Good News Agency – Year V, n° 14
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 3,700 media in 48 countries, as well as to 2,500 NGOs and service associations.
It is a service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace” and it has been included as an international organization in the web site http://www3.unesco.org/iycp/
New York, November 5 - On Tuesday, November 9, Human Rights Watch will give its highest honor to three leading human rights activists from around the world. The three activists chosen to be honorees for the year 2004 illustrate the lack of safety and security in Afghanistan, serious abuses within the Russian military, and the conflict in eastern Congo, which has killed more civilians than any war since World War II.
Human Rights Watch staff work closely with these brave individuals as part of our defense of human rights in more than 70 countries around the world. "The activists we honor have shown great dedication to the cause of human rights," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "They have worked courageously -- often in life-threatening environments -- to expose rights abuses and to turn the international spotlight on their countries."
The 2004 Human Rights Watch Annual Dinners in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Toronto will honor: Habib Rahiab, a human rights researcher from Afghanistan, Natalia Zhukova, the head of a Russian mothers’ advocacy group, and Maître Honoré Musoko, a human rights lawyer from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Human Rights Watch is a non-profit, international monitoring group with headquarters in New York. It accepts no financial support from any government. (…)
4 November - Geneva (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued today a joint statement aimed at implementing strategies to achieve sustainable livelihoods and poverty reduction for refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons. (…) UNHCR and ILO have cooperated on various activities over the last forty years to develop sustainable solutions for refugees and returnees, effectively combining their respective expertise. Recognizing the fact that refugees and returnees can be agents of development where they live, either in their host country or in their countries of origin, the partnership also contributes to the UN Millennium Development Goals, in particular the reduction of poverty.
With financial support from Italy, a joint ILO-UNHCR global programme for the socio-economic integration of refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons was launched at the end of 2003. The programme focuses on strategies that bring together employment-intensive reconstruction, enterprise development, microfinance, skills development, women's economic empowerment, social protection, local economic development and capacity building.
Projects in Angola, Eritrea, Mozambique, Serbia and Montenegro, Somalia, Southern Sudan and Uganda are currently being executed as a result of this joint initiative. (…)
Yangon, Myanmar, 29 October - Today ministers from China, Cambodia, Thailand, Lao PDR, Viet Nam and Myanmar signed a landmark memorandum of understanding that sets forth a framework of action to fight human trafficking. The six nations of the Greater Mekong Sub-Region have committed themselves to coordinated action on trafficking prevention, law enforcement, the prosecution of traffickers, and the recovery, reintegration and support of trafficking victims.
“This is an important step forward in our joint efforts to fight human trafficking and the suffering it leaves in its wake,” said Carroll Long, UNICEF Representative in Myanmar. “UNICEF applauds the commitment of the region’s countries in joining together to combat this scourge that’s destroying children’s lives and ripping families apart.”
UNICEF-supported studies indicate that some 1.2 million children around the globe are trafficked every year. Approximately one-third of all trafficking in women and children takes place from and within the East Asia region. (…)
25 October - The ICRC continues its efforts to raise awareness and understanding of international humanitarian law across Africa. In the continent’s most populous nation Nigeria, for example, the organization recently organized two events in conjunction with federal authorities.
One was a workshop for some 50 senior civil servants to inform them of what is being done to implement humanitarian law treaties in the country. The other was a course for the Nigerian police on human rights law, various policing concepts, law enforcement, protection of vulnerable groups, and command and management. Meanwhile, in one of Africa's more difficult situations – Burundi – the ICRC has been arranging a series of seminars on international humanitarian and human rights law for army and police officers. Three such events have been organized in the past two weeks for nearly 90 mid-ranking officials and trainees of the armed and police forces.
These presentations are carried out by experienced delegates who themselves have served as armed forces and police officers. They constitute one of the ICRC’s main activities the world over.
3 November - The Carrefour Group, Europe’s top retailer has partnered with UNDP through its foundation to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals. To date, the Carrefour International Foundation has provided over US$340,000 to UNDP's anti-poverty efforts in Malaysia, Eritrea and Ethiopia through training of women in business skills, micro-credit grants, and access to safe and clean water. The foundation has also supported initiatives of the World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty.
Colombo, Sri Lanka, 29 October - The armed conflict in Sri Lanka in the last two decades has claimed more than 65 000 lives and has resulted in more than 800 000 internally displaced persons and a large number of refugees. (…) Since the ceasefire in 2002 between the conflicting parties in northeast Sri Lanka, FAO's emergency and rehabilitation programme has provided assistance to returning farmers and other vulnerable groups.
Prior to the conflict, 80 percent of the people of northeast Sri Lanka depended directly or indirectly on agriculture and fishing. The rehabilitation of this important sector, the revitalization of rural economies and the resumption of farming and fishing by those returning to the region, as well as others in the affected areas, are fundamental to the success of the overall peace process.
Working in cooperation with humanitarian partners such as other UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, FAO is providing vulnerable families with the basic inputs and tools to restart agricultural production and strengthen their self-reliance and livelihoods.
FAO is also contributing to agricultural rehabilitation efforts in the southern part of the country, which has been hard hit by natural disaster. (…)
Brussels/United Nations, New York, 25 October - UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States today signed an agreement to strengthen their partnership to curb reproductive health problems, including HIV/AIDS, reduce poverty and promote development in 79 ACP developing countries. The agreement is also meant to mobilize resources to improve the health and well-being of the people of these countries. (…)
The agreement recognizes reproductive health issues, including HIV/AIDS, as essential to policies to meet people’s basic needs. It also highlights and promotes the close relationship between reproductive health, gender equality, girls’ education, women’s empowerment and sustainable development.
According to the agreement, the parties will help ACP countries ensure that the goals of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development form part of the cornerstone of policies and programmes to promote sustainable development. As part of their cooperation, UNFPA and the ACP countries will promote programmes on reproductive and sexual health and poverty reduction. The two parties will conduct joint training activities as well as plan and implement projects of mutual interest.
Brussels, 25 October - UN-HABITAT and the Brussels-based African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP Group) have signed a cooperation agreement aimed at promoting sustainable urbanization and the eradication of poverty in ACP countries. (…) By this agreement, UN-HABITAT and the ACP Secretariat will cooperate to realize Target 11 of Millennium Development Goal 7 - improving the living conditions of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020. The agreement also aims to help the international community to implement the Habitat Agenda and the Declaration on Cities and other Human Settlements in the New Millennium, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in June 2001.
The agreement focuses on improving: housing policies, urban planning and management, urban environmental management, post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction, disaster prevention and post-disaster reconstruction, and participatory urban governance. Others are: urban safety, strengthening town-country linkages and infrastructure development, water and sanitation in urban areas, decentralization and capacity building of local authorities, local campaign against HIV/AIDS, and urban development indicators and statistics.
Evanston, Illinois, USA, 1 November - Glenn Estess, President of Rotary International, and Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF, said today that their groundbreaking partnership, which has brought polio to the brink of eradication, proves that the public and private sectors can unite to deliver incredible results for children. The two organization heads were meeting today at Rotary International Headquarters, in Evanston, Illinois.
Rotary and UNICEF, along with the World Health Organization and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are the spearheading partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The Initiative is the world’s largest ever public health endeavour, and has slashed polio cases by more than 99 per cent since its launch in 1988. With only six countries yet to stop the virus, polio is tantalizingly close to becoming the first disease of the 21st century to be eradicated.
Through Rotary International, the fight against polio has been largely driven by volunteers, over 20 million of them, mostly in developing countries. Rotarians around the world have also donated over $500 million to polio eradication and advocated with governments to give more. Never before have individuals and the influence of the private sector played such a core role in a global public health effort. (…)
Rotary, UNICEF and the global polio partnership are currently taking action to combat the threat of a looming polio epidemic in Africa. They are supporting Africa’s largest ever coordinated health initiative for children - 23 nations holding mass synchronized immunization campaigns with the goal of reaching over 80 million children under the age of five. The first round of campaigns were conducted from 8-12 October and the second rounds are scheduled for 18-22 November, with further rounds (…)
Jaffna, 1 November - Sri Lanka cricket legend Muttiah Muralitharan, a humanitarian partner with the United Nations World Food Programme, said today that meals provided to school children in the country’s former war zones are one of the best ways to help them catch up on their education.
While making the rounds of WFP’s projects in the northern city of Jaffna, “Murali,” as he is affectionately known in Sri Lanka and throughout the cricket world, said the plight of school- aged children in areas damaged by war urgently requires the attention and support of the donor community. (…)
Every school day, WFP provides more than 100,000 children in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka with a mid-morning meal of rice, accompanied by lentil porridge or highly nutritious corn-soya blend, and supplemented by vegetables. The food motivates them to attend school and enhances their ability to concentrate and learn. (…)
Asmara, Eritrea, 29 October - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that a ship carrying 61,200 metric tons of wheat from the United States arrived today in the Red Sea port of Massawa to help alleviate the suffering of some 600,000 people in drought-stricken Eritrea. (…) Inadequate rainfall in the last few months has destroyed the majority of crops in the worst-affected regions. The bleak harvest, compounded by a dramatic rise in the price of basic foods, means two-thirds of the population is unable to meet their daily food needs.
A recent government nutritional survey found that malnutrition rates had risen significantly in the affected areas in the last year, reaching as high as 19 percent. Fifteen percent is regarded as an emergency situation. “We are very grateful to the United States for this generous donation, which will enable WFP to reach those who need our assistance over the next four months,” WFP Country Director Jean-Pierre Cebron said. “However, the emergency is far from over and we will continue to need support from the international community into 2005.” (…)
Zacho, IRAQ, October 29 - On October 24, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) office in Turkey delivered eight tons of essential medicines to the Western Ninewa Province of Iraq. The medicines will assist three major public hospitals and 37 primary health clinics serving approximately 770,000 people in the cities of Telafer, Sinjar, Al-Ba’aj, and surrounding areas. (…)
The project grant comes from the German Government and ADRA Germany and is valued at $192,000. During Phase I, II and III of this project, ADRA shipped over 45 tons of medicines and other medical supplies to the region. ADRA Turkey is the implementing and logistic partner for this project initiated in partnership with ADRA Germany and ADRA Iraq. The Iraqi Ministry of Health, who granted ADRA special permission to send medical support to the Western Ninewa Province, facilitated project implementation.
The project, valued at more than $1.2 million, will also train community health promoters to teach IDPs about health and hygiene issues. This will reduce the number of water-borne and hygiene-related diseases and deaths. (…)
Madrid, Spain, 28 October -- Spanish football star Raúl González, captain of Real Madrid and the Spanish national team, today was named as FAO's newest goodwill ambassador by the UN Agency's Director-General, Dr. Jacques Diouf, at a ceremony in Madrid.
"It is an honour to be the first Spaniard named as an FAO goodwill ambassador. I am committing myself to FAO's fight against hunger because it strikes me as unacceptable that over 842 million people suffer from hunger worldwide, despite the fact that today we produce enough food to feed everyone," said Mr González on accepting the award.
"Raúl's charisma and his influence on public opinion will lend immeasurable support to FAO's goal of eradicating hunger," said Dr. Diouf during the ceremony. "We are grateful for your backing of FAO's work, and are looking forward to collaborating with you on initiatives aimed at guaranteeing food for all." Dr. Diouf also noted that in addition to his exceptional gifts as an athlete, Mr Gonzalez's involvement in social causes has earned him widespread public admiration.
FAO established its goodwill Ambassadors Programme in 1999 to draw public and media attention to the plight of the millions of people worldwide who suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition.
4 November - The need to develop a single set of international standards for nuclear power plants, from design to de-commissioning, has been endorsed by safety experts from 37 countries who met 18-22 October in Beijing, China. The IAEA Conference on Topical Issues in Nuclear Safety, hosted by the Government of China, the China Atomic Energy Authority and the National Nuclear Safety Administration, recommended harmonization of international standards for all lifetime phases of nuclear installations.
Although substantial progress has been made in improving the safety of nuclear power plants worldwide, the growing diversification and globalization of the industry presents new challenges that must be addressed. The recommendations of the 274 delegates at the conference, provide the IAEA with steps it can take to develop international co-operation and programmes in future. (…)
Tunis/Ramallah, 3 November – A Tunisian non-governmental organization ‘Children First’ is giving US 65,000 to UNICEF in support of emergency education activities for Palestinian children in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT). UNICEF’s support funded by ‘Children First’ will help restore a sense of normalcy in the lives of school children in the Jenin area in the northern West Bank. The support will allow 10,000 school children in grades 1-3 to continue their education despite closures and curfews. (…)
Children First, a Tunisian non-governmental organization created in 1993 by a group of goodwill ladies, aims at supporting the improvement of schooling in the most deprived areas of Tunisia. This donation will help ensure that children in the Jenin area have access to education even when children are prevented from reaching their schools. The programme facilitates that when children cannot reach school they will be able to continue learning at home and when they can reach their school again, they will be able to catch up on the missed learning. (…)
New York, 4 November - A meeting of high-level representatives from 14 countries infected with the scourge of landmines and the explosive remnants of war met yesterday in New York to join forces in their common battle. “Today we unite as victims of these terrible weapons that kill and maim our people. Our collective knowledge and will are key to freeing --once and for all--our land from this legacy of war,” Ambassador Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins said. Mr. Martins is the Permanent Representative of Angola to the United Nations, and chaired the inaugural session of the Forum of Mine-Affected Countries – in short, FOMAC.
The creation of the Forum strengthens what has been to date a loose collaboration amongst countries contaminated by landmines and other debris of conflict and war. The Forum aims to promote south-south cooperation and partnership, and to develop common strategies on landmine issues. The Forum is open for membership to all mine affected countries. (…)
The convening of the forum comes in the run-up to the “Nairobi Summit on a Mine Free World” which will be held in the Kenyan capital from 29 November to 3 December 2004. The summit aims to review progress in the implementation of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, and to chart the away ahead. The convention was opened for signature in Ottawa, Canada, in December 1997, and 143 countries are now bound by it.
As a first concrete action, the FOMAC agreed that the group should develop a unified position on the declaration and the 5-year plan of action that is currently under negotiation and expected to be endorsed at the summit. (…)
Bogota, Colombia, October 24 - Meeting the commitment assumed in the Ottawa Convention, the Colombian Government today destroyed its last arsenal of anti-personnel mines, in a ceremony held simultaneously in Bogotá’s Plaza de Bolívar and in the northern city of Barranquilla, where more than 6,800 mines belonging to the Armed Forces were destroyed. (…)
Today, Colombia is the fourth country in the world in number of anti-personnel mine victims, after Chechnya, Afghanistan and Angola, and the only country to destroy its arsenal of anti-personnel land mines (APM) amid ongoing armed confrontation. One of the greatest challenges for action against mines in Colombia is the internal armed conflict, which has intensified in recent years. (…)
Vienna, 21 October (UN Information Service) - Seven million containers move around the globe daily, and are increasingly being used for trafficking of human beings, arms and drugs. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in partnership with the World Customs Organization (WCO), has launched a Container Control Programme to support port control measures in developing countries. (…)
The Container Control Programme will focus on port operations. It will bring together new port control teams (customs and police) and provide them with training and equipment to target illicit trafficking via maritime freight containers. Activities will start with the ports of Guayaquil (Ecuador) and Dakar (Senegal). Executive Director Costa will launch operations at the Guayaquil port today, together with Ecuadorian Government officials and donor representatives from France, Germany, Italy and Spain. (…)
The total budget for the programme’s first phase covering Ecuador and Senegal is US$1.4 million. UNODC hopes to expand port control activities to Pakistan and Ghana as of 2005.
By Vukoni Lupa-Lasaga - Rotary International News
3 November - The Ethiopian government and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative held Subnational Immunization Days, 22-25 October, to protect 750,000 children against imported cases of the poliovirus, which hasn't been detected in the country since 2001. "The fact that no polio case has been detected over the last three years gives us hope in the efforts to see a polio-free Ethiopia," said Ethiopia's President Girma Woldegiorgis during the official launch of the event at the presidential palace. He called for sustained and enhanced routine immunizations to safeguard the financial and human investments made by the international community, nongovernmental organizations, and the Ethiopian people in the polio eradication effort. (…)
Fifty-six U.S. Rotarians joined their local counterparts and some 5,000 health workers and volunteers to deliver the oral polio vaccine to children at 1,300 immunization centers in 21 sectors of Ethiopia's Oromia State that were insufficiently covered during past efforts.
The visiting Rotarians, who had arrived in the country a week earlier, also traveled to see initiatives cosponsored by Rotary clubs, such as the Cheshire Home for disabled children, including polio survivors; a school for children from poor families; a clean water project site; and a clinic that provides free reconstructive surgery to thousands of young girls and women suffering from fistulas sustained during difficult childbirths. (…)
Kampala, 1 November - UNICEF in Uganda today congratulated the Ministry of Health for starting the year’s second round of a national initiative to further improve the health status of children and women. The November 2004 “Child Days,” officially commencing today with the support of UNICEF, WHO and other partners, will accelerate routine health service activities throughout the month, using delivery systems in place at the district level. The first nation-wide “Child Days” was conducted in May 2004.
Activities in November, in all of Uganda’s 56 districts, will include the provision of Vitamin A supplementation to children aged 6 months to 5 years; routine and catch-up immunizations, with an emphasis on measles immunizations, for children under age 1; de-worming for children aged 1 to 14 years; and vaccinations against maternal and neonatal tetanus for pregnant women. The November “Child Days” also aims to reach at least 90 per cent of all children under 5, living in camps for the internally displaced in the conflict-affected districts of northern and eastern Uganda, with measles immunizations, de-worming programmes and high doses of Vitamin A.
Public awareness messages on health, nutrition and sanitation issues (such as the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding and sleeping under insecticide-treated nets) will be disseminated during the month. (…)
United Nations, New York, 4 November — The London office of the award-winning advertising agency Young & Rubicam is giving its creative services to UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, for the Campaign to End Fistula. The agency will work with UNFPA to break the silence around obstetric fistula in the United Kingdom through possible broadcast, print and electronic materials. (…)
Obstetric fistula is a childbirth injury that affects at least 2 million women worldwide. (…) Fistula is both preventable and curable and should not happen in the 21st century. Reconstructive surgery, performed by a skilled urologist or gynaecologist, can mend damaged tissue and cure the incontinence. Success rates are as high as 90 per cent for uncomplicated cases and women can usually have more children through Caesarean section.
The global Campaign to End Fistula was launched by UNFPA in 2003 and involves a wide range of partners. The long-term goal is to make fistula as rare in Africa and Asia as it is in the developed world. The Campaign is active in 30 countries and focuses on three areas: prevention, treatment and reintegration of patients into their communities once they are healed. (…)
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 1 November - UNICEF Regional Director Maria Calivis arrived in Turkmenistan today to congratulate the government on the country’s achievement of universal salt iodisation (USI). She presented Turkmenistan with an award on behalf of UNICEF, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD) in recognition of this achievement.
Commenting on the award, Calivis, who is UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltics, said: “USI is the most effective way to protect children from iodine deficiency – the world’s leading cause of preventable mental retardation and brain damage. So this award is a major milestone for Turkmenistan. This is the first country in Central Asia to reach this target.”
Turkmenistan’s USI campaign began more than a decade ago and included a 1996 decree to enforce the use of iodised salt. The aim has been to protect the entire population of 4.8 million against iodine deficiency. UNICEF, which this year celebrates ten years of work in Turkmenistan, has provided technical support to the campaign, while the US government has donated more than $200,000 to the national USI programme.
Geneva, 29 October - Highlighting an invisible health crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) is making maternal and child health the focus of World Health Day on 7 April 2005. The WHO is also launching the World health report - also dedicated to maternal and child health - on World Health Day for the first time ever.
In developing countries, pregnancy and childbirth is one of the leading causes of death for women of reproductive age, and one child in 12 does not reach his or her fifth birthday. Yet, the fate of these women and children is too often overlooked or ignored. The slogan for World Health Day 2005 "Make Every Mother and Child Count" reflects the reality that today, governments and the international community need to make the health of women and children a higher priority. (…)
Geneva/Washington, 27 October - Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners announced a series of key actions to cut the number of illnesses, injuries and deaths suffered by patients during health care, with the launch of the World Alliance for Patient Safety. WHO, ministers of health and senior officials, academics and patients' groups have come together from all corners of the globe to advance the patient safety goal of "First do no harm" and reduce the adverse health and social consequences of health care.
"Improved health care is perhaps humanity's greatest achievement of the last 100 years," said WHO Director-General Lee Jong-wook. "Improving patient safety in clinics and hospitals is in many cases the best way there is to protect the advances we have made."
This is the first time that a coalition of partners has joined efforts to act globally to improve patient safety. This underlines the critical need to take effective, visible and concerted action to reduce the growing number of adverse effects in health care and their impact on patients’ lives.
A number of countries have already initiated patient safety plans and legislation. (…)
Kenya - On October 21, in collaboration with the Kenyan Ministry of Health, the international humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) will open a health centre providing public healthcare, including treatment for HIV/AIDS, for the residents of Kibera slum in Nairobi.
Kibera is one of the biggest slums in Africa with a population of over 600,000. The new centre it will be the first to give residents direct access to the most basic public healthcare.
The centre will provide a full package of basic healthcare as well as comprehensive care for HIV/AIDS, with the programme including out-patient consultations, Mother and Child Healthcare (MCH), family planning, care for victims of sexual and gender based violence, as well as full and free access to HIV/AIDS treatment.
Through this project, MSF aims to demonstrate that a full package of quality health care integrating HIV/AIDS can be successfully provided in an urban slum setting. (…)
Geneva and Budapest, 29 October 2004 - Meeting in Budapest this week (27-29 October), the Parties to the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents1 of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), have launched an assistance programme for the countries of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia to help them put the Convention into practice. A number of Central and West European countries have pledged funding to get the programme off the ground.
The programme will benefit countries where few industrial facilities have been modernized and most still use obsolete technologies in outdated and poorly maintained installations. These facilities also have to deal with the legacy of past mismanagement, such as unstable tailings dams and accumulated hazardous waste. The risk of industrial accidents and other safety problems will increase with any growth in capacity utilization. The authorities and the operators of hazardous installations can reduce the risk of industrial accidents and improve industrial safety by applying the Convention in full.
The Convention’s second implementation report unfortunately shows this is still not happening. In fact, some UNECE countries are facing an uphill struggle. They find the tasks under the Convention complex and don’t have the staff to implement, monitor and enforce them. In addition, in some countries the appropriate regulatory and institutional frameworks are not in place. (…)
By Vukoni Lupa-Lasaga - Rotary International News
29 October - Rotarians in Panama are leading a public-private sector initiative called Conéctacte al Conocimiento (Link Up to Knowledge) to plug the country's education system into the information superhighway and help lay the foundation for a knowledge-based economy.
Fundación Rotaria de Panamá, the foundation of Panama's 11 Rotary clubs, and a consortium of local banks signed an agreement, early October, to fund and manage the program to create a computerized information network linking all the nation's public schools. The initiative will receive a US$300,000 start-up fund from participating banks, and Fundación Rotaria de Panamá will manage implementation of the initiative. Panama's President Martín Torrijos, witness of honor at the signing ceremony, hailed the agreement as a timely complement to government efforts to equip the country's best minds with the best technological tools. (…)
The project plan for Conéctacte al Conocimiento was jointly drafted by Panama's Ministry of Education and the Secretariat of the Office of the President for Government Innovation, headed by Gaspar Tarte, of the Rotary Club of Panamá Sur. According to the plan, teachers, students, and civic leaders will all receive training in advanced information technology techniques at facilities in Panama's public schools.
Berlin, 4 November 2004 - Britain and Germany are to take forward the fight against global warming under a bold new partnership backed by leading industrialists businessmen and scientists.
The two countries, whose greenhouse gas reductions are among the biggest in the world, are well placed to spearhead new initiatives in areas such as environmentally-friendly energy, climate friendly financial markets, greener cities and Arctic science.
In an unprecedented show of leadership between the two nations, a range of innovative recommendations are to be presented to Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, aimed at delivering a low carbon, less energy intensive world.
The importance of the conference, coming just days after the Russian parliament’s decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, was further underlined by being opened in the British Embassy by Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II during her State Visit to Germany. (…)
Melbourne, Australia, 1 November - An Australian court has ordered a planning panel to consider the environmental effects of expanding a power station. The Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal found that an expert planning panel involved in expanding the Hazelwood power station in the Latrobe Valley, in the Australian State of Victoria, needs to consider greenhouse gas pollution before any work takes place. The legal decision is being welcomed by WWF as an important national first in reducing the pollution that causes climate change. (…)
Currently, power stations are the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia but their greenhouse emissions aren’t substantially regulated, nor are greenhouse gases explicitly required considerations in any Australian planning approval processes.
Environment groups launched the legal action because Australia’s future energy needs are better met from cleaner energy sources already available and reductions in demand rather than increases in highly polluting sources such as brown coal.
WWF's opposition to coal power stations is based on analysis, which shows Australia can generate its power needs from cleaner energy sources available today. The Clean Energy Future for Australia study was commissioned by WWF along with six energy industry associations and released in March 2004. The study found sufficient clean energy resources available today to deliver Australia’s energy needs and result in a cut of greenhouse emissions by 50% by 2040.
Through its international PowerSwitch! campaign, WWF is challenging the power sector, the biggest global CO2 emitter, to become CO2-emissions free by 2050 in developed countries and to make a major switch from coal to clean in developing countries.
Ixtapa, Mexico, 4 November - WWF awarded a Mexican scientist for twenty years of devotion to leatherback turtle conservation. Laura Sarti received the award at a conference on North American marine species for establishing four conservation areas along the Pacific coast in Mexico. With WWF support, the nesting project has been extended to protect a total of 60 per cent of leatherback nests along that coast.
In the Pacific, populations of the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) has dropped from 90,000 nesting females in the 1980s to approximately 2,000 today. The Mexican Pacific coast population has been particularly affected. One beach at Playa Mexiquillo in the State of Michoacan once hosted thousands of nesting females. This year, only six females were found nesting there. (…) Leatherback turtles are not only targeted for their eggs and shells, but for their oil, which is used in traditional medicine against respiratory diseases.
Working with the Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Sarti has developed a project to protect female leatherbacks and nesting sites, as well as train coastal communities in turtle conservation. “Before the protection programmes were established in priority Mexican nesting beaches, the extraction of eggs was 100%," said Sarti. "Today, egg extraction in those sites has almost disappeared, but we need to work in other areas." (…)
29 October - Nineteen new sites in 13 countries have been added to UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The World Network of Biosphere Reserves now consists of 459 sites in 97 countries. One extension and one change in the borders of an existing biosphere reserves have also been approved, illustrating the vitality of the network to continuously improve existing sites.
The additions and changes to the biosphere network were approved by the International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme at its 18th session, October 25 – 29, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The MAB Programme has been pioneering a scientific basis for sustainable development for over 30 years.
Biosphere reserves are places recognized by MAB where local communities are actively involved in governance and management, research, education, training and monitoring at the service of both socio-economic development and biodiversity conservation. (…)
Amman, Giordania, 19 October – Four grant agreements worth around US$ 189,700 will be signed on 20 October 2004 at 12:00 noon at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) headquarters in Amman. (…) The grants fall within the activities of the Global Environment Facility/ Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP) administered by the United Nations Development Programme.
‘Ai Social Development Society will implement the “Rural Women in the Management of Environmental Income-generating Projects in Semi-arid Areas in Southern Jordan”. ‘Ai is a village of 8500 inhabitants located 15 Km south of Karak governorate. It is famous for its indigenous olives and grapes and other fruit trees. Over the past two decades, both agricultural and grazing lands in the area have been subject to deterioration and soil erosion as a result of draught and damaging agricultural practices, such as improper plowing and unorganized grazing. The project will support activities that aim at controlling land degradation and soil erosion through building the capacities of women, in particular, and the local community in general, in the field of implementing income-generating and other activities related to land and water resource management. (…)
Hamilton, ON, October 18 – If there is to be peace in our time, it is up to the educators to teach it to future generations. Of course, who will teach the educators? This is the main purpose behind the Third Annual Peace Education Conference in Canada at McMaster University, presented by the Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace this November.
This four-day conference has been a much-needed gathering place for the last two years – for not only peace researchers, educators, and activists – but people from all backgrounds, who recognize that the responsibility to cultivate a culture of peace in society belongs to all. Participants in the past have ranged from those who live in residence at McMaster to guests flying in from places as remote and distant as Cyprus.
This year’s conference is preceded by a three-day “Leadership and Peace Workshop” and is followed by a two-day “National Culture of Peace & Canadian Peace Initiative Symposium” totalling an unprecedented nine-day period of peace education seminars, discussions, workshops, and more.
One of the outstanding keynotes of our present time is the focus that is being put on children: the rights of children; the needs of children; the importance of considering children in every area of life. At a global level this is reflected in The Convention on the Rights of the Child, an international human rights treaty that is transforming the lives of children and their families around the world. Under the Convention all but two of the world’s countries have agreed to meet universal standards, guaranteeing children the rights to survival, health, education, a caring family environment, play and culture ….
Universal Children’s Day is observed on different days in different countries. It is a Day to celebrate children and to empower the vision of an interdependent world of families, communities and nations in which the rights and needs of children are accorded the highest priority. 20 November marks the day in which the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.
New Strategy Presented to Accelerate Education for All in Countries Where Progress is Lagging
Brasilia, 8 November – Acknowledging that HIV/AIDS, conflict and deepening poverty have eroded gains in enrolling more girls in school in many countries, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy today called on nations to respect promises made to ensure that girls and boys receive the same educational opportunities. (…) Bellamy outlined a specific five-point action agenda:
Sending supplies and services to those countries where enrolment levels have been stagnating for decades.
Urging governments to abolish school fees and other costs where deepening poverty combines with a rising populating of children orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS.
Establishing standards for quality experiences and quality learning as an integral part of the new education systems (…)
Identifying countries which appear to be doing well but in which national averages mask pockets of serious discrimination; and give rise to complacency in the form of wider gender discrimination in society. (…)
Educating girls is the best way to ensure that they will have a healthier, fuller life and that countries will develop. It is the most effective tool to tackle such problems as infant and maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS, child trafficking and exploitation. (…)
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Good News Agency - In the last analysis, the transformation which the world is slowly going through is an increasing search for the common good on the basis of gradual limitations to national sovereignty. How do you see this essential step in the perspective of key fields such as international legislation, human rights, sustainable development, environment?
Lawrence Woocher - I actually would interpret the increasingly wide and deep international cooperation you refer to differently with respect to national sovereignty. Instead of understanding multilateral treaties and institutions as a diminishment of national sovereignty, I believe they are better seen as an exercise of national sovereignty. At the heart of the idea of sovereignty is the ability of a government to make commitments on behalf of an independent state. Thus, entering into treaties and other international agreements is a choice a sovereign national government makes. We have been witnessing an increase in institutionalized international cooperation—which I believe is necessary given the nature of today’s global challenges—but I would not call it a gradual limitation on national sovereignty.
During this present world crisis concerning Iraq, the world has discovered that there are two super-powers: USA and the public opinion. What do you think about the emergence of this new force in the world scenario?
Public opinion does seem to have taken on newfound importance in world affairs. Several factors have contributed to this. The spread of democratic governance means it is more difficult for political leaders to take decisions that differ sharply from their population. The explosion of information and communications technologies has allowed more people to learn about events taking place far from their homes and has enabled interest groups to mobilize more effectively. And though still imperfect, our ability to measure public opinion has improved significantly over the last couple of decades. All three of these trends suggest we can expect public opinion will become more and more central to world affairs.
Terrorism is to be seen from different perspectives and needs different kinds and levels of response. After neutralizing its immediate threat, what can be done to prevent the formation of a culture of terror?
This is one of the most important and elusive questions facing the world today. We must start by recognizing that our knowledge of the psychological and sociological roots of terrorism is quite limited. But based on what we do know, a long-term effort to prevent a “culture of terror” should start with promoting liberal education, representative government and economic opportunity for all.
In a democratic world, the ‘weight’ of the people’s voice is becoming increasingly important. Grassroots movements are spreading spontaneously in many parts of the world and indeed within the U.S. What are the common factors that unite these movements and what can be their contribution to the creation process of a culture of peace?
Here I believe we should point first to the revolution we are witnessing in information and communications technologies. Never before has it been so easy and inexpensive for like-minded people to share experiences and ideas. Technologies like the Internet may have an inherent liberalizing impact given their reliance on individual choice. But as we have seen, these same technologies can be used to promote war as well as peace.
In this crucial time of world tension, suitable education programs must reach young people, those who will come onto the scene as the managers and the actors of the human community in the next ten years. Without their understanding, without the development of their consciousnesses, our future is at risk. How is UNA-USA responding to this need?
UNA-USA is responding to this need through its variety of educational programs. Our major program is Global Classrooms ®, which brings Model United Nations to public schools in nine major U.S. cities. The Global Classrooms ® program provides curriculum materials, professional development and a culminating activity to schools free of charge. For schools not participating in the Global Classrooms program, UNA-USA provides resources to over 400 Model United Nations conferences worldwide. Aside from Model United Nations, UNA-USA encourages young adults to get involved in the work of the U.N. through our Student Alliance program. More information on all of these activities can be found at www.unausa.org.
Beside youth programs, what are the other major programs adopted by UNA-USA to educate Americans about the work of the United Nations?
UNA-USA boasts a membership of over 20,000 Americans, organized in over 200 chapters nationwide. UNA-USA’s chapters organize local educational campaigns, public events, town hall meetings and other community-based initiatives that raise American awareness about the United Nations, the issues it deals with and the role the United States should play in multilateral organizations. Through its advocacy efforts, UNA-USA encourages Americans to push for responsible U.S. participation in the U.N. system in a variety of ways. UNA-USA’s E-Action Network provides timely updates on appropriate developments in Washington D.C. vis-à-vis the United Nations, and offers tools for on-line grassroots advocacy, including electronic letters to Congress and the Executive Branch. UNA-USA’s Council of Organizations involves over 100 national membership organizations in the work of the U.N. Members of the Council of Organizations, like the League of Women Voters, Rotary International and the National Education Association, are provided the opportunity to learn more about the U.N. and identify ways to participate in U.N. initiatives and build coalitions to educate Americans about the impact the U.N. makes on their daily lives.
The international community is becoming increasingly aware that achieving the Millennium Development Goals is a crucial passage to our common future on this planet.. Do you view these goals as attainable within the time given, or do you consider that some of them will be more difficult to achieve than others and might require more time? And if so, with what consequences?
From what we know about the progress to date, we can expect some of the MDGs will be attained by 2015 while others will lag behind absent a major change of course. Failing to achieve these goals, after the leaders of the world stood behind them, would be a serious setback to the human development agenda. It would also be a major blow to the UN as an institution. Though the lion’s share of responsibility for achieving the MDGs lies with national governments, the UN itself would almost surely be blamed, and this would damage the organization’s credibility in the development field.
Why are media still not sufficiently aware of the formidable expression of voluntary service supporting the process of achieving the Millennium Development Goals? What evidence will make them more attentive to this profound social transformation, still not predominant but nevertheless quite meaningful and constantly growing?
First, most media tend to focus much more on issues related to peace and security than any humanitarian or development work. This is strikingly true with respect to the UN, where its non-security activities are rarely covered by the media despite their accounting for the bulk of the organization’s work. I fear that the 24-hour news cycle and consolidation of media corporations may be exacerbating this long-standing bias against positive stories.
Do you think that an ethical code of the media as launched by our Good News Agency, a code which underlines the responsibility of the media for a complete and balanced information of public opinion, can be received by the media to the point of accelerating their readiness to consider positive news as worthy of as much attention as negative news?
I salute you for promulgating this ethical code. It is always useful to remind people that all of our work has an ethical dimension. I’m skeptical, however, of the likelihood that your efforts alone will have more than a marginal impact. The incentives for reporting salacious, “negative” news are strong. A strategy to promote reporting of “positive” news should focus also on consumers of media since ultimately, competitive forces ought to push media outlets to report what consumers demand.
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It is a service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered non-profit educational organization chartered in Italy in 1979 and associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations.
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.
Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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