Good News Agency – Year VIII, n° 4



Weekly - Year VIII, number 4 – 16th March 2007

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

Solidarity  Peace and securityHealthEnergy and Safety

Environment and wildlifeCulture and education

International Women's Day: message by the President of the UN General Assembly



International legislation



Boosting the diversity of European TV and on-demand services: Commission paves the way for the new Directive "Audiovisual without Frontiers"

Brussels, 9 March - The Commission has unveiled today a consolidated text of the modernised "Television without Frontiers" Directive. After a first reading in the European Parliament and the Council, there is now broad agreement with the Commission about the future legal framework for Europe's audiovisual sector. The new rules, which have been called for especially by the European Parliament, are a response to technological developments and create a new level-playing field in Europe for emerging audiovisual media services (video on demand, mobile TV, audiovisual services on digital TV). (…) The Commission also proposes to ensure the independence of national media regulators. The consolidated text of the new Directive will now go into a second reading by the European Parliament and Council. (…)

The modernisation of the "Television without Frontiers" Directive of 1989 was proposed by the Commission on 13 December 2005 (see IP/05/1573 and MEMO/06/208) and since then has made rapid progress in the European Parliament and in the Council of Ministers. The new Directive intends to help Europe's audiovisual industry to become more competitive by allowing all audiovisual media services to profit from the internal market, regardless of the transmission technology used. (…) At the heart of the new Directive is the country of origin principle, which was already the cornerstone of the original "Television without Frontiers" Directive of 1989. (…)

The new Directive also enhances media pluralism in the 27 EU Member States by opening up national media markets to more competition from other EU countries and by facilitating a diversified offer of TV- and audiovisual on-demand content from all over Europe. (…)


European Council agrees on integrated climate and energy policy

Heads of State and Government of the 27 Member States of the European Union attending the European Council in Brussels on 8 and 9 March 2007 agreed on elements of an integrated climate and energy policy, including a firm independent commitment to achieve at least a 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1990. The European Council also endorsed binding targets of 20% and 10% for renewables in general and biofuels in particular, respectively.

The Energy Policy for Europe will pursue the following three objectives, fully respecting Member States' choice of energy mix and sovereignty over primary energy sources and underpinned by a spirit of solidarity amongst Member States:

The European Council endorsed the following targets related to renewable energies:



Human rights



UN in Liberia report shows decline in sex abuse allegations; envoy says some progress

9 March - As part of continuing efforts by the United Nations to stamp out sexual exploitation and abuse wherever it occurs, the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) today released its latest report on the problem which shows a fall in the number of allegations against its own staff last year compared to 2005. Thirty allegations were reported last year compared to 45 a year earlier, according to the report, which is released annually as part of UNMIL’s efforts to implement the world body’s policy of keeping the public informed about efforts being made to eradicate any incidents of such abuse by UN personnel. (…)

The 2006 UNMIL Report on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse shows that the decrease in the number of allegations compared to the previous year was mainly due to preventive measures taken by the Mission, and its Conduct and Discipline Unit, which became fully operational last year. Such preventive measures include a compulsory induction course for all military and civilian staff members to raise awareness about the effects and consequences of sexual exploitation and abuse.

UNMIL has also adopted a collective approach to prevention by involving Liberia’s Government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the local communities in various programmes aimed at raising awareness. So far, 35 local NGOs have been trained to spread the UN’s zero tolerance message on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, the Mission said in a press release. (...)


No excuse for violence against women and girls – New project in Bosnia and Herzegovina

UNICEF, UNFPA and Medica Zenica Mark International Women’s Day with the launch of a New Project to address violence

Sarajevo, 8 March  - The launch of a new project to improve gender-based violence and child abuse referral mechanisms in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) is the expected result of a collaboration in which UNFPA and UNICEF BIH are joining efforts with the NGO, Medica Zenica.
The project will contribute to the development of a comprehensive mechanism for identifying, recording, reporting, treating and referring victims of violence. In 2008, this model will be piloted and evaluated in selected municipalities. (…)

Over a five-year period, UNICEF has supported the training of 750 professionals from the social work, police, health, judiciary, media and NGO sectors in 63 municipalities. Last year, UNICEF supported the BIH Government in preparing a national report on violence as its contribution to the UN Global Study on Violence Against Children. (…) UNFPA has been collaborating with a number of women’s NGOs in advancing the rights of women to a life free of violence. UNFPA efforts have been directed toward the elimination of all forms of violence against women, especially sexual gender-based violence, and fulfilling the reproductive health rights of women.  UNFPA and Medica represented Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Brussels International Symposium on Sexual Gender Based Violence in Conflict and Beyond in 2006, where they committed to future cooperation and the improvement of the position of women in the country, in order to achieve the Brussels Call for Zero Tolerance to Violence.


Human rights conference to tackle "R2P" resolution (U.S.A.)

by Yasmin Anwar,

8 March, Berkeley – A year after the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted the "Responsibility to Protect" resolution, human rights groups are pressing world leaders to act on their declaration to stem genocide and other atrocities.  At the University of California, Berkeley, next Tuesday (March 13), the campus's Human Rights Center will launch the West Coast's first conference on how to implement the ambitious U.N. principle known as "R2P." The "Stopping Mass Atrocities" conference is being co-hosted by Human Rights Watch and the Genocide Intervention Network. The keynote speaker is Lt. General Romeo Dallaire, former commander of the U.N. peacekeeping troops during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. In addition to his sold-out opening speech at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dallaire will speak at a campus press conference at noon on Wednesday (March 14). Also speaking at the press conference will be Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng, the subject of Dave Eggers' novelized autobiography "What Is the What," and Juan Méndez, special advisor to the U.N. on the prevention of genocide.

Among the conference's noteworthy panelists is Ken Rutherford of the Landmine Survivors Network. He lost both legs when his vehicle ran over a landmine during a relief mission in Somalia in 1993.

In a testament to growing youth concern over global massacres, many students have signed up to attend the conference, including a dozen members of Wood River High School in Blaine County, Idaho. "Some of our students are campaigning locally against the sale of blood diamonds by local jewelers. Others are writing letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience," said Wood River High teacher and Amnesty International advisor Jean Jacques Bohl, who will be traveling to Berkeley with the student group. (…)


International Women's Day:

A Small but Significant Step in the Fight against Domestic Violence

In Cusco, a community initiative based on a simple but powerful strategy is taking a stand against domestic violence and building a culture of peace in Peru.

7 March - "We've broken the cycle," says Martha Galarza, grassroots community leader and President of a local Defensorías Comunitarias (Community Defense) group in Cusco, Peru. The defensoras (or "defenders," as the monitors are known locally) emerged from Cusco's crowded outskirts as a community project to help victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and harassment by providing support for filing legal complaints and conducting follow-up.

The Defensorías Comunitarias trains local leaders to promote and protect the rights of women, girls and children. The Quechua-speaking defensoras are volunteers drawn from the local community (70% Quechua speaking), which makes them easier to approach for help when domestic violence or abuse occurs. Last week, Rocío Franco of the Institute for Legal Defense (IDL), the Peruvian NGO behind the Defensorías Comunitarias, traveled to Ghana to share the lessons learned from this initiative, which won first prize in the 2005-2006 Experiences in Social Innovation competition organized by ECLAC and the Kellogg Foundation.(…)

But in Cusco -- where 69% of women report having suffered domestic violence -- the number of legal complaints denouncing abuse was extremely low. Violence against women has been made invisible by fear, shame and obstacles faced by the public sector in assisting victims. According to one survey, 72% of abused women had never sought help from existing institutions. The Defensorías Comunitarias were created to confront domestic violence as a first step in reversing a widespread climate of aggression within families and promoting a culture of peace. This is accomplished by creating broad awareness of rights and spreading the message that domestic violence cannot be tolerated or justified under any circumstances. And this message is whispered, spoken, stated and shouted through public awareness campaigns.(…)


UNFPA: Ending Violence Against Women

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has launched a new publication entitled Ending Violence Against Women: Programming for Prevention, Protection and Care. The handbook, intended primarily for development practitioners, provides practical points to consider when designing and implementing projects addressing violence against women. It is a collection of good practices drawn from ten case studies described in a complementary volume Programming to Address Violence Against Women. The approaches are based on an appreciation of culture and the role it plays in this issue.

Ending Violence Against Women is available online. Also available on the UNFPA website is an Online Exhibition: Ending Violence Against Women, which includes cultural sensitive programming approaches, case studies and other related resources.


UN Trust Fund in support of actions to eliminate violence against women

The year 2007 marks the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women, which is managed by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). In establishing the Trust Fund, the General Assembly (resolution 50/166 in 1996) highlighted eliminating violence against women as critical to accelerating the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Trust Fund is the only multilateral grant-making mechanism that supports local, national and regional efforts to combat violence. Since it began operations in 1997, the Trust Fund has distributed nearly US$13 million to 226 innovative programmes to address violence against women in more than 100 countries, including projects that conduct public education and awareness campaigns, build coalitions, involve law-enforcement, judicial and government agencies, train educators, healthcare personnel and police officials to respond to and prevent violence. Many projects strive to alter community attitudes and involve men as allies. Further information is available online.


iKNOW Politics

The first virtual network linking women in politics throughout the world was launched on 27 February 2007 at the United Nations: the International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics (iKNOW Politics). The initiative was founded in partnership by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

The global platform is specifically designed to promote gender-sensitive governance and advance the role and number of women in political and public life. It connects parliamentarians, representatives, candidates, political party leaders and members, researchers, academia and practitioners across borders, generations and faiths, equipping them with the materials, expertise and best practices to make their political mark.

Drawing on a database of over 100 experts on women in politics, iKNOW Politics allows users to access an online library with more than 400 reports, handbooks and training materials in English, French and Spanish from leading international agencies, research institutions, academia and civil society groups. More information is available online.



Economy and development



European Commission and IFAD commit to increased investment in agriculture for rural poverty eradication

Brussels and Rome, 9 March - The European Commission (EC) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have committed to stepping up investment in agriculture as a means of eradicating rural poverty in developing countries around the world. These commitments occur at a time when major donors, international institutions, and the private sector are focusing on agriculture and its role in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Clear signs of this renewed interest are the recent commitment by African leaders to invest 10 per cent of their countries’ budgets in this sector, the choice of agriculture as the theme of the 2008 World Bank World Development Report and substantial increases in EC development assistance directed to  rural areas. Today the President of IFAD, Lennart Båge, met in Brussels with senior officials from Europe Aid Co-operation Office and the Directorate General for Development of the European Commission. Båge reiterated that investment in agriculture is the key to meeting the MDGs given that 75 per cent of the world's poorest people, living on less than a dollar a day, live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods.(…) "The new 2007-2013 EC Food Security Thematic Programme (FSTP) is already a concrete sign of the EC's steady commitment towards achieving MDG1 on hunger particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. With an allocation of Euro 925 million in the coming four years the FSTP intends to improve the food security situation of the poorest and the most vulnerable through a set of better coordinated and increasingly coherent actions," said Koos Richelle, Director General of the EuropeAid Co-operation Office of the EC.(…)


US$19.9 million IFAD-supported project will create jobs in rural Upper Egypt

Rome, 7 March – A new development project will help create about 30,000 jobs, establish 44,000 small and micro enterprises and make financial services available to 200 small businesses in poor rural areas of Upper Egypt. The US$19.9 million Upper Egypt Rural Development Project will be partly financed by a loan of US$15.1 million and a grant of US$950,000 from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The loan and grant agreement was signed today by Ashraf Rashed, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and Lennart Båge, President of IFAD. The Government of Egypt will contribute US$3.7 million to finance the project. Although agriculture has been a key economic sector for generations in Egypt, most of the country’s poor people live in rural areas. Project activities will focus on enabling small farmers and producers to set up marketing associations, improving people’s access to microfinance services and strengthening farmers’ access to markets. The Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation of Egypt and the Social Fund for Development (SDF) will manage the project. The SFD is an organization established by Egypt’s government and funded by several donors.(…) 


Chad: ICRC launches income generating projects to displaced women and those hosting them in eastern Chad

March 7- The ICRC has recently introduced several income generating projects to benefit groups of women among host and displaced communities in the conflict affected regions of Assoungha (Alacha/ Goungour towns) and Dar Sila (Tour/Dogdoré towns) respectively.

These projects have all been designed in close collaboration with the concerned communities and respond to very specific local needs. The aim of all the projects is to boost existing income generating activities by providing mechanisms which will generate a higher output at a faster rate for the women who are normally the primary cultivators and sellers of cash crops. (…)

Since the beginning of 2006, the ICRC has been assisting over 40,000 displaced people in eastern Chad, in the regions of Assoungha and Dar Sila, bordering Sudan, who have been the targets of cross border incursions by cattle raiders as well as victims caught in the crossfire of inter-communal violence fuelled also by the growing internal conflict between Government forces and armed opposition groups. (…)

The ICRC has been assisting internally displaced people in Chad since October 2005 when the first major displacement occurred. Its assistance comprises food and basic non-food items, seeds and tools and is complemented with water projects specifically intended to increase the supply to both the displaced and host populations in order to meet increased demand caused by the large influx of displaced people. The ICRC also assists health posts serving IDP and host communities.


More than 800 applicants to the Social Innovation Competition, round three

Projects from 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries have applied, with Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Peru leading the list

27 February - A total of 806 innovative projects to benefit communities in 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries have signed up to participate in the third round of the "Experiences in Social Innovation" competition (2006-2007 cycle), organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The competition, first launched in 2004, identifies successful new initiatives in social development to disseminate them and contribute to the best practices and policies on behalf of the region's poor. Brazil tops the list of competition entries with 145 applicants, followed by Argentina (137), Colombia (127), Mexico (122), Chile (70) and Peru (66). Programmes for youth make up the front-running category (21%), followed by health projects (17%), rural development (14%), education (13%), income generation (11%) and volunteer work (8%).(…)

Ethiopia brings in third consecutive bumper harvest

FAO/WFP report looks at Ethiopia’s improved crop and food situation

Rome, 26 February - A crop and food supply assessment report on Ethiopia issued Friday night by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme finds the East African country, which has faced serious food crises in past decades, can expect better crop yields this year.

The joint report attributes the improved yields to more land area being cultivated, well-distributed rainfall on crops and higher financial returns to grain growers prompting increased investment in inputs as well as wider availability of fertilizers and improved seeds and credit.

Read: “Special Crop and Food Supply Report on Ethiopia” at this link:


Boosting the commercialization of coconut water

Cold preservation could help small farmers to gain market share

21 February, Rome - In an effort to boost the commercialization of coconut water by small farmers and companies, FAO has published a training guide promoting a simple cold preservation process that could increase sales of bottled coconut water. “The cold preservation process requires little investment and skills, and it offers small entrepreneurs a chance to enter the market of bottling coconut water of good quality,” said Rosa Rolle of FAO’s Rural Infrastructure and Agro-industries Division. The process was developed and evaluated in Jamaica, in close collaboration with the University of the West Indies, the Coconut Industries Board and the Jamaican Scientific Research Council. To date, most coconut water is still consumed fresh in tropical countries.

Once exposed to air, and warm temperatures, it rapidly deteriorates. Present commercial production of canned coconut water has a drawback. Sterilizing the product using high temperature and short-time pasteurization destroys some of the nutrients in coconut water and almost all of the delicate flavour. The cold preservation process recommended by FAO instead protects the natural flavour of coconut water. The process involves filtration, bottling and rigorous temperature control. It allows farmers to produce bottled coconut water that stays fresh from 10 days to three weeks. This will help to meet demands from domestic retail markets.(…)


UN /OECD meeting to promote sustainable development strategies in Asia

Bangkok, 2 March - Rapid economic growth in Asia and the Pacific has come at a heavy environmental cost, and countries in the region are in urgent need to develop policies with a long-term perspective. In response to this challenge, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) are jointly organizing a Workshop on Developing Sustainability Strategies in Asia at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok from 8 to 9 March 2007.

UNESCAP regional participants come from Bangladesh, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, Tuvalu and Vietnam. They will join colleagues from the 30 industrialized member countries of OECD and representatives of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) to discuss ways to incorporate environmental and social concerns into development planning. (…)

A recent report by UNESCAP warns that Asia and the Pacific is already living beyond its ecological carrying capacity. To ensure continuing economic growth, countries in the region will have to move away from the current ‘grow first, clean up later’ mentality and to embrace a ‘Green Growth’ model. (…)






In Eastern Mali, ADRA provides food for life

March 9 - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is providing essential nourishment for vulnerable children in Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world.

The West African nation suffers from low literacy, low per capita income, food insecurity, and limited infrastructure. Mali has one of the world's lowest life expectancies and highest under-five mortality rates. The region of Gao, located in eastern Mali, along with the regions of Mopti and Timbuktu, is extremely food insecure.

In response, ADRA Mali is implementing Food for Life, a one-year project to distribute food to malnourished children at health centers and schools in nomad locations. HELP International and ADRA Germany, in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP), are financing this project.

From January to December 2007, ADRA plans to distribute in Gao a minimum of 180 tons of enriched flour, 20 tons of oil, and 15 tons of sugar. According to the WFP agreement, the project objectives include improving the nutritional status of children by providing food for children aged six months to 59 months, schoolchildren, and their families. (…)


CARE ready to respond to latest disaster in Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia, March 6 - CARE emergency teams are ready to deploy in response to two major earthquakes that struck the disaster-prone Indonesian island of Sumatra early Tuesday. Early news accounts report 70 killed and thousands displaced by the shocks, which flattened hundreds of buildings. CARE, which has extensive networks of emergency staff already in the area responding to recent flooding in northern Sumatra and the 2004 tsunami in Aceh, is coordinating closely with the local authorities and other agencies in the affected areas to determine the extent of the response needed.

"So far, the information we have is that the situation is within the scope of the government's capabilities to respond," says Assistant Country Director Johan Kieft, who led CARE's emergency responses to the Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006 and the recent floods in Jakarta and Aceh. "However, it is a remote area, and in similar events in the past such as last year's earthquake in Yogyakarta, casualty figures increased rapidly as more information flowed in. Our emergency team is ready to provide immediate assistance if needed."

CARE has more than 40 years of experience in providing emergency response in Indonesia.


DKK 14 million to fight HIV/AIDS

Copenhagen,4 March - 19.000 voluntary collectors all over Denmark spent a couple of hours on a lovely sunny Sunday and ensured that DanChurchAid’s annual door-to-door Parish Collection reached a fantastic result of DKK 14 million (EURO 1,880,240).

Equipped with a collecting box, 19.000 collectors spent their Sunday raising money for DanChurchAid’s HIV/AIDS work in Africa, Asia and Russia. Although the number of volunteer collectors in Copenhagen in particular was lower than last year, DanChurchAid succeeded in raising DKK 14 million at the annual door-to-door collection today. (…) The incredible result was due to the record-breaking collections in 1250 participating parishes and the new cooperation between DanChurchAid and Denmark's leading consumer goods retailer, COOP.  (…)


Occupied Golan: ICRC supports local communities by transporting apples

March 2 - The ICRC is in the process of transporting 10,000 tonnes of apples from the occupied Golan into Syria proper. The organization is acting in its capacity as a neutral intermediary and at the request of local farmers and the Syrian and Israeli authorities. The operation is being coordinated with all the parties concerned.

The apples are transported from warehouses in the occupied Golan to the Israeli checkpoint at the Kuneitra crossing. Then they are transferred to three ICRC trucks and delivered to buyers waiting on the Syrian side. The operation is expected to last at least six weeks.

This is the third year that the ICRC has conducted such an operation at the Kuneitra crossing. In 2005, it transported 4,000 tonnes and last year close to 5,000 tonnes.

The organization has been carrying out humanitarian activities in the occupied Golan since 1967 and has maintained a permanent presence there since 1988. In its role as a trusted neutral intermediary, it provides a range of services addressing problems that arise from movement restrictions imposed on the population, as well as legal and administrative difficulties resulting from the occupation.


Counterpart International marks 10 years of assisting Azerbaijan's needy

Gathering, shipping and distributing more than $54 million worth of humanitarian assistance, Counterpart has helped Azeris improve their quality of life and create opportunities for long-lasting positive change.

Washington, DC, March 2 – March marks the 10-year anniversary of Counterpart International's humanitarian work in Azerbaijan – providing, for instance, more than 400 large containers of crucial aid worth more than US$54 million over the period. Since 1997, Counterpart's dedicated Community and Humanitarian Assistance Programs (CHAP) provided food, clothing, medical equipment, housing items and many other living essentials to orphans, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, the elderly, people with disabilities, families and needy children throughout Azerbaijan's 52 regions.

Last year, Counterpart brought clean drinking water to a camp for internally displaced persons – a comprehensive project that involved cleaning water tanks, plastering tank walls and constructing a water drainage system. The reconstructed water tanks have now decreased the risk of water-borne illnesses and contagious diseases. (…)

Operating on five continents, Counterpart is supported by the generosity of its corporate and individual donors, foundations, host countries, multilateral institutions and several U.S. government agencies. For further information, visit


Restoring dental health to families along the Gulf Coast

March 2007 - Hurricane Katrina completely destroyed Coastal Family Health Center’s dental facility in Biloxi which cared for more than 400 patients a month, leaving Biloxi and the coastal region without dental services for low-income patients. Now a new mobile dental van, equipped by Project HOPE through a $150,000 Johnson and Johnson grant, is restoring dental health to families along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. (…) The new mobile dental unit has two fully-equipped dental operatories, x-ray units and developer, sterilization units, an array of hand pieces and accessories, a handicapped lift, sanitary facilities and a mini-waiting room. (…)

When the land-based dental clinic is completed, the mobile dental clinic will continue to circulate throughout the coastal area providing services to outlying and isolated populations. This mobile unit will also provide readiness in the event of another debilitating Gulf storm.

Since November 2005, Project HOPE has provided more than $1.2 million in cash and gift-in-kind support to CFHC to re-establish primary health care services to families still impacted by Hurricane Katrina.



Peace and security



Haiti: UN peacekeepers extend crackdown on criminal gangs

9 March – United Nations peacekeepers and Haitian police are extending their crackdown on armed gangs in Port-au-Prince, the capital, arresting criminals, seizing weapons and restoring services in cleared areas – from rehabilitating a school used by the gangs as a refuge to building a football field. “The UN peacekeepers are going to continue to pursue the criminals who threaten Haiti’s security,” UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) military spokesperson Laurie Arellano said in her latest update.

This week, 235 UN peacekeepers and police joined their Haitian colleagues and carried out two operations in one of the violence-ridden country’s most dangerous areas, the Cité Soleil neighbourhood, where they have already arrested dozens of suspects, capturing 15 more suspected members, including key leaders, of the Evans gang. Evans himself has so far evaded capture. (…)

Thanks to the improved security in Cité Soleil, the Saint Thomas de Boston school reopened its doors this week after being restored by MINUSTAH soldiers following its use as a gang headquarters. Returning the school to the community, the UN distributed 150 school kits, 80 sports uniforms and other sports equipment. The mission has already transformed other gang lairs into medical centres and water distribution points. (…)


UN resumes voluntary resettlement of Sudanese refugees (Sudan)

by Geresom Musamali,

8 March - THE United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Tuesday resumed the voluntary return of Sudanese refugees.  A 13-truck convoy travelling with an ambulance, three cars and carrying about 300 refugees, left Imvepi settlement in Arua for Yei in the Central Equatorial Province of Sudan,” the agency said in a statement. It added that the exercise was stopped following the outbreak of meningitis in Arua, Yumbe, Moyo, Adjumani, Koboko, Nebbi, Masindi and Kotido districts in Uganda. The agency’s representative in Uganda, Stefano Severe, revealed that about 170,000 sudanese refugees have been residing in Uganda. (…)

About 27,000 refugees have volunteered to return to their homes in Sudan following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended two decades of war in southern Sudan.

Their return has however been marred by insecurity caused by the Lord’s Resistance Army, landmines in Sudan and the meningitis outbreak.


Uganda President H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museven to be patron of 4th IIPT African Conference - Kampala, Uganda, May 20-25, 2007

Stowe, Vermont, USA March 7 - H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President, Republic of Uganda, will formally open the 4th IIPT African Conference on Peace through Tourism being held at the newly opened Kampala Serena Hotel and Conference Center, Kampala, Uganda, May 20, 2007.  Theme of the Conference is "Building Strategic Alliances for Sustainable Tourism Development, Peace and Reconciliation on the African Continent."

IIPT Founder and President, Louis D'Amore stated: "We are most honored to have President Museveni as Patron of the 4th IIPT African Conference, which promises to be our most exciting and successful African Conference to date. More than 400 delegates from some 50 countries of Africa, Asia, Europe, North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean are anticipated to take part in the Conference."

Conference goals are to broaden awareness of the social, cultural, environmental and economic benefits of tourism, identify new markets, facilitate product development and investment opportunities, and contribute to reconciliation, peace, wealth creation and poverty reduction throughout the African Continent.


Belgium criminalizes investment in cluster bomb manufacturers

Lisl Brunner at 12:56 PM ET

March 2 - [JURIST] Belgium has become the first country to criminalize investment in companies that make cluster bombs [JURIST news archive; FAS backgrounder]. Legislation passed the Belgian Senate on Thursday, and the Parliament plans to publish a list of companies that manufacture cluster munitions. Belgian banks KBC and Fortis have already terminated their investments in such companies, and KBC has published its own list of manufacturers. The new law will prohibit Belgian banks from owning shares in cluster bomb manufacturers or offering them credit.

Last week, 46 countries pledged to develop a new international treaty to ban the use of cluster bombs by 2008 at the Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions. Last year, Belgium was the first country to ban cluster bombs. Although the US did not attend the Oslo conference, top Democratic lawmakers recently introduced a bill in the US Senate that would ban federal funds for the use, sale or transfer of cluster bombs. Cluster munitions, which have been used by at least 23 countries, are considered by many to be inaccurate weapons designed to spread damage indiscriminately and could therefore be considered illegal under multiple provisions of Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions (1977). Reuters has more. Indymedia has local coverage.


Japan's Emergency Assistance to improve the humanitarian situation of the Palestinians

On March 2, the Government of Japan decided to extend Emergency Grant Aid of a total of 7.2 million US dollars to UNDP, UNRWA and UNFPA in order to improve the humanitarian situation of the Palestinians. The Middle East Peace Process is in critical phase such as the forming of a Palestinian national unity government. In such a circumstance, Japan decided this assistance to improve the dire humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories and to support President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in his efforts for peace. This assistance is expected to improve medical care and alleviate unemployment and poverty through provision of medical supplies and equipment, rehabilitation of medical facilities and job creation.(…)

Japan will continue to engage positively in efforts toward early resumption of the Middle East Peace Process through assistance to the Palestinians, political talks and confidence-building measures between the parties concerned.


Polisario Front destroys second landmine stockpile

Geneva/Tifariti, 1 March – On 27 February, the Polisario Front’s mine action team destroyed 3’321 antipersonnel mines in Tifariti, Western Sahara. This is the Polisario Front’s second stockpile destruction since it signed the Geneva Call “Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Antipersonnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action” in November 2005. By signing the Deed of Commitment, the Polisario Front committed to destroy all antipersonnel landmines in its possession and to collaborate in mine action in the areas it controls.(…)

Geneva Call and the SCBL congratulate the Polisario Front for a successful destruction operation. This achievement illustrates how engagement of non-State actors such as the Polisario Front on the landmine ban can bring concrete humanitarian results, despite the unresolved status of the Western Sahara conflict.






Teen cancer patient returns to Peru

Thanks to Beaverton Rotary, Rony Montalvan goes home with a bright prognosis, a supply of meds and the best wishes of an entire community

Beaverton, Ore., USA, 10 March - Eighteen-year-old Rony Montalvan, the Peruvian cancer patient who touched the hearts of an entire community, leaves Beaverton, Ore., for his hometown of Toquepala on March 25.

Rony is the Rotary Youth Exchange student who, just days before his year-long Oregon stay was to have ended in June 2006, was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a life-threatening disease that required immediate and intensive medical treatment. A long flight home to Peru would have put his life at risk, so the members of the Rotary Club of Beaverton did what Rotary does best -- they rallied to help a family in need.

The club quickly arranged to sponsor Rony for an additional year in order to continue his health care coverage. The club also raised more than $20,000 to help cover medical costs and assisted members of Rony’s family as they traveled back and forth from Peru to be at his side. During his stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Portland, several Rotary members took turns delivering meals and providing transportation for Rony and his relatives to and from Legacy Children’s Hospital.

Thanks to the community’s support, Rony returns home with a two to three-year supply of cancer-fighting drugs. He will continue his treatments at a hospital in Lima. Rotary clubs in Peru will continue to assist the family. (…)


PCI Youth Radio shows change lives in Central America

Popular dramas teach youth about HIV/AIDS and sexual health

March 7 – PCI, a global not-for-profit producer of TV and radio shows in over 25 countries, celebrates the impressive first-year results of two of its youth radio programs: “Que Ondas con tu Vida” (What’s Up with Your Life?) and “La Ruleta: Donde las Emociones se Funden” (The Roulette – Where Emotions Melt) produced and broadcast in Honduras and Guatemala, respectively.

Co-produced through PCI’s innovative “My Community” program, both dramas tackle critical public health issues that are often seen as taboo – issues such as emergency contraception, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, and reproductive health rights. Each mini-drama was written, acted, and produced by local talent, and broadcast within a weekly live show along with music, interviews, and contests. (…)

PCI's “My Community” Program fosters social and behavior change communications programs throughout Latin America through an intensive program of training, seed grants, and technical assistance. For more information about “My Community” - Latin America, please click here.


Offering free health care in a neglected region of the DRC

26 February - By taking over the hospital in Lubutu, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Médecins Sans Frontières aims to fight mortality in an area hit by a catastrophic health crisis. (…)  Since MSF started working in the Lubutu hospital, just over two months ago, the number of patients has been increasing steadily. The hospital was almost completely run down when, on November 28, MSF stepped in and took charge of the 104-beds facility, introducing free health care for the patients. The hospital is located in a highly isolated part of Maniema Province, in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). (…)

MSF has worked in the DRC since 1981. Today, up to 2,500 Congolese staff work alongside over 200 international staff to bring medical assistance to the Congolese population, with 26 projects across the country.



Energy and safety



Tapping termite technology for green gold mining

Editorial by Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, who is visiting Brazil between 5 and 7 March 2007

When the Presidents of Brazil and the United States meet next week, the surprising topic of termites might be high on the agenda. For in the race to develop the next or second generation biofuels, these humble life forms are attracting a great deal of scientific, financial and political attention. US Government-backed scientists claim microbes living in the guts of termites have potent enzymes able to efficiently and cost effectively transform woody wastes into sugars for ethanol production. Ethanol yields from termite technology could, within a few years, out strip those from crops like maize and even sugar cane. The US is investing billions of dollars in alternative fuels, a slice of which is now earmarked for termites. Similar studies are being undertaken at Kenyan tropical insect labs with funding from Europe. (...)

Domestically Petrobras has indicated plans to expand production 15 fold and increase exports to 200 billion litres—up from three billion—over the next two decades. The future would seem to be rosy and like the sugars used to make ethanol, sweet. But there is another future harvest that may prove a more bitter one. Concerned groups and anti-biofuel alliances are being forged drawn from environmental, social and food security backgrounds. Strident voices, in some cases reminiscent of those opposing nuclear power, are starting to be raised. There are fears that energy crops will consume wildlife habitats and economically productive forests. There are also concerns that the new drive may perpetuate poor working conditions in the agricultural sector and aggravate food insecurity by diverting food from hungry mouths into petrol tanks. Energy companies are worried that a consumer backlash may be looming that could trigger boycotts undermining biofuel investments. (…)The future of biofuels clearly lies in the soils. The question is whether that future is in crops or in second generation fuels like those possible from termite enzymes. Or perhaps like so much of Brazil’s transport fuels, a blend of both—of the old established technology and the new rapidly emerging ones.



Environment and wildlife



Global report cites progress in slowing forest losses

Progress in forest management welcomed

Rome, 13 March – A number of regions of the world are reversing centuries of deforestation and are now showing an increase in forest area, according to FAO's State of the World’s Forests report, released today.

The report, which was launched at the opening of the 18th Session of FAO's Committee on Forestry, underlines the positive effects of economic prosperity and careful forest management in saving forests, noting that over 100 countries have established national forest programmes.

“Many countries have shown the political will to improve forest management by revising policies and legislation and strengthening forestry institutions. Increasing attention is being paid to the conservation of soil, water, biological diversity and other environmental values,” said David Harcharik, FAO Deputy Director-General. “However, countries that are facing the most serious challenges in achieving sustainable forest management are those with the highest rates of poverty and civil conflict.”

Global forest cover amounts to just under four billion hectares, covering about 30 percent of the world’s land area. From 1990 to 2005, the world lost three percent of its total forest area, an average decrease of some 0.2 percent per year, according to FAO data. From 2000 to 2005, 57 countries reported an increase in forest area, and 83 reported a decrease. However, the net forest loss remains at 7.3 million hectares per year or 20 000 hectares per day, equivalent to an area twice the size of Paris. Ten countries account for 80 percent of the world’s primary forests, of which Indonesia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea and Brazil saw the highest losses in primary forest in the five years running from 2000 to 2005.


WWF launches marine protection campaign in the Southern Ocean

Southern Ocean, Antarctica, 1 March – With the official launch of the International Polar Year today, WWF is looking to stop unsustainable fishing, marine pollution and climate change in the Southern Ocean. In particular, the global conservation organization wants to create a network of marine protected areas in the southern waters by 2012, including the Ross Sea near Antarctica.

The Ross Sea is a physically and ecologically unique part of the Southern Ocean and home to many species including the colossal squid, the world’s largest invertebrate. (…)

According to scientists, parts of the Antarctic Peninsula are among the fastest-warming regions on the planet. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change recently warned that sea ice would shrink in both poles by the end of the century. (…)

Following two recent shipping incidents in Antarctic waters, one of which resulted in an oil spill in the pristine waters off Deception Island, WWF will lobby for better protection of the Southern Ocean at the next Antarctic Treaty Consultative meeting, to be held from 30 April 30 to 11 May 2007 in New Delhi, India. (…)



Culture and education



International Women’s Day and Education

March 8 - On International Women’s Day, educators worldwide are demanding that governments act to halt violence that endangers women’s lives, violates their rights, harms their families and poses an affront to humanity and international law. According to Education International (EI), the federation of organizations representing over 30 million teachers and other education workers, women around the world continue to face systemic discrimination and inequality that restricts their choices, limits their ability to act and undercuts their enormous potential to contribute to peace and development.

EI and its member organizations are urging governments to pursue the Education for All goals and Millennium Development Goals related to education, by: guaranteeing the fundamental right to education to all girls worldwide; strengthening opportunities for post-primary education for girls while meeting commitments to universal primary education; making schools girl-friendly; recruiting female teachers from the communities in areas where the school enrolment of girls is low due to cultural factors and traditional practices that pose impediments to education; implementing international conventions prohibiting child labour and setting minimum age for labour; combating violence against girls and women; taking measures to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children; and providing sexual health education and access to quality public services by adolescents, poor women and disadvantaged groups. More information is available online.


What’s being done to support youth education in coffee-producing communities?

An education forum in Cartagena, Colombia

8 March, Cartagena, Colombia - Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) is hosting a two-day forum March 8th and 9th for educators working in coffee-producing communities, coffee industry representatives working on corporate social responsibility and members of international organizations that support public-private partnerships in order to find creative solutions to the educational needs identified in the region. The forum targets corporate social responsibility concerns of the coffee sector as they relate to education. During the two day event, participants will explore the education needs among coffee-growing communities, current programs that respond to such needs, and matching-fund programs for private investment in education. (…)

In attendance will be senior staff of USAID, the Inter-American Development Bank, major coffee companies, Procter & Gamble representatives, education specialists working in these communities such as the Colombian Coffee Federation, Fundación Luker and Fundación Manuel Mejía, and European organizations such as 4C.

Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) is one of the world’s leading nonprofit education and health organizations, with 325 projects in 50 countries. EDC brings researchers and practitioners together to advance learning and healthy development for individuals of all ages and institutions of all types. For more information, visit


UNICEF calls for entries for children’s broadcasting award

New York, 7 March  -  UNICEF and the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences today called for entries from broadcasters for the 2007 International Children’s Day of Broadcasting Award.  The ICDB Award will go to the broadcaster whose programming best reflects the 2006 International Children’s Day of Broadcasting them, Unite for Children. Unite Against AIDS, and who demonstrates an overall dedication to youth participation in media. Radio broadcasters also are encouraged to submit their programs, as UNICEF will also be awarding the 2007 ICDB Award for Radio Excellence.  To be eligible for the ICDB Award, broadcasts must have taken place on or around Sunday, 10 December 2006 in conjunction with the 2006 International Children’s Day of Broadcasting.  The deadline for entries is 18 May 2007. More information and entry forms can be found at To encourage more youth participation in media throughout the year, the award judges will not only consider the quality of the work, but also will consider the commitment broadcasters make to engaging with youth on an ongoing basis.(…)


Nation's Governors hail Ford PAS program

Project is a collaboration of Ford and EDC

Newton, MA, USA, 27 February - In honoring Ford Motor Company with its Public-Private Partnership Award, the National Governor's Association singled out the development and growth of the Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies (Ford PAS), developed by Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, in collaboration with EDC.

Ford PAS is a high school program for the 21st century designed to engage and excite students in business, science, technology, engineering, design and math while building critical problem-solving and innovative thinking and learning skills. Ford PAS, originating in Michigan, is currently used in 130 sites across 21 states and has reached more than 10,000 students since its inception. (…)

EDC provides ongoing technical assistance, in partnership with Ford Motor Company Fund, for all sites and partners implementing Ford PAS by hosting an interactive Web site and toll-free hotline and offering a variety of professional development activities. Ford Motor Company Fund and EDC also work with states, districts, and colleges and universities to build collaborations that enhance the success of Ford PAS within schools and communities. (…)

Ford Motor Company was chosen for the award by an independent selection committee. Areas of consideration included education, environment, health care and public safety.

For more information about Ford PAS, visit


EU - The new Culture Programme

The Culture Programme is a Community programme established for seven years (2007-2013)

The programme shall be implemented over a period starting on 1 January 2007 and ending on 31 December 2013. The general objective of the programme shall be to enhance the cultural area common to Europeans through the development of cultural cooperation between the creators, cultural players and cultural institutions of the countries taking part in the programme, with a view to encouraging the emergence of European citizenship.

The Programme shall be open to the participation of non-audiovisual cultural industries, in particular small cultural enterprises, where such industries are acting in a non-profit-making cultural capacity.

The specific objectives of the programme are:

·                     to promote the transnational mobility of people working in the cultural sector;

·                     to encourage the transnational circulation of works and cultural and artistic products;

·                     to encourage intercultural dialogue.

The Culture Programme is established by the Decision No1855/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, published in the Official Journal n° L 372 of 27 December 2006.


The European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) support the audiovisual sector of the ACP countries

Bruxelles, 28 February - In close partnership, the European Commission and the ACP Secretariat elaborated a new EU-ACP Film & Television Programme. It will be managed by the ACP Secretariat and financed by the EU's 9th European Development Fund (EDF). The programme's overall aim is to promote the development and structuring of the film and television industries in the ACP countries and to enable them to create and distribute their own images. In this way, the programme will help to protect cultural diversity, highlight the cultural identities of the ACP countries and promote intercultural dialogue.

The grants will be allocated to stimulate the emergence or strengthening of production capacities in the ACP film and television industries as well as to improve distribution of film and other audiovisual works originating in the ACP countries – as a priority in those countries, but also in the EU and internationally.

The programme has a total fund for grants of 6.5 million euro (4.263.720.500 FCFA). It consists of the following three components: support to the production of films by ACP directors; support to the distribution, exhibition and promotion of ACP films and networking of ACP professionals; support to training for the professional development of the ACP audiovisual sector.

The first call for proposals, which covers all three components, should be published during the last quarter of 2007 by the ACP Secretariat. The second call for proposals is foreseen for 2008.

Website for the calls for proposals (grants) and calls for tender:


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Message by H.E. Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa the President of the UN General Assembly

United Nations Headquarters, New York, 8 March 2007


International Women’s Day , 8 March 2007


Violence against women and girls is widespread in all societies. The United Nations Charter affirms faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women. The right to live without fear of violence is a basic human right for all people, including women and girls.  The right to seek equal justice, without discrimination, is a basic human right. We have a moral and political duty to uphold these rights.


The comprehensive study on violence against women issued during the 61st Session of the General Assembly includes strong recommendations that can end the impunity of violence committed against women. We have made huge advances in setting global standards to prevent, punish and eradicate these heinous crimes.  Our efforts have gone far to reverse what used to be the traditional lack of response. But progress in ending violence and impunity remains insufficient and inconsistent in all parts of the world. States have binding obligations and can be held accountable. The failure to comply with international standards or to exercise due diligence is a violation of the human rights of women.

Sates cannot abdicate their international obligations to punish perpetrators and prevent violence against, and the exploitation of, women and girls. Neither can they hide behind cultural and religious reservations to international treaties condemning this violence. We must demonstrate by our actions that we intend to keep our promises.

We also need to recognize that ending violence against women and girls is not only the responsibility of the State. It also requires a change of mindset. It requires us to demonstrate, once and for all, that there are no grounds for tolerance and no tolerable excuses. If we are going to stop violence against women and girls – we must begin by speaking out. We must ensure that women and girls enjoy their basic human rights without discrimination.  Criminal impunity must end. Every crime must be prosecuted.

When the Charter was being signed, Eleanor Roosevelt said that universal human rights begin in small places, close to home. Most violence against women and girls happens at home - not only physical, but sexual and psychological violence too. To change attitudes, to prevent and prosecute violence against women and girls we need to begin in the home.



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Next issue: 13 April 2007.


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