Good News Agency – Year XI, n° 177



Weekly – Year XI, number 177 – 1st October 2010

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

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

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 10,000 media and editorial journalists in 54 countries and to 3,000 NGOs and 1,600 high schools, colleges and universities. It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, an educational charity 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 is a member of the World Association of Non Governmental Organizations.  




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education

Editorial: The validity of the UN


International legislation



Monaco ratifies international treaty banning cluster bombs

London, 23 September - The Principality of Monaco ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions at a United Nations treaty event in New York on 21 September 2010, World Peace Day. The Convention, which entered into force on 1 August 2010, comprehensively bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions, sets strict deadlines for clearance of contaminated land and destruction of stockpiles of the weapon, and includes groundbreaking provisions for victim assistance. To date, 108 countries have signed the ban treaty and 41 have ratified. Among them are former users and producers of cluster munitions, as well as countries affected by the weapons.

Monaco signed the Convention at the Oslo signing ceremony on 3 December 2008. It is not believed to have ever used, produced, stockpiled, or transferred cluster munitions. Although Monaco is independent, its national defence is the responsibility of France, which is already a State Party to the Convention.


UN anti-crime body lauds Gabon’s accession to trafficking treaties

22 September - The head of the United Nations crime watchdog today applauded the accession by Gabon to treaties on human and arms trafficking, noting that the move will help strengthen peace and security in Central Africa.

The two pacts are part of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which is under the jurisdiction of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and was adopted in the Italian city of Palermo a decade ago.

Gabon acceded to two of the Convention’s three Protocols: the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children; and the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition.(...)

During this year’s treaty event, Gabon also acceded to a pact on the International Criminal Court (ICC), ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and consented to be bound to three others. (…)


UN-backed anti-corruption academy inaugurated in Austria

September 2 – An anti-corruption academy co-sponsored by the United Nations opened today in Austria with the aim of filling the rising global need for training, research and contemporary measures and techniques in the fight against corruption.

The International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA), based in Laxenburg, will educate public and private sector anti-corruption practitioners in more effectively implementing the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).

The convention, which entered into force in December 2005, is the world’s first legally binding international anti-corruption instrument. It requires signatories to implement a wide range of measures in areas such as law enforcement, asset recovery and international cooperation. (...)

The academy is the result of collaboration between UNODC, Austria and the European Anti-Fraud Office, and the institution will formally become a fully-fledged international organization in 2011. Some courses have already begun at the centre.



Human rights



Timor-Leste: ICRC kicks off teaching programme on international humanitarian law

Dili, September 23 - Today the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Timor-Leste Red Cross signed an agreement with the Ministry of Education of Timor-Leste to launch a programme aiming at teaching the basics of international humanitarian law in the country's secondary schools.

"Our primary goal is to introduce young people to humanitarian principles, such as the requirement that life and human dignity be respected at all times," said Zurab Burduli, the ICRC's head of mission in Timor-Leste. "The Exploring Humanitarian Law programme will be launched on a trial basis in selected secondary schools as of 2011. Together with the Timor-Leste Red Cross, the ICRC will provide technical and academic support and help train teachers."

The programme will be adapted by the Timor-Leste education authorities to the country's secondary-school system.

The Exploring Humanitarian Law programme is an important part of the activities developed by the ICRC in Timor-Leste to promote international humanitarian law. It is currently used in 60 countries, with teaching materials available in 40 different languages.


Arab States pushed towards abolition

by Cam McGrath

Alexandria, Egypt, September 22 - Rights activists met in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria this week to discuss and adopt effective strategies to persuade Arab regimes to abolish the death penalty. The two-day gathering of Arab and international civil society groups aimed to build upon the recommendations of the first Alexandria conference in May 2008, which urged Arab countries to enact a moratorium on executions as a step towards abolishing the death penalty. Capital punishment is legislated in all Arab countries throughout the Middle East and North African (MENA) region, and over 860 death sentences were handed down last year.

While Arab states such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia have not carried out any executions in nearly two decades, their courts continue to pronounce death sentences for various offences. Other countries, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, mandate the death penalty for dozens of crimes ranging from murder to treason. Executions are carried out regularly by hanging, beheading or by a firing squad.

"While most of the world is going toward abolishing the death penalty, the MENA region has the highest rate of death penalty per capita -- even higher than China," said Mervat Reshmawy, a human rights consultant.

Abolitionists attending the Alexandria conference denounced the use of capital punishment, arguing that it was an ineffective deterrent to crime and constituted a form of state-sanctioned revenge. They pointed out that in most Arab countries capital crimes are tried in special courts, often using confessions extracted under torture and without guarantees of a fair trial. (…)



Economy and development



Growing food in greener cities

Urban horticulture supplies fresh food, creates jobs, recycles waste

Rome, 28 September - By 2025, more than half the developing world's population - an estimated 3.5 billion people - will be urban. For policy makers and urban planners in poor countries, greener cities could be the key to ensuring safe, nutritious food, sustainable livelihoods and healthier communities.

The concept of "green cities" is usually associated with urban planning in the more developed world. But it has a special application, and significantly different social and economic dimensions, in low-income developing countries. The challenge is to steer urbanization from its current, unsustainable path, towards greener cities that offer their inhabitants choice, opportunity and hope. One solution is urban and peri-urban horticulture, according to FAO.

Governments in 20 countries have sought FAO's assistance over the past decade in removing barriers and providing incentives, inputs and training to low-income "city gardeners". FAO has also provided tools, seeds and training to establish thousands of school gardens, a proven means of promoting child nutrition, in more than 30 countries.


European Union channels €20 million through IFAD to boost food security in West Africa in support of ECOWAS regional agricultural policy

Rome/Abuja, 28 September - The European Union (EU) has provided €20 million to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), to work with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in developing a coordinated response to increasing food security in the region by improving access to food.

IFAD will implement the programme in close collaboration with ECOWAS, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and national governments in the context of on-going IFAD-financed projects in the region. The programme aims to increase availability of improved seed varieties in the ECOWAS region. This will help small farmers to increase agricultural production and grow enough food in the long-term to meet the needs of vulnerable populations in the region.

The implementing programme partners will work with smallholder seed producers, farmers’ organizations and National Agricultural Research Systems on the key food crops of West Africa, namely rice, maize, cassava, peanuts and yam.

IFAD operations in West and Central Africa


United States donates $16 million to FAO for flood-hit Pakistan farmers

Northwest region to benefit with seeds and fertilizers for wheat planting season

Islamabad/Rome, 23 September - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is to provide FAO with $16 million to support wheat planting, prevent further livestock losses and de-silt irrigation systems in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one of the provinces most severely affected by last month’s floods.

The donation marks an auspicious start for FAO’s $107 million appeal in the UN’s Pakistan Floods Emergency Response Plan appeal, announced in New York on Friday following the worst natural disaster on record in terms of farming and production losses. The U.S. funds will cover around a quarter of the total wheat seed requirements for the “Rabi” wheat planting season in the northwestern Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Rabi season in the region runs from now until late October.

More than 160 000 households will benefit from the United States of America’s donation, providing food security for over 1.3 million rural farming people. The programme places special emphasis on women, female headed households and families with children under five years old.


Haiti mobile money solution now 'Feature Commitment' at Clinton Global initiative 2010

Trilogy International and Mercy Corps Partner to maximize NGO resources, expand access to financial services

by Trilogy International Partners

New York, September 23 - PRNewswire-USNewswire/ - The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) announced this morning that the Commitment to Action by Bellevue, Washington-based Trilogy International Partners and international relief and development agency Mercy Corps has been selected as a 'Feature Commitment' for its ability to "catalyze financial access and enable economic empowerment for the rural poor in Haiti through the introduction of mobile money services." The first-of-its-kind mobile money solution was launched on Tuesday. More on Trilogy and Mercy Corps' mobile money announcement can be found here.

Jack Dorsey, chief executive officer of Square and co-founder and chairman of Twitter recognized John Stanton, Chairman of Trilogy International Partners and Nancy Lindborg, President of Mercy Corps for their Featured Commitment prior to the Mobile Revolution: Transforming Access, Markets and Development panel at CGI in which Trilogy chairman and wireless pioneer John Stanton was a participant.

The panel discussed the explosive growth of mobile phones in developing countries and how new mobile applications can be harnessed to stimulate economic development and lift millions out of poverty. In addition to Stanton, other panel members included Cherie Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, Mohammad Kilany, co-founder of Souktel Mobile Phone Job Service, and Molly Melching, executive director of Tostan.


Microfinance group in southern Sudan branches to Wau

September 17 - The microfinance lender Finance Sudan officially opened its Wau branch office this week, its fifth since starting in Southern Sudan in 2006. The lending group, which currently serves 3,000 clients, anticipates opening a sixth branch office in Yei before the year ends.

“We’re transforming lives through innovative finance,” says Finance Sudan country manager Robert Oketi, who helped welcome guests and dignitaries to the Sept. 15 ceremony at the new office in Wau, West Bahr al Ghazal. “Microfinance is more than just access to finance, it’s about reaching the community.”

Finance Sudan is a partner in the USAID-funded Generating Economic Development through Microfinance in Southern Sudan (GEMSS) program, which ACDI/VOCA implements with AED. The program seeks to strengthen the region’s financial sector and improve access to financial services for small business owners and low-income people.

“We want to see the women who sell bread on the streets today become tomorrow’s bread bakery owners,” says Tim Carson, chairperson of Finance Sudan and CEO of MicroAfrica Group, of which Finance Sudan is an affiliate.


Development through trade

Since its trade arrangements with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries were overturned by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the EU has been negotiating new deals with its ACP partners. At the Foreign Affairs Council on 10 September, ministers took stock of the situation and discussed how to breathe new life into the negotiation process which has now lasted several years.

The new arrangements, the so-called economic partnership agreements (EPAs), are aimed at promoting trade and thus through trade support development, sustainable growth and poverty reduction in the ACP countries. They are also intended to foster the ACP states' gradual integration into the world economy and attracting foreign direct investments.

The ACP countries have been grouped into regions so as to tailor the arrangements to suit specific local circumstances. The agreements give free access to the EU markets without export duties, whereas ACP markets will only gradually be opened to EU products and services. The most advantageous rules are applied to the least-developed countries.


Solar cooking - Rwanda/United States

The “Bake the Cycle” project helps break the cycle of poverty by providing solar bakery jobs to widowed women 

U.S-based True Vineyard Ministries provides sustainable opportunities for widows and children impacted by genocide, subsequent conflicts, and HIV/AIDS in Rwanda. Its “Bake the Cycle” project is helping to break the cycle of poverty by providing solar bakery jobs to 10 widowed women supporting families in Ruhengeri. The bakery provides a variety of breads to local businesses and families. The women use a commercial-sized Villager Sun Oven® that reaches temperatures in excess of 250°C and can bake hundreds of loaves of bread each day. It has a propane backup system for evening use and during inclement weather.

According to True Vineyard Ministries, the project is already having an impact. “For the first time in the widows’ lives, they are able to consistently provide food, clothing, shelter, and education for their families.”






USA: Facebook’s CEO gives $100-million to fix schools

by Maria Di Mento and Caroline Preston

September 23 - Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old chief executive of Facebook, has announced that he is giving $100-million to improve the public school system in Newark, N.J. The money, which will come from Mr. Zuckerberg’s Facebook stock holdings, will go into a foundation he is establishing to support the effort.

This is the first such publicized charitable donation from the young entrepreneur, who is worth at least $6.9-billion according to Forbes magazine. He ranks No. 35 on the magazine’s list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, released today.

The donation is also significant for being the first donation of $100-million or more from an American of Mr. Zuckerberg's generation. To see how his pledge compares to those of other major donors, see The Chronicle's annual Philanthropy 50, a ranking of the country's most-generous donors. With this gift, Mr. Zuckerberg joins the ranks of major donors seeking to improve the schools. (…)


USA: Omidyar Network pledges $55-million for government transparency, anti-poverty efforts

by Caroline Preston

September 21 - Omidyar Network, the philanthropy started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, will invest $55-million in technology to promote government transparency and help people rise out of poverty.

The pledge, announced at the Clinton Global Initiative, will be spent over three years. About $30-million will go to organizations that use technology to share information about how people are governed and enable them to have a greater say in the process. The new commitment expands on Omidyar's work in the realm of government transparency; to date, the philanthropy has supported organizations including the Sunlight Foundation, mySociety, and Global Integrity.

The remaining $25-million will support cutting-edge efforts to use mobile technology to expand access to banking, health care, agriculture, commerce, and other activities and services. Past grants in the field of mobile technology have gone to FrontlineSMS, Ushahidi, and Opportunity International, among other groups.


Proof Positive - A significant decline in the number of children in foster care

by Christine James-Brown   

September 20 - For those of us who work in the nonprofit arena, making a case for investing in programs and efforts that help those less fortunate is central to what we do. Even with great research, it can be difficult to convince others that investing money and time, in a smart and strategic way, will make a difference for vulnerable people. 

That’s why it was so exciting to see recent figures released by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services showing a significant decline in the number of children in foster care. In a decade’s time, the number of children in the system declined from

How did it happen? As the number of children in foster care exploded, major national and grassroots public relations and direct service efforts evolved that put the issue on the radar for more Americans. The idea that the nation’s foster care population was greater than several mid-sized U.S. cities, such as Miami and Kansas City, was inconceivable and unacceptable. Unfortunately, foster children are often faceless to the larger community.


CARE announces $1.5 million gift from UPS to enhance global humanitarian relief

Donation helps build capabilities of Atlanta-based CARE to swiftly respond to disasters around the world

Atlanta, USA, September 16 - CARE, an Atlanta-based humanitarian organization that fights global poverty by empowering women and girls, received a $1.5 million gift from The UPS Foundation to further the organization's emergency response efforts across the globe. UPS's $1.5 million gift to CARE includes cash and in-kind support to strengthen CARE's disaster response and relief efforts and improve CARE's supply chain management capabilities during emergencies. It also will help support CARE's National Conference and Celebration, an annual event that gathers hundreds of volunteers on Capitol Hill to urge members of Congress to improve the lives of millions of marginalized women and girls around the world.

In 2007, The UPS Foundation met with CARE to identify opportunities to most effectively assist humanitarian relief logistics. Since then, UPS has worked with CARE and Aidmatrix to implement a technology solution for commodity tracking, develop a supply chain unit with oversight for all processes and implement procedures for warehousing, inventory management, and procurement.


Kyrgyzstan: improving access to clean drinking water

Osh, September 16  - Some 7,000 people in the village of Monok and some 10,000 in the Kumarjan Datka area of the city of Osh are set to receive improved access to clean drinking water, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said today.

Even before violence engulfed southern Kyrgyzstan in June, the ICRC had already stepped up its presence there to monitor the situation and prepare for emergency response. On the very first day of the clashes, the ICRC took immediate action to bring aid to thousands of people. The aid included emergency deliveries of potable water followed by technical support to boost the capacity of local water boards.

"By the end of the year, we intend to bring water that is safe to drink to another 22,000 people," said Aleksandr Mailyan, an ICRC water engineer based in Osh. "We have a very good working relationship with the local water board, and it is very gratifying to see our joint efforts achieve concrete results."

The ICRC has been visiting detainees and carrying out other humanitarian activities in Kyrgyzstan since 1999. It opened a representation in Bishkek in 2004 and re-opened an office in Osh in early 2010. A second office was opened in Jalalabad at mid-year.


Mali/Niger: over 300,000 receive ICRC aid during food crisis

September 16 - Though the July rains this year held the promise of a more or less normal harvest in Mali and Niger, for many years both countries have been hit by repeated droughts.

Since April this year, the ICRC has been working hard to mitigate the effects of the food crisis in the worst-hit parts of the two countries. ICRC employees have paid good prices to purchase more than 36,000 heads of cattle, weak but still healthy, from local stockbreeders. The money the stockbreeders receive enables them to buy grain and other basic necessities. The cattle are slaughtered for their meat. If edible, it is distributed among vulnerable groups such as street children and detainees. The stockbreeders themselves get some of it too. In a parallel aid operation, nearly 200,000 people received food to tide them over until their next harvest, or to feed their remaining animals.

First tried by the ICRC in Somalia in 2006, this cattle-purchasing initiative has helped keep the food crisis under control in Mali and Niger, while at the same time reviving the local economy. However, with creeping desertification and a lack of infrastructure in this violence-prone environment, the future looks bleak. Fortunately, the fighting between Tuareg rebels and the government security forces in Niger has stopped. This has made it easier for people to get back to the work they had always done. But the people here have been through a lot and must often start from scratch with very little.


Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awards $575,000 to organizations helping children impacted by earthquake in Haiti

New grants bring Foundation's support of humanitarian operations in Haiti to $1,075,000

Los Angeles, September 8 - The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced that its board has approved $575,000 in grants to three organizations that are helping children severely traumatized by the devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti eight months ago that killed 220,000 people and injured 330,000 more. Partners In Health and SOS Children's Villages International, both laureates of the Hilton Humanitarian Prize, will receive $300,000 over two years for a collaborative project to help orphans and other children affected by the earthquake. The Global Fund for Children will receive $275,000 over three years to partner with locally led, community-based organizations in Haiti that are assisting vulnerable children. The new grants bring the Hilton Foundation's contributions to Haiti to $1,075,000.



Peace and security



UN and African Union launch joint task force on peace and security

28 September - The United Nations and the African Union have launched a joint task force on peace and security as the two organizations continue to step up their cooperation in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding across the continent. The Joint Task Force, launched at UN Headquarters in New York by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping, will meet twice a year at the senior level to review immediate and long-term strategic issues.

Ban and Ping noted in a press release that they were determined to strengthen existing cooperation between the two organizations beyond the "groundbreaking joint efforts in Sudan, Guinea and Somalia”. Ban and Ping approved terms of reference for the new task force, which will conduct its first consultations this week in New York, coinciding with this year being declared by the AU as the Year of Peace and Security in Africa.

The task force's programme of work will be mapped out in coordination with the newly established UN Office to the AU and the AU's Permanent Observer Mission to the UN.


Austria hails signs of progress towards nuclear disarmament at UN debate

25 September 2010 – The world has made important progress towards nuclear disarmament in the past year, but United Nations Member States now need to build on that momentum and take steps to head towards an era without nuclear weapons, Austria’s Federal Minister for European and International Affairs said today. Michael Spindelegger told the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate that the 12 months since the high-level Security Council meeting on disarmament had been the most positive in a decade.

Early next year a competence centre for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation will open in Vienna, the Austrian capital, with the aim of promoting open discussion and independent expertise, monitoring and advocacy.


DanChurchAid’ Mini Mine Wolf (MMW) is now operational in Luena area, Angola

September 8 - In 2009 DanChurchAid received DKK 5.500.000 from A.P Møller and Wife Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller's Fund for General Purposes for purchasing a new mine clearance machine – a Mini Mine Wolf – to assist the manual demining operation in Angola.

A Mini Mine Wolf is an armoured ground preparation machine, it tills the soil in front of the machine and any mines will explode. This helps the manual deminers in identifying minefields.

The machine is increasing the productivity of the demining and will play a crucial role in rapid clearance of land mines in Angola.


Vietnam: Telephone hotline assists emergency reporting of UXO

In a landscape so heavily contaminated with remnants of conflict it is common for people to find dangerous items of unexploded ordnance  (UXO) while going about their everyday chores. How a person responds having found such an item can be the difference between life and death. Understanding this threat to the community, MAG provides a telephone 'hotline' number that enables members of the public to directly report the location of UXO they find.

MAG cleared agricultural land in Tien’s village in 2007, destroying 31 dangerous items in the process. However, the scale of contamination in the province is so great that it is not possible to clear all the land in a village. The result is that community members continue to find UXO on land that has not yet been cleared. When they do so, they telephone MAG and make an emergency report.

In the 12-month period from July 2009 to June 2010, MAG received 115 such reports of UXO in the province, 16 of them from this village.


D.R. Congo: 100,000 weapons destroyed

A ceremony to mark the destruction of the 100,000th weapon by MAG in partnership with the Congolese Ministries of Interior, Defence and Foreign Affairs has been held in Kinshasa. The ceremony at the DRC General Police Inspection featured a demonstration of the marking process – whereby MAG-trained FARDC technicians check and register surplus stocks before destroying them – and the symbolic destruction of an AK-47 assault rifle, illustrating how weapons are put beyond any future use to dignitaries, including representatives from the US, UK and Dutch embassies.

This was followed by the handover of three marking machines, to officially launch the weapon marking campaign MAG expects to be part of. (…)

MAG is the largest actor in the CWMD field in DRC, working hand in hand with the Congolese authorities since 2006 to make arms and ammunition management more secure and accountable, and to reduce the risks currently posed by poorly maintained stockpiles.

We currently operate one mobile CWMD team, a mobile stockpile assessment team and a destruction team based at the Logistics Central Base in the capital, under funding from the US Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement and the Dutch Government.

Between 2006 and June 2010 more than 105,000 arms and 670 tons of ammunition were destroyed.






Malawi: Village chief leads fight for maternal health

by Charles Mpaka

Lilongwe, September 24 - In Ntcheu, a rural district in central Malawi, villagers have taken the fight against the country's high maternal mortality rate into their own hands. They have almost eradicated maternal deaths in the area by urging pregnant women to give birth in hospitals, under medical supervision.

Chief Kwataine, who has 89 villages in Ntcheu under his traditional authority, launched a maternal health campaign that first addressed common cultural beliefs associated with pregnancy, for example that a woman’s first child should be born at home or that the men of the family decide when women need medical attention. Kwataine also banned all traditional birth attendants in his villages, compelling women to give birth in hospital.

These measures have gone hand in hand with a widespread maternal health education campaign. In each of the 89 villages, between two and five skilled maternal counsellors register every pregnancy and advise mothers on best practices for achieving maternal health. Bright messages sprayed on the walls of villagers’ houses are bold reminders of important health messages. (…)


Rotary: Working together to improve global health

by Ryan Hyland

Rotary International News, September 17 - To increase awareness of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative  (GPEI) and its successes, Rotary International organized a workshop held 30 August at the United Nations Department of Public Information/Nongovernmental Organization Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

More than 2,200 representatives from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in 70 countries took part in the three-day conference, which aimed to build support for improving global health and achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Rotary's workshop, "Coordination a Public-Private Public Health Campaign: The Global Polio Eradication Initiative," was moderated by Rotarian Jenny Horton and featured presentations by Bruce Thorley of the World Health Organization and Lieven Desomer of UNICEF.

"The hope was that attendees left understanding how partners can work together, confronting all challenges while preventing disability and death in children who suffer from polio," said Horton, a member of the Rotary Club of Kenmore, Queensland, who served as a WHO consultant. (...) Horton said the workshop emphasized how GPEI programs have increased routine immunization, helped with the development of disease surveillance systems, and provided a structure that has benefited other disease interventions.

"Seeing and hearing just what is being done about polio eradication by many NGOs was amazing," she said. "Looking at the bigger picture to build partnerships to achieve a goal and ensure community participation is the best way to achieve the best outcome."

A registered nurse and volunteer for Stop the Transmission of Polio (STOP), Horton has led polio surveillance activities and immunization campaigns in Botswana, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. (...)


HIV self-management in Mozambique through patient groups reduces burden on over-stretched healthcare services

The model has also made it simpler for patients in remote areas to obtain their drugs, as they only have to pay for transport for the designated group leader.

September 16 - In Mozambique, there are fewer than five doctors per 100,000 people, and 11.5 percent of the adult population are living with HIV. In rural areas, health centres are few and far between. These dire circumstances caused MSF to recognise the need to make optimal use of the scarce resources that do exist and to empower patients to provide each other with support.

In MSF’s HIV project in the Tete district in northern Mozambique, patients are divided into groups of around six people who live near each other. Each month, the group chooses one person to go to the health centre and collect the antiretroviral (ARV) refills. On their return, the representative distributes the ARV drugs to the other group members. The representative also checks that the members of the group have been taking their medication correctly so that this information can be relayed to the health centre.

“This model has led to a reduced burden on healthcare services, as fewer patients need to queue up at the health centre to get their drugs,” explained Tom Decroo, MSF’s Medical Focal Point in Tete. “It has the potential to facilitate the scaling up of ARV treatment - something that is desperately needed in a place like Mozambique, where only one in three who need treatment actually gets it.”

The model has also made it simpler for patients in remote areas to obtain their drugs, as they only have to pay for transport for the designated group leader, and do not need to sacrifice a day’s work to travel to the health centre. Yet another advantage is that it enables group members to support each other in overcoming problems related to the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.


CARE to invest $1.8 billion to improve maternal, newborn and child health by 2015

Washington, D.C. (September 16, 2010) - Today the humanitarian organization CARE announced that it will invest $1.8 billion to expand its maternal, newborn and child health programs to more than 30 countries in five years. This investment will deepen CARE's commitment to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at reducing child and maternal mortality by 2015 and will support the United Nations Secretary General's Global Strategy on Women's and Children's Health, which will be unveiled at next week's MDG Summit.

As a leading organization that fights global poverty by empowering women and girls, CARE has made reducing maternal, newborn and child mortality one of its top priorities. With more than 50 years of experience and success developing and implementing maternal and child health programs, CARE empowers vulnerable women with services and information while affecting policies to ensure that safe pregnancy and birth are a basic human right.


MSF expands Pakistan emergency response into newly flooded areas in the south as concern mounts for waterborne diseases

September 8 - More than five weeks since the first floods overwhelmed regions in the north of Pakistan, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emergency medical and water and sanitation teams expand operations to the south of Punjab and in hard-hit Sindh province, where millions of people have been displaced by fresh flooding.

Major concerns about waterborne diseases, malnutrition, shelter and clean, safe water prevail as teams rush to establish new bases in Hyderabad and Sukkur in a bid to access flood affected communities on either side of the Indus River. Priorities for MSF include water supply, medical care for dehydration, acute watery diarrhoea and distribution of essential non-food items and shelter.



Energy and safety



Solar cooking in Tibet

The rural population of the Tibetan Plateau relies heavily on biomass fuels, especially dung and wood, for cooking and heating. These fuels cause indoor air pollution, contribute to climate change, and perpetuate gender inequality because girls spend long hours collecting fuel while boys attend school.  

One Earth Designs (OED), a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, has developed a novel solar device to reduce reliance on these fuels in this region. The device, called the SolSource 3-in-1, not only enables rural communities to harness the sun’s energy for portable solar cooking, but for space heating and electricity generation as well. High-temperature parabolic solar cookers are currently available and used in Himalayan communities. However, they are often made out of mirror-lined concrete shells that are heavy and breakable. Many nomadic villagers shared with OED a desire for parabolic solar cookers that are portable enough to be taken into the fields while working or tending flocks, but sturdy enough to withstand the harsh winds of the Tibetan Plateau.

OED worked with rural communities in the Himalayan region to design the SolSource 3-in-1 according to these local needs and with local materials when feasible. The first module cooks food and pasteurizes water. Its high focal temperature enables traditional cooking that relies primarily on stir-frying and boiling water for tea and tsampa. A second module collects and stores heat for later use in the home. A third module generates and stores about 20 watts of thermo-electricity per hour.

The SolSource 3-in-1 has been recognized for its innovative design by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Yunus Innovation Challenge, the Clinton Global Initiative, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Web:


Solar enery applied: Fiji / Kiribati / Tuvalu

In 2007, the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) began a series of solar cooking demonstrations in Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Fiji. Since 2008, SOPAC has partnered with Japan’s Ferris University to promote the use of solar cookers in Kiribati and Tuvalu. Throughout the summer of 2008, a small pilot project was conducted in Kiribati using a parabolic solar cooker from Japan and hand-made solar box cookers designed by Ferris University.

Four women’s groups were given solar cooking training by the Kiribati Ministry of Public Works and Utilities, and the group’s members were then allowed to use the cookers over a period of several weeks to test the cookers’ usefulness for local foods and to record reductions in traditional cooking fuel use, particularly that of kerosene. A similar project was conducted in Tuvalu in the fall of 2008.

SOPAC continues to promote solar cooking in Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Fiji. It strives to: increase the use of solar cookers to help meet regional renewable energy targets; promote partnerships between the local community organizations and public sectors; mobilize external financing to develop solar cooking initiatives; and establish micro-credit financing for the purchase of solar cookers. A number of solar cooker construction and use workshops have taken place during and after the pilot project.

In conjunction with Ferris University, SOPAC has produced a solar cooker construction manual detailing the materials and steps required to build the solar box cookers used in its projects. The manual is available for download from the SOPAC Web site:



Environment and wildlife



Global Postal Industry cuts over half a million tonnes of Co2 in one year

Industry one third of way to achieving 2020 target in first year of sustainability reporting

by   International Post Corporation

Brussels, September 24 - The postal industry today reports that it cut its CO2 emissions by over half a million tonnes in 2009, on 2008 figures. The findings were made public in the Postal Sector Sustainability Report 2010, published today by the International Post Corporation (IPC).

The Environmental Measurement and Monitoring System (EMMS) programme was launched with the presentation of the industry's benchmark report at the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen, Denmark, when the postal industry became the first global services industry to adopt a sector-wide approach to sustainability. The sector then set itself an emissions reduction target of 20% based on 2008 figures, by 2020 (the '20/2020 target').

In this first year of reporting nearly all of the 20 participating postal operators improved their carbon management scores on 2008, reporting a collective reduction in CO2 emissions of a total 597,000 tonnes. In 2009 these posts collectively emitted 8.63m tonnes of CO2, so this figure represents over a third of the required emissions reduction to meet the 20% target by 2020 set in Copenhagen.


Brazil’s threatened Cerrado gets a protection plan

Brasilia, 22 September - The Brazilian government last week announced a new plan to protect the Cerrado, a massive expanse of biologically diverse savannah that is under huge pressure from encroaching development. The Cerrado Plan will see US$200 million of federal money invested over the next two years to protect the mixed woodland-savannah, which covers 21% of Brazil’s landmass, an area about the size of Greenland. Though unknown to many people, numerous important tributaries of the Amazon River originate in the Cerrado. It also feeds the world’s largest wetland, the Pantanal.

The plan is focused on restoring the savannah’s most vulnerable places - areas with high deforestation rates, rich biodiversity and important freshwater resources.

Targets include the creation of 25 thousand square kilometers of national parks and other protected areas, the ratification and demarcation of 5.8 million hectares of indigenous territories, and a land use plan that balances environmental and economic needs.

Central to this is a legal framework that protects the environmental services provided by the resource-rich area. Studies show that close to 90% of Brazilians consume energy generated in the region, most of which comes from protected areas. But just over 8% of the Cerrado is now officially under the government’s watch. The new commitment will, however, shelter an additional 15% of the savannah by the end of 2010, including the regulated indigenous territories that appear in the plan.


Federal Judge blocks plan for new piers and boat facilities on Lake Tahoe

Decisive victory ensures development plans will be held to high standard

Sacramento, CA, USA, September 17 - In a landmark decision that will affect all future development plans at Lake Tahoe, a federal district court judge on Thursday overturned a plan to allow the addition of new piers, boat ramps, buoys and other boat facilities along the lake’s shoreline. Judge Lawrence K. Karlton of the U.S. District Court in Sacramento ruled in favor of the League to Save Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Club, sending the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s shorezone development plan back to the drawing board. The groups were represented by the non-profit law firm Earthjustice.

In November 2008, the groups filed suit against the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to force a proper environmental review of the agency’s shoreline development plan. The plan would have allowed for the building of 138 new piers, thousands of new buoys, and other boat facilities, resulting in more than 62,000 additional boat trips each year on the lake. The construction and additional traffic would have imperiled water and air quality, and negatively affected non-motorized boaters and public shoreline access. As a result of Thursday’s decision, miles of Tahoe shoreline will remain pristine and enjoyable for all users. (…)



Religion and spirituality



Leadership Team visits Interreligious Council in Bosnia-Herzegovina  

Bruxelles, September 30 - The Ecumenical Youth Council in Europe is a strong network of young Christians promoting the unity of Christianity throughout all of Europe. During a planning and dissemination visit to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Leadership Team of EYCE’s three-year Campaign to Overcome Fundamentalism met on Monday with staff of the Interreligious Council in Bosnia-Herzegovina (MRV).

During this encounter the team had an opportunity to explain the campaign to the council's staff and to invite the council's young contacts to become more involved in the campaign as it prepares to enter its third year. It is hoped that the council's young networks will become involved in several ways, including participating in seminars, organising their own local initiatives related to their experience of fundamental attitudes, and writing for forthcoming Fundamental Issues.

In return, the Leadership Team heard from the council's youth programme leader, Mrs Bozana Katava, about the work of the council and in particular its activities with groups of young people from a wide variety of religions and denominations, theologians and non-theologians alike. The team was very encouraged to hear about the great energy and enthusiasm that these young people are pouring into their interreligious encounters and initiatives, and looks forward to further collaboration with the council and its youth network over the next years as well as in preparation for their final campaign seminar planned to take place in Bosnia & Herzegovina during autumn 2010.


International Muslim-Christian Consultation "Transforming Communities", 1-5 November

Muslim and Christian leaders as well as scholars and interfaith practitioners will gather in Geneva, Switzerland for the international consultation "Transforming Communities: Christians and Muslims Building a Common Future".

The consultation is being jointly planned, funded and convened by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and several Muslim organizations. The 60 participants plus guests will address three key issues in the present context of Muslim-Christian relations:

• Beyond Majority and Minority

• From Conflict to Compassionate Justice: Building Ecologies of Peace

• Learning to overcome; formulating educational tools to resolve issues

The consultation is expected to identify and address issues of common concern and provide guidance to enable cooperation between Muslims and Christians at all levels, including faith-inspired approaches for joint Christian-Muslim action.

World Council of Churches: a worldwide fellowship of 349 churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. WCC work on Inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.


UK - Inter Faith Week 2010: 21-27 November

Promoting good inter faith relations - Highlighting the contribution of faiths to building community - Increasing understanding between faiths and wider society

 Inter Faith Week will run from Sunday 21 to Saturday 27 November 2010. Its aims are:

to strengthen good inter faith relations at all levels;

to increase awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular

celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society; and

to increase understanding between people of religious and non-religious belief.

The Week is being led by the Inter Faith Network for the UK, working with its member bodies. It will be community-led, with local people and groups of different backgrounds holding their own events and highlighting work going on to promote understanding between people of different faiths and beliefs.



Culture and education



Peace and War Summit - October 25-30, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA

NPA Newsletter, October - The National Peace Academy (NPA) is partnering with the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.  to bring together top scholars, veterans, military personnel, as well as business leaders, practitioners and representatives from non profit organizations at the 2010 International Peace and War Summit. 

The summit will consist of seven different panels designed to facilitate new and diverse conversations relating to peace and war.  The Summit themes will also be explored through poetry, play, musical concerts and two art exhibits as well as a Peace Pole dedication ceremony.  

More information and a complete schedule of events can be found here


Bioneers at Findhorn - "Breakthrough Solutions for People and Planet"

30 October - 2 November - Findhorn Ecovillage, Scotland

"No conference on Earth celebrates more fully the possibilities of creating a world that is conducive to life; Bioneers is central to the re–imagination of what it means to be human." Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest

The Findhorn Foundation and Findhorn College are delighted to be hosting the dynamic Bioneers movement from North America in their first major European conference. The Bioneers movement unites all those committed to finding practical solutions that can be employed now, empowering us to live on the Earth in ways that honour the web of life.

We invite you to join us and be refreshed by the 'good news' stories of cutting edge developments in social and environmental sustainability. Meet pioneering world leaders in their fields and explore with them innovative and holistic approaches that support the wellbeing of all life.

Bioneers at Findhorn will provide a balance of inspirational presentations with times of deepening, practice, dialogue, integration and unique networking opportunities. It will feature plenary speakers and community building activities in the morning, and a wide variety of more in-depth, practical workshops in the afternoon. In the evenings we will come together for cultural activities of music and dance.


USAID awards EDC $10M for basic education, skills training in Honduras

Newton, MA, USA, September 21 - Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), has been awarded $10 million over four years to offer basic education and technical training skills to at-risk youth in Honduras. The program, to be known as Honduras MIDEH, or Improving Impact of Student Performance, is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of the EQUIP3 set of workforce development projects.

As part of the new program, EDC will provide up-to-date basic education and technical training skills to improve the preparation of youth entering the workforce. It will also offer assistance to Educatodos, an alternative basic and secondary education program for out-of-school children and youth. In 2000, EDC helped implement Educatodos, and it has since become an integral component of Honduras’ education system.

In addition to assisting Educatodos, EDC will establish private-sector alliances and provide youth with training opportunities to obtain career readiness certificates that will help them secure jobs in the local labor market.


Rotary helps foster peace and understanding through education

Evanston, Ill. USA, September 21 - Rotary takes a direct approach to world understanding by providing future leaders with the tools they need to “wage peace” on the global stage with its innovative Rotary Peace Centers program. Launched in 2002, Rotary awards up to 100 full scholarships each year for master’s-level degrees or a professional certificate in peace and conflict studies at six Rotary Peace Centers located at: University of Bradford, United Kingdom; University of Queensland, Australia; International Christian University, Japan; Universidad del Salvador, Argentina; Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA; Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, (an intensive, three-month course for mid-level professionals in government, nongovernment organizations, and international industry).

Those interested in the program can apply through local Rotary clubs.  Applications for the 2012-13 class will be available for download from the Rotary website in January 2011, and are due to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July 2011. Qualified applicants must possess an undergraduate degree, have a minimum three years of professional experience at international agencies, government and non-governmental organizations, businesses or academic institutions; and demonstrate a commitment to peace and international understanding through their volunteer, academic, and professional achievements.

Contact: Sandra Prufer:; Kiki Melonides:


USA: EDC awarded $5.6 million from National Science Foundation

Focus is on STEM learning and teaching

Newton, MA, USA, September 8 - Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), has received more than $5.6 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct research and develop programs to boost the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“This investment means more jobs and groundbreaking scientific research in Massachusetts. This is a shot in the arm for the cutting edge work being done by our state’s universities and research organizations,” said U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) in a press release describing the grant awards for Massachusetts. The state has received more than $218 million in NSF grants since March.

“This new round of funding from the National Science Foundation allows EDC to continue its leadership in this area,” said President and CEO Luther Luedtke. “We understand how learners learn and what it takes to support learning in all settings. As one of the top recipients of NSF funding in Massachusetts, we are looking forward to making important contributions in these key fields.”


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by Sergio Tripi*


In April 1945 the representatives of fifty nations met in San Francisco to outline an agreement  on an international organization which would contribute to the building of a planet of peace and represent the means for bringing it about. Today, as the students of political science know, the Charter of the United Nations is considered one of the greatest achievements of humanity: after five thousand years of history written on the basis of the right of the strongest, the nations of the world decided to “put an end to the scourge of war” and to work to ensure a world of justice, peace and progress for all peoples. These words may arouse a renewed hope in us, or a question which is at the same time a sceptical bewilderment. In fact I am often asked: in spite of all the work done by the UN, the serious problems of the world still continue; why are the United Nations unable to solve them?


This question is put to me often by university students, by the public at conferences and by friends and acquaintances. To try to answer seriously, one must start from this “counter-question”: what are the Member States of the UN doing to enable this planetary organization to resolve these problems? Many people think that the UN is responsible for the world situation, but they do not realize that is an organization formed by national governments and that, as such, it can act only in terms of two fundamental factors expressed by its Member Nations: the delegation of authority which they are willing to confer on it and the  resources which they are willing to put at its disposal. In the final analysis, this is the whole problem. In evaluating the effectiveness of the UN from this viewpoint, one is surprised to note that everyone agrees on the fact that the delegation of authority is conferred very sparingly and that the resources are granted in dribs and drabs.


Today, with the prospect of the serious environmental and social problems of a global nature, one can perceive a new openness of the Member States to give the UN a role of coordination and leadership in organizing the necessary work to address serious problems like poverty, illiteracy, environmental pollution and threatening illnesses like Aids. In general, however, as far as the allocation of resources for development is concerned, the countries of the western world, with few exceptions, continue in their restrictive and short-sighted attitude. Forty years ago, it was clearly stated that 0.7 percent of the GPD of the industrialized countries would be sufficient to overcome these problems, but after all this time we are not even halfway! And the exceptions represented by generous countries like Denmark, The Netherlands and Sweden are to be greatly appreciated for the percentage of GDP assigned to Official Development Assistance but are rather marginal when their absolute value is considered. All this is reflected in the objective conditions of the grave problems with which the UN is confronted, which become more difficult inasmuch as these very problems, met only partially for lack of adequate funds, tend to put up a greater resistance to intervention and cause new collateral effects. Moreover, this same “parsimonious” attitude of the Member States produces delays, which are chronic at times, in the supply of the contributions which are owed annually to the UN for its very functioning. So, before the world community, this is the question which takes priority over all the others: will the sovereign nations  be disposed to give up nationalistic interests and restricted goals with the aim of working together to establish a world of equity and progress? The pessimists among us will say no. The realists will say that there is no other choice and the sooner the better.


In the 65 years since the Organization of the United Nations was founded, the world has changed drastically. With 141 new Member States, the political map has had to be redrawn, natural resources are no longer abundant and cheap and it is clear that the national economies now depend on the global economy. Human rights have emerged with a more profound meaning than ever, while humanity is slowly opening up to a new awareness: that of its intrinsic unity. However, with the exception, of an illuminated and growing minority which has for some time been affirming that new values and thus new types of behaviour must be expressed by humanity, if we finally wish to build a world  based on right relationships and shared responsibilities, the work of the UN is only marginally known to most of the public and only in situations of dramatic emergency. And yet, never as in the last decade have the United Nations called the attention of the world to problems which are potentially explosive and disastrous such as global pollution, desertification, hunger, demographic growth, human rights, the state of women and the defence of children, to mention only some of the areas in which the UN is working with greater intensity. All these activities are finally beginning to get some attention from the mass communication media but the public is not yet well aware of them.


Some reflections on the major problems of our times

An analysis of the main results obtained in the last decades in the struggle against the crucial problems of this period clearly shows the positive role of the UN, the highest world organization, which has been combating these grave situations right from the time of its constitution. Naturally, those who bring about the positive evolution of dramatic situations are the Member States themselves, but the guiding role of the United Nations has been very precious and often decisive.


Security – The emergence of this decade – the defence of security – has brought out the need for an agreement on the limited and well defined use of force as the key to defence of peace and the maintenance of security. A significant part of world public opinion (myself included) considers that the correct viewpoint for responding to extreme necessities of this kind is that of assigning to the highest assembly of peoples existing on the planet, that is the UN, the task of appraisal and the political responsibility for action, to be taken with coalition forces placed under its political control. Much has been said and written about terrorism and the recurrent element, especially in recent times, is that this terrible world threat should be faced by the whole world community. In fact, could we ever imagine that this terrible scourge, which expresses a perverse, homicidal fanaticism that finds proselytes in the terrible social conditions which the world continues to maintain in some areas of the world, can be healed by something less than the whole community of the planet? Can one ever have any doubt about the idea that, in an interdependent world, the long-term reply to terrorism must express new forms of synergy between the nations both at the level of security and at the level of responding to endemic causal situations such as hunger, deprivation of human rights, extreme poverty and illiteracy?


Hunger – As far as the scourge of hunger is concerned, the most dramatic fact is that over a  thousand million people live in extreme poverty, that is with less than a dollar a day. But for an evaluation of this scourge, the picture to bear in mind consists of the progress of the general situation reflected by the historical data of half a century and by two particularly significant reports published by the United Nations in this decade. According to the estimates of the UN, in 1950 the malnourished were 50 percent of the population of the poor countries, in 1970 they were 37 percent and in 2000 they were 17 percent. The SOFI  report 2006 of  FAO, The State of World Food Security, pointed out that world population had grown in the previous decade but at the same time the percentage of the population struck by hunger in the developing countries had diminished. The report published by the World Food Programme in November 2001 recalled that, at the beginning of the 1970s the people who died every day of hunger or for reasons attributable to hunger were 41 000, while in 2001 they were 24 000. It is always an alarming, dramatic figure, but the tendency induces us to intensify our efforts and to persevere. And if, in the light of the present economic crisis, in the near future new “historical” facts establish a recrudescence of this scourge, I believe that in the medium term the continual work of the UN and the ever more significant work of civil society will support the positive trend.


Health – In this field, the most significant battle is to defend the life of children. The global rate of infant mortality of children below five years of age has constantly diminished in the last two decades. Conversely, the rate of reduction of infant mortality of children below five years of age has been increasing since the 1990s: there was an average rate of decrease between 2000 and 2008 of 2.3 percent, compared with an average of 1.4 percent between 1990 and 2000. In fact, as the Executive Director of UNICEF, Ann Veneman, underlined in September 2009, “a disproportionate number of deaths occurs in a small group of densely populated countries: 40 percent of the deaths below five years in the world occurs in just three countries: India, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” The experts in public health attribute this constant global fall to the growing recourse to fundamental health assistance, for which a significant synergy between the UN and civil society has been started. Positive results have been obtained where this assistance has been increased.


In recent years, illnesses like mad-cow disease and human cases of H5N1 avian influenza, to mention some, have highlighted dramatically the insubstantiality of territorial boundaries, the need for coordinated scientific research and the urgent need for a global health response. In the field of health, agencies of world-wide importance, like, for example, FAO, WHO and UNICEF, are exerting enormous efforts to respond to the dramas of our time; and this high degree of specialization and mobilization has also re-echoed in the sector of the non-governmental organizations and the voluntary associations engaged in this field. Significantly, also the work that civil society is carrying out, with growing intensity and support and in synergy with the programmes of the UN, is now considered an element of primary importance by the United Nations. One very meaningful example: the campaign against polio conducted by the UN specialized Agencies like WHO and UNICEF, and some organizations of civil society, in particular Rotary, campaign that has reduced the incidence of polio in two decades from many tens of thousands of cases a year all over the  world to a few tens of new cases a year in four countries.


Environment – In spite of the obstacles and the temporary arrests in the march toward the assumption of a  global responsibility, is it possible to imagine that the adoption of effective anti-pollution measures and, more generally, measures to protect the environment can be anything less than global? Can we render partial the greenhouse effect? Can a nation or a group of nations adopt solutions which are geographically partial, trusting in the right direction of the wind to maintain its safety? The battle against pollution and the measures  for the defence of the environment, like the research on alternative forms of energy, have to be conceived globally and to be applied globally, even if gradually and with programmes of realization that take into account the different regional and local  situations. In this field also the role of the UN is fundamental, both in the most significant steps of progress and in the so-called standstills, as most people consider the Copenhagen summit of last December, which ended with an agreement to establish a way towards a greater climatic security for the entire planet. If on the one hand the climatic emergencies with which humanity is faced  require drastic and rapid interventions, on the other political will and that of public opinion itself need a certain preparation in order to accept the changes which such emergencies set them. “We have concluded the agreement”, said Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, at the end of the summit. “This agreement cannot be all that we all wanted, but it is an essential beginning”, he affirmed. As far as I am concerned, I tend to perceive in this assessment the recognition of the necessary process for the changes in attitude and behaviour which the environmental emergency requires from the peoples of the world and their governments.


Education and illiteracy -  The awakening of consciousness to the social duties of sharing and commitment is not merely a desirable prospect but a sine qua non. The dramatic fact is that today at least 113 million children in the world do not attend school and of these two-thirds are girls (yes, the mothers who will bring up the new generation …). It is not necessary to recall here how the lack of education precludes these children of our world from an existence worth living and relegates them instead to an existence of privation and an ever shorter survival period without human meaning.

From this viewpoint, the fight against illiteracy takes on a crucial importance, well focalized by the specific Millennium Goal: to make education accessible to all by the year 2015, a goal defined in the World Forum on Education organized by the UN in Dakar in April 2000.  On that occasion, the delegates of the 181countries participating in the Forum committed  themselves to respecting that deadline. Even if the present tendency seems to indicate that the time necessary to attain that goal will be longer, the historical data on the illiterate in the world induce us to have confidence and to reinforce the commitment, knowing that: between 1970 and 2000 the rate of illiteracy in sub-Saharan Africa diminished from 77 to 40 percent, in the Arab countries from 73 to 38 percent, in East Asia from 46 to 17 percent and in Latin America from 26 to 11 percent. In the 1980s I personally visited some rural schools in Ethiopia, Costa Rica and Brazil and I saw the effectiveness of the United Nations programmes for young children and for preparation for work: they really make a difference. And the people working in the field, who are mostly young and very capable, should all be decorated for spirit of sacrifice and dedication to the good of others.



The crucial point then is this: can we do without the UN? I maintain that the UN is an organization which is not only necessary but indispensable. When the common good requires a renunciation of national sovereignty, the nations are put to the test and nationalistic egoism is faced with the necessity for international cooperation. Before the world community this is then the question which predominates over all the others: will the nations be willing to renounce nationalistic interests and goals with the aim of working together for a world in which peace and global progress do not remain a utopia? On reflection, I do not think we have any other choice. And the choice must include in primis the renewed consciousness of the indispensability of the UN, an organization which, if it did not exist, would need to be invented.


                                                                                                                            Sergio Tripi



*From October 1996 to February 2001 he was the Representative to Italy of the United Nations-mandated University for Peace established in December 1980 as a Treaty Organization by the UN General Assembly.    



Translation by Jancis Browning.


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Next issue: 22 October 2010.


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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, Arianna Cavallo, Azzurra Cianchetta. Webmaster: Fabio Gatti. Media and NGOs coverage: Maurizio Palazzoni.  


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations in 54 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Caribbean Islands, 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, Oceania, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA. It is also distributed free of charge to 3,000 NGOs and 1,600 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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