Good News Agency – Year VI, n° 6



Weekly - Year VI, number 6 – 22 April 2005

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 3,700 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 in the web site



International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education

State of the World 2005 - Introduction by Mikhail S. Gorbachev



International legislation



New convention against nuclear terrorism bolsters global framework

14 April - The international treaty against nuclear terrorism adopted by the United Nations General Assembly this week bolters the global legal framework to counter terrorist threats, including cooperation with the IAEA. The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism opens for signature in September this year.

The Convention is a key part of global efforts to prevent terrorists from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction, the use of which could lead to catastrophic consequences. Based on an instrument originally proposed by the Russian Federation in 1998, the Convention provides for a definition of acts of nuclear terrorism and covers a broad range of possible targets, including those against nuclear power plants and nuclear reactors. Under its provisions, the alleged offenders must be either extradited or prosecuted. It also encourages States to cooperate in preventing terrorist attacks by sharing information and assisting each other in connection with criminal investigations and extradition proceedings. The treaty requires that any seized nuclear or radiological material is held in accordance with IAEA safeguards, and handled in regard to the IAEA´s health, safety and physical protection standards.

The Convention´s adoption, after many years of negotiations, is a "vital step forward in multilateral efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism," said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The IAEA recently held a nuclear security conference in London that renewed global efforts through IAEA and other programmes to combat nuclear terrorism and raise levels of nuclear security. See Story Resources for more information.


Israeli and Palestinian Trade Union Centres Meet to Develop Cooperation Agreement

Brussels, 14 April 2005 (ICFTU Online). At a meeting in Brussels today organised by the ICFTU, Shaher Sae'd, General Secretary of the the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) and Amir Peretz, Chairperson of the Israeli trade union centre Histadrut, discussed a series of key issues facing the trade union movements in Israel and Palestine and agreed to move forward quickly on finalising a joint cooperation agreement between the two organisations. Key issues for the agreement include access for Palestinian workers to employment in Israel, relief funds for Palestinian workers and their families, action to prevent and resolve cases of exploitation of Palestinian workers, implementation of a March 1995 Cooperation Framework, and perspectives for future cooperation between the two organisations.

The two organisations reiterated their commitment to the “Road Map” for the achievement of a comprehensive peace between Israel and Palestine, based on the existence of two sovereign, independent and viable states, and plan in the near future to adopt a formal Cooperation Agreement following further consultations within their respective structures. (…)



Human rights



UN-ESCWA launches report on “Arab Women: Beijing + 10” in Lebanon

22 April 2005- The ESCWA Center for Women, will launch its flagship report entitled “Arab Women: Beijing+10”on Friday 22nd of April . The report documents the most important achievements of Arab women and highlights the obstacles and challenges they have faced in the ten years following the Beijing Conference.

It recommends a regional framework to overcome these obstacles and challenges in the next decade based on the Beirut Declaration on Arab Women launched last July at the conclusion of the Arab regional conference “Ten Years after Beijing: Call for Peace” and organized by UN-ESCWA. The report was launched during the 5th Conference of the National Council for Egyptian Women held in Cairo from 14 to 16 March 2005.


UNICEF praises Armenian progress towards a protective environment for all children

Yerevan, 13 April - UNICEF has hailed Armenia’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour.  Both were signed by President Kocharyan today after being cleared by the Armenian National Assembly on 21 March 2005.(…) 

The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict raises the minimum age for direct participation in hostilities to 18 years from the minimum age of 15 years specified in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  It also raises the age of mandatory recruitment to the armed forces from 15 to 18 and the minimum age for voluntary recruitment to 15 years. (…) UNICEF estimates that 250 million children worldwide are engaged in child labour. Many are working in horrific conditions, working in mines, working with chemicals and pesticides and working with dangerous machinery. (…)

Armenia is the 154th country to ratify ILO Convention 182. (…)


Third Arab Human Development Report called “Courageous and Impartial”

Amman, Jordan, 5 April - The third Arab Human Development Report, calling for greater freedom and good governance in the Arab world, was welcomed at a launch ceremony here today by Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher and Prince Turki Ben Talal Ben Abdul Aziz, president of the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations, along with other dignitaries and officials. (…) The Arab Human Development Report 2004, the third of a four-part series, was written by an independent group of leading Arab scholars and intellectuals, and was sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme together with the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development and the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND). The authors call for urgent and sweeping political reforms throughout the Arab world. (…)

Noting that the first two Arab Human Development Reports had stimulated discussions on change, AGFUND President Prince Turki Ben Talal Ben Abdul Aziz said he believed the new Report would generate “controversial discussions and badly needed dialogue” on freedom and good governance--“the issue of the hour.”(…)


Armenia: Drawing competition on the theme of humanitarian law

Astghik Margaryan is a seventh-grade pupil at the Yerevan Public Art School. She is among 10 winners of a drawing competition held by the ICRC on the theme of international humanitarian law. Over 100 schoolchildren from all over Armenia took part in the competition.

On 8 April the winners gathered at the training centre of the Armenian Red Cross Society, where their drawings had been exhibited. "The topics of the competition were so fascinating that we felt happy just to participate," said Astghik on receiving her award.

The drawings were based on topics included in the ICRC's My Little Planet and Man to Man textbooks for pupils in the fifth and seventh grades respectively. Each year 120,000 schoolchildren study the textbooks as part of a course on Armenian literature. Efforts to teach Armenian schoolchildren the basic rules of humanitarian law are part of a joint project launched by the ICRC and the Ministry of Education and Science in 1996.



Economy and development



Call to move women fromfFringes to centre of North African economies

Tangier, 15 April - A gender workshop in Tangier, Morocco, has called for moving women from the fringes of the economy to the centre. The two-day meeting, held from 11 to 12 April and convened by ECA’s North Africa office, brought together experts from seven North African countries around the theme: “Women: Source of Wealth and Opportunities”.

Participants stressed the need for decision-makers to mainstream female concerns in economic and social policies so that woman can become the “creators of wealth and jobs”.

“Women need to move from the fringes of the economy (micro-credit and micro-enterprises) to the centre of the economy, where most of the resources are to be found,” they said. The experts – drawn from diverse sectors such as government, academia, civil society, international organizations and the private sector – came up with a set of recommendations to boost women’s opportunities, particularly in traditional knowledge, social services, and information technology. The meeting enabled them to share experiences in creating women’s employment.

The workshop was organized in collaboration with UNIDO, UNFPA, UNDP/Morocco and UNDP/Tunisia in preparation for an inter-governmental committee of experts due to meet in Tangier this month.


Benefits and risks of globalized livestock markets

Committee on Agriculture discusses the impact of globalization on livestock production

Rome, 13 April - Globalized livestock markets can increase national income and improve nutrition, but they are also posing potential risks to livelihoods, human health and the environment. The livestock sector, traditionally based on local production and consumption, supports the livelihoods of an estimated 600 million rural poor, FAO said in a report submitted to the agency's Committee on Agriculture, meeting in Rome from 13-16 April 2005. Meat production in developing countries has grown by 230 percent and milk production by 200 percent since the early 1980s. Population growth and higher incomes have both contributed to rising demand. By 2030, FAO estimates, the developing world will consume almost two-thirds of the global milk and meat supply, compared to just one-third 25 years ago. (…)

The benefits globalized markets are offering to producers, traders, processors, suppliers, retailers and consumers are: new employment opportunities, increased income, direct cost savings and an increased choice of products, FAO said. Consumers will also benefit from more competition, reduced prices and an increase in product quality due to higher food standards. (…)  Globalized markets are typically riskier for producers, FAO said, since the entire market can close down with the outbreak of a disease or the discovery of a quality problem. (…) Another concern in developing countries is the pollution of soil and water caused by waste from commercial livestock units. (…)

The FAO Committee on Agriculture, which meets every two years, will also discuss Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and FAO's Strategy for a Safe and Nutritious Food Supply.


Governing Council breathes new strength into UN-HABITAT

Nairobi, Kenya, 13 April  The new budget represents an increase of close to 60 percent on the previous US$ 50.5 million budget for 2004-2005 approved two years earlier at the 19th session of the Governing Council, which itself was double the budget approved by the 17th Session.
More than 800 delegates from 92 member countries of the United Nations, including 48 Member States of the agency’s Governing Council, attended the conference which meets every two years to set UN-HABITAT’s budget and work programme for the next biennium. The meeting also drew 39 representatives of Local Governments and their organizations, officials of 92 Non-Governmental Organizations, as well attendance from the private sector and other UN and international organizations(…)
It affirmed the importance of sustainable relief interventions in post conflict, natural and human-made disasters. Other positive outcomes included gender mainstreaming and youth involvement, as demonstrated by the UN-HABITAT Youth Forum and Women’s Caucus in Nairobi, and the adopted resolutions on gender equality and youth in human settlements development. It also agreed to a European Union proposal on developing a medium-term strategic and institutional plan that will also contribute to both the strengthening and visibility of UN-HABITAT.

The plan will take into account the evaluation of the Habitat Programme Managers, and show evidence of their impact on further enhancing the performance of UN-HABITAT.(…)


EARTH CHARTER+5  - Amsterdam, Netherlands, 7-9 November 2005

A major Earth Charter gathering will take place at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, five years after the launch of the Earth Charter. This event is being made possible by the collaboration of the Earth Charter International Secretariat, the Netherlands National Committee for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development (NCDO), the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), and Plan Netherlands.

In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of the Earth Charter Initiative, Earth Charter+5 will have the following general objectives:

1. To assess the impact of the Earth Charter Initiative and its strengths and weaknesses

2. To set goals, priorities, and strategies for the future

3. To plan a realistic fundraising strategy

4. To create an appropriate governance structure for the future

5. To provide Earth Charter organizers and activists an opportunity to share experiences and learn from each other.

6. To generate increased public awareness, build new partnerships, and strengthen commitment to the goals of the ECI.


Whole foods shareholders applaud company's new policy to label genetically engineered foods

Boston, MA, USA, April - Prompted by a shareholder resolution, Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI) announced yesterday a new policy of labeling its private label foods to indicate that they are not sourced from genetically engineered seed. The proponents of shareholder proposal congratulated the company yesterday. The resolution called for labeling of Whole Foods’ private label products with respect of genetically engineered ingredients. The change was announced at Whole Foods’ annual stockholder meeting in New York City.

In October 2001, Whole Foods and Wild Oats (NASDAQ: OATS) simultaneously announced that their private label brands’ ingredients would be sourced exclusively from non-genetically engineered seed. This information has not been conveyed on product labels or packaging, however, where consumers are most likely to seek information about ingredients. This prompted a group of Whole Foods shareholders to begin pressing for explicit product labels that state that genetically engineered foods were deliberately avoided. (…)






New contribution assures Japan’s continued support to Tajikistan

Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 14 April - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a cash contribution of US$950,000 (JPY100 million) from the Japanese Government to assist vulnerable and food insecure households in Tajikistan.

This donation, approved by the Japanese cabinet on 18 March 2005, is part of an aid package of US$19 million from the Japanese Government to assist refugees, internally displaced persons and victims of natural disasters and poverty in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). (…)

The donation comes at a crucial moment for WFP’s operations in Tajikistan, which is ranked as one of the poorest countries in Central Asia. Funding shortfalls are forcing WFP to suspend its general food distribution to 200,000 beneficiaries, and to scale down other activities by almost 80 percent to concentrate scarce resources on school feeding, nutrition and health activities. The funds will be used to buy 2,172 metric tons of fortified wheat flour from Kazakhstan, contributing to the regional economy.

Historically, Japan has been one of WFP’s top donors. In 2004, it gave US$136 million (approximately JPY14 billion). In Tajikistan, Japan is the second largest donor to WFP. (…)


Clinton says successful tsunami reconstruction could serve as a model for future crises

New York, 13 April - Former United States President Bill Clinton, stepping into his new role as special envoy to lead UN tsunami recovery operations, said that a successful UN tsunami reconstruction effort could serve as a model for rebuilding in other stricken areas recovering from future crises.

“No one could be possibly be better qualified for this task than President Clinton,” said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as he introduced the special envoy. As the effects of the tragedy have largely faded from front pages and the nightly news, he said, it is “vitally important that we have someone with vision and commitment to ensure that, this time, the international community really does follow through and support the people and the transition from immediate relief to longer-term development.”

Recovering from a recent heart operation, Clinton said he would devote “whatever time it takes” and, as a first priority, work to ensure that donor funds are spent effectively, responsibly, and in a transparent manner. (…)


CARE responds to recent Indonesia quake

Simeulue, Indonesia, April 8 - In the aftermath of Sumatra, Indonesia's most recent earthquake on March 28, CARE continues to coordinate with local and international partners to distribute food, water purification kits, tents, blankets, soap, jerry cans, basic medicines and other necessities to help thousands of survivors in the hardest hit areas.

CARE staff has assessed the situation in seven hardest-hit villages (…) In response, CARE is moving forward with the following activities: unloading and distributing a 300 metric ton shipment of food from the World Food Program in Sinabang; distributing 362 tents, 1 metric ton of rice, 176 jerry cans and a generator in Sinabang; coordinating the delivery of 5000 family kits, 5000 hygiene kits and 2000 jerry cans for water; sending 1000 family hygiene kits, 648 jerry cans and 149 tarps to Simeulue; distributing plastic sheeting and other non-food items: 1000 sleeping mats, 500 hygiene kits, tents, buckets and jerry cans, provided by UNICEF and CONCERN; Pooling non-food items with Save the Children and Cordaid for distribution to various areas; meeting with World Food Program to coordinate blanket distribution for Simeulue over the next two weeks.


IOCC assistance going to Kosovo communities in need

Baltimore, 8 April - Living in certain parts of Kosovo is a daily struggle – one that doesn’t get any easier with time. Six years since the NATO bombing campaign, and a year since the renewed violence against minority communities in Kosovo, residents there continue to suffer from a lack of security, mobility, services and, in some cases, proper shelter. This despite the efforts of the international community to help all ethnic groups in Kosovo coexist and build opportunities for reconciliation, stability and prosperity in the troubled province.

International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is responding to the nutritional and hygiene needs of minority communities in Kosovo through a new project that will provide more than 1,000 families with food and hygiene parcels and support the operations of a soup kitchen in Prekovac.

IOCC has identified the Pomoravlje region and the Gnjilane, Novo Brdo, Vitina, Pristina and Gracanica enclaves as the most vulnerable areas because they host many displaced people. Within these enclaves, IOCC will provide assistance to people living in 10 isolated villages.

Working through the local partner “Majka 9 Jugovica,” IOCC will provide a one-month supply of supplementary food and hygiene items to 1,000 families of all ethnic groups living in private accommodations, as well as families staying in a shelter in Gracanica. (…)


Global chemical giant BASF responds to UN-HABITAT Tsunami appeal

Nairobi, Kenya, 6 April – Global chemical giant BASF on Wednesday signed a partnership with UN-HABITAT which will see it contribute immensely to the agency’s work in tsunami hit areas of Sri Lanka.

Under the agreement signed at the Gigiri headquarters of UN-HABITAT, BASF will provide approximately US$ 500,000 plus support in kind by providing technical personnel.

UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka formalized the first private sector partnership with BASF which took place on the sidelines of the ongoing 20th Session of UN-HABITAT’s Governing Council meeting. She said the partnership would help the agency improve livability and quality of life for those persons hardest hit by the devastating effects of the recent tsunami in the Indian Ocean region. (…)


ADRA assists flood survivors in Brazil

Silver Spring, Maryland, April 5—The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is providing disaster relief to 3,525 people affected by the recent flooding in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. ADRA is distributing mattresses, water filters, and medical support to families with the greatest need. The project, valued at $12,850 is funded by ADRA International, ADRA South America, and ADRA Bahia. ADRA Bahia also collaborated with two local organizations to provide a mobile clinic.

The flooding took place on February 16, when excessive rain pounded Salvador City, causing landslides, property losses, and an increased risk of disease from unclean water in both rural and urban areas.


Japanese youth donations exceed four million dollars

Vienna, 4 April (UN Information Service) -- A group of six high school students selected as this year’s Young Civic Ambassadors by Japan’s Drug Abuse Prevention Centre (DAPC) today presented to Sumru Noyan, Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), their latest contribution of US$185,000. Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, UNODC, also met the young ambassadors and praised DAPC for their continuous support, which has surpassed US$4 million over the last 11 years. (…)

Since 1994, DAPC has been raising funds for anti-drug efforts, and each year six to eight of the most active participants are labeled Young Civic Ambassadors and come to Vienna to present their contribution to UNODC.  DAPC plans to continue this fund-raising campaign in support of the goals set by the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem. (…)

DAPC’s contribution to UNODC is used for supporting NGOs in developing countries by providing grants ranging from US$5,000 to US$20,000. More than 300 grants have been awarded to NGOs in over 90 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe in grass-roots activities for drug abuse prevention.


Caritas responds immediately to Sumatra earthquake

Rome, 30 March – Caritas Internationalis coordinator for Tsunami response programmes in Indonesia, Jonathan Evans, reports that “the loss of life on Nias Island, off the west coast of Sumatra, is up to 500 with over 20,000 people displaced. There is severe damage to many homes and buildings in and around the capital city Gunungsitole.” (…)

Caritas agencies have been working in Sumatra with Tsunami-affected communities since the devastation from the earthquake of 26 December 2004. “We have 125 staff in Banda Aceh at the moment and we have the infrastructure in place to respond immediately with programmes of assistance to the islands of Nias and Simeulue, the two closest to Monday’s earthquake”, Evans reported from his coordination office in Medan.

The Caritas Internationalis Confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations is present in over 200 countries and territories. In Sumatra, Caritas works with local Church officials from the Archdiocese of Medan, the KWI Crisis Center, Perdhaki, and others. (…)


Helen Keller International receives $550,000 grant from The Nippon Foundation to combat river blindness

New York, March 30  – Helen Keller International (HKI) has signed a $550,000 grant agreement with The Nippon Foundation to combat onchocerciasis (river blindness) in Africa.  The Nippon Foundation, a Japanese organization that supports international programs to help people achieve a healthy life, awarded the grant to HKI's project called “Enhancing Community-Directed Treatment with Ivermectin for Sustainable Control of Onchocerciasis in Africa.”  The project promotes onchocerciasis control and prevention activities in three highly onchocerciasis-endemic African countries – Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria. The goal is to build sustainable programs and models that will contribute to the elimination of onchocerciasis as a public health problem in those three countries and throughout Africa.

In Africa, onchocerciasis is the second leading infectious cause of blindness, and, in some countries, the leading cause.  120 million people are at risk of the disease, of which 96% live in Africa, and about 18 million people are already infected, 99% of them living in Africa.  Onchocerciasis is transmitted by the bite of the black fly, and the serious eye and skin manifestations of the disease are highly debilitating. (…)

The Nippon Foundation’s steadfast commitment to abolishing this disease has allowed HKI to make steady progress and substantive contributions towards the development of sustainable and effective programs.  This most recent grant will help HKI achieve the goal of eliminating the pain, suffering, and loss of productivity caused by onchocerciasis.


Netherlands: Walking for Water, children raise funds for school sanitation projects

Over 3,000 primary school children in all parts of the Netherlands are participating in Walking for Water, organised by the Dutch NGO Aqua for All in the week of World Water Day to raise funds for water and sanitation projects in developing countries. The organisers expect to raise EUR 94,000 for the projects: EUR 58,000 by the children and the remainder through contributions from municipalities, water companies and other NGOs. Most of the projects that are being supported are aimed at providing water and sanitation facilities for schools especially in Africa.

Aqua for All, The Netherlands,

Source Weekly,



Peace and security



Bahrain must back ban on landmines!

By Sylvie Brigot <> .

Friday 15 April 2005 - From 10 to 13 April, International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) met with Bahraini officials and civil society members and participated in a training for journalists from the Gulf on the Mine Ban Convention organised by Protection and the Bahrain Human Rights Society.

“Bahrain must back ban on landmines” said a Gulf Daily News article published the day before the opening event of a 3 day course for journalists on the Mine Ban Treaty and International Humanitarian Law. The training was organised by the Bahraini Human Rights Society (BHRS), in collaboration with Protection and with the financial support of Canada. “The objective is to make the media in the Gulf aware of the importance of the treaty” said Mr Issa Al Ghayeb, a board member of the BHRS to the Gulf Daily News.

A total of 33 participants attended from Bahrain, Egypt, France, Gambia, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE and USA to discuss the Convention and the International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, how to organise a media campaign on landmines, the role of Civil Society in the landmine ban, including Landmine Monitor. (…)


UNODC assists Central Asian States, Afghanistan, Mongolia and the Russian Federation in fight against terrorism

Vienna, 11 April (UN Information Service) -- Experts from five Central Asian States -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan -- discussed how to develop international cooperation to prevent terrorism with their counterparts in Afghanistan, Mongolia and the Russian Federation, at a workshop in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on 5 to 7 April. The workshop was organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in collaboration with the Government of Uzbekistan, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

During the workshop, participants reviewed legislative requirements emanating from the 12 universal legal instruments against terrorism and studied the extent to which their respective domestic penal laws matched the standards set by these instruments and by the counter-terrorism resolution of the United Nations Security Council, resolution 1373 (2001). Participants agreed to expedite the drafting or amending of their respective countries’ domestic legislations in view of the requirements of these standards. (…)

The workshop was supported by a generous contribution from the Austrian Government.


Liberia/Sierra Leone: Former Liberian fighters and their families go home

Freetown, Sierra Leone, 4 April – Some 400 former Liberian fighters began returning home today from internment in Sierra Leone’s Mape and Mafanta Camps. Their families are currently staying in refugee camps in Sierra Leone, and will follow them in the next few weeks.

The terms of release and repatriation are governed by a recent memorandum of understanding between Liberia and Sierra Leone, for which the ICRC provided legal support and advice on international humanitarian law. The ICRC has extensive experience of repatriation activities. Working closely with the authorities of both countries, ICRC teams in Sierra Leone and Liberia will ensure that people are only repatriated voluntarily and in a safe and dignified manner.

The operation, which is likely to last several weeks, will end a unique situation regarding the internment of foreign fighters in west Africa. After fleeing the civil war in Liberia, these former fighters had been interned in Mape and Mafanta Camps, set up by the Government of Sierra Leone in 2002 and 2003. The ICRC has been monitoring their living conditions, providing them with safe water and other assistance and facilitating contact between them and their families.


Poland: Future eurocrats learn about the ICBL and the role of NGOs

By Katarzyna Derlicka <> .

Poland, Warsaw, 1 April - On March 31 the Polish Campaign To Ban Landmines (CBL) took part in the 'NGO Information Evening' organised at the College of Europe in Natolin, Warsaw. The aim of the event was to present to the college' students the nongovernmental sector as one of their potential carrier opportunities, as well as to educate future eurocrats about the NGOs' role and work.

The College of Europe is one of two colleges sponsored by the European Commission, which main purpose is to educate and prepare students from all over Europe to be professional staff for EU institutions.There were several other Ngos present, such as the Polish Humanitarian Action, the Red Cross, as well as the OSCE. The evening was attended by about 60 students. The Polish CBL presented the goals, history and work of the global Campaign and made available at its stand information materials and cards, which called on the Polish Prime Minister to ratify the MBT immediately and which were signed by the students.


Preventing War –  Creating Perspectives for Peace – Portugal, 15 May – 11 June 2005

International Meeting for Peace Workers on the Experiment "Monte Cerro" in Tamera

In May we would like to present the meaning and the goal of the experiment "Monte Cerro" and the plan of the Healing Biotopes as part of a global strategy for peace, and create a fix cooperation axle with you even if we work on different places with different focuses. We would like to support the ecological, technological and social, political and spiritual healing and peacework to work together more efficiently and direct their activities by the common basic ideas. Artists, musicians, IT experts and authors are also welcome. (…)

Further Information and Application:






Ministry of Health and UNICEF mobilize 1,500 scouts to inform about Marburg

Luanda, 15 April – Tomorrow, 1,500 scouts mobilized by the Ministry of Health with the support of UNICEF, will go around Luanda informing its inhabitants of the Marburg hemorrhagic fever.

“We are still at a stage where providing well targeted information could change the course of the epidemic and avoid it from spreading,” said Mario Ferrari, UNICEF Representative in Luanda. “The population has to be aware of the dangers and know what to do if they come across a suspected case. Equally important is that people develop an attitude of collaboration with the medical and surveillance teams.”

A total of 23 groups composed of 40 to over 100 scouts will circulate around the city centre of Luanda, Cacuaco and Viana as of 8:30 tomorrow morning. They will stand at strategic points such as traffic lights and important cross roads distributing brochures containing critical information on what the epidemic is, how it spreads and what can be done to avoid becoming infected. The youngsters will also pay door to door visits in different neighbourhoods and, in the afternoon, they will cover the most popular beaches to ensure they reach a maximum of people. On Sunday, the volunteers will also distribute information at the Luanda football stadium.

It is expected that, only in Luanda, around half a million persons will be reached through this information rally carried out by the scouts.  A second Marburg information round will take place next week-end. (…)


Life-saving program for slum kids and mothers extended

Counterpart continues to save precious infant lives across the urban slums of Gujarat State in India thanks to a four year extension of funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

15 April - A much-lauded child survival and maternal health program run by Counterpart International will continue saving precious infant lives across the urban slums of Gujarat State in India thanks to a four year extension of funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The new USAID funding will strengthen and extend the Jeevan Daan (Gift of Life) Child and Maternal Health Program until 2009.

"With this funding, Counterpart will be able to improve the health of more than 350,000 beneficiaries – almost 90,000 children under five years and some 120,000 women of reproductive age through community participation," said Darshana Vyas, Counterpart's Director of Health and Child Survival Programs.

This program, which has reached more than 133,000 beneficiaries since it began in 2000, aims to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates sustainably through improved caregiver practices and increased access to quality care. It promotes healthy behavioral practices through social behavioral change, training, and community mobilization, and creates awareness of vital health issues to those who live in the urban slum areas of Ahmedabad, India. (…)


Integrate universal access to reproductive health into world development strategies, strengthen links between HIV/AIDS and reproductive health, UN members stress

UNFPA welcomes decisions as triumph for world’s women, families

United Nations, New York, 14 April - Members of the United Nations have emphasized the need to integrate the goal of universal access to reproductive health by 2015 in strategies to attain the world’s development goals. Such access, they resolved, should be part of efforts to eradicate poverty, improve maternal health, reduce infant and child deaths, promote gender equality and combat HIV/AIDS.

United Nations Members included these decisions in resolutions they adopted today as they concluded the 2005 session of the Commission on Population and Development. Two main resolutions covered population, HIV/AIDS and poverty, as well as the contribution of the Programme of Action of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) to the world’s development goals, including those in the Millennium Declaration. (…)

In order to fight AIDS cost-effectively, the countries emphasized, it was necessary to strengthen linkages and coordination between HIV/AIDS and reproductive health and include them in national development and poverty eradication plans. This would make anti-HIV/AIDS efforts more relevant and reduce the infection’s impact on families and communities, they added. (…)


Rotary praises Salk for discovering the first polio vaccine while emphasizing the need to eliminate the disease worldwide

Evanston, IL, USA, 12 April - As today marks the 50 th anniversary of the declaration of Dr. Jonas Salk’s vaccine as safe and effective, Rotary members worldwide praise this achievement, which helped lay the groundwork for the current effort to eradicate polio worldwide. The Salk vaccine, together with the oral polio vaccine developed later by Dr. Albert Sabin, opened the door to an organized, scientific assault on this paralyzing and sometimes fatal disease. As a result, polio quickly vanished from the developed world. (…)

In 1985, when polio infected an estimated 350,000 children in 125 countries, Rotary launched its flagship PolioPlus program, which aims to achieve a polio-free world for all children. In the following two decades, Rotary and its global partners at the World Health Organization, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF slashed polio cases by 99 percent with 1,263 cases reported all year in 2004. Today, there are six polio-endemic countries including Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Niger, Afghanistan and Egypt - and five countries where transmission has been re-established in the Sudan, Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Chad and Burkina Faso. To date, over one million Rotary members have volunteered their time and personal resources to help immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries against polio. By the time the world is certified polio-free, Rotary’s contributions to the global polio eradication effort will exceed US$600 million.

In addition to raising and contributing funds, Rotary has provided an army of volunteers to promote and assist during national immunization campaigns. Rotary members assist with vaccine delivery, social mobilization, and administer the oral polio vaccine to children.


UNICEF hails Clinton Foundation plan for children with AIDS

10,000 children in developing countries to receive AIDS treatment in 2005

New York, 11 April – UNICEF today praised a Clinton Foundation plan that will significantly increase the number of children receiving life-prolonging antiretroviral (arv) drugs specifically formulated for them. (…) The plan calls for treating 10,000 HIV-positive children in 2005, and includes an agreement with CIPLA, an India-based pharmaceutical company to supply pediatric AIDS drugs at less than half current market rates. Pediatric medicines have already been ordered for China, the Dominican Republic, Lesotho, Rwanda and Tanzania, with treatment set to begin as early as May in China.  An additional five countries are to be added during 2005. Together with UNICEF and partners, the Foundation expects to be treating up to 60,000 children by 2006.

In most developing countries, challenges to providing treatment for children with AIDS include lack of facilities and technologies for early diagnosis of HIV in children, poor health infrastructure and systems, insufficient trained health personnel and the absence of appropriate pediatric ARV formulations. Where treatments are available cost has been prohibitive, with pediatric formulations costing up to five times as much as ARV drugs for adults, in part because suppliers do not have large enough orders.(…)


Stakes remain high in drive to wipe out polio in Africa

23 countries race to halt the spread of the virus before the high-transmission season starts

Dakar/Nairobi, 8 April – With the polio virus’ high-transmission season just months away, african countries are redoubling their efforts this week to reach 100 million children in the second of a series of three immunization drives scheduled for 2005. This second round, from 9-12 april, aims to contain the epidemic before the virus begins to spread most rapidly in the july to september high season.

The stakes remain high across the continent. The Horn of Africa is under siege following the re-infection of Ethiopia in January by polio spreading from Sudan.  Ethiopia, polio-free since 2001, has just completed its first-round national immunization campaign.  It hopes to stop the spread of the virus within its own borders and safeguard vulnerable neighbours such as Somalia and Djibouti. And in West Africa, Mali has become the sixth formerly polio-free country to have officially re-established polio transmission, while Nigeria has recorded a worrying 32 cases in the first three months of the year (half of all cases globally).

Despite the challenges, the UN agencies and Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners Rotary International and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are cautiously optimistic about the prospects for this round.(…) Africa accounts for 75% (48 of 64) of polio cases reported worldwide in 2005. The frontline of the virus on the continent has expanded, with polio spreading to 14 countries, in comparison with only 3 in 2002, and virus reported as far afield as Saudi Arabia.  In many countries, low childhood immunization rates compounded by civil unrest and population movement, has made stopping the virus hard. (…) But funding is becoming a critical concern. To continue to finance the 2005 rounds, US $75 million is needed by July. A further US $200 million will be needed to support activities in 2006. (…)


Uganda: ICRC organizes war-surgery seminar.

8 April - A war-surgery seminar held by the ICRC from 5 to 7 April was attended by 14 surgeons and other doctors and clinical and orthopaedic personnel from government, missionary and military hospitals in the Gulu, Pader and Kitgum districts of northern Uganda.

Because the conflict in northern Uganda has severely disrupted the delivery of health-care services, the ICRC has been providing medicines and other medical supplies for six hospitals in the area and for health-care centres in camps for displaced people. The seminar was organized to raise the standard of treatment for war-wounded people by improving surgery techniques. The topics covered included first aid, resuscitation, treatment of thoracic and bone trauma and of landmine injuries, transport of patients and issues of international humanitarian law.

The hospital personnel taking part treated over 2,000 people between January 2004 and the end of February. The ICRC transfers for specialized treatment an average of 18 people every month from various camps to the hospitals it is supporting in the area.


MSF welcomes news of new combination drug to treat malaria 

Paris, 8 April - Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) welcomes DNDi (Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative) and Sanofi-Aventis' joint announcement of a new product for treatment of malaria. The product, combining in a single pill artesunate (a derivative of artemisinin) and amodiaquine, should be available to patients in 2006. Artemisinin-based combination therapies, or ACTs, are the most effective treatments for malaria.

Non-patented, user-friendly and low-cost, the new formulation is a step forward for treating malaria patients. It will be the first project to be completed by DNDi, a not-for-profit foundation created in 2003 at Médecins Sans Frontières's initiative. The new formulation is particularly attractive for three key reasons: User-friendliness: the new product will only require patients to take one pill (combining artesunate and amodiaquine) twice a day for three days, whereas existing ACTs for adults consist of 24 pills. (…) No patent: the new combination will not be covered by any patent. This means that any generic producer is allowed to make a similar product. (…) Price: set at US$1 per adult per treatment course and at US$0.50 per child, the new product is clearly cheaper than existing ACTs. (…)

MSF treats approximately one million people for malaria every year in nearly 40 countries around the world and has been advocating for ACTs since 2002.


Media leaders to create global health multimedia event

"Rx for Survival" documentary on PBS joins with CARE and other organizations to add outreach

Boston, United States, April 7 - WGBH Boston and Vulcan Productions, in partnership with PBS, TIME magazine and The Penguin Press, today announced Rx for Survival — A Global Health Challenge, an unprecedented multimedia project that will inform Americans about key issues in global health. In addition, humanitarian organizations CARE, Save the Children and UNICEF, with the Global Health Council, will create an outreach campaign to benefit children, who are most vulnerable to preventable yet deadly diseases in the developing world.

This extensive media coverage will uniquely focus Americans’ attention on global health through a series of special reports this fall. Funding for Rx for Survival is provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Merck Company Foundation. (…)

The cornerstone of the project is a six-hour, primetime PBS television series filmed in more than 20 countries around the world, including the United States. Co-produced by the WGBH/NOVA Science Unit and Vulcan Productions, the series highlights public health breakthroughs and interventions that have more than doubled life expectancy in developed countries within the past century. The series also explores how lack of access to these basic interventions leaves many impoverished countries plagued by preventable diseases. As well, the series looks at the effort to deliver vaccines and medicines where they are most needed. Rx for Survival airs November 1-3 at 9 p.m. EST on PBS. (…)


Integrate universal access to reproductive health into world development strategies, strengthen links between HIV/AIDS and reproductive health, UN members stress

UNFPA welcomes decisions as triumph for world’s women, families

United Nations, New York, 14 April - Members of the United Nations have emphasized the need to integrate the goal of universal access to reproductive health by 2015 in strategies to attain the world’s development goals. Such access, they resolved, should be part of efforts to eradicate poverty, improve maternal health, reduce infant and child deaths, promote gender equality and combat HIV/AIDS.

United Nations Members included these decisions in resolutions they adopted today as they concluded the 2005 session of the Commission on Population and Development. Two main resolutions covered population, HIV/AIDS and poverty, as well as the contribution of the Programme of Action of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) to the world’s development goals, including those in the Millennium Declaration. (…)

In order to fight AIDS cost-effectively, the countries emphasized, it was necessary to strengthen linkages and coordination between HIV/AIDS and reproductive health and include them in national development and poverty eradication plans. This would make anti-HIV/AIDS efforts more relevant and reduce the infection’s impact on families and communities, they added. (…)


Helen Keller International receives $12 million grant from CIDA to reduce child mortality

New York, March 29 – Helen Keller International (HKI) has signed a $12 million grant with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).  The purpose of the grant is to reduce under-five mortality by ensuring high and sustained vitamin A supplementation (VAS) coverage as the cornerstone of a low-cost, high-impact package of child survival interventions.  Effective vitamin A supplementation has the potential to reduce mortality rates in children aged six to 59 months by an estimated 25%. In sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated that over 42% of children are at risk of vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and that controlling VAD will prevent over 645,000 deaths per year.  CIDA is one of the major enablers of VAS worldwide. 

HKI has decided to use its funds from CIDA to target nine African countries: Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Madagascar, Mozambique, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe.  The grant will be carried out over three years in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).  HKI and UNICEF are recognized leaders in advancing the right of children to survival, nutrition, and health, and have placed integrated VAD control at the center of these efforts. (…)



Energy and safety



Bioenergy, key to the fight against hunger

Two billion people lack access to sustainable energy services

Rome, 14 April - Agriculture and forestry could become leading sources of bioenergy, a key element in achieving two of the UN Millenium Development Goals: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and ensuring environmental sustainability, according to FAO.

In a paper presented to the nineteenth session of its Committee on Agriculture meeting here (13-16 April), FAO recalls that around two billion people, mostly living in rural areas of developing countries, are still without electricity or other modern energy services.

Increased use of bioenergy can help diversify agricultural and forestry activities and improve food security, while contributing to sustainable development, the paper says. Bioenergy is produced from biofuels (solid fuels, biogas, liquid fuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel) which come from crops such as sugar cane and beet, maize and energy grass or from fuelwood, charcoal, agricultural wastes and by-products, forestry residues, livestock manure, and others.

Biomass is a locally available energy source that can provide for heat and power. It contributes to the substitution of imported fossil fuels, thus enhancing national energy security, reducing the import bill of petroleum products and alleviating poverty.

FAO assists member countries in their interest to convert biomass into energy and set up national strategies and programmes. (…)


Solar panels light up rural Nepal

Tapethok, Nepal, 6 Apr – A solar lighting system has been installed for villagers in north-east Nepal, thanks to efforts by WWF.

WWF Nepal, together with the Kadoorie Agricultural Aid Association, coordinated the distribution of solar panels to 193 households in the village of Tapehthok, which lies within the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area.

The majority of the rural poor living in the more remote parts of the country still depend on kerosene lamps. For those who can’t afford kerosene, they collect pinewood to burn.

“The solar lighting system has not only enabled us to work late but also help our children to do homework at night,” said Bishnu Kumari Limbu, one of the villagers who received a solar panel. “Now there is also no discomfort from the burning wood and kerosene smoke.”

The aim of the solar lighting system project is to encourage local people living in the conservation area to use alternative energy and to reduce biotic pressure on the surrounding forests. The solar panels have been provided to the poorest households of the area who are largely dependent on forest resources for energy. (…)


Foundation stone laid for energy resource and training centre

Second hydro-power generator inaugurated in Subang District, West Java

4 April (United Nations Information Services Bangkok -The foundation stone for the first Pro-Poor Public Private Partnership (5P) Resource and Training Centre was laid today in Cinta Mekar, Subang District, West Java, by UNESCAP Executive Secretary Mr. Kim Hak-Su and the Indonesian State Minister of Cooperative And Small and Medium Enterprises, H.E. Mr. Suryadharma Ali. Earlier in the day Mr. Kim switched on a second generator at the UNESCAP-sponsored hydro-power plant in Cinta Mekar.

The Cinta Mekar Micro Hydro-Power Plant, initiated in 2003 to promote rural electrification in a sustainable way, is the brainchild of the Bangkok-based UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). It brings together partnerships among the private sector, national and local governments, and the local community.

Mr. Kim noted that the training facility was the first of its kind for 5P in the world. "The model developed and tested in Cinta Mekar has already positioned itself as one of the success cases for further replication in Indonesia and elsewhere in the region," he said. "Now it is time to share this model widely in Indonesia and other countries of the Asian and Pacific region."

Co financed by a private company, Hidropiranti Inti Bakti Swadaya (HIBS), and a local rural cooperative, Cinta Mekar, with support from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, the plant generates electricity that is sold at a profitable price to the state-run National Electricity Corporation (PLN). Each month the power plant generates about 54,000 kWh of electricity, with a gross monthly income of approximately Indonesian Rupiah 31 million (US$3,300). The revenues are shared equally between the community and the private sector. (…)


Indian Environmental Organisation wins 2005 Stockholm Water Prize

Stockholm, March 22 – The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in New Delhi, an influential Indian non-governmental organisation led by Ms. Sunita Narain, a dynamic advocate for water, environment, human rights, democracy and health, will receive the 2005 Stockholm Water Prize. The award has been given to CSE for its efforts to build a new paradigm of water management, which uses the traditional wisdom of rainwater harvesting and advocates the role of communities in managing their local water systems. (…)

CSE will receive the $150,000 Prize from HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in August. The Stockholm Water Prize is awarded annually to individuals and institutions for their outstanding contributions to the world of water. (…) CSE’s work, through its many publications, its research and advocacy has helped create new thinking on how traditional systems of water management, which use rainwater endowment, once rejuvenated could become the starting point for the removal of rural poverty in many part of the world.

Source: - Source Weekly,


New device extracts humidity from air to produce drinking water

German company Aqua-society has developed a device, called Aquamission, which extracts humidity from the air by condensation to produce drinking water. The device draws in large quantities of air, chill it to the point of condensation, and collects the water in a tank where it is filtered and mineralised. According to the manufacturer, in hot regions with high humidity, a single machine can produce up to 1,000 litres of water per day, enough for the daily needs of 300 people. US company Vapaire [], produces a similar type of device. India may prove to be a lucrative market for these devices, since it announced that it is cutting import duty on 'atmospheric drinking water generators' from 20 per cent to 5 per cent.

Based on same principle of condensation, the less sophisticated technology of fog collection has been tested in developing countries for nearly 20 years.


Source Weekly,



Environment and wildlife



Commission and EEA win award for informing the public on industrial pollution

Copenhagen, 15 April - Last night the European Commission and the European Environment Agency (EEA) won an award for best new electronic information source for the publication of the European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER). EPER is the first Europe-wide register of industrial emissions into air and water and was launched in February 2004. It makes detailed information on pollution from around 10,000 large industrial facilities in the EU and Norway publicly accessible on the internet for the first time. The European Information Association awarded EPER first place in its Electronic Sources Category, recognising it as the best of a large number of electronic publications, databases and websites produced at European level in 2004. (…)

EPER 2004, the European Pollutant Emission Register, is the first Europe-wide register of emissions into air and water from large and medium-sized industrial installations, including pig and poultry factory farms. It covers 50 different pollutantsand comprises data from the 15 ‘older’ EU Member States as well as Norway and Hungary, which participate on a voluntary basis. The EPER website is hosted by the EEA in Copenhagen. In close cooperation with the Commission, the EEA has managed the process of collecting the data for EPER from the countries and has been involved in the design and development of the website.

Since its launch the EPER website, has registered 230,000 visits. (…)


Judge Orders Measures to Protect Public Health in La Oroya Peru

American-owned smelter has poisoned nearly everyone

Lima, Peru, 14 April -- A Lima civil court has ordered the Peruvian Ministry of Health and the General Directorate for Environmental Health to take steps to alleviate a public health crisis in La Oroya, a city where the Doe Run company of Missouri operates a multi-metal smelter.

La Oroya is a city of 30,000 located high in the Peruvian Andes. The smelter operated by Doe Run emits large amounts of toxic heavy metals and sulfur dioxide into the environs of the city. The contamination is so severe that a recent study by the company and health authorities showed that 99.9 percent of the children in the neighborhood closest to the smelter had blood lead levels that exceed acceptable levels. This study did not examine the blood lead levels of children more than six years old, nor did it evaluate residents of the other neighborhoods in the city, all of which are also highly contaminated.

The court’s decision resolves a lawsuit filed by the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (SPDA). The ruling, issued after more than two years of litigation, declares that government authorities have failed to comply with the National General Health Law, the National Air and Environmental Quality Standards, and a Supreme Decree regarding declaring States of Emergency in cases of contamination. (…)


UNEP names seven "Champions Of The Earth"

New environmental award recognizes outstanding and innovative leaders

Nairobi, 12 April 2005 - The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has named seven leaders in the field of the environment as Champions of the Earth for “setting an example for the world to follow.”

The awards – for outstanding environmental achievers and leaders from each region of the world – will be presented on Tuesday 19 April at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to:

• The King and people of Bhutan;

• Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates (posthumously);

• President Thabo Mbeki and the people of South Africa;

• His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew;

• Julia Carabias Lillo, former environment minister of Mexico;

• Sheila Watt-Cloutier of Canada, President of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference; and

• Zhou Qiang and the All-China Youth Federation.


Saving coconuts in Southeast Asia and Pacific islands

Biological pest control enlists natural enemy to combat coconut beetle

Bangkok, 12 April - A tiny parasitic wasp may help save the coconut industries of a number of countries in the Asia and Pacific region from a destructive pest that feeds on the developing leaves of the coconut palm, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.

Severe attacks by the coconut hispine beetle (Brontispa longissima Gestro) can destroy palm leaves and significantly reduce coconut yields. If a palm is young or suffers from poor growing conditions, it may die.

The beetle has invaded coconut plantations in the Maldives, Nauru, Thailand, Viet Nam, the Lao's People's Democratic Republic and China, causing massive losses to local coconut industries. In response, FAO has launched biological control projects in all the affected countries aimed at achieving long-term control of the pest with the help of one of its natural enemies. (…)


Bird flu: North Korea appeals for assistance

FAO and OIE are ready to extend their support

Paris, 8 April - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has formally appealed to the international community for assistance in its fight against Avian Influenza (AI), according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and FAO. North Korea's official appeal was made public at an international conference on bird flu that ended in Paris today, jointly organised by OIE/FAO, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).

Around 300 key veterinary experts and scientists met to discuss the current scientific information on bird flu and to address different aspects of disease surveillance and control strategies. (…)

OIE and FAO announced the launch of the New Worldwide Avian Influenza Network (OFFLU) which will improve the collaboration between reference laboratories specialised on AI in animals, coordinated by OIE and FAO and laboratory networks focusing on human influenza coordinated by WHO. (...)



Religion and spirituality



The Unity-and-Diversity World Council (UDC) celebrates its 40th anniversary

You are cordially invited to participate as fully as possible in the three major events the UDC is planning for its 40th anniversary year, as well as in its ongoing programs and projects.  The three major events are as follows:

(1)   Leadership Convergence.  On Saturday, June 25th, an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. convergence event will take place at the Davidson Conference Center on the campus of the University of Southern California.  Invited are leaders of nonprofit organizations and businesses, as well as individuals who are in leadership roles in the community of Southern California and beyond.  

(2)   Festival Of Faith.  A tradition began in 1955, at the 10th anniversary of the United Nations, of holding a Festival of Faith in support of the U.N. (…)  This year a Festival of Faith based on the same idea will be held at the Los Angeles Baha'i Center, 5755 Rodeo Rd. (corner of La Cienega) on Sunday, June 26th, from 3 to 5 p.m.  It will include prayer and meditation, as well as resolutions, from about twelve faiths. (…)

(3)   Peace Sunday.  The annual tradition of Peace Sunday as a highlight of the Holy Day Season in December will be given a special focus for these two anniversaries.  (…)  -



Culture and education



Norway provides major boost to education in Madagascar

Antananarivo, Madagascar, 15 April - At a signing ceremony yesterday in the presence of the Ministry of Education and UNICEF, the Government of Norway donated US$ 6 million to UNICEF to improve the quality of primary schooling in this country. These funds, which will be provided over the course of three years (US$ 2 million a year from 2005-2007) will ensure that the 3.3 million children who are currently enrolled in primary school (as well as those who start school in the years to come), will have an improved education. (…)

UNICEF will use the Norwegian funds this year to train 25,000 teachers in improved teaching methods, to provide 1.5 million first and second graders with school textbooks and to ensure that all the country’s 111 school districts are able to monitor and evaluate the education situation in their areas to create an environment for competency based learning.

Education is a key priority for both UNICEF and the Government of Madagascar. While net primary enrollment rates have increased to 82% in recent years, only 39 out of 100 students complete the primary cycle. In addition, the country has one of the highest repetition rates in the world, with close to 30% of all children repeating a class. UNICEF has been working with the Ministry of Education and its partners since 2002 to put in place a system that will improve the quality of primary education. (…)


Australia: NTEU says indigenous employment in higher education on the rise

15 April – Education International-affiliate, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) today announced that there has been a significant rise in the number of Indigenous staff employed in Higher Education between 2001 and 2004. Data provided by the Department of Education Science and Training (DEST) indicates that there was a 24% increase in Indigenous staff numbers between 2001 and 2004, whereas non-Indigenous staff numbers increased by 11% for the same period.

The most marked change in Indigenous staff numbers occurred between 2003 and 2004 in which the number of Indigenous staff increased by almost double that of the previous years increase. NTEU research indicates that in 2001, just 0.6% of all staff in higher education were Indigenous Australians, which was well below the equity benchmark of 2.2%. (…)

The annual NTEU National Indigenous Members' Forum to be held 23rd & 24 th April 2005 will bring together Indigenous NTEU Members, who will also be asked to consider additional recommendations to support existing Indigenous staff conditions and to further increase the number of Indigenous staff overall.


Space branch of Chinese Science Academy joins UNESCO’s World Heritage Preservation

April 14 - China has signed an agreement to join UNESCO in the Open Initiative on the Use of Space Technology in Support of the World Heritage Convention. The signing - by Guo Huadong, Deputy Secretary-General of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Director of its Joint Laboratory for Remote Sensing Archaeology, and Marcio Barbosa, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO – took place at Organization Headquarters on April 13. (…)

Through the agreement, China will share its extensive expertise and know-how within the framework of the Open Initiative, which UNESCO and European Space Agency (ESA) launched in October 2001. The Initiative aims to provide satellite images and expertise in space-supported conservation to developing countries, helping them monitor natural and cultural World Heritage sites. It also provides for the development of countries’ capacities in this area.

Since China launched its first manned space flight in October 2003, it has demonstrated considerable expertise in the scientific exploration of space. Satellite technology is invaluable in observing Earth and monitoring changes there, including those caused by human activity.   (…)


Training Teachers to Address HIV/AIDS

Large-scale nationwide programmes that are working

13 April - An independent evaluation of the Teachers’ Training Programme on HIV/AIDS prevention substantiates the well-grounded and significant impact of the programme run by Education International in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Education Development Center (EDC). Launched in 2001, the EI/WHO/EDC programme has trained 134.445 teachers in over 22.000 schools in 17 countries badly affected by the pandemic.  The programme is designed to train teachers to use interactive teaching and learning methods and provides them with the skills to: 1) protect themselves, 2) advocate for HIV prevention in their schools, and 3) teach students to avoid HIV infection.

The evaluation analysis undertaken at the end of 2004 by Dr Eric Pevzner, University of North Carolina, USA and commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was based on the data collected from three of the 17 countries involved in the programme, namely South Africa, Rwanda and Senegal. In addition, the report includes findings from several focus group consultations with teachers from EI’s member organisations in Zambia, Malawi and Botswana (…)

The report also emphasises that the success of the programme lies in the strong partnerships developed between teachers’ unions, ministries of education and health and relevant community organisations and NGO’s involved in HIV/AIDS prevention.

In conclusion, the EI/WHO/EDC Teachers’ Training Programme on HIV/AIDS Prevention is regarded as a commendable example that should be expanded to many other countries.


WFP launches “Foos Force”- The first humanitarian video game

WFP unveils a children's video game with a difference - teaching kids how to get food fast to the site of a humanitarian crisis.

Bologna, 12 April 2005 - Three months after the United Nations launched its largest ever relief operation in response to the tsunami disaster, WFP has introduced a video game to teach children about the logistical challenges of delivering food aid in a major humanitarian crisis. Set on a fictitious island called Sheylan riven by drought and war, Food Force invites children to complete six virtual missions that reflect real-life obstacles faced by WFP in its emergency responses both to the tsunami and other hunger crises around the world. With tens of thousands of Sheylan’s residents displaced and in urgent need of food aid, players are required to pilot helicopters on reconnaissance missions, airdrop high energy biscuits to internally displaced person (IDP) camps, negotiate with armed rebels on a food convoy run and use food aid to help rebuild villages. (…)
WFP has also launched a special web site so kids from around the world can compete online for the highest score. (…)


ICAF e.V. wins EU's COMENIUS as a partner for the Third Arts Olympiad in Europe!

April 05, 2005 - COMENIUS, part of the EU's SOCRATES program, is a European cooperation which supports a wide range of activities in the field of school education. As ICAF's partner, COMENIUS will announce the Third Arts Olympiad in 32 countries in Europe and will arrange funding for the European child finalists to Munich for the European Children's Festival, in June 2006. The overall objectives of COMENIUS are to enhance the quality and reinforce the European dimension of school education, by encouraging transnational cooperation between schools, contributing to the improved professional development of staff directly involved in the school education sector, and promoting the learning of languages and intercultural awareness.

COMENIUS focuses on the first phase of education, from pre-school and primary to secondary school, and it is addressed to all members of the education community in the broad (…)

The International Child Art Foundation is a nonprofit organization that prepares children for a creative and cooperative future so they can lead us into a safer and better world. ICAF's headquarters are in Washington, DC and its European office is in Munich.


The Maximo T. Kalaw Jr. Earth Charter Award – 7-9 November 2005

The Earth Charter Initiative is pleased to announce a new Earth Charter award, which will be presented for the first time during Earth Charter+5, a celebration of the first five years since the official launch of the Earth Charter. This Award has been named to honor the memory of Juni Kalaw, the former Executive Director of the Earth Council, and to recognize his vision and legacy in motivating and mobilizing widespread participation by individuals and organizations in building a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.

Projects that have occurred between 2000 and 2005 will be considered for recognition. Submissions may be made by individuals or organizations, and projects can be local, regional, or international in scope. Submissions should demonstrate outstanding work done with the Earth Charter in accomplishing one of the following goals of the Earth Charter Initiative:

o To promote the dissemination, endorsement, and implementation the Earth Charter by civil society, business, and government.

o To encourage and support the educational use of the Earth Charter in schools, universities, faith communities, and other settings.



* * * * * * *


by Mikhail S. Gorbachev



This text has been written by the Green Cross International Chairman for the introduction to the State of the World 2005 and it has been published by World Watch Institute.


Five years ago, all 191 United Nations member states pledged to meet eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015, including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and ensuring environmental sustainability. These critical challenges were reaffirmed by health officials from across the globe in October 2004 at the tenth anniversary of the landmark International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo. The overarching conclusion from this 2004 meeting was that while considerable, albeit erratic, progress was indeed being made in many areas, any optimism must be tempered with the realization that gains in overall global socioeconomic development, security, and sustainability do not reflect the reality on the ground in many parts of the world. Poverty continues to undermine progress in many areas. Diseases such as HIV/AIDS are on the rise, creating public health time bombs in numerous countries. In the last five years, some 20 million children have died of preventable waterborne diseases, and hundreds of millions of people continue to live with the daily misery and squalor associated with the lack of clean drinking water and adequate sanitation.

We must recognize these shameful global disparities and begin to address them seriously. I am delighted that the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Wangari Maathai, a woman whose personal efforts, leadership, and practical community work in Kenya and Africa inspire us all by demonstrating the real progress that can be made in addressing environmental security and sustainable development challenges where people have the courage to make a difference.

Humankind has a unique opportunity to make the twenty-first century one of peace and security. Yet the many possibilities opened up to us by the end of the cold war appear to have been partially squandered already. Where has the "peace dividend" gone that we worked so hard for? Why have regional conflict and terrorism become so dominant in today's world? And why have we not made more progress on the Millennium Development Goals? The terrible tragedies of September 11, 2001, the 2004 terrorist attacks in Beslan in Russia, and the many other terrorist incidents over the past decade in Japan, Indonesia, the Middle East, Europe, and elsewhere have all driven home the fact that we are not adequately prepared to deal with new threats. But better preparation means thinking more holistically, not just in traditional cold war terms.

I believe that today the world faces three interrelated challenges: the challenge of security, including the risks associated with weapons of mass destruction and terrorism; the challenge of poverty and underdevelopment; and the challenge of environmental sustainability.

The challenge of security must be addressed by first securing and destroying the world's arsenals of weapons of mass destruction. Both Russia and the United States have taken numerous positive steps in this direction. But we must accelerate these nonproliferation and demilitarization efforts and establish threat-reduction programs around the world if we are to be truly successful.

The world's industrial nations must also commit greater resources to the poorest countries and regions of the globe. Official development assistance from the top industrial countries still represents but a tiny percentage of their gross national products and does not come close to the pledges made over a decade ago at the Rio Earth Summit. The growing disparity between the rich and the poor on our planet and the gross misallocation of limited resources to consumerism and war cannot be allowed to continue. If they do, we can expect even greater challenges and threats ahead.
Regarding the environment, we need to recognize that Earth's resources are finite. To waste our limited resources is to lose them in the foreseeable future, with potentially dire consequences for all regions and the world. Forests, for example, are increasingly being destroyed in the poorest countries. Even in Kenya, where Wangari Maathai has helped plant over 30 million trees, forested acreage has decreased. The global water crisis is also one of the single biggest threats facing humankind. Four out of 10 people in the world live in river basins shared by two or more countries, and the lack of cooperation between those sharing these precious water resources is reducing living standards, causing devastating environmental problems, and even contributing to violent conflict. Most important of all, we must wake up to the dangers of climate change and devote more resources to the crucial search for energy alternatives.

It is for reasons such as these that I founded Green Cross International 12 years ago and continue to advocate for a global value shift on how we handle Earth, a new sense of global interdependence, and a shared responsibility in humanity's relationship with nature. It is also for these reasons that I helped draft the Earth Charter, a code of ethical principles now endorsed by over 8,000 organizations representing more than 100 million people around the world. And it is for these reasons that Maurice Strong, Chair of the Earth Council, and I have initiated the Earth Dialogues, a series of public forums on ethics and sustainable development.

We need a Global Glasnost-openness, transparency, and public dialogue-on the part of nations, governments, and citizens today to build consensus around these challenges. And we need a policy of "preventive engagement": international and individual solidarity and action to meet the challenges of poverty, disease, environmental degradation, and conflict in a sustainable and nonviolent way.

We are the guests, not the masters, of nature and must develop a new paradigm for development and conflict resolution, based on the costs and benefits to all peoples and bound by the limits of nature herself rather than by the limits of technology and consumerism. I am delighted that the Worldwatch Institute continues to address these important challenges and goals in its annual State of the World report. I urge all readers to seriously consider their personal commitments to action after finishing this volume. Only with the active and dedicated participation of civil society will we be successful in building a sustainable, just, and peaceful world for the twenty-first century and beyond.


* * * * * * *


Next issue: 13 May 2005.


* * * * * * *


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:

It is a service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered non-profit educational organization chartered in Italy in 1979 and associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations.

The Association operates for the development of consciousness and promotes a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity in diversity and on sharing.         

Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy. E-mail:


* * * * * * *