


2nd European Conference on Plurilingualism -- Berlin/Genshagen, June 18 – 19

The Conference is under the patronage of the Paris and Berlin city councils, and is supported by the European Commission as part of its “Europe for citizens” programme, by the French and German national authorities as well as many other partners. This conference will gather researchers, policymakers and civil society actors. The detailed documents of the call for papers and for the conference are available on the website of the OEP. The conference themes are: Citizenship: Language, mobility and culture;  Education: Strategies for language learning from kindergarten to university;  Business: Languages within businesses’ strategies and for professional Relationships. (...)



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Psychological anti-crisis measure: let us be aware that what many do for a better future is already changing the world.


Poverty diminishes as human development increases

by Michele Dotti


It is true that a lot still needs to be done but it is not correct to support the idea that things are getting worse and worse, such an attitude could lead to a risky sense of impotence which represents the first step to resignation and idleness: nonsensical feelings in a moment when the possibility to reach meaningful results for humanity is truly possible, results which were farfetched even for the generation of our grandparents.


Talking about poverty is not as simple as it may seem. As we intend poverty nowadays, that is a mere synonym of reduced moneywise capability, is a pretty recent concept and its being universally true is quite controversial. As Mr. Majid Rahnema has carefully observed (a member of the Unesco Executive Committee and a United Nation resident-representative in Mali) “the biggest obstacle to the examination of the poverty issue lies in the fact that not only this word has never had the same meaning for everyone, but also that the concept itself remains a pure social idea impossible to be defined universally”. In some languages the concept of economical poverty doesn’t even exist, in the wolof language from Senegal for instance, to voice this concept the expression ki amul nit is used, which means “orphan”, that is poor of relations…


It is not surprising though that several new indexes have been created lately, such as the Human Poverty Index which measures social exclusion, life standard, service quality to try to define poverty in its complexity and diversification as a multi-dimension phenomenon which cannot be related only to the economical aspect. Furthermore, there has been positive talk of “convivial poverty”, “regenerating poverty”, of “frugal life” peculiar to vernacular societies…


Nevertheless if I am now writing this book is because after I fell in sick with malaria- “only” four times in my life, nothing compared to millions of people around the world (even if the last time it is still quite a fresh memory!)-I’ve always had on me a handful of Euros that could guarantee me the life-saving drug; just a small handful which made a big difference! To make a long story short, if I’m able to be here now writing, is also for a fortuitous chain of events I won’t be listing; some of them even so obvious to be erased from one’s memory, but please allow to remind you that if I can read and write is just because my parents were able to send me to school whereas I met so many children in Africa that had stop studying for lack of pens or notebooks and I remember children cutting that last notebook in two and delay that decisive moment for the schoolmate sitting next to them.


After all, even if aware of all the above mentioned observations, I find it hard not to narrow the idea of poverty down to just an economical handicap because for millions of people, especially but not only in the South part of the world, that is exactly what poverty is, that is to find every day a little money in order to survive.

World income since the 1950s has increased 10 times, whereas the growth in the previous 50 years had been less than 4 times; the number of poor people has decreased of 20% in the last 10 years although the world population has increased of 15%. In total, from the ‘50s onwards the number of people living under the poverty level has gone from 50% to less than 25%.


Since poverty has several implications it cannot therefore be measured only in terms of income. To live in poverty means living in a social condition of permanent malnutrition, disastrous living and hygienic conditions, high exposition to viral and parasitic diseases, illiteracy and no decision making, lack of freedom, discrimination, vulnerability and uncertainty.

The World Report on human development published every year since 1990 represents the attempt to measure somehow all these different aspects, giving justice to the complexity of the phenomenon; it contains a highly rich source of information, impossible to be summarized in just a few lines but what strikes out is the huge gap in numbers with the usual publications of the international agencies. Human development is defined as “a process made to widen the field of possibilities open to individuals”.


Experts from the UNDP (United Nation Development Program), far from measuring wealth only by the parameter of Gross Internal Product per inhabitant, have developed more sophisticated instruments to measure the differences of development not only in the world but also in different areas of the same country. The report from the year 1998 was enlightening the great developments achieved in the last decades: it was particularly stressed the fact that “developing countries have achieved, in the last thirty years, what developed countries had achieved in over a century (…). Nowadays, in the South part of the world a child is expected to live 16 years longer than a child born 35 years ago. In the poorest countries life expectation  has doubled in the last 100 years and between the years 1970 and 1992 the percentage of girls attending primary and junior high has almost doubled, from 38 to 68%. Literacy in grown-ups has gone from 48% in 1970 to 70% in 1995”.


According to the UNICEF Progress for Children report, from 1990 onwards, more than 1.2 billion of people had access to drinking water. From 1990 to 2004 access to drinking water has gone worldwide from 78 to 83% and the value from 1970 onwards is from 30 to 80%. From 1950 onwards the global malnutrition rate has dropped from 50 to 17% and in total life expectation at birth has grown more than 20 years in the last 40 years and infant mortality has decreased of 50%.


The real challenge for our generation now is to get hold of the concrete chance to “eradicate poverty from our planet” and implement therefore all that is necessary to guarantee to all the brothers of the human family what the United Nations call “basic needs”. In order to guarantee water, health and living conditions to all people in the World, 1% of the global wealth would be enough. A trifle, moneywise, that would however change history.



Extract from the book “It is not true that everything gets worse” written by Michele Dotti and Jacopo Fo, published by EMI 2008. The English version of the book is curated by the author.

Translation by Angela Lombardi.


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Next issue: 12 June 2009


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Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next. Past issues are available at . Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph.D. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti, Maria Grazia Da Damos, Arianna Cavallo, Azzurra Cianchetta. Editorial Secretary: Maria Grazia Da Damos.


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to 4,000 editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in 49 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway,  Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA. It is also distributed free of charge to 2,800 NGOs and 500 high schools, colleges and universities.


It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered educational charity chartered in Italy in 1979 The Association operates for the development of consciousness and promotes a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity in diversity and on sharing. It is based in Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy. 

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