Good News Agency – Year II, n° 14
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 2,500 editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in 46 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Finland, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA, and it is also available in its web site: http://www.goodnewsagency.org
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, Radio For Peace International, The Club of Budapest 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aarhus Convention starts count-down to entry into force
The Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters will come into effect on 30 October 2001. This comes as a result of the recent ratification of the Convention by Armenia and Estonia, which became the sixteenth and seventeenth countries to do so.
The Aarhus Convention was negotiated by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) as part of its pan-European environmental legal framework. It is generally intended to lift the veil of environmental secrecy and strengthen citizens’ environmental rights. It has now been ratified by Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine.
Recent ozone peaks have again highlighted the need for people to have timely information about the environment so that they can take precautions and keep their vulnerable children indoors, for instance. The Aarhus Convention aims to ensure that everyone has access to this type of information and to prevent Governments from covering up environmental disasters. This should prevent any repetition of the denials and confusion that followed the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
The Convention also gives ordinary citizens a voice in any decision-making that affects their environment, such as the siting of toxic waste dumps. Finally, the Convention is intended to ensure that public authorities and polluters that break the rules can be challenged in court either by individuals or by non-governmental organizations. (…)
ILO High Level Team to Visit Myanmar
Mission to assess Government actions on eliminating forced labour
Geneva, 21 August - The composition of a High Level Team due to visit Myanmar for a three-week period next month to assess Government actions on forced labour was announced today by the International Labour Office (ILO) Director-General Juan Somavia. (…)
The mandate of the Team is to make an objective assessment of the practical implementation and actual impact of various legislative, executive and administrative measures announced by the Government in response to previous ILO action, with a view to determining whether these measures have been effective in eliminating the practice of forced labour. In making its assessment, the Team will take into account in particular the views expressed recently on this matter by the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations.
In carrying out its mandate, the Team will have full discretion to establish a programme of such contacts and visits as it considers appropriate across the country. It is anticipated that it will visit Myanmar in mid-September and spend up to three weeks in the country. It is due to report to the Governing Body at its November 2001 session. (…)
Small loans transform women's lives in Yemen
24 August - MicroStart, a global programme promoting small loans to poor entrepreneurs, is helping women in Yemen build brighter futures for themselves and their families.
Run by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), a UNDP affiliate, MicroStart is carrying out a pilot project in three governorates in Yemen: Aden, Sana'a and Taiz. The initiative is strengthening the capacity of national micro-lending institutions, helping to expand their outreach and better serve their clients. (…) The initiative now has 4,000 clients in the three governates, 98 per cent of them women. Three of the four micro-lending institutions participating in the project are run by women. The project is targeting women because surveys have found that households in Yemen headed by women are the hardest hit by poverty. The estimated average annual income of men in Yemen is $1,272 while women earn only $345 a year, according to the UNDP Human Development Report 2001.
There is also evidence that women are reliable in repaying loans. In fact, data from micro-lending institutions worldwide show that poor entrepreneurs have a repayment rate of 98 per cent, higher than that of clients of commercial banks.
Experience has also shown that women clients spend the extra income generated by loans to help their families. This indicates that providing loans to small businesses run by women can have a strong impact in helping to lift families and communities out of poverty. (…)
Africa: political risk insurance for importers and exporters
Kampala, Uganda, 20 August - The World Bank supported African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) was officially launched in Kampala. The ATIA, supported by a $105 million World Bank loan, will provide political risk insurance for importers and exporters operating in (initially) Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. According to the World Bank Group, with the seven initial members the agency could generate as much as US$5 billion in additional foreign trade over the next ten years. the agency will insure suppliers and banks that finance a sales contract against nonpayment due to trade embargoes, expropriation, war or civil disturbance, seizure of goods and a number of other government actions. The ATI will manage the Regional Trade Facilitation Project.
Burkina Faso: World Bank approves US$45 million Poverty Reduction Support Credit
Washington, 24 August - The World Bank's Board has approved a US$45 million Poverty Reduction Support Credit for Burkina Faso. The interest-free credit will support the implementation of the country's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper as discussed by the Bank's Board in June 2000.
The Poverty Reduction Support Credit (PRSC) will help finance Burkina Faso's public expenditure program for 2001, and achieve better outcomes in the management of public resources by:
(i) strengthening program budgets linking allocations to specific sector objectives, strategies, and action plans;
(ii) improving service delivery in selected line ministries;
(iii) establishing a fiduciary framework promoting accountability and transparency in the use of public funds, including external assistance; and
(iv) strengthening the government's capacity to track and manage public expenditure efficiently.
The PRSC builds on previous support provided to the country under the December 1999 Structural Adjustment Credit, which focused on key social sector programs, including the government's new 10-year Health Program, as well as improved budget and financial management by the government in general.
The credit from the International Development Association, the World Bank lending arm for the poorest countries, is on standard terms: interest-free, and to be repaid over 40 years with a 10 years grace period.
Cisco helps Democratic Republic of the Congo get online
23 August - Through a partnership between UNDP and Cisco Systems, a new National Cisco Academy at the University of Kinshasa is helping the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo move into the digital age. The initiative provides high-tech training to students, teaching them how to install and operate local computer networks and link them to the Internet. Participation by women is a programme priority. Access to information and communications technology is important as the Congo starts to rebuild devastated institutions and social and economic infrastructure. (…) The first group of 19 students at the Academy has taken courses from May to August to reach the Cisco Certified Networking Associate level. Demonstrating its commitment to women' s participation, the Academy enrolled a new class of 21 students in July - all of them women. (…)
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: ICRC continues to help conflict victims
23 August - This week the ICRC delivered emergency aid to thousands of villagers who remain isolated in the Tetovo area of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, some of whom have been cut off from their traditional supply lines for many months now by the conflict. (…)
ICRC teams are especially worried about the precarious situation of pockets of ethnic Macedonians, mainly elderly people, who remained behind when the other villagers fled in late July and who can no longer rely on the support of their local communities. The ICRC has already reunited more than 150 such vulnerable people with their families and this week delivered food and other essential items to the others.
Food was also delivered to villages in the hills above Tetovo where the resident population, predominantly ethnic Albanians, has been isolated since March. It was the first time the ICRC had been able to bring such assistance to the civilians there, who were facing shortages of food and other basic supplies. (…)
$1 million contribution coincides with visit of UNICEF Executive Director
New York, 9 August - The Government of Italy has pledged support for the children of Democratic Republic of Congo with a donation of approximately US$1 million (2 billion Italian Lire) to UNICEF. The donation coincides with the visit of UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy, who arrives in DRC this week to take part in a series of National Immunization Days. Commenting on the donation, Carol Bellamy said: "The Italian Government has shown, once again, its determination to channel resources to children in the greatest need."
Part of the donation will support the revitalisation of primary health services. (…)
Italian funds will also provide support for the most vulnerable displaced and refugee children and women. Over 2 million people have been uprooted from their homes in DRC as a result of conflict, the vast majority of them women and children. UNICEF is responding with a whole range of services, including educational support for around 50,000 displaced children due to start the new school year in September.
UNICEF is appealing for a total of $15 million as part of the Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for DRC (January to December 2001). The Italian contribution brings the total received to $ 8 million. (…) The Italian Government has also announced additional support to UNICEF's global work by adding approximately $ 2 million to its current year contribution to UNICEF Regular Resources, its core funding. (…)
Tomsk, Russia, 7 August - A team of six Rotary International volunteers recently arrived in Tomsk, Russia, to lend its expertise volunteering at a local orphanage. Funded by The Rotary Foundation and local Rotary clubs in Alaska and Russia, the volunteers will spend four weeks developing educational, vocational and sports programs for 110 children in the Eagle's Nest Orphanage in the Western Siberia area.
UNFPA praises Canada's support to equip 900 community clinics, fight HIV/AIDS in Nigeria
United Nations, New York, 1 August – The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has welcomed the decision of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to grant 10 million Canadian dollars (about US$6.6 million) over two years to expand Fund-supported reproductive health services and HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives in Nigeria.
The grants will enable the UNFPA to upgrade and equip 900 primary health facilities in 180 of the country's local government areas and provide training in life-saving skills to some 900 midwives. The sums are also meant to help increase significantly the number of births in those counties attended by skilled personnel and to increase HIV/AIDS awareness. (…)
WFP expands food assistance to war victims in Democratic Republic of Congo
Lubumbashi, DRC – In its continued emergency response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the United Nations World Food Programme has begun feeding 40,000 previously inaccessible Congolese living in government-held territory.
The new food delivery, which started late last week in government-held Katanga, an eastern province near the frontline, marks WFP’s effort to step-up aid for the mounting numbers of war victims living in isolated and volatile regions of the country. Since the war began in 1998, hundreds of thousands of Congolese have been virtually cut-off from the world, lacking food, medicine and clothing. (…)
Because the security situation in areas bordering the frontline has stabilized in recent months, WFP is now able to deliver crucial food aid for the first time in over a year to some 40,000 displaced people seeking refuge in the towns of Kabongo and Kitenge. Some 350 tons of WFP food was moved on a recently re-opened railway for up to ten days to reach the towns located some 900 kilometers northwest from Lubumbashi. The province is currently split in two between government and rebel-held territories, with areas in the north on both sides of the frontlines. Malnutrition rates are reportedly some of this highest in the country. (…)
WFP is the United Nations’ front-line agency in the fight against global hunger. In 2000, WFP fed more than 83 million people in 83 countries including most of the world’s refugees and internally displaced people.
Nigeria: Focus on HIV/AIDS treatment programme
Lagos, 24 August - For thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, the long wait for affordable treatment appears set to end. From 1 September the government will launch an anti-retroviral treatment programme under which 15,000 people will each receive the required cocktail of drugs for less than US $1 daily. The drugs produced by the India-based pharmaceutical company, Cipla Ltd, are generic versions of more expensive anti-retroviral drugs produced by Western drug companies. President Olusegun Obasanjo's government, through negotiations with the company, is buying the drugs for US $350 a year per person. (…)
The new treatment programme by Africa's most populous country of 120 million people is novel on the continent. Nigeria is an early beneficiary of the decision, early this year, by leading Western pharmaceuticals to drop their law suit against the South African government which insisted it had a right to produce or buy cheaper generic versions of their anti-HIV/AIDS drugs. (…)
Newly demobilized children get trauma counselling while families are traced
Nairobi / Geneva / New York, 20 August - Some 227 former child soldiers, ranging in age from 10 to 18 years, have arrived at a rehabilitation centre outside the Rwandan capital of Kigali after being held near the conflict zone in northwest Rwanda where they were captured over the summer. Most of the children say they were forcibly recruited and trained in eastern DRC. (…)
The children, transferred to the Gitagata rehabilitation centre outside Kigali over the last several days, are now receiving psycho-social counselling and non-formal education provided by UNICEF and its partners. "We are attempting to locate their families and prepare them for eventual re-integration into their communities," said Gerry Dyer, UNICEF's Chief Programme Officer in Rwanda, adding that government sources had indicated that another 200 former child soldiers could arrive at the centre over the next month. The children have all expressed a desire to be reunited with their families and communities, and many of them want to return to school. (…)
New York, 17 August - Building upon its unprecedented campaign to immunize children against infectious diseases, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization and the Vaccine Fund will launch a multi-country five-year initiative in Cambodia on 19 August, to increase access to immunization for children throughout Southeast Asia. (…)
The Cambodian Government will receive an initial 683,000 doses of Hepatitis B-Diptheria, Petussis, Tetanus (HepB-DPT), worth an estimated $296,000. Additional resources have been earmarked for neighbouring Laos and Vietnam.
As part of the GAVI partnership, Cambodia and other countries will be responsible for reporting, on a yearly basis, the headway they have made toward achieving immunization goals. The Vaccine Fund must receive a satisfactory progress report in order to continue funding beyond the first year. (…)
GAVI is an alliance of partners that came together in January 2000 in response to stagnating global immunization rates and widening disparities in vaccine access among industrialized and developing countries. The GAVI partners include: national governments, the Bill and Melinda Gates Children's Vaccine Program at PATH, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations (IFPMA), public health and research institutions, the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF.
The Vaccine Fund was launched in 1999 with an initial contribution from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of $750 million over five years. While the Fund has its own Board and management for fundraising responsibilities, decisions about grants are based on the recommendations of the GAVI Board. Using the existing infrastructure of UNICEF and other GAVI Partners, administrative costs are kept to the barest minimum making it possible for approximately 98 percent of Vaccine Fund resources to go directly to countries.
Geneva, 7 August - Tens of thousands of vaccination teams have fanned across central Africa, going door-to-door to protect millions of children against polio in the first ever coordinated polio immunization campaign in the conflict-affected region. During several days in July, August and September, this massive effort will result in the protection of a targeted 16 million children against polio in Angola, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gabon. The "synchronized" National Immunization Days (NIDs) campaign is a major step in the global effort to eradicate the crippling disease, as Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are considered two of the few remaining bastions of the wild poliovirus. (…)
The goal of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative is to fully interrupt transmission of the wild poliovirus, and certify the world polio-free in 2005. At the beginning of 2000 polio was circulating in just 20 countries - down from 125 in 1988 when the Initiative was launched. Since that time, the number of cases worldwide has been reduced by 99%, from an estimated 350 000 in 1988 to 2881 reported in 2000.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by WHO, Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Major donors to these synchronized NIDs include the Governments of Belgium, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, UK and USA, Rotary International, the Rotary Foundation, the United Nations Foundation and vaccine manufacturer Aventis Pasteur.
Wind power cheaper than coal
Stanford, California, August 24 - The U.S. should make a large investment in wind farming to help meet the nation's electricity needs and address global warming, two energy experts from Stanford's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have concluded.
Writing in today's issue of the journal "Science," associate professor Mark Jacobson and teaching professor Gilbert Masters conclude that wind power is an abundant, clean and affordable alternative to coal and other fossil fuels. (…)
Wild Antarctic winds to be harnessed for power
Canberra, Australia, 22 August - Australia is embarking on an ambitious $US2.3 million program to take wind power further than it has ever been, by harnessing Antarctic gales for full scale electricity generation.
A wind farm is to be built at Mawson in Eastern Antarctica to meet much of the station's energy demand by slicing turbine blades into the katabatic winds that howl off the polar ice cap daily.
Towers will be built to withstand gusts of up to 300 kilometers per hour, and generate power in winds up to 130 kilometers per hour before they automatically shut down. Such demands are higher than anywhere else, according to project officials. (…)
Baltic sea region cuts toxic discharges in half
Helsinki, Finland, August 24 - The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission says it has reached its goal of reducing by half the discharges, emissions, and losses of hazardous substances in the Baltic Sea area.
Known as the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM), the commission presented a report today on the levels of toxic discharges and emissions during a meeting of the Heads of Delegations in Warsaw, Poland. The report investigated 72 selected hazardous substances. (…)
The goal to reduce 47 of such hazardous substances by at least 50 percent was declared in 1988 by the Ministers responsible for the Environment of all countries bordering on the Baltic Sea.
Within the past 13 years, the emissions of certain hazardous substances have been mastered by legal means as well as new production processes and retention systems. The use of leaded gasoline, for instance, has significantly decreased or even been phased out by now in all countries bordering on the Baltic Sea. (…)
Having met the 50 percent reduction goal, the Helsinki Commission now aims to phase out the discharges, emissions and losses of selected hazardous substances by 2020.
Members of the Helskini Commission are: Denmark, Estonia, European Commission, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Sweden.
Fourth annual climate change and ozone protection conference scheduled for March 2002
Arlington, VA, 24 August - The Fourth Annual Earth Technologies Forum, the preeminent conference and exhibition on global climate change and ozone protection technologies and policies, will be held March 25-27, 2002 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. A Call For Papers will soon be mailed and is available now on the web. One of the main features of the conference will be an exhibition of climate and ozone-friendly technologies and programs. Last year, approximately 800 participants from 30 countries attended the Forum.
The conference is sponsored by the International Climate Change Partnership (ICCP) and the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy, in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Agency for International Development, United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Development Programme, Environment Canada, Industry Canada, Australian Greenhouse Office, Netherlands' Reduction Plan for the Non- CO2 Greenhouse Gases, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, as well as over 80 industry groups. (…)
Maine residents raise millions for land conservation
Portland, Maine, 22 August - With $50 million already in hand for its campaign to purchase coastal lands of environmental importance, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a statewide land conservation organization, has set a goal of $100 million.
The Campaign for the Coast is a five year $100 million effort to protect lands the trust has identified as essential to the region's way of life. (…)
The Maine Coast Heritage Trust partners with local land trusts, landowners, governments and communities throughout Maine to conserve natural coastlands and cultural treasures. The campaign will accelerate the conservation of special places in Maine, such as the land trust's protection of Frenchboro Long Island. (…)
New report, an assessment of the status of the world's remaining closed forests, pin points forest areas vital for water, wildlife and climate
London/Nairobi, 20 August - Efforts to save the world's last, critically important forests, should initially focus on just a handful of countries, a new report has found.
A unique satellite-based survey of the planet's remaining closed forests, which include virgin, old growth and naturally-regenerated woodlands, has found that over 80 per cent are located in just 15 countries. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), one of the key organizations behind the report, believes that targeting scarce conservation funds on these 15 key countries may pay dividends in terms of environmental results.
Importantly, the survey also reveals that the pressure from people and population growth on most of these remaining closed forests, such as those in Bolivia and Peru, is low. Others, such as the remaining closed forests in India and China, are under more pressure from human activity and may require a bigger effort to conserve and protect, the report concludes. But overall an estimated 88 per cent of these vital forests are sparsely populated, which give well-focused and well-funded conservation efforts a real chance of success.
The findings have come from scientists with UNEP working with other researchers including ones from the United States Geological Survey and NASA, the United States space agency. (…)
The role of bamboo in disaster avoidance
Guayaquil Ecuador, 5 - 12 August - The Role of Bamboo in Disaster Avoidance was the theme of a conference organised by the Government of Ecuador and the International Rattan and Bamboo Network (INBAR) in Guayaquil Ecuador. The role and potential uses of bamboo and the R&D activities needed to enhance and promote its many roles were discussed by a wide spectrum of participants from researchers, administrators, policy makers to bamboo land and house users. Emphasis was put on the use of bamboo in rehabilitating degraded land and sustaining river banks.
Another workshop on the related subject of Earthquake Resistant Bamboo Houses, jointly organized by INBAR, the Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre (CBTC), UNIDO and the Government of Mizoram, will take place October 29 to November 12, 2001, in Mizoram, India. A limited number of travel grants are available to non-official participants whose papers are accepted for presentation. If you have any enquiries on participation in workshop or presentation of papers, please contact Kamesh Salam at the Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre.
Culture of Peace Week, September 11-18
A week of focus to:
- highlight the UN International Decade for A Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World(www.unesco.org/cpp/uk/news/english.PDF);
- bless the Children of the World;
- support the United Nations Special Session for Children, September 19-21.
The week begins on International Day of Peace and ends on Hear the Children Day of Peace. It is being observed by countless groups around the world in a number of ways including: a minute of silence for World Peace at 12 noon on each day of the week; a Blessing for the Children of the World in schools, community centres and places of worship; peace concerts and art exhibitions; the planting of peace poles (www.worldpeace.org) and use of the prayer ‘May Peace prevail on Earth’.
The annual interfaith service in New York for the work of the United Nations, that will be attended by Secretary General Kofi Annan and senior UN officials, will be held during the Week. It will in corporate a Blessing for the Children of the World.
International Day of Peace has been celebrated at the opening day of the United Nations General Assembly since 1981. From this year it is being observed on the Tuesday following the second Monday of September.
Every year a special ceremony is held at UN headquarters to mark the Day. Delegates and dignitaries gather around the Peace Bell in the grounds of the UN. The bell, which was cast from coins donated by people from around 60 countries, was donated by the United Nations Association of Japan. At 10am New York time (14.00 GMT) the Secretary General delivers a brief message, rings the Peace Bell and calls upon people throughout the world to reflect for a moment on the universal goals of peace. After the moment of silence the President of the Security Council makes a statement. Later in the day, the General Assembly opens with delegates observing a minute of silence.
The Day is observed around the world with a minute of silence at 12 noon.
Religious communities, schools and NGOs are invited to hold a Blessing for the Children of the World to acknowledge the importance of children during Culture of Peace Week, Sept. 11-18, 2001. This week is designed to highlight the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World. Culture of Peace Week immediately precedes the United Nations Special Session on Children and offers a great opportunity to contribute to change the way the world treats children and adolescents.
The violence in schools, neighborhoods and families reminds us that a blessing for the children is sorely needed. It is an opportunity to recognize the importance of every child, including those living in conflict or trauma in many regions of the world.
The event will be celebrated in many places in the world. Ceremonies at the United Nations and New York City will include:
- Blessing for the Children of the World, part of the annual Interfaith Service for the work of the United Nations on Thursday, September 13 at 8:15 AM at St. Bartholomew’s Church (51st and Park Ave.)
- A special youth celebration for middle school students will be held at the United Nations for the International Day of Peace, organized by the Department of Public Information and the NGO Peace Day Committee.
- A candle light vigil to bless the children at the closing of the UN Special Session on Children, Friday, September 21, 6-7:30 PM at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (1st and 47th St.)
A report on activities celebrating Culture of Peace Week will be delivered to the UN in support of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World.
To know of activities around the world or to have local activities included in this report, visit http://www.worldpeace.org/cultureofpeaceweek, or contact the NY office of Pathways To Peace, 3 Harbor Court, Centerport, NY 11721, Fax 631-754-4906, MBWillard@aol.com.
Culture of Peace Week and the Blessing for the Children of the World are supported by:
UNICEF; UN Department of Public Information; The Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; The Values Caucus; The Peace Caucus; The Committee of Religious NGOs; Pathways To Peace; The World Peace Prayer Society; Peaceways;
The United Religions Initiative-UN; The Interfaith Center of NY; The Temple of Understanding;
“We the Peoples” Initiative (250 organizations)
UN DPI/NGO Annual Conference – New York, September 10 – 12
The UN Department of Public Information’s 54th annual conference for Non-Governmental Organizations, “NGOs Today: Diversity of the Volunteer Experience”, will explore how the volunteer spirit can better promote the principles and goals of the United Nations. Major themes will be: The Diversity of Volunteerism; Volunteerism and the UN; NGOs Working Together; Strengthening the Volunteer Effort; The Dynamics of Funding the Volunteer Movement.
Representatives will come to the UN Headquarters in New York from all parts of the world. The opening session will take place in the General Assembly Hall.
“The United Nations once dealt only with Governments. By now we know that peace and prosperity cannot be achieved without partnerships involving Governments, international organizations, the business community and civil society. In today’s world we depend on each other”. (UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan)
Peace Now, supported by various other peace organizations, such as IFLAC: The international Forum for the Culture of Peace, held an impressive torchlight Peace March on the evening of August 4, entitled "Stop the Unnecessary War!". There were an estimated 10.000 marchers, who started the Peace March near the monument in memory of the assassinated late Yitzhak Rabin, in Tel-Aviv's Rabin Square. They marched to the Ministry of Defence on Kaplan Street, where Jewish and Arab Speakers called for the stopping of the violence, on both the palestinian and the Israeli sides, and for an immediate, unconditional return to the peace negotiations. Among the speakers, were Dr. Yossi Beilin, former Minister, and MK Hussneya Jebbara, the first Arab/ Palestinian woman member of the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament). After some brilliant speeches, 15 members of the Knesset, Jewish and Arab/ Palestinian, on stage, together with the organizers of the demonstration, held hands and sang Peace songs with all the participants.
This was the most sustained effort made to date by the part of the Israeli peace camp which had been in serious disarray since the outbreak of the present Intifada. It showed that the Peace Camp in the Middle East is alive and powerful, and it pointed out that the threat of the present armed confrontations escalating into all-out regional war is very real, and should be opposed by every way possible.
On the theme "Conflict Resolution Through Culture”, IFLAC will hold an international conference that will take place in Sydney, Australia, October 5-7. It is open to the public and all are welcome.
On 27 August Prof. Ada Aharoni, IFLAC’s President, wrote to us: “Now I am back in Haifa, and face again the tremendous task we have in trying to introduce some logic, comprehension and conflict resolution in our dangerously escalating situation in our region. The driver of the taxi who brought us back from Tel Aviv to Haifa was a Palestinian by the name of Mohamed, and when he heard about IFLAC he was so glad and has joined, and promised he would bring all his friends and family to IFLAC meetings. At least, on the personal level, this is encouraging, and many more Israelis and Palestinians are joining. Perhaps you would like to mention this too, in your September GNA report, and give my email address for those who would like to join”
RFPI and the International Center for Human Rights in Media:
Ten Week Immersion Course on Peace Journalism with Language Training
Radio For Peace International and the International Center for Human Rights in Media have developed a course which will serve 12-25 learners from all over the world per 10 week program. These students will live and study in Costa Rica under the direction and supervision of Radio For Peace International and the International Center for Human Rights in Media. Learners will attend daily classes on peace related studies including social justice and human rights, ethics in journalism, the history of racism and xenophobia in media, researching and documenting intolerance in media, the research and writing of papers and articles for publication, production of radio programs based on the research, Spanish and English language training, cultural immersion and community involvement.
Radio For Peace International is a peace related broadcast facility currently broadcasting on shortwave and the internet 24 hours a day 7 days a week to 120 countries worldwide with an estimated listenership of 800,000. It is also a teaching and training facility as well as the home of the International Center for Human Rights in Media, a research and archival facility dedicated to monitoring, chronicling and publishing information on and about intolerance and racism in media and the promotion of tolerance.
Laureates of UNESCO Literacy Prizes 2001
UNESCO's international literacy prizes this year rewarded projects and programmes in New Zealand, Brazil, China, Haiti, and Senegal, as selected by an international jury that met in Paris in July to name the laureates of the International Reading Association Literacy Award, the Noma Literacy Prize, the two King Sejong Literacy Prizes and the Malcolm Adiseshiah International Literacy Prize.
The five prizes reward particularly effective contributions to the fight against illiteracy, one of UNESCO's major concerns. Laureates were chosen from among 27 nominations submitted by governments and one candidate entered by a non-governmental organization. They will receive their prizes on the occasion of International Literacy Day (September 8) in their home countries.(…)
As International Literacy Day this year is on Saturday, the ceremony to be held at UNESCO will take place on September 10 (6 p.m.).
This is a game combining the pleasure of taking part in a quiz with the discovery of voluntary action. The Volunteers' Odyssey is conceived as a ludic and didactic event aimed at forging a greater understanding of voluntary actions using television as its means of communication. The Odyssey is a televised game presented in two versions; one of seven 52 minutes long programmes and the other of 49 short programmes seven minutes long. Odyssey participants consist of 7 teams of 3 young film students from 21 different countries. The Jury is made up by the TV viewers who are invited to give from 1 to 3 points to each team. At the end of the seven legs, the team with most points will produce a 52 minutes-long film on voluntary activities. The seven teams shall make a world round trip in seven stages. During each stage, each team will film and edit a short film five-minutes long and a question about the voluntary project they are visiting. Each stage will thus be edited and hosted by TV presenters. The correct answers to all 49 questions will allow TV viewers to win a trip to a voluntary project.
The Odyssey is organized by Prospective Internationale, that invites organisations which want to participate, televisions which are interested in broadcasting the series and young reporters who want to be part of the teams to send their information before September 15.
The renewal of ethics is a worldwide spontaneous movement that defines and promotes new values and reflects them into new codes of behaviour. The Ethical Code of the Media, launched by Good News Agency last February, has been endorsed so far by over 100 NGOs, service organizations, v.i.p. as well as media from all over the world, and it is available in seven languages on the web: www.goodnewsagency.org This Code is an evidence of a number of initiatives from various groups that aim at a global ethical renewal as a pre-requisite for the necessary transformation of human attitudes and responsibilities. Here there are some other evidences of this irreversible trend that is going to shape our future. (Sergio Tripi)
A forerunner of this movement is John McConnell, founder of the Earth Magna Charta and of the Earth Day. Recently, this man of vision wrote to us saying: “The Pacem in Terris statement of Pope John 23rd (1963) was followed by the Pacem in Terris conference in New York - which I attended. That event headed me toward Earth Day and the Earth Magna Charta”.
In the field of moral values, the following passage from the Earth Magna Charta includes a basic concept that, like the other concepts pertaining to other fields, is as valuable today as it was when it was written: “People of different cultures can agree on basic moral values and deeds though they may differ on creeds that relate to the great mysteries of life. For honest agreement and cooperation we need to separate our creeds and their claims about life and death from the ideas and actions in which we can all agree. We can agree on the need for deeds that nurture people and planet though we differ on creeds warmly held about mind and spirit and the ultimate mysteries of the cosmos and its creator. Of course the best evidence of the value of our creed is the love it produces in our lives. Common to every major religion is the Golden Rule - treat others as you would like to be treated. Now we have a new common ground: awareness of our planet and our responsibility to take care of it.”
Earth Day is on March 21each year. In a meeting in September last year with John McConnell, 85 year old founder of Earth Day, Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Proclamation which initiated the worldwide celebration on March 21, 1970. This event takes place each year at the United Nations in New York. Its origin is described by John McConnell on the web site this way: “In 1969 I persuaded the city of San Francisco, who had supported Minute for Peace, to proclaim March 21, 1970 as Earth Day. (…) Our big Earth Day in New York was the next year. The 1971 Earth Day in New York had the backing of United Nations Secretary General U Thant. He felt Earth Day could become a vital global holiday that would benefit people and planet. My conversations with Margaret Mead and United Nations Ambassadors in 1970 resulted in participation worldwide. The International Earth Day Proclamation I had written after San Francisco was signed by U Thant and other world leaders. Issued as a United Nations Release it helped bring global attention.”
Earth Magna Charta and Earth Day are on the web site: www.earthsite.org
For over a decade diverse groups throughout the world have endeavoured to create an Earth Charter that sets forth fundamental ethical principles for a sustainable way of life. Hundreds of groups and thousands of individuals have been involved in the process. Representatives from government and nongovernmental organizations worked to secure adoption of an Earth Charter during the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. However, the time was not right. A new Earth Charter initiative was launched by the Earth Council and Green Cross International in 1994.
An Earth Charter Commission was formed in 1997 to oversee the project and the drafting of the Charter. The Secretariat for the Commission is at the Earth Council in Costa Rica. In March, 1997, at the conclusion of the Rio+5 Forum in Rio de Janeiro, the Earth Charter Commission issued the Benchmark Draft Earth Charter. The Commission also called for ongoing international consultations on the text of the document.
Between 1997 and 1999 over forty national Earth Charter committees were formed, and numerous Earth Charter conferences were held. Comments and recommendations from all regions of the world were forwarded to the Earth Council and the Drafting Committee. Guided by these contributions to the consultation process, the text of the Charter was extensively revised. In April, 1999, the Earth Charter Commission issued Benchmark Draft II. The consultation process continued throughout 1999 in order to provide individuals and groups with a further opportunity to make contributions to the drafting process. As a result of the worldwide consultation process, the Earth Charter Commission issued a final version of the Earth Charter after their meeting on March 12 - 14, 2000 at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
The Institute for Ethics & Meaning--a grassroots community building organization--in conjunction with Earth Charter USA, will produce the first annual grassroots Community Spirit of Caring Summits to promote the principles of the Earth Charter through the promotion and development of local, state and national initiatives. Fifty summits will be held simultaneously in each state on September 22, 2001 and will be connected via video downlinks to increase enthusiasm and participation. Participants’ creativity and enthusiasm will be sparked by the presentation of grassroots initiatives that are turning the Earth Charter principles into actions.
World Day of Planetary Ethics: September 22nd
September 22nd marks the first “World Day of Planetary Ethics” with sunrise celebrations and local dialogues taking place planet-wide. People from many cultures and nations will unite under the banner of the Planetary Vision Festival 2001 to celebrate a new ethics for humanity on the first spring day of the new Millennium in the southern hemisphere. As of September 5, groups in New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, India, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, USA and Samoa are participating. Planetary Vision Festival 2001 is the first in an annual series of global events and programs celebrating our new planetary consciousness and its related ethics and actions. The Festival unites people planet-wide in awareness of the great opportunities present at this time to shape a sustainable and peaceful future for all and helps inspire humanity to new thinking, ethics and actions.
The World Day of Planetary Ethics is the fourth global initiative launched under the Festival this year. The Planetary Vision Festival is an initiative of the Club of Budapest - an international association whose mission is to be a catalyst for the transformtion to a sustainable world through new thinking, ethics and actions - in partnership with the PVF2001 Founding Alliance, whose members include: Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale (Italy), First Steps International (Canada), Global Foundation for Understanding (Canada), Institute for Ethical Leadership (Canada), Pathways to Peace (USA), Sister Cities International - Pause for Peace Project (USA), The Club of Budapest USA, The Star of Tolerance (EU) and Towards the Third Millennium (Russia and Ukraine).
This media ethics panel will be hold on October 2nd , 1.30 pm-2.45 pm, at the first International Entertainment Globalization Initiative, the international conference for the film, music, television, media and technologies industries, in the framework of Digital Hollywood 2001. This roundtable session is co-sponsored by the Club of Budapest, one of the foremost organizations studying the new thinking and new ethics required for the transition to a sustainable world. The moderator of the session will be the club's president, Prof. Ervin Laszlo, a world renowned evolutionary systems scientist, futurist as well as a leading theorist in the field of culture.
Manifesto for the Millennium
Futurist and Educator Dr. Desmond Berghofer, co-founder of the Institute for Ethical Leadership, has recently authored the "Manifesto for the Millennium." The Institute, based in Vancouver, Canada, is a Founding Alliance Member in the Planetary Vision Festival 2001.
The Manifesto is intended as a foundation for new thought and action towards a sustainable and peaceful future at our current evolutionary crossroads. It summarizes and synthesizes a great deal of knowledge and the work of many of today's leading thinkers and visionaries on the human future. The Manifesto is available for viewing or printing on the Planetary Vision Festival website:
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