Good News Agency – Year IV, n° 10



Weekly - Year IV, number 10 – 13 June 2003

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. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti. Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next.  It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of more than 2,400 media  in 46 countries, as well as to 1,000 NGO.

It is a service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information.




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education

Solidarity in Action: South-South Cooperation in the Least Developed Countries



International legislation



Peru ratifies International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources

Most Latin American countries have signed and will ratify the Treaty

6 June, Rome - Peru has ratified the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, FAO said on Friday. The country's Ambassador José Pablo Morán Val underlined the importance of the Treaty for Peru, "It is fundamental to protect Peru's indigenous varieties of our region and it will benefit our producers, especially rural farmers who are responsible for having preserved these species over the centuries," he said during the ratification ceremony.

Peru and the Andes are the cradle of plant species fundamental to world food consumption, such as the tomato and potato.

Countries in the Latin American region have preserved a breadth of biological diversity which has accumulated over centuries and is key for the survival of future generations.

Peru's signature and subsequent ratification of the Treaty "recognizes the importance of placing the conservation and the sustainable use of plant genetic resources within a multilateral framework which will benefit not only the Peruvian agricultural sector but the world as a whole," said José Esquinas-Alcázar, Secretary of FAO's Commission on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. (...)


Berlin Declaration adopted by Global Parliamentarians on Habitat

May 28, 2003: The Fourth Global Forum of Parliamentarians on Habitat, which was held in Berlin on May 12- 14 2003, adopted the Berlin Declaration calling on governments to increase financial support for the realization of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020. Governments were also called upon to ensure the availability of predictable financial resources for UN-HABITAT to strengthen its work on poverty alleviation.

Since its inception in 1987, and at all its subsequent major meetings including Habitat II in Istanbul, in 1996, Cancun, Mexico in 1998, in Manila, Philippines in 2000, the Global Forum of Parliamentarians has supported legislative change for sustainable urban development and adequate housing for all. It has always been a strong supporter of the Habitat Agenda and has advocated better urban governance as a way of meeting the urgent needs of the urban poor.  (...)


UN, Portugal cooperate in promoting conventions against crime, terrorism and corruption

Vienna, 22 May (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Ministry of Justice of Portugal have signed a new agreement regarding the provision of assistance to the Portuguese-speaking countries for the ratification of UN conventions and protocols against organized crime and terrorism.

The UNODC's Centre for International Crime Prevention (CICP) has been provided by the Ministry of Justice of Portugal with the translation of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the universal anti-terrorism conventions and protocols. The Ministry of Justice is also planning to translate and disseminate the new Convention against Corruption, to be finalized by the end of this year, in Portuguese-speaking countries. (...)



Human rights



Timor-Leste becomes 191st State party to the Geneva Conventions

Geneva (ICRC) – On 8 May 2003, less than a year after independence, Timor-Leste has deposited with the Swiss government the instrument of accession to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949.

This makes Timor-Leste the 191st State party to these treaties, which form the core of international humanitarian law.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been present in the country since 1979 and is continuing its work in the fields of detention, missing persons, international humanitarian law training for armed and security forces and support for the government in the implementation of international humanitarian law. The ICRC is also working closely with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to set up a Red Cross Society in Timor-Leste.



Economy and development



Africa Economic Summit 2003:  11-13 June, Durban, South Africa

The World Economic Forum's Africa Economic Summit is the region's premier gathering of leaders from business, politics and civil society. After more than a decade of public-private engagement in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, the Summit is now a platform for dialogue and networking to marshal private sector inputs in implementing the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).


Eritrea: Cereal and legume seeds to save the 2003 crop
New FAO project helps drought-affected farmers

Rome, 30 May - FAO is helping Eritrean farmers restore their productive capacity through the distribution of cereal and legume seeds for the 2003 cropping season.

The drought of 2002 - the worst in ten years - severely weakened the productive capacity of farmers and affected all regions, including Debub and Gash Barka, which constitute the breadbasket of Eritrea. (...) Under its Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP), FAO just launched a new US$400 000 project in Eritrea. The Organization will provide technical assistance services and inputs to help rural communities resume farming.

FAO will distribute 400 tonnes of cereal and legume seeds to about 30 000 families. This will enable about 15 000 ha of land to be cultivated, ultimately yielding about 12 000 tonnes of food worth about US$5 million. The emergency provision of cereal and legume seeds project starts in June 2003 and should end by January 2004. It complements the efforts of a Swedish-funded seeds distribution project in the Debub and Gash Barka (...)


ACDI/VOCA wins Project in Iraq

Washington, DC, 28 May - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) today announced the award of a cooperative agreement to ACDI/VOCA as part of the Iraq Community Action Program (CAP).

The CAP is designed to promote citizen involvement in community development efforts at the grassroots level and to prevent and/or mitigate conflict by empowering individuals across gender, ethnic and religious lines. ACDI/VOCA will act as part of a collaboration of U.S. nongovernmental organizations that will promote diverse and representative citizen participation in and among 250 communities and benefit approximately 5 million Iraqis.

The overall project will focus on community mobilization and cooperation, social and economic infrastructure development, employment and income generation, and environmental protection and management. All CAP initiatives will target under-represented and "at-risk" groups, including women, youth and minority groups.

ACDI/VOCA community action programs have a history of success in challenging post-conflict environments such as Serbia and Central Asia's Ferghana Valley. (...) ACDI/VOCA was founded 40 years ago to empower people to succeed in the global economy. It has built communities and improved economic performance in over 135 countries.






WFP aid arrives for flood victims in Namibia

Johannesburg, 4 June - Trucks carrying 127 metric tons of urgently needed food have arrived in Namibia’s Caprivi region where thousands of people have had to flee their homes to escape the worst flooding in decades, the United Nations World Food Programme said today. (...)

The food was dispatched from a WFP warehouse in southern Angola following a request from the Namibian Government to provide assistance to 12,000 people in 22 villages. The flooding occurred after a period of prolonged torrential rainfall in the Democratic Republic of Congo burst the banks of the Zambezi River downstream in the Northeastern part of Namibia. (...)

WFP Namibia staff are also currently undertaking a rapid assessment mission in the region and will discuss with the regional authorities and committees on the implementation of food assistance to the flood affected people.

WFP has been providing food aid for refugees, mostly Angolans, in Namibia's Osire and Kassava camps for the last three years. However, because WFP's food stocks in the country will be exhausted by July, the agency is about to launch a new emergency appeal for Namibia to assist the refugees in a phased 12-month repatriation programme. This operation is expected to cost approximately US$1.3 million and donor contributions will be urgently needed.


Rotary raises US$88,557,000 to battle polio

Fundraising drive exceeds campaign goal

Brisbane, Australia, 3 June - As part of Rotary's 20-year commitment to end polio by its 100th anniversary in 2005, the humanitarian service organization today announced that its 1.2 million members successfully raised over US$88 million; surpassing its original goal of US$80 million.

Last year, Rotary embarked on its second major fundraising drive entitled, "Fulfilling our Promise: Eradicate Polio," to help raise critically needed resources to purchase oral polio vaccine, and to help cover operational expenses and poliovirus surveillance. (...)

The funds raised this year are in addition to the US$500 million Rotary has committed to polio eradication since 1985, when Rotary launched its first fundraising drive with the goal of US$120 million. By the end of that campaign, Rotary more than doubled its goal and created its PolioPlus program - the largest private-sector support of a global health initiative ever. In addition, over one million men and women of Rotary have volunteered their time and personal resources to help immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries. (...)


Massive Algerian rice donation arrives in Mozambique

Beira, 2 June – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today was pleased to announce the arrival of Algerian-donated rice, boosting the agency’s ability to scale up food aid for hundreds of thousands of drought-hit Mozambicans. (...) This donation is part of a larger contribution of 33,000 tons of rice for WFP emergency operations in southern Africa. The overall donation is the biggest contribution ever given by Algeria to WFP and marks the first time the North African country has donated food through WFP for southern Africa. (...)

WFP has been providing emergency food assistance to drought-affected people in Mozambique since July 2002. The agency has just extended its operation through June and is aiming to provide food for as many as 650,000 people who have been hardest hit by the natural disaster.

Despite funding and capacity constraints over the past year, WFP has been able to reach some 340,000 people with emergency food countrywide. However, WFP is working to expand emergency food assistance to areas hard-hit by the drought as and when donations – such as the Algerian rice – arrive in the country. The Algerian rice will be distributed to drought-hit families in Tete, Sofala, Manica and Zambezia provinces. (...)

The remainder of the Algerian-donated rice, which was confirmed to WFP in April, will be sent to the agency’s operations in Angola, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Lesotho.


WFP: nation-wide food distribution starts in Iraq

Baghdad, 1 June - The Iraqi Ministry of Trade today began distributing food brought to the country by the United Nations World Food Programme for the first time since Iraq’s Public Distribution System was disrupted by the war in March. Nearly 27 million Iraqis nationwide will receive their food rations from 44,000 distribution agents across the country this month.

So far, WFP has brought about 440,000 tons of food to Iraq to help re-activate this vital social safety net in a country where 16 million people are believed to be entirely dependent on monthly food rations after two decades of wars and stringent economic sanctions. (...) Having maintained the food distribution in northern Iraq, WFP has been able to return the three northern provinces to the pre-war food security level in May.

The UN food aid agency will continue to bring enough food commodities using available donor funds and re-negotiated contracts concluded under the Oil for Food Programme to keep the monthly food rationing system fully operational for the coming six months. (...)

WFP has 80 international staff members in Iraq to bolster the work of more than 700 national staff who remained in the country throughout the conflict.  (...)


Ivory Coast: feeding supplies in response to increasing malnutrition

Over the past two weeks, MSF teams saw an increasing number of severely malnourished children in the hospital of Man and a TFC was opened to save those most at risk.

Brussels/Man, 27 May - Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is sending 45 tons of specialised food, logistical equipment and medical material to western Ivory Coast, in response to the emerging life-threatening malnutrition.  (...)

The specialised nutrition for the TFC consists of therapeutic milk and BP5 (high calorie biscuits with increased nutritional value). The full charter includes medical material, surgical kits, logistical equipment and water and sanitation material to be used in the Regional Hospital, that has been re-opened by MSF in January 2003. Since then medical teams have been providing about 5,000 consultations a month and ensuring paediatric, surgical and maternity services.



Peace and security



Angola: Preventing mine incidents

4 June - With the support of the ICRC, the Angola Red Cross has launched an awareness-raising programme aimed at reducing casualties caused by mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in two of Angola's most affected provinces, Bié and Benguela.

The second of two workshops organized under the programme was held in Bié province last week and 40 Red Cross volunteers who took part have now returned to their communities, where they will help the local population find solutions to the problems posed by mines/UXO. The workshop was also attended by ICRC staff based in Namibia and by representatives of the Mine Action Centre in Zambia, who will start up awareness-raising activities for Angolan refugees in those two countries. (...)

Since the first workshop held in March, mine-awareness volunteers have visited some 50 affected communities in Benguela province to collect information from the villagers about the location of mines/UXO. Subsequently, the Angola Red Cross and the demining organization operating in the area were able to remove the devices.


A Mini-United Nations: international business and professional leaders gather in Brisbane for peace and international understanding

Brisbane, Australia, 1 June - More than 16,000 Rotary club members representing a cross section of business and professional leaders from 113 countries and regions have turned the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre into a mini United Nations. Despite their political, cultural, and historical differences, they are united by a common mission - promoting peace, and building better communities through Rotary's vast international network of volunteers.

"At a time when religious, ethnic and political conflicts occur frequently around the world, Rotary's convention is very significant," says Rotary International President Bhichai Rattakul, who has made "Sow the Seeds of Love" as the theme for this year's convention. "Rotary's spirit of community volunteerism encourages harmony and rightful understanding among peoples who differ widely in blood, descent, historical background, language, religious faith and economic conditions," says Rattakul. "It is no surprise that Rotarians from all over the world overcome political, religious and ethnic differences everyday to pursue a common goal of humanitarianism."

During the convention, a four-day mix of sessions, workshops and hospitality, Rotary club members will focus on Rotary's peace-related projects and programs, and discuss strategies on how to work with governments and other non-governmental organizations on peace-related humanitarian initiatives. (...)


Italian Campaign to Ban Landmines supports Intersos

By: Simona Beltrami

Rome, 28-May  - In Iraq the war is over, but the killing continues. Peace-time reports coming in from this long-suffering country tell a tale of civilians injured and maimed in their dozens and often times killed in the explosion of ordnance left behind by the recent war and the many that preceded it. The country is littered with explosive remnants of war. No place is safe. (...)

In the face of this emergency, indifference is not an option. Action is needed now to prevent more deaths and suffering, and to allow economic activities to start again and the Iraqi people to enjoy a true peace. This means acting immediately to clear the land, removing landmines and unexploded ordnance first and foremost from the most densely populated areas and those of strategic importance for reconstruction and the delivery of humanitarian aid.

With this need in mind, the Italian Campaign to Ban Landmines is proud to stand by Intersos, one of its member organizations, in its new clearance project in Iraq. The project will start in June 2003 and will be carried out under the aegis of the United Nations in the central and southern parts of the country. The initial duration of the clearing operations is estimated at 3 months and the expected output is 450.000 sq. m. of cleared land. Clearance will be inspired by humanitarian priorities and will be carried out by two teams comprising personnel from Italy and Bosnia.

For further information, or to support the project, please visit






Moving Beyond Excuses

New ad campaign encourages Eastern European youth to avoid risky sexual behaviour

5 June  - HIV/AIDS is spreading faster in Eastern Europe than it has anywhere else in the world.

But sophisticated young people in the region can give any number of reasons for not wearing condoms to protect themselves.

"I'm embarrassed," admits one tough-looking hipster. "I like it natural," says a guy in black with tattoos running clear up his arm. "We trust one another," say young lovers, holding each other close. Confronting such attitudes head on is the thrust of a new ad campaign supported by UNFPA and produced by Population Services International, a Washington-based social marketing organization. "What's Your Excuse?" is the slogan of the campaign. Its tag line: "There is no excuse. Wear condoms."

The campaign, aimed at 15-25 year olds, includes ads, posters, t-shirts, television and radio commercials, and condom packaging. All use dark, edgy photography and sexy, somber models. It was launched at a sports and music event at Lake Ada, in Belgrade in April 2003, with some 100,000 young people attending, and in Sofia, Bulgaria in May. It will soon reach Bosnia and Herzegovina. Volunteers who distributed flyers in 11 cities during the launch said they liked the campaign because it was grounded in the reality of young people's experience and feelings. (...)


WHO honors Brazilian Foreign Minister for leadership in Tobacco Control

Geneva, 3 June -- The United Nations' principal health agency today honored the Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim for laying the foundation stone upon which the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) was built.

''Through this award I salute your wisdom and courage in blazing a trail in global tobacco control that will empower countries around the world to save lives and prevent disease,'' said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the World Health Organization, handing over the Director-General's Award for leadership in global tobacco control.

WHO's 192 Member States recently adopted the FCTC, the organization's first treaty that will ban tobacco advertising and promotion, curb smuggling, protect people from second hand smoke and raise taxes on tobacco products. Amorim was the first chair of the intergovernmental negotiating body that concluded the treaty. The Brazilian led the group through the challenging initial stages of negotiations and defined the parameters within which consensus finally emerged. (...)


Abkhazia/Georgia: Help continues for landmine victims

3 June - The ICRC and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Abkhazia last week signed a cooperation agreement on limb-fitting activities. The agreement is valid until the end of 2003 and will ensure continuation of joint efforts to provide quality service at the Gagra prosthetic/orthotic centre. Cooperation will focus on maintaining the current level of limb-fitting activities, ensuring that everyone who needs artificial legs, orthotic devices and walking aids can use the centre in Gagra. The ICRC is gradually handing over to the health authorities, and in 2003 the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare will take responsibility for human resources, technical activities, stock management and the patient database. The ICRC will continue to help fund the programme, and to provide technical advice and training. (...)


MSF opens free HIV/AIDS treatment clinic in China

"The opening of this free clinic illustrates the willingness of Chinese authorities to tackle a health issue that is still largely taboo in Chinese society." - MSF spokesperson

Brussels, May 28 - Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will today receive the first patients into its new HIV/AIDS treatment clinic in Xiangfan city in the Chinese province of Hubei. The clinic is one of the first in the country to provide treatment free of charge to people infected with HIV, and offers hope to poor people who have previously been unable to afford expensive charges for AIDS drugs. The project is being run jointly with the Xiangfan Centre for Disease Control and will have the capacity to offer treatment for up to 500 people. (...)



Energy and safety



UN Volunteers and digital power help India cope with disasters

4 June - National UN Volunteers in India are teaming up with UN Information Technology Services (UNITeS) to help one million villages prepare for earthquakes, cyclones and other calamities that claim lives and undermine development.

The US$27 million disaster risk management programme is scaling up recovery efforts by UN Volunteers in UNDP-supported programmes after the 2001 earthquake in the western state of Gujarat and the "super cyclone" that devastated the eastern state of Orissa in 1999.

National UN Volunteers working with UNITeS set up online information booths in inaccessible villages in Orissa and trained local people, including women with little or no education, to operate them. Villagers and administrators can get data on market prices for farm produce and weather warnings, and link up with district authorities. The project was a finalist in last year's Stockholm Challenge, which honours pioneering information and communications projects worldwide. (...)

The new programme, launched by the Ministry of Home Affairs with UNDP support, will work with communities in 125 districts across 12 states to prepare contingency plans and train more than three million people on local emergency task forces. Over 200 UN Volunteers should be in place by the end of the month, according to Saroj K. Jha, who heads UNDP activities to help poor communities, which are the most vulnerable, reduce the risks of disaster.  (...)


2003 Dubrovnik Conference nn Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems:  15-20 June, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Sponsored by UNESCO, this conference is devoted to the ultimate goal of modern society: sustainable development of energy, water and environment systems. The Conference will focus on the following objectives, to: promote a new field of sustainability science that seeks to understand the fundamental interactions between nature and society; discuss sustainability and its relation to global development; present and evaluate energy, water and environment system models; present multicriteria assessment of energy,water and environment systems taking into a consideration economic, social, environmental and resource use aspects.


NSW’s SEDA issues Corporate Plan 2003-2005 on Sustainable Energy

The New South Wales Government created the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) in 1996. It was created to address the negative impacts of conventional power generation and use by promoting and integrating sustainable energy as a key part of the NSW power sector. Seda’s mission: deliverying greenhouse gas reduction, environmental, economic and social benefits to the NSW community by accelerating the transition to sustainable production and use of energy. 

SEDA has recently published its Corporate Plan 2003 – 2005, that is available at their website:



Environment and wildlife



UNICEF responds to heat wave in India

New Delhi, 6 June - Severe heat wave conditions in several coastal south districts of Andhra Pradesh and adjoining coastal districts of north Tamil Nadu since 20 May and interior parts of Orissa since 27 May are imperiling the lives of people in the region. Heat wave conditions have also developed in parts of Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Rajsthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh. The maximum temperature recorded in Andhra Pradesh was 47.5 degree centigrade at Gannavaran in East Godavari district on 22 May 2003 while in Orissa it touched 48.1 degree centigrade at Titlagarh on 3 June 2003.

In response to a Government request, UNICEF supported the Government of Orissa by providing 3.5 million Oral Rehydration Salts sachets, 5 million halogen tablets, and 2000 bags of 25 kg bleaching powder for distribution in the affected districts.

UNICEF is working very closely with the health department, women and child development department and the Relief Commissioners offices in the states and is assisting the state governments in responding effectively to the heat wave situation.The severity of the heat wave has been aggravated by the continuing drought in most of these states. However, the heat wave will be contained soon due to the onset of the monsoon rains. (...)


Upcoming reports link human well-being and nature

Washington, DC, June 5 -- The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) the most extensive study ever of the linkages between the worlds ecosystems and human well-being will begin publishing its results starting September this year.

The assessment, which was launched by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2001, will publish a series of four in-depth reports and up to seven shorter studies intended for decision-makers in government, the private sector, and civil society groups. The studies, to be released over two years, will be published by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment through Island Press. All the findings will also be available through the MAs website, (...)

Some 500 scientists from 70 countries are working on these reports, and hundreds more will provide expert review of the assessment. Dozens of institutions throughout the world are contributing their expertise and supporting an on-going dialogue between the scientists and decision makers.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), is a 4-year, $21 million project. It was designed by a partnership of UN agencies, international scientific organizations, and development agencies, with guidance from private sector and civil society groups. Major funding is provided by the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the World Bank. The MA Secretariat is coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). (...)


Tree planting offers hope to parched communities in Iran

2 June - Communities in an arid region of Iran are planting trees to reduce soil erosion from severe summer winds, a step that will also help reduce global climate change, since the trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

UNDP, with funding from the Global Environment Fund (GEF), is working with the Iranian Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Organization to support these efforts.  (...)

The project is in a watershed area south-east of Birjand, in the eastern province of Khorasan. Eleven small villages in the northern part of the area -- home to 9,000 people, including 3,000 who are nomadic -- have traditional agreements on use of local resources. Tree planting, to rehabilitate at least 9,000 hectares, based on negotiated co-management plans, will build on these agreements.

Reducing soil erosion is a vital step in improving agricultural productivity. Community organizations and civil society groups will also encourage small business opportunities in handicrafts and other fields. The project will offer job training and help set up a community-run micro-credit facility to provide small loans. (...)


New initiative to combat growing global menace of environmental crime

UNEP launches "Green Customs" project to help customs officers beat illegal trade in chemicals, hazardous wastes and endangered species.

Brussels/Paris/Nairobi, 2 June - Customs officers around the world are getting some extra backup in the on-going battle to beat the multi-billion dollar illegal trade in ozone depleting substances, toxic chemicals, hazardous wastes and endangered species.

With a focus on training border guards to better spot and apprehend criminals trafficking in "environmental commodities," a new "Green Customs" web site is being launched today (see  ). The web site is part of an initiative to help tackle the growth of environmental crime, one of the most profitable and fastest growing new areas of international criminal activity. (...)


UNEP helps spearhead great ape rescue mission

"Kano Two" Gorillas Going Home Following Historic Deal Between Cameroon and Nigeria

Lagos/Nairobi, 23 May 2003 - A pair of Western lowland gorillas, among the rarest and most endangered species in the world, will today jet out of Nigeria to a new life after being rescued from the clutches of the illegal pet trade.

Brighter and Twiggy, who it is believed were captured as infants in their native Cameroon before being smuggled over the border to Nigeria and sold to a businessman in the northern city of Kano, will be taking up residence in the world famous Limbe Wildlife Centre in Cameroon. Their rescue and return home owes much to the courage and vigilance of wildlife campaigners and Dr Imeh Okopido, the Nigerian State Minister for the Environment. Once alerted to their plight and whereabouts, Dr Okopido took action to confiscate the "Kano Two" as the gorillas have come to be known. (...)

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), under its Great Ape Survival Project (GRASP), is co-funding the repatriation with support from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Pan African Sanctuaries Alliance is also helping to fund the mission. (...)



Religion and spirituality



Willis Harman Spirit at Work Award honors companies leading emerging trend:  spirituality moving from personal into organizational programs

Five Organizations Honored for Pioneering Spirituality into Workplace

 San Francisco, California, May 20 - What do Medtronic, Sounds True and the Times of India have in common?  They are pioneers in a growing trend of highly successful businesses and institutes that explicitly nurture spirituality within their organizational initiatives. Each company is a recipient of the Willis Harman Spirit at Work Award, which is today announcing this year’s honorees: Sounds True, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, SREI International Financial Limited, The Times of India, and Windesheim University of Professional Education.  (...)

“The awarded organizations represent over 34,000 employees with businesses representing over $600 million in revenue, said Cindy Wigglesworth, 2003 selection committee chairperson of Willis Harman Spirit at Work Award.  “The award honors the recipients for their spiritual policies, programs or practices that explicitly nurture spirituality in their organizations.  Their leadership strives to engage the gifts of their employees.  Their cultures strive for integrity, discipline, creativity, and effective growth.” 

The Award is named after late visionary futurist Willis Harman, PhD (1919-1997). The Association for Spirit at Work (ASAW) created the award in 2001. (...)


Experience Festival and The World University of Consciousness - August 1st to 8th outside Chennai in India.

The purpose of the festival and the university is to explore the inexhaustible well of spiritual wisdom residing in ancient cultures, a wisdom that this planet is so much in need of right now!

What you can get an experience of at the festival you can explore in depth at the world university. Topics includes Enlightenment, Mysticism, Vaastu, Shristi - the art of parenting, Ayurveda, Women's movement in a spiritual context, Yoga, the Maya calendar, Kabbalah, Shamanism, Temazcal, Sufism and much more.

Each day participants can choose between up to 20 different workshops and activities. In the morning there will be guided meditations and yoga of different kinds. During the day there will be numerous workshops, both theoretical and experiential, as well as other activities. In the afternoon and evening: games, social gatherings and rituals of different kinds.

The Experience Festival and The World University of Consciousness are arranged as a joint venture between a team of people in the west, with headquarters in Sweden, and the Golden Age Foundation in India.



Culture and education



Japan becomes UNICEF’s #1 donor on Iraq relief

New York, 2 June The Government of Japan this week donated $10.2 million to UNICEF to support the reopening of schools across the country, bringing its total contributions to UNICEFs emergency relief efforts in Iraq to more than $15 million and making Japan the leading governmental donor to UNICEFs appeal for Iraqi children so far. (...)

Reactivating the primary education system is one of the most immediate needs in post-war Iraq. UNICEF has made getting children back into a school an urgent priority.

Most of Iraqs 8,500 schools need repairs or clean-up, and another 5,000 need to be built to accommodate all of Iraqs 12 million school-age children. At present, a shortage of safe school facilities and trained teachers force many schools to operate on shifts. Poor hygiene and sanitation in primary schools is also a serious concern; less than half of all primary schools have access to potable water. (...)

Japans latest gift will support education, helping more than 1 million children in three cities. About $3.5 million of donation will be used to help rehabilitate 70 schools 30 in Baghdad and 40 in the south of the country. The bulk of the funds, some $6.2 million, will buy teaching and learning supplies. (...)

Other major donors to UNICEFs relief efforts in Iraq include the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, and the European Union.


UNESCO prize for Peace Education awarded to Fr. Emil Shufani (Israel)

Paris, 28 May – UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura has awarded the Organization’s 2003 Prize for Peace Education to Father Emil Shufani, the Arab-Israeli principal of the Greek-Catholic St Joseph’s College, in Nazareth, on the recommendation of the prize’s international jury. The jury, which met on May 26 and 27 declared that: “his personal attitude and action have always been marked by dialogue, peace and tolerance, and his constant desire to bring Arabs and Jews together.”

Fr. Shufani, born in 1947, conceived project in 1988 for Education for peace, democracy and coexistence, which he implemented at his school, where he has been the principal since 1976. He has tried to bring Arabs and Jews together, for example, by twinning St Joseph’s with the Jewish Lyada School in Jerusalem and organizing pupil exchanges between them. (...)

Funded by the Nippon Foundation, the $30,000 UNESCO Prize for Peace Education has been warded since 1981 to encourage efforts to raise public awareness and convince people of the need for peace. (...) The prize will be presented to the winners on September 8 at UNESCO HQ.


International Society for the Systems Sciences: 47th Annual Conference

6 - 11 July, Crete, Greece

The conference theme of "Conscious evolution of humanity: Using systems thinking to construct agoras of the global village" was chosen to focus on the challenges facing humanity as it transforms from "evolutionary consciousness" to "conscious evolution," and on the role systems thinking must play in constructing 21st Century Agoras in the context of globalization. The main themes of the plenary sessions include: Reforms: Complexity and Conflicts; Indigeneity: An Alternate Worldview; Intensive World System Evolution: the New Imperative of our Shared Future;  The Dilemma of Autonomy; Wisdom of the People. 

An ISSS Board Meeting will be hold at the conclusion of the Conference.


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A factual picture that shows solidarity in action at institutional level supported by the UN system across the world:


Potential for South-South Cooperation in the Implementation

of the Brussels Programme for the Least Developed Countries


New York, 27 May 2003 – Extract of the Statement by Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, at the thirteenth session of the High-Level Committee on the Review of Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (Tcdc)


Despite professed attention of the international community during the past years, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) continue to be marginalized in the global development process. The Millennium Declaration, adopted in 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly and the South Summit of the Group of 77 and China, held in Havana also in 2000, reiterated the need for special attention to these developing countries. It has been also widely acknowledged that supportive and specially focused international policies could play a crucial role in reducing poverty in the LDCs.

   The population in the LDCs has risen to an estimated 700 millions, about 11 per cent of the world's population. Desperate poverty situations in these countries is known to all. External resource flow to them still remains very inadequate. Their share in world trade is less than one per cent.

   In this backdrop, South-South cooperation has the potential of playing a significant role in promoting sustained growth and sustainable development for the LDCs. Based on the real developmental needs of LDCs, South-South cooperation should be built as an integral part of the international community's support to these countries in special need.

   The Brussels Programme of Action (BPoA) adopted in May 2001 by the international community affirmed the role that South-South cooperation could play to draw on the expertise and resources existing in other developing countries for the benefit of the LDCs. The BPoA identified some important areas of cooperation that include building human and productive capacity, technical assistance and exchange of best practices particularly in areas related to health, education, trade, investment, environment, training, transit transport cooperation and technology. The BPoA also emphasized that South-South cooperation is not a substitute for North-South cooperation but a complement and encouraged the use of triangular mechanisms, which could ensure success of South-South cooperation through financing by donor countries.

   Information collected by UNDP's Special Unit for Technical Cooperation among Developing      Countries (TCDC) has indicated that the LDCs had cooperation and assistance programmes with many developing countries covering a wide range of activities. For example, in the case of Bhutan, it indicated that South-South cooperation was focused on the development of infrastructure and education; for Burkina Faso, it was in health and medicine; and for Senegal the areas were agriculture and information services. (...)

   Overall South-South cooperation from other developing countries to LDCs ranged from health, capacity building, trade and agriculture to economic infrastructure, debt cancellation and sharing of technology. Some successful examples of South-South cooperation that LDCs benefited from in recent years are identified below:

- A good number of developing countries extended to LDCs low-interest funds, establishing joint ventures and contributing to human resource development. In 2000, China decided over two-year period to reduce or cancel the debt worth over $1.2 billion owed mostly by African LDCs. Also, last year, Morocco decided to cancel the debt of the African LDCs.

- In recent years, other developing countries had increased access to their markets for LDC products. According to UNCTAD, the exports of LDCs to other developing countries were 29.8 per cent of their total exports in 2000, against 62.5 per cent to developed countries. However, the share of their imports from developing countries increased and was 48.6 per cent compared to 42.1 per cent from developed countries. Morocco provided free market access to African LDCs exports.

- Since 1995, some developing countries (e.g. India, Malaysia, South Africa) became important sources of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for LDCs. (...)

- Reduction of transportation costs and trade facilitation are offered by other developing and LDCs transit countries to the LDCs and other developing countries that are landlocked. Most transit neighbours of landlocked countries are developing countries and they have numerous agreements related to transit transport cooperation (e.g. Djibouti-Ethiopia, China-Mongolia, India-Nepal corridors)

- Malaysia provided training and consultative services during 2001 and 2002 to Cambodia, Lao P.D.R, Myanmar and Malawi, in project planning and management, agriculture, poverty eradication and diplomacy. India has run programmes on farming in Namibia and Senegal.

- LDCs received benefit from three-way cooperation in the area of human-resource development, such as Bhutan with Singapore and Thailand, and Burkina Faso with Cuba and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

- With a global estimate of 42 million (2002) people living with HIV, LDCs are among the worst affected and domestic resources are woefully inadequate to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis simultaneously. Through South-South cooperation, activists from LDCs came forward to share experiences and established networks with activists from other developing countries on management of HIV/AIDS programmes, with special attention to lowering the price of related drugs.

   There is indeed good potential for expansion of South-South cooperation in terms of promotion of investment, trade and technical cooperation in LDCs to achieve poverty reduction and sustainable development. Increased regional cooperation and greater market opportunities among developing countries in general, and with LDCs in particular, appear to be key factors for the expansion of South-South trade. This will also enhance the LDCs production processes and marketing skills and further equip them to tackle the more demanding markets of the North. (...)

   Effective utilization of preferential arrangements is an even more serious problem for the LDCs because of the weaknesses of their supply capacities. LDCs have difficulties in increasing the rate of utilization of already available preferences accorded by developed countries. This has, however, opened opportunity for another area of South-South cooperation. LDCs existing market access has attracted interest, particularly from investors from other developing countries in raising sales to the US and EU markets. (...)

   UN system organizations are continuing to strengthen initiatives in favor of LDCs in the context of South-South cooperation. In achieving food security, FAO Special Programme for Food Security provides experts from developing countries to work with farmers in LDC rural communities. By March 2002, 22 agreements related to food security were signed between LDCs and other developing countries such as: Senegal-Viet Nam, Ethiopia-China, Lesotho-India, Niger-Morocco, Bangladesh-China, Mali-China, etc. One of them has been signed between two LDCs: Gambia-Bangladesh.

   To strengthen investment cooperation among developing countries, especially in favor of LDCs, UNCTAD created a technical cooperation project called Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) negotiations. Up to now, many agreements were concluded at BIT negotiations for LDCs.

   International Trade Centre (ITC) 'matchmaking' programmes are of major significance in building partnerships that benefit LDCs. The programmes enable enterprises in developed countries to locate potential partners in developing countries, many being LDCs and through a set of financial and technical arrangements engage them in the production and distribution of specified goods and services.

   As the economies of the developing countries are becoming increasingly complementary, good cooperation prospects exist between LDCs and other developing countries. Increased South-South and triangular cooperation are important avenues that could effectively support the development efforts of the LDCs. This in turn would contribute to further implementation of the Brussels Programme.



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