Good News Agency – Year VII, n° 6



Weekly - Year VII, number 6 – 5th May 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 development 

SolidarityPeace and securityHealthEnergy and Safety

Environment and wildlifeReligion and Spirituality Culture and education

World Press Freedom Day: Message of the UN Secretary-General



International legislation



100 countries have ratified the international plant genetic resources treaty

Iran just joined

Rome, 5 May 2006 – Iran has ratified the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, bringing the number of countries that have deposited their instrument of acceptance to 100, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today.

The treaty, which was approved by the FAO Conference in November 2001, entered into force on 29 June 2004, the ninetieth day after the deposit of the fortieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession in accordance with the provisions of the treaty. FAO Director-General Dr Jacques Diouf said that “this is a legally binding treaty that will be crucial for the sustainability of agriculture. The treaty is an important contribution to the achievement of the World Food Summit's major objective of halving the number of hungry people by 2015.”

The main objectives of the international treaty are the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their use, in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity, for sustainable agriculture and food security. (…)


UN Secretary-General Launches “Principles for Responsible Investment” backed by world’s largest investors

International Funds Worth $2 Trillion Announce Endorsement at New York Stock Exchange

New York, 27 April – In a historic development for global financial markets, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan was today joined by a group of the world’s largest institutional investors at the international launch of the Principles for Responsible Investment. The heads of leading institutions from 16 countries, representing more than $2 trillion in assets owned, officially signed the Principles at a special launch event at the New York Stock Exchange. The Principles were developed during a nearly year-long process convened by the UN Secretary-General and coordinated by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and the UN Global Compact.

“These Principles grew out of the understanding that while finance fuels the global economy, investment decision-making does not sufficiently reflect environmental, social and corporate governance considerations – or put another way, the tenets of sustainable development,” the Secretary-General said.(…) The six overarching Principles, which are voluntary, are underpinned by a set of 35 possible actions that institutional investors can take to integrate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) considerations into their investment activities. These actions relate to a variety of issues, including investment decision-making, active ownership, transparency, collaboration and gaining wider support for these practices from the whole financial services industry.(…)


National plans for eliminating 12 extremely hazardous chemicals

From talk to action: Governments adopt national plans for eliminating 12 extremely hazardous chemicals - Geneva to host Stockholm Convention on POPs from 1 - 5 May

Geneva, 27 April – Governments participating in next week’s annual conference of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) will focus on the practical measures now being taken at the national level to rid the world of some of the most dangerous chemicals ever created.

The Stockholm Convention, which became effective in May 2004, targets 12 hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals that can kill people, damage the nervous and immune systems, cause cancer and reproductive disorders and interfere with normal infant and child development. (…) Governments are required to submit a National Implementation Plan (NIP) within two years of joining the Convention. They are using these NIPs to establish their particular priorities and to set out detailed action plans. They will then report every two years on progress towards achieving their Plan’s goals. The first National Implementation Plans have been submitted from a geographically diverse set of countries, including Bolivia, Burundi, Egypt, Japan, Latvia, Moldova, Niue, Romania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. (…) Some 130 countries are expected to participate in the Geneva meeting, which is known formally as the Second Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP 2). Over 50 industry, environmental and community NGOs have also registered to participate (…)


UNICEF Turkmenistan welcomes decree boosting wheat flour fortification

Presidential decree will improve nutritional status of children and women in Turkmenistan

Ashgabat, 26 April – President Saparmurat Niyazov issued a decree mandating the fortification of wheat flour with iron and folic acid in Turkmenistan.  The decree was signed on 24 April at the Presidential Palace. Micronutrient deficiency, including anaemia, is one of the topics highlighted in UNICEF’s upcoming report card on global malnutrition ‘Progress for Children’, which will be launched on 2 May.

At the first meeting of the National Fortification Committee held today, Committee Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Gurbangully Berdymukhammedov issued a statement highlighting the President’s support of this initiative, which demonstrates high-level commitment to improving the well being of children and women in Turkmenistan.  The Committee was established under Presidential decree and is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the flour fortification initiative. UNICEF Representative Mahboob Shareef welcomed the decree and expressed gratitude to the Government for this crucial step towards reducing the level of iron deficiency anaemia and contributing to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals. (…)



Human rights



New ILO report: Making the link between poverty and decent work in the fight against child labour

Brussels, 4 May - The ICFTU and WCL today welcomed the key findings of the ILO's Global Report "The end of child labour: Within Reach". The report points to a reduction of child labourers by 11 per cent over the last four years, with the number of children in the worst forms of child labour falling most rapidly by 26 per cent.(…) However, the increase by 15.6 million in the number of children engaged in other forms of child labour is worrying as it may point to a trend where children have shifted one form of child labour to another.

The report clearly identifies that the success of the strategies employed by the ILO, with its employer, trade union and government constituents, lies in its holistic approach linking the demand for education for all and the pursuit of decent work to ending child labour.

The report also points to the role child labour plays in the vicious cycle of poverty and recognises that child labour elimination and economic growth do not have an automatic correlation but instead must be supported by coherent national-level policies to address the myriad of issues that contribute to the problem. (…) The report clearly identifies that the solution to the problem of child labour is found in the nexus between the right of unions to collectively bargain to improve parents' working conditions and engage in strengthened forms of social dialogue. (…)


World Press Freedom Day 2006 to focus on media, development and poverty eradication

April 25 - Media, Development and Poverty Eradication is the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, which UNESCO will observe in Colombo (Sri Lanka) with a two-day international conference on the subject and the award ceremony of the 2006 UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to Lebanese journalist May Chidiac. “Free and independent media should be recognized as a key dimension of efforts to eradicate poverty, [one of the Millennium Development goals adopted by the international community in 2000] for two main reasons,” explains the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura in his message marking World Press Freedom Day. “First, free and independent media serve as a vehicle for sharing information in order to facilitate good governance, generate opportunities to gain access to essential services, promote accountability and counteract corruption, and develop the relationship between an informed, critical and participatory citizenry and responsive elected officials.”(…)


Police Officers Graduate in Somalia

Armo, Puntland,  21 April  – The first police officers from northeast and south Somalia to be trained in decades graduate from the recently established Armo Police Academy in Puntland today. The 154 cadets, of whom 19 are female, joined the Academy on 1 December 2005 and came from different regions of Puntland and the Centre/South. (…) “The significance of this day cannot be overemphasized,” Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi said. “These 154 police officers of the Somali Republic are the foundation of the return of rule of law to our country and the respect of human rights of every child, woman and man. This is a day that we are proud to witness.”

To ensure quality and uniformity across the police force, the challenging training course has been a continuation of the one developed by the Rule of Law and Security Programme at the Mandera Police Academy in Somaliland covering law enforcement, international standards of human rights, community policing, basic police training, investigations, non-violent disarmament, physical fitness, self-defense and discipline. Computer lessons were also provided for female cadets. (…);jsessionid=aWbkm_0jkFp9


Women's issues now part of legal training in Nepal

 5 April - The Governing Council of National Judicial Academy (NJA), the supreme policy making body headed by the Right Honourable Chief Justice of Nepal, adopted a resolution for mainstreaming gender issues in its policy and practice. The adoption of resolution is a landmark decision to help bring about gender responsive legal reforms in the country. Legal workers like judges and lawyers, now study gender issues related to justice as part of their standard training. With support from UNDP’s Mainstreaming Gender Equity Programme (MGEP), the NJA developed a training curriculum focusing on gender equality and justice. Through the training, the judges acquire skills to critically analyze the legal provisions related to gender issues. They also become familiar with international women/ human rights instruments to which Nepal is a signatory to. UNDP has supported the NJA to compile reference materials for the training. This will also help the judges and lawyers to refer to judgements relating to gender justice and women’s rights.(…)



Economy and development



Japan steps up contribution to UNDP operations in Africa

27 April – Japan has been one of UNDP’s key strategic partners in recent years.  Japan’s contribution to UNDP regular resources in 2005 was approximately $82.4 million.  The regular resources, as the basis for UNDP’s core operations, provide UNDP the critical capacity to be a trusted partner to meet global challenges throughout the world.  In 2005, Japan was the fifth-largest contributor to UNDP regular resources after the Netherlands, Norway, US, and Sweden.  Japan was the top contributor to UNDP regular resources in 2000 and 2001. 

In addition to its contribution to UNDP regular resources, Japan’s trust-fund and cost-sharing contributions to specific UNDP projects have been significant in recent years and, in particular, in 2004 and 2005.  The most notable is the increase in Japan’s support to UNDP projects in Africa including Sudan on commitment basis from approximately $4 million in 2004 to $25.6 million in 2005; the Government of Japan already disbursed more than $23.4 million to Africa through UNDP during the first quarter of this year. In his “Message to Africa towards the G8 Summit” in July 2005 at Gleneagles, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi pledged that Japan would double its ODA to Africa in the next 3 years (to US$1.6 billion annually).  From the overall perspective, Japan intends to increase its ODA volume by US$10 billion in aggregate over the next five years, compared to the level of ODA on the basis of 2004 net ODA disbursement. (…);jsessionid=aWbkm_0jkFp9


High-tech communications to boost Afghanistan development

Kabul 27 April - Afghanistan is making enormous technological strides in communications to make up for lost time during decades of conflict. Optical fibre networks, more than a million new cell phone users, and wireless fixed telephone lines are all part of the technological leapfrogging in a country that only a few years ago had banned the internet.

Afghanistan’s first national Information and Communication Technology Conference opens tomorrow to celebrate the country’s communications successes and help make links between public sector needs and private sector possibilities. The two-day forum, jointly organized by Afghanistan’s communications ministry and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will showcase investment opportunities, and promote ICT awareness within the country. The forum will also launch an easy-to-use online capability for registering AF website addresses.

Four years ago, Afghanistan had only 20,000 telephone lines in the whole country. There are now 1.2 million cell phone owners. By the end of 2006, the wireless fixed telephone lines will reach 285,000, allowing not only voice, but also data exchange throughout the network, connecting hundreds of thousands of households in Afghanistan.(…);jsessionid=aWbkm_0jkFp9 


Helping young people in slums tell their story to the world

Nairobi 25 April - A collection of photographs taken by teenagers given cameras and assigned to document their lives in the crowded Nairobi slum of Mathari will go on display at the third session of UN-HABITAT’s World Urban Forum in Vancouver in June as part of a novel, internationally sponsored project to reflect the concerns of young people and inspire their peers. The “Image-in” programme depicts the world of 10 boys and girls aged 13 to 15 asked to focus on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at alleviating poverty and showing how they apply to their lives among the poor and the very poor. Quickly, and with considerable energy, they soon devised a way of presenting their pictures with caption stories in a body of work that will also be published as a book.

All of the young photographers are members of the Mathare Youth Sports Association. Run by young people, for young people, the association formed in 1987 at the initiative of Bob Munro, a Canadian former UN official, became the first of its kind to organize football leagues in the slums. It was also the first to set up teams for girls, and the first to send a girls’ team to the Norway Cup. (…)


Chinese Government and ECLAC to Strengthen Cooperation in the Field of Economic Development

Zeng Peiyan, Vice Premier of the State Council of China, met with José Luis Machinea, Executive Secretary of this regional United Nations commission.

25 April - A delegation of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), headed by its Executive Secretary, José Luis Machinea, met with the Vice Premier of the State Council of China, Zeng Peiyan, on Monday 24 April in Beijing. Zeng Peiyan expressed his government's interest in increasing exchanges with this regional United Nations commission. During the meeting, delegates discussed the status of relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean, analysing the different mechanisms available to increase cooperation between ECLAC and the Chinese government. As one of the members of the State Council of China, Zeng Peiyan is one of the country's highest ranking authorities. He praised ECLAC's important role in developing economic cooperation with China. He emphasized that as developing countries, China and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean share much in common on many key international issues and are complementary in economic terms. Moreover, he placed a high value on the relations between both parties and expressed his intentions of deepening political ties, economic cooperation and cultural exchanges "to ensure the development of friendly, mutually beneficial cooperation," he added.(…)


Launch of a new version of FAO GeoNetwork

Spatial data sharing among UN agencies

Rome, 24 April - A new version of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's spatial data catalogue, FAO GeoNetwork, which provides agricultural information to decision-makers, allowing them to access satellite imagery, interactive maps and spatial databases from FAO, WFP, CGIAR and others, was launched today. "This new version of GeoNetwork is faster and more reliable than the previous one. In addition, several other UN agencies have joined the network, thus adding an impressive amount of valuable UN system-wide geospatial information," according to Mr Alexander Müller, Assistant Director-General of the FAO Sustainable Development Department.

The launch coincides with the release of a new version of the World Food Programme GeoNetwork, which contributes substantially to the effective sharing and dissemination of geographical datasets with major emphasis on food security and vulnerability issues. The WFP network includes nodes at WFP headquarters, regional bureaus and country offices.


Madagascar launches new drive to upgrade urban settlements

Antananarivo, 20 April – Prime Minister Jacques Sylla of Madagascar has launched a national programme to upgrade informal settlements and prepare sound urban development with the support of UN-HABITAT and the United Nations Development Programme. He announced the plan at a seminar 20 April attended by regional leaders, mayors, municipal administrators, banks, NGOs and civil society representatives. Urban dwellers currently constitute some 30 percent of the island nation’s total population of six million people. It is estimated that Madagascar’s cities will accommodate 10 million more people in the next 20 years.

The national programme jointly supported by UN-HABITAT and UNDP will build on pilot projects implemented in major cities. He said it would also include the decentralization and simplification of urban land management, the establishment and improvement of financial mechanisms and operational instruments, and the reinforcement of local government’s capacities to develop and implement local programmes and projects in partnership with the private sector and local communities.


Guatemala's indigenous people to get US$30 million support from UN IFAD for development programme

Rome, 20 April  – Guatemala’s indigenous Mayan people, who have often been marginalized, will now play a role in planning, managing and supervising their own development activities. The first phase of the National Rural Development Programme worth US$38 million is partly financed by a US$30 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). More than 300,000 Guatemalan people, about 50 per cent of them from indigenous groups, are expected to benefit from the first phase of the programme. (…) The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is also providing a loan of US$10 million.

The programme will focus on five areas in the west of Guatemala, where 60 per cent of the country’s indigenous people live. For many years, discrimination and exclusion have contributed to the poverty and inequality of Mayan people. Poverty among the Mayan people is also linked to poor access to natural resources including land and water, as well as to technology and financial services. (…)

A key idea is to involve people in planning, managing and supervising activities themselves, so that they can fully participate in the programme and express their own needs and concerns. They will be trained in how to participate in community planning councils, and mechanisms will be set up to give people the chance to express their views. (…) 


Camel milk: booming demand offers bright prospects for traditional food source

18 April - The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) sees bright prospects for camel dairy products, which could not only provide more food to people in arid and semi-arid areas, but improve the incomes of nomadic herders.

Tapping the market for camel milk, however, involves resolving a series of humps in production, manufacturing and marketing. FAO is hoping financing will come forward from donors and investors to develop the sector not only at local level but to help camel milk move into lucrative markets in the Middle East and elsewhere.


"Trans-Latins" the New Investment Trend in Latin America and the Caribbean

Most of the region's transnational firms are from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico.

12 April - Expansion abroad by companies based in developing countries has become an increasingly important trend in the world economy. Within this process, developing Asia has outperformed Latin America and the Caribbean. Of the 50 largest transnational firms from developing countries, just seven are from this region. This contrasts with 1977, when 14 of the 30 main transnational firms from developing countries were based in Latin America.

Notwithstanding, the companies of Latin America and the Caribbean have continued to internationalize, especially from the 1990s onward, driven by factors such as economic reforms, saturated local markets, opportunities in neighbouring countries, and the need to diversify risk, ECLAC notes, in its report Foreign investment in Latin America and the Caribbean 2005, released today in Santiago, Chile. Most of the region's transnational firms, referred to as "trans-Latins"- are based in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico. The largest trans-Latins, with geographically diverse investment, are involved in natural resource-based sectors such as mining (CVRD), steel (Techint, Gerdau), oil and gas (Petrobras, PDVSA, ENAP), and cement (CEMEX). Generally speaking, the companies in this group have enjoyed strong state support for their development. Some began life or remain state-owned companies. Others grew by taking advantage of privatization plans in their own or neighbouring countries.(…)


Japanese Parliamentarians pay tribute to IFAD-supported rural income diversification project in Vietnam

Hanoi, 10 April - Yoshio Yatsu, Japanese Member of Parliament and Chairman, Global Legislators for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE Japan), commended the rural income diversification schemes, supported by IFAD, that has helped improve significantly the livelihood of farmers and ethnic minorities in more than 66 communes in the rural province of Tuyen Quang of Vietnam. Yatsu is a former Chair of Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD). Addressing Vietnamese officials during his visit to the province as a part of the Asian Parliamentarians’ Seminar on Poverty Alleviation, organized by the AFPPD, Yatsu said that the rural income diversification scheme is a model to follow in other countries in the region.(…)

The parliamentarians visited a bamboo-chopsticks production factory, which is part of the income diversification project, at a village in Xuan Van Commune. The chopsticks have been exported to other Asian countries, including Japan and Hong Kong thus increasing the incomes of the rural poor villagers. (…) 


BBC World Announced The General Media Partner In “The Passion For Africa” Event

10 - 11 May in Bamako, Mali

Internationally renowned BBC World correspondent Lyse Doucet will chair the opening panel “TOURCOM Dialogue – The Passion for Africa,” at the forthcoming Regional Conference on Tourism Communications (TOURCOM Africa). The conference will be held on 10 - 11 May in Bamako, the capital of Mali. It will be a groundbreaking event for tourism communications and the objective is to release untapped tourism potential on the continent.

(…) The “TOURCOM Africa” conference is organized by the United Nations tourism agency World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in cooperation with the Malian Ministry of Handicraft and Tourism and will follow the UNWTO Regional Commission meeting. (…) A similar event, but adapted to the Americas, will be staged from 28-30 May 2006 in cooperation with the Argentinean Government in Rosario, in the province of Santa Fe.


UNDP and Japan Bank for International Cooperation forge partnership to fight poverty

UNDP and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) have agreed to join forces to end poverty across the world. The two organizations agreed on 20 initiatives in more than 10 countries.  These include an initiative in Cambodia, where JBIC and UNDP will address HIV/AIDS in the work place in the context of the expansion of Sihanoukville port, which is also known as the “virus harbor.”  Also, a proposal for Northeast Thailand will look at providing employment opportunities to poor farmers affected by the agricultural reform and reduction of deforestation in the area. “This is a milestone in our partnership with JBIC, and I expect to see the MOU translated into actual collaborative activities in many parts of the world,” UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis said in Tokyo, where he signed a partnership agreement between UNDP and JBIC to work towards promoting the MDGs.;jsessionid=aWbkm_0jkFp9






EI Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme: first fully furbished school completed in Indonesia April 26 - As part of Education InternationaI's Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme in partnership with NOVIB (Oxfam Netherlands) to restore education back in the areas affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami in Dec 2004, the first school has been reconstructed and refurbished.

The "National Elementary School 70" of the Kampong Jawa village, located in the Banda Aceh district of Aceh province on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, was completed on 10 April 2006. It not only contains all the furnitures necessary, but also equipment such as computers. However, the gradual completion of schools is only the first step towards bringing education back to the area. Pupils who survived the disaster are already relocated to other schools, and reconstruction of the surrounding houses has been very slow. The cost of transport between the current temporary dwellings and the new schools, 4000 rupiahs (0.36 euros or 0.45 US dollars), is unaffordable for the displaced families.

The EI-NOVIB Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme began in January 2005 to help local teacher organisations rebuild education for teachers and children affected by the disaster, in both Sri Lanka and Indonesia. In Indonesia, the main disaster area is located in the Aceh province. (…)

The EI Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme is being implemented in partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Building Workers International (BWI) and is part of EI's Solidarity Programmes. EI has a Solidairy Fund to which member organisations and the public contribute. The Fund is then deployed to aid teachers when their lives are under threat. So far, half of the funds collected for the Tsunami contributed to the immediate humanitarian assistance after the disaster. The rest of the funds is being deployed to carry out projects under the Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme. (…)


Rotary to build youth complex in Banda Aceh

Evanston, Illinois, USA, 26 April — Rotary clubs have launched an ambitious project to build a children’s village and a youth center in Banda Aceh for orphans of the Tsunami. The project will include accommodations, medical and education facilities and a mosque. When completed, the youth center complex will be able to house 150 children and 500 boarding university students at any one time.

Construction began in January and the opening of the Rotary Youth Centre is planned for December 2006. The Centre will include a children’s village, called Gampong Anak, which will have 15 homes that each house 10 children and an adult caretaker. The total cost for the entire project is estimated to be more than US$5 million. To date, more than $2 million has been provided by Rotary International and Rotary clubs in Australia. The land is being provided by the Aceh local government. The local government in Aceh and five universities in Banda are project partners. Rotary clubs in Australia, key partners of the project, have committed US$1.5 million to build the children’s village. In addition to construction funding and expertise, they will provide living expenses and operation of the orphanage for five years.

“The building design and construction drawings will be tasked to students from the universities in Sydney and the five universities in Banda Aceh,” said Ritje Rihatinah, co-chair of National Committee for the Solidarity South Asia Fund of the Rotary Foundation, the disaster relief fund set up immediately following the Tsunami. (…)


Indonesia: launch of the Tsunami Skills Development and Vocational Training project in the Aceh province

April 25 - As part of the Global Unions Tsunami Solidarity (GUTS) programme, co-operating partners including EI launched the Tsunami Skills Development and Vocational Training project in the Aceh province in Indonesia. A Manpower Training Centre was set up in this area most affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami, and the centre aims to train 300 persons over the next 12 months in various skills. The project is co-ordinated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Asia -Pacific Regional Office (ICFTU-APRO) of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), the Global Union Federations (GUF) including Education International (EI), as well as the Indonesian Trade Union Centre (ITUC). (…)

The GUTS Programme is a joint effort designed to aid workers and their families whose lives were under threat after the Tsunami disaster of 26 Dec 2004. Under the programme, several projects are being developed. Specifically in the Aceh province, the projects centre around trade union awareness, leadership training, organising, gender equality, publication of trade union materials, occupational health and safety (OSH), English language classes, computer skills training etc. A Global Unions Workers Welfare Centre has also been established in the office building of EI affiliate PGRI in the city of Banda Aceh.

EI's Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme is also building 28 fully furbished and equipped schools in Indonesia, in co-operation with NOVIB (Oxfam Netherlands).


Pakistan: ICRC moves to kickstart farm production in quake zone

April 19 - The earthquake on 8 October destroyed many agricultural assets in Pakistan-administered Kashmir such as tools, seeds and animals.

To help the local economy recover, the ICRC is distributing seeds and tools by helicopter and by road to 30,000 households. The following items are involved: 750,000 kg of maize seed, 600 kg each of onion, turnip, tomato, carrot, chilli and spinach seed, 3,000 kg of ladyfinger seed, and 450,000 kg of fertilizer. Each household will also receive tools for planting and harvesting.

Farming is a pillar of the traditional way of life in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the ICRC hopes that the operation, which should be completed by the end of April, will help local people become self-sufficient.


Rebuilding after Stan

Six months has passed since heavy rains from Hurricane Stan lashed the whole Central America region, affecting Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and Nicaragua, and causing extensive flooding and mudslides. (By Linda Nordahl Jakobsen and Heinrich Ludwig Stachelscheid)

April 18 - The hurricane destroyed homes, crops and other property, putting many poor people already at risk before the hurricane, under further threat. (…) Like doña Ana and her family some 500 families in the municipalities of Ixchiguán and Tajumulco (named after Guatemala´s highest volcano Tajumulco with its 4.220m) have lost their homes. Some of them have found shelter in barns or remaining kitchens, or now live with their relatives or neighbours.

The local partner, the Pastoral Social of San Marcos’ Diocese, supported by DanChurchAid and ECHO, has started to rehouse doña Ana and another 359 families with provisional, but firmly built transitory homes, while 175 new latrines are being constructed as well.

The whole project is funded by the EU Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) with 215.000 Euros and with 23.889 Euros from DanChurchAid (DCA), a Danish ngo, that has been working in Guatemala for more than 20 years. (…) All together 4.275 persons in Ixchiguán and Tajumulco will benefit from new provisional shelters, water and sanitation. (…)


ADRA responds to heavy flooding in Ecuador

Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, April 21 - During the month of March, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) provided aid for 200 Ecuadorian families devastated by the intense rainfall that drenched the coastal region during this winter’s rainy season. The most severely affected areas lie in the coastal provinces of Los Rios, Manabi, Guayas, El Oro, and Esmeraldas.

An estimated 20,000 families have been directly or indirectly affected by the evacuations implemented by Ecuador’s Civil Defense, and the Ecuadorian Red Cross. (…)

ADRA has provided medicines and medical care, mattresses, bed linens, and mosquito nets. Additionally, 500 schoolchildren living along the hard-hit coastline received urgently-needed backpacks filled with school supplies from ADRA.

The project, which is valued at $10,000, is funded in partnership by ADRA International, the ADRA office located in Ecuador, and the ADRA South American division office located in Brasilia, Brazil. The distribution was completed in late March. (…)



Peace and security



IHD launches anti-mine training drive (Turkey)

IHD draws mine risk map; prepares to educate children and adults on protection. Results to be shared with MPs. General Secretary Tastan says "Mined settlements are being ignored. An Action Plan and Law are required".

27 April (Istanbul) - Turkey's Human Rights Association (IHD) is launching a challenging educational drive targeting populations of settlements that are under the threat of land mines and other types of unexploded military ammunition in the country.

IHD General Secretary Nejat Tastan, interviewed by Bianet, said the first stage of the project consisted of creating a mine risk map which identifies the dangerous regions and that with this map, both children and adults in the areas of risk would be offered education in protective measures. Tastan said they aimed to inform the public of this project by May 15 and listed its components as:

* Concluding the mine risk map * Preparing an educational documentary on protection from mines * Delivering protection education to children and adults in risk areas * Cooperating with the National Education Ministry to organise for hour-long protection classes in village schools

* Preparation of a documentary on the accounts of mine victims (…)


Tajikistan: Demining on the Afghan border started

Ankara, 12 April (IRIN) - Efforts are now under way to clear landmines along Tajikistan's 1,344 km-long border with Afghanistan, one of the highest mine-risk areas in the former Soviet republic. (…) The Tajik demining body is planning to demine the area - which spans some 2,000 sq metres - within three weeks. Tajikistan has the largest landmines problem in Central Asian, with more than 25,000 sq km of land to be cleared of mines - an area over half the size of Switzerland. (…)

In 2003, Tajikistan acceded to the 1997 Ottawa Convention. According to the Convention, Tajikistan is expected to destroy all anti-personnel landmines and clear its territory of them by 1 April 2010. (…)


"Building A Just And Sustainable Peace: Improving Education, Healthcare, the Environment, and Social Equity," conference in Hiroshima, August 31 - September 4, 2006 

The Honorary Chair Tadatooshi Akiba, Mayor of Hiroshima, Japan, and President of Mayors for Peace will open the conference. 

On august 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb used against humanity exploded over Hiroshima.  Instantly, most of the city crumbled and burned. More than 140,000 people perished.  Those who managed to survive suffered from grievous mental and physical trauma from which many continue to suffer.  Since then, Hiroshima has become a spiritual center for the movement to ban nuclear weapons.  Rising from the ruins the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum opened, mandated to convey the facts, contributing to the abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of genuine and lasting world peace.

In this spirit all are invited to participate in "a gathering of global conscience" to galvanize support for a just and sustainable world peace. Several institutions of higher learning are collaborating to sponsor this international symposium, Lehman College, Penn State Abington, The University of the District of Columbia and United Nations Non Governmental Organizations, International Health Awareness Network and The Ribbon International.  The conference will provide an open forum to learn from each other, and together address the challenges we face in achieving global security and universal human rights.  For more information and application see:






ERD celebrates Africa Malaria Day 2006

April 25 - Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) recognizes Africa Malaria Day 2006. Each year in Africa, 300 million people contract malaria and one in 20 children under the age of five die from the disease.

This year, ERD will expand its malaria program in Africa to work in 10 countries and provide education and training, long-lasting insecticide-treated nets and access to effective drug therapy to over 300,000 people. The program will expand to 16 countries over the next three years. ERD's malaria program targets the most vulnerable rural communities, particularly pregnant women and children under five. In sub Saharan Africa where malaria is the leading cause of death, ERD is working in Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia to improve the long-term health of local communities. (…)

In Angola and Zambia, ERD has been working for the past year on education, community mobilization and training health care workers. A weeklong series of events hosted by ERD and the Anglican Church of Zambia will celebrate Africa Malaria Day. On April 27, a community launch in Lusaka, Zambia, being attended by the Zambian Minister of Health and other dignitaries, will distribute nets. In Angola, nets are being distributed in Vige, in the north, and the Cunene Province, in the south. (…)


New malaria treatment introduced in Somalia

Africa Malaria Day boost for children and women

Nairobi, 25 April – A new effective treatment has been introduced in Somalia to curb the incidence of malaria, one of the leading killers of children and women, UNICEF Somalia Representative Christian Balslev-Olesen announced today on the occasion of Africa Malaria Day. An estimated one million children under five years of age die of malaria annually in Africa.  In central and southern Somalia, malaria is estimated to account for approximately eight per cent of all illnesses among children under five.  The burden is highest along the rivers and settlements with artificial water reservoirs where there is all-year-round transmission. “By introducing effective drugs for malaria treatment in Somalia, UNICEF and its partners will be addressing the challenge faced by children and women in combating malaria,” said Balslev-Olesen. (…) Africa Malaria Day, which is commemorated annually on April 25, will mark the launch of ACTs and diagnostic tests in Somalia.  To sensitize the public on the availability of the new treatment, UNICEF, in collaboration with international and local NGOs, is organizing public events today in different locations.


North Korea: ICRC inaugurates a second physical rehabilitation centre

The ICRC, in cooperation with the Red Cross Society and the Armed Forces' Military Medical Bureau of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has opened a new physical rehabilitation centre in Pyongyang for both military and civilian patients.

April 24 - The Rakrang Physical Rehabilitation Centre, located in the southern outskirts of Pyongyang has been constructed over a one year period, and once fully operational will have a capacity to treat up to 400 patients annually.

Specialized ICRC technical delegates have provided their expertise for the design of the workshop and the ICRC has fully equipped it to be able to provide professional, up to date physical rehabilitation. They continue to train and cooperate with local orthopaedic technicians and physiotherapy assistants. As part of a longer-term investment in training, the ICRC is financing a three-year course of five orthopaedic technicians from the armed forces and the Ministry of Public Health at the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics in Phnom Penh. (…)

ICRC activities in physical rehabilitation began in 2002 with the establishment of the Songrim orthopaedic centre in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Health and the Red Cross Society of DPRK. To date, some 2,300 disabled persons have been fitted with orthopaedic devices. (…)


Chernobyl: Red Cross Red Crescent thyroid cancer detection programme can prevent hundreds of premature deaths

18 April - Twenty years after Chernobyl, the world’s worst nuclear accident, the number of cases of thyroid cancer among those who were children at the time of the disaster continues to increase markedly. The explosion of the nuclear power plant, on 26 April 1986, irradiated vast areas of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Scientists predict the rise in cancer cases will continue to peak over the next five years, while remaining a major health problem for years to come.

Through its Chernobyl Humanitarian Assistance and Rehabilitation Programme (CHARP), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is screening rural and remote populations in the irradiated zone for thyroid cancer, through palpation, ultrasound examinations and biopsies. (…) Using six mobile diagnostic laboratories (MDLs) staffed by national Red Cross medical personnel, CHARP provides medical screening to 90,000 people per year. (…)

Since its inception in 1990, the CHARP programme has assisted more than three million people, screened almost 810,000 and provided millions more with medicine, multivitamins, health information and psychological support. Each year, CHARP ensures some 50,000 children receive multivitamins through the Red Cross Societies of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Annually it also provides vital psychological support to some 15,000 people, who suffer from depression and anxiety. (…)


Bangladesh launches mass immunization campaign after polio re-emerges

By Zafrin Chowdhury

Chandpur, Bangladesh, 13 April – After a five-year absence, polio has re-emerged in Bangladesh, sending a fresh alert and boosting eradication efforts across the country. (…)  Bangladesh’s latest polio outbreak has sparked an urgent new effort by the Global Polio Eradication Campaign – a partnership between UNICEF, Rotary International, WHO and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control – working closely with the government. Their ambitious goal is to reach 18 million children under the age of five through three rounds of National Immunization Days on April 16, May 13 and June 11. Twenty four million doses of vaccine have so far been procured for this effort. A huge communication and social mobilization drive is under way, broadcasting polio immunization messages through the mass media, distribution of printed materials and door-to-door, interpersonal communication targeting parents and caregivers. (…)



Energy and safety



EU and China to link up high-speed electronic networks for an open exchange among their best researchers and students

Brussels, 28 April - Communication and collaboration among 45 million researchers and students across Europe and China will be greatly facilitated by a new Sino-European high-speed network connection announced today. Co-funded by the European Union, China and European National Research and Education Networks, the €4.15 million ORIENT (Oriental Research Infrastructure to European NeTworks) project will benefit all Sino-European research, including radio astronomy, sustainable development, meteorology, and grid computing, by helping to step up the flow of information between Europe and China. The ORIENT project is supported by the EU’s 6th Research Framework Programme. (…)

ORIENT will connect Europe’s GÉANT2, the world’s most advanced international research and education network (see IP/05/722) and the Chinese research networks CERNET and CSTNET on an overland route via Siberia. Scheduled to go live later in 2006 it will link over 200 Chinese universities and research institutions, at speeds of up to 2.5 Gbps. It will be co-ordinated by research networking organisation DANTE in Europe and the CERNET network in China. (…)


Volunteers drive recovery of Chernobyl-affected communities spacer

Bonn, 26 April – For Olga Kolosyuk, clean water represents progress in a post-Chernobyl Ukraine. The fact that her village of 1,000 has safe drinking water demonstrates what the community has accomplished—most notably the refurbishment of a local water supply—since taking the lead in improving their situation. Olga is a leader of a community organization called Dryzhba, a collective of residents from Kirdany. She is one of numerous volunteers who, with the help of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, set up a community organization in the village.

More than 200 community-led organizations exist in 139 villages throughout the Chernobyl affected area. The organizations are charged with the task of addressing the economic, environmental and social problems stemming from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which occurred 20 years ago today. The organizations were established between 2002 and 2005 as part of the Chernobyl Recovery and Development Programme (CRDP), a joint initiative of the Government of Ukraine, UNDP, UNV and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with funding from Japan, Canada and Switzerland. (…) To build the capacity of the communities to implement the projects, the UN Volunteers provided training in planning, communications, leadership, fundraising and other skills to bring about effective project management. In 2005, nearly 4,000 people, including representatives of local government, participated in various trainings. (…)


FAO sees major shift to bioenergy

Pressure building for switch to biofuels

Rome, 25 April  - Under the pressure of soaring oil prices and growing environmental constraints, momentum is gathering for a major international switch from fossil fuels to renewable bioenergy, according to FAO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. (…)

Factors pushing for such a momentous change in the world energy market include environmental constraints – increased global warming and the Kyoto Protocol’s curbs on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses – and a growing perception by governments of the risks of dependence on oil.  “Oil at more than 70 dollars a barrel makes bioenergy potentially more competitive”, Müller said. “Also, in the last decade global environmental concerns and energy consumption patterns have built up pressure to introduce more renewable energy into national energy plans and to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.”

His view is shared by a growing number of investors, including Bill Gates, who recently decided to finance a US ethanol company to the tune of US$84 million. Other new entries in the field are a French company hitherto better known for making Foie Gras, and Hungary, which plans to turn one million ha of farmland over to biofuel crops in the next few years.

FAO’s interest in bioenergy stems from the positive impact which energy crops are expected to have on rural economies and from the opportunity offered countries to diversify their energy sources. “At the very least it could mean a new lease of life for commodities such as sugar whose international prices have plummeted,” noted Gustavo Best, FAO’s Senior Energy Coordinator.



Environment and wildlife



Launch of the State of the Environment in Asia and the Pacific 2005 Report

Greener, more eco-efficient economic growth patterns urgently

Bangkok, 28 April – The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) will launch a new report urging immediate action to “green” the Asia-Pacific’s economic growth patterns as the current rate of regional growth is unsustainable. The State of the Environment in Asia and the Pacific 2005 report -- the latest in a series of environmental reports published every five years since 1985 -- report takes a new look at the implications of the rapid economic growth of the Asia-Pacific region. The report asserts that Asia-Pacific economies must continue to grow to reduce poverty but rapid economic growth is exerting increasing pressure upon the limited environmental carrying capacity of the region. While UNESCAP member countries have managed to make progress in improving pollution control, these actions alone are not enough. Long-term environmental sustainability requires new approaches that go beyond pollution control, it says. The International Launch of the State of the Environment in Asia and the Pacific 2005 report will take place at the UNESCAP regional headquarters in Bangkok, on Friday, 28th of April 2006. (…) UNESCAP’s “green growth” approach aims to shift economic growth patterns away from the conventional “grow first, clean up later” approach, towards more ecologically efficient production and consumption. Synergies between environmental protection and economic growth objectives can be developed – environmental protection must be viewed as an opportunity, not a burden and cost. Adoption of greener growth patterns is more relevant in the context of fast-growing Asia-Pacific economies than anywhere else in the world, and will determine the global environmental outlook. (…) 


World Resources Institute’s Sustainable Urban Transport Project receives $7.5 million contribution by Caterpillar Foundation

Washington, DC, April 27 -- The World Resources Institute's Center for Transport and the Environment, known as EMBARQ, gained significant momentum with the announcement today of a new $7.5 million contribution from the Caterpillar Foundation. The Caterpillar Foundation joins the Shell Foundation, which recently renewed its initial $7.5 million investment in EMBARQ's efforts to meet the sustainable mobility needs of cities across the world.  These two contributions will form the core of a $43 million philanthropic investment to scale up EMBARQ's expanding projects in some of the world's largest and fastest-growing cities. (…)

Working with local governments and leaders, EMBARQ develops environmentally and financially sustainable solutions to urban transport problems, addressing issues of air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, traffic congestion and safety.  Solutions to these problems include replacing outdated equipment and retrofitting existing buses with modern diesel technology, areas where Caterpillar has significant expertise. (…)


U.S. investors support global warming resolution with dominion resources

Boston, MA, April 27 - Several leading U.S. institutional investors, representing over $475 billion in invested assets, today announced they are supporting a shareholder resolution requesting that Dominion Resources in Richmond, VA prepare a report on the company's strategies and potential risks from foreseeable regulations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from power plants. The resolution will be voted on at the company's annual meeting Friday April 28.

The shareholders include many of the country's largest public pension funds, including the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the New York City Employees Retirement System. The resolution also won the support this month from Institutional Investor Services (ISS), an influential advisor to institutional investors.

The resolution was filed by Trillium Asset Management in Boston and the New York City Employees Retirement System.

Noting that nearly a dozen U.S. states are taking steps to reduce power plant emissions and the growing momentum for national greenhouse gas limits, investors will be supporting a resolution requesting "a report, reviewed by a board committee of independent directors, on how the company is responding to rising regulatory, competitive, public pressure to significantly carbon dioxide and other emissions from the company's current and proposed power plant operations." The resolution requests that the report be finished by Sept. 1, 2006.

The resolution comes as a half-dozen other leading power companies, including American Electric Power, DTE Energy, Cinergy, TXU and Southern, have already issued reports to shareholders about the implications of climate change regulations for their businesses. Four other power companies in the Midwest also agreed earlier this year to prepare climate risk reports requested by shareholders, including Great Plains Energy and Alliant Energy. Dominion has received similar shareholders requests in recent years, but has balked at producing such a report. (…)


IDB starts $10 million disaster prevention fund

Grant resources to improve risk management and reduce vulnerability in Latin America and the Caribbean

April 26 - The Inter-American Development Bank has established a $10 million grant fund to finance activities to improve risk management and prepare disaster prevention projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, the IDB announced today.

Vulnerability to natural hazards is one of the biggest threats to development in this region, where many countries are exposed to hurricanes, tidal waves, floods, earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, forest fires and droughts.(…) Over the years, multilateral agencies and donor countries have provided billions of dollars for reconstruction after disasters. While such efforts have regularly emphasized prevention and mitigation against future events, most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean still need to strengthen their capacity to manage disaster risks.

The Disaster Prevention Fund will make grants to assist countries in activities such as identifying risks to natural hazards; preparing disaster prevention projects; designing prevention and mitigation investments in high-risk areas and improving early warning, communications and public information systems. (…)


Global ‘Green’ Leaders Honored at Environmental Gala in Singapore

Singapore/Nairobi, 21 April - Seven ‘green’ leaders, instrumental in bringing environmental issues to the forefront of political action, are today celebrated as the 2006 Champions of the Earth at a gala event hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Singapore Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources and the Singapore Tourism Board. The awards are presented in recognition of the leadership, creativity and vision that each leader has demonstrated. The winners will share their hopes in advancing the cause of the environment. Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher from Ethiopia, Africa, who championed against the patenting of life forms and for community rights in Africa said that with the myriad of environmental problems that now exist, “the world will need many more Champions.” (…) The Champions of the Earth ceremony is organized with the support of various sponsors and partners that include the Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings (APRIL), the Lien Foundation and Nanyang Technological University. Other supporters of the ceremony include: CNN Fortune, Time, Eco 4 The World Foundation, Singapore Environment Council, and Channel News Asia.


Churches help southern neighbors, environment with support of ‘eco-Palm’ Sunday

Montreal, April 6 – Churches in 34 states helped protect rainforests, stimulate jobs and create education scholarships with the purchase of over 80,000 ‘eco-palm fronds’ for Palm Sunday services this week. The palm fronds, imported from Mexico and Guatemala, are being certified as environmentally sustainable by Rainforest Alliance under a project of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management (CINRAM).

Dean Current, program manager for CINRAM, says 282 congregations paid up to double the normal price for chamaedorea palm fronds to ensure that they were harvested in a sustainable manner to avoid damaging the palms themselves, as well as to provide improved income to the harvesting communities. (…)

The certification and improved quality empowers harvesters to negotiate with wholesalers like Continental Floral Greens—a partner in the project—extra funds that stimulate local job growth and contribute to community funds allocated to educational scholarships. This year, the second of the project, 20 temporary jobs were created and an extra US$4,000 contributed to two community funds. (…)

The CINRAM project began as an initiative of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, an international organization created in a side accord to NAFTA. The organization aims, in part, to demonstrate that freer trade among the NAFTA countries can yield environmental benefits. (…)



Religion and Spirituality



UN Secretary-General underlines importance of understanding among peoples, pursuit of harmony, promotion of peace, in message on Day of Vesak

May 3 (UNDPI) - Following is the text of the message by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of the Day of Vesak, 11 May 2006:

It gives me pleasure to send you my warmest greetings on the Day of Vesak, when we commemorate the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha.

The ideals celebrated on this day are close to those of the United Nations:  understanding among peoples, the pursuit of harmony, the promotion of peace.

This Day of Vesak falls as the United Nations continues its efforts to adapt the United Nations to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, and in particular to implement the commitments made by leaders at the 2005 World Summit last September. Our success in advancing this agenda of renewal will depend not only on Government representatives and international officials. It will rest on voters, consumers, civil society groups and concerned individuals of all ages, in rich and poor countries alike, thinking and acting as global citizens.

As we mark this year’s Day of Vesak, let us recognize, as Buddhism does, our essential interdependence. And let us resolve to work together towards the common good, and for the harmonious and peaceful coexistence of all the world’s people. I thank all of you for your commitment to those ideals, and wish you a wonderful celebration for the Day of Vesak.


In Observance of World Invocation Day; The Festival of Humanity; The Festival of Goodwill Friday, 9 June 2006; 1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.; United Nations Conference Room

How can the use of goodwill, meditation and other spiritual practices support the work of the United Nations?

It is difficult to remain without water even for a day.  It is likewise difficult for our consciousness to remain without illumination from far-off worlds. As with food or water, one also needs the sustenance of the Higher Planes of Consciousness. (Signs of Agni Yoga, 407)  - Goodwill is the touchstone which will transform the world. (Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. I)

Join us for an afternoon of sacred music, meditation, talks and discussion. At this time of planetary crisis all spiritual workers can contribute to building a thoughtform of solution to world problems. Since 1952 World Invocation Day has been observed as a global day of spiritual healing.

Initial supporting and sponsoring organizations:  Aquarian Age Community, Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, Operation Peace through Unity; Pathways to Peace.

For further information:



Culture and education



UNA-USA - “Going Global with the UN:  From Westchester to the World”

Three new programs developed in Westchester County, with potential for replication in other areas

April 27 - To reach a larger audience among the 925,000 people of Westchester County, New York, our chapter has developed three electronic communications products. Each product has potential for replication by other chapters. 

“Going Global with the UN: From Westchester to the World  is a 26-week, 1/2 hour  series of videos about the UN and its work, airing since October 2005 on 14 public access cable TV stations throughout the County.  The series makes available to the public selected videos produced by the UN and its agencies (FAO, World Bank, UNICEF).  Themes include UN History, Human Rights, Education, Poverty Reduction, Development, Health, the Environment, War & Peace, Gender Issues and Ageing. 

“Peace Makes the World a Better Place,”  is a 20-minute video, produced by the Chapter and based on its Spring 2005 project in Yonkers public schools.   This shows 270 pieces of artwork drawn by third-graders after conversations with chapter members and interns in their classrooms.    Interviews with children from 1st through 6th grade, done during “Yonkers Mayfair” and at the Yonkers YMCA, bring out the themes of peace in the home, neighborhood, school, playground and in the world.  The video is available for sale and is being marketed widely.

“Marketing UN Radio in the USA.” Interns from LaGuardia Community College, under Chapter supervision and with an office at UNA headquarters, are helping UN staff to market UN Radio in the U.S.  UN Radio is a free international resource giving news and features about the UN which became available to US radio stations in autumn 2005.   This collaboration supports outreach to local, tri-state collegiate and other radio stations and to UNA chapters.  The interns also assist UN Radio staff with research in preparing for various conference presentations. 

For further information:


Indonesia: PGRI wins court case for increase in education budget to 20%

April 26 – Education International (EI) affiliate in Indonesia, the Persatuan Guru Republik Indonesia (Teachers' Association of the Republic of Indonesia – PGRI) has won the case in the Constitutional Court to increase public education budget from the present 8.1% to 20% as according to the constitution. After almost a year of wrangling, the Constitutional Court ruled on 22 March that the present budget allocation of 8.1% is against the 1945 Constitution which implicitly states 20% allocation to education. The Court also ruled that the Government and the House of Representatives should not avoid implementing the Constitution.

Since 2005, both PGRI and the Indonesian Educationists' Association have been demanding a judicial review of the annual state budget allocation. (…)  Timely interventions by EI in the form of appeal letters to the President of the Republic of Indonesia, the Chairman of Indonesian Parliament, the Constitutional Court and the Minister for National Education urging the implementation of the constitutional provision as requested by the PGRI, helped pressurise authorities into the prompt resolution of the case in favour of PGRI. (…)

With this new development in place, education in Indonesia will surely improve. Thousands of children who are out of schools will have better access to schooling, the underpaid voluntary teachers will be replaced by fully-paid trained teachers and all of this will contribute to the attainment of Education for All in the country.


1st Meeting of ACP Ministers of Education - 5 May 2006, ACP House

Brussels, 19 April (Secretariat of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States) - The ACP Ministers of Education will hold their first meeting in Brussels on 5 May 2006, to deliberate on the strategic role of intra-ACP cooperation in the attainment of the objectives and the strategies adopted by the World Education Forum held in Dakar in 2000. The meeting will provide an opportunity for participants to share their experiences in the implementation of Policies on Education for All (EFA), and the promotion of higher education for sustainable development.

This first meeting will also avail the Ministers the opportunity to hold focused discussions on the relevant elements of the objectives and strategies outlined by the Dakar Forum. Special attention will be given to the crucial problems that have an impact on educational reforms such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic and financial resources. (…)

The Ministerial Session will be preceded by the meeting of ACP Senior Education Officials on 3 and 4 May 2006, which will have focussed discussions on key thematic areas in Education, including basic education, tertiary education, intra-ACP cooperation as well as exchange of views on the implementation of the ACP-EU cooperation Programme in Higher Education (EDULINK). 


UNESCO: Close of a very positive session of Executive Board - urging mutual respect for cultural diversity, religious beliefs and religious symbols

April 14 - The 174 session of UNESCO’s Executive Board ended yesterday - after more than two weeks of debates qualified by its Chairman, Vice Minister of Education Zhang Xinsheng (China), as particularly enriching – with the adoption of a decision urging mutual respect for cultural diversity, religious beliefs and religious symbols. In his closing remarks, Mr Zhang welcomed the outcome of the session saying it had met his hopes for work marked by harmony, hexie in Chinese, and teamwork. Among the items on the agenda of the session, the issue of freedom of expression and sacred beliefs was the subject of extensive debates leading to the adoption by consensus of a decision that was welcomed by the Chairman of the Executive Board and by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura.

In a communiqué, the Director-General notably welcomed the fact that: “For the first time in many weeks, a consensus has been achieved within an intergovernmental forum on an issue that has seriously troubled efforts of dialogue and rapprochement among cultures and civilizations.” In his closing remarks, Mr Zhang for his part stressed that the Board has sent out a clear signal, “a signal that says: here in UNESCO is where such sensitive problems must be addressed, and can be addressed.” He added: “Our future on this planet cannot be anything other than a shared future, and we have no other building blocks except respect and more respect; understanding and yet better understanding of each other and our diversity.” All aspects of education, the main priority of the Organization, were considered by the Board. (…)


“E-Technology Challenges and Opportunities: Empowering the Graying Society”

A two-date day free International Conference addressing the “Age of Connectivity”

United Nations Headquarters, New York, June 19-20

New York, 10 April - As part of a series of Interlinked Congresses addressing the “Age of Longevity” held in cities around the globe, this conference is organized in coordination with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Programme on Ageing, Department of Public Information, Stony Brook University (SUNY), NGOs, and the private sector.  The Conference is an implementation initiative of the World Summit on the Information Society and in support of the United Nations Sixtieth Anniversary Commemoration.

The “E-Technology” Conference interrelates basic elements that influence our quality of life -- family, education, health, housing, multi-levels of government, and the information highway (of ICT) – offering a quality blueprint for an empowered Graying Society. When perceived with an open mind, these interrelationships offer endless opportunities for us all. (…)

Program will address: Social and Economic Sustainability through Technology,  E-health, Networks, and Capacity Building. Topics include: Healthcare, life-long learning, workforce transition,  “people-friendly” accessible technology, elder abuse, and HIV/AIDS.

Please check UN Web-site for Conference up-date and required registration form  or 


USAID provides $2 million for inclusive education in Indonesia

April 6 - Helen Keller International and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) signed a $2 million agreement to strengthen education for children in Indonesia with special needs. Over the next two years, USAID-HKI's “Opportunities for Vulnerable Children” (OVC) program will work in Jakarta to strengthen the management and teaching capacity of government counterparts to provide higher quality, inclusive education to children through the development of policy and educational programs that improve access to local schools and opportunities for children. The program builds on pilot activities, including the Early Intervention Center opened by President Yudhoyono.

Since the early 1980’s, HKI has pioneered rehabilitation and education programs for students with visual impairments in Indonesia. HKI created a model that can be expanded and adapted to serve other disabled and disenfranchised populations. (…)


Maestro Zubin Mehta lends support to European Children’s Festival, Paris, 27 May-1 June

April 3- ICAF e.V. is pleased to announce that Mr. Zubin Mehta has agreed to be a patron of the European Festival of Children’s Creativity & Art to be held at Olympia Park in Munich on 27 May – 1 June 2006. In a letter to Mrs. Elena Janker, Executive Director of ICAF e.V., Mr. Mehta wrote: “My congratulations to you on your wonderful activities. Today it’s more important than ever to connect children from around the world through art and creativity to establish the fundamentals for peace. With the project Children Take a Stand the International Child Art Foundation finds a way from one to all for more openness and tolerance. With art, children and music it is really possible to overcome all limits and to create a better world. I like this idea and wish you great success.” (…)

Mr. Zubin Mehta is Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. Born in Mumbai, Mr. Mehta initially studied medicine. At the age of eighteen, he abandoned his medical career to attend the Academy of Music in Vienna. Seven years later, he conducted both the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra appointed him Music Director for Life in 1981. His many honors include the Padma Bhushan (Order of the Lotus), India's highest cultural award for outstanding accomplishment in the arts and sciences.

The International Child Art Foundation is the only international non-governmental organization that promotes children’s creative development and cross-cultural cooperation through the arts.


World Citizens Siberia-Planet 3000 meeting, 3-7 Sept. in Novosibirsk, Russian Federation

Devoted to the 10th anniversary of Planet 3000 – Altai 3000 project & the 55th birthday anniversary of Planet 3000 Voice Nina Goncharova . Motto: Life is Celebration of Creation

In 10 years of wandering as Planet 3000 project (initiator is T. Akbashev), we have collectively created teams who take real responsibility for life. We are planning to hold a Celebration meeting of World Citizens – people who take responsibility for our planet. We also are planning to pay special attention to Altai as a place for creating Altai Cultural Complex for United World (ACCEM) as a model world community, destined to play a great role in transforming the world from competition to cooperation, from conflicts to culture of peace.

We invite people from all over the world who consider the Earth to be our common house and humanity as one family.  We are focused on presenting the essence and results of 10 years of Planet 3000 team work in creating a society and culture of peace though education for world citizens. We will integrate our visions and actions for future.   This meeting will be a new step in our interrelated actions as one loving world team. We will celebrate our meeting in Novosibirsk – children, youth and grown ups will take part in a joint “Star Way” performance and create a wonderful New World celebration of love, harmony and peace. Then we will travel to Altai Mountains to visit the envisioned site for ACCEM and create new horizons of life for a new loving and conscious humanity.

Talgat Akbashev, Nina Goncharova, Claude Veziau and Planet 3000 team


International Website: A New Culture Of Peace  From Social Harmony And Children’s Priority

Multilingual site uniting more than 140 authors from 27 countries of the world

The International, Cosmopolitan, Multicultural and InterdisciplinaryWebsite is a daughter Website of the International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace: IFLAC PAVE PEACE. This remarkable organization, and especially the tireless work of its founder and president, Professor Ada Aharoni, a true global citizen, have inspired us to start this Website “Peace from Harmony and Children’s Priority”

Our website is created as a collective, multilingual, living and growing "how to" book for a new culture of peace from harmony o­n the children's priority basis. It is a worthy place for friendly meetings, and for dialogs among different cultures, languages and civilizations in search of finding ways to work together, to achieve harmonious peace in an information (global) society.

The  site  co-authors  put a  beginning to a new global civil movement "Making children  a  priority  in  the  world  "  and  addressed  to the leaders of some countries  (Australia, USA, Russia, England, India, Israel and others) with this appeal.  26 site  co-authors  from 12 countries of the world created a Harmonious  Era  Calendar  as alternative to military calendars of an industrial society.  This  Calendar  is  included  into  the  "Address  to youth and future generations".



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World Press Freedom Day, 3 May


Secretary-General says freedom of expression fundamental, universal;

Appeals for Right to be exercised responsibly, in World Day message

(UNDPI, New York, 28 April) - Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message on World Press Freedom Day, observed 3 May:

Information is all around us.  With the proliferation of so-called new media, new technologies and new ways of distributing content, information has become far more accessible.  It is also becoming more diverse.  Mainstream media reporting, for example, is being supplemented by “participatory media”, such as blogs.

But, as media and journalism evolve, certain bedrock principles remain paramount.  On World Press Freedom Day, I again declare my firm support for the universal right to freedom of expression.  Many members of the press have been killed, maimed, detained or targeted in other ways for pursuing that right in good conscience.  According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 47 were killed in 2005, and 11 have lost their lives so far this year.  It is tragic and unacceptable that the number of journalists killed in the line of duty has become a barometer for measuring press freedom.  I urge all Governments to reaffirm their commitment to the right to “seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”, as set out in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

At the same time, I appeal to everyone to exercise that right responsibly and, where possible, proactively.  Media have a powerful influence on human behaviour.  As such, and as the General Assembly affirmed in its recent resolution establishing the new United Nations Human Rights Council, they have “an important role to play in promoting tolerance, respect for and freedom of religion and belief”.  Media should not be vehicles for incitement or degradation, or for spreading hatred.  It must be possible to exercise discretion, without encroaching on fundamental freedoms.

On World Press Freedom Day, let us recognize that national and global media not only report on change, but are themselves agents of change.  We should all be grateful for the work and imagination of the press.  I trust old and new media alike will be able to continue their work, unencumbered by threats, fear or other constraint.



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Next issue: 26 May.


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Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to over 3,700 editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in 48 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway,  Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA, and it is also available in its web site:

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:


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