Good News Agency – Year XI, n° 180



Weekly – Year XI, number 180 – 3rd December 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: Civil Society is on the March


International legislation



Debating the future of European agriculture

The EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is to be reformed in order to guarantee sustainable food security and to keep the rural economy alive. On 29 November, agriculture ministers held an initial discussion on the Commission's Communication The CAP towards 2020, thus launching the institutional debate on the subject.

The proposal addresses the new challenges EU agriculture is confronted with. It should continue to ensure food supply for the citizens under the strict European standards, which take into account food safety but also environmental concerns and animal welfare. Increasing globalisation makes for fiercer competition between agricultural producer countries. A reshaping of the system is needed to help farmers cope with situations such as last year's dairy crisis. In addition, more equity is to be introduced in the distribution of support among "old" and "new" member states and among large and small farmers.

The Council will hold an in-depth debate in December. The new rules resulting from the reform, to be approved by the Council and the European Parliament, should come into effect by 2014.


United Kingdom supports ICC effort to re-locate witnesses in Kenyan post-election probe

26 November  The International Criminal Court (ICC) today received a donation from the United Kingdom for a fund to help relocate witnesses who may be at risk in Kenya, where the Court’s prosecutor is investigating the 2007-2008 post-election violence.

Welcoming the £200,000 ($311,945) donation, ICC Registrar Silvana Arbia said it constituted an important gesture towards the victims and witnesses of post-election violence in Kenya, and towards international justice and the common fight against impunity.

The ICC Special Fund is intended to assist States parties that are willing to host witnesses at risk, but lack the capacity to finance such support. It is aimed at fostering regional solutions for the relocation of witnesses at risk, thereby reducing the impact of relocations on their lives.


CMC opening remarks at the CCW meeting of High Contracting Parties

Geneva, 25 November - Earlier this month, at the milestone First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions held in Vientiane, Lao PDR, more than 120 states sent a resounding message that cluster munitions are thoroughly unacceptable weapons. Two weeks later in Geneva, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) took stock of Vientiane meeting’s success while calling on states parties to the Convention on Conventional Weapons to take national steps to move towards the emerging global norm aimed at ending the harm caused by cluster munitions, rather than negotiating a protocol that would set a lower standard in international humanitarian law.

Here is the full text of the opening remarks as delivered by CMC Coordinator Thomas Nash:


Milestone reached as Fiji becomes 150th nation to ratify UN anti-doping treaty

17 November - Fiji has ratified the United Nations treaty against the practice of doping in sports, bringing the number of State parties to the first legal instrument that imposes uniform rules, tests and sanctions against the scourge to 150.

The International Convention Against Doping in Sport, which promotes no-advance-notice, out-of-competition and in-competition testing, was adopted unanimously by the General Conference of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in October 2005.

The treaty is designed to ensure a consistent approach to anti-doping efforts and compel governments into action to restrict the supply of performance-enhancing substances and methods, curtail trafficking and regulate dietary and nutritional supplements.

Since entering into force on 1 February 2007, the Convention has become one of UNESCO's most rapidly implemented treaties.



Human rights



Hong Kong: minimum wage welcome, but much more progress needed

Brussels, 1 December (ITUC Online) -  The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) reported today to the World Trade Organisation that Hong Kong continues to violate core labour standards despite recently legislating a minimum wage. "Hong Kong's new minimum wage is a significant step in the right direction, but should be increased and extended to protect foreign domestic workers against discrimination," said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the ITUC.

The government has set the minimum wage at only HK$28 (US$3.60).  The ITUC and its Hong Kong affiliates are calling for a minimum wage of at least HK$33 (US$4.25) to cover basic living costs.

Exclusion from the minimum wage is only one example of discrimination against foreign domestic workers.  Hong Kong is not subject to the International Labour Organisation's core conventions on Equal Remuneration and Discrimination. "China has already ratified these conventions itself.  Why won't it extend them to Hong Kong?," asked Burrow.

Only about one percent of Hong Kong's workforce is covered by collective agreements.  The ITUC report calls on the government of Hong Kong to bargain collectively with public employees and create a legal framework for collective bargaining in the private sector.

For full report, see:,8080.html  

The ITUC represents 176 million workers in 151 countries and territories and has 301 national affiliates.  and  


Teacher unions work to prevent violence against women

24 November - On 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Education International pledges to accelerate its awareness programmes and union education activities to prevent violence against women.

Describing why equality should be a matter for all classrooms and trade unions, EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, explained that: “Discrimination and violence exacerbate social exclusion, so gender equality remains a critically important issue, particularly with respect to ending violence against women, pay inequity and discrimination in employment.” (…) EI and its women’s networks, across all regions, are working to ensure that public policy and legislation does not discriminate, and women’s rights are actively implemented into practice. Teachers and their unions are organising activities to bring about change in the stereotypical conceptions of gender roles through education. (…) These themes will be addressed during the first EI World Women’s Conference – On the Move for Equality – which will be held in Bangkok from 20-23 January 2011, when women and men teacher unionists from around the world will help to shape EI’s strategies for preventing violence against women. (…)


Africa - Call for intensified efforts by SADC member states to address the gender gap

Southern Africa lags behind gender targets

19 November - Tougher measures are needed if Southern Africa is to attain its 50-percent target for representation of women in political and decision-making positions at all levels by the 2015 deadline. The low number of women who made it into parliament in the recent elections held in some Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries in 2008 and 2009 proved a major setback towards achieving the desired goal by 2015. Figures for most of the countries still fall short of the target set by SADC to have 30 percent women in decision-making positions by 2005, and shows little progress toward the target set by the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development in 2008 to achieve 50 percent of women in decision-making positions in the public and private sector by 2015.The 50-percent target is also in line with the current target of the African Union (AU) and going by the current trend, SADC is not on track to meet the desired target in five years time. This calls for renewed and intensified efforts by SADC member states to scale up interventions and ensure that the gender gap in terms of women's participation in positions of authority is addressed, gender agencies in the block conclude.



Economy and development



International Symposium, Urban and Peri-urban Horticulture in the Century of Cities

6-9 December, Dakar, Senegal, Ngor Diarama Complex, Route de Ngor

The dream of green sustainable cities is as relevant to the developing world as it is to the developed one, and arguably even more necessary. An estimated 60% of Africans will live in urban areas by 2050, as more and more people move from rural areas in search of better opportunities. Urban horticulture will therefore have an increasing role to play in food security and nutrition.

FAO has gathered together leading experts and practitioners on urban horticulture for an International Symposium, Urban and Peri-urban horticulture in the Century of Cities, the first of its kind,  to study best practices and opportunities.

Papers will be presented on a range of subjects, from the role of vegetable growing in combating desertification in the Great Green Wall of Africa Project, food supply and distribution in cities, to re-using waste water for irrigation safely and the role of urban horticulture in nutrition of very poor people. Experts will also discuss how cities in developed countries can help cities in the developing world through sponsorship of urban gardening projects.

The Symposium, to be held in Dakar, Senegal, will be opened by the Senegalese Prime Minister Souleymane Ndéné Ndiaye. FAO will be represented by the Assistant Director General for Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Modibo Traoré.  


Tomato plant provides market outlet for Egyptian farmers

November 24 – For seven years the only modern tomato processing facility in Upper Egypt sat dormant. Due to a lack of liquidity, managerial capacity and adequate supply of tomatoes, what should have been a boon to the lagging economy of Upper (southern) Egypt seemed instead a white elephant.

But that changed this month when a new deal—facilitated by ACDI/VOCA staff through our USAID Global Development Alliance project in Egypt—allowed the high-capacity, state-of-the-art plant to once again process the tomatoes produced by local smallholder farmers.

The plant, located in Qeft, is well placed to meet the demands of a voracious international market within easy shipping distance of Egypt. Tomato paste exports alone are growing annually at a rate exceeding 200 percent. The Qeft factory is due to process 42,000 metric tons per year starting in January.

ACDI/VOCA has implemented the Global Development Alliance project in Egypt since 2008. The project helps smallholder tomato farmers become reliable suppliers of high-value process tomatoes to processors and exporters.


Pakistan: flood-stricken farmers rush to plant before winter

Geneva/Islamabad (ICRC), November 23 – Tens of thousands of displaced flood victims in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are racing against the onset of winter to restore their homes, clear flood debris and plant crops. "The challenge for returning subsistence farmers is to till the land and sow the winter cereal crop before the temperatures drop too much for good germination," explained Peter Shamberger, the economic-security coordinator of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Pakistan.

Farm machinery donated by the ICRC is being used around the clock to prepare arable land for sowing, and distributions of seed and fertilizer are enabling farmers to plant the critical winter cereal crop. In Pakistan, this crop not only feeds many farm families for much of the year after harvest, but also provides surplus grain to sell or exchange for other commodities as well as seed for the next sowing season.

The ICRC is also supporting Ministry of Agriculture veterinary activities and enrolling people in cash-for-work projects clearing debris and renovating farm irrigation systems. In addition, it continues to fund Pakistan Red Crescent health units and repair water facilities, besides carrying out other traditional assistance activities.


Gates Fund to spend $500-million to encourage poor people worldwide to save

By Caroline Preston

November 16 - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is committing $500-million over the next five years to programs that enable poor people in developing countries to save money, an approach to fighting poverty that the philanthropy says has received too little attention.

Melinda Gates announced the commitment today in Seattle at the Global Savings Forum, a conference sponsored by the foundation. “Savings doesn’t just help people mitigate the risks posed by a medical emergency or a bad crop,” Ms. Gates said in prepared remarks. “It also gives them the ability to marshal their resources to build something better for their children.”

The Gates fund has been narrowing its focus on savings programs since it began supporting financial services for the poor in 2006. Its officials felt that savings services, even more than small loans, were in high demand and needed the kind of flexible capital that philanthropy can provide, says Bob Christen, who leads the Seattle foundation’s grants to expand financial services.

“Some of our early grants to banks in Africa found that more than five and as many as 12 people coming in asked to open a deposit account for every one who wanted a microloan,” says Mr. Christen. (...)


8th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations: MDG executive sessions, January 20-21

Registration open until December 15, 2010

Hundreds of young professionals, corporate executives, and un officials plan to converge at U.N. headquarters in New York to build capacity among youth leaders, ages 22-26, engaging in social enterprise and the success of the 8 UN MDGs. 

The MDG Executive Sessions is free after registration and acceptance.  The January events will cultivate capacity for Young Professionals by outlining tactical principles for civil society and MDG project development and capacity building.  Events will include networking, talks, and think tanks utilizing the case study method developed at Harvard Business School.

Ms. Gillian Sorensen, Senior Advisor of the UN Foundation, the foundation’s Executive Director Patrick Sciarratta, and several noted corporate executives will speak or lead workshops on the role of Corporate Social Responsibility and the success of the MDGs.

“Fostering an intimate and intensive version of what is known of the Youth Assembly held each August will allow us to work with, and build capacity among young professionals and young professional networks.” – Evangeline Taylor, former youth assembly participant and current Project Coordinator for the YA.

The YA empowers nearly one thousand young people annually.  Attendees receive free, practical training on how to start NGOs, administer or manage campaigns, and identify existing work by governments, the UN, or civil society - at home or abroad.






CARE and Full Circle exchange team up to turn coffee & chocolate sales into poverty relief

New partnership launched in time for Cyber Monday online holiday sales will generate up to $1 million for programs empowering girls and women around the world

Atlanta, November 26 - CARE has teamed with Full Circle Exchange to raise up to $1 million for CARE's global poverty-fighting programs through Full Circle Exchange's sale of co-branded coffee and chocolate. As part its "Wake Up to Justice – Dollar 4 Dollar" campaign, when coffee and chocolate are purchased on, Full Circle Exchange and its philanthropic partners will donate the full purchase price to CARE, up to $1 million. "This partnership is good news for the girls and women CARE works to empower in more than 70 countries around the world," said Dr. Helene D. Gayle, President and CEO of CARE USA. "Consumers have the power to improve the lives of people half a world away by simply buying coffee and chocolate."


St. Lucia: battered by hurricane Tomas, ADRA responds

Silver Spring, Md., USA, November 12 - In the aftermath of hurricane Tomas, a category 1 storm that on October 30-31 passed over the island of St. Lucia with sustained winds of 90 mph (153 kph) which affect over half of the islands population, The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is responding, meeting the immediate needs of those displaced by the storm.

Official reports estimate that 14 lives have been lost and approximately 75,000 residents are left in need of aid as a result of Hurricane Tomas. Lack of clean, drinkable water and access to food has been identified as the most pressing needs. To meet those needs, ADRA is providing drinking water and emergency food items to 600 households or approximately 1,800 people. In addition, ADRA staff is providing 4,000 beneficiaries, who have been displaced to shelters, with hot meals for one week ending November 12.

As part of ADRA’s ongoing response, emergency care packages will also be distributed to those living in areas where clean water and food supplies have been sparse. The prepared packages include rice, flour, sugar, liquid milk, tuna, beans/peas, oil, biscuits, salt, and breakfast cereal.

ADRA is partnering with the local government, partaking in a large-scale effort to supply all affected communities with water, safe enough to drink and use for food preparation.


Thailand: flash flooding displaces thousands, ADRA responds

November 12 – Silver Spring, Md., USA - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is responding to what is being reported as the worst flash flooding in decades in the southern provinces of Thailand that has affected more than 30,000 households since the floods began only days ago. The city of Hat Yai and surrounding districts have been hit most severely, with many areas submerged under nearly 10 feet (3 meters) of water, leaving tens of thousands of people clamoring for aid.

In response, ADRA is meeting the immediate needs of flood victims, distributing emergency care packages for 1,000 beneficiaries. The distribution targeted families identified by the Provincial Emergency Services as most seriously affected and took place November 5-8. Through ADRA’s partnership with the local government, military transportation and personnel assisted in the distribution of the emergency care packages.


World Giving Index 2010

November - The “World Giving Index” is the first report of its kind looking at charitable behavior across the world. Using data from Gallup’s Worldview World Poll, CAF looked at three different types of charitable behavior: giving money, giving time and helping a stranger and used the results to produce the “World Giving Index”.

Australia and New Zealand topped the Index. Malta was found to be the country with the largest percentage of the population (83%) giving money, the people of Turkmenistan are the most generous with their time with 61% having given time to charity and Liberia was top of the list for helping a stranger (76%).

The study also found that being happy is more of an influence on giving money to charity than being wealthy. People from “happy” countries are far more likely to volunteer and give aid than people from “wealthy” countries. Young people were found to give far less money to causes, perhaps due to less disposable income, but youth are far more likely to “help a stranger”, according to the findings.



Peace and security



World leaders in Astana to address security challenges at OSCE Summit

Astana, 30 November - Heads of State and Government from the 56 OSCE participating States and 12 Partner countries are in Astana, Kazakhstan, for the OSCE Summit, set to start tomorrow in the Palace of Independence.

The Astana Summit will bring together 38 Heads of States and Governments, one Vice President, seven Deputy Prime Ministers, 14 Ministers and other top officials from OSCE participating States and Partners for Co-operation, as well as from other international and regional organizations.

The meeting will begin on 1 December with an opening address by the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. This will be followed by addresses by the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Kazakhstan's Secretary of State and Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Petros Efthymiou, and OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut.

Saudabayev emphasized that the OSCE Summit - the first since the Istanbul Summit in 1999 and the first ever to be held in Central Asia - offered a unique opportunity to address urgent security challenges including transnational threats such as terrorism and trafficking, and the recent unrest in Kyrgyzstan and the situation in Afghanistan. For more information visit the OSCE Summit website, available in all six official OSCE languages: 


Record-breaking progress for mine ban

According to Landmine Monitor 2010 released today

Geneva, 24 November - Record-breaking progress in implementing the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty was made in 2009. Use and production of the weapon, as well as casualty rates, were the lowest on record, while more contaminated land was cleared than ever before according to Landmine Monitor 2010, released today at the United Nations.

In 2009, 3,956 new landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) casualties were recorded, the lowest number for any year since the Monitor began reporting in 1999. The Monitor removed Nepal from its list of mine producers, leaving a dozen countries on the list, of which as few as three are believed to continue to actively manufacture antipersonnel mines (India, Myanmar, and Pakistan). For the first time the Monitor did not list Russia as a mine user, leaving Myanmar as the only government confirmed as using mines in 2009-2010.

An area over five times the size of Paris was cleared of mine/ERW contamination in 2009. International funding for mine action remained stable despite the global economic downturn. International support for mine action totaled US$449 million, the fourth consecutive year that funding has surpassed $400 million. (...)


Israel and the occupied territories: helping people to use their land safely

November 23 – The fact that a greater variety of goods are now available in Gaza, thanks to the easing of the blockade that has been choking off the Strip for over three years, has brought little tangible relief to the population. The private sector has remained at a standstill since exports remain prohibited and the movement of people in and out of Gaza is still severely restricted. The unemployment rate in Gaza remains over 35 per cent.

The ICRC monitors the situation of destitute civilians who have no other choice but to live and work in and around the buffer zone close to the fence, which extends in practice over one kilometre into the Gaza Strip. In confidential dialogue with the parties to the conflict, the ICRC has raised concerns about these people. It has taken action to reduce their exposure to hostilities and to improve their access to lands they need to use for activities such as farming or collecting rubble and gravel, which constitute their main source of income.

In the West Bank, the ICRC has continued to document numerous cases of violence by Israeli settlers and their consequences for Palestinian villagers. It intervened with the authorities to ensure that farmers always have access to their lands, including in and around Israeli settlements. The ICRC has also endeavoured to help rural communities in the Jordan Valley that lack basic infrastructure and face stringent restrictions on building and movement.


Sudan: UKaid funding continues to support landmine clearance

November 10 - Andrew Mitchell MP, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development, explained how funding from UK Aid, from the Department for International Development (DFID), will allow MAG to deliver lifesaving Mine Risk Education to more than 80,000 people in Sudan and remove and destroy more than 30,000 lethal landmines and other weapons.

Mr Mitchell MP made the funding announcement during the official opening of the UK Government’s new office in Juba, southern Sudan, on Wednesday 10 November.

Funding from DFID has been crucial to MAG’s work all over the world for many years, with more than £18 million being received by MAG in 11 countries since 2002.

For people like Pia, a landmine survivor who worked with MAG as a community volunteer, and the children at the Shekinah Orphanage, MAG's work, supported by the UK government as well as our other donors, is absolutely vital.

Focusing on projects that have the best possible humanitarian impact – such as removing mines that prevent access to vital trade routes, or land that could be used for agriculture or building – has long been a priority for both DFID and MAG.


UNESCO supports online youth TV programme

London, November 4 (UNESCO) - "Our Everyday Lives TV" project brings together young people from Bethlehem (Palestine) and London (United Kingdom) to explore their experiences and perspectives on conflict. Supported by UNESCO within the framework of the Power of Peace Network (PPN), this project places the youth in the centre of a debate about the possibilities of peace.

20 young people from Bethlehem and London have been meeting since the beginning of October 2010 in their respective countries to explore the impact of conflict on their lives and communities. The videos they have produced in the framework of the project will inform a live debate show to be launched in the UK on 18 November 2010. This is the first time Our Everyday Lives TV (OELTV) launches a live TV debate programme that brings diverse groups of young people together to discuss about the conflict in their lives - asking them what future they see for themselves and whether they believe there can be peace in their time?

Young people are often seen as the innocent victims of conflict - passive, silent bystanders confined by political, religious, racial, territorial or family wars that they do not understand and can do nothing about. A conflict takes lives, imprisons family members and friends, creates fear and loathing, denies futures, prevents education and healthcare, stops food, breaks economies, yet the resilience, particularly of children and young people, to survive is evident around the world.


Switzerland to give 3 million dollars to Laos bomb clearance fund

Vientiane, Laos, November 3 – Switzerland is set to contribute 3 million dollars to Laos' Cluster Munitions Trust Fund, designed to clear the country of thousands of unexploded bomblets, reports said Wednesday. Switzerland will soon hand its contribution, and Belgium will give another 150,000 euros (210,000 dollars) to the fund, set up by the government and United Nations to clear Laos of unexploded ordnance dropped on the country by the US military during the Vietnam War, the Vientiane Times reported.

'The most recent pledges will bring the total amount of the fund, previously subscribed to by Australia, Ireland, Canada and France, to more than 52 billion kip (6,379,508 dollars),' the state-run newspaper said.






Haiti: ICRC steps up work to fight cholera

26 November - The cholera epidemic continues to spread to an alarming extent in 10 departments of Haiti. According to the latest estimates by the Ministry of Public Health and Population, 25,000 persons have come down with the disease and 1,115 have died. Numerous humanitarian organizations are involved in the struggle to combat it.

The ICRC delegation in Haiti has just been reinforced by the arrival of four nurses, a doctor and two water-and-sanitation engineers. In Cité Soleil, Martissant and other impoverished neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince, the ICRC is working together with the Haitian National Red Cross Society to facilitate access to clean water and to take sick people to hospital. It is also taking part in hygiene-awareness campaigns. But the ICRC is concentrating particularly on places of detention, in which it remains one of the few humanitarian organizations present.

The organization is coordinating its activities with the rest of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and all others involved. (...)


ICN and the Burdett Trust for Nursing announce partnership for the Global Nursing Leadership Institute

Geneva, Switzerland , 25 November - The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is pleased to announce an exciting partnership with the Burdett Trust for Nursing to support the implementation of the Global Nursing Leadership Institute (GNLI) from 2011 to 2013 which will ensure that nurses from low income countries can take part in this important programme through bursaries.

Established in 2009, the GNLI offers an advanced leadership programme for nurses in senior and executive level positions in developed and developing countries. The programme draws on the expertise of international expert faculty, allowing participants to review and enhance their national and global leadership skills and behaviours within a collaborative and stimulating learning culture.

The next GNLI will take place 10-16 September 2011. Applications will be invited from 1 December 2010 and closing date is 15 February 2011. Further information about the GNLI can be accessed at


At least 56 countries have either stabilized or achieved significant declines in rates of new HIV infections

New UNAIDS report shows AIDS epidemic has been halted and world beginning to reverse the spread of HIV. New HIV infections have fallen by nearly 20% in the last 10 years

Geneva, 23 November - A new report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), released today, shows that the AIDS epidemic is beginning to change course as the number of people newly infected with HIV is declining and AIDS-related deaths are decreasing. Together, this is contributing to the stabilization of the total number of people living with HIV in the world. Data from the 2010 UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic shows that an estimated 2.6 million [2.3 million–2.8 million] people became newly infected with HIV, nearly 20% fewer than the 3.1 million [2.9 million–3.4 million] people infected in 1999.

The 2010 report contains basic HIV data from 182 countries and includes country-by-country scorecards. The report gives new evidence that investments in HIV prevention programming are producing significant results in many of the highest burden countries.

From 2001 to 2009, the rate of new HIV infections stabilized or decreased by more than 25% in at least 56 countries around the world, including 34 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Of the five countries with the largest epidemics in the region, four countries—Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe—have reduced rates of new HIV infections by more than 25%, while Nigeria’s epidemic has stabilized. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region most affected by the epidemic with 69% of all new HIV infections. In seven countries, mostly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, new HIV infection rates have increased by 25%.

Among young people in 15 of the most severely affected countries, the rate of new HIV infections has fallen by more than 25%, led by young people adopting safer sexual practices.

Even though the number of new HIV infections is decreasing, there are two new HIV infections for every one person starting HIV treatment. Investments in HIV prevention programmes as whole have not been adequate or efficiently allocated. HIV prevention investments comprise about 22% of all AIDS-related spending in low- and middle-income countries.


Kentucky Rotarians raise $142,000 for polio eradication

By Arnold R. Grahl

Rotary International News, 23 November - The 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, USA, in September marked the first time the games have been held in North America, and Kentucky Rotarians were there in force, spreading the news about Rotary's good works and raising money for polio eradication.  Rotarians from throughout the state, and some from other parts of the world, provided the main volunteer workforce for food and beverage stations throughout the Kentucky Horse Park, home of the 16-day competition considered the "Olympics" of the equestrian world.

Through an agreement with event concessionaire Buona Companies, 8 percent of the concession proceeds went to Rotary, allowing volunteers to raise $142,000 for Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge. Rotary volunteers worked a total of 2,829 eight-hour shifts, logging 22,632 volunteer hours.

"The event provided tremendous Rotary exposure," says Robert Ryan, governor of Rotary International District 6740 and a member of the Rotary Club of Lexington. "We helped welcome the world to the games."  The World Equestrian Games are held every four years and this year featured athletes and horses from more than 50 countries competing for world championships in eight equestrian disciplines. More than 500,000 people attended the games, which were broadcast on NBC sports and internationally through the European Broadcast Union. .(...)

 RI President Ray Klinginsmith and his wife, Judie, attended the opening ceremonies of the games, helping kick off the volunteer effort. (...)


Economic benefits of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative estimated at US$40-50 billion

New study in Vaccine offers strong economic justification for finishing the job on polio as quickly as possible

November 22 - A new study being released this week estimates that the global initiative to eradicate polio could provide net benefits of at least US$40-50 billion if transmission of wild polioviruses is interrupted within the next five years. The study provides the first rigorous evaluation of the benefits and costs of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI)—the single largest project ever undertaken by the global health community. The study comes at a crucial time—following an outbreak in the Republic of the Congo and one in Tajikistan earlier this year—that highlight the risk of delays in finishing the job on polio.

Published in the journal Vaccine, the study, “Economic Analysis of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative,” considers investments made since the GPEI was formed in 1988 and those anticipated through 2035. Over this time period, the GPEI’s efforts will prevent more than 8 million cases of paralytic polio in children. This translates into billions of dollars saved from reduced treatment costs and gains in productivity. The study also reported that “add-on” GPEI efforts improve health benefits and lead to even greater economic gains during the same time period. Notably, it estimates an additional $17-90 billion in benefits from life saving effects of delivering vitamin A supplements, which the GPEI has supplied alongside polio vaccines.


Save the Children strengthens response to Haiti cholera outbreak

Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, November 16 - As cholera continues its deadly spread throughout Haiti, Save the Children is intensifying efforts to prevent additional infections and treat cases in the areas where the agency is currently providing emergency and development programs.

The government of Haiti has confirmed more than 16,700 cholera cases in seven of the country’s 10 regional departments. According to the United Nations, the country could see up to 200,000 cases of cholera, which would require an increase in services and the ability of all organizations to respond. Poor sanitary conditions coupled with serious flooding caused by the recent passage of Hurricane Tomas are likely to accelerate the infection rate.

Save the Children reports increasing cases in its program locations. The organization is broadening prevention and education activities to provide families with lifesaving information, including the importance of washing hands with soap, boiling water and seeking medical support at the first sign of illness.

Save the Children has set up cholera treatment units in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and has provided IV fluids, oral-rehydration salts (ORS) and antibiotics to its health teams in other program areas. It has distributed 10,000 hygiene kits and more than 19,000 bars of soap as well as supplies including water-purification tablets and kitchen kits in Léogâne and Port-au-Prince.


As cholera cases increase, Project Hope brings team of international experts to Haiti to coordinate training through Ministry of Health

Millwood, Va., USA,16 November - Project HOPE, the global health education and humanitarian assistance organization, is deploying a team of international cholera experts to train Haitian health care professionals to better care for and manage the rapidly growing number of patients suffering from the illness.

The eight-person team from the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research in Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) brings decades of experience in the treatment of cholera and dysentery. The ICDDR,B has assisted governments and local health authorities in countries such as Bahrain, Ecuador, Iraq, Mozambique, Peru, Zaire, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe, in successfully handling cholera outbreaks.

Four Project HOPE volunteer health professionals and four representatives from the United States Agency of International Development (USAID) will join the ICDDR,B experts to train Haitian health professionals. Project HOPE is coordinating the training through the Haiti Ministry of Health. It is the first official cholera training offered through the Haiti Ministry of Health since the cholera outbreak emerged.

The Project HOPE-ICDDR,B-USAID team will divide into two groups and fan out to conduct training over a three-week period beginning on November 16 in all of Haiti’s 10 departments (states). Currently, cholera cases have been reported in eight of Haiti’s 10 departments. (...)


Drug company to provide $100-million to fight diabetes in the US

By Caroline Preston

November 11 – The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation announced today that it will give $100-million over five years to fight adult-onset diabetes in the United States, a disease the federal government estimates could afflict one in three Americans by 2050.

“Type 2 diabetes is really at epidemic proportions,” said John L. Damonti, president of the foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of the New York pharmaceutical company. He said federal estimates show that the United States spends more than $160-billion each year to treat people with the disease. Mr. Damonti said the foundation will take an approach to fighting diabetes that focuses not on drugs but on changing the way people care for themselves and others. That approach has been shaped, in part, by lessons from the foundation’s grants to fight AIDS in Africa. The fund recognized that improving the nutrition of AIDS patients and pairing them with peers who helped them stick to their drug regimen were often as important as providing access to the drugs, Mr. Damonti said. (...)

The foundation will also ask charities to apply for grants related to specific challenges, the first of which is fighting diabetes among black women. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s philanthropy will award five grants of up to $300,000 each to groups that have a plan for working with black women to control the disease. (...)



Energy and safety



United Nations Climate Change Conference - Cancun, Mexico, 29 November to 10 December

The United Nations Climate Change Conference is taking place in Cancun, Mexico, from 29 November to 10 December 2010. It encompasses the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP) and the sixth Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), as well as the thirty-third sessions of both the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), and the fifteenth session of the AWG-KP and thirteenth session of the AWG-LCA.

Official website of the Conference:


Environmental peacemaking: Israel and the Palestinian Authority discuss a model water agreement

On November 30, FoEME held in Jerusalem a conference where an innovative Model Water Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was presented and discussed. The model was prepared for Friends of the Earth Middle East by water experts well versed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in the field of Middle East water, Dr. David Brooks and Dr. Julie Trottier.

 Instead of the static agreement that characterizes the Oslo Accords, this model is based on a dynamic agreement between the sides and suggests an alternative to the "temporary agreement" in effect since 1995 that has failed to preserve shared water resources, especially the Mountain Aquifer, allowing for over pumping by Israel, pollution of groundwater and surface water originating in the West Bank and continuing into Israel, and the unfair allocation of shared water resources.

Over 120 Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians attended the event, including MK Yoel Hasson, Head of the Lobby for Water Security from the Israeli Parliament; a representative of the Quartet, Prince Firas from Jordan; as well as representatives from both the Israeli and Palestinian Water Authorities, water experts, international water law experts from academia, and Good Water Neighbors community activists involved in our 'Transboundary Advocacy of Parliamentarians' project.


France inks agreement with CTBTO to receive tsunami warnings

November 19 - France has become the eighth country to sign an agreement with the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) to receive tsunami warning data. The data are collected by the organization’s global alarm system that monitors the planet for any evidence of nuclear explosions.

Since 2006 the Vienna-based organization has been making data available to tsunami warning centres from its network of seismic facilities that register movement in the Earth’s crust.

“This shows the trust we have in the work and the quality of the work done by the (CTBTO),”  Florence Mangin,  the French Permanent Representative to the organization, said at a signing ceremony with Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the CTBTO yesterday. The data will be used by the French tsunami warning centre in Paris, she said.

CTBTO data are readily available and provide tsunami warning centres with greater knowledge upon which forecasters are able to base warnings of tsunamis linked to seismic activity.

Currently the CTBTO is sending data to tsunami warning centres in Australia, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and the USA (Alaska and Hawaii) while discussions are being held with additional countries, including Malaysia, Oman and Sri Lanka, Tóth said.

He said the CTBTO data on tsunami warnings, which have the ability to identify earthquakes that could produce tsunamis and provide faster warnings, “are of paramount significance, due to the speed, quality of data received and reliability.”

The International Monitoring System (IMS) will, when complete, consist of 337 facilities worldwide to monitor the planet for signs of nuclear explosions. Already 80 percent is in place.


Colorado Rotarians get their state connected

By Arnold R. Grahl

Rotary International News, 18 November - To celebrate "100 Years of Rotary in Colorado," the Rotary Club of Denver, Colorado, USA, working with other Rotary clubs in the state, helped obtain a $100 million stimulus grant from the U.S. government to bring low-cost, high-speed Internet to the entire state.

"At present we’re 42nd in the nation in terms of Internet connectivity," says John Klug, a member of the Denver Rotary club. "But soon, our schoolchildren, even in remote rural locations, will be able to operate an electron microscope located at a major research center from their schoolroom, or control in real time an astrophysical facility in Australia." "The capacity and speed will be so great that every hospital, every library, every museum, every business, every government entity, and virtually every residence in the state will also be able to receive extraordinary access and Internet speed," Klug adds.

The Internet project grew out of the Denver club’s centennial project, which was to partner with History Colorado to create a series of satellite museum sites, linked by Internet to the main facility in Denver. (...) Club members latched onto the idea of working with EAGLE-Net, a technology-purchasing cooperative for Colorado schools, to seek funds set aside by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for expanding broadband connectivity. EAGLE-Net’s previous attempt to secure a grant was unsuccessful, but Rotarians had something the cooperative lacked. "Rotary is trusted, Rotary is everywhere, and Rotary is nonpolitical," Klug says. "We decided that by working with all Rotary clubs in the state, we could combine our strengths, and our huge collective Rolodexes to get this done."

Klug and Past RI Director Grant Wilkins met with the state's three RI district governors to get all 144 Rotary clubs behind the idea. They then lined up the support of former U.S. Senator Hank Brown and former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm for a YouTube video touting the proposal.

Rotarians throughout the state beseeched school boards, elected officials, and business groups to get involved. The Colorado Legislature passed a joint resolution supporting the initiative, which was then forwarded to the Colorado congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. In September, just seven months after Rotary took up the initiative, the state received news its request would be fully funded, along with another $35 million of in-kind donations from major players in the technology industry. EAGLE-Net will build the 5,000-mile fiber-optic network over the next three years. Klug said the campaign shows what Rotarians can do when they band together. (...)



Environment and wildlife



FAO receives top award for forest fire protection

Spanish NGO awards Agency’s Forestry Department with “El Batefuegos de Oro

Rome, 26 November - The Forestry Department of FAO yesterday received an important Spanish award in recognition of its outstanding merits in forest fire protection.

Each year, the Spanish non-governmental organization "Asociación para la Promoción de Actividades Socioculturales (APAS)" gives the "El Batefuegos de Oro" (Golden Fire Swatter) award to distinguished persons or organizations with outstanding merits in forest fire protection.

This year, the jury, which is made up of high-level experts from Spanish ministries, NGOs and civil society, chose FAO's Forest Assessment, Management and Conservation Division to receive its 2010 honour. The award came under the "International" category for helping developing countries in particular in forest fire prevention and suppression.

FAO has coordinated the development of the Fire Management Voluntary Guidelines aimed at helping countries develop an integrated approach to fire management, from prevention and preparedness to suppression and restoration. The FAO Guidelines advise authorities and other stakeholder groups that fire-fighting should be an integral part of a coherent and balanced policy applied not only to forests but also across other land-uses on the landscape. The Guidelines are now widely used all over the world by industralized and developing countries as a basis for formulating fire management policies, strategies and practices. 


From Estonia to Poland – one of Europe’s largest predators relocated for survival

Warsaw, 26 November – WWF plans to introduce lynx from Estonia into the Polish forests of Piska and Napiwodzko-Ramuckie in order to combat the declining population in the country. The first felines should be relocated by February 2011.

‘The lynx’s survival is at stake in Poland. With the transfer of animals from Estonia, we hope to repopulate the forests and prevent the species from extinction in the country’ said Pawel Sredzinski, leader of the WWF Poland Lynx Campaign.

Lynx population in Poland have benefitted from a ban prohibiting hunting passed in 1995. Although lynx are listed on the Appendix II of CITES and international trade is forbidden, illegal hunting still represents a major threat. In Estonia, it is estimated that over a hundred animals are hunted annually for their fur.

WWF started raising funds to pay for the transfers. The cost of relocating just one lynx is 10’000 Zloty, almost eight times more than the country’s minimum wage.

There are currently only 200 lynx in Poland. Most of them live in the Polish Carpathians but an estimated 60 felines live in the Piska and Napiwodzko-Ramuckich forests where the Estonia bobcats will be introduced.


The Leonardo DiCaprio fund at CCF commits $1 million to WWF to save tigers now

Washington, DC, November 23 - As world leaders gather for a historic summit to save tigers from extinction, Leonardo DiCaprio today committed $1 million to World Wildlife Fund for urgent tiger conservation efforts through his Fund at the California Community Foundation. DiCaprio will also attend this week’s summit.

Across Asia, tiger numbers have dropped from 100,000 at the beginning of the last century to as few as 3,200 today. Heads of government from the 13 tiger range countries are gathered in St. Petersburg, Russia, for a first-ever summit to save tigers hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. They are expected to announce a Global Tiger Recovery Program with a goal of doubling the number of wild tigers by 2022.

DiCaprio, a WWF board member, recently visited Nepal and Bhutan with WWF experts, touring tiger habitat on elephant back alongside antipoaching staff, meeting with community members, and learning how WWF scientists monitor the park's tigers. The donation will add to DiCaprio’s existing commitment to tiger conservation during this Year of the Tiger. Earlier this year, he joined forces with WWF in an effort to raise $20 million for tiger conservation through the Save Tigers Now campaign.


USA: EPA announces limits on fertilizer, animal waste, and sewage pollution

Limits are key to cleaner Florida waters

Washington, D.C. November 15 - Five major Florida environmental groups join together today to welcome the first-ever limits on the widespread water pollution that poses a major public health threat in Florida. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced new limits to reduce contamination from inadequately treated sewage, animal manure and fertilizer. The new standards will be phased in gradually so that industries have time to make needed changes to clean up dirty discharges into public waters. These pollutants wash into Florida waters every time it rains. They trigger toxic algae outbreaks—green slime that covers lakes, rivers, bays and streams.

The EPA committed to set nutrient pollution limits after the Bush administration determined that they were needed in Florida. That determination produced a settlement of related litigation by Florida Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, St. Johns Riverkeeper, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida. In January 2009, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection endorsed the determination and agreed that pollution limits are needed in Florida. (...)



Religion and spirituality



Baha'i Houses of Worship - Excavation work commences for Chile's "temple of light"

Santiago, is the site for the first Baha'i House of Worship on the South American continent

Santiago, 28 November - Excavation work is under way for the new Baha'i House of Worship for the South American continent, in the Chilean capital of Santiago.

The ground work comes after a prolonged search for a site and unprecedented technical challenges, which included the invention of an entirely new material for the building's exterior. The site has now been set at a location in the hills of Peñalolen, a "commune" within metropolitan Santiago, at the foot of the Andes. The House of Worship, with its surrounding water gardens of plant species native to the region, will cover some 10 hectares of a 50 hectare site. Excavation is now being carried out to prepare for the building's foundations – 30 meters in diameter – and for the provision of underground utilities.

When completed, the edifice in Santiago will be the eighth in a series of Baha'i Houses of Worship, and the final one to be erected to serve an entire continent. The seven others are in Australia, Germany, India, Panama, Uganda, the United States and Western Samoa.

Baha'i Houses of Worship are distinctive buildings, open to everyone, where visitors can simply pray and meditate in a serene atmosphere, or - at certain times - listen to the holy scriptures of the world's religions being recited and sung. An integral concept of each House of Worship is that they will, in due course, provide a spiritual center around which agencies and institutions of social, humanitarian, and educational service will be established for the surrounding population.


Migrant churches challenge old understanding of mission

November 25 - With migrants tallying some 250 million of the world’s population, churches need to help defuse public hostility towards them. That is what participants agreed at an international consultation on the mission and ecclesiology of migrant churches, jointly organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) Commission on Faith and Order, the WCC programme on Just and Inclusive Communities, and the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism together with the Ecumenical Network on Multicultural Ministry and Mission. The consultation was hosted by the Netherlands Mission Council. The consultation was one in a succession of meetings to prepare a statement on mission for the next WCC assembly, that will take place in South Korea, in 2013.

The global phenomenon of large scale migration brings the challenges of racism, sexism and of tensions arising out of political and ethnic loyalties into the current discourse on the shape of the ecumenical movement in the 21st century, said Sydia Nduna, WCC programme executive for Migration and Social Justice.

It also poses serious challenges to the churches’ self-understanding and calls for a reassessment of how migrant Christians and their churches relate to established local churches in terms of mission, witness, hospitality and mutual accountability. Migration presents unique challenges for the ecumenical journey towards the unity of the church, while at the same time reflecting a wondrously rich diversity within the "body of Christ" (the universal church or the community of Christian believers) that goes beyond denominationalism, said John Gibaut, director of the WCC’s Commission on Faith and Order.


Argentina celebrates Day of Prayer and Action for Children - November 20

This is an interfaith event sponsored by the Global Network of Religions in favor of Childhood with global reach.

In Argentina, the Project direction is done by the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), United Religions Initiative, Catholic Episcopal Conference, Bahai Assembly, Sokka Gakkai Foundation and the Service Peace and Justice.

Each November 20th, remembering the Convention of Rights for Children we celebrate the Day of Prayer and Action. 102 countries of all continents that participate of GNRC network invite the community and religious leaders from different religions to join youth to pray from diverse backgrounds for children and to generate actions so that the Rights of Children are made visible in all countries.



Culture and education



UN marks World Philosophy Day with call for greater use of reason and dialogue

18 November - The United Nations marked World Philosophy Day today with a call for greater efforts to guard against the politics of polarization and the rejection of stereotypes, ignorance and hatred.  “Let us instead fortify our societies through reason and dialogue – the lifeblood of philosophical debate,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a video message for an event marking the Day at the Paris headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). “And let us recognize the critical role that the age-old tradition of philosophy can play in our modern, interconnected world.” World Philosophy Day is celebrated every third Thursday of November since 2002, with the aim of making philosophical reflection accessible to all – professors and students, scholars and the general public – thereby enlarging the opportunities and spaces for the stimulation of critical thinking and debate. (…)


UN Foundation/UNA-USA strategic alliance

The alliance announcement was made on November 18 in New York City

The UN Foundation / United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) Strategic Alliance works to build a broad base of citizen support for American multilateral engagement through its 125 chapters and divisions across the U.S. For six decades, the mission of the UNA-USA and its chapters have been rooted in the founding principles of the United Nations: to inform, inspire and mobilize Americans to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations and to strengthen the United Nations system. UNA-USA’s education and Model UN programs help connect young people to the UN, while the Council of Organizations brings NGOs together, connecting them to the UN . The alliance announcement was made at the Global Leadership Dinner on November 18 in New York City, where Senator John Kerry discussed the importance of global engagement to the future of the United States and called on the U.S. to make important commitments to support UN issues. Speeches included inspiring remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Ted Turner and other distinguished leaders.

UNA-USA is now a robust program of the UN Foundation, combining the strength of more than 125 UNA-USA chapters around the country with the UN Foundation and Better World Campaign's dynamic and vibrant advocacy community -- forming the single largest network of American UN supporters, and creating new momentum to strengthen the U.S.-UN relationship. 


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Civil society is on the march


Sergio Tripi*


In setting out to write this article, I looked among my notes and on the web for some famous phrase which would give it a good beginning; after selecting some, I chose two which give an appropriate context to the theme and foreshadow its development. “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can change their lives by modifying their mental attitudes” (William James). And the American sociologist and anthropologist Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has".


On reflection, these are really revolutionary observations, because they assign to humanity as a whole, but also to every single inhabitant of this planet, the responsibility and the faculty for contributing to the creation of a better future. It now seems clear that this must be based on the emerging values of unity in diversity and of the consequent responsibility for sharing. It is in this context that the transformation of consciousness, which is giving a new voice to a civil society that is now on the march, has its roots and reason for existence.


It is undoubtedly true that the most advanced part of humanity, the part that is more aware of its duties than its rights, is increasingly refuting those obsolete values which led to goals and models of behaviour tending to gratify the individual person or country. That is to say those forms of behaviour that have put on the altar material success, hedonism, consumerism and the lack of an ethical code of responsibility providing a limit to what can be lawfully pursued in consideration of the rights of others. And it is now evident that this transformation of consciousness has given life to a silent and global army, an army mobilized by and for the revolution of consciousness, an army on the march which  responds with growing determination to the serious problems of our times, fighting with altruism and a strong spirit of sacrifice for their solution.


That the voice of civil society is able to make itself heard loudly and clearly is by now a fact that can only be overlooked if one does not wish to see it. To cite some of the significant recent examples, let us remember that the summer of this year was characterized by three global events which bear witness to the force, scope and effectiveness that civil society has come to express.


The Convention on Cluster Bombs became an international law on 1st August 2010 in many countries of the world. Only fifteen months after it had been made available for signature, the thirtieth state ratified the Convention on 16th February 2010, triggering its entry into force six months later. As of today, 41 states have completely approved the treaty with their ratification (among which are Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Denmark, France, Japan, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom, and Uruguay) and 108 have signed it. Now that the Convention is in force, the participating states must support all its clauses, including those which impose deadlines for the reclamation of contaminated territories and the destruction of the remaining deposits. All this is the work of the Cluster Munition Coalition, an international campaign of civil society which is working to eradicate cluster bombs, avoid further victims and put an end to the sufferings which such bombs produce. Through its associations in the world, the Coalition is working to pursue these objectives and to increase the awareness of the public about this problem.


CIVICUS is a world alliance for the participation of citizens, whose members constitute a network of influential organizations at the local, national and international level, which includes organizations of civil society, networks of religious organizations, professional associations, non-governmental organizations, philanthropic foundations and other financing organisms, entrepreneurs and trade unions. This organization has been active for more than ten years and works to reinforce initiatives of civil society all over the world, especially in those areas in which the democratic participation and freedom of association of the citizens are in danger.

At the CIVICUS annual World Assembly last August (the ninth) the representatives of civil society identified new solutions in the collective work on resolving the global crisis. Meeting in Montreal and coming from about a hundred countries, more than 500 representatives of civil society - donors, governments, representatives of the entrepreneurial world and of the communications media ­- took part in the assembly. In three days of wide-ranging discussions on the theme “SOS: Seeking Solutions”, the participants found common ground on themes of economic justice, effectiveness of development and climate change. Key themes which emerged in the discussions: the opportunity for a structural change based on the values of justice, equity and human rights; the growing threats to the liberties of civil society in the world. The  event included a series of plenary sessions and seminars which brought together the points of view of large and small organizations, from north to south, governmental and non-governmental.


Many hundreds of non-governmental organizations associated with the UN met at the end of August in Melbourne for the 63rd UNDPI-NGO Annual Conference, centred this year on global health and directed at increasing the participation of civil society. The Conference also had the aim of stimulating the support of the NGOs for reaching the Millennium Development Goals, the series of internationally established economic and social objectives which world leaders committed themselves to reach by 2015. The MDGs include several objectives linked to health, among which are the reduction by two-thirds of the mortality rate for children below the age of five, the drastic diminution of the rate of maternal mortality, guaranteeing universal reproductive health and stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Underlining all the time the substantial and often decisive contribution of civil society, they examined how to continue stimulating the developed countries to work for greater global equity, together with what actions are necessary to reinforce the dialogue on the synergy between human rights and public health. They also examined how the NGOs can ensure that the concentration on the objectives of reducing mortality does not distract attention from the conditions which determine the quality of life, for example: access to vital goods like food and shelter, personal security and the problems of disability and of health itself. In the discussions the ways in which it is possible to document accurately progress in attaining gender parity were also examined. The participants in the Conference, coming from many countries of the world, represented a broad regional diversity which bore witness to the global involvement of civil society.


The causes of conflicts, like those of separatism, are profoundly rooted in materialism and egoism, which are in turn aspects of avidity, directly reflected in the international economic situation. Very rich nations live side by side with nations which are not even able to feed their inhabitants. World resources are used up recklessly by the rich countries and this leads to a growing strain on the world economic and environmental structure. The differences are more marked and unnatural all the time. In some countries people live with every comfort and kind of affluence, while in other parts of the world there are people who live and die in the street, without the possibility of satisfying even the fundamental needs of a little food and a roof: unwanted people, abandoned and without hope. The death from hunger of many millions of children every year is the most terrible indicator of this heightened difference.


This economic and social imbalance cannot last and constitutes a real threat to world peace. The non-governmental and voluntary associations are well aware of this. It is this awareness that spurs them to coordinate and engage themselves even in the most remote and inhospitable areas of the world. The thousands of non-governmental organizations, the many thousands of charitable associations and the many millions of people dedicated to voluntary work bear witness to the fact that a silent revolution of consciousness is already in progress, which is producing a growing mobilization and commitment of civil society. This march is the best guarantee that we will gradually be able to build a society which is more just and more inwardly aware of the meaning of right human relations; and is the best evidence that each one of us, in the family, in our profession, in our place of work, in our free time, can bring our own contribution.


Yes, the need for, and at the same time the initial evidence of, a new and global ethic is emerging, which can only spring forth from the new concept that many people of advanced consciousness have begun to make their own: the concept of unity in diversity. It is a concept of explosive power: it knocks down the fences of different doctrines, overcomes the barriers of different conceptions and behaviour and defeats the misunderstanding, animosity and hatred which such differences, sometimes exasperated to the point of fanaticism, have caused and consolidated. Animated by this new concept, the march of civil society, which is fighting for the building of a just future, can no longer be halted.


Bibliography and references:

Cluster Munition Coalitition:


LXIII UNDPI-NGO Annual Conference:


*Journalist and writer, Director of Good News Agency and Founder and President of the publishing educational charity. From 1996 to 2001 he was the Representative to Italy of the University for Peace, established by a resolution of the Assembly General of the United Nations.                                             



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Next issue after the holyday season:  14th January 2011.


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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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