Good News Agency – Year VII, n° 13



Weekly - Year VII, number 13 – 27th October 2006

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 (in charge) and Elisa Peduto. 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 and to 2,800 NGOs.

It is an all-volunteer 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

United Nations Day: message by the Secretary-General



International legislation



World’s most important gene banks now under international plant genetic resources treaty

New agreement ensures open access, benefits sharing for all

Rome, 16 October – The most important gene bank collections of the world’s key food and forage crops today came under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, ensuring that plant breeders, farmers and researchers will be able to access these plant genetic resources under standard conditions and share in the benefits arising from their use.  (…)

The international treaty, which was approved by the FAO Conference in November 2001, entered into force on 29 June 2004. There are now 105 member countries and the European Community. The treaty's main objectives are ensuring that plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, which are vital for human survival, are conserved and sustainably used and that resulting benefits are equitably and fairly distributed. (…)


New Swedish Parliament 'Most Gender Balanced Ever'

22 September - The newly elected Swedish parliament is the most gender balanced in its history. When the new Riksdag meets for the first time on October 2nd, women will be better represented then ever. Of the 349 parliament members, 47 percent are women (164 people). After the last election in 2002, women made up 45.3 percent of parliament.

Sweden remains the second most gender-balanced parliament in the world, after Rwanda, where 48.8 percent of representatives are women, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The next most successful country in Europe is Norway, where 37.9 percent of seats are held by women.

Both the Liberal Party and the ousted Social Democrats managed to have an even 50/50 split. Center leader Maud Olofsson demanded earlier this week that the new government consist of a similar balance. (…) The Left Party has the most uneven balance with 14 of the 22 parliamentary members being female.


Human rights



“The Right to Food: A Window on the World”

Global education project launched on World Food Day

Rome, 16 October – A new global education project was launched today to raise awareness about hunger and the right to food among children and young people around the world.

As part of the ongoing “Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger” initiative, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) produced a cartoon-style story book entitled “The Right to Food: A Window on the World,” and a companion “Resource and Activity Guide” educating young people and motivating them to join in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. (…)

According to FAO, the materials present right to food issues in a simple, understandable and attractive style that captures the attention of young people. The materials will help young people understand that each individual has the right to adequate food and that governments, consumer organizations, the private sector, communities and families have an obligation to help protect, promote and support that right. (…)


Dakar Film Festival inaugurated to fight for the elimination of violence against women

Dakar, Senegal, 13 October - Filmmakers from around the continent are being invited to submit their films and documentaries for a film festival devoted to ending violence against women in Africa.  UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, the Senegalese Government, donors, NGOs, civil society and other partners are joining forces to sponsor the four-day festival beginning 23 November.

The festival coincides with 25 November, the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women,” which focuses attention on the alarming rise in gender-based violence (GBV) around the globe and recognizes efforts to rid societies of this scourge. (…)

A study released in New York earlier this week by the United Nations Secretary-General found that “In all countries of the world, violence against women persists as a pervasive scourge, endangering women’s lives and violating their rights. Such violence also impoverishes families and communities, drains government resources and restricts economic development.”

The Dakar festival is being used to educate the public about GBV to raise awareness of the problem and help to eradicate it. Themes include GBV in conflict and post-conflict countries, domestic violence, female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/FGC) and vulnerability due to extreme poverty, which can force women into sex work. All these types of violence increase the risk that a woman may contract HIV.

Monetary prizes will be awarded to the top films, which will be judged on their potential to play a positive role in eliminating violence and reducing the stigmatization of its victims. (…)


Gender Budgeting in three countries: Poland, Germany, & Austria

"Gender Budgeting as an Instrument for Managing Scientific Organisations to Promote Equal Opportunities for Women and Men – With the Example of Universities" is the new project realized by four partners: Frauenakademie München e.V., Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut München, Department of Economics / Institute for Institutional and Heterodox Economics and Network East-West Women (NEWW) -Poland.

Our SSA (SPECIFIC SUPPORT ACTION) aims at the development of tools/instruments to implement gender budgeting as an important part of budget planning in science. With the example of universities we want to extrapolate the findings to contribute to a gender watch system.  In the SSA, three countries Austria, Germany and Poland, work closely together. This allows a transnational as well as an interdisciplinary approach referring to the methods used in the SSA as well as referring to the participants of the team. As all countries are at a different level of or-ganisational development and at a different level of implementing gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting in science the comparison will enable us to develop valid results. (…)

We will start our SSA with an analysis of the national frameworks at universities, an analysis of the process of budget planning and an analysis of the actual situation at one university in each country. On the basis of the findings we will develop tools/instruments to adapt gender to the budgeting of scientific organisations and formulate recommendations for gender budgeting in science on national and EU level. For futher infotmation please contact Zofia Lapniewska:    -



Economy and development



World Communication Congress opens in Rome

Speeding development through communication

Rome, 25 October  – The vital role played by communication in development will be highlighted at a three-day conference which opened at FAO headquarters today. Attended by 500 delegates including policy-makers, academics and media professionals, the meeting is jointly organized by FAO, the World Bank and The Communication Initiative partnership, and is hosted by the Government of Italy. In an opening speech to the First World Congress on Communication for Development (WCCD), FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf told delegates that communication and sustainable development are closely bound. “They are different facets of the same endeavour ... reaching across and bringing people closer together,” he said. (…)

The conference will examine the role of communication in speeding progress in the specific fields of poverty reduction, food security, health, governance and sustainable development. It will illustrate the wealth of innovative and creative communications work now taking place and urge that a communications component be included in all new development projects. (…)


All together working out of poverty

UNDP won China Poverty Eradication Awards

17 October - Beijing, China - United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in China was honoured today with the International Award in the China Poverty Eradication Awards established by the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) and supported by the State Council Leading Group on Poverty Alleviation (LGOP).

To commemorate and highlight the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the Poverty Eradication Award Presentation Conference was held today in Beijing. The event was presided over by Vice Premier Hui Liangyu and aimed to honour individuals and organizations that make significant contributions to China’s ongoing struggle against poverty. (…)

In his congratulatory message to this particular event, the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke highly of the significant role China played in the global combat against poverty. “China’s remarkable economic growth has helped to reduce poverty on a scale that is unprecedented in human history, “he said: “Because of China’s size, the way it performs on achieving the Millennium Development Goals is crucial to how the world as a whole does in reaching them.”

He went on underscoring the challenges facing China as “prosperity has bypassed many rural poor, and the gap between different segments of society has grown wider. “

“Correcting this imbalance requires a strong commitment by each and every Chinese to the ‘putting people first’ philosophy underlying both the MDGs and China’s own Xiaokang principles for balanced development,” he said.

Active in China since 1979, UNDP has supported over 600 projects with a total US$ 873 million and pilot sites on the ground in almost every province of China. (…)


Small farmers in Senegal to get better access to services through nationwide project

Rome, 13 October –  A US$47 million project in Senegal to improve small farmers’ ability to produce food and get better access to sustainable, diverse and demand-driven agricultural services is to be funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in partnership with producer organizations and the World Bank.

IFAD will provide a loan of US$6 million and a grant of US$300,000 to support the Agricultural Services and Producer Organizations Project – Phase 2. The Government of Senegal and producers’ organizations will contribute US$20.7 million, and the World Bank will provide US$20 million in cofinancing.

The agreement for IFAD’s loan and grant was signed in Rome today by the Republic of Senegal’s Ambassador in Italy, Papa Cheikh Saadibou Fall, and the President of IFAD, Lennart Båge.

Agriculture provides cash income for more than 60 per cent of Senegalese households. People depend almost exclusively on groundnuts and cotton but demand and prices for them are falling. Poor quality seeds, lack of credit, limited markets and low and erratic rainfall hamper all agricultural production. Natural resources are under pressure from population growth and extensive animal grazing. Three-quarters of Senegal’s rural people live in poverty. (…)


An early supporter of the Grameen bank, IFAD welcomes Yunus’ Nobel prize

Rome, 13 October - The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has welcomed the news of the awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize to Professor Mohammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank. Professor Yunus has been a pioneer of micro-credit lending schemes for the poor in Bangladesh. After 30 years, his bank has 6.6 million borrowers, of which 97% are women.

IFAD president Lennart Båge, reacting to the announcement, said “Professor Yunus’ leadership has brought opportunities to millions of poor rural families worldwide.” “Professor Yunus challenged IFAD and other international financial and humanitarian institutions to question their approaches and to find better ways to serve poor people” said Båge.

Yunus and Båge are champions of the nine year Microcredit Summit Campaign launched in 1997 to reach 100 million of the world’s poorest families, especially the women of those families, with credit for self employment and other financial and business services.

Further information: Farhana Haque-Rahman, Chief, Media Relations, Special Events and Programmes


EU Gender Watch: Project implemented by the Network of East-West Women - funded by the Presidency Fund

Network of East-West Women’s (NEWW) concern recently has been centered on a growing divide between the New Member States and the rest of the countries of the region. The Network wants to support the countries in the CEE/CIS region which are eligible for development assistance by using monitoring, lobbying and advocacy to ensure that gender concerns are present in the EU development policy towards this part of the region.  Hence, the Network recognizes a strong need for an EU development policy monitoring and advocacy project which would enable NGOs from the region to engage more effectively with the EU Development Policy Debate and in consequence improve the situation of women in CEE/CIS.  It is also building the capacity of women organizations in the region concerning the EU financial instruments and development policy.

The main objective of the "EU Gender Watch" project consists in enabling women NGOs/networks in NMS, Accession Countries and EU Neighboring Countries to cooperate in monitoring and lobbying the EU on its development policies in order to make the EU commitment to advance gender equality and its translation into policy, action, and allocation of resources reflected in EU assistance to countries of the region.

Founded in 1991 NEWW is and international communication and resource network supporting dialogue, informational exchange, and activism among those concerned about the status of women in Central and Eastern Europe, the Newly Independent States, and the Russian Federation. NEWW coordinates research and advocacy that supports women's equality and full participation in all aspects of public and private life. 


IFAD loans US$39.5 million for programme to empower women in India’s Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh States

Rome, 12 October – More than one million rural women in India will have better economic, social and political opportunities to improve their lives through a US$207.8 million empowerment programme partly funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Poor women in the Indian states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh will participate in the Tejaswini Rural Women’s Empowerment Programme. The programme will support strong and sustainable self-help groups, develop access to microfinance services, promote improved livelihood opportunities and strengthen participation in local governance. The name Tejaswini means ‘a woman who is radiant’, an empowered woman, and was chosen by local participants.

IFAD will provide a US$39.5 million loan for the eight-year programme. The loan agreement was signed in Rome today by the Ambassador of India and Permanent Representative to United Nations agencies in Rome, Rajiv Dogra, and the President of IFAD, Lennart Båge. (…)






Massive aid effort contains growth of malnutrition in Darfur

Khartoum, 19 October – Despite the deteriorating security situation in Darfur, a new United Nations assessment has found that overall malnutrition levels have mostly stabilized in 2006 and food insecurity has improved slightly thanks to a stronger international response to the suffering in Sudan’s war-torn west. Crude mortality dropped for the third year running, but insecurity and lack of access to many Darfurians continued to cloud the aid picture.

The assessment also found that while the malnutrition rate among children under five rose slightly, from 11.9 per cent last year to 13.1 per cent this year, hovering just beneath the emergency threshold of 15 per cent, they remained significantly below the 2004 malnutrition rates in Darfur which stood at 21.8 per cent.

UN humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations have been able to deliver life-saving services including food aid, clean water, health services and agricultural assistance. However, the condition of those in greatest need remains very precarious.

Preliminary results of the joint assessment by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, UNICEF and the World Food Programme found that 70 per cent of war-affected Darfurians were food insecure, slightly down from 74 per cent last year. While the remaining 30 per cent of this year’s war-affected people required some form of assistance, they had more diverse diets, spent less than 50 per cent of their income on food and relied less on food aid. (…)


Lebanon: Elvo the Clown brings healing laughter

by Jessy Chahine - World Vision Lebanon Communications 

18 October - Over 1,000 children throughout Lebanon were able to enjoy the healing tonic of laughter, and learn more about the dangers of landmines when Elvo the clown embarked on a two week tour of the war-ravaged country recently.

Thirty-year-old Aaron Ward, otherwise known as Elvo the Clown from New Zealand, has been volunteering with World Vision for several years. “Helping children who have suffered the horror of war find some joy in life is the most satisfying work I have ever done,” Ward said during his two-week stay in Lebanon. “My role is not only to help children laugh again, but to help them through their grieving and shock.” “Elvo came in at the perfect time,” said Hanna Swidan, Area Development Programme manager in Marjeyoun, south Lebanon. “The children, who were barely recovering from the July crisis needed him at this point. We all did actually!”

Using mime instead of language, Elvo reminded Lebanese children that there are still things in this world they can be happy about. (…)


World Vision provides clothes to abandoned children

by Zanele Dlamini - Communications Officer

18 October - World Vision Swaziland has donated clothes to 25 orphans of Emmanuel Khayalethu (EMK), which is a crisis home for children in difficult circumstances. The home offers a residential intervention that ensures that children have appropriate physical, emotional and behavioural attention, while providing an environment that is conducive to their care, health and wholesome development. They were also given shoes, bags and books, which were donated by World Vision Australia, USA and Canada. Among the children cared for are the abused, abandoned and neglected and sometimes it offers refuge for abused mothers and their children.

“Some of these children we have helped have been relocated to healthy foster homes, others are integrated with relatives and others remain within EMK premises,” Hixonia Nxumalo executive director said. Nxumalo decided to make a request to World Vision in a effort to meet some of the needs for the children. The orphanage survives on donations from willing people and organisations. World Vision representative Ernest Vilakati delivered goods worth E5,000 (US$833). The orphanage is in the capital city of the country, Mbabane.


Hilton Foundation launches national initiative to help homeless mothers and children

National Center on Family Homelessness will oversee multi-million dollar investment in housing, health, and child development --Pilot programs set for Los Angeles and Minneapolis/St. Paul

Los Angeles, 17 October – The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is undertaking a five-year initiative to improve housing, health, and development of young homeless and at-risk children by enhancing services and integrating service systems in Los Angeles, CA and Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN.  With matching funds from participating programs, the total investment will be $11.2 million.  Strategies and measures proven to be effective through this pilot program will be shared nationally as a roadmap to improve services for homeless children and their families.

The National Center on Family Homelessness, in collaboration with the Child Welfare League of America and the National Alliance to End Homelessness, will act as the Coordinating Center for the initiative, bringing its expertise to the task of selecting program participants, providing training and technical assistance, evaluating what programs work best for whom, and offering other supports to project partners throughout the program period. (…)

The “Strengthening At-Risk and Homeless Young Mothers and Children Initiative” has two main components: providing direct services for homeless children and mothers, and supporting capacity building and training for local agencies that serve homeless families.  By supporting innovative collaborations, the initiative seeks to improve integration of housing/homelessness systems and child development/welfare systems locally, and to develop effective models that can be implemented to improve services nationally. (…)


Three Seoul children to receive life-saving heart surgeries

Rotary clubs in Korea and Japan partner to provide free cardiac care to children from needy families

Seoul, 15 October - Two children from rural Seoul will travel to Kyung-Gi Do for life-saving heart surgeries on 28 October at 11:30am at Buchun Seojong Hospital, thanks to the generosity of Rotary clubs in Korea and Japan and the Korea Heart Foundation.

Doctors say Woojin Park, 14, and Geonyoung Park, 7, each have a congenital heart defect in which the heart’s main artery and the main veins essentially switch functions, causing oxygenated blood to travel back to the  lungs.  Heart Institute surgeons say each child will undergo a three-step operation to correct this potentially fatal condition.

The Rotary clubs in Korea are coordinating the project through the Rotary-sponsored program, called Gift of Life, which was launched in 1975 by Rotary members in New York, USA. Since then it has helped save more than 2,000 children from 55 countries.

Gift of Life started in Korea in 2002. Since then, more than 180 children in the region have received surgeries.  Funding support comes from The Rotary Foundation and Rotary clubs in Korea and Japan. The Rotary Foundation has provided $80,000 in grants since 2004, while contributions from the clubs in Korea and Japan total more than $300,000. “Gift of Life project give us the opportunity to do good for children in our communities who are less fortunate," says Byung Seol Choi, a Rotarian from Seoul, who spearheads  the Gift of Life project.

The project has not only improved the health of the children, it strengthens the relationship between the Korean and Japanese Rotary clubs. (…) Rotary clubs in Seoul plan to arrange free surgeries for 100 more needy children. They will continue to work closely with the Korea Heart Foundation, Save the Children Korea, and the Korean medical community to achieve the goal. (…)


UNICEF wins Spanish prize for its work in helping African children

Ann M. Veneman

20 October – The head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today accepted a prestigious Spanish award on behalf of the UN agency for its work in Africa and its efforts to improve the health and living conditions of millions of children around the world.

Accepting the 2006 Prince of Asturias Award for Concord during a ceremony in the Spanish city of Oviedo, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman described the prize as “a great honour.”

“UNICEF is grateful to the Prince of Asturias Foundation for this global recognition and hopes that it will inspire others to work to make the world a better place for children,” she said. (…)

The awards, which have been presented since 1981, are handed out in eight categories: arts, communications and humanities, international cooperation, literature, social sciences, sports, technical and scientific research, and concord. A jury in each category selects the winners.

Previous winners of the concord category include the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, the scientist Stephen Hawking and the non-governmental organization (NGO) Save The Children.


UN-HABITAT helping Pakistanis rebuild their lives    

Islamabad – 10 October - A year has passed since the horrific earthquake in Pakistan that left over 3 million people displaced and nearly a half a million houses damaged and destroyed. 

Since then, UN-HABITAT has supported the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) to establish 12 Housing Reconstruction Centers (HRCs) in Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PAK) and North Western Frontier Province (NWFP).  Over 12,000 people have been trained through 362 training sessions by these HRCs.  UN-HABITAT is responsible for the six HRCs in Kashmir.  The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and German Technical Assistance (GTZ) are responsible for the six Centers in NWFP. 

HRCs provide training on seismic resistant building techniques, capacity building of local authorities, technical advice and public awareness, coordination of training implementation and training quality control of training delivered by master trainers.  The National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal (NSET) and Emergency Architects (EA) are providing technical expertise to support the program.  The UN-HABITAT program has been funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), with additional support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Despite the success of the program, a huge gap exists in funding.  According to a UN-HABITAT official, a recent evaluation of the reconstruction efforts revealed two important points.  One is that where partner organizations are located, homes are being built back better by implementing seismic resistant techniques.  The second point is that there are not enough partner organizations in the affected areas to reach the entire affected community therefore leaving two-thirds of the area uncovered. He said an estimated $12 million out of a total budget of $2 billion is needed for the project to cover all the affected areas.



Peace and security



Lebanon: the European Commission grants another €30 million for victims of the fighting

Brussels, 20 October - The European Commission has granted a further €30 million in humanitarian aid for victims of the fighting in Lebanon. The aid will help people returning to their home regions to rebuild their lives. The latest grant means that the European Commission has now granted €50 million in humanitarian aid to deal with the aftermath of the fighting in Lebanon. The funds are being channelled through the Commission’s Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), which reports to Commissioner Louis Michel. This €30 million grant will smooth the transition to the country’s rebuilding stage by helping relaunch economic activity for people hit by the conflict and giving them the means to improve their living conditions. (…)

Relief activities will be implemented by ECHO’s operational partners on the ground, including NGOs, UN agencies and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement. The ECHO office, which was set up at the premises of the Beirut delegation when the fighting broke out, will be responsible for assessing needs, coordinating projects and monitoring relief operations. This emergency rehabilitation stage is expected to last until the summer. It will gradually give way to a rebuilding stage, which will be the responsibility of other departments of the European Commission. (…)


Azerbaijan: More safe-play areas for children

October 19 - Today the Red Crescent Society of Azerbaijan is opening newly constructed safe-play areas for children in two villages of the front-line district of Fizuli, in the south-western part of the country, where large numbers of mines and explosive remnants of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict continue to prevent a return to normal life. The playgrounds are part of a project being carried out with operational support from the ICRC and financial support from the Norwegian Red Cross.

The aim of the project is to provide children with places where they can play without fear of mines and explosive remnants of war. Children have been closely involved in designing the play areas and in devising safety tips for young people living in conflict-affected areas.

“Parents have expressed their gratitude to Red Crescent members for building safe-play areas in their villages,” said Bayram Veliyev, Azerbaijani Red Crescent coordinator for the project. “The parents said that now they do not worry about where their children spend their free time.”

Fifteen safe-play areas were created by the Azerbaijani Red Crescent with ICRC support in 2005, and 10 more will be opened by the end of 2006. This project is one of many carried out by the ICRC and National Societies in contaminated areas worldwide aiming, by means of practical measures, to reduce the impact of mines and explosive remnants of war.


Turkish land mine clearance team in Beirut

Ankara, 18 October (Turkish Daily News)    A Turkish land mine clearance team arrived in Beirut on Tuesday to search the area where Turkish peacekeepers will be deployed as part of the international peace force in Lebanon in the coming days, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The seven-member team also brought a jeep specially designed for land mine detection and a passenger vehicle on board a CASA-type Turkish Air Forces military transport..

The team will search for cluster bombs and land mines near the village of Ech Chaatiye, located at the entrance to the city of Sur in southern Lebanon, where the Turkish troops are expected to arrive on Friday, Anatolia said. Preparations are under way in the southern Lebanese village under the supervision of the Turkish delegation from the General Staff.

Last week, Turkey held a sending-off ceremony for around 260 soldiers and engineering company employees who will serve under the international peace force in Lebanon. The 237 soldiers and 24 civilians will depart soon for Lebanon from the Turkish Mediterranean port of Mersin, making Turkey the first Muslim nation to deploy peacekeepers in Lebanon as part of the expanded U.N. operation.


Toronto Art Exhibit Aims to Connect Landmine Survivors and the Canadian Viewer

18 October - Beginning November 2, John Risseeuw’s The Paper Landmine Print Project will be on display until November 25 at the Open Gallery Studio in downtown Toronto. His collection will showcase works of handmade paper made from fibrous plants in mined locations and the currency of nations that make or have made landmines. Both the artist and a representative from Mines Action Canada will be in attendance on opening night to answer questions about the global landmine problem.

The artist acquires these materials from working trips to place such as Bosnia- Herzegovina, Cambodia and Mozambique, and his contacts from Afghanistan, Angola, Ethiopia, India and Iraq send him victim photographs of victims and local data. Inspired by the work of non-governmental organizations working on the issue of landmines, Mr. Risseeuw’s art aims to increase awareness of the problem and to raise funds for the organizations that assist landmine survivors and their families. (…)

For more information on the event and/or the artwork, please contact or visit the artist’s website


Mines Action Canada launches new grassroots mass mobilization campaign- CAN LEAP

13 October - Starting today, Mines Action Canada begins a new community mobilization campaign to connect Canadians in a joint effort towards a mine-free world.

Canada is a superpower on landmines! We got there because regular Canadians care! Ordinary people can do extraordinary things! Starting today, Mines Action Canada begins a new community mobilization campaign to connect Canadians in a joint effort towards a mine-free world. Landmines, cluster bomblets and explosive remnants of war still threaten millions of people worldwide. The Canadian Leadership, Education and Action Program (CAN LEAP) IS the “made in Canada” solution to solve this worldwide humanitarian problem.

Together, in our lifetime, we can make a mine-free world. By organizing fundraising and action events, supporting Canadian Landmine Awareness Week, and participating in regional training opportunities, you will make an impact. Your effort matters to people around the world!


8th Russian National Dialogue on Status and Perspectives of Russian Implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and Global Chemical Weapons Demilitarization

Renaissance Hotel, Moscow, Russia, 1-2 November 2006

Co-organized by Green Cross Russia, Green Cross Switzerland, and Global Green USA

A key international agreement for the control and demilitarization of weapons of mass destruction, the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) today includes 179 member states, six of which have declared stocks of chemical weapons. Russia, which holds the world’s largest stockpile, has been a State Party to the Convention since 5 November 1997; this conference will mark the ninth anniversary of Russia’s CWC ratification.

Russia has put great efforts in recent years into chemical weapons demilitarization. Spending has jumped from $20 million in 2000 to a projected $644 million in 2006. In March and September 2006, the second and third chemical weapons destruction facilities have started operations and by autumn 2006 Russia will have destroyed 7% of its initially-declared stockpile. At the same time, construction activities have started at most of the remaining four stockpile sites. Russia is assisted currently by 14 countries within the framework of the G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.

The annual Green Cross/Global Green National Dialogue has been and continues to be a unique meeting place for all stakeholders in the ongoing chemical weapons destruction process. The two-day conference brings together representatives from Russian chemical weapons stockpile regions; federal ministries and agencies responsible for the implementation of the Russian chemical weapons destruction program; countries providing assistance to the Russian Chemical Weapons Destruction Program; the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW); and Russian and foreign non-governmental organizations, academia, and the mass media. (…)






Opium cultivation in Golden Triangle falls 29% in 2006, down 85 per cent since 1998

Vienna, 16 October (UNODC) - Opium poppy cultivation in the Golden Triangle - Laos, Myanmar and Thailand - fell 29 percent in 2006, bringing the total decline in the region since 1998 to 85 percent, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said on Monday.

"This is a remarkable success in the reduction of illicit crops which is so far unmatched anywhere in the world," UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said. "It represents an important step towards the goal of eliminating the cultivation of illicit crops worldwide."

"The Golden Triangle's share of world opium poppy cultivation has fallen from 66% in 1998 to only 12% in 2006. Laos and Thailand are almost opium-free. If the current trend continues, there will soon be only one opium-producing country left in the world - Afghanistan," he added.

UNODC's 2006 Opium Poppy Cultivation in the Golden Triangle survey showed cultivation in the three countries fell to 24,160 hectares this year from 34,720 in 2005.

This compares with total cultivation of 157,900 hectares in 1998, the year the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs called for a significant reduction in global illicit drug cultivation within 10 years. The Golden Triangle now produces only about five per cent of the world's opium, down from 33 per cent  in 1998. (…)


Global polio eradication now hinges on four countries

Polio-free countries seek to protect themselves

Geneva, 12 October - The world's success in eradicating polio now depends on four countries – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan – according to the Advisory Committee on Polio Eradication (ACPE), the independent oversight body of the eradication effort.

With a targeted vaccine and faster ways of tracking the virus, most countries that recently suffered outbreaks are again polio-free. In parts of the four endemic countries, however, there is a persistent failure to vaccinate all children, and polio-free countries are considering new measures to help protect themselves from future outbreaks. (…)

Given that all children paralysed by polio in the world this year were infected by virus originating in one of the four endemic countries, polio-free countries are now taking new measures to protect themselves. The Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia, for example, will be enforcing stringent polio immunization requirements for the upcoming pilgrimage to Mecca.

"Polio eradication hinges on vaccine supply, community acceptance, funding and political will. The first three are in place. The last will make the difference," said Dr Robert Scott, Chair of Rotary International's PolioPlus Committee, speaking on behalf of the spearheading partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Rotary is the top private-sector contributor and volunteer arm of the Initiative, having contributed US$600 million and countless volunteer hours in the field since 1985.

The ACPE advised the four polio-endemic countries to set realistic target dates for stopping transmission, noting that improvements in reaching all children in these areas have been only incremental, and that these countries will take more than 12 months to end polio.


Lusikisiki celebrates 2,200 people on ARV treatment at hand-over ceremony

HIV/AIDS partnership celebration in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Lusikisiki, 12 October - Four years after Mr Nelson Mandela launched a pioneering HIV/AIDS treatment programme in Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape, over 2,200 people are now healthy on ARVs. Today the Eastern Cape Department of Health (DoH) announced that it has taken over full responsibility for the programme.

Initiated four years ago by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) in collaboration with the DoH, this programme made possible the implementation of comprehensive HIV services in one of the most resource constrained rural areas in South Africa.

Through the implementation of an innovative community-based model of care focused on all 12 of Lusikisiki's clinics and St Elisabeth's Hospital, the programme has achieved universal coverage of ART within the last two years, making it one of the largest rural treatment sites nationally. (…)

To implement this model in the face of a chronic shortage of health staff, a decentralized model was developed based on these pillars: a mobile team to support nurses at clinics; the recruitment of adherence counsellors; and strong community engagement to support the health system. (…)

Working in partnership has been crucial to the development of the Lusikisiki model. The partnership was designed to respond to a huge unmet need for access to HIV/AIDS services and to strengthen the primary health care response. From its inception the programme was designed to be integrated into the health care system. (…) The partners are now confident that the programme is well established under the leadership of the Qaukeni district and the provincial teams. (…)


New Crisis Management Centre launched by FAO

Will speed response to AI and other threats

Rome, 12 October – Dr Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, today inaugurated a new FAO Crisis Management Centre (CMC) to fight Avian Influenza outbreaks and other major animal health or food health-related emergencies.

“The CMC represents a significant leap forward in FAO’s ability to help Member Nations prevent and cope with disease outbreaks,” Dr Diouf said. Set up in collaboration with the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health and located at FAO’s Rome headquarters, the Centre brings rapid-response capacity to transboundary animal and plant diseases, and can also react quickly to emergencies involving plant pests or food safety.

Supported by advanced communications technology, the Centre operates around the clock, seven days a week with a staff of up to 15 specialists and veterinarians. Disease information is monitored and updated from around the globe continuously. When a suspected outbreak is reported, CMC can dispatch its experts to any hot-spot in the world in under 48 hours. (…)

The United States has provided 5.1 million dollars and three veterinarians for the Centre. Other contributors include the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Saudi Arabia, China, Greece and Jordan.


Red Cross Red Crescent forms alliance with leading health agencies against growing threat of drug-resistant tuberculosis in Europe

10 October - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is establishing a new alliance with the World Health Organization (WHO), Médecins du Monde and 20 other leading European agencies and NGOs to forge a more effective response to the tuberculosis epidemic in the European region.

The Stop TB Partnership for Europe is being launched amid growing alarm about high levels of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB2) in the Baltic States, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and the more recent emergence of extreme drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB3) that is virtually untreatable. Senior officials warn that the continued spread of such virulent strains poses a serious threat to TB treatment and control in the region, and challenge the European Union to assume a larger role in tackling the problem. (…)

The new partnership will have several main objectives. The immediate priority is generating political commitment in Europe to ensure the financial, technical and human resources that are needed to curb the tuberculosis epidemic. At present, the bulk of technical support that affected countries need to fight TB effectively is being provided by the United States. (…)

Another aim of the partnership is to engage a much broader range of stakeholders beyond ministries of health in this effort – corporations, foundations, academic and research institutions, media, NGOs and civil society – and harmonize their collective efforts for greater strategic impact.


Canada contributes $5 million to eradicate polio in Afghanistan

5 October - Canada announced today a contribution of Canadian $5 million (US$ 4.5 million) for polio eradication in Afghanistan. This announcement comes at a time when regular and costly polio vaccination campaigns must be carried out nationwide, covering seven million children, in response to an outbreak in the southern region. Conflict in this part of the country has made it difficult to reach all children, resulting in a resurgence of the disease, especially in Kandahar and Helmand provinces. If left unchecked, polio could spread among millions of Afghan children and threaten to reverse progress in neighbouring countries that are polio-free. (…)

Canada's contribution is a welcome influx into the US$ 6.3 million needed for Afghanistan's polio vaccination campaigns for the next six months as well as for ongoing surveillance for the disease. The sum raises Canada's part in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to over US$ 180 million and follows commitments made at the G8 Summits in Gleneagles in 2005 and St. Petersburg this year.

In 2006, Afghan authorities have carried out eight polio vaccination campaigns, four of which were nation-wide – targeting over 7 million children under the age of five each time – and the rest in the highest-risk areas. So far, the outbreak has not spread out of the southern provinces of Hilmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul to the polio-free areas of Afghanistan. To ensure that children continue to be protected, even in zones of insecurity, a further campaign will be held 14-16 November and several are planned for the first quarter of 2007.

The polio eradication campaign is one of the few public health initiatives still maintaining some degree of operations in the southern region of the country. Health workers on the ground are operating under extremely difficult and dangerous conditions, risking their lives in efforts to reach every child with polio vaccine.


Rotary honors the Grand-Duc Henri of Luxembourg for supporting a polio-free world

Luxembourg – 3 October - In recognition of his country’s outstanding financial contribution to polio eradication, Rotary International today honored Grand-Duc Henri of Luxembourg for his personal commitment to the cause. During a special event at the Grand Ducal Palace, Rotary Foundation Trustee Rudolf Hörndler presented Grand-Duc Henri with a framed bas relief depicting a child receiving the polio vaccine.  Hörndler said, “On behalf of the 1.2 million members of Rotary around the world, and equally important, on behalf of the millions of children you will never meet, I wish to acknowledge your personal contribution to protecting children from polio.”  

Luxembourg remains the highest per capita donor to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. This year, the government committed US$3.70 million for the next three years.  The country’s total contribution stands at US$9.08 million. (…) 

Rotary’s commitment to end polio represents the largest private-sector support of a global health initiative ever.  In 1985, Rotarians worldwide vowed to immunize all the world’s children against polio.  Since then, Rotary has contributed more than US$600 million to the effort. Besides raising and contributing funds, over one million men and women of Rotary have volunteered their time and personal resources to help immunize more than 2 billion children in 122 countries during national immunization campaigns. 

Public sector contributions represent two-thirds of the USD 4 billion funds going toward polio eradication.(…) The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). (…)



Energy and safety



WRI introduces five easy steps for offices and stores to acquire renewable energy

Washington, D.C., October 18 - What is renewable energy? Should my office switch? Does my office need to be located near a wind farm? Is it simple to buy? What are my options?

Many office- and retail-based companies are switching to renewable energy and "greening" their energy supply. While this is often not difficult to do, the overwhelming amount of information available can make it a confusing process, especially for newcomers.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) today cuts through the clutter with essential information – in just 26 pages – for financial institutions; real estate, retail, law, and publishing firms; universities; non-profit organizations; and many others to understand the basics of how they can go green. (…)

Renewable energy can be used to generate heat and electricity, from sources such as solar, wind, biomass, landfill gas, geothermal, and some types of certified hydropower. Unlike fossil fuels, these resources do not contribute to emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which causes global warming.  Many office- and retail-based companies and organizations -- including Whole Foods Market, Starbucks, FedEx Kinko's, Staples, and the World Bank Group -- have made the switch to renewable energy. These companies have purchased green power to help meet their climate or energy goals. For others that want to do the same, Switching to Green can help. (…)



Environment and wildlife



New marine protected area for Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia, 19 October – A new marine protected area has been created in Croatia, following years of advocacy work by WWF and a local environmental group.

The establishment of the Lastovo Nature Park, situated in the central Dalmatian archipelago in south-east Croatia off the coast of Dubrovnik, covers an area of some 200km2, of which around 60km2 is land surface consisting of 44 islands. It boasts a diverse landscape, including rich marine biodiversity, rare and endemic plant and animal species, holm oak forests, as well as valuable archeological sites and a rich socio-cultural heritage. Originally settled by the Romans, Lastovo is noted for its 15th and 16th century architecture. The park becomes the eighth marine protected area in Croatia, and the second largest in the country.

In 2003, WWF and the Association for Nature, Environment and Sustainable Development of Croatia (SUNCE) identified the Lastovo archipelago as a priority area for the conservation of Mediterranean biodiversity. Intensive advocacy and collaboration over the past few years garnered local support, which was vital for the initiation of the political process of declaring this a protected area. (…) The next challenge is to develop a management plan for the park that will focus on conservation as well as the economic development of the local community.

Since the end of the Second World War, nearly 50 per cent of the Mediterranean's 46,000km-long shoreline has been lost to urbanisation, mostly tourism related. The Mediterranean is the world’s leading tourist destination, with an estimated 350 million holidaymakers expected to flock to the region anually by 2020. (…) WWF believes that the newly created marine protected area will pave the way in the Mediterranean for encouraging alternatives to mass tourism, and avoiding major industrial development and illegal building projects. It is also an opportunity for local economic development through sustainable tourism.



Religion and spirituality



UN forum sees interfaith dialogue as essential to peace

United Nations, 8 October (BWNS) -- Last month some 33 governments sent delegations to a special conference here on how religions and governments can work together for peace. "The High-Level Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace" was sponsored by a unique coalition of governments, United Nations agencies and religious non-governmental organizations, including Baha'i representatives.

Participants said the 21 September event drew a wide range of participation at the UN, reflecting rising concern about the spread of religious intolerance and the need to promote religious dialogue and tolerance as a remedy. "What was most significant was that perhaps the best represented sector was governments, particularly from the developing world," said Jeffery Huffines, a member of the Committee of Religious Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) at the UN who served on the planning committee for the Conference.

"Many of these countries are suffering from the consequences of religious conflict. They were the ones at the table, wanting to learn, wanting to share their perspective on the importance of promoting religious dialogue and cooperation," said Mr. Huffines, who is also a representative of the Baha'i community of the United States to the UN.

In addition to some 33 government representatives, participants included a number of UN agency officials and leaders from various religious groups and civil society organizations.

The event was organized by the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, formed in 2005. (…)


Israeli-Palestinian Ramadan interfaith encounters - "Forgiveness" – October 5th 2006

“On Thursday, October 5th, the first of two Ramadan interfaith encounters, jointly organized by the Interfaith Encounter Association and the Hope Flowers School, took place at the Hope Flowers School's campus in El-Khader. We started a bit more than an hour before sunset with brief introduction that included an opening by Mr. Ibrahim Issa, Director of the Hope Flowers School, who welcomed participants to the school and gave a summary of the school's activities. Then Dr. Yehuda Stolov, Executive Director of the Interfaith Encounter Association, presented the activities and thanked the school for hosting this study day and for the long and fruitful cooperation.

Moving to the program itself, Ibrahim explained the division of the 30 days of the month of Ramdan into three 10-day parts – the first focused on mercy, the second on forgiveness and the third on reward. This was the inspiration for this program of two study days (the second one will take place on Wednesday October 18th – see invitation below), each studying the theme of its days from the different religious perspectives. Then Yehuda asked participants to go to their small groups, introduce themselves and share stories of forgiveness – both when they forgave others and when they were forgiven by others. (…)

Some of the issues that came up in the conversations were:

"Forgiveness comes from inner peace, resulting from knowledge and acknowledgement of the inner self, including peace with the dark side of myself" (…) "In Islam these ten days are dedicated to asking forgiveness from God and fellow humans" (…) "This is parallel to the Ten Days of Repentance in Judaism. In Judaism they are the first ten days of the month of Tishrey that is now, for a few years, parallel to Ramadan"  "Sometimes it is difficult to forgive – in smaller or bigger issues" "Israelis and Palestinians as nations also need to learn to forgive each other but forgiveness will come at the end of the long process of reconciliation" "Before forgiveness healing is needed. For the healing process Israelis and Palestinians need each other".



Culture and education



Venezuela: play keeps indigenous cultures alive

by Humberto Márquez

Caracas, October 20 (IPS) - A new study found that play is an essential vehicle of socialisation and transmission of traditions and customs among indigenous groups in Venezuela, who often live in an uneasy coexistence with mainstream society while the survival of their cultures and languages is threatened.  A team of researchers found that indigenous communities in different parts of the country have maintained similar customs, beliefs and rituals surrounding pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care, the teaching of skills, the transmission of values, and the transition to adulthood, while they gradually incorporate schools, modern medicine and television. Under the leadership of Emanuele Amodio, a professor at the Central University's School of Anthropology, and sponsored by the United Nations children's fund (UNICEF), the team studied nine areas of childbirth and childrearing among six of Venezuela's 35 indigenous groups for two years.

According to the 2001 census, indigenous people in Venezuela number 500,000 out of a total population of 25 million. (…)


Zimbabwe’s launches ground-breaking national girls education strategic plan

National plan is a milestone in Zimbabwe’s pursuit of MDGs. The United Nations has invested more than US$2 million to improve girls education in past two years in Zimbabwe

Harare, 18 October – The United Nations in collaboration with the government and civil society launched a ground-breaking National Girls Education Strategic Plan to increase Zimbabwe’s likelihood of achieving universal primary education and ensuring girls stay in school.

The National Girls Education Strategic Plan is Zimbabwe’s first-ever strategic document on girls education. It spells out how to provide quality basic education while keeping girls, orphans and vulnerable children in school, in the face of economic hardships and challenges particularly in the context of HIV/AIDS. Current statistics show that girls are the first to drop out of school during social and economic crisis. This is a social and economic mistake. (…)

Zimbabwe has achieved gender parity in primary enrolment, and has a 2per cent gap in secondary completion nationally, however Zimbabwe has unacceptably wide gender disparities within districts. (…)  Thus, the National Girls Education Strategic Plan seeks to ensure that that every child is able to enroll, complete and realize their full potential in education. The plan also aims to address emerging HIV/AIDS-related and cultural challenges (such as forced early marriage, abuse and economic exploitation) which particularly harm girls. (…)


Studio will give Peruvian girls a sense of confidence and achievement

Lima, October 16 – This Andean country's first dance studio dedicated to students with "different abilities" has debuted in the capital city.

Counterpart International staffer Irina Wunder, a Bolshoi Ballet trained dancer working with partner organization Centro Ann Sullivan del Peru (CASP), began working on the project in December 2005. Wunder said the program, now housed at a studio, engages young girls living with disabilities in ballet classes to instill a sense of confidence, achievement and generate social acceptance. The weekly classes have been regularly attended by young girls, aged eight to 13, and their parents. (…)

Centro Ann Sullivan del Peru (CASP) is a University of Kansas-affiliated, Peruvian non-governmental organization which over its 20 year history has provided educational and economic opportunities to hundreds of children with special needs in Peru through professional, clinical and parent support programs. (…)

Funding for the dance studio was provided by J. Kirby Foreign Service Trust Foundation, a US non-profit organization, established in the memory of a foreign-service officer who died while serving overseas. Counterpart International provided additional funding thanks to the private contributions from employees, their friends and supporters.


Voter education takes off in Papua New Guinea

Port Moresby, 16 October - With national elections coming up early in 2007, an innovative political awareness programme has been initiated in Papua New Guinea to encourage voter participation in the electoral process and improve political representation across the country.

Funded by UNDP and implemented by Transparency International PNG (TI PNG), the Voter Education and Democratic Governance Awareness Project (VEDGAP) uses live drama to provide education and awareness about electoral governance, particularly in remote locations. It also teaches voters about the limited preferential voting system or LPV, which Papua New Guinea has adopted for the coming elections in an effort to reduce electoral malpractices.

The project also seeks to enhance the participation of women in elections, and is being implemented on a pilot basis in Papua New Guinea’s highland provinces of Western Highlands, Southern Highlands, Eastern Highlands, Enga and Simbu. (…)


8 Newly-constructed schools in tsunami-hit areas and still more to come

13 October - By the end of September this year, teachers and children in the tsunami-hit areas of Indonesia in the Aceh province have access to 8 brand new fully-furnished and well-equipped elementary schools built under the EI-Novib Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme. And there will be 20 more to come.

After the tsunami disaster struck the area in December 2004, EI [Education International] formed a partnership with Novib (Oxfam Netherlands) and initiated the Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme. The programme sets out to rebuild 28 elementary schools, provide teacher training and trauma-counselling courses, and give out scholarships to about 4000 pupils over a 2-year period. So far, the implementation of the programme has been slow due to various external factors, but the progress made is definitely significant. For example, the trauma-counselling courses have been implemented with huge success. Now, the trained personnel are able to offer counselling at school to both teachers and pupils, under the guidance of a psychologist.

Hundreds of children from 16 schools have submitted their application for the scholarship, which will also be extended to other schools outside the reconstruction plan of the Rehabilitation Programme.

The speediness of the school reconstruction progress is due to the diligence and hard work of local construction workers and material suppliers. It is the policy of the programme to engage local participation in the reconstruction process as much as possible to retain the identity of the local communities and sense of ownership.

However, the implementation of the Rehabilitation Programme has not been without obstacles. A major obstacle is that the housing reconstruction process has not been able to catch up with the school rebuilding, and that accounts for the low number of applications for the scholarship.

EI and Novib will continue to work on overcoming these issues and contribute through the implementation of the programme to the achievement of Education For All in the region.


Rotary-UN Day is 4 November

By Vukoni Lupa-Lasaga, Rotary International News

Rotary International's representatives to the United Nations in New York have announced 4 November as the date for the 2006 Rotary-UN Day.

The annual event at UN headquarters in New York City helps educate Rotarians, their friends, and their families about the complementary roles the UN and Rotary play in supporting humanitarian initiatives and promoting international understanding and peace.

This year, presentations and panel discussions will address humanitarian issues such as hunger, water, health, and literacy based on the theme "The Unfinished Business of Rotary." RI leaders, UN officials, representatives from UN-affiliated nongovernmental organizations, and other invited guests will be among featured speakers at the event.

For the third consecutive year, there will be a separate program for Interact, Youth Exchange students, and other attendees of high school age. (…)


The 38th WFUNA Plenary Assembly – Buenos Aires, 6-10 November

UNANCA will hold a panel on Young Professional for International  Cooperation

The UNA-Argentina will be hosting WFUNA’s 38th Plenary Assembly and an International Symposium, from 6 –10 November 2006 in Buenos Aires. A WFUNA Youth Conference will be held simultaneously with the Plenary.

This year WFUNA (the World Federation of the United Nations Associations) commemorates its 60th anniversary. It is a time for us all to come together and to celebrate the brilliant and dedicated people who created WFUNA and the many more who have given so much of themselves to fulfill the mission of a peoples’ movement in support of the United Nations. We are the inheritors of a great responsibility to help make the United Nations an ever more effective instrument for world peace and security, development and human rights. Let us show the world that WFUNA can make a difference.

UNANCA at WFUNA Plenary Assembly

Preparing for the Assembly, UNANCA say:  As active members of YPIC, we are committed to promoting international cooperation and community education on international affairs. Currently, each YPIC chapter works locally in different regions of the United States promoting and implementing various programs that benefit both the local and international communities at large. Our goal for the 2006 WFUNA Conference is to expand our network, by training and educating other young professionals from over 30 nations about how to start a YPIC group internationally. We believe that by broadening the YPIC network to the international level, we will increase the amount of young professionals around the world who are actively working toward international cooperation.


Raising a new generation

Nefas Silk Lafto, Ethiopia, 11 October (BWNS) -- Although this sub-city on the western edge of Addis Ababa is home to numerous foreign embassies and international development offices, it nevertheless has its share of poverty and unemployment. (…) So it is not uncommon most days of the week to find children here working on the streets, helping to provide the evening meal by polishing shoes, selling fruits and vegetables, or simply begging.

On Saturdays, however, the scene is somewhat different. Many of those same children can be found gathered at the home of a Baha'i family, attentively studying, among other things, the importance of common virtues like honesty, trustworthiness, and nobility of self. Although the classes were started in March, just eight months ago, they now regularly draw more than 100 children each week. Split into groups by age, the Nefas Silk Lafto Baha'i community manages these classes with the help of seven local Baha'i volunteers.

Parents say they are extremely pleased with the Saturday offering.  (…) According to the Baha'i International Community, there are more than 10,000 such local Baha'i children's classes currently taking place around the world, with more than 90,000 participants. The Baha'i writings stress the importance of children's education, emphasizing especially the need for training in virtues and spirituality. Although adapted to local conditions and needs, Baha'i children's classes around the world focus on moral education, aiming to provide an ingredient that is often overlooked in secular education. (…) In Ethiopia, there are about 45 such local children's classes being offered currently by Baha'i communities here (…)


Building a Culture of Peace

On October 14-15 the Frances L. Hiatt School of Psychology sponsors a conference of social scientists dedicated to the promotion of more peaceful cultures. A distinguished group of anthropologists, economists, political scientists, and social psychologists from six different countries will discuss the social structures and dynamics that can promote the eight bases for a culture of peace articulated by UNESCO and endorsed by the UN General Assembly.

The conference builds on material stimulated by an earlier Hiatt conference on ways to assess the peacefulness of cultures, and aims at the production of a handbook devoted to building more peaceful cultures.

(Joseph de Rivera, Professor of Psychology, Director Peace Studies Program, Clark University)


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In his last message for United Nations Day, Secretary-General

assesses progress, highlights remaining challenges


Following is the message by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for United Nations Day, observed 24 October:


For the tenth and last time as Secretary-General, I offer friends and colleagues around the world my best wishes on United Nations Day.  I have spent almost my whole professional life working for the United Nations –- so this day, and the values that it stands for, will always be special for me.

Over the past 10 years, we have made some big steps forward in our common struggle for development, security and human rights.

-- Aid and debt relief have increased, making the world economy somewhat fairer.

-- At last, the world is scaling up its response to HIV/AIDS.

-- There are fewer wars between States than there used to be; and many civil wars have ended.

-- More Governments are elected by, and accountable to, the people whom they govern.

-- And all States have acknowledged, at least in words, their responsibility to protect people from    genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.


But, there is so much that still needs doing:

-- The gap between rich and poor continues to grow.

-- Very few countries are on track to reach all eight of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

-- Many people still face atrocities, repression and brutal conflicts.

-- The nuclear non-proliferation regime requires urgent attention.

-- Terrorism, and the reaction to it, are spreading fear and suspicion


It seems we don’t even agree which threats are most important.  Those who live in small islands may see global warming as the biggest danger.  Those who live in a city that has suffered terrorist attacks -– like New York, or Mumbai, or Istanbul –- may feel that confronting terrorism is more urgent.  Others, again, may cite poverty, disease, or genocide.

The truth is, these are all global threats.  All of us should be concerned about all of them.  Otherwise, we may not succeed in dealing with any of them.

At this time of all times, we cannot afford to be divided.  I know that you, the peoples of the world, understand this.  Thank you for all the support and encouragement you have given me, throughout these 10 difficult but exciting years.

Please urge your leaders to work with my successor, and make the United Nations ever stronger and more effective.

Long live our planet, and its peoples.  Long live the United Nations!



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Next English issue: 24 November 2006.


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