Good News Agency – n° 9
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 Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Hungary, Portugal, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, and it is available in its web site:
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 based on unity within diversity and on sharing. Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy. E-mail: email@example.com
IAEA Supports Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans
Monaco, 6 November — The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) welcomed participants of the 3rd Global Meeting of Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans to Monaco this week. The meeting assembled a number of marine environmental experts from several UN bodies to reinforce activities to protect the marine environment. Given its unique position as the only marine laboratory in the UN system, the IAEA’s Marine Environment Laboratory (IAEA-MEL) is well-placed to act as host. A number of crucial issues were considered at this meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans of considerable interest and relevance to IAEA–MEL. They included the implementation of the Global Plan of Action (GPA) for the protection of the marine environment from land-based activities, the chemicals-related conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the legally binding instrument on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
ILO Governing Body: 279th Session, November 2-17
Forced Labour, Freedom of Association and Globalization on Agenda
Forced labour in Myanmar (Burma) and the contribution of freedom of association to social and economic development were among the agenda items of the 279th session of the International Labour Office (ILO) Governing Body in Geneva from 2 to 17 November.
The Governing Body also examined proposals for possible improvements in ILO standards-related activities, concentrating at the current session on the choice of subjects for the setting of standards. It will return at its next session to a discussion of methods for increasing the impact of international labour standards.
Un Security Council Calls for Global Assessment of Impact of War on Women
In an unprecedented move the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted on Oct.31 its first resolution on women and peace and security. The resolution calls for the prosecution of crimes against women, increased protection of women and girls during war, appointing more women to UN peacekeeping operations and field missions, and ensuring that more women participate in decision-making processes at the national, regional and international level.
The 18-point resolution (S/RES/1325) calls for the United Nations to carry out a global study on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, the role of women in peace-building, and the gender dimensions of peace processes and conflict resolution.
Italy signs agreement with North Korea for development support
The agreement, which was finalized during a visit to Italy by North Korea’s Minister of External Affairs end September, foresees the opening of an Italian office of cooperation at Pyongyang and defines the procedures for aid programmes financed by Italy. At the same time, the agreement provides a legal picture for the non-governmental organizations which will be requested to carry out co-operation projects.
Mali: African ministers to meet on small arms
African foreign ministers are to meet in Bamako on 27-30 November to come up with a common position on small arms, an expert with the Togo-based UN Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa told IRIN on Thursday. Their position will be presented in March 2001 at the UN Conference on Small Arms, the disarmament expert, Napoleon Abdulai, said.
Meanwhile, delegates from Mali’s army and civil society, neighbouring countries, Canada and France participated this week in a debate aimed at working out a national policy to retrieve small arms, PANA reported.
There are an estimated eight million light arms circulating in West Africa, including countries such as Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, Abdulai said.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights
The European Union approved the Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, that will be solemnly proclaimed at the European Summit in Nice, France, on December 7-8. The Charter reflects the importance that the EU attach to citizens’ social rights. Among the articles of the Charter: condemnation of the death penalty, right to privacy, freedom of thought, of consciousness, of religion and of expression, right to education, elderly people’s rights, children’s rights, the right to a parental leave of absence after the birth or adoption of a son or daughter, the right to a good administration.
UN Condemn Neo-Nazi Type Ideologies
The General Assembly will resolutely condemn neo-Nazi type ideologies based on assumptions of racial superiority, according to one of 14 draft resolutions the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) adopted on November 8. By the draft on neo-Nazi type ideologies, the Assembly will further express its determination to resist such behaviours. It will affirm that States are responsible for combating such activities and will call on governments to promote human rights and awareness of the need to fight hateful ideologies. States will be urged to institute measures to eradicate such activities, with the Assembly asking the Secretary-General to include a listing of such measures in his report to the 2001 World Conference on racism.
A related resolution on measures to combat contemporary forms of racism and intolerance was also approved without a vote.
UN: Meeting on “Gender and Racial Discrimination” - Zagreb, Croatia, 21-24 November
The UN Division for the Advancement of Women, in collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), will convene an expert group meeting in Zagreb, Croatia, on the theme of “Gender and racial discrimination”. The meeting will be hosted by the Government of Croatia, and will take place from 21 to 24 November. The expert group meeting will consider the various aspects related to these forms of racial discrimination. Their recommendations will be directed to governments, the United Nations system, intergovernmental and regional bodies and civil society. They will aim to refine and expand the “actions to be taken” at both international and national levels outlined in the Beijing Platform for Action, as well as the further actions identified by the “Beijing + 5” special session of the General Assembly.
Youssou Ndour named Honorary Ambassador of the Campaign against Child Labour
Geneva, 8 November – Youssou Ndour – the internationally acclaimed musician, singer and songwriter – was named Honorary Ambassador of the ILO Global Campaign Against Child Labour. Mr. Ndour, of Senegal, received the award in appreciation of his commitment towards raising public awareness in the worldwide struggle against child labour.
ILO Director-General Juan Somavia cited Mr. Ndour’s longtime commitment to human rights and hailed Mr. Ndour for agreeing to represent the important cause of eliminating the worst forms of child labour. Mr. Ndour’s music video, “My Hope is in You”, already has become an integral part of the ILO’s campaign for ratification of a new international convention to ban exploitative child labour.
Convention for monitoring of acts of racial intolerance – Verona, Italy, 20-21 November
On 20th and 21st November a convention will be held in Verona with the participation of the NGOs that have significant experience in monitoring for the identification and report of acts of intolerance and discrimination towards immigrants and other minority groups. The objective of the initiative is to activate a one-year control programme to identify episodes of discrimination against foreign citizens with a regular working permit in Italy, and to avoid the arising and spreading of prejudices against them through information and mediation and, when necessary, legal assistance.
Major Milestone Reached In Global Polio Eradication:
Western Pacific Region Is Certified Polio-Free
The Western Pacific was officially certified polio-free on 29 October by the Regional Certification Commission for Poliomyelitis Eradication during a summit meeting in Kyoto, Japan, hosted by the Japanese government, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Rotary International.
It is the second WHO region to achieve this status after the Americas were declared polio-free in 1994. Home to approximately 1.6 billion people, the Western Pacific region comprises 37 nations and geographical areas, from China in the north and west to New Zealand in the south and French Polynesia in the east. The last confirmed case of polio in the region was in 1997, a two-year-old girl in Cambodia. According to WHO, more than 100 million children in the Western Pacific were immunized against polio each year between 1994 and 1998. Rotary’s non-political status as a non-profit service organization helped by allowing its volunteers to reach children and make permanent inroads to countries like China, North Korea, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Rotary’s global polio immunization effort has its roots in the Western Pacific Region with a contribution of US$760,000 for a five-year pilot program in 1979 to vaccinate six million children in the Philippines. Inspired by the success of the program, Rotary launched PolioPlus in 1985, a 20-year commitment to immunize the children of the world against polio by 2005, Rotary’s centennial anniversary. To date, Rotary has contributed US$37.5 million to the Western Pacific region and some $378 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. By 2005, Rotary will have committed approximately half a billion dollars.
Nigeria: Bill Gates donates funds for AIDS prevention
Abidjan, 16 November – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated US $25 million to help fight HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. The money will go to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Harvard Center for International Development, the foundation said on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
The Nigerian AIDS Prevention Initiative will begin by profiling the nature of HIV infection in the country, followed by prevention programmes such as those successfully carried out in Senegal for many years. Infection rates there have remained stable at 2 percent. The foundation noted that one out of six Africans is a Nigerian, the country has at least 113 million people and HIV/AIDS prevalence is still very low. “This is our opportunity to help a great many people stay healthy,” HSPH Dean Barry Bloom said. “The object, based on our experience in Senegal, is to prevent infection from getting to the level of 25 (percent) to 30 percent as in other African nations.”
Battling social exclusion a must in struggle against AIDS
Rio de Janeiro, 6 November – The AIDS epidemic is closely linked to inequality, violence and discrimination because “these forces of social exclusion” isolate individuals and rob communities of the power of collective action, said Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), in his opening address to Forum 2000.
Dr Piot said that inequality is at least as much a driver of uneven health outcomes as absolute poverty, and that “social injustices and the gap between rich and poor may be more important than just the level of poverty.”
Sustainable Forest Products Markets Necessary for Sustainable Forest Management – and vice versa!
November 2 – “The production and consumption of wood is increasing in the ECE region (Europe, North America and the CIS), while at the same time the area of forests and of protected areas are expanding” according to Dr. Wulf Killmann, Director, Forest Products Division, Forestry Department, FAO. The annual increase in growing stock of timber exceeds fellings (700 versus 400 million m3 per year respectively). He concluded that “in the long run the best guarantee for forest survival is economic viability as a key to sustainable forest management.”
ECLA: Growth With Stability in Latin America
At the Fourth Regional Consultation on Financing for Development, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) presented last week in Bogota, Colombia, its new paper Growth with Stability. The paper proposes mechanisms to strengthen the international financial system in order to prevent and manage future crises, to improve countries’ access to international financial markets, and to raise national saving and investment, along with developing the financial system to more efficiently channel resources into investment.
ECLAC suggests that the region must grow at least 6% annually to reduce poverty at a “desirable rate” and reduce the income gap with developed countries. The investment rates required range from 26% to 28%, that is, between four and six percentage points of GDP higher than the averages for the 1990s.
To avoid increasing the vulnerability involved in higher levels of external financing, “investment and national savings need to be boosted simultaneously.” It is necessary to make an effort to ensure that company, family and public sector saving all increase at the same time. Growth with Stability proposes some concrete mechanisms and measures to achieve this.
Tour Operators’ Initiative on Sustainable Tourism Development Present Good Practices at World Travel Market in London
Leading international tour operators – including TUI Group, Japan Travel Bureau and Thomson Travel Group1 – met at the World Travel Market, 15 November 2000, to present examples of good practices that they are using to improve their performance and promote sustainable development in the tourism industry.
These tour operators are all members of the Tour Operators’ Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development2. This Initiative is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Scientific, Cultural and Education Organisation (UNESCO) and the World Tourism Organisation (WTO/OMT). The meeting was a catalyst for action and a platform for dialogue for tour operators who are committed to adopting sustainable development practices.
West Africa: WFP appeals for US $65 million to feed hundreds of thousands
15 November – The World Food Programme (WFP) appealed for US $65 million to feed hundreds of thousands of people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where fighting is worsening an already bad humanitarian crisis, the UN agency said. In Guinea, the agency said, an estimated 50,000 people have been displaced since fighting began in September along that country’s border with Sierra Leone and Liberia. In addition, WFP has identified another 965,000 beneficiaries for food aid in 2001 under the agency’s Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation programme. The year-long project begins in January and will help 573,000 people. Among these are refugees, the internally displaced, malnourished children and other vulnerable groups, WFP said. An additional 392,000 will get food to take part in rebuilding infrastructure, boosting farming and providing household food security.
Guinea: Food distribution resumed
Food distribution resumed on 2 November in Kolomba camp, southeastern Guinea, following a six-week interruption, UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said in Geneva. Kolomba, located in the Gueckedou area, hosts some 26,000 refugees. The refugees received a 30-day ration including oil and cereals. This distribution will test the feasibility of further ad-hoc deliveries to other camps in the Gueckedou area, which has over 200,000 refugees. Janowski said. The camps have not received any aid since mid-September, when the killing of a UNHCR worker prompted the agency to suspend its field operations in Guinea.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: 93 unaccompanied children to rejoin their families
Geneva – Seventy-nine unaccompanied children and adolescents, ranging in age from one to 16 years, were flown from Goma to the Congolese capital Kinshasa on 3 November under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). On their arrival the children were looked after by the ICRC before being returned to their families, from whom most of them had been separated since the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo flared up again in August 1998.
Afghanistan: Red Cross/Red Crescent aid for drought victims
Recent assessments carried out by the Afghan Red Crescent Society, the ICRC and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies found that nomadic communities have been the hardest hit by the drought, with farmers who cultivate rain-fed land coming a close second. With no rain expected until at least the end of the year, a humanitarian response is crucial to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable communities.
Last week the ICRC began distributing emergency food aid and other supplies in the central province of Ghor. Each of some 20,000 families in Chaghcharan district will receive 60 kg of split peas and 54 kg of ghee (oil) over the next three weeks. This, together with the wheat distributed by the World Food Programme, will cover their food needs for six months.
The Afghan Red Crescent, with the support of the International Federation, is increasing the capacity of its branch in the district, using volunteers trained in basic health care to help the stricken population through the winter.
Rotary International Presidential Conference: 400 participants from 30 countries
The Rotary International Presidential Conference which ran from November 9-11 in Miami, Florida, USA, was attended by more than 400 Rotary club members from 30 countries. The focus of the conference was to improve the humanitarian efforts of Rotary clubs in North America. Topics discussed at the event included, among others, teen violence and substance abuse, avoidable blindness, jobs for the disabled, population and development.
Rotary International is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide, who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. There are approximately 1.2 million Rotary club members who are members of more than 29,000 Rotary clubs in 163 countries.
East Timor: Italian NGO CESVI is launching a new project for refugees
Cesvi is starting a new project in favour of internal refugees and of refugees to be found in the Viqueque area. The project will include: the rehabilitation of 482 houses; the rehabilitation of the water system and drains; the rehabilitation of schools (in collaboration with UNICEF); the purchase and distribution of mosquito nets and the organisation of training in the use of pesticides.
Sierra Leone: UNICEF provides materials for school
UNICEF has provided construction materials to an Indian Battalion of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone for the rehabilitation of five schools in Mile 91, some 115 km east of Freetown.
This will enable 4,000 children, of whom at least 40 percent are internally displaced, to attend classes. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Youth, Education and Sports has sent textbooks to the area to complement the teaching/learning materials already provided by UNICEF, the UN agency said in its situation report for 3-16 October.
The Ministry has also agreed to provide materials to schools that will enrol former child soldiers. UNICEF said nine schools had been identified in four provinces to pilot the project.
2,500 cattle for poor farmers in Kosovo flown in from Germany and Austria – joint FAO/World Bank Initiative
Pristina, 9 November – Around 2,500 cattle have been flown to Kosovo since the beginning of October as part of an Emergency Farm Reconstruction Project funded by the World Bank and the Netherlands and managed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The animals were given to poor farmers and their families who lost all their livestock during the war, FAO said in a statement today.
Ford Motor Co. is going green with its $2 billion emodelling plans for its Rouge industrial complex in Dearborn, Michigan, USA. The remodel, being spearheaded by green architect William McDonough, will include rooftop plantings designed to absorb rainfall and regulate building temperature along with a nearly 1 million-square-foot meadow meant to rehabilitate contaminated soil. Meanwhile, Ford announced at the beginning of November that its first fuel-cell cars to be sold on the market will be based on its hot-selling Focus; the cars are expected to be available in 2004, but mainly as vehicles for business fleets. Daimler-Chrysler plans to introduce its first fuel-cell buses in 2002 and fuel-cell cars in 2004; other automakers have pledged to market fuel-cell vehicles by 2004 as well. “In 25 years, fuel cells could be the predominate automotive power source,” said Ford Chair Bill Ford in a statement.
China joins agreement to adopt global vehicle regulations
On 9 December 2000, China will become the ninth country to adhere to the UN/ECE Agreement for the development of global vehicle regulations.
The eight other signatories of the Agreement are the United States of America, Japan, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Canada and the Russian Federation, as well as the European Union. The Republic of South Africa and Spain have also signed the Agreement although not yet ratified it, and many other countries are undertaking the necessary legal procedures for also acceding to the Agreement.
Entered into force on 25 August 2000, this new global Agreement provides the framework for the development of globally agreed vehicle regulations which will establish the safety, environmental, energy efficiency and anti-theft performance criteria and limits to which newly manufactured vehicles throughout the world, their equipment and parts, will have to comply.
A new car-sharing program is starting up in San Francisco this month, following the success of similar programs in Portland (Oregon), Seattle (Washington), and other American and European cities. Car-sharing programs offer people the opportunity to buy into a pool of cars and trucks that are available for running errands and making other trips. For people who drive only a few times a week or month, car sharing can save money, alleviate parking hassles, and eliminate the need for worrying about maintenance. It can also have environmental benefits by discouraging unneeded trips and keeping down the number of cars clogging the roads, and some car-sharing programs make a point of having fuel-efficient, alternative-fuel, and electric cars. Car Sharing Portland, a private company, has been around since March 1998 and has 800 members.
Global Climate Strategy Must Include Africa
"Don't forget the poor and the vulnerable," urges UNEP's Head
Nairobi, 9 November - The nations of Africa have a vital role to play in the global campaign to address climate change, according to Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the Nairobi-based United Nations Environment Programme and Under-Secretary General of the UN.
"As one of only two UN bodies to be headquartered in the developing world, we at UNEP are extremely sensitive to just how vulnerable poor people are to the coming impacts of climate change," said Mr. Toepfer
Infoethics 2000 Congress on the Right to Universal Access to Information
The Third International Congress on Ethical, Legal and Societal Challenges of Cyberspace, INFOethics 2000 - on the “Right to Universal Access to Information in the 21st Century” – was held at UNESCO Headquarters from November 13 to 15.
The Congress, the third in a series of conferences organised by UNESCO, brought together some 450 participants from a large number of countries representing the widest range of educational, scientific, cultural and social environments. They included governmental representatives - including ministers and other high-level officials - non-governmental organisation representatives, academics, journalists and private sector executives who furthered the debate on the ethical, legal and societal principles applicable in cyberspace.
UNESCO’s INFOethics congresses seek to meet the growing need for guidelines to be developed so as to ensure equitable and affordable access to information technologies, bridge the digital divide, address the problems posed by misuse of the Internet, and protect users’ rights. Such guidelines should cover all aspects of the global information networks: technological and economic issues as well as contents.
Largest ever gift to the Rotary Foundation
The Rotary Foundation has received a US$7 million gift, the largest ever, from posthumous donors Paul Elder and his wife, Jean. The Elders' gift crowns a lifetime of work dedicated to Rotarian service and friendship with people from all walks of life, positions of authority and cultures. Three million dollars of the gift goes towards scholarship endowments under the Paul and Jean Elder Educational Fund within the Foundation's Permanent Fund; $1 million for one or more Rotary World Peace Scholarships per year as part of the new Rotary Centers for International Studies and Conflict Resolution; and $2 million for two Ambassadorial Scholarships per year. Half a million dollars is earmarked for the PolioPlus Partners program. The Paul and Jean Elder Humanitarian Fund provides an endowment for humanitarian projects.
"Achievements of the Millennium": St. Petersburg, November 20 to 24, 2000
The world congress "Achievements of the Millennium" that will be held in St. Petersburg on November 20-24 intends to analyse achievements of civilization in the second millennium and determine major directions of human development in the new era. Main discussion topics will include humankind and its worldview, public and state development, achievements of science and culture, religion and spirituality, economic development of society.
Planetary Vision Festival 2001: Canada joins in
Toronto, Canada is confirmed for the launch of PVF2001 on World Day One – January 1, 2001 featuring “First Steps – A Walk for the Future” and the “First Global Singalong”. The City of Toronto has officially endorsed the launch through its Toronto Millennium Office. Numerous other locations worldwide will join in on World Day One including from Antarctica, Trinidad & Tobago, the United Kingdom and Samoa.
Planetary Vision Festival 2001 fosters the development of a new “Planetary Consciousness” that recognizes the essential interdependence and oneness of all humanity and our planetary home. It is the first in an annual series of events and programs celebrating the new Planetary Consciousness and its related ethics and actions. The Planetary Vision Festival 2001 is initiated by The Club of Budapest in partnership with the Founding Member Alliance.
by Robert Muller
“The human species represents an extraordinary progress of evolution on this planet. It will be even more astonishing, provided we weed out our mistakes and wrong objectives which went to our heads: enrichment, armaments, national sovereignty, militarization, overconsumption, waste on colossal scales, destruction of other species and of nature, violence, materialism, racial and sexual discrimination, overpopulation, extreme wealth side by side with extreme poverty, etc. These evils and wrong courses have been well identified by the United Nations, the planet-wide, human-wide evolutionary meta-organism. Our mistakes must be corrected non only globally, but continentally, nationally, locally and individually. I recommend that each human being consult his/her heart and select one or several of these mistakes and work hard on their correction and elimination.” (Idea no. 3)
Next issue: December 1.