Good News Agency – Year II, n° 1



Weekly - Year II, number 1 – 12 January 2001

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

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

Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations, and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day.

Good News Agency is distributed through internet to over 1,200 editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and it is available in its web site:

It is a free of charge service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered non-profit educational organization chartered in Italy in 1979. The Association operates for the development of consciousness and supports the activities of the Lucis Trust, the U. N. University for Peace, Radio For Peace International and other organizations promoting 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:



International Legislation




Human Rights




Disarmament and Peace


Environment and Wildlife


Economy and Development


Culture and Education



International Legislation



US, Israel and Iran Signs Treaty for an International Criminal Court

On 31 December 2000, the final day of the 20th century,  Iran, Israel and the United States of America signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  Austria became the 26th country to ratify the Statute on the 28 December 2000, with Finland ratifying on the 29th of December 2000. The Treaty has been signed by 139 countries and 27 countries have ratified it.  The treaty will enter into force once it has been ratified by 60 countries. A Rome Statute signature and ratification chart as well as country by country ratification status is available at:

Source: The Sunflower Newsletter No. 44 January 2001


US standards for labelling organic foods

(2 January) After a decade of debate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released final standards for labelling organic foods last month, siding with environmentalists and the organic farming industry on nearly every contentious issue.  The standards, which will become fully effective in 2002, ban the use of irradiation, biotechnology, and sewer-sludge fertilizer for any food labelled organic.  All three methods would have been allowed under the standards proposed by the USDA in 1997, but the department did an about-face after receiving nearly 300,000 public comments protesting their inclusion. The final standards also ban the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers in growing organic foods, and the use of antibiotics in organic meats.  Sales of organic foods in the U.S. have increased by 20 percent each year since 1990, reaching $6 billion in 1999.


Human Rights



UNIFEM Launches Project to Prevent the Trafficking of Adolescents in Latvia

The trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation is a growing phenomenon worldwide and of increasing concern in the Baltic State of Latvia. In response to this situation, UNIFEM will launch a new project in Latvia next year to prevent the trafficking of adolescents, in collaboration with the Youth Health Center Council of Latvia, the International Organization of Adolescents and the Genders Community Youth Organization. The project consists of a nationwide education campaign to raise awareness on the prevalence of human trafficking, as well as the incorporation of a special module on the issue of trafficking into the educational programs of teenage centers throughout Latvia. Project partners will also work with local NGOs and government organizations to develop a National Action Plan for the prevention of trafficking.

For more information, contact Alison Boak at


Cote D'ivoire: Conditions improve in largest prison

(5 January) Sanitary conditions in the largest Ivorian prison, the Maison d'arret et de correction d'Abidjan (MACA), have greatly improved since 1997, the French charity Medecins sans frontieres (MSF) announced in its latest activity report.

In its report for 2000, MSF says the mortality rate has been reduced by 90 percent as prison buildings have been disinfected and sanitary facilities renovated. MSF also says drinkable water is now available free of charge.


Experts of children’s rights to Examine Reports from 9 countries

The promotion and protection of children's rights in Latvia, Liechtenstein, Ethiopia, Egypt, Lithuania, Lesotho, Saudi Arabia, Palau and Dominican Republic will be at the top of the agenda as the Committee on the Rights of the Child meets in Geneva from 8 to 26 January 2001.

The Committee was formed in 1991 to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most complete statement of children's rights ever made and the first to give these rights the force of international law. The countries scheduled to come before the Committee at this session are among the 191 to have ratified or acceded to the Convention, a number that makes the treaty the most widely accepted human rights instrument ever. Only Somalia and the United States have not yet ratified it. The States parties to the Convention are expected to send representatives to the Committee to present and defend reports on how they give effect to children's rights.


Protocol against women discrimination entered into force

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson welcomed the entry into force on 22 December of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Thirteen Governments have ratified the Protocol to date. The Protocol allows the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to receive and consider complaints submitted by or on behalf of individuals or groups under the jurisdiction of a State party.


Disarmament and Peace



Nobel Prize Laureates require conversion of weapons into development projects

Governments of "our" planet spend about 800 billion US Dollars for defensive purposes. If such amount, often the result of tensions and conflicts, could be reduced to a half, the whole humanity would be safer and enormous resources could be used for the development of the poverty areas in the world.

Nuclear disarmament (more than 13.000 strategic warheads are still active) might produce more than 1,000 tons of enriched uranium which can be converted. A fair drawing from this operation could result in a very important peace dividend.]


Goettingen Appeal for the Prevention of a New Arms Race on Earth and in Outer Space

The US Sunflower Newsletter of January 2001 reports that at an International Network for Engineers and Scientists (INES) workshop, held in Goettingen, Germany on 4 November, the following Appeal to the United Nations General Assembly in 2001 was issued:

"The deployment of missile defense systems by the USA and the militarization of outer space present a threat to peace and international security and increase the danger of a new arms race on earth and in space. In order to prevent a new arms race and to open way for negotiations, we demand a test freeze for ballistic missiles, missile defense systems and space weapons. The Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty of 1972 between the USA and Russia is fundamental to international stability.  It must be preserved and extended to all nations.  Ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons must be disarmed.  The development, testing and deployment of weapons in space must be prohibited by a space convention. We call for a space free of any weapons and the abolition of nuclear arms."

Source: The Sunflower Newsletter No. 44 January 2001


Economy and Development



Bilateral Investment Treaties Quintupled During The 1990s

The number of bilateral treaties for the promotion and protection of foreign investments (BITs) increased dramatically during the 1990s, according to the new compilation released by UNCTAD on the UNCTAD website ( Their number rose from 385 at the end of the 1980s to a total of 1,857 BITs, involving 173 countries, at the end of the 1990s. Significantly, the number of such treaties concluded between developing countries; between developing countries and countries in Central and Eastern Europe; and between Central and Eastern European countries grew sharply, from 63 at the end of the 1980s to 833 at the end of the 1990s. UNCTAD's data suggest that the role of BITs as an instrument for the international protection of foreign investment has increased over the years, especially in the context of South-South cooperation.


Canada sends $3 million to Russia to improve corporate governance

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) announced on 19 December that it would provide $3 million to promote corporate governance in Russia.

The York University's Schulich of Business will work with the Higher School of Economics in Russia to devise a curriculum in the area of corporate governance for Russian business professors. The program will run for three and half years. CIDA's announcement came as Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, was visiting Canada.

"Trasparent and accountable business practices will be critical in Russia over the coming years in order to encourage foreign investment and growth," said Maria Minna, Canada's Minister for International Cooperation.


New World Bank report: "Global Economic Prospects and the Developing Countries 2001"

Developing countries are expected to grow at 5.3 percent in 2000 and at 5 percent in 2001, the highest economic growth rates in over a decade, but are hurt by trade barriers in rich nations. This is one of the central messages of the recently released "Global Economic Prospects and the Developing Countries 2001". This year, the World Bank's report focuses on international trade and discusses policies that are required if developing countries are to benefit from global integration. It also includes an analysis of the prospects for poverty reduction.


Kazakhstan National Development Plan for 2001-2005 Engendered

The Government of Kazakhstan has agreed to include a special section on the advancement of womens rights in their National Plan for Social and Economic Development for 2001-2005. One component of this special section will be to monitor the implementation of the National Action Plan on the Advancement of Women, which was developed according to commitments outlined in the Beijing Platform for Action. The mention of womens rights for the first time ever in the National Development Plan is largely due to the efforts of the National Commission on Family and Womens Affairs, which was established in 1998 and works closely with UNIFEM.

For more information, contact UNIFEMs Gender Advisor, Damira Sartbaeva, at:  or Dina Shukurova at


Mauritania: US $50m urban revival project

(5 January) Mauritania is reviewing a US $50-million World bank funded project for Nouakchott, aimed at improving living conditions in the capital's poor neighbourhoods, AFP reported on Sunday. The main goal is to reduce poverty among 40 percent of the city's two million residents. Poor neighborhoods sprung up following droughts in the 1970s and an effort to modernise the city, AFP reported.


West Africa: USAID boosts power pool project

(29 December) The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is to provide US $2 million to support the West African power pool project, a regional initiative aimed at ensuring more efficient use of the energy resources of the subregion.

The funding will provide for on-the-job training and technical aid. In addition, USAID is to provide a power pool manager who will act as a technical advisor for the project. The agreement was signed on 13 December between the US ambassador to Mali and the executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Lansana Kouyate.


Niger: Government focuses on education and health

(29 December) The president of Niger, Mamadou Tandja, has announced that 1,000 villages would each receive a school, a well and a health centre as part of his government's effort in 2001 to improve living conditions, PANA reported on Monday. 

Tandja, who announced these measures on 22 December, also said 100 small dams would be built nationwide. Villages housing a minimum of 1,000 habitants would be the recipients of the new social infrastructures, which should increase full-time school enrollment and provide medical care to a greater proportion of the rural population.

The health centres would be equipped to fight malaria, meningitis and AIDS, PANA reported. Tandja also plans labour intensive projects to provide jobs for thousands of the unemployed, the agency added.


Eurofish: helping fisheries across Europe

To develop fisheries in a sustainable and sound manner in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, an international organization, Eurofish, is currently being established, coordinated by FAO. Eurofish, whose members will include EU nations and countries of Central and Eastern Europe, will have its first governing council in Copenhagen in mid-2001.

Eurofish aims to promote and develop trade, assist in financing and investment, and provide up-to-date information on fisheries. The overall objective is to facilitate trade and investment in fish processing and aquaculture with member country governments and the private sector.

Building on the outputs of its predecessor -- the FAO Eastfish Project -- Eurofish already includes a network of contact points in 19 Central and Eastern European countries. It also has a publication Eurofish Magazine and an advisory board representing the fish industry to provide professional advice and assistance.


World Bank Supports Community-Owned Development In Kosovo

Washington, January 4, 2001--A US$5 million grant for a Community Development Fund for Kosovo has been signed by Christiaan Poortman, World Bank Coordinator for Southeast Europe and by Flaka Surroi, Executive Director for the Community Development Fund.

The project will improve the quality and availability of community infrastructure and services in poor and conflict-affected communities and for vulnerable groups and will support institutional capacity-building at the community and municipal levels to improve the quality and sustainability of service delivery and increase civic participation in local development.





Benin: CRS contributes more than US$ 26 million to fight poverty

Benin, 26 December – Catholic Relief Service (CRS) decided to support with over US$ 26 million the fight against poverty started in Benin. Press of Cotonou reported this contribution will be donated between 2001 and 2005 and it will be targeted to various sectors including food, health, education and micro-financing. Special care will be given also to handicapped people and the elders. CRS in an NGO established by the US catholic bishops in 1943 to help war refugees in Europe. Once the situation in the “old continent” was better, CRS has been addressing its efforts to all countries suffering humanitarian emergencies or developing countries.


Brooklyn diocese forgives $118 million loaned to schools, churches

New York, 22 December - A Roman Catholic diocese has forgiven $118 million that was loaned over 40 years to keep more than a hundred schools and churches afloat. The debt cancellation, done in the spirit of Pope John Paul II's decree to cast aside obligations by those less fortunate, is the largest of its kind nationwide. The gesture was announced at a Mass on Wednesday by Bishop Thomas V. Daily, who heads Brooklyn's diocese, comprised of 1.6 million Catholics in the Brooklyn and Queens boroughs of the city.

The Pope earlier this year made a plea to forgive the debt of developing nations, regardless of religion, as part of Jubilee.


Guinea: France to deliver 40 mt of relief

(5 January) France will deliver 40 mt of relief aid at the end of this week to an estimated 400,000 people in southern Guinea displaced by recent cross-border attacks by armed rebels, the state news agency said on Wednesday.

AFP quoted the French Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bernard Valero, as saying the aid would be delivered through the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations operating in the area.


Mozambique: Positive economic forecast

(29 December) Mozambique's economic policy in 2001 is to continue to be largely determined by donors, who are expecting reforms to accelerate following two years of disruption due to political tensions and severe flooding earlier this year, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) forecast.

The inflow of post-flood assistance should continue throughout 2001. This, together with an increase in output from the recently opened Mozal aluminium smelter, expected to reach full capacity next year, should allow real GDP growth to rise to 8.5 percent, the EIU said in its outlook for 2001. The average rate of inflation is expected to fall to 7 percent, and the increase in output from Mozal could see exports more than double, cutting into the current-account deficit. Debt relief granted under the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative should allow a substantial reduction in debt-service payments. "These solid macroeconomic fundamentals will continue to make Mozambique a favoured location for investment into the region," the EIU briefing noted.


Eight countries to receive World Bank and IMF support for debt relief under the enhanced  HIPC Initiative

Washington, December 22 -- The World Bank Group's International Development Association and the International Monetary Fund have agreed to support a comprehensive debt reduction package for Rwanda, Guinea, Malawi, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Niger, São Tomé and Príncipe under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.





Cote D'ivoire: World Banks supports anti-AIDS campaign

(5 January) Ivorian primary schools teachers, represented by the Syndicat national de l'enseignement primaire public de Cote d'Ivoire (SNEPPCI), will receive some US $293,000 from the World Bank for its anti-AIDS campaign, the state-owned daily 'Fraternite Matin' reported on Wednesday.

The contribution, of which US $55,000 is from the Ivorian government, would fund information and prevention programmes and pay for support structures for teachers with HIV, as well as for their wives and children. Since 1998, growing number of primary and secondary school teachers have been contracting the virus that leads to AIDS which, according to a local medical study, kills up to eight teachers each week, the newspaper reported.


South Africa: WHO to help with cholera outbreak

(5 January) WHO officials are due in South Africa this week to help the government deal with a cholera outbreak which has killed 53 people so far. The head of WHO in South Africa, Welile Shasha, told IRIN on Thursday that two epidemiologists expected by the end of the week would consult government health officials and then head off to KwaZulu Natal to try to determine why the epidemic has not yet been stemmed. "They will be here to design a programme to deal with the outbreak and also to look at ways of preventing future outbreaks," he told IRIN.


Sierra Leone: Port Loko Hospital provides primary health care

(29 December) The International Medical Corps, a US-based NGO, has declared that the Port Loko District Hospital can now provide comprehensive primary health care services as the facility undergoes rehabilitation, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report spanning 7-22 December.

It said the prevalent illnesses include malaria, respiratory tract infections, malnutrition, skin infections and anaemia. The hospital, the only referral service in the district, some 60 km northeast of Freetown, is being re-equipped with beds, laboratory and surgical equipment. Other facilities will include a surgery unit, maternity and children wards, a kitchen, dental surgery and a morgue.


Environment and Wildlife



Earthwatch: a World of Data

Earthwatch Center, plans to work with the World Conservation Monitoring Center, in Cambridge, U.K., to make our decades of ecosystem analysis and reems of valuable biodiversity data available to a global audience of governments, nongovernmental organizations, and businesses. The Center, recently adopted by the United Nations Environment Program as its global biodiversity information and assessment hub, will serve as a clearing house for Earthwatch data to be used in the development of national and international environmental policies and regulations.


American Geophisycal Union: scorched Earth in the Tropics Linked to Europe's Storms

Recently at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco, climatologists say the burning forests in lush tropical lands thousands of miles from Europe. may be worsening rainstorms in northern Europe urban jungles and all places.

It's the latest sign that when it comes to weather, all Earth is a "global village": a climate upset in one region can set off a different upset thousands of miles away.

January 1, 2001 Forest Conservation’s byline: Keay Davidson


First World Forestry Report

Washington: the authors of a landmark report released called "Pilot Analysis of Global Ecosystems: Forest Ecosystems", say the world should be thinking of forest quality, not just forest quantity. It is the first attempt to analyse the condition of forests worldwide, based on their ability to provide a wide range of goods and services.

Author Emily Matthews said: "We are, running through our old growth or primary forests, not out of trees, especially in the developed countries where continue to increase slightly,” Much of the wood production in developed countries takes place in secondary growth. Production of all wood fiber products is keeping up with demand

The report explains how roads, even in Central Africa where transportation systems are less developed than in the West, have fragmented dense forest into smaller pieces. Worldwide, fires started by humans, demands for fuel, mineral resources, and food production are altering the distribution, density and size of trees, and radically affecting many other species that depend on forests. The authors recommend that governments encourage production from plantations and intensive forest management in selected areas

The World Forestry Report can be found in full at:


Taiwanese legislature bans dogs and cats meat

Taipei, Taiwan: under the law passed, people will be fined up to 10,000 Taiwan dollars ($300 U.S.) for butchering or selling dog or cat or other pets and stray animals meat, the “fragrant meat” once popular considered to be a winter treat In recent years, the dog eateries have become less common because Taiwanese have become more affluent and influenced by Western values and urban people consider those who eat dogs to be backward and cruel.


Computer recyclers offer alternatives to the dump

Computer waste gets worse during the holiday season when new electronic goodies replace the old in many households. Computer recycling operations are working to combat, and profit from, a rapid increase in computer waste. Many companies offer an alternative to the dump. (Environment protection Agency)

A&B Recycling of Georgia receives up to 60 truckloads of electronics a month. Phones, computers and microwaves are rehabilitated and resold to companies as far away as China.

The computer industry itself is beginning to seek solutions to the electronic waste problem. IBM recently launched a computer recycling service If the computer can't be saved, IBM recycles the parts at Envirocycle, a Pennsylvania-based firm.

Computer Aid International (UK) exists to recycle donated computers for re-use in schools, and community organisations in developing countries; translates into the maximum number of recycled computers possible; is working in partnership with many established agencies, including; United Nations Association for International Service, Peace Child International Survival International, Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign, SOS Children's Villages (UK), Skillshare Africa, International Co-operation for Development

Each year an estimated 6 million tons of electronic waste end up in European dumps.


Air quality aboard commercial jetliners comes under scrutiny

"It's a public health problem that has not been addressed," said Christopher Witkowski, director of safety and health for the AFA (Association of Flight Attendants, represents more than 40,000 flight attendants at more than 25 airlines).

The National Academy of Sciences will review data on aircraft contaminants from the AFA and other health and environmental organizations and will evaluate potential approaches for improving air quality.

The study, including recommendations, must be completed by September 2001.


Mexico City: air is getting cleaner  

5 January - The air in Mexico City -- described by the U.N. in 1992 as the world's worst -- seems to be getting cleaner.  Even as the number of cars and people picks up in the city, tougher environmental rules calling for cleaner fuels, catalytic converters on cars, emissions tests, and limits on industrial pollution have caused pollution numbers this winter to drop significantly.  In the 1990s, simply breathing in the city was the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.  An air quality index in 1996 reached 394 on a scale from zero to 500, with anything over 100 viewed as unsatisfactory; on Wednesday this week the index topped out at 69. Big challenges remain, but Nobel Laureate Mario Molina, who is helping to lead a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study on the issue, expressed hope that new technologies would offer solutions.


Aluminium cans recycling

(5 January) Industry experts say Brazil will recycle about 80 percent of the 9.5 billion aluminum cans sold in the country in 2000, putting it on pace to match Japan's trend-setting rate of 79 percent in 1999.  By comparison, the U.S. recycled 63 percent of its cans in 1999 and Europe as a whole recycled 41 percent.  The boom in Brazilian recycling is due in large part to enterprising Brazilians who collect carelessly littered cans in cities and towns throughout the country. Recycling cans has become a $110 million-a-year industry employing about 150,000 Brazilians, according to the Brazil Aluminum Association.  Producing a ton of aluminum from scratch requires 16,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, while using old cans requires only 750 k/hours.


Culture and Education



Planetary Vision Festival launched on World Day One (01/01/01)! 

(1st January 2001) Groups in 26 countries joined together today, the official first day of the 21st Century and the Third Millennium, to launch Planetary Vision Festival 2001 through two global ‘grassroots’ initiatives: The First Global Singalong, a singalong of special universally-themed songs, and First Steps – A Walk for the Future, a local/global walk for our common future.

The Planetary Vision Festival is the first in an annual series of events and programs celebrating the new planetary consciousness and its related ethics and actions.

From Queensland, Australia in the east to Samoa in the west and from Anchorage, Alaska in the far north to Antarctica in the extreme south, global citizens joined together through participation in these volunteer-based events to mutually express unity, hope and goodwill as humanity entered the new Millennium.


UNDP and Cisco Systems host Internet training in Ghana

Participants from seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa took a step towards bridging the digital divide by successfully completing the first phase of an Internet training course hosted by UNDP and Cisco Systems last month at the Centre for Information and Communication Technology in Accra, Ghana. The course is part of a strategic partnership between UNDP, Cisco Systems, UN Volunteers and others to bring Cisco's Networking Academy Program to 24 of the world's 48 least developed countries.


124 IYV committees poised for volunteer year

Bonn, 21 December- Volunteer activists have formed 124 committees in more than 100 countries to promote and celebrate volunteerism throughout the International Year of Volunteers 2001 (IYV 2001). Most of the IYV Committees were in place by the global launch of the year, which took place on or around 5 December in about 100 countries. IYV committees at the national, state and municipal levels have put in place a broad range of activities to promote and recognize the work of volunteers during the year -- the largest global celebration of volunteerism ever conceived. These committees will follow-up and report on events taking place during the year with a view to strengthening the status of volunteers in the societies where they work.



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Next issue: 26 January 2001