Good News Agency – n° 8
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. Good News Agency is distributed through internet to editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in Canada, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Hungary, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, and it is available in its web site: http://www.goodnewsagency.org
Good News Agency is a free of charge service activity of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered non-profit educational organization chartered in Italy in 1979. The Association operates in support to the Lucis Trust activities, the U.N. University for Peace, Radio For Peace International and other organizations engaged in the spreading of a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective.
UN body gives green light to new information law on pollution
The Committee on Environmental Policy of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) has given the go-ahead at its annual meeting for work to start on a new legally binding instrument requiring companies to report to the public on their polluting emissions to the environment.
The new law is expected to require countries to establish pollution inventories known as pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTRs). Under PRTR systems, potentially polluting companies are required to report periodically (e.g. annually) on their emissions of certain polluting substances to air, water and land, as well as their off-site transfers of such substances for treatment or disposal. The reported information is provided in electronic form and made accessible to the public, including through the Internet, subject to limited exemptions.
UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee (IBC) will hold its seventh session from November 7 to 9 in Quito (Ecuador) to reflect on the ethical and legal issues raised by research in the life sciences and their application.
Two reports compiled by working groups the IBC established at its previous meeting will be presented to the session. The first - to be discussed on November 8 - concerns the ethical aspects of embryonic stem cell research and raises questions such as: Should embryonic stem cells be considered in the same way as the embryo, or do they have a different status? Should “therapeutic cloning” be authorised?
The second report - on solidarity and international co-operation between developed and developing countries concerning the human genome - will be presented on November 9. It features proposals to help finance human genome research, training and the dissemination of knowledge in developing countries.
The European Conference against Racism wound up its deliberations in Strasbourgon 13 October with a reaffirmation of Europe's cultural diversity and a call for increased action to combat racism and related discrimination at national and sub-national levels on the continent.
In a strongly worded declaration, the Conference expressed alarm at the continuing violence and occurrence of racism, including contemporary forms of slavery, ethnic cleansing and the support for political parties and organizations disseminating racist and xenophobic ideology in Europe.
Three Sierra Leonean newspaper editors were honoured by the World Press Review in New York for risking their lives to uphold press freedom and human rights during the past nine years of conflict in their country, according to news reports. Paul Kamara of 'For Di People', Philip Neville of 'Standard Times' and David Tam-Baryoh of 'Punch' received the International Editor of the Year Award at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Also Winds of Peace in Israel
In these dramatic days, there are also real signs of hope. Good News Agency is happy to report here below the integral press release received yesterday directly from that crucial area.
Call on the silent majority on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides to take the lead and to return to peace talks.
The extremists and fanatics on both sides are endangering the peace.
The silent majority of Israelis, Jews and Arab/Palestinians have been taken unawares, and are dismayed to see that the peace process has been stopped. All the stones of all the mosques, synagogues and churches in the world, are not worth the blood of one child.
"IFLAC: The International Forum for the Culture of Peace", and “THE BRIDGE: Jewish and Arab/Palestinian Women” call on the peaceful majority on both sides to take the lead and to make it work. There is no way out, we live together and we have to stop killing each other. We have to go back to the discussion table, and find ways to arrive at a full Peace Treaty that would be acceptable by both the Palestinians and the Israelis, like with Egypt and Jordan.
During this last week, in response to the madness and the shootings, there have been numerous "Tents for Peace" in different places in Haifa and the Galilee, as well as in the villages Dahlia and Ussfiya. We are calling on Jewish and Arab/ Palestinians neighbours everywhere, to renew the good neighbourhood relations which were such an important part of our lives. All of these initiatives taking place at the grassroots level all over the country give us renewed motivation to continue our efforts for peace, which is so crucial in these difficult days.
IFLAC- PAVE PEACE together with THE BRIDGE, organized a SOUKKA for PEACE, in Haifa, in the "Mother's Garden," - "Gan Ha Em," there were hundreds of participants, half of them Jewish and half Arab/ Palestinian , who all spoke in the spirit of the above words.
IFLAC - THE BRIDGE, also organized a Symposium on "Good Neighbours," on Saturday October 21, at the TZAVTA Cultural Center, in Haifa, at 124 Shderot Ha-Nassi. A panel of prominent Israeli and Arab/ Palestinian speakers addressed the audience, among them: Prof. Chaim Aharoni, Nimer Nimer, Mohamed Khaled, Soad Shahade, and Judith Zilberstein. Their open and sincere exchange showed that they were speaking in the voices of the silent majority on both sides, that want to live in peace and harmony with each other. The Panel was followed by a lively discussion with the mixed audience of Jews and Arab/ Palestinians, and Resolutions in the spirit of the above were taken, mainly an urgent request on both sides to stop shooting and to return to the negotiating table and to the Peace Process.
Prof. Ada Aharoni, President: IFLAC - The
International Forum for the Culture of Peace
P.O.B: 9934, ZIP: 34341 Horev 57, Haifa 34343. Tel: 972-4-8243230, fax: 972-4-8261288
Egypt, Cameroon Sign Agricultural Assistance Accord As Part Of Fao's Special Programme For Food Security
The governments of Egypt and Cameroon signed on October 5 a tripartite agreement with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to send Egyptian agricultural technicians to assist Cameroon's agriculture. The cooperative accord, signed under the framework of FAO's Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS), will put the technical assistance services of Egypt at the disposal of Cameroon for two to three years, stressing a continuing spirit of cooperation between the two African countries.
Stable uranium supply to fuel nuclear power plants will continue to be available. This conclusion was reached at the International Symposium on the Uranium Production Cycle and the Environment held from 2 to 6 October 2000 at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. The meeting included specialists from about 40 countries.
Presentations at the IAEA symposium underlined that the known uranium resources of 4 million tonnes should last for about 65 years at present consumption rates without reprocessing. Estimates of potential, yet undiscovered resources would add 16 million tonnes, increasing the time period to almost 300 years.
A USD 93.5 million project the "Sustainable Development Project for Agrarian Reform Settlements in the Semi-Arid North east" in the Federative Republic of Brazil, will receive a USD 25 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The project area covers about 60 municipalities located in the semi-arid zone of five states of the northeast Region that is subject to cyclical, severe regional droughts. This zone is the least developed part of the region and the incidence of rural poverty exceeds 805, with critical poverty affecting more than 50% of the population.
A USD 40 million programme, the South Kordofan Rural Development Programme, in the Republic of The Sudan, will receive a USD 17.87 million loan and a USD 150,000 grant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Since the mid-1980’s, the State of South Kordofan has been plagued by civil strife, although it has abated considerably over the last two years. It has led to widespread disruption of communities, with some 200 000 people living under conditions of insecurity; between 33 000 to 66 000 people suffer from abject poverty in areas that are currently inaccessible to government services. The programme’s overall goal is to improve and sustain the living standards of the poorest rural population by ensuring their food security and providing them with social services in a secure environment in which they can manage their own community affairs.
What the world's poorest countries need most is not simply debt relief, but a "New Deal" in international development cooperation, contends UNCTAD in its Least Developed Countries 2000 Report, released on 12 October. Almost two thirds of the 48 least developed countries (LDCs) have an external debt burden which is unsustainable according to international criteria. But past efforts to substantially decrease their debt service payments have failed, and recent attempts to finally resolve the debt problem through the HIPC Initiative are not very promising either, the report says. This is because the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, even in its enhanced form, provides an insufficient reduction of debt levels. The remaining debt burden, combined with a decrease of official development assistance (ODA) and a limited flow of foreign direct investment (FDI), precludes a much-needed increase in financial resources and thereby impedes much higher levels of investments in the economic and social infrastructure of the LDCs.
Globalization must work for the poor
Calling on rich countries to practice what they preach, Leif Pagrotsky, Sweden's Minister for Trade, told the Second Global Forum on Human Development in Rio de Janeiro last week that globalization must work for the poor and rich countries must drop barriers that restrict imports from developing countries. He called on political leaders in the rich countries "to develop policies and take initiatives that will stop the exclusion of developing countries. We must be honest in our arguments and show solidarity in our decisions. This is our moral imperative but it is also in our self-interest. I want the European Union to take a global lead."
The African Development Fund (ADF) has approved a US $9.3 million loan to finance the third phase of a project to strengthen Guinea's health system.
"The objective of the project is to help upgrade the state of health of Guinean populations in general, and mother and child health in particular," the ADF said. The project aims to improve access to health services in the suburbs of Conakry, Tougue, Gaoual and Koundara
ROME, October 15, 2000 - On the eve of the UN’s World Food Day, the head of the United Nations World Food Programme called on the international and humanitarian communities to work together toward the simple, practical solutions that will end the scourge of global hunger.
WFP Executive Director Catherine Bertini said it is now possible to envision a world without hunger, because the resources, the political will and a broad public interest are beginning to converge with low-cost technologies for the benefit of the countless poor and hungry people around the globe.
Bertini cited the Internet as an example of the revolutionary, cost-effective technology that can be used in the campaign to end world hunger. She said that more than 100 million clicks on the Hunger Site since 1 June 1999 demonstrate just how successful the Internet has been as the means to informing people about hunger issues.
Winterthur, Switzerland. The world needs to unite for a massive effort against diseases of poverty, said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the World Health Organization at a meeting of organizations active in the fight against these diseases world-wide.
"A few main diseases, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and childhood killers, plus reproductive health conditions, are directly biting into the economic growth of poor countries. There is increasing recognition of the sheer difficulty faced by developing nations as they seek to counter these health threats," Dr Brundtland said. She said that a number of effective health interventions that drastically reduce mortality of main killers exist.
Zurich, Switzerland - To help further the eradication of polio in war-torn Somalia, Martina Hingis, number one ranked women’s tennis player, and Rotary clubs in Switzerland announced their donations to the World Health Organization (WHO) to supply much needed surveillance equipment, training and transportation for health workers.
Dr Heinrich Walti, past Rotary District Governor, has presented a cheque of US$ 200 000 to WHO during the SwissCom Challenge tennis tournament in Kloten, Switzerland on behalf of the Rotary clubs of Switzerland.
Five-time Grand Slam winner and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for polio eradication, Ms Martina Hingis presented a cheque for US$ 35 000. As part of a public awareness campaign called "Match Point Against Polio", Ms Hingis is raising funds, public awareness and participation to eradicate the disease.
Rotary clubs to send wheelchairs to thousands in Latin America
EVANSTON, Illinois, USA — 23 October 2000. Rotary clubs throughout Latin America and the Wheelchairs for the World Foundation have announced that they will work together to provide wheelchairs to nearly 5,000 men, women and children in countries throughout the region.
In developing countries, only a small percentage of those who need wheelchairs own or even have access to them, forcing dependence upon family and friends to get around. For others, the only way is to crawl. It is estimated that at least 20 million children and adults worldwide need a wheelchair but cannot afford one.
In 2001, Rotary clubs in Latin America will work with the Wheelchairs for the World Foundation to deliver 120 wheelchairs to each of the 32 states of Mexico and to each of the other 18 countries in Latin America. Rotary clubs will identify recipients in their regions and then provide the grassroots effort to personally deliver the wheelchairs to those in need, providing them mobility and a sense of hope.
The United Nations run a five-day immunisation campaign on 16-20 October in 14 West African countries, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported in Geneva.
UN agencies aim at immunising up to 70 million children in Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. A second-round of immunisations will take place in Cameroon, Chad and Cote d'Ivoire in November.
Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (Msf) Exploratory Mission Arrives In Gulu
Gulu/Kampala/New York: October 19, 2000 -- Yesterday a five persons team of the international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) arrived in Gulu, north Uganda, to assist in the recent outbreak of Ebola. The team is composed of three medical staff and two logisticians. An assessment of the situation is underway. Depending on the findings, the initial activities will probably focus on case finding, case isolation, contact training and education. All actions will be undertaken in close coordination with the Ugandan Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Another three MSF members are being sent to Kampala to reinforce the staff there. In addition, 2,000 kilograms of material has been sent to the field including hemorrhagic kits composed of sample gathering equipment, medicines (to treat the side effects of the fever), and protective clothing.
International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) observed the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction 2000 at the UN Conference Centre (UNCC), Bangkok, on Wednesday, 11 October 2000 from 9:00 am – 10:30 am.
The theme for this year, "Disaster Prevention, Education and Youth" is promoting a shift from a culture of reaction to disasters to a culture of prevention. Global commemoration activities aimed to increase awareness of policy-makers and the public about the necessity for education programmes in disaster prevention and management.
Vienna, Austria, October 2000: A visit of the Chilean delegation headed by H.E. Mr.Alvaro Diaz, Deputy Minister of Economic affairs, resulted in good prospects for closer cooperation between UNIDO (UN Industrial Development Office) and Chile in programmes related to environmental protection. Mr. Diaz presented the Government's intention to establish a network on cleaner production technology in Latin America.
Hoping to gain the high ground on climate change, the German government announced new steps that are aimed at making sure the country fulfills its pledge to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 21 percent from 1990 levels by 2010, as agreed to in the Kyoto climate change treaty. Measures passed include support for the development of clean energy and efficient cars, a nationwide plan to renovate old buildings with better heating and insulation systems, and the setting of voluntary targets for emissions reductions by German industry.
Britain is also on course to meet its Kyoto commitments, though a study released in these days predicted that the 15-member European Union as a whole is likely to miss its Kyoto target for cutting carbon dioxide emissions. An international negotiating meeting on implementation of the Kyoto Protocol will take place next month in The Hague, Netherlands.
Seven of the world's major corporations committed themselves to making significant reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions, a voluntary effort to combat climate change ahead of any government requirements. Working in partnership with the nonprofit Environmental Defense, the companies -- DuPont, BP, Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Suncor Energy, Ontario Power Generation, Alcan Aluminum, and Pechiney SA -- pledged to reduce their combined emissions, estimated at 360 million metric tons in 1990, to 280 million metric tons by 2010. The companies will adopt more efficient technologies and trade emission reduction credits amongst themselves in order to meet their goals. In an unrelated agreement, Polaroid announced last week that it will cut its carbon dioxide emissions 25 percent from 1994 levels by 2010, similar to commitments made earlier this year by Johnson & Johnson and IBM, part of a program sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund and the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions.
After years of negotiating, the U.S. and Russia signed an agreement to protect polar bears in northeastern Siberia and Alaska. There are an estimated 3,000 polar bears in the region -- and that number has been growing -- but enviros have been fearful that the total could decline because ice cover has been shrinking due to global warming and poaching and commercial hunting have picked up to feed the market for bear hides and gallbladders. The pact, modeled after a similar one between the U.S. and Canada, will prohibit commercial hunting and all types of hunting around polar bears dens, as well as the killing of female bears with cubs and bears younger than one year, and the use of aircraft, traps, and snares to hunt bears. Native tribes in both Alaska and Russia are planning to participate in the conservation plan. Some enviros are hopeful the agreement could set a precedent. David Cline of the World Wildlife Fund asked, "If we can have agreement on polar bears, why not on walrus and other wildlife?"
Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates: Rome, 10-12 November
The World Summit of the Nobel Peace Laureates will be held in Rome from 10 to 12 November, sponsored bt the Rome Commune and the Gorbachev Foundation. The Roman schools will take part to the event with a composition contest on the theme of peace. On November 10, first day of the event, the students will meet with Nobel Peace Laureate (1990) Michail Gorbachev. Among the other Nobel Peace Laureates who will be in Rome in mid-November: José Ramos Horta (1996), Adolfo Pèrez Esquibel (1980), Shimon Peres (1994), Joseph Rotblat (1995), Lech Walesa (1983), Frederik W. de Klerk (1993).
The congress, with the support of the International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS), will address the theme: Prevention of Hazards in Storage Areas. The aims are to present:
- The consequences for cultural heritage of natural or accidental disasters, or those arising from armed conflict
- Study cases of preventive measures
- Examples of cooperation between conservation or security specialists and manufacturers.
Email William Mourey email@example.com
by Robert Muller
“It is good that US citizens are beginning to react to the colossal overconsumption in their country, fostered in millions of ways by business, marketing, advertisement and the media.
“A 1995 survey by the Merck Family Fund found that since the decade begun, 28% of respondents have voluntarily reduced their income. Two-third said that they did so to reduce stress, increase personal time and restore balance in their lives.
“Trends Research Institute named simplicity one of the 1997’s top ten trends. “Never before, in the Institute’s 17 years of trend tracking, has a societal trend grown so quickly, spread so broadly and been embraced so eagerly,” TRI reports.
“Unfortunately, big business knows that and is now targeting the developing countries for western consumption habits through marketing and advertisement which are very cheap in these countries”.