Good News Agency – Year V, n° 4



Weekly - Year V, number 4 – 19 March 2004

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 48 countries, as well as to 2,500 NGO 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




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and development

SolidarityPeace and securityHealthEnergy and Safety

Environment and wildlifeReligion and Spirituality - Culture and education

21 March, Day to Eliminate Racial Discrimination: Message by UN Secretary-General



International legislation



Online forum on internet governance launched

Geneva, 8 March (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs) -- In the context of consultations leading to the establishment of the working group on Internet governance to be set up by Secretary-General Kofi Annan,, the community platform of the World Summit on the Information Society, has opened an online forum on Internet governance to host contributions from all concerned stakeholders.  The forum is accessible at

Secretary-General Kofi Annan was asked by the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (Geneva, 10-12 December 2003), to set up a working group on Internet governance. (…)  Preparatory meetings and workshops organized by various convenors will allow a large diversity of actors to engage in open consultations before the formation of this group. (…) In particular, with the encouragement of Mr. Annan, a two-day Global Forum on Internet Governance will be held in New York on March 25-26, organized by the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Task Force on the occasion of one of its biannual meetings (see (…) is the online community platform for all actors willing to implement the Action Plan adopted at the World Summit on the Information Society.  It offers a calendar of events, and provides information on people, organizations and projects involved in building the information society, indexed through a list of summit themes.  To know more about this multi-stakeholder effort, visit: (…)


Palestinian court house, built with Japan's aid, opens in Nablus

5 March - The Palestinian Authority has open a new court building in Nablus in the West Bank, the first of its kind in the occupied Palestinian territory. It houses two courts: the magistrate court of the Nablus area and the primary court for the northern governorates of the West Bank. Japan contributed US$ 2.5 million for the construction through the UNDP Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People.

Izuru Shimmura, head of the Office of the Japanese Representative to the Palestinian Authority, speaking at the recent inauguration of the building, said that Japan aims to support a unified authority with the responsibility for upholding the rule of law, under the scrutiny of the judiciary and civil society, operating through institutions based on political pluralism.

Nablus' mayor, Ghassam Al-Shakaa', who spoke on behalf of Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian National Authority, expressed deep gratitude to UNDP and Japan for assistance to the Authority in its efforts to uphold the rule of law and build competent judicial institutions, despite the difficulties that Palestinians face. (…)

Since the Authority introduced its reform plan in July 2002, UNDP has played a central role in several reform efforts, mobilizing about $13 million to support new and ongoing activities. The biggest share of these resources has come from the Government of Japan, which has contributed $11 million, while UNDP has contributed approximately $2 million.  (…)


Biosafety Protocol now operational as Governments agree on documentation rules for GMO trade

Kuala Lumpur/Nairobi, 27 February (UNEP) -- The 87 member States of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which entered into force in September 2003, have adopted documentation requirements and other procedures for promoting the safety of international trade in living (or genetically) modified organisms (known as LMOs, or GMOs), during their one-week meeting in Malaysia. Under the new system, all bulk shipments of genetically engineered crops intended for food, feed or processing (such as soybeans and maize) are to be identified as “may contain LMOs”.  The accompanying documentation should also indicate the contact details of the importer, exporter or other appropriate authority.

Over the next year an expert group will further elaborate the documentation and handling requirements for these bulk agricultural shipments.  Key issues still to be resolved include the percentage of modified material that these shipments may contain and still be considered GMO-free and the inclusion of any additional detailed information.  A decision on these matters will be considered at the next meeting of the treaty’s parties, to be held in 2005.

Agreement has also been reached on more detailed documentation requirements for those GMOs (such as genetically engineered seeds and fish) that are meant to be introduced directly into the environment.  The documentation accompanying such GMOs should specify the common, scientific and commercial names of the modified organism, the transformation event code or unique identifier code, any handling and storage requirements, contact details in the case of emergency, and how the GMO is to be used. (…)


Hungary works with UNODC on national crime prevention strategy

Vienna, 26 February (UN Information Service) -- Hungary’s new National Strategy for Social Crime Prevention was the focus of a half-day workshop organized here yesterday by the Hungarian Ministry of Justice and the Vienna-based United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Hungary, as other countries with a similar transition background has seen a rise in the number of crimes committed, especially as regards violent crimes and crimes against property.  Despite continuous efforts by national law enforcement agencies and criminal justice institutions, the public safety perception has been showing a deteriorating trend.  The need for a crime-prevention strategy was acknowledged last October when Parliament adopted a resolution to approve such a strategy document.  The Vienna workshop reviewed the text of the new strategy, as well as the intended institutional foundations for its implementation.  The strategy was drafted on the basis of the United Nations Guidelines on Prevention of Crime. (…)

The Hungarian strategy document applies international best practices in crime prevention, as codified in the UN Guidelines, in the field of early prevention, as well as in situational crime prevention, victim support and social reintegration of offenders. (…)



Human rights



Kyrgyzstan: Education agreement concluded

On 9 March the Ministry of Education of the Kyrgyz Republic, the ICRC regional delegation for Central Asia and the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan signed a cooperation agreement aimed at ensuring a sustainable professional basis for teaching international humanitarian law in the country’s secondary schools and institutions of higher education.

Starting this year, the parties to the agreement will begin to train trainers, instructing qualified teachers in the methods and principles of teaching humanitarian law. From 2007 on, the Ministry of Education will run the programme independently. The ICRC will provide the expertise, equipment and materials needed to implement the agreement.


ICRC signs agreement with Parliamentary Union of Islamic Conference

Geneva / Dakar, 9 March (ICRC,) – The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jakob Kellenberger, signed a cooperation agreement today at the third session of the Conference of the Parliamentary Union of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference member States, which is being held in Dakar until tomorrow. The agreement’s main purpose is to strengthen ties between the two organizations through consultation and exchange of information.

In a speech delivered at the opening session, Mr Kellenberger emphasized the ICRC’s involvement in Africa – the site of five of its 10 biggest operations and to which it is allocating over 40% of its operational budget for 2004 – and in the broader Muslim world. He also stressed the responsibility of lawmakers to incorporate international humanitarian law in national legislation, and the need for that body of law to be included in armed forces guidelines and implemented by all parties to conflict.

During his visit to Senegal, Mr Kellenberger also met the head of State, Abdoulaye Wade. Their discussions focused on issues of humanitarian concern in West Africa and Senegal’s important role in the region.


Zambia / Democratic Republic of Congo: Children rejoin families

On 2 March, the ICRC reunited six children with their families scattered around the Great Lakes region. The children, aged between 11 and 18, were among the many civilians who have fled into neighbouring countries – including Congo Brazzaville and Zambia – from conflicts in Rwanda, Burundi, eastern Congo and Angola. War has subjected thousands of children to the trauma of fleeing for their lives and becoming separated from their loved ones in the process. It has forced them to dwell among strangers in foreign countries, out of touch with their families for years on end.

It became possible to reunite these families only after months of intensive work by ICRC delegates in Zambia and both Congos involving registration of tracing requests, the actual tracing of the missing relatives and the forwarding of Red Cross messages (short personal messages between members of families separated by conflict) to restore contact. Carried out by the organization’s Harare delegation (which covers Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe), this was the second such reunification in two months.

The ICRC took care of the children throughout the long trip until the moment when they were reunited with their parents. "I will change his name to Miracle,” said a mother through her tears, seeing her child for the first time in eight years. “It’s a miracle that my child was found alive."



Economy and development



Development partners pledge $2 billion for Burkina Faso's anti-poverty efforts

12 March - Donors have pledged US$2 billion in grants and loans to Burkina Faso for 2004–2006 to support the drive to reduce poverty in one of the world's poorest countries. (…) About 70 per cent of the pledges are for grants and the remainder will be loans. The new assistance does not include steps to reduce the country's external debt burden through the World Bank's heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative.

The pledges from donor countries and international financial organizations could potentially increase by about two-thirds the level of development assistance for Burkina Faso, which is currently about $400 million per year, noted UNDP Resident Representative Christian Lemaire.

The resources will fund priorities such as education, health care, the campaign against HIV/AIDS and economic development to support efforts to achieve the overarching Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015.

Landlocked Burkina Faso, with a population of 12.3 million, ranks 173rd of 175 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index 2003. Only one in four adults are literate, and just 36 per cent of children are enrolled in primary school. Despite improved economic growth, proportion of people living in poverty increased slightly from 44 per cent in 1995 to 46 percent last year. (…)






Donors give $1 billion for Iraq reconstruction

3 March - Nineteen countries meeting in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on 28-29 February contributed US$1 billion to rebuild schools and health facilities, restore water supplies and electricity, and to meet other priority needs in Iraq. It was the first meeting of the Donors' Committee of the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq. The Madrid conference established the facility in October 2003. The UN Development Group, chaired by UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown, and the World Bank jointly administer the facility.

Japan, the leading donor, contributed $450 million, and was elected chair of the Donors' Committee for the first year. This includes $360 million for the trust fund administered by the UN Development Group and managed by UNDP. Another $90 million goes to the trust fund administered by the World Bank. After this year's budget is approved, Japan plans to contribute another $40 million to World Bank trust fund.

The facility will coordinate and channel contributions for rebuilding work in close cooperation with the Iraqi authorities and donors. The funds represent part of the follow-up by donors towards meeting the $33 billion pledged in Madrid.


ADRA responds to Haiti crisis with food, medical supplies

Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, 9 March - A DC-10 aircraft landed in Port-au-Prince Sunday morning, March 7, loaded with 125,000 pounds of food and medical supplies provided by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in cooperation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (…)

The shipment, valued at $160,470, included food items such as sugar, rice, milk, vegetable oil, pinto beans, flour, and rice that will be distributed to Haiti's residents affected by recent political turmoil. Additionally, the shipment included medical materials that will be delivered to hospitals with dwindling supplies. Shelter materials for approximately 120 internally displaced families were also delivered.

Donations for ADRA's work can be made online to Haiti's Crisis Fund, by calling 1.800.424.ADRA (2372) or by mailing your donation to ADRA International, 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904.


MSF assisting 'pateras' illegal immigrants on Canary Islands 

1 March, Fuerteventura - Today the international aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has started an emergency intervention in Fuerteventura Island - a part of the Canary Islands - to provide humanitarian assistance to the immigrants arriving on 'pateras' (boats) to the island's shore. Although 7,858 illegal immigrants arrived in Fuerteventura on pateras during 2003, so far no assistance whatsoever has been organized. For this reason, MSF has decided to carry out an intervention intended to provide aid to the immigrants arriving on the coast as well as to those intercepted on high seas and later taken ashore.

MSF has set up a field hospital and a mobile team made up of a coordinator, doctor, nurse and logistician to operate from the Gran Tarajal harbour as this is the site where most immigrants are brought after being intercepted on high seas by the Civil Guard. (…)

Fuerteventura has become the main destination for African immigrants, especially those coming from Sub-Saharan Africa. Whether having landed on the coast or intercepted on high seas and taken to the port, the condition of these people often show the same symptoms: hypothermia, hypoglycaemia, exhaustion, dehydration, hunger and thirst. (…)



Peace and security



$11.8 million project to help Bosnia and Herzegovina end landmine threat

10 March - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Europe's most heavily landmine-affected country, is taking another step towards eliminating the deadly threat with a five-year project worth US$11.8 million, developed with help from UNDP. Surveys have so far identified an estimated 670,000 mines and 650,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXOs) at 10,000 locations, blighting more than 4 per cent of the total territory. Only 10 per cent of the areas have been cleared.

Since the end of war in 1995, mines have killed almost 1,500 people and injured about 5,000, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. Landmines and UXOs also hinder economic recovery projects and development efforts.

The project includes efforts to enable the Government to manage its programme to eliminate landmines more effectively. (…) It will also clear mines and UXOs from 4,000,000 square meters of land needed for economic development, promoting economic activity and increasing job opportunities. The Bosnian Armed Forces will also get support for their landmine surveys, de-mining operations and related work. (…)


Bells and Photos in Singapore

Singapore, 5 March - On 28 February Think Centre (TC) in Singapore launched its Cambodian Landmine Survivors Support Campaign Photo Exhibition with a social dialogue on disabled citizens.

Socially concerned citizens from all walks of life attended the Forum on disabled citizens which was the prelude to the opening of the photo exhibition on landmine-disabled by Think Centre.

Sinapan Samydorai, President of Think Centre announced that Think Centre's 2004 anti-landmine awareness campaign in the form of a photo exhibition depicting the lives of landmine victims. The initiative is in collaboration with the M&C Saatchi Singapore, who designed the black-and-white photo-editorials that were publicly exhibited for the first time.

Singapore has not joined the Mine Ban Treaty and is one of only a dozen landmine producers which has not renounced production. Joint efforts such as these, by NGOs and in this case a large advertising agency, will certainly help raise awareness regarding the plight of landmine survivors in neighboring countries like Cambodia as well as the need for Singapore to join the international community in banning this weapon.

Link(s) to more information: Think Centre   Landmine Monitor Country Report Singapore


World Peace Congress 2004 – Verbania, Italy, 28-30 May

This year, from the 28th to the >30th of May, the Lama Gangchen World Peace Foundation is organising a World Congress on Traditional Integrated Medicines - Peace Education  for better Health in Verbania, Italy, on the occasion of  the World Congress of the Peace Educators.

The objective of this event is to bring a contribution towards the creation  of a new world health system, which integrates the knowledge of  ancient traditional healing methods and modern medicine; an education  that leads to well-being and the rebalance of the inner and outer world, 
creating the conditions for better health, on the physical, emotional  and spiritual levels, and thus contribute to a more peaceful world.

From Gandhi to Modern Social and Political Movements: Preparing for Nonviolent Actions in Practice - A five-days international training programme organised by the Romanian Peace Institute (PATRIR) in cooperation with TRANSCEND May 5 - 9, 2004, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
 Aimed at creating a space for sharing of experiences and developing skills and methods for practice, at learning from the legacy of non-violent political and social movements from all continents, and at weaving together a European-wide network of committed social activists
and non-violent practitioners, the programme will be an important step in the work to create a global Nonviolent Peaceforce and to prepare for the third European Social Forum in London in 2004. (…) To apply or to receive further information please visit or write to Programme Coordinator Alex Moldovan at






The Americas reaffirm reproductive health consensus

United States in lone dissent

Santiago (Chile), 11 March (UNFPA) -- By a nearly unanimous decision, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean today reaffirmed support for the population and reproductive health action plan adopted at Cairo 10 years ago.

The United States was the only country to disagree with a declaration linking poverty eradication to greater access to services for family planning, safe motherhood and HIV/AIDS prevention.

More than 300 delegates from 40 countries in the region and their development partners gathered in Santiago for a two-day review of progress in carrying out the 20-year Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).  The meeting of presiding officers of the region’s Ad Hoc Committee on Population and Development was held at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

The declaration urges countries to intensify efforts to ensure that their plans to eradicate poverty include reproductive health services.  It affirms that implementing the Cairo Programme is essential for the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration of September 2000.

The United States disassociated itself from the declaration, citing differences related to HIV/AIDS, adolescents and abortion.  Its delegate specifically expressed regret that the declaration did not refer to abstinence.  She added that the text ignores Cairo language linking adolescents’ rights to the role and responsibilities of parents. (…)


Zambia: ICRC to build hostel for mine victims

5 March - The University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, the largest medical facility in Zambia, has a fully operational limb-fitting centre that the ICRC has been supporting since 1997, providing it with material and helping it to build up its capacity.The centre is meant to assist the thousands of refugees who have lost limbs in mine accidents while fleeing conflicts in neighbouring countries. However, the enormous distances that must be covered and the great number of disabled refugees have made it impossible to treat everyone and ensure proper follow-up in the camps.

To better serve the needs of mine victims, the ICRC has decided to renovate the limb-fitting centre and build a 12-bed hostel where patients can stay while they are being treated. Around 155,000 Swiss francs have been allocated to the project, which will enable many more disabled refugees to be cared for and thus improve the quality of their lives. The ICRC will also provide patients with transport and meals.


MSF hands over its activities and launches new NGO 'SHADE' in Sri Lanka

Colombo, 1 March - The International medical relief organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has handed over its activities after having worked in Sri Lanka for 18 years.

Upon its departure, on March 1, MSF will launch a new Sri Lankan NGO 'SHADE' which will continue the psychosocial programme in Vavuniya town and district. The activities in the North, in Mullaitivu district have been handed over to the local medical staff of the Ministry of Health.  (…) The new NGO, 'SHADE' will continue the psychosocial care programme in Vavuniya. A lot of people remain traumatized by their war experiences and for them a continuation of psychosocial services is essential. Many former MSF national staff will work for SHADE. The new organisation will work in collaboration with the District Ministry of Health.

MSF has been working in northern Sri Lanka since 1994 and operated a maternity assistance programme at Puthukkudiyiruppu hospital in Mullaitivu district and a psychosocial support programme in Vavuniya town and district. An extensive medical assistance programme in Mallavi, including surgical support, closed in April 2002. (…)



Energy and safety



Chile Biotechnology Forum concludes

Concepción, Chile), 5 March (UNIDO) -- Internationally recognized experts, leading scientists and high-level delegations from more than 80 countries, as well as representatives from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, industry and the media attended the four-day Global Biotechnology Forum, which concluded today.  The over 1,400 participants assessed the challenges lying ahead in the field of biotechnology in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

The forum examined the role of biotechnology in these countries and especially in meeting the needs of the poor and improving their quality of life, as well as its impacts on environment, trade, and public perception.  A number of key issues affecting the development of biotechnology in the developing world were identified:  inadequate scientific, technical and research capabilities, the absence of entrepreneurial skills and of public investment in this field, the presence of intellectual property barriers, different biosafety regulations and difficult market access.

The meeting opened a dialogue meant to develop proposals, initiatives and solutions for action, such as:  the establishment of a multi-stakeholder forum for informed dialogue on biotechnology and its benefits for the developing world, the creation of a network and database on biotechnology activities in developing countries and those with economies in transition, including global market and technology information for partnership facilitation, enhancement of capacity-building activities, and the assessment of intellectual property legislation on biotechnology.

In his closing address, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s (UNIDO) Director-General, Carlos Magariños, also stressed the need to utilize the expertise, skills and activities that the United Nations and other international organizations have in the field of biotechnology, through greater interagency collaboration.


International Water Demand Management – Dead See, May 30 to June 3

Under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan and with the collaboration of the United State Agency for International Development an international Water Demand Management Conference will be held at the Dead Sea, Jordan from May 30 to June 3. The event is supported by IWA [International Water Association]. The conference will provide a forum for regional and international practitioners and experts in water issues to share concepts, research, technologies, and experiences on the most efficient use of water in the domestic, industrial, and agricultural sector. An associated exhibition will showcase state-of-the-art conservation technologies. Register through (…)

International Water Association is in a better position than any other organization in the world to help water professionals create innovative, pragmatic and sustainable solutions to challenging global water needs. IWA is at the forefront in connecting the broad community of water professionals around the globe - integrating the leading edge of professional thought on research and practice, regulators and the regulated, across national boundaries and across the drinking water, wastewater and stormwater disciplines.  IWA was founded in September 1999 by the merger of the International Association of Water Quality (IAWQ) and the International Water Supply Association (IWSA).


Solar  safe  drinking  water  units  for  the  hospitals  of  Samoa

Rotary International is facilitating the Matching Grant that is making possible to equip all the hospitals of the tropical polynesian islands of Samoa with state-of-the-art solar water pasteurisation units that will protect patients, staff and visitors from water-related health problems caused by the contaminated water available through the poor water pipes' system.
This international effort is supported by Rotary Clubs in Tokyo and on the Hawaiian islands, in cooperation with Samoa's only Rotary Club in Apia, the capital, and, with the help of future Rotarians of the future Rotary Club of Savaii which is having its first information meetings, and, once it will have applied and been Chartered by Rotary International, will be the world's
most western Rotary Club.

Because of the great need for it, and because a first Solar Safe Drinking Water Unit was made possible through the Honolulu Sunrise Rotary Club 4 years ago, the Department of Health of the Govenment of Samoa has asked the Rotary Club of Apia to see if it would become possible to install the same solar equipment for the other hopitals of the country, which is now becoming
possible and will be installed in the coming months.

The use of solar energy in the South Pacific islands does make sense.  It is a region with some of the world's highest electricity prices and the greatest abundance of sunlight as well as wind, and thus also the home of the Rotary Club President Marco Kappenberger is built to function fully on
solar and eolic energy, so to give back to the grid excessive power and reduce to the maximum the use of polluting batteries. Any questions are welcome at



Environment and wildlife



Australia can easily cut CO2 emissions

Sydney, 13 March - Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution can be halved by 2040, using existing technology and without affecting economic growth, according to a groundbreaking study released today by the Clean Energy Future Group.

The Clean Energy Future for Australia study, commissioned by an unprecedented alliance of industry associations, energy organisations and WWF-Australia, found that a 50 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from stationary energy is now achievable within 36 years. There are sufficient resources of clean energy like natural gas, solar, wind and bioenergy to make up the bulk of energy supply in 2040, the study found. Without a switch to clean energy technologies and energy efficiency measures, Australia cannot make urgently needed reductions in CO2 pollution contributing to global warming.

The energy sector is by far Australia’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, with pollution levels increasing by more than 30 per cent since 1990. Currently 84 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from coal-fired power stations, which emit more than 170 million tonnes of CO2 every year. (…)


European Commission and EEA make public extensive information about industrial pollution in your neighbourhood

Brussels/Copenhagen, 23 February - Today the European Commission and the European Environment Agency (EEA) launched the European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER), the first Europe-wide register of industrial emissions into air and water. For the first time, detailed information on pollution from around 10,000 large industrial facilities in the EU and Norway is publicly accessible on the internet ( EPER enables European citizens to exercise their ‘right to know’, allowing them, for example, to see how much pollution large industries in their neighbourhoods generate and to compare this with the situation in other parts of Europe. Companies can measure themselves against their competitors, and for their part, scientists, insurance companies, local authorities and policy makers now have a solid database to help them choose the most effective solutions for reducing industrial pollution. (…)



Religion and Spirituality



"The Power of Commitment"

The Jerusalem Pre-Parliament International Conference 1-3 March

Some 75 carefully selected participants attended the Jerusalem Pre-Parliament International Conference, jointly organized by the Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA) and the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions (CPWR) on the two topics of Overcoming Religious
Violence and Creating Access to Clean Water, at the Ramat Rachel Hotel in Jerusalem. They were 44 Israelis and 31 Internationals (including the wonderful facilitation team) - people of the Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Druze, Hindu, Buddhists and Sikh religions as well as people of no religion - representing a wide variety of perspectives on the respective topics. (…)

The purpose of the conference was to study each of the topics from the variety of perspectives in as much depth as possible, draw information from the people in the field and inspiration from the religious resources and arrive at a personal commitment to a simple and profound act that will
make a real - even if small – difference. (…) Participants gradually moved to deeper understanding of the issues as they shared personal experiences regarding the issues, identified contributions offered by their religious and spiritual traditions and created maps that presented the dynamics and complexity of the issues. In the next phase they shifted their focus from the current reality to the desired reality: they learned from each other what works to make a positive change, shared their visions for a better future, developed strategies for taking these ideas home and
engaging the networks and resources they already have in their communities in making a difference and finally took specific commitments for "simple and profound acts" on the issues when they go home.



Culture and education



The Peace Bell Rings on Earth Day 2004

Founder John McConnell will attend the Peace Bell ceremony at the United Nations in New York City on March 20 and will deliver his annual Earth Day message.

Friday, March 19/ Saturday, March 20 Earth Day is on the March Equinox, Nature's day all over the world. The Peace Bell at the United Nations in New York will ring on Saturday, March 20 at 1:49 a.m. EST -- the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and Fall in the Southern Hemisphere.  At the same moment (7:49 a.m., March 20, in Austria) the Peace Bell at the United Nations in Vienna will ring. One global common moment celebrating life with dedication of heart and mind to think and act as responsible Earth Trustees.  We are one human family and have only one Earth.

Peace and the care of Earth begins in the mind.  On Earth Day we can think, pray and plan what we will do to restore and renew the wonder of life on our planet.  A "New Day" when differences are forgotten as we share the wonder of nature's new life and new beginning.

Earth Day reminds the people of the world of the need for continuing care which is vital to Earth’s safety.  …Earth Day draws on astronomical phenomena in a new way; using the vernal equinox, the time when the Sun crosses the equator making night and day of equal length in all parts of the Earth.  To this point in the annual calendar, Earth Day attaches no local or divisive set of symbols, no statement of the truth or superiority of one way of life over another.  But the selection of the March equinox makes planetary observance of a shared event possible. The vernal equinox calls on all mankind to recognize and respect Earth’s beautiful systems of balance, between the presence of animals on land, the fish in the sea, birds in the air, mankind, water, air, and land.  Most importantly there must always be awareness of the actions by people that can disturb this precious balance." From Margaret Mead's 1977 Earth Day Statement


Exhibition of top international news photographs at United Nations HQ – 5 March to 4 April

4 March - Dozens of news photographs that chronicle crises, conflicts, and the human condition around the globe will be on display in the Visitors’ Lobby at United Nations Headquarters from 5 March until 4 April in an exhibition sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Netherlands and the Department of Public Information. (…)

In 2003, the forty-sixth annual World Press Photo Contest, the premier international competition in press photography, received a record number of entries –- 53,597 images by 3,913 professional photographers from 118 countries.  An international jury gave prizes in 9 theme categories to 55 photographers representing 21 nations:  Armenia, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Colombia, CzechRepublic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Poland, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. (…)

World Press Photo is an independent, non-profit organization, founded in the Netherlands in 1955.  Its main aim is to support and promote internationally the work of professional press photographers.  Over the years, World Press Photo has evolved into an independent platform for photojournalism and the free exchange of information.  The organization operates under the patronage of H.R.H. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. (…)


Global Ethics, Development, Environment and the Earth Charter – Scotland, 14 - 17 April 

A conference organised by the IUCN Ethics Specialist Group and the International Development Ethics Association (IDEA), in conjunction with the Aberdeen University Sustainability Advisory Committee. (…) There is increasing realisation that global ethics underpin the challenges of environment and development. Indeed, the pivotal role of ethics was recognised in the 2002 Political Declaration of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The two organisations sponsoring this conference have long standing interests in the ethical dimensions to environment and development. At this particular juncture, it is important to re-evaluate the role of global ethics in the maelstrom of unfolding world events.

Of particular importance to these question is the Earth Charter – a declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. (…) It is of special importance that the Earth Charter’s value for environment and development issues and as a general global ethics framework be assessed at this time for the IUCN community. (…)

IUCN, the World Conservation Union,  is a unique Union. Its members from some 140 countries include over 70 States, 100 government agencies, and 750-plus NGOs. More than 10,000 internationally-recognised scientists and experts from more than 180 countries volunteer their services to its six global commissions. Its 1000 staff members in offices around the world are working on some 500 projects. Its mission is “to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.”


You Can Change the World:  The Consciousness Revolution and Global Sustainability

San Francisco, 23 March

The Club of Budapest USA in partnership with the Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center invite you to a very special event: a unique panel exploring the human potential, science and psychology as a pathway to our common future.

Opening: Maureen O'Hara Ph.D., President, Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center.
Panelists: Stanley Krippner: Professor of psychology at Saybrook Graduate School, San Francisco;
Ervin Laszlo: Founder and President of the international Club of Budapest and prolific author;
Peter Russell: One of the first people to introduce human potential seminars into the corporate field. Moderators: Muriel Adcock, President, Club of Budapest USA and Maureen O'Hara, President, Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center

Collaborating Organizations include: AHIMSA, California Institute for Integral Studies, EarthLight: Journal for Ecological and Spiritual Living, Interreligious Engagement Project: A Network for the 21st Century, Pathways to Peace, Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, SGI-USA Northern California Earth Charter Committee, Unity Foundation.

To register online:


Work in progress for the Earth Charter:

The Earth Charter was endorsed by hundreds of schools in Spain

Fundación Deyna has been leading a process to promote the Earth Charter throughout schools in Spain. Consequently, hundreds of Spanish schools have recently endorsed the Charter and many others are in the process of also doing so. The Secretariat has been following up with each school with suggestions on how to implement the Earth Charter within their institutions.
Please see list of endorsers at

In Belgium, 'Nature & Progrès' is using the Earth Charter as a tool

In October 2003, Nature & Progrès, an organization devoted to  sustainable agriculture, decided to adopt the Earth Charter as a tool and thereby connect their local efforts to a global movement.  In March and April 2004, the members in their respective provinces will give a series of introductory sessions on the Earth Charter.  Visibility of these activities is ensured by articles in the bi-monthly edition of Valérianne, the magazine of Nature & Progrès (15,000 copies printed). The Charter has also been included in their website.  Find more information in French at


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21 March, Day to Eliminate Racial Discrimination: Message by UN Secretary-General



Tolerance, inter-cultural dialogue, respect for diversity more essential than ever,  Secretary-General says in message for Day to Eliminate Racial Discrimination


On 21 March 1960, a non-violent protest took place in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the “pass laws” -– one of the most hated institutions of apartheid; it ended with the death of 69 demonstrators.  The Sharpeville massacre was a landmark in the history of the anti-apartheid movement.  It also led the United Nations General Assembly to establish this annual observance, which is meant to draw attention to the fight against racism wherever and whenever it occurs.

   This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, reminding us of the horrors that ethnic and racial hatred can cause.  This year is also the bicentenary of the revolution in Haiti, which led to the liberation from slavery of the peoples of the Caribbean and Latin America.  And the General Assembly has proclaimed 2004 the International Year to Commemorate the Struggle against Slavery and its Abolition.  What must link these observances is not only our honouring the memory of the victims of past tragedies, but also our determination to save others from becoming the victims of similar tragedies in the future.

   That means reversing the lasting consequences of slavery and the slave trade.  The historical injustices of slavery and the slave trade have contributed to the poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization, social exclusion, economic disparities, instability and insecurity that affect many people in different parts of the world, in particular in developing countries.  At the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001, States acknowledged that slavery and the slave trade were appalling tragedies in the history of humanity, and among the major sources of racism.  The United Nations remains strongly committed to helping people and countries to overcome this legacy, while at the same time combating contemporary forms of slavery -- such as forced labour, including for the purpose of sexual exploitation -- that remain a blight on our collective conscience.

   Racism is also among the roots of genocide.  Racist practices, racist ideologies and dehumanizing public discourse that denies whole groups of people their dignity and rights must be condemned.  More than that, we must strengthen our capacity for early warning and prevention of genocide, mass murder, ethnic cleansing and comparable crimes, and truly support efforts at bringing perpetrators to justice, for example through the International Criminal Court.  I expect soon to appoint a United Nations special adviser on the prevention of genocide, and to make other proposals for strengthening our action in this area.

   Tolerance, inter-cultural dialogue and respect for diversity are more essential than ever in a world where peoples are becoming more and more closely interconnected.  We look to governments, in particular, for political will and resolute action.  On this international day for the elimination of racial discrimination, let us all be inspired anew by the fundamental principle, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of the equality of all human beings.



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Next issue: 9 April.


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