Good News Agency – Year X, n° 159


Weekly - Year X, number 159 – 24th July 2009

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.           

 “…In conveying the appreciation of the Head of State for the passion and the professionalism with which you spread, above all among the young, the culture of "good news", I would like to take this opportunity of adding my personal greeting”. (From the letter of the Adviser for the Press and Information of the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, to the Editor of Good News Agency, 12 October 2007.)



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. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to 8,000 media and editorial journalists in 49 countries and to 2,800 NGOs and 500 high schools, colleges and universities. It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace” and it has been included in the web site




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation



Chile has ratified the Rome Statute

by Dominik Zimmermann

30 June - Yesterday the government of Chile deposited its instrument of ratification to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Statute will enter into force for Chile on 1 September 2009, bringing the total number of States Parties to the Rome Statute to 109. The government of Chile had proposed constitutional reforms as a prerequisite to the ratification of the Statute in order to avoid any potential conflict with the Constitution. For an overview of the countries that have ratified the Statute so far, you can see this list.


ILO and World Bank to work more closely on global disaster risk reduction and livelihoods

Geneva, 18 June (ILO News) - Today the ILO and the World Bank signed a joint statement to reinforce their collaboration to address the consequences of natural hazards and rebuild livelihoods in the aftermath of disasters. The statement was signed in Geneva along the margins of the Second Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. The two organizations already have close cooperation on post-disaster recovery and reconstruction programmes. (...)

As a result of today’s signing, both organizations intend to further promote innovative joint initiatives at the field level to help disaster prone countries to reduce the risk of loss of livelihood due to disasters, accelerate the transition to post-disaster recovery, and prepare livelihood adaptation measures in view of climate change challenges. The ILO and the World Bank will work together to support national capacities for disaster risk management by training government officials and social partners representing workers and employers, as well as other country stakeholders that include non-governmental organization and representatives of private sector organizations. (...) The collaboration will specifically focus on income generation activities (livelihoods) and decent employment for the most vulnerable groups affected or at-risk of disaster. (...)



Human rights



Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination - Geneva, 3 - 28 August

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will hold its 75th session in Geneva to review reports of how countries are carrying out the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.


JSCO and Manifesto99 celebrate the International Day of Justice in Sierra Leone

18 July - On Friday 17th July, The Justice Sector Coordination Office (JSCO) of the Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with Manifesto 99, hosted a symposium at the British Council Hall, to commemorate International Day of Justice in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone joins numerous activists around the globe to celebrate World Day for International Justice, based on the theme “International Criminal Justice and Sierra Leone’s Role as a State Party”.

July 17th marks the eleventh anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute which created the International Criminal Court. The ICC is the world’s first permanent international tribunal capable of trying individuals accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes; when the courts in the countries in which those crimes are committed are unable or unwilling to do so. As of 29th June 2009, 109 countries are State Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC. Out of them 30 are African States, 14 are Asian States, 16 are from Eastern Europe, 24 are from Latin American and Caribbean States, and 25 are from Western European and other States. Sierra Leone signed the Rome Statute on 17th October 1998 and ratified it on 15th September 2000.

Human rights activists around the world use International Justice Day to host events and activities to promote international justice and specifically to raise support for the ICC. (...)


Kobia urges churches to acknowledge existence of violence against women in Congo

17 July - In a speech in Kinshasa on 13 July, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), challenged churches to end their denial of violence against women. “The churches still seem to relegate violence to the private sphere, and still understand violence as only physical,” he said. “The first and most obvious [effort] is to acknowledge that the violence actually exists,” said Kobia at the opening of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) women’s workshop on Transformation Leadership for Peace, Healing and Reconciliation in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). “This means taking it out of the private arena and placing it squarely at the altars of our churches, in the seats of our parliament and in the halls of our academies,” said Kobia.

Churches in the DRC report that as rebel groups continue their activities in the country, women and girls continue to suffer sexual violence by armed men. (…) “Those women are traumatized. We keep asking ourselves: what can we do to stop the violence,” said Dr Christine Amisi, the coordinator of the HIV and AIDS programme of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, South Kivu. The hospital specializes in handling cases of sexual violence. In 2008, for example, it has been handling 3500 case of sexual violence. (...)


A step forward - Survivors of domestic violence now eligible for asylum in the US

New York, 16 July - With a court filing in the case of a woman from Mexico seeking asylum in the US, the Obama Administration has signaled a shift in immigration law to make it possible for women survivors of severe domestic and sexual abuse to seek and obtain asylum.

In a marked departure from the Bush Administration position, the new policy holds that battered women do meet the standard of membership in a “persecuted group.” This change in categorization by the Obama Administration recognizes that domestic abuse is not simply a private or family matter. Rather, it represents a violation of women’s human rights and merits consideration in asylum cases. (…)

MADRE welcomes this opening in US immigration law, calling for the full realization and implementation of this important policy shift. (…) Available for comment: Mary Jane Real, a member of the MADRE Network of Experts.  She is a lawyer and women’s human rights advocate from the Philippines, who has worked on issues of domestic violence.

MADRE is an international women’s human rights organization that works in partnership with community-based women’s organizations worldwide to address issues of health and reproductive rights, economic development, education, and other human rights.



Economy and development



Europe backs fight against rising hunger

Partnering with FAO in boosting agricultural production.

Rome/Brussels, 22 July - At a time when over one billion people are undernourished worldwide, Europe steps up its support to farmers hardest hit by the economical slowdown and high food prices, FAO said today, welcoming a € 75 million ($105 million) donation from the European Union (EU) to help poor countries boost agricultural production.

The EU-funded aid package to 13 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Central America, severely affected by high food prices, provides enormous additional backing to the UN’s efforts to turn the tide of growing hunger in the world. The package follows a historic €125 million ($170 million) donation from the European Union just one month ago.

Europe’s help comes at a critical moment,” said José Maria Sumpsi, FAO’s Assistant Director-General of the Technical Cooperation Department. “One out of six persons on this planet is undernourished - more than ever before. Poor countries need all the assistance possible. We are grateful for Europe’s unequivocal support,” he said. (…)


European Commission - Public Private Partnerships

20 July - As part of the European Economic Recovery Plan, the Commission is launching three Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). The three PPPs represent a powerful means of boosting research efforts in three large industrial sectors - automotive, construction and manufacturing - which have been particularly affected by the economic downturn and where innovation can significantly contribute towards a more green and sustainable economy.

The Commission and the industrial partners work intensively together to develop the implementation plans for the three partnerships:

“Factories of the Future” initiative for the manufacturing sector (€1.2 billion for R&D);

“Energy-efficient Buildings” initiative for the construction sector (€1 billion for R&D); and

“Green Cars” initiative for the automotive sector worth a total of €5 billion, of which €1 billion is for research activities.

The Commission foresees to provide a contribution of 50% to the total R&D budget from the budget of the 7th Framework Programme, with matching investment coming from the private sector. (…)


Conference on Islamic Microfinance -  Islamabad, Pakistan, July 21-22

18 July - A two day International Conference on the “Emerging concept of Islamic Microfinance” will be held in Islamabad from July 21 to 22.

Islamic microfinance aims at lending not money but providing necessary goods, equipment and machinery to the clients to run the business at micro level.

Islamic microfinance has, of late, gained currency in many Islamic countries and a helpdesk has been established in Lahore by Alhuda Centre of Workforce Management to provide technical and Shariah guidance to the local and international microfinance institutions.

The conference, being organised by Helping Hand for Relief and Development and Riphah Centre of Islamic Business, will explore emerging concepts for poverty alleviation and economic empowerment in developing countries through Islamic microfinance.

Distinguished scholars and field experts from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and USA are expected to examine and exchange views on theoretical and operational issues with the emerging concept of Islamic Microfinance institutions, which are in operation in Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sudan and Syria.


CARE and documentary photographer Phil Borges launch the Women Empowered Project

New collaboration uses photos and video to shine a spotlight on women and girls in the developing world.

Seattle and Atlanta, USA, 16 July - Acclaimed documentary photographer Phil Borges and CARE, a humanitarian organization that fights global poverty by empowering women and girls, are continuing a successful multi-year collaboration with today’s launch of the Women Empowered Project. Using Borges’ photography and video, the Women Empowered Project spotlights some of the issues that women and girls in the developing world face while demonstrating practical, proven solutions to fighting global poverty.

The new website, which was built in conjunction with liveBooks - a San Francisco-based Internet service for professional photographers - includes three mini-documentary films. (...) These three issue areas - maternal health, education and financial services - are signature examples of CARE’s work to combat poverty. Additional support during these critical moments can help put women and girls’ on a pathway to success. (…)


EIB supports upgrade of South African roads with EUR 120 million loan

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending EUR 120 million to the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) for the upgrade and extension of two key toll roads in northern South Africa.

16 July - The projects are of strategic importance to South Africa’s transport infrastructure, and are part of an ongoing programme by the national authorities to upgrade and extend the road network. The planned improvements and extensions will contribute to enhanced economic competitiveness as a result of reduced transportation costs and travel times. The loan was signed on 16 July in the EIB’s Headquarters in Luxembourg. (...) The road enhancement schemes will bring significant safety benefits as a result of improved road alignment, the construction of emergency lanes and grade separated junctions. The project also has a strong social component as it will help to develop less advanced regions and create direct and indirect employment opportunities during the construction and management stages. Moreover, Sanral’s corporate social policy aims at promoting the advancement of entrepreneurs from previously disadvantaged groups. (...)


Sri Lanka: A.C.E. project empowers communities

Silver Spring, Md., USA, 14 July - In Southeastern Sri Lanka, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) recently completed the Ampara Community Empowerment (ACE) project, a two-year program that targeted communities left vulnerable by the political instability in the region, and the Indian Ocean tsunami, which devastated the Ampara District when it struck in 2004.

The ACE project, which was funded by ADRA International and the ADRA United Kingdom office, was implemented between April 2007 and May 2009, and assisted more than 400 families in 15 villages of the Pottuvil Division of the Ampara District. By its completion, participants were benefiting from increased access to clean water, and had improved their health and sanitation. In addition, the project helped create better quality housing conditions and community infrastructure, and facilitated more peaceful relationships between tsunami-affected families and their neighboring communities. (...) One of ADRA Sri Lanka’s proudest accomplishments was the successful creation and improvement of 336 water sources. (…)


Agriculture assistance package a tremendous step in tackling global hunger

Focus on getting resources to the poor, particularly for women and children, welcomed by CARE.

Atlanta, GA, USA, 10 July - The Obama administration’s announcement of $20 billion in agricultural assistance for poor farmers is a tremendous start to helping families and countries feed themselves, according to CARE experts. Of critical importance to the success of the program is making sure that assistance reaches the poorest of the poor, often women and girls. (...)

CARE notes the breadth and depth of the administration’s pledge. The size of commitment is substantial and includes a particular focus on supporting women and families. The strategy takes into account the effects of climate change on agricultural production, something CARE works on in communities around the globe. And, the initiative includes the essential element of support for good governance to ensure that gains made are gains kept. (...)


Helping world’s hungry also promotes peace and stability    Ban Ki-moon

10 July - By helping the world’s hungry, who now number one billion, the international community can also secure a more peaceful and stable future for all, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations today in L’Aquila, Italy. The annual G8 meeting, which wraps up today, has reportedly agreed to mobilize $20 billion over three years for a comprehensive strategy focusing on sustainable agriculture development to ensure global food security. (…) Governments, regional agencies, civil society groups and international organizations responded by joining forces to feed the hungry and prepare for a better future, and while global food prices have come down, they are still high in many developing countries, he noted. (…)

The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) welcomed the G8’s food security initiative, which he said signals an “encouraging shift of policy” in favour of helping the poor and hungry to produce their own food (…)


J8: delegates present views to G8

L’Aquila, Italy, 9 July - A select group of 14 young people have met with top leaders at the G8 Summit here yesterday and urged them to act on a set of recommendations aimed at protecting child rights around the world. The youth delegates were selected by their peers at this week’s ‘Junior 8’ Summit in Rome - also known as the J8 - to present a declaration to the G8 world leaders. (…)

The J8 Rome Declaration focused on four key areas: children’s rights in the context of the global financial crisis; climate change; poverty and development in Africa; and education.


Project success: wheat harvest jumps 7-fold in northern Rwanda

9 July - A cooperative in Rwanda’s Northern Province celebrated a record-breaking wheat crop this year, making the national Umuganura harvest celebration a true festival of firsts.

Cooperative Mixte de Buyoga (COMIXBU), which partnered with ACDI/VOCA in a wheat development project in Rulindo district, increased its wheat production from 3 metric tons in 2008 to a record 21.4 metric tons this year. (...) The project, funded with $56,000 from a larger USAID food assistance development grant, provided COMIXBU’s 80 members with a mix of training, support and supplies to increase agricultural yields. ACDI/VOCA staff trained cooperative members on agricultural techniques and business management and provided them with improved agricultural inputs, including wheat seed, lime and fertilizer. The cooperative’s management also received budget and accounting support to improve the efficiency and type of services offered to COMIXBU members. (...)


Save the Children to reach more Afghan children with support from Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nehayan Foundation

Two-year grant will help expand programs in water and sanitation, childhood nutrition and education.

Westport, Conn., USA, 7 July - Save the Children today announced it will receive a two-year grant from the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nehayan Foundation to improve the health, nutrition and education of Afghan children living in extreme poverty. In Afghanistan, almost 1-in-5 children dies before age 5, almost half the children are malnourished and only 10 percent of rural women are literate. To address these grim indicators and the obstacles to sustainable development they represent, the Foundation will support Save the Children in expanding programming in water and sanitation, childhood nutrition and education. (...) Access to clean water and hygienic practices are critical to preventing diseases that can be fatal for children. The Foundation grant will fund construction of wells, hand-washing stations and latrines, and ongoing education to support them. Recent drought and rising food prices have exacerbated high rates of malnutrition in Afghanistan. Foundation support will allow Save the Children to greatly expand proven community-based initiatives to treat and prevent child malnutrition in Afghanistan. (…)


IFAD provides US$23.89 million to Afghanistan for rural microfinance and livestock

Rome, 7 July - After G8 foreign ministers last month agreed to boost their cooperation in stabilizing Afghanistan, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is providing a vital push to help Afghan’s poorest farmers escape poverty, improve their food security and increase their incomes. A US$23.89 million IFAD grant will support the Rural Microfinance and Livestock Support Programme, IFAD’s first major programme in Afghanistan. The programme will focus on a largely under-served segment of the rural population - smallholders and poor herders, the nomadic Kuchis and households headed by women. The grant agreement was signed today in Rome by Mohammad Musa Maroofi, Ambassador to Italy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and Jessie Mabutas, Assistant President of IFAD. (...)

The IFAD-funded programme, to be implemented in partnership with the Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA), will provide microfinance services tailored to small farmers and will facilitate access by those who cannot afford current interest rates or who have limited access to microcredit. (…)


€100 million EU micro-finance facility to help unemployed start small businesses

3 July - The European Commission has on July 2, 2009 proposed to set up a new microfinance facility providing microcredit to small businesses and to people who have lost their jobs and want to start their own small businesses.

It will have an initial budget of €100 million, which could leverage more than €500 million in a joint initiative with international financial institutions, in particular the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group. The new facility is one of the actions announced in the Commission’s communication: ‘A Shared commitment for employment’ on 3 June (see IP/09/859 and MEMO/09/259). (...) Workers who have lost their jobs or are at risk of losing them and want to establish their own businesses will have better access to funds and benefit from additional support measures such as mentoring, training and coaching. Disadvantaged people, including the young, who want to start or further develop their own small businesses, will also benefit from guarantees and assistance in preparing a business plan. (...)

The Commission expects the new ‘Progress Microfinance Facility’ to be operational in 2010.


“Cultivating innovations, solutions for rural communities”

The three winners from Ashoka’s Changemakers.

Three-quarters of the world’s poorest people - the 1 billion who live on $1 a day or less - rely on agriculture to feed themselves and their families, yet many cannot grow enough to sell or even eat.

How do we, as a global community, address this problem? Well, the winners from Ashoka’s Changemakers competition, “Cultivating Innovation, Solutions for Rural Communities” have some great ideas.  And, the public agrees.

After receiving more than 400 entries - all projects to address this issue in various ways - the judges have narrowed down the pool to 10 finalists, the public has voted for these three as their favorites. The winners, from India, Uganda and Brazil, are the cutting-edge in providing global answers to world-wide problems in rural farming. Using creative approaches - traditional farming methods, female farmer empowerment and water innovation - they are providing solutions to empower rural communities.

With the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the winners will be rewarded with a $5,000 prize, media exposure, and collaborative support to expand their work in rural agriculture and development.






UN emergency fund gives $7 million to aid eastern DR Congo’s displaced

17 July - United Nations agencies and their partners will be able to provide urgent humanitarian relief to some 250,000 people in the strife-torn eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) thanks to $7 million in emergency funding. “This allocation will help UN agencies and their partners to rush emergency aid to people who need it desperately,” Humanitarian Coordinator Ross Mountain said today in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa. Mr. Mountain said the surge in violence by the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and rogue elements of the Congolese army (FARDC) has uprooted thousands of families, many of which have already been displaced several times. There are currently an estimated 1.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the two Kivu provinces, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). (...)


ANERA renovates preschools in Gaza

Gaza, 15 July - ANERA is pleased to announce the launch of a preschool renovation project in Gaza. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has granted ANERA more than $93,000 to carry out renovations at 10 different schools throughout Gaza. (...)

The five-month project will affect approximately 1,800 preschoolers in vulnerable and war-damaged communities. (...) ANERA will incorporate public awareness about its preschool repairs into its existing health education sessions and nutritional surveillance activities in preschools through its Milk for Preschoolers program (MfP). MFP combats malnutrition in Gaza by providing approximately 25,000 children fortified milk and biscuits in 186 preschools in poor and marginalized communities. The project includes renovation and new installation of sanitary facilities and renovation of classroom and playgrounds. The project also provides educational play games and materials for the preschools as well as nutritional surveillance and health education sessions. (...)


International Medical Corps helps people returning to Buner District, Pakistan with launch of early recovery activities

Los Angeles, Calif., 10 July - International Medical Corps is expanding its response to the displacement crisis in Pakistan with early recovery activities for Buner District, an area affected by the recent fighting in the Northwest Frontier Province. The organization is the first to help the displaced return to their homes in Buner after the conflict that began on May 3.

International Medical Corps’ early recovery activities in Buner include assistance for the District Headquarters Hospital in Daggar, which remained operational throughout the conflict. (...)

International Medical Corps’ early recovery activities in Buner are the latest addition to its emergency response activities in the region. International Medical Corps teams are also providing 24-hour medical care for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Chota Lahore Camp, seeing more than 600 patients each day. International Medical Corps is also operating four mobile medical units in eight union councils of Swabi serving the local populations and the displaced residing in the community. (…)


First WFP food rations provided to Pakistan returnees

Islamabad, 1 July - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has begun providing monthly food rations to families returning home to Pakistans tribal areas following the recent upsurge in fighting in the country’s North West Frontier Province. More than two million people have been displaced by the conflict and small numbers are only just beginning to return to their villages. (...) Food rations for those returning to their homes are being distributed at a humanitarian hub in Bajaur where WFP has pre-positioned enough supplies to feed 2,000 families. Distributions are being closely co-ordinated with local authorities and are being distributed through a local partner non-governmental organization. (...) WFP is currently reaching 100,000 beneficiaries every day through 35 humanitarian hubs and 10 distribution points within camps. Since the beginning of June it has provided food rations to approximately 1.5 million people. The agency has sufficient supplies for the next two months despite a 51% funding shortfall in its US$162 million emergency operation in Pakistan.


Hundreds of mattresses are donated by the US Air Force for Counterpart International to distribute

Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, 12 June - Counterpart International (Counterpart) recently partnered with the 376th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron (EFSS), the Defense Logistics Agency, and the US State Department to arrange a collection of more than 340 twin-size mattresses, which Counterpart was responsible for distributing to local hospitals. (...)

The air force base, located 30 kilometers outside of Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek, has worked with Counterpart in the past to coordinate the donation of supplies, materials, and food. When the 376th EFSS no longer needed these mattresses, which were still in good condition, the Squadron decided to seek out a humanitarian assistance program to which they could donate the mattresses. Counterpart International was chosen to facilitate the donation process and organize the delivery of the mattresses to local hospitals. (...) Through this $13,000-plus effort, more than 340 mattresses have been delivered to several hospitals in the area, alleviating their lack of sufficient resources. (...)



Peace and security



New UN-backed scheme seeks to bring ‘Peace through Justice’ to Nepal

18 July - A new United Nations-backed project aims to help heal the scars left by Nepal’s decade-long civil war, using transitional justice mechanisms to spur reconciliation.

The “Peace through Justice” initiative, financed through a $2 million grant from the UN Peace Fund for Nepal (UNPFN), will go into effect tomorrow and seeks to aid in setting up effective transitional justice systems provided for in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the 2006 pact ended the conflict between forces loyal to the former King of Nepal and Maoists. (...)

The project, which will run initially for 12 months, will support the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction (MoPR) to set up bodies, such as the Commission on Inquiry on Disappearances. Its focus will also be on documenting human rights and international humanitarian law violations committed during the conflict, which claimed some 13,000 lives. Further, the new initiative will engage civil society, including victims’ groups, at the grassroots level. (...)


Nepal: UN welcomes decision to discharge thousands of child soldiers

17 July - The United Nations welcomed the decision to today begin discharging and rehabilitating more than 4,000 Maoist army personnel - including thousands of child soldiers - in Nepal, calling this a “significant milestone” in the country’s ongoing peace process.

The UN special political mission, known as UNMIN, and the world body’s Country Team lauded the announcement by the Government and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) that they would formally launch the discharge and rehabilitation process today for 4,008 Maoist army personnel (including 2,973 minors), who were disqualified under the verification process following the end of the civil war. In a press statement, UNMIN and the Country Team called on the UCPN-M to cooperate with authorities “to ensure the successful completion” of the initiative. (...) Further, today’s launch also “commits to following a discharge and rehabilitation process that will allow the disqualified personnel to choose freely between a range of rehabilitation assistance packages in the coming months,” the statement said, voicing the UN’s readiness to assist in the process. (...)


Dutch charity “Stichting Mensenkinderen” awards $140,000 to Clear Path International

Posted by: James Hathaway

Harderwijk, Netherlands, 16 June - The Dutch charity “Stichting Mensenkinderen” ( has given a grant for 100,000 Euro ($140,000) to Clear Path International for its humanitarian mine action work in Vietnam and Cambodia. (...)

In Vietnam, the Mensenkinderen funds will be used to continue Clear Path’s aid to landmine accident survivors and family members in the central region (north and south of the former Demilitarized Zone) where they receive everything from emergency medical care and prostheses to home improvement and income-generating grants.

In Cambodia, the Dutch grant money will go to help expand CPI’s current network of farmers’ coops and to provide services to amputee farmers in the poor communities around its rice mill in Battambang province on the border with Thailand. (...)


Chadian tribal groups end feud after support of UN peacekeeping mission

17 July - Another two tribal communities in eastern Chad have agreed to end their feud and reconcile under a joint initiative of the United Nations peacekeeping mission to the country and the national authorities to promote better community relations.

More than 130 village chiefs from the ethnic Zaghawa and Asshongori communities met to put an end to their long-running dispute and improve the security situation in the Waldagalda area of Molou canton along the Chadian-Sudanese border, the mission - known as MINURCAT - reported today. (...) Zaghawa chiefs committed to living peacefully with the Asshongori and to stopping insecurity caused by delinquent members of their own community, and they publicly called on the Asshongori to return to the area and tend to their fields. It is hoped that more than 1,000 members of the Asshongori community currently living in neighbouring Sudan will now feel secure enough to return to their villages in eastern Chad. Rima Salah, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative in Chad, visited the region this week and praised the efforts of local authorities to support reconciliation moves. (...)


CHAD: reducing the threat to children and their families

MAG has been praised by UNICEF for its work reducing the threat posed by deadly unexploded ordnance in Eastern Chad.

13 July - After a recent surge in violence between government and rebel forces in May, at least six children were tragically killed when several items of unexploded ordnance (UXO) blew up close to the town of Goz Beida. MAG’s technical teams collect and destroy any unexploded bombs that are found during detailed surveys of areas known to have been targeted during the conflict. During June, MAG’s teams cleared 13,100 items - about 3,700 tonnes - of UXO from in and around Goz Beida. Responding to reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross of contaminated land in other villages, MAG has been sending emergency tasking teams to various settlements to assess the danger. Funded by the European Commission, last week MAG cleared a further 142 items of unexploded ordnance from a town called Am Dam. (…)

Violence in Eastern Chad has driven many people from their homes in recent months. As they return and try to restart their lives they are put at great risk from unexploded ordnance.
It is a difficult situation, but Laurette Mokrani, Head of Office for UNICEF in Goz Beida, has congratulated MAG on the fantastic work being done in the region. (…)


Ivorian leader and UN envoy discuss peace process

13 July - The top United Nations envoy to Côte d’Ivoire has held talks with the President of the West African nation on progress made in the peace process, including voter identification and registration, as well as the upcoming long-awaited presidential elections. During yesterday’s meeting in the capital, Yamoussoukro, with President Laurent Gbagbo, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Y. J. Choi, congratulated the Ivorian Government for its identification and voter registration scheme, which wrapped up on 30 June. With 6.5 million voters having been identified or registered, Mr. Choi said the operation “constitutes a solid basis to accelerate the crisis resolution process.” The stalled elections, scheduled for 29 November, present an “exceptional window of opportunity,” he told Mr. Gbagbo. Financing for the polls has been secured and the political will needed is in place, with technical, management and planning issues being the remaining challenges, the Special Representative said. (...)


International Summit of Religious Youth Leaders on Disarmament

World’s Youth Leaders gather to address the challenges of militarization, nuclear weapons and the misuse of religion.

Kathmandu, Nepal, 10 July - The International Summit of Religious Youth Leaders on Disarmament for Shared Security was inaugurated by His Excellency the President, Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, in Kathmandu on 10 July 2009. Organized by the World Conference of Religions for Peace, the world’s largest multi-religious organization accredited with the United Nations and headquartered in New York, the Summit brought together approximately 100 Nepali and 50 international religious and civil society leaders from 25 countries.

Other prominent participants in the Summit included Mr. Kul C. Gautam, former UN Assistant Secretary-General and former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF; Mr. Taijiro Kimura, Director, UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific; Rev. Kyoichi Sugino, Assistant Secretary General, the World Conference of Religions for Peace; and Ms. Stellamaris Mulaeh, International Coordinator, Religions for Peace Global Youth Network. (...)


UN launches initiative to rid West Africa of organized crime, drug trafficking

8 July - To combat organized crime and drug trafficking wreaking havoc in West Africa, the United Nations today launched a new initiative to tackle the scourge in the region, where $1 billion worth of cocaine transits through annually.

The West Africa Coast Initiative is a partnership of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), along with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Interpol. The new scheme seek to address West Africa’s porous borders, weak governance and corruption, which have been allowed traffickers to operate in a climate of impunity. According to a new UNODC report released yesterday, organized crime - including trafficking in human beings, counterfeit drugs, toxic wastes and even natural resources - is arresting development in the region while lining the pockets of a select few. (...)


Ban welcomes Russian-United States agreement to cut nuclear arsenals

7 July - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the accord between Russia and the United States that commits the two countries to significantly reduce their nuclear arsenals.

The Joint Understanding for a follow-on agreement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), signed yesterday in Moscow by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and US President Barack Obama, commits the two States to cut their strategic warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675 and their strategic delivery vehicles to between 500 and 1,000. “This agreement is consistent with the disarmament obligations by the two largest nuclear-weapon States under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT),” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson. “The Secretary-General believes that this agreement will make a significant contribution to the process of nuclear disarmament, as well as nuclear non-proliferation, during the lead-up to the 2010 NPT Conference and eventually to achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.” (...)


UN mission helps fix up prison in western DR Congo

6 July - Prisoners in the west of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are now living in better conditions, thanks to the help of the United Nations peacekeeping mission, known as MONUC, in the vast African nation. Dozens of two-man cells were rehabilitated and disciplinary and toilets were built during MONUC’s three-month Quick Impact Project (QIP) at the central prison in Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur province. Built during the Belgian colonial era in the 1930s, the prison also was equipped by the UN mission with bicycles, office tables and chairs, as well as other supplies. This project is part of MONUC’s efforts to restructure the DRC’s prison system, having also recently held a workshop with the Ministry of Justice to consider how to restructure prison administration. A 10-day workshop which ended last week in the capital, Kinshasa, brought together 50 representatives of Government, academia and civil society, as well as one dozen UN experts. (...)


Somalia: Puntland authorities and stakeholders review progress in the implementation of Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment banning anti-personnel mines

Geneva, 22 June - With the financial support of Medico International, Geneva Call and the Puntland Mine Action Centre (PMAC) convened on 9 June in Garowe, the administrative capital of Puntland, a workshop on the implementation of the Geneva Call’s “Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action” (Deed of Commitment). The Deed of Commitment is a mechanism enabling armed non-State actors (NSAs), which cannot join the Anti-Personnel (AP) Mine Ban Convention, to subscribe to its norms. To date, 39 NSAs, including the Puntland authorities, have signed the Deed of Commitment. Somalia is not yet party to the AP Mine Ban Convention. (...) In compliance with the Deed of Commitment, the Puntland authorities have destroyed 126 stockpiled AP mines to date. However, despite this progress, further efforts are needed, particularly in mine clearance and victim assistance. (…)






Sri Lanka: reducing the risk of dengue

by Rishani Wijesinghe in Sri Lanka

17 July - Red Cross volunteers across Sri Lanka are working to stop the spread of a dengue fever epidemic that has already claimed 175 lives and affected more than 17,000 people. The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) is working closely with the Ministry of Health to raise awareness of the disease and help people reduce their risk of catching it. With funding from the American Red Cross, 28 schools in the southern Galle and Matara districts have been given awareness-raising workshops for students and their parents on how to keep a clean and clear environment, prevent stagnant water bases and to seek medical advice as soon as they think they might be infected. (...)

As well as disseminating information, the health authorities have implemented a national dengue control programme, which gives public health inspectors and officials the right to inspect public places and residences for mosquito breeding sites and take legal action against offenders. (...)


Outstanding young researchers recognized at 5th IAS Conference, 19-22 July

Prizes and awards to be presented to pioneering investigators conducting research in South Africa, Brazil, United States, Zambia and Kenya

Cape Town, South Africa, 16 July - The International AIDS Society (IAS) and its partners today announced the names of six outstanding young researchers who are winners of three prestigious scientific awards. The prizes recognize young scientists involved in innovative HIV/AIDS research and will be presented during the plenary sessions at the 5th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention. Among the topics of their research are the High Incidence of Multidrug Resistant and Extensively Drug Resistant Tuberculosis among South African Health Care Workers; Diarrhea Morbidity and Mortality Increases with Weaning Prior to 6 Months among Uninfected Infants Born to HIV-infected Mothers in Zambia; and Who Starts ART in Durban, South Africa?...Not Everyone Who Should.

The IAS’s newest award - the IAS TB/HIV Research Prize for the best abstract on TB/HIV - will be given this year. The purpose of this new prize on TB/HIV research is to generate interest and stimulate research on basic, clinical and operations research in TB/HIV prevention, care, and treatment. (...)


Rotary International - Clinic takes aim at infant AIDS

by Ryan Hyland

Rotary International News, 15 July - Rotarian Stephen Nicholas, a pioneering pediatric AIDS specialist who helped drastically reduce infant HIV in New York City, is using Rotary as a catalyst for wiping out mother-to-child HIV transmission in the Dominican Republic.

In the early 1990s, New York City had the highest birth rate of HIV-infected children in the United States. Since 2000, only one baby in that city has been born with the virus, says Nicholas, a member of the Rotary Club of Yonkers. Similar trends are appearing throughout the United States, he adds. This sharp drop in mother-to-child HIV transmission has largely resulted from improvements in drug treatments as well as aggressive intervention during pregnancy through testing and education. Nicholas and his colleagues pioneered this multipronged approach while he was the director of pediatrics at Harlem Hospital Center. (…)

In 1999, Nicholas began a family AIDS clinic in La Romana, Dominican Republic, a province with one of the highest HIV/AIDS infection rates outside sub-Saharan Africa. Run by the International Family AIDS Program, the clinic provides direct care and treatment for pregnant women with HIV.

To expand the International Family AIDS Program and keep it sustainable, the Yonkers club, along with the Rotary Club of La Romana and District 7230 (New York), launched the Mother-Baby AIDS Project in the Dominican Republic in 2006.

With help from a US$50,000 World Community Service Project Grant, the project is benefiting more than 100 HIV-infected mothers and their newborn babies each year. Infected mothers continue to receive AIDS treatment after the births to protect children from being orphaned.

The clinic has lowered the rate of mother-to-child HIV transmission in the La Romana province from 40 percent to less than 1 percent, Nicholas says. (…)


In Nepal, ADRA improves access to reproductive health care

Kathmandu, Nepal, 14 July - In the remote, conflict-ridden communities of Western Nepal, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is initiating a new project that will improve the access and delivery of reproductive health and basic public health services, providing mobile reproductive health camps, and other support services for more than 21,000 people within the districts of Kalikot in the Mid-Western Region and Accham in the Far-Western Region of Nepal. (...) The European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) through ADRA Germany funds the 12-month project, entitled “Delivering Reproductive Health (RH) Services through Outreach Medical Clinics to Remote, Vulnerable, and Conflict Affected Populations of Nepal”.

By the project’s completion, at least 350 women will receive surgery to correct severe uterine prolapse, a debilitating reproductive health condition that affects an estimated 600,000 women in Nepal. In addition, an estimated 21,200 people will receive basic and reproductive health treatment at mobile camps. (...)


Working as a family to meet Rotary’s challenge

by Dan Nixon

Rotary International News, 9 July - Rotary’s US$200 Million Challenge for polio eradication is drawing broad support from the family of Rotary. The challenge is Rotary’s response to the $355 million in grants received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Rotary is committed to raising $200 million in matching funds by 30 June 2012.

Around the world, Rotarians, Rotaractors, Interactors, Rotary Foundation alumni, and others raised about $78.3 million in cash, District Designated Fund (DDF) allocations, and pledges in the 2008-09 Rotary year as of 15 May. Here is just a sample of their efforts:

Rotarians in more than 200 cities and villages in Switzerland sold packets of sunflower seeds on 13 September, National Day Against Child Paralysis, raising more than $669,000 with support from the general public. A helicopter golf ball drop/raffle sponsored by District 6990 (Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas; part of Florida, USA) netted $45,500. The Rotary Club of Washago and Area-Centennial, Ontario, Canada, chartered in 2005, is selling End Polio Now car magnets in a project aimed at raising C$10,000 (about US$9,000). Several districts in Japan and Korea have set the pace in contributing more than 20 percent of their DDF, led by District 2780 (Japan) with a donation of US$200,000. Among contributions made by several Rotary Fellowships, the Rotarians’ Wine Appreciation Fellowship raised $15,000 by matching donations of $100 from the first 75 contributors. Foundation alumni have contributed more than $100,000, including $6,200 received from the District 3450 Rotary Foundation Alumni Association (Hong Kong; Macau; Mongolia) through its India Night fundraiser. The Interact Club of San Mateo, California, USA, raised almost $8,000 in an overnight campout and walk for PolioPlus that also featured a band, karaoke, movies, and other activities. The Rotaract Club of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, sponsored a Fashion Fights Polio show, raising more than US$4,000. (…)


China: counseling program helps earthquake survivors rebuild shattered lives

Silver Spring, Md., USA, 7 July - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) China recently completed the Psycho-Social Support (PSS) project, a counseling training program that was designed to provide support for survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit western China in May 2008. Medical staff and emergency management professionals also benefitted, helping them to better handle the psychological scarring left by the tragedy, and provide assistance to others still suffering. (...) The program helps participants understand and identify the normal emotional reactions of a large-scale disaster, such as the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Attendees also learn skills they can use to help others deal with the tragedy, including coping mechanisms and how to identify survivors in need of more intensive professional care. (…)


More than 30 new food safety standards adopted

Codex Alimentarius Commission adopts international standards for dangerous bacteria, checmicals.

Rome, 6 July - The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) concluded a week-long meeting and adopted more than 30 new international standards, codes of practice and guidelines to improve worldwide food safety and protect the health of consumers. (...) “We welcome the participation of more developing countries in the meeting this year which reflects global awareness of food safety issue and the impact of Codex Trust Fund,” said Dr Jørgen Schlundt, Director of WHO’s Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses. (...) The Codex Alimentarius Commission, jointly established in 1963 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and WHO, develops international food standards that protect the health of consumers and ensure fair trade practices in the food trade. The Commission has 181 Member States and one member organization, the European Community.


Community health volunteers reach remote Tawi-Tawi Islands to educate mothers and children

2 July - After receiving training from ACDI/VOCA, 45 members of community health action teams (CHATs) conducted Tumpukan Na!, or small group action sessions, in Sibutu Island in Tawi-Tawi, to educate mothers and children on immunization, hygiene and nutrition.

The sessions corrected health-related misconceptions through culturally sensitive explanations in order for health workers to provide immunization, vitamin A supplementation and deworming services to children. As a result, 77 children who missed their regular immunization schedules because of prior caregiver resistance were fully immunized and 144 pregnant and lactating women were given iron folate after their concerns were addressed. Almost all (99 percent) of the 12- to 71-month-old children were given vitamin A, increasing the health workers’ rate of success from last year’s 98 percent. The CHATs’ efforts served as an on-the-ground complement to the audio plug of the Secretary of Health of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which called on stakeholders to provide child health support. (...)


Helen Keller International - 100,000th Screening in Cleveland

Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation provides $150,000 grant

Cleveland, Ohio, USA, 2 July - ChildSight® Cleveland, a domestic program of Helen Keller International, recently celebrated its tenth year of operation and 100,000th child served.  On June 15th, HKI’s long-time donor, The Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation, hosted a ceremony for local funders and partners to commemorate this impressive milestone. (...) The foundation also demonstrated its continuing support for the program by presenting a check for $150,000 for the 2009-2010 school year. ChildSight® provides the Cleveland community with an invaluable and unique service. It delivers free vision screenings, and when needed, free quality eyeglasses to middle school students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. By going directly to the schools, ChildSight® eliminates the economic, transportation, and social barriers that prevent many poor children from obtaining the eye care they need. (...)


In Sierra Leone, child survival takes center stage

Freetown, Sierra Leone, 24 June - Helen Keller International (HKI) was a major partner in the planning and implementation of the recent maternal and child health campaign known as Mami en Pikin Well Bodi Week (Mother and Child Wellness Week) in Sierra Leone. This bi-annual national campaign, which took place between May 29th and June 1st in all 13 districts of the country, promoted important aspects of maternal and child health, ranging from immunizations to vitamin A supplementation to de-worming. (...)

While the child mortality rate in Sierra Leone used to hover around 250 deaths out of 1,000 live births, in 2008 it was found to have dropped to 140 per 1,000 live births.  One of the goals of Mami en Pikin Well Bodi Week is to further reduce the country’s infant mortality rate to 101 per 1,000 live births by 2015. (...) It is being followed by a comprehensive yellow fever vaccination campaign in five districts that were identified as being at risk of a yellow fever outbreak.


EPHA joins the NGO Liaison Group of the Economic and Social Committee

On 17 June 2009, EPHA (European Public Health Alliance) officially became a member of the NGO Liaison Group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). This new status will enable EPHA to present its members’ key concerns and recommendations to another EU institution.

What is the NGO Liaison Group of the European Economic and Social Committee?

In 2004, the EESC established a Liaison Group to interact with European civil society organisations and networks. The group was designed to be both a liaison body and a structure for political dialogue. The Liaison Group ensures that the EESC has a coordinated approach towards these organisations and networks, as well as monitoring joint initiatives.

Out of 19 members, EPHA is the only public health representative in the Liaison Group. (…)



Energy and safety



State aid: the European Commission authorises support of up to €170 million for two investment projects in Polish energy sector

Brussels, 16 July - The European Commission has authorised under EC Treaty state aid rules two support schemes proposed by Poland in the energy sector. One measure is aimed at modernising electricity distribution networks by diminishing energy losses and the second at extending distribution and transmission networks to connect renewable energy sources. The beneficiaries of the aid will be network operators that ensure unrestricted access for competitors to the networks. The measures are in line with Article 87(3)c of the EC Treaty, which allows aid for developing certain economic activities, because the positive effects of the scheme on the environment clearly outweigh potential distortions of competition. The project is financed with the participation of the European Structural Funds and the aid will amount up to €170 million in total. (...)


European Commission publishes template for 27 national renewable energy roadmaps

30 June - The 40-page National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) template, published today, gives governments a binding framework for drawing up the steps they will take to meet binding national targets set out in the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive (Directive 2009/28/EC). The template explicitly states that Member States are to set national sectoral targets for electricity, transport, and heating and cooling and outline the expected contribution of each renewable energy technology to these targets. (...)[tt_news]=1593&tx_ttnews[backPid]=1&cHash=ae0d819c03


Oceans of Opportunity: the 2009 European Offshore Wind Conference and Exhibition

29 June - Over 3,000 representatives of the offshore wind, oil and gas industries, plus policy makers, business people and scientists are expected to gather in Stockholm from 14 to 16 September for the world’s largest offshore wind event. They will celebrate the major developments taking place for this massive energy resource and discuss the key next steps. This year’s edition of the European Offshore Wind Conference and Exhibition (Offshore 2009) is once again being organised by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), this time with the support of the Swedish Energy Agency and the Swedish Wind Energy Association.

Europe needs to exploit its vast offshore wind resource in order to achieve the 20% renewable energy target set in the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive. Offshore wind energy is making the transition from a concept with massive potential to a fast-evolving industry, and Europe is the global sector leader. In 2008, 357 MW of offshore capacity was installed, taking the global total to 1,471 MW - all in European waters. (...)



Environment and wildlife



Obama Administration cancels Bush-Era plan to clearcut Oregon forests

Salmon, clean water, and old-growth forests big winners.

Portland, OR, USA, 16 July - People throughout the west celebrated an Obama administration decision to cancel a Bush-era plan that would have nearly quadrupled current logging on public lands in western Oregon. The Bush plan, called the Western Oregon Plan Revision, or WOPR, rezoned 2.6 million acres of federal public forests in Oregon managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The announcement came in response to a lawsuit filed by thirteen conservation and fisheries protection organizations challenging the Bush logging plan. Obama administration officials said the Bush plan illegally ignored requirements to protect endangered species living in the forests and could not be defended in court. The decision to cancel the massive timber giveaway conforms with numerous scientific studies concluding that dramatic increases in logging would have harmed clean water and healthy streams, pushed wildlife toward extinction, and contributed to global warming. (…)


Earth Charter on children’s website Kidsrgreen

14 July - The Earth Charter is the focus for Kidsrgreen 2009, a children’s website developed by the Centre for Environment Education, India (CEE). Kidsrgreen is an online innovative and interactive environmental-education magazine for children. It is managed by the Children’s Media Unit of Centre for Environment Education, India. It was selected as one of the finalists for the Stockholm Challenge Award 2008 in the Environment Category. One of the regular features of this e-magazine is Spaceship Earth. Every month this takes up one of the principles of Earth Charter, and links it to different dimensions of our earth and environment through a story, an activity or project idea. The website, now in its ninth year of operation, is popular with children as well as teachers and parents as a fun-filled, interactive teaching-learning resource. From February till June this year, the site has recorded over 37,000 page views. We invite you to visit and use this site at


Court rejects Bush Administration air pollution waivers

Case aimed at reducing smog in America’s most polluted communities.

Washington, DC, 10 July - A federal appeals court today rejected Bush administration rules that allowed major power plants and factories to emit uncontrolled pollution into the air in cities that already have severely polluted air. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found the Environmental Protection Agency rules illegally let plants buy rights to pollute - sometimes from plants hundreds of miles away - instead of installing modern emission controls. The court also invalidated parts of the rule that weakened pollution limits for major new or expanded factories and power plants in cities with unhealthful air. (…) “This decision will mean cleaner air and stronger air quality protections across the country,” said John Walke, Clean Air Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “With summer smog blanketing our communities, this decision is a welcome relief and promise of stronger health safeguards. (…)



Religion and spirituality



International ecumenical teams to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uruguay and Bolivia

7 July - A team of church representatives from Europe, Latin America and Africa will pay a solidarity visit to churches, ecumenical organizations and civil society movements in Uruguay and Bolivia from 9 to 16 July. A second team will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo at the same time. Both teams are travelling as “Living Letters“ on behalf of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo is a joint initiative of the WCC and the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC).

Living Letters are small ecumenical teams visiting a country to listen, learn, share approaches and help to confront challenges in order to overcome violence, promote and pray for peace. They are organized in the context of the WCC’s Decade to Overcome Violence in order to prepare for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in 2011. (...)


Council of Europe discuss intercultural education with representatives of religions at “Exchange 2009”

1 July - Some forty representatives of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and non-religious convictions together with NGO representatives and education experts met in Strasbourg on 29 and 30 June to discuss the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue. The so called “Exchange 2009” was the second such meeting and is an attempt by the Council of Europe to engage the religious communities in Europe more actively on issues central to the council. The first Exchange took place in April 2008. (…)

ECRL General Secretary Vebjørn Horsfjord also expressed great appreciation for the initiative of the Council of Europe and interpreted it as a growing awareness of the importance of religions to foster social cohesion in Europe. In a statement in the closing session he encouraged the Council of Europe to be more courageous in supporting interreligious dialogue. He also expressed hope that the next Encounter could be enriched by the participation not only of Abrahamic faiths and secular convictions, but also include other faiths such as Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and Zoroastrians as well as representatives of migrant churches in Europe. (...)



Culture and education



Mandela embodies UN’s highest values, Ban Ki-moon says

18 July - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon celebrated the 91st birthday of Nelson Mandela today, calling the founding president of post-apartheid South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize laureate an “exemplary global citizen.” “He inspired people across the world, and across the generations,” Mr. Ban said at an event to commemorate Mandela Day in New York, paying tribute to his contributions to a “democratic, multi-racial South Africa” and his continued tireless efforts to promote peace and human dignity worldwide.

“Indeed, Nelson Mandela is a living embodiment of the highest values of the United Nations.”

The Secretary-General spoke of Mr. Mandela’s ability to inspire, pointing out that “many people, facing tribulations of their own, have found both solace and fortitude in his example. Above all, he has shown the difference one person can make in the face of injustice, conflict, poverty and disease.” (...)


UNICEF launches kit to help young children caught in emergencies

Geneva, 15 July - A new kit to help meet the developmental needs of young children affected by emergencies was launched in Geneva today by UNICEF Executive Director, Ann M. Veneman.

“The Early Childhood Development Kit is a tool for young children displaced or affected by war and natural disasters,” said Veneman at today’s official launch in Geneva. “It is the first of its kind within the humanitarian community.” Early childhood is the most critical period for brain development, making young children vulnerable to the stresses of war and natural disaster such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. The need for a special emergency kit containing materials to help young children regain a sense of normalcy was identified by UNICEF staff and partners responding to emergencies. The kit is a box containing 37 different items, for use by approximately 50 children up to six years of age. Costing $230, it makes possible a range of activities that encourage development and social interaction and promote playing, drawing, story telling and numeracy. (...) Before being launched, the kit was tested in seven countries - Chad, Liberia, Congo Brazzaville, Jamaica, Guyana, Maldives and Iraq. (...)


2009 Open Architecture Challenge Finalists

15 July - Eight teams were recognized today as finalists of the 2009 Open Architecture Challenge: Classroom Finalists submitted designs ranging from an outdoor classroom for children in inner-city Chicago to learning spaces for the children of salt pan workers in India.

Each submission was assessed on feasibility, sustainability, innovation in learning and overall design quality by a team of interdisciplinary jurors. We've narrowed the list to eight finalists. In September one of these teams will be awarded US$ 5,000 and the selected partner school will receive up to US$50,000 to realize their design. The finalists can be viewed above and on the Open Architecture Network. Next month we will announce which of these eight will be named overall winner!!


IKEA supports Save the Children’s education programs in the U.S. with sales of bookcases

Westport, Conn., USA, 14 July - Starting Monday, July 13 through Monday, Aug. 31, 2009, IKEA U.S. will donate $5 to Save the Children’s Early Steps to School Success program for each EXPEDIT bookcase sold, up to a maximum donation of $100,000. (...) The Early Steps to School Success program provides early childhood development services for families living in poor, rural communities across the United States. The program gives children access to quality early learning from birth to age 5 - the most crucial period in children’s cognitive development. Extensive early childhood research shows that the early years of a child’s life shape whether or not a child enters school ready to learn. In addition to offering early education services that directly target children in need, the program also provides support to parents and caregivers, and provides ongoing training to educators in local communities. It is designed to assist children with early language development, social and emotional development and equip parents with the skills and knowledge to support their child’s growth. (…)


EI secures respect for academics’ rights at the UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education

Education International contributed extensively to the World Conference on Higher Education which took place at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from 5-8 July 2009.

10 July - EI organised a one-day meeting for a number of its higher education affiliates on 3 July, coorganised the NGO’s conference on 4 July, and also co-organised the multi-stakeholder panel on higher education institutions and the academic community that took place on the final day of the conference. EI Vice President Irene Duncan Adanusa also delivered a speech at one of the opening sessions on the first day of the conference while Penni Stuart, President of one of EI’s affiliate higher education unions in Canada - the Canadian Association of University Teachers - also delivered a speech during a workshop on the academic profession.EI was also present by means of an exhibition stand in the foyer of the conference venue for the duration of the conference, and EI Deputy General Secretary Monique Fouilhoux was a member of the drafting committee for the final communiqué of the World Conference on Higher Education. (…)


ICC begins radio series to explain activities to Central Africans

6 July - The International Criminal Court (ICC) today launches a series of radio programmes in the Central African Republic (CAR) as part of an outreach campaign aimed at informing the country’s population about the court’s mandate and activities. The 13-episode series, which will be broadcast in the Sango language, is called “Understanding the International Criminal Court” and uses a question-and-answer format. At least 14 separate radio stations are expected to air the programmes. The radio programmes are the result of some 50 outreach sessions held by the ICC in the Central African capital, Bangui, between January and June this year.

Individual episodes will be aired once a week, and the topics include the structure of the court, the rights of suspects, judgement and sentencing and the rights and responsibilities of witnesses and victims. (...)


International Year of astronomy at UNESCO: Three scientific events about the invisible universe

22 June -
Most of the universe is invisible to human eyes and to our most advanced observation devices. What is dark matter and what is dark energy? Our understanding of the physical world will be revolutionized the day we discover the answers to these two questions, which will be central to the “Invisible Universe” programme presented at UNESCO from 29 June to 10 July, as part of the International Year of Astronomy celebration. “Invisible Universe” is a set of three scientific events: an exhibition, a specialists’ symposium (in English) and a public symposium (in French). (…) Also for the International Year of Astronomy, UNESCO is partnering the exhibition “Cosmos: A journey to the ends of the universe” at the Palais de la Découverte in Paris, France, from 23 June to 22 November. A frieze showing structures in the universe according to their distance from the sun enables the visitor to understand the different objects and their scale, from smallest (solar system, stars, galaxies) to largest (galaxy clusters, filaments).


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Next issue after the August break: 12 September 2009.

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Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next. Past issues are available at . Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph.D. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti, Maria Grazia Da Damos, Arianna Cavallo, Azzurra Cianchetta. Editorial Secretary: Maria Grazia Da Damos.


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to 6,000 editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in 49 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway,  Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA. It is also distributed free of charge to 2,800 NGOs and 500 high schools, colleges and universities.


It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered educational charity chartered in Italy in 1979 The Association operates for the development of consciousness and promotes a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity in diversity and on sharing. It is based in Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy.


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