Good News Agency – Year VI, n° 11
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 2,800 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 in the web site http://www3.unesco.org/iycp/uk/uk_sum_monde.htm
New regulations for Mediterranean fishing take force
Safeguarding deep-sea habitats and reducing by-catch to support productive fisheries
Rome, 5 September - New fishing regulations aimed at safeguarding the fishery resources of the Mediterranean Sea have entered into force today. The measures, jointly agreed upon by the 24 members* of FAO's General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), are now to be enforced at the national level by all GFCM members.
Among the new measures now in force is a ban on towed trawl nets and dredges at depths greater than 1 000 metres. In line with what FAO calls "the precautionary approach" to fisheries management, the ban aims to protect fragile deep-sea habitats found on the sea bottom and the slow-growing fish which live there -- themselves often an important source of food for other commercially-popular fish species living at shallower depths.
Mediterranean countries are also now requiring that trawlers use a minimum mesh-size opening of 40mm in the "cod end" section of their nets in order to allow smaller, juvenile fish to escape, thereby conserving breeding stocks. This measure should also help to reduce accidental catches of non-target species.
GFCM members have agreed to establish a centralized registry listing all ships over 15 metres long which they have authorized to fish on their national registries. Any boat in that size-class not listed in the registry will be deemed unauthorized to operate in GFCM waters and subject to possible penalties under domestic laws of GFCM members if observed fishing. (…)
* GFCM members include: Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, EC, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia and Montenegro, Spain, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. Membership is open to both Mediterranean coastal states as well as to countries which fish in Mediterranean waters.
European Conference on Poverty and Disability in Europe - Bucharest 20-23 October
The conference on poverty and intellectual disability, organized by Inclusion Europe in cooperation with Inclusion International and Inclusion Romania in the framework of the NFU funded worldwide project on poverty and disability, will take place at hotel Ibis Parliament, in Bucharest, on 21-22 October 2005. It is organized under the auspices of His Excellency, Mr. Traian Bãsescu, the President of Romania.
The conference will bring together representatives of families, governments and experts from different fields from all over Europe. They will review the findings and analysis following the research Inclusion Europe has undertaken with respect to the status of people with intellectual disabilities and their families in relation to poverty all over Europe. They will also explore potential actions to be taken in view of improving the situation of people with intellectual disabilities and their families living in poverty.
The participants will also tackle issues as the link between low income, poverty and social exclusion, policies against the unemployment of people with intellectual disabilities and mainstreaming of intellectual disability in national, European and world policies. (…)
HIAS initiative will help traumatized Sudanese refugees in Chad
New York City, August 31 - Because of a shared concern for the plight of Sudanese refugees in Chad, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and the Israel Forum for Humanitarian Aid (IsraAid) have launched the Initiative for Sudanese Refugees in Chad. (…) The initiative has received support from IsraAid coalition members B'nai Brith, The American Jewish Committee and Ve'ahavta, the Canadian Jewish Humanitarian and Relief Committee. (…)
The HIAS-IsraAid initiative is intended to strengthen the refugees' psychological and social conditions and to convey skills needed to survive and function in the aftermath of extreme violence. Ultimately, the goal of the initiative is to prepare the refugees to re-assert control over their lives and find opportunities for durable solutions to their displacement, whether it is returning to Sudan, integrating with their hosts in Chad, or being resettled to another country. (…) http://www.interaction.org/newswire/detail.php?id=4310
ILO issues new publication on international labour standards
Geneva (ILO News), 30 August - The International Labour Office (ILO) has issued a new publication that provides a comprehensive overview of labour standards on issues ranging from forced to child labour, freedom of association and collective bargaining, equality at work and other key workplace concerns. "Rules of the game: a brief introduction to International Labour Standards" has been prepared by the ILO's International Labour Standards Department is written for a non-specialist audience and is designed to raise global awareness of the standards. It discusses the importance of ILO Conventions and Recommendations, and how they are applied and supervised. Adopted by representatives of governments, workers and employers, the ILO's international labour standards establish the international legal framework for promoting social justice in today's global economy. (…) Rules of the game is available in English, French and Spanish. An Arabic version is under preparation.
Information and communication technologies for employment creation and poverty alleviation
Beirut, 1 September (United Nations Information Service) - The United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Western Asia (UNESCWA) has published a study on Information and Communication Technologies for Employment Creation and Poverty Alleviation that is aimed at highlighting the various possibilities related to information and communication technologies (ICTs) with regard to tackling employment creation and poverty alleviation in western Asia.
The study targets policymakers in the field of social issues from the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) and governments, particularly employment institutions and social affairs ministries. It reviews case studies on alleviating poverty, particularly among youth and women; presents an implementation framework and modalities; and recommends policies and a number of priority projects for the region.
According to the study, ICTs serve as new tools for escaping from poverty, empowering impoverished communities, and providing access to vital resources and information. (…)
Agriculture and intercultural dialogue: October 16, World Food Day 2005 theme
'Agriculture and intercultural dialogue' is the theme of this year's World Food Day, FAO said today. World Food Day is celebrated every year to mark the day on which FAO was founded in 1945. This year's observance will be held on Sunday, 16 October, at FAO Headquarters in Rome. It will be also observed in more than 150 countries.
The theme recalls the contribution of different cultures to world agriculture and argues that sincere intercultural dialogue is a precondition for progress against hunger and environmental degradation. (…) With agriculture, intercultural dialogue takes place at meetings and trade negotiations and every time an expert from one culture shows another something new in the laboratory or field. (…)
FAO estimates that 852 million people around the world remain hungry. At the World Food Summit held in Rome in 1996 and again at the World Food Summit: five years later in 2002, leaders vowed to reduce that number by half by 2015. Moreover, the UN Millennium Development Goals commit world leaders to reducing by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, while ensuring environmental sustainability.
World Food Day provides an opportunity at local, national and international levels to further dialogue and enhance solidarity on these issues. World Food Day web site:
Serbia and Montenegro forest and forest products country profile
Geneva, 23 August - Geneva Timber and Forest Discussion Paper 40, Forest and Forest Products Country Profile: Serbia and Montenegro continues a series of country forest and forest products profiles, which provide general forest sector information for a particular country. The forest and forest products sector in Serbia and Montenegro, in common with many Balkan countries, was hard hit by the political and economic upheaval that occurred in the region, and suffered severely as a consequence.
There is now evidence to suggest that Serbia and Montenegro may be gradually regaining its previous export strength in many wood products. This is a welcome development and, if it can be sustained, may bring the much needed capital for investment in modernisation and expansion of capacity under the developing market economy.
This paper is intended for the use of both domestic and foreign experts, as much of this information is little known and not easy to collect. The paper contains data and analysis on the forest resources, wood processing industry, trade, consumption, prices, institutions and policies in Serbia and Montenegro.
Southern Africa: Agencies welcome EC donation for food aid
Johannesburg, 2 September (IRIN) - Relief agencies have welcomed a US $5.4 million donation from the European Commission (EC) to feed thousands of hungry people in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland in the coming months, but warn that more aid is needed. "We still require $194 million worth of resources - we have practically nothing for January through to March next year," said the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director, Mike Sackett. (…)
Without new contributions, WFP will be forced to reduce distributions to many of Zimbabwe's most vulnerable people next year, at a time when in-country food supplies are usually at critically low levels and prices are beyond the affordability of the majority of the needy.
The EC offer follows UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's letter to 27 heads of state in early August, raising the alarm for urgent funding to "avert a catastrophe" in southern Africa, where more than 10 million people face food shortages. Bilateral pledges from European Union member states, as well as the EC donation, cover over 50 percent of the total food commitments in Zimbabwe.
The food relief agency said the combined European contributions to WFP's regional appeal - $53 million - were enough to cover the procurement and distribution of some 111,000 mt of food for the region. (…)
American humanitarian agencies have already sent more than $3 million to rebuild and restock oncological hospitals.
Tblisi, Georgia, August 30 – Approaching the National Oncology Center astride a hill with a panorama of this ancient capital, the multi-story building looks a little worn in its austere 1970s Soviet architecture. As you get closer it looks a little shabby, and inside crumbling cement stairways lead onto floor after floor of collapsed walls, and dusty, lightless, corridors. But among the rubble there are enclaves of clean, well-lit wards. These were largely rebuilt and stocked by American humanitarian agencies. Counterpart International and the National Cancer Coalition (NCC) are two American non-profits, along with the US State Department, who are prominently thanked in shiny plaques adorning the rebuilt wards. (…)
For further information, visit www.nationalcancercoalition.org
Caritas continues addressing needs in food-insecure Niger
Vatican City, 20 August - Caritas Niger (Caritas Développement Niger – CADEV), with the support of several Caritas members, is working steadily to help ease the effects of serious food shortages in Niger – where upwards of 2.5 million people are at risk, vulnerable to starvation, malnutrition, and disease. The combination of drought and last year’s locust invasions has proved disastrous throughout the region, disrupting agricultural activities and raising food insecurity to alarming levels. Although aid from the Niger government, international organisations, and NGOs has helped, reports from the country’s early warning system indicate that the food situation in seven zones remains extremely critical. (…)
Caritas Niger has responded to the crisis by distributing food to more than 1,200 highly vulnerable households (with households averaging seven members), as well as implementing food-for-work programmes in the regions of Agadez, Diffa, Dosso, Maradi, Tahoua, Tillabery/Niamey, and Zinder. More than 32,000 people in 134 villages have benefited from the food-for-work activities. Attention has also been given to building up cereal banks and providing grain for sale at reduced prices. (…)
Free food distributions continue in Niger
Large-scale distributions of life-saving food aid continue in Niger, as WFP and its partners endeavour to reach a total of 2.65 million people battling hunger under a first-round general emergency distribution. As of 17 August, WFP had dispatched 1,600 metric tons of food aid to its non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners, and distributions were underway by ABC Ecologie and HELP in Tillaberi, World Vision in Maradi and PDR/ADM in Tahoua.
In total, WFP will dispatch 31,723 metric tons of food for 1.85 million people under the first round of general distributions, while the government of Niger and the NGO Plan International will reach a further 800,000 people.
In September, WFP will conduct a second distribution to the 1.7 million most food insecure people, before the harvest in October. (…)
New Chinese aid for Maldives
Malé, Maldives, 15 August – The Government of Maldives on Monday launched a project financed by the Government of China that will provide half a million US dollars worth of aid to two remote islands in the Maldives that were devastated by last year’s tsunami.
The money will be used to rebuild and repair housing damaged on the islands of Dhaalu Vaanee and Dhaalu Meedhoo, both about 150 kilometres from the capital Malé. The islands suffered badly when last year’s December tsunami swept across the country, with 94 dwellings destroyed or seriously damaged between them. Much of the population of 1,500 on the two islands was displaced, and nearly eight months later, many are still living in temporary shelter.
“This is the first time that China, itself a developing country, has provided aid for tsunami recovery for the Maldives,” said Mr. Jianguo Shen, of UN HABITAT. The aid will implement the new shelter programme for the two islands. “Although China has pledged over US$ 20 million to tsunami relief across the region, it is unusual for the Chinese government to be implementing projects through the UN.”
New women and children protection section for Liberia’s police
Monrovia, Liberia, 1 September – In a major step towards building a new protective environment for Liberia’s children and women, a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a special facility for the newly established Women and Children Protection Section of the Liberian National Police (LNP) will take place here Friday, 2 September at National Police Headquarters. (…) The groundbreaking will form part of the official launch of the LNP’s Women and Children Protection Section and the certification of 25 LNP officers who have completed a specialized three-week training course in the handling and management of sexual violence, sexual abuse, and gender-based violence cases. The newly trained police officers will be assigned to serve in LNP Women and Children Protection Sections in six zones here in the Liberian capital. The training, which began on 15 August, was organized by the LNP with support from UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.
“Both of these actions are ‘firsts’ for Liberia: it's the first law enforcement facility intended to protect the rights and needs of women and children and it's the first time Liberia has a Women and Children's Protection Unit as part of its police force,” said UNICEF Liberia Representative Angela Kearney. (…) The Women and Children Protection Section of the LNP was established by UNICEF in collaboration with the LNP and the UNMIL Civilian Police (CIVPOL).
NGOs Create interactive website to discuss 2005 Summit of World Leaders at United Nations in September
New York, 17 August (DPI/NGO Section) -- In anticipation of the 2005 Summit of world leaders at the United Nations in September, civil society organizations are voicing their views on how to strengthen the Organization, as it confronts the challenges of extreme poverty and global security. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working with the United Nations have created a website at http://www.undpingoconference.org that features an interactive discussion area to debate issues that will be addressed at the 58th Annual DPI/NGO Conference, entitled Our Challenge: Voices for Peace, Partnerships and Renewal, scheduled to take place at the UN Headquarters in New York from 7-9 September 2005. (…) The online discussion area for comments, questions and answers will be available before, during and after the Conference. (…)
To access the Conference web site go to http://www.undpingoconference.org Other organizations can link to the conference website and are encouraged to do so via the link provided on the website. Questions about the website and the Conference can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
September 21: The International Day of Peace
The International Day of Peace provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of Peace on a shared date. Use the International Day of Peace annually to highlight the Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, 2001 to 2010. Established by a United Nations resolution in 1981, the International Day of Peace was first celebrated September 1982.
When: Annually, 21 September - The International Day of Peace. Where: Wherever you are. Who: You and all who care about building Cultures of Peace for the children of this and future generations. Why: To mark our individual and collective progress toward building Cultures of Peace, and serve as a reminder of our permanent commitment to Peace, above all interests and differences of any kind.
Individuals and Nations, acting in concert, DO make a difference in the quality of our lives, our institutions, our environment and our planetary future. Through cooperation, we manifest the essential Spirit that unites us amid our diverse ways. How: Through various paths to personal and planetary Peace: Latest IDP Fact Sheet (MS Word) (…)
This year, a major global effort is being made to ask governmental leaders on every level to issue Proclamations and Resolutions. In many cases, past Peace Day Proclamations and Resolutions were obtained by individuals, families, classes of students, and local organizations, simply by asking their leaders to issue them. (…)
Send your activities for Peace Day to Pathways To Peace, email@example.com
Festival For Peace – Assisi, Italy, 21 September
One of the major focal points for International Day of Peace will be the 10th Annual International Festival for Peace in Assisi. This year it will begin on Peace Day and will include a 24-hour Vigil in Assisi’s oldest standing church, Santa Maria Maggiore, and an International Day of Peace Conference. Details at:
Mine ban education in south Sudan
Author: Pascal Bongard
Rumbek, Lake region South Sudan, 25 August - In collaboration with Geneva Call and the Kenya Coalition Against Landmines, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), a signatory of the “Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action” (Deed of Commitment), started a series of regional mine ban education workshops in south Sudan. The series is the follow up of a strategic conference on the implementation of the Deed of Commitment organised by Geneva Call and the SPLM/A in New Site in 2003. The firstworkshop took place in Rumbek, Lake region, from 27 to 29 July 2005. (…) http://www.icbl.org/
Afghanistan to vaccinate 7 million children for polio
September 2 (UN Wire) - The Afghan Health Ministry, backed by UNICEF and the WHO, next week plans to launch a polio vaccination drive reaching 7 million children. Four new cases of the crippling disease have been reported in Afghanistan so far this year, but UNICEF says, "The localised nature of the cases -- all have been discovered in the southern border provinces -- indicates that Afghanistan is winning the battle against the indigenous virus thanks to a massive drive that has seen millions of children vaccinated each year in every community in the country."
More than 16,000 teams of vaccinators and monitors will move from house to house in every community in an effort to ensure that all children are reached over the three day period from 5 to 7 September.
Indonesia Launches country's largest-ever immunization campaign to tackle expanding polio epidemic
24 million children to be immunized to prevent outbreak from spreading across Asia
New York/Geneva, 29 August - To combat Indonesia's largest recorded polio epidemic, which now threatens a broad swath of countries across Asia, on 30 August, 24 million children will be immunized during the country's largest-ever mass immunization campaign.
Since March, 225 children have been paralysed, due to a poliovirus imported into the country earlier this year. Initially restricted to two provinces on Java island (Banten and West Java provinces), the outbreak is geographically expanding, recently infecting the country's capital Jakarta, as well as Sumatra and Central Java. (…)
On 30 and 31 August, more than 750,000 vaccinators, health workers and volunteers, will go house-to-house and work at vaccination booths across Indonesia to reach more than 24 million children under the age of five years. With more than 6,000 inhabited islands across the country, reaching every child will be a challenge. The Indonesian authorities are working with hundreds of NGOs on the ground, and have established a network of more than 500 mobile vaccination teams to ensure that children travelling through transit points, such as train stations, bus stations, airports and harbours, are not missed.
The polio eradication partnership is urgently scaling-up both technical and financial assistance to the Indonesia authorities. Leading the civil society sector charge is Rotary International, which has raised more than US$600 million for polio eradication since 1985. (…)
Donation of three million treatments of oseltamivir to WHO will help early response to an emerging influenza pandemic
24 August - Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes Roche's donation of three million treatment courses of the antiviral oseltamivir to a WHO international antiviral stockpile. WHO would use this stockpile to respond quickly to an emerging influenza pandemic.
As part of its work to prepare for, detect and mitigate the impact of an influenza pandemic, WHO is creating an international stockpile of antiviral drugs for rapid response at the start of a pandemic. In an agreement signed today, Roche has committed to providing three million treatment courses (30 million capsules) of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) to WHO, which would be dispatched to people in greatest need at the site of an emerging influenza pandemic.
Oseltamivir could help to reduce illness and death, and when combined with other measures, could potentially contain an emerging pandemic virus or slow its national and international spread. If it reaches the site of an outbreak quickly, an antiviral stockpile could especially help people in poorer countries. (…)
$5 Million worth of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals will reach internally displaced people in northern Darfur.
Washington, August 22 – "The scale of the tragedy in Sudan is almost too huge to comprehend, but we all have to do our best," said the head of a private development agency. Dispatching his organization's team to Darfur, Lelei LeLaulu, president of Counterpart International, said Counterpart would start airlifting over US$5 million dollars worth of pharmaceuticals and hospital supplies to the African nation. Counterpart will also set up warehouses and logistical networks in partnership with Relief International and other humanitarian and development organizations. "A lot of people horrified by recent events in Sudan want to help and we plan to be ready to receive additional contributions," said LeLaulu. (…)
Set up in 1965, Counterpart is a non-profit humanitarian and development organization with projects it operates directly or with partners in more than 60 countries.
Major report stresses natural resources as path out of poverty
London and Washington, D.C., August 31 -- A report that challenges conventional approaches is released today at a critical moment in the battle against poverty. The report, World Resources 2005: The Wealth of the Poor: Managing Ecosystems to Fight Poverty, stresses the urgent need to look beyond aid projects, debt relief and trade reform and focus on local natural resources to address the crisis of poverty in all parts of the globe. (…) The report finds that environmental organizations have not addressed poverty and development groups have not considered the environment enough in the past. The model presented in the report details how natural resources -- soils, forests, water, fisheries - managed at the local level are frequently the most effective means for the world's rural poor people to create wealth for themselves.
Dozens of case studies detailed within World Resources 2005 demonstrate how local stewardship of nature can be a powerful means of fighting poverty. Control over restoring 700,000 local acres of denuded forests and grazing lands was given by the Tanzanian government to the Sukuma people and they now have higher household incomes, better diets, as well as increased populations of tree, bird and mammal species. Ucunivanua villagers in Fiji were given control by the government of clam beds and coastal waters, and because of local restrictions placed on fishing, mangrove lobster and harvestable clam populations have increased dramatically. In India, community control over the watershed has led to a nearly six-fold increase in the cash value of crops grown in Darewadi Village. (…)
Black rhinos in South Africa airlifted to new home
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, 1 September - Four black rhinos have been airlifted out of wilderness areas in South Africa’s Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal to form part of a founder population of about 20 animals for the WWF/ Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Black Rhino Range Expansion Project. The project aims to boost numbers of the critically endangered species by increasing the land available for their conservation, and reducing pressure on existing reserves and providing new territory in which they can breed quicker.
Black rhinos (Diceros bicornis minor), which used to be the most numerous rhino species in the world, became critically endangered following a catastrophic poaching wave in the 1970s and 1980s which wiped out 96 per cent of Africa's wild black rhino population in just 20 years. At the lowest point, there were just 2,500 black rhino left.
Thanks to intensive protection efforts by organizations like WWF and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, that number has gradually increased to around 3,600. (…)
Free pc game on environment in 26 languages
Copenhagen, 25 August - Gamers all over Europe can now play a pc game and learn about the environment at the same time. The European Environment Agency in Copenhagen has launched the Honoloko pc game in 26 languages. The game is available on the internet and free to use.
Honoloko is designed as a board game. While moving around on an island, the player is continuously asked questions concerning his or her environmental behaviour. Points are awarded depending on the choices made by the player. The game is targeted at the age range 8 to 12. The objective is to raise awareness and promote a change in behaviour. (…)
The Honoloko game is available in the official EU languages plus Bulgarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Romanian, Russian and Turkish. It was developed jointly by the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe and the European Environment Agency. (…)
Science and religion explored
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, 2 September (BWNS) -- The relationship between science and religion was explored at the 29th annual Association for Baha'i Studies conference, which took place here on the 11-14 August 2005. Attended by some 1,300 people, the conference explored everything from the role of inspiration in scientific discovery to the value of prayer in healing. Presentations ranged over the gamut of natural and social sciences, from neuroscience to quantum mechanics, from philosophy to psychology.
More than 100 speakers presented during the course of the four-day event. Participants came mainly from the United States and Canada but also traveled from Australia, Austria, Chile, China, France, Gabon, Germany, Haiti, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Sudan, and the United Kingdom. The conference was organized by the Association for Baha'i Studies--North America, one of 26 sister organizations around the world that provide forums for scholars and students to exchange ideas inspired by Baha'i principles.
Most presentations focused on this year's conference theme, "Science, Religion and Social Transformation." The Baha'i sacred writings explicitly uphold the underlying harmony of science and religion, and many scholars sought to show how these two systems are increasingly seen as complementary sides of the same reality. (…)
United Religions Initiative-MENA Regional Conference, Amman 26 – 29 September 2005
The United Religions Initiative is a global interfaith dialogue network, which is committed to daily enduring interfaith cooperation. The history of URI-MENA goes back almost ten years ago, during which Middle Eastern and North African religious activists, from Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Druze backgrounds, have conducted many interfaith activities to promote mutual understanding and peace in the region, to deepen and share their religious and spiritual experience and to communicate their everyday life, and a global human agenda, through their shared interfaith experience.
This year the theme of the conference will be “Charity”, a concept that invites the meeting of the spiritual, the social and the economic and questions the notion of ownership rights. How, in different histories, different regions and different religious backgrounds, charity has been socially and economically institutionalized and regulated? (…) URI-MENA Coordinators:
Civil Society Voices for Peace, Partnership and Renewal to be Heard at the 58th Annual DPI/NGO Conference, 7 – 9 September 2005
A week before the 2005 World Summit, more then 2,000 Non-governmental Organization (NGO) representatives and other civil society partners from over 80 countries are expected to voice their views on implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), peace and security, human rights and strengthening the United Nations. They will meet from 7-9 September 2005 at United Nations Headquarters in New York, during the 58th Annual DPI/NGO Conference entitled Our Challenge: Voices for Peace, Partnerships and Renewal. The three-day gathering of NGOs is organized by the Department of Public Information in cooperation with associated NGOs. (…)
The Conference aims to raise public awareness of the Secretary-General’s report In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All, which outlines the agenda for the 2005 World Summit. Civil society perspective on peace and security, development, human rights and United Nations reform will be the focus of the Conference. (…)
In addition to seven plenary sessions and three roundtables, there will be thirty Midday Interactive Workshops sponsored by NGO partnerships and coalitions from around the world with participation by governments, intergovernmental organizations and civil society representatives. The themes of the workshops will focus on four clusters of the Secretary-General’s Report: Freedom from Want (two sessions), Freedom from Fear, Freedom to Live in Dignity, and Strengthening the United Nations. The Conference will also provide thematic networking sessions for NGO representatives. Other initiatives include media and exhibition projects that will explore NGO voices in implementing the 2005 World Summit agenda. (…) For further information on the 58th Annual DPI/NGO Conference, please visit http://unngodpiconference.org/
Czech National Library to receive UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize, awarded for the first time this year
31 August - The National Library of the Czech Republic will be awarded the first UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize in recognition of its contribution to the preservation and accessibility of documentary heritage on September 2. The prize giving ceremony will take place in Cheongju in the Republic of Korea. The National Library was selected from a short-list of seven, out of a total of 36, nominations to receive the US$30,000 prize, funded by the city of Cheongju. (…)
The prize commemorates the inscription on the Memory of the World Register of the oldest known book of movable metal print in the world, the Buljo jikji simche yojeol. Printed in two volumes in Korea in 1377 A.D., The Jikji contains the essentials of Zen Buddhism. The first volume of the work is missing and the second is kept in the Bibliothèque nationale of France. (…)
Created in 2004, the UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize is given biennially to individuals or organizations that have made significant contribution to the preservation and accessibility of documentary heritage. It is awarded in an official ceremony either in Paris or in the Republic of Korea on the occasion of the Jikji Day.
“Chasing the Dream” Youth Photo Exhibit, New York, 12 August-28 October
United Nations, New York, 12 August - At a press conference held at United Nations Headquarters in New York, two young people, whose work is featured in the photo exhibit “Chasing the Dream: Youth Faces of the Millennium Development Goals” spoke of their experiences overcoming poverty, HIV/AIDS, stigma and isolation. The exhibit, which opened today, features photos that correspond with each of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The eight young photographers, each armed with cheap, disposable cameras, detailed lives lead amid poverty and want in such diverse settings as Brazil, Cambodia, India, Jamaica, Uganda, Morocco, Ukraine and the Kyangwali refugee camp located in Northern Uganda. (…)
Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, gave the floor to UNFPA youth adviser Kakenya Ntaya to speak in her stead, because, she maintained, “youth should have a chance to speak for themselves”.
“Today the world has the largest number of young people in world history. Fully half of the world’s population is below the age of 25,” said Ms Ntaya, “It is simply not an option to put the needs and rights of young people on hold or at the end of a list of seemingly more pressing priorities.” (…)
2nd Annual GlobalMind Change Forum - September 23-25
A Positive and Sustainable Future through Business
The second annual Global MindChange Forum sponsored by the World Business Academy will take place at the Fess Parker Resort in Santa Barbara California. This year's Forum will reveal and support opportunities which will enable business leaders to create business, societal, and personal prosperity as a response to a world increasingly beset by budget and trade deficits, ethical lapses, rising interest rates, escalating oil prices, and international turmoil.
Featured speakers at the Global Mindchange Forum will be Ray Anderson, Chairman , Interface, Inc.; leading advocate of Mind/Body Medicine, Deepak Chopra; Economist Hazel Henderson Ph.D; Jeffery Hollender, President and CEO of Seventh Generation; and George Zimmer, CEO of the Men’s Wearhouse which has again made Fortune’s 100 best companies to work for in 2005.
This year the Humanitarian Award is being presented to Dr. Robert Muller, cofounder of the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica. For 40 years, Robert worked behind the scenes at the United Nations in support of world peace and happiness. He ultimately achieved the post of assistant secretary general. In honor of the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Robert’s book, Most of all They Taught Me Happiness, is being republished. Conference speaker, Deepak Chopra, author of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success says: “Robert shows how to bring ourselves to our highest bliss.” Visit www.RobertMuller.org for more information.
International Understanding Through Education in the United World Colleges (UWC)
Through international education, experience and community service, United World Colleges enables young people to become responsible citizens, politically and environmentally aware, and committed to the ideals of peace and justice, understanding and cooperation, and the implementation of these ideals through action and personal example. - UWC Mission Statement, www.uwc.org
“The extraordinary experience I live everyday at the United World College of the Adriatic, one of the ten colleges which are located all around the world, is an experience that goes further than people can imagine. Living here I have experienced what brotherhood is, regardless of gender, race, creed and culture. This year I met two hundred students of eighty-six different countries and we have learnt to live together sharing everything, our ideals and different believes, all we are. Once a week a “focus” is presented by two or more people about their coutries, about economic and political problems or about a specific interesting topic. Moreover, “international weeks” take place through exciting presentation, games, poetry, music, art and food testing section. Every day we have the chance to change our mind becomig citizens of the world. That experience made a very strong impact on my life, now I look at the world’s future as to one humanity and I want to improve myself so as to give my contribution in the changing the world. I have also had the opportunity to start working in the social service with disable people for the first time in my life, sharing with them the real meaning of love. I could not be happier of the reality I am living. I hope more and more people will know about this school. Step by step humanity is really going further on.” (Giulia Sardo, 17 years old, 1st year - Cagliari, Italy, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Exchange your ideas on the Web: do it on a new site, on many topics
A new Web site, ideasfree.org, invites people to share their ideas. The founder, Sam Butler, had the idea after talking with Robert Muller, former Chancellor of the U.N. Supported University for Peace in Costa Rica. Sharing of ideas is the most intangible yet effective way to promote a new way of thinking, a new culture, a new opportunity of expressing altruism thru the many ways of solidarity. Current categories include solutions for day to day life, like ideas for inventors and ideas for a movie, to the more idealistic, like ideas for contributing to and sustaining a peaceful society, to the more ethical and philosophical, like ideas for unity in diversity and cosmic unity.
Butler’s not-for-profit objective is to provide a forum where people can offer their ideas to the world. “Have you ever thought about giving an idea away free to the world?” he asks on his site. “Maybe you have an idea that could be useful to others, and you don't have the time and/or resources to develop it or to follow through the many things that would have to be done to bring it before the world." But, he adds, "Maybe if you give away an idea free, you will be rewarded in some unforeseen way.”
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AN INTERVIEW WITH FEDERICO MAYOR
by Sergio Tripi
Former UNESCO Director General Federico Mayor is President of the Fundación Cultura de Paz. The Foundation has just completed a global survey which “is being sent to the UN Secretary-General for transmission to the General Assembly and its debate this fall at the midterm of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. This survey provides the first comprehensive view of the progress of the global movement for a culture of peace, since it was called for in 1999 by United Nations Resolution A/53/243 ”.
The report shows that “The advance of the culture of peace comes despite almost total neglect from the mass media, according to most accounts from all regions. … “It is generally agreed that systems of information exchange need to be greatly expanded in the second half of the Decade. Important initiatives are already underway, including those described in reports from the Good News Agency, the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, the Peace Research Information Unit Bonn, the Danish Peace Academy, Education for Peace Globalnet and the International Coalition for the Decade…”
1. The ideal of peace has greatly evolved in the last thirty years: from the concept of the impossibility of a victor in a world war, clearly expressed by the Olaf Palme Commission on Disarmament and Security, to the strongly inclusive concept based on unity in diversity of the civil society of today. Do you think that the new values which are now emerging indicate an ethical, concrete and far-sighted ideal of peace, or a utopistic one?
F.M. - The new values, as adopted by the United Nations in the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace and Non-violence, are an ethical, concrete and far-sighted ideal of peace, and at the same time, a utopian vision in the best sense of the term. Great historical changes are always preceded by utopian visions. Many ‘impossibles’ yesterday are realities today. We are fortunate, as we enter the 21st Century, that the United Nations is able to play a role in providing us with such a vision, especially since the UN provides a universality that cannot be obtained in any other way. The Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace and Non-violence is a worthy supplement to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Like the Declaration of Human Rights, the UN cannot implement a culture of peace by itself, but must rely on the mobilization of state and non-governmental actors. For this reason, it is important that the UN has called for a global movement for a culture of peace, bringing all of these actors together around a common agenda.
2. The key element for a change which can no longer be delayed is the will to share. At the end of the nineteen-seventies, the North-South Commission, led by Willy Brandt, indicated to the world that the real enemies of man – hunger, illness and illiteracy – could be completely defeated if the developed countries decided to assign 0.7 percent of their GDP to the developing countries. This objective is now being energetically reproposed. Do you think that today there are better conditions which would make it possible to realize it completely within an acceptable time?
F.M. - Hunger, illness and illiteracy are solvable, but only on the basis of political as well as economic reforms. Too often development aid has been provided in a way that increases dependency and even exploitation. I have devoted a great deal of my energy in recent years to efforts for structural reform of international institutions in this regard. For example, the issues examined at last year's UBUNTU forum included United Nations funding, the decision-making processes of the international institutions and the link between the UN, the Bretton Woods institutions (World Bank and International Monetary Fund) and the World Trade Organisation. Changes are needed in international law and in the concept of national sovereignty, as well as greater democratisation. World economic and trade policies need to be brought into line with human rights and employment.
3. The complexity of the problems and the scarcity of allocated resources make one think that the commitments made in Johannesburg on the Millennium Objectives for 2015 cannot be easily achieved only by institutions. In the light of the research on the culture of peace, just concluded by the Foundation of which you are the President, do you think that the reference framework expressed indicates that civil society is playing its part adequately?
F.M. - The findings of our recent survey of civil society initiatives for a culture of peace have shown that civil society is far more active that usually realized. Its efforts are largely unrecognized by the commercial media, as well as under-estimated by academics and by the United Nations itself. No doubt, the civil society can (and will) do more, but we must begin by understanding what is already underway. Our survey is incomplete and, as indicated by the summary document, "in view of the failure of the mass media to provide news of the culture of peace, it is generally agreed that systems of information exchange need to be greatly expanded in the second half of the Decade".
4. In the Foundation’s research, among the suggestions to the UN, the following one is included under Sustainable Development: “The attainment of a Culture of Peace … can only be realized side by side with meaningful Poverty Alleviation at grassroots community levels. Our advice, therefore, is that as Peace and Poverty Alleviation are so intertwined, these two must be carried in an innovative manner by the UN System.” In your view, what could be an innovative and effective manner?
F.M. - The key is democratisation. The Manifesto of the "World Campaign for In-Depth Reform of the System of International institutions" calls for " Democratic governance to help resolve the grave problems and challenges facing the world.
- The eradication of poverty and the promotion of a more equitable development model based on solidarity and full respect for cultural, natural and gender diversity.
- World peace and security, embracing human and environmental security, based on justice and freedom.
- Mechanisms enabling the worlds' citizens and civil society organisations to be directly represented and to take part in global decision-making processes.
The pursuit of these goals requires a stronger, more democratic UN, placed at the centre of a consistent, democratic, responsible, effective system of international institutions. More specifically, we need to democratise the composition and decision-making procedures of UN bodies to ensure that they operate effectively and democratically, and to reform and integrate all other global multilateral organisations (IMF, WB, WTO, etc.) into these bodies."
5. It is increasingly evident that public opinion and the young constitute the two major factors to work on in order to make the changes necessary for the diffusion of a culture peace. In the ‘old continent’, your survey indicates that “organizations for the culture of peace are growing in Europe… the leadership comes from civil society : education for a culture of peace has been systematically introduced into school systems in France, Greece, Spain, and in all teachers' training in Sweden.” Do you think that an increased evidence of public opinion’s appreciation for a culture of peace will accelerate understanding and commitment on the part of young people?
F.M. - Certainly, public opinion is an important factor, and for that the media is key, as we are emphasizing for the second half of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace. But that is not enough, and we must have specific approaches that engage young people. For example, this October at the United Nations the Fundación Cultura de Paz is co-sponsoring two weeks of Youth Advocacy for the Culture of Peace at the United Nations. We need to specifically engage young people at every step of our plans.
6. Public opinion is leaping strongly into the foreground as a real element which can ask for and obtain the necessary changes for the construction of a solid culture of peace. To use a scientific analogy which is dear to me, do you that that we are near to reaching – as the human race – that ‘critical mass’ which is able to produce the necessary changes for expressing a culture of peace?
F.M. - Yes, we agree that in the final analysis history is made by the people. I like to dream that the 21st century will be, at last, the century of peoples!.
7. In 2001, the second Forum of the Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome underlined that “the modern system of the mass media is living an unprecedented crisis which prevents it from giving to the people of the planet a correct and true picture of the situation”. The Foundation’s global survey just concluded indicates that “sharing of information is essential to development of the global movement… especially in view of the failure of the mass media to provide news of the culture of peace”.
Do you think that an ethical code of the media, of which our Good News Agency is a promoter, a code which underlines the responsibility of the media in the information and balanced formation 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?
F.M. - Unrestricted freedom of expression – “free flow of ideas through word and image” - goes together with unrestricted access to free information and balanced. The media must play a key role in the develop of human consciousness, I have read the Ethical Code of the Media that you have prepared and agree to be a signatory. I am struck by the phrase that there should be a variety of news which mirrors the components of reality, because I think of the commercial media in much of the world today as a distorting mirror. If we look at ourselves on the images of the television screens, we often see faces that are distorted by arrogance, fear and hatred. Hands are shown holding pistols and guns. We don't see ourselves as we really are. It's like the distorting mirrors in the carnival shows.
8. Apart from the ethical implications, what is the most important and urgent element to address in order to establish the proper ground for the building of a culture of peace: protection of security through the fight against terrorism, or reduction of the ever increasing and alarming gap between rich and poor countries?
F.M. - Of course we need participatory democracy, physical security and alternatives to overcome terrorism, but that is not enough. Humanity has the opportunity to change the culture of war and violence, which has been dominant in most societies since the dawn of civilization, to a new culture, a culture of peace and non-violence. Such a transformation will change the nature of relationships in every aspect of our lives, from the family to the state, from the local community to the world community of nations.
9. After the G8 meeting in Scotland in July and in a world which seeks to reduce the great danger of pollution, how much does the protracted lack of a signature by the US of the Kyoto protocol weaken this global effort?
F.M. - The G8 - ‘We, the powerful’ - cannot substitute for the UN - “We, the peoples”- because they are a shortsighted ‘interest-driven’ group. The world needs today an urgent shift in its present trends, guided by a permanent attention to the succeeding generations. It’s inadmissible that the leader country has not supported the Kyoto Protocol and not signed the Convention of the Rights of the children particularly when it was a US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt who mainly built up the United Nations System. However, it is the responsibility of each one of us, of each organization, of each country to begin the transformation toward a culture of peace and non-violence. We cannot allow any single country or empire to dictate the terms of our common future.
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Next issue: 30th September.
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Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to over 3,700 editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in 48 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA, and it is also available in its web site: http://www.goodnewsagency.org
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.
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