Good News Agency – Year IV, n° 16



Weekly - Year IV, number 16 – 17 October 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.

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 47 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 development

SolidarityPeace and securityHealthEnergy and Safety

Environment and wildlifeCulture and education

Kofi Annan on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty



International legislation



Ratification by Bulgaria of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Heritage

7 October - Bulgaria has communicated to the Director-General of UNESCO the instrument of its ratification of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Heritage adopted, in November 2001, by the General Conference of the Organization at its 31st session. This ratification, which will take effect in 3 months, was signed in Sofia, on 25 September (…) Bulgaria thus becomes, after Panama, the second country to ratify this Convention which is designed to ensure and strengthen the protection of the underwater cultural heritage “as an integral part of the cultural heritage of humanity and a particularly important element in the history of peoples, nations, and their relations with each other concerning their common heritage”. (…)


Consensus reached on UN Convention Against Corruption

High-Level Signing Conference Planned for December in Mérida, Mexico

Vienna, 2 October (UN Information Service) - After almost two years of negotiations, Member States of the United Nations (UN) finalised yesterday the text of a new international treaty, the United Nations Convention against Corruption. The Convention was agreed on by an Ad Hoc Committee, established by the General Assembly in December 2000. The Committee was serviced by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, Austria. The Convention will be submitted to the General Assembly, which is expected to adopt it and open it for signature by Member States in Mérida, Mexico, from 9-11 December 2003. The Convention will enter into force when it has been ratified by 30 countries. (…)

The Convention will engage the crime prevention and criminal justice systems of all countries. The treaty recognizes that the problem of corruption goes beyond crime. Corruption impoverishes countries and deprives their citizens of good governance. It destabilises economic systems, even of whole regions. Organised crime, terrorism and other illegal activities flourish. In many countries, corruption erodes basic public functions and the quality of life of people. (…)


Greece and Turkey join the Mine Ban Treaty!

By Sylvie Brigot

October 1 - On 25 September 2003 Greece and Turkey formally joined the Mine Ban Treaty, during a joint ceremony organised with the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs George Papandreou and Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gulon on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.

Back in April 2001, both countries announced simultaneously that they would ratify and accede to the Convention jointly. Greece completed its domestic ratification procedure on 19 March 2002 and the Turkish Grand National Assembly adopted the accession law on 12 March 2003.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) warmly welcomes this joint move and thanks both countries for this expression of their commitment in the fight against antipersonnel landmines, and removal of them from their territories forever. This is an example of how the Mine Ban Treaty can play a role in confidence building between two neighbouring countries.

The ICBL trusts that both Greece and Turkey will start implementing the Convention on their own soil without delay, and thereby put an end to the suffering and deaths caused by antipersonnel mines in these two countries. (…)



Human rights



Human Genetic Data: an international declaration soon

9 October - Human genetic data should soon have its own standard-setting instrument: an international declaration setting out the ethical principles that should govern their collection, processing, storage and use. A draft declaration is being examined by UNESCO’s General Conference, which is meeting in Paris for its 32nd session until October 17. Collected from biological samples (blood, tissue, saliva, sperm, etc.), human genetic data are playing an increasingly important role in our lives. They are allowing scientists to identify, in advance, the diseases that threaten us, and they hold the promise of new cures. Genetic data banks, furthermore, are multiplying and growing all over the world. And certain countries – Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Tonga – are undertaking a genetic census of their population. Such data are also providing answers to certain questions - concerning paternity, for instance, or the identity of law-breakers – posed by judges or police. (…)



Economy and development



World Food Day - building an International Alliance Against Hunger to unite diverse groups in bid to end hunger

Rome, 10 October -- Creating an International Alliance Against Hunger will be the core theme of this year's World Food Day on 16 October. World Food Day marks the anniversary of the founding of FAO on 16 October 1945. It will be celebrated with special events in some 150 countries around the world.

In Rome, Jorge Luis Batlle Ibáñez, the President of Uruguay, will address the main World Food Day ceremony, together with the Italian Agriculture and Forestry Policy Minister, Giovanni Alemanno, and FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. A message from the Pope will also be read. (…) "The International Alliance Against Hunger is a way to push aside apathy and indifference and usher in a new era of cooperation and action, to decrease and ultimately eliminate the scourge of hunger," FAO said in a statement. (…)

The Alliance brings together many different groups, including food producers and consumers, international organizations, governments, agribusiness, scientists, academics, private individuals, policy makers, religious groups and non-governmental organizations. (…)



Development Record of Market-Driven Globalization Points to Urgent Need for Policy Rethink, Unctad Study Concludes

Geneva, 2 October - For the past two decades, the search for sound economic fundamentals in poorer countries has been all about replacing a state-driven inward-oriented growth strategy with a market-driven outward-oriented strategy. Much has been promised, but according to the Trade and Development Report 2003 released today by UNCTAD, the policies pursued to eliminate inflation and downsize the public sector have often undermined growth and hampered technological progress. (…)

The target level of investment for catch-up growth – estimated by the Report to be in the range of 20-to-25% of GDP -- has eluded most countries undergoing rapid market reforms. By contrast, policy continuity in East Asia after the debt crisis produced a strong investment performance, growing manufacturing value added and employment and a rising share of manufacturing exports. With productivity and technology gaps with leading industrial countries closing quickly, the region's integration has come from a position of strength. Elsewhere, the Report finds a less encouraging record (…)

The Report is doubtful that a “second generation” of neoliberal reforms will start to put things back on track. But nor will harking back to the easy industrialization policies of the past. Rather, as Rubens Ricupero notes in his Overview to the Report, “Rethinking options requires a candid assessment of the economic record of the past two decades and of the experience of the more successful cases of industrialization and development. It also requires a move away from generalized approaches to accommodate the diversity of conditions and challenges facing the developing world”.

Source: UNIC Rome


Landless rural poor people to benefit from IFAD investment in Burkina Faso

Rome, 9 October – Reversing the damage to natural resources, particularly soil and water, and improving agricultural productivity will be the focus of a USD 26.9 million community investment soil fertility programme in Burkina Faso. The seven-year programme will be financed partly by a USD 12.01 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to Burkina Faso. The loan agreement was signed today at IFAD headquarters (…)

The Community Investment Programme for Agricultural Fertility will improve agricultural productivity, and contribute to soil protection and rehabilitation through soil and water conservation techniques, soil restoration and agroforestry. The Programme is also co-financed by the African Development Bank (USD 7.5 million) and the West African Development Bank (approximately USD 2.5 million).

The programme will reach an estimated 150,000 rural poor people in about 800 villages. Apart from its focus on the rehabilitation of damaged agricultural land and natural resources, the programme will also support income-generating activities and help vulnerable people, particularly landless women and young people.  (…)


Brazil, India, South Africa to fund South-South initiatives to achieve Millennium Development Goals

New York, 4 October - Representatives of the newly created India, Brazil, and South Africa Trilateral Commission (IBSA) met today with Mark Malloch Brown, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to discuss the structure and goals of a new partnership between UNDP and the IBSA—an initiative unveiled by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil in his speech at the opening of the 58th Session of the General Assembly on 25 September 2003.

This innovative South-South partnership is an example of the determination of India, Brazil and South Africa to contribute actively to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals—in particular that of halving, by 2015, the proportion of the world’s people who suffer from poverty and hunger. (…)


$6 million project for one of the poorest regions in Afghanistan to improve agricultural livelihoods in the mountains of the Hazarajat

Rome, 6 October  -- More than 430 000 farmers in the mountains of the Hazarajat, one of the poorest regions of Afghanistan, will receive assistance over the next four years through a major development project, FAO said in a statement today. The United Kingdom has agreed to provide $6 million for sustainable agricultural livelihoods development in the Eastern Hazarajat. The objective of the UK-funded FAO project is to reduce hunger and malnutrition in the region, improve farm production, generate income opportunities, and build up or strengthen institutions at community, district and provincial level, FAO said. (…)

People in the Hazarajat depend almost exclusively on agriculture for their survival. Their living conditions could be significantly improved through better crop and livestock production. (…)


Cameroon upgrades state employee management to spur efficiency, curb corruption

10 October - The Government of Cameroon is reforming management of its more than 110,000 state employees to boost efficiency, promote transparency and curb corruption. UNDP is providing US$160,000 from its Thematic Trust Fund for Democratic Governance for the initiative, which includes upgrading payroll and employee information systems. (…)

The initiative, which supports the Government's broader decentralization programme, includes codification of human resource management procedures in coordination with the computerized state personnel and payroll management system (…) It will also help simplify and harmonize job classifications and provide training in modern management techniques.






Democratic Republic of the Congo: Aid for 7,600 families in North Kivu

9 October - From 29 September to 4 October, the ICRC distributed 137 tonnes of vegetable seed, beans, maize and other relief items (blankets, pots, hoes) to 7,600 families living in Kibabi, a town situated in North Kivu, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (…)

After fighting broke out in October 2002, between 16,000 and 18,000 families had fled their villages in the Katoyi and Osso regions and taken refuge in outlying areas. Kibabi, with 9,000 households, received an influx of about 12,000 displaced families, making it one of the most severely affected towns. Despite the hardship this caused, residents welcomed the newcomers and shared the little they had.

In order to relieve the burden on host families, the ICRC had already distributed supplies to some 6,000 displaced families in April. The most recent distribution is intended to assist residents, in particular by enabling them to increase agricultural production. Priority was given to families that work the land, single-parent families and host families.


UN, New York: More than 800 attend Rotary/UN Day on October 4

More than 800 Rotarians, Rotaractors, and guests from 22 U.S. states and more than 30 countries attended the Rotary/UN Day at the United Nations Headquarters, New York.

RI President Jonathan Majiyagbe drew participants' attention to the connection between humanitarian service and peace, saying that hunger, poverty, and ignorance breed despair, anger and fear - which often fan the flames of intolerance, conflict, and war.  "And those who suffer the miseries of abject poverty, cut off from hope for a decent future - these are the people who are most vulnerable to the rhetoric of war," he said.

In panel presentations, UN leaders representing UNICEF, UNESCO, UNAIDS, the Food and Agricultural Organization, and others informed Rotarians about their agencies, encouraged Rotary-UN cooperation, and praised Rotary's work with the World Health Organization and UNICEF in the global effort to eradicate polio. Participants were briefed on a variety of topics such as finishing the race to save the last child from polio, overcoming HIV/AIDS, and addressing concerns about the environment, poverty and population.  An interactive dialogue between Rotarians and Rotary leaders concluded the day's program.


Liberians continue to receive aid from ADRA

Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, October 10 - Due to ongoing violence in and around Monrovia, thousands of Liberians are receiving additional assistance from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). This assistance will benefit more than 100,000 people.

Two separate projects - a $105,000 joint project by the ADRA network and a $267,000 project by ADRA Germany - will improve the living conditions of residents and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP's) in and around Monrovia. The projects are providing blankets, cooking and household utensils, mats, and bed nets. Also, as part of these projects, community clinics are being restocked with pharmaceutical supplies, an environmental campaign to clean drains and collect garbage has begun, and latrines and wells are being dug at IDP camps.

A $150,000 project being implemented by ADRA Denmark in camps for IDP's will improve water, hygiene, and sanitation conditions through the construction of pit latrines and hand pump water wells. The project will construct 10 wells and 20 latrines, distribute blankets, 2,000 bed nets and mats, and provide temporary shelter.


Djibouti: Emergency relief distribution

On 29 and 30 September, the Red Crescent Society of Djibouti and the ICRC carried out a one-off distribution of emergency relief supplies for some 9,000 people stranded at the Aour-Aoussa refugee camp about 100 kilometres south-west of the city of Djibouti. The camp was originally designed to house no more than 3,000 people. (…)

The people sheltering in the camp – who come from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – have converged on the area in recent weeks following a Djibouti government order expelling more than 100,000 illegal immigrants from the tiny State in the Horn of Africa. An ICRC survey conducted last week found that they were in urgent need of clean water and shelter materials. (…) In addition to distributing relief, the Djibouti Red Crescent plans to send 40 volunteer first-aid workers to the camp.



Peace and security



UNICEF book on mine risk education launched in Sri Lanka

3 October - The UNICEF launched a book on Mine Risk Education (MRE) at the Puthukulam Maha Vidiyalayam in Vavuniya with the support of the Department of Education, and the book will be included in the curriculum of Vavuniya schools to create an awareness among children of the dangers posed by land mines, booby traps and unexploded ordnances, sources in Vavuniya said.

The book was created with the assistance of the Sri Lankan State-controlled National Education Organization and it will immediately become part of the curriculum for primary and intermediate students in the Northeast schools, the sources said. From the start of next year, mine awareness will become part of the curriculum in all schools in the country, the sources added. (…)

Statistics show that more than 2 million mines are buried in the war-affected Northeast. The United Nations Development Plan and many countries including the United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland, Japan, Thailand and India are assisting in de-mining the region.  (…)


Two Students from Seoul Win Rotary Worldwide Peace Scholarships

Evanston, Illinois, USA - Among the 70 outstanding individuals from around the world who have been chosen this year as recipients of the two-year Rotary World Peace Scholarship, two are from Seoul. The scholarship provides funding for the study of peace and conflict resolution at one of the Rotary Centers for International Studies located at eight prestigious universities worldwide.

Lee Ji-hyang, a junior program officer at the Korean National Commission for UNESCO is now studying at the University of Berkeley. Another recipient, Lee Hyejung, an exchange student and faculty coordinator at Sookmyung Women's University, is now pursuing her studies at the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan.

Up to 70 Peace Scholars are selected each year in a globally competitive selection process. The scholars chosen in this second year of the program represent 30 different countries and work in fields including law, youth counseling, and environmental research. Candidates interested in the program can contact their local Rotary clubs in South Korea.






UNICEF hails Canada's move to expand access to AIDS drugs

New York, 29 September - UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy praised Canada’s push to quickly enact legislation allowing Canadian generic medicine companies to export cheaper versions of patented medicines to poor countries hard hit by the AIDS pandemic.

If the law passes, Canada would become the first G7 nation to implement World Trade Organization agreements that allow hard-hit countries to import critically-needed cheaper medicines provided they prove they cannot produce the medicines domestically, and will not use them for commercial purposes. The move answers an urgent call by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Stephen Lewis, a former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF.


Cholera control: Poverty mapping helps disease control

The poverty mapping tool developed by Henninger, deputy director of the Information Program at the World Resources Institute (WRI) has found a new use as tool for cholera control. Poverty mapping makes it possible to better define and locate poor regions and communities.

In South Africa poverty mapping has been employed with great success, saving hundreds of lives. The government combined information from a poverty map with information on sanitation and safe water supplies to create a targeted, on-the-ground strategy for halting a cholera outbreak in the KwaZulu Natal province in 2001. The country's health, water, and statistics agencies worked together to create maps showing high-risk areas. The maps showed that cholera was following river floodplain, moving through and toward poor areas. Health officials warned people to boil water and take other preventive measures. Thanks to the information from the maps, the government was able to contain the outbreak within three months, and stop cold the fatality rate at 0.22 percent (the fatality rate for cholera is usually 10 percent of those infected).


Combining deworming treatment with school feeding programmes

School children can be treated against worms for as little as US$ 0.20 (EUR 0.17) per year, said Lorenzo Savioli, head of parasitic diseases (WHO), at a conference of education ministers from nine countries in the Sahel. The meeting looked at ways to increase school enrolment and improve child health through school feeding programmes and the provision of clean water and basic health care in schools. Savioli pointed out that an informal group called Partners for Parasite Control (PPC) had been formed to bring together the governments of countries where worm infestations are endemic with research institutions, donors, specialised aid agencies and drug companies to tackle the problem. This organisation had set a target of treating 75% of all children at risk in the world by 2010, but at present, only 6-7% were covered. He said it was essential to encourage competition between drug manufacturers to keep down prices and to persuade them to manufacture high quality medicines within the countries most affected.



Energy and safety



Online scientific information on food and agriculture for poorest countries
AGORA offers students and academics free or low-cost access to scientific literature

Rome, 14 October - Students, researchers and academics in some of the world's poorest countries will gain free or low-cost access to a wealth of scientific literature under a new initiative announced today by FAO and a range of public and private sector partners.

The AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture) initiative will provide access to more than 400 key journals in food, nutrition, agriculture and related biological, environmental and social sciences.

The demand for scientific literature in developing countries has gone unfulfilled for many years. Gaining access to current scientific information has become a daily struggle for thousands of students, researchers and academics.  


Sweden supports community water projects in five countries

8 October - UNDP, with support from Sweden, will work with communities in five countries on innovative ways, such as using wind and solar energy, to improve water supplies and sanitation. The small grant Community Water Initiative, launched at the Third World Water Forum in March, is getting underway this month in Guatemala, Kenya, Mauritania, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. The pilot phase, running through next year, will support two or three small-scale projects in each country. Funding from Sweden will provide up to US$20,000 for each project.

The project aims to promote progress towards Millennium Development Goal 7, including the provision of sustainable water supplies and halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water. (…)



Environment and wildlife



Protocol to control heavy metals to enter into force

Geneva, 7 October - Germany has become the 16th country to ratify the Protocol on Heavy Metals. The Protocol will, consequently, enter into force on 29 December 2003.

The Protocol, originally adopted on 24 June 1998 in Aarhus (Denmark) and signed by 35 countries and the European Community, will be the seventh to take effect under the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The sixth Protocol, that on Persistent Organic Pollutants, will take effect later this month on 23 October.

The Protocol on Heavy Metals focuses on three toxic heavy metals, cadmium, lead and mercury, and its ultimate objective is to control the man-made emissions of heavy metals that cause harm to our health and the environment.

All three metals in the Protocol are well-known pollutants that have caused severe damage in some parts of the world and more widespread chronic effects in some populations. (…) Many Governments have taken steps to remove lead from petrol, and the phasing-out of leaded petrol is one of the requirements of the Protocol. (…)


40 Million People Unite To Clean Up the World!

From the Maldives to Mexico, Victoria Falls to Venezuela over 40 million people from around the world united on the weekend for the 11th Clean Up the World.  Volunteers from 109 countries took practical action over the weekend and throughout the year to combat polluted waterways, declining water quality and the growing amount of waste that threatens the health of our earth. Activities ranged from volunteers cleaning up waterways, parks, forests, world heritage sites, overhauling entire cities and countries to the implementation of ongoing environmental workshops, recycling programs and educational programs.

Campaign Founder and Chairman, Ian Kiernan AO said that the combined actions of millions of people acting in unison to clean up their local area makes a huge impact on a global scale. “After 11 years of continuous growth and expansion it is great to see the campaign’s popularity and relevance is still growing with record numbers participating in the 2003 campaign,” Ian Kiernan said. (…) Around the world volunteers transcend geographical, religious and political barriers by uniting with the common goal to clean up, fix up and conserve the environment through activities.


European Commission adds life to environmental projects

The European Commission has awarded €146 million to 198 innovative environmental projects under its 'LIFE' scheme. The LIFE scheme aims to promote environmental and nature conservation within member states and the surrounding countries. It has three components: life-nature, life-environment and life-third countries. The programme intends to enable and contribute to the development and implementation of EU environmental policy through financing specific projects.



Culture and education



“Football Without Borders” camp opening next week - Doha, Qatar, 16-20 October

8 October - The Football without Borders camp is bringing together young football players from Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar to play football together, share cultures and learn healthy life skills. The camp aims at promoting goodwill, leadership and living a healthy lifestyle through sport. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Asian Football Confederation are organizing Football without Borders, and the camp is being hosted by the Qatar National Olympic Committee. Eighty boys, aged 12-14, have been selected from the participating countries for the camp.

Once at the camp, the boys will be divided into four multinational teams (…) The UN workshops will be held as a complement to the football aspect of the camp, using practical experiences that arise in the camp to emphasize the principles of sport and their value in real life decision-making. (…)


UNICEF and FIFA join with children to celebrate "Global Girls Football Day"

New York, 8 October  – As excitement builds to a fever pitch in the last week of the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003, children around the world will be celebrating Global Girls Football Day, jointly designated as 11 October by UNICEF and FIFA. Global Girls Football Day, taking place one day before the Women’s World Cup championship match in Los Angeles, marks UNICEF and FIFA’s efforts to open up new avenues for girls in the developing world.

UNICEF and FIFA have teamed up again this year, this time to highlight two crucial areas of child development that are often absent or overlooked for girls because of poverty and discrimination: the right to play and the right to education.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003 is dedicated to Go Girls! Education for Every Child, UNICEF’s global initiative to get more girls into school. (…)


Reporting the World: The Role of Media Organisations and Journalists in Reporting on War, Conflict and Peace - December 4 - 6,  Cluj-Napoca, Romania

A three days intensive workshop/training programme for professional  journalists and media organizations organized by Reporting the World, TRANSCEND, and the Peace Action,
Training and Research Institute of Romania (PATRIR).

It is an intensive three-days training  programme/workshop for professional journalists and media organizations  reporting on conflict situations in South-Eastern Europe and internationally.  Bringing together professional journalists from across  South-Eastern Europe and the world, the workshop aims to discuss the  challenges and difficulties faced by journalists reporting on war,  conflict and peace, and to explore concrete skills and methods for peace journalism. The programme will be highly interactive and participatory, building upon the professional experiences of participants to address the concrete challenges and issues affecting journalists reporting on conflicts, the impact of war and conflict on the media, and principals, standards and tools for professional peace journalism. (…)

For more information: Crina Resteman, Programme Coordinator Peace Journalism


"Free Computers for Education": Stop dumping computers in landfill !

Every year in the UK 1.5 million computers are dumped in landfill sites and it is estimated that over 30 million are dumped throughout the world. But there are still 40% of UK households that do not have a computer, and over 90% of children in developing countries have no access to computers at all ! Help us to stop this criminal waste !

"Free Computers for Education", registered charity no. 1059116, collects computers that are no longer needed, has them refurbished, and then gives them free of charge to schools and other educational organisations in need.

Free Computers for Education is compiling a nationwide (and eventually worldwide) list of refurbishing centres who will be pleased to receive any computers that you no longer need, Also, their "Computers for All" scheme aims to provide anyone who cannot afford a new computer with a refurbished one at a fraction of the cost.

On National Computer Day, 2 October,  a press conference was held at the Rotary International District 1130 Headquarters in London, where representatives of the public, private and voluntary sectors discussed ways in which the situation can be improved.


Network of cooperation between UNESCO and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to be launched

A network of cooperation between the 145 Parliaments that make up the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU*) and UNESCO will be launched on Monday, 6 October, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Under the terms of the agreement between the two Organizations, "focal points" will be designated within each parliament to create an institutional link, on a national level, between the National Commissions for UNESCO, the parliamentarians and the IPU. It will allow information concerning education, science, culture and communication to be circulated among national parliaments, National Commissions and UNESCO offices around the world. (…) The aim of these networks is to urge the parliaments and parliamentarians to take into consideration and to promote the goals of UNESCO, such as the fight against poverty, education for all, sustainable management of the environment - especially freshwater resources, dialogue between cultures and civilisations and freedom of the press. The overriding objective of the network is to encourage parliaments to put these goals on their agenda and include some of their elements into their regular work schedule.

UNECO will lend its international expertise to the parliaments of the IPU in its fields of competence, areas in which parliamentarians are often called on to legislate, such as education, bioethics or the adoption of international standards. (…)




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International Day for the Eradication of Poverty





Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, observed 17 October (source: UNIC Rome):


     Yesterday, we observed World Food Day.  Today, we observe the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.  This year, we are holding joint events in recognition of the close links between hunger and poverty.


     Approximately 1.2 billion people struggle to survive on less than a dollar a day.  An estimated 840 million suffer the gnawing pain of hunger, and as many as 24,000 people, many of them children, die every day as a result.  People who are hungry are more susceptible to disease, and find their capacity to work diminished as well.  Hunger also impairs children’s ability to learn, with consequences that are felt long after childhood is over.  There is no time to lose if we are to reach the Millennium Development Goal -- agreed by all the world’s countries -- of halving by 2015 the proportion of people who live on less than a dollar a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.


     The achievement of that goal -- and all the other Millennium Development Goals -- depends on many things.  But none is more vital than forging a truly global partnership for development -– which is itself one of the Millennium Development Goals.  Such a partnership requires bold reforms from many developing countries.  But it also requires bold action from developed countries.


     An essential component is a trading system that is both free and equitable. The failure of the recent World Trade Organization meeting in Cancún to reach agreement on reducing and ultimately phasing out tariff and non-tariff barriers is a source of great concern.  These barriers shut out many developing countries from the markets of developed countries -– stunting growth, stifling opportunity and starving millions of people who want to trade their way out of poverty.


     The Monterrey and Johannesburg conferences on financing for development and sustainable development also set out key parameters and commitments for building a global partnership for development.  Some progress has been made, but much more needs to be done to meet those commitments.


     A world that is not advancing towards the Millennium Development Goals -– a world mired in the deprivation of hunger, the prevalence of disease and the despair of poverty -- will not be a world at peace.  On this day, as we recall the link between poverty and hunger, let us also recall the link between development and peace.  And in that spirit, let rich and poor alike rededicate themselves to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.




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Next issue: 7 November 2003.


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