Good News Agency – Year II, n° 3
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 18 countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA, 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, 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: email@example.com
Representatives of ship owners and seafarers adopt a historic accord on the future development of labour standards in the international shipping industry
Geneva, 26 January - The 29th session of the Joint Maritime Commission today announced a major agreement, known as the Geneva Accord, designed to improve safety and working conditions in the maritime industry. It also agreed to update the ILO minimum wage for seafarers from $435 to $450 with effect from 1 January 2002 and to $465 as of 1 January 2003. The ILO minimum wage takes into consideration a formula which reflects changes in consumer prices and exchange rates against the US dollar in 48 maritime countries and areas.
Participants to the session, including representatives of shipowners and seafarers, resolved that "the emergence of the global labour market for seafarers has effectively transformed the shipping industry into the world's first genuinely global industry, which requires a global response with a body of global standards applicable to the whole industry."
From 29 January to 2 February more than 2,000 Government and NGO Representatives participate to the second of three preparatory meetings for the 2001 UN Special Session on Children, which will take place September 19-21 in New York. A third preparatory meeting will be held next June. The first was held in June 2000.
The 2001 UN Special Session on Children in September will assess global progress on goals set at the groundbreaking 1990 World Summit for Children. More than 3,000 delegates including Heads of State and a record number of NGO representatives will also embrace a new agenda for improving the survival, health, education, development and protection of children and youth.
Moscow 18/19 January - A project of the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) to harmonize legislation in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) culminated in a Conference held in Moscow at the President's Academy of Sciences, and were based on the UNEP-developed innovative approach to legal protection of the environment..
"The CIS countries were considered as the region with conditions conducive to our innovative approach that aims at creating a legal system where all norms would be correlated with ecological imperatives and where the environmental legislation and other laws regulating the economic and social sectors would function in a harmonized and mutually supportive manner.", said Klaus Toepfer, UNEP's Executive Director. "Many branches of legislation were still in a formative stage and an integrated cross-sectoral approach to harmonization was feasible".
The Conference adopted the Moscow Manifesto, which calls upon Parliaments, Governments, the judiciary, civil society and international organizations to pursue environmental protection and sustainable development. 200 participants were at the Conference, among them delegations from all 12 CIS Member States. The Republics of Armenia and Belarus and the Russian Federation were selected as CIS pilot countries.
20 January - Amina Abubakar, wife of Nigeria's vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has launched a nationwide campaign against the widespread trafficking of women to Europe to work as prostitutes, 'The Guardian' Lagos daily reported on Wednesday.
The newspaper said the campaign began on Monday in Benin City, capital of the Midwestern state of Edo, regarded as a major centre of the trade being conducted by highly organised criminal gangs that often lure the women into bondage on the pretext of finding them jobs.
Niger: Military officers learn about international humanitarian law
1 February - In cooperation with the Niger armed forces' General Staff, the ICRC gave presentations on international humanitarian law in the military zones of Niamey, Agadez, and Zinder from 15 to 23 January 2001. These were attended by the 90 officers of the zones' military command.
sessions were opened in Niamey by the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff, and in
Agadez and Zinder by the regional commanders. In parallel, the ICRC presented
the army Chief of Staff with an initial 4,000 copies of the "soldier's
handbook", with the national colours of Niger on the covers, to be
distributed to the rank and file by the officers in attendance.
The General Staff declared themselves in favour of a national programme to promote humanitarian law. They also proposed that instructors be trained in cooperation with the ICRC, and that humanitarian law be included in the programmes of the officer-training school and the armed-forces instruction centres.
The ICRC presentations relaunched the promotion of international humanitarian law in the Niger army, where it had been suspended for nearly two years following a coup d'état.
UNEP and IAEA exploring the possibility of sending depleted uranium missions to Bosnia-Herzegovina, The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Iraq
Vienna/Nairobi – 25 January - Mohamed ElBaradei, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), have agreed to consider ways and means to respond to requests for fact-finding missions to Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Iraq where depleted uranium (DU) was used during military conflicts. The two organizations will co-ordinate their action with the World Health Organization, which has recently decided to send a team to study the health effects of depleted uranium in Iraq, as well as with other relevant UN system organizations.
UN Drug Report sees hope on horizon
Vienna, 22 January – The global drug problem – often characterized as hopeless – is neither unstoppable nor irreversible, according to the UN's new World Drug Report.
World Drug Report 2000 – the work of the Vienna-based United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention – sees the most significant progress in the downward trend in production of the world's two main problem drugs: cocaine and heroin, with coca leaf and cocaine manufacture falling some 20 per cent between 1992/93 and 1999, and with opium production dropping more than 17 per cent in the past year alone. In conjunction with these trends, the main consumer markets have stabilized or even experienced a decline in numbers.
European launch of UN Millennium World Drug Report
Vienna, 25 January -- The Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention Pino Arlacchi began a round of high-level meetings in European capitals, to launch the millennium edition of the World Drug Report (WDR), by visiting London on 22 January. Mr Arlacchi will return to London in late March, at the invitation of the British Government, to participate in the "UK Conference on the Global Economy of Illegal Drugs".
Aids now core issue at Un Security Council
UN Body discusses epidemic for fourth time in a year
New York, 19 January – The fourth meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the issue of HIV/AIDS in a year signals that the epidemic’s threat to peace and security is as real as ever. "The simple fact that the Security Council regards AIDS as a significant problem sends a powerful message: AIDS is a serious matter for the global community," said Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), speaking to the Council today.
Today’s public meeting was convened to follow-up on UN Security Council Resolution 1308, adopted six months ago to intensify the fight against AIDS – calling on countries to address HIV/AIDS in the context of human security. The Resolution targets armed forces and peacekeepers for education, training and prevention efforts, and urges voluntary and confidential HIV/AIDS counselling and testing for all national uniformed forces, especially troops deployed internationally.
Fewer pills help the medicine go down for TB patients and combat a deadly epidemic
17 January - Patients suffering from tuberculosis now have an alternative form of treatment involving far fewer pills — currently up to 16 a day — to cure their disease. Experts writing in the January issue of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization say the new treatment, which reduces the number of tablets to as few as three or four per day, will also combat the spread of drug-resistant forms of the deadly disease, especially in the world's worst-affected countries.
Proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the mid-1990s but not yet adopted by all countries, the new treatment has recently become cheaper and therefore more accessible even to people in the poorest countries.
26 January - Uganda's health ministry has declared the western district of Masindi to be Ebola-free, Ugandan radio announced on Wednesday. It quoted a press release from the health ministry as saying that 40 days had passed since the last case of Ebola was confirmed in the district. The ministry thanked the people of Masindi for the "job well done in controlling the disease".
WHO also reported on Wednesday that as of 14 January there had been no new Ebola cases in Gulu District in the northwest. It said the cumulative total of cases remained at 396 cases, with 150 deaths. The total number of cases in Masindi remained at 27 cases, with 19 deaths, it added.
21 million dollars to help village communities in Senegal
Rome, 16 January 2001 - The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Republic of Senegal signed a loan agreement today on highly concessional terms, with a view to financing Phase II of the Village Organization and Management Project, an IFAD initiative with a total cost of USD 21.5 million. The agreement was signed at IFAD headquarters in Rome by its President, Mr Fawzi Al-Sultan, and H.E. Mama Balla Sy, Ambassador of the Republic of Senegal to Italy. The IFAD loan is for USD 13.7 million, or 64% of the total programme cost. The contribution of the Government of the Republic of Senegal will be about USD 2.7 million (12.5%), and the beneficiaries of the project will provide the equivalent of USD 3.1 million (14.5%). The West African Development Bank is planning to cofinance the village infrastructure component for a sum of USD 2 million (10%).
The general objective of Phase II of the Village Organization and Management Project is sustainable improvement in the living conditions and income of rural inhabitants. In pursuit of this aim, the project will provide capacity-building support to village organizations. It will also encourage sustainable agricultural systems and diversified profit-making activities through technical support, management assistance and improved access to markets and financial services.
20 January - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday welcomed the creation of the new association of East African countries, calling the newly established regional body a "building block" for a future African Economic Community (AEC). "The UN supports the strong commitment of African countries to multilateralism, and initiatives such as the AEC that strengthen Africa's capacity to meet the challenges of globalisation," a spokesman quoted the Secretary-General as saying in his statement.
The AEC, which comprises of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, is the latest of many efforts of groups of African countries to integrate their economies more effectively and to collaborate more actively in the design and implementation of their economic and social policies.
Dhaka, January 29 - Bangladesh has completed its fourth decennial census, which is expected to show further gains in the South Asian nation's impressive birth control programme. Final results of the headcount, which ended Jan. 27, will be known after seven to nine months. The national population is projected to exceed 130 million, according to junior Minister for Planning,
Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir. The last census in the year 1991 counted 114.5 million people. The current, annual population growth rate of 1.34 percent is the lowest in South Asia. It is the result of big gains in maternal care, contraceptive use and reductions in infant mortality.
Some 250,000 enumerators collected a range of personal information that will enable national planners devise better schemes to raise living standards in one of the world's lowest income nations. Citizens were also asked if they worked, where they got their drinking water, had health problems and quizzed on other relevant aspects of their lives. The first person to be counted was Bangladesh President Shahabuddin Ahmed.
The five-day population census will be followed by a separate economic census in March.
By Tabibul Islam from Inter Press Service, featured on news.oneworld 1 February 2001
Porto Alegre, Brazil, Jan 30 - The World Social Forum drew to a close Tuesday in this southern Brazilian city with an ''appeal for mobilisation,'' indicating that the mosaic of ideas and struggles of thousands of civil society organisations is beginning to coalesce.
The Porto Alegre Appeal for Mobilisation, signed by representatives of 144 organisations from around the world, summarises the ideas and proposals adopted by consensus during six days of debate. The document is an exhortation to fight ''the hegemony of finance, the destruction of our cultures, the monopolisation of knowledge and of the mass communications media, the degradation of nature and the destruction of quality of life.'' These negative actions, according to the text, are carried out ''by transnational corporations and anti-democratic policies.''
Delegates to this first-ever World Social Forum, a global gathering of trade unions, social movements, non-governmental organisations and progressive-minded intellectuals decided that the event will be held in Porto Alegre again next year.
By Mario Osava from Inter Press Service, featured on news.oneworld 31 January 2001
27 January - The US Department of Defence and its European Command have approved US $300,000 for the rehabilitation of dams damaged by floods in 1999, the Ghana News Agency reported on Thursday, quoting the US ambassador. It said 10 dams, most of them in the north, were to be repaired. They were selected on the basis of the extent of the damage and the impact of floods on area residents.
27 January - The World Food Programme has agreed to give Mali US $1.9 million in food to reduce its vulnerability to famine and alleviate existing food shortages in various areas.
27 January - The Organization of African Unity has given Sierra Leone US $75,000 toward the repatriation of refugees from Guinea, the state-owned news agency, SLENA, reported on Monday from Freetown.
20 January - Over 300 children at the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital and the Jui Transit Camp for Returnees - 14.5 km southeast of Freetown - have received assorted food and non-food items from a local NGO, the Sierra Leone news agency, SLENA, reported on Monday.
The items included milk, sugar, garri, rice, toys, exercise books, pencils and crayons and were donated by the Women's Movement for Peace in collaboration with the movement's chapter in New Jersey, USA.
20 January - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Senegalese Red Cross have distributed 38,952 kg of food to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ziguinchor, southern Senegal. Each of the 4,869 IDPs were given five kg of rice and three kg of millet over a four-day period that ended on Thursday. The IDPs were forced from their homes in the Casamance area by an armed conflict between the state and the Mouvement des forces democratiques de Casamance which has been fighting for independence for Casamance, an area in southern Senegal wedged between The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau.
The distributions, which end on Thursday, are the first in Casamance for 2001. Last year, the Red Cross provided 105 mt of food in April, July and August to Casamance IDPs.
20 January - The European Commission has earmarked nine million euros (US $8.5 million) for supplies to Sahrawi refugees living in camps in the Tindouf region of Algeria and to assist in selected rehabilitation activities, the EU announced on Thursday. The camps' occupants remain largely dependent on international aid, and foodstuffs form a major component of the assistance. In July 2000, the Commission allocated humanitarian aid worth just over 4.9 million euros ($4.6 million) in response to a food crisis in the camps. The latest funding is being directed through five NGO partners of the European Commission Humanitarian Office.
29 January - The first widespread application of hydrogen fuel-cell technology might not be in cars but in vacuum cleaners. Industry giant Electrolux said last week that it is close to developing a fuel-cell vacuum that would be lighter than conventional models, much quieter, and, of course, free of a power cord. Big advances in pollution reduction are expected when automakers and energy companies begin using fuel cells on commercial scale, but such changes might be 10 years down the road. In one test project in Portland, methane collected from the decomposing waste from a sewage plant is providing hydrogen to power a fuel cell that creates enough electricity for more than 100 homes a year.
26 January - Withstanding pressure from automakers, air quality officials in California voted 9-0 yesterday to move forward with a mandate requiring that 3 million electric and low-polluting vehicles be sold in the state over the next decade. The vote by the California Air Resources Board automatically triggers similar mandates in Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York, and affects six of the largest auto manufacturers -- DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan, and Toyoto. The mandate is far less progressive than what was originally proposed 10 years ago, requiring more low-polluting vehicles on balance and fewer zero-emissions vehicles. Still, enviros were pretty dang pleased with yesterday's outcome.
Boeing Chairman Phil Condit says that by May they will give the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) a comprehensive plan for replacing the nation's radar-based air-traffic-control system - which is straining to handle the 93,000 aircraft that fly daily in U.S. airspace - with a satellite-based one that could squeeze perhaps 50 percent more flights into available airspace and improve air safety.
The United States has the largest and busiest aviation system in the world.. In 1999, U.S. airlines carried 694 million passengers on 13 million flights. Last year, one in five flights arrived late, with each delay averaging of 55 minutes, and nearly 1.5 million flights were delayed or cancelled. Runway incursions - incidents that create a risk of collisions - have increased almost 61 percent, a rise called as "alarming."
January 30, 2001- A Boeing Co. official reported U.S. Air Force Delta 2 carried a new NAVSTAR Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) into space into a constellation of 27 GPS satellites - first launch of 2001 from Cape Canaveral - providing a world-wide positioning system for aviation, shipping and even hikers. This newest GPS satellite was one of seven now in orbit as a replacement for an earlier generation of the satellite.
Nairobi, 23 January - The year 2001 has been proclaimed the United Nations Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations. It aims to demonstrate that the present globalization process does not only encompass economic, financial and technological issues, but also the human cultural and spiritual dimensions of society and their interdependence.
UNEP's recently released Global Environment Outlook 2000 report (GEO 2000) concludes that as we enter the new millennium globalization has become a dominating factor aggravating the threats to ancestral cultures and indigenous communities.
"It is a well established fact that without an understanding and tolerance for one another's cultural and spiritual dimensions, peace will remain elusive. However, we have to recognize that respect for nature and the preservation of the ecological balance of our planet are essential for the achievement of international peace and security. The environmental dimension of the concept of peace and security cannot be ignored any more" says Mr. Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of UNEP.
UNEP hosts global youth retreat in Mombasa
Nairobi, 23 January - Thirty-two youth leaders from 25 countries will meet in Mombasa from 29 January to 4 February 2001 for the second Global Youth Retreat, to be hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The youth will discuss meaningful ways of strengthening existing collaboration between UNEP and youth organizations worldwide. They will review youth involvement in local and international environmental initiatives and negotiations. A vital topic for discussion will be the upcoming session of UNEP's Governing Council and ways through which youth can actively participate in it.
The main outcome of the Retreat will be the election of the UNEP Youth Advisory Council - a body that liaises with youth organizations worldwide and advises UNEP on better ways of involving youth in its activities. The Council also represents youth in inter-governmental and international environmental negotiations.
25 January - Sweden's Environmental Minister Kjell Larsson yesterday said that his country -- which currently holds the European Union presidency -- would push hard during its term to make the E.U.'s regulations on toxic chemicals much tougher. Sweden itself is already taking steps to ban chemicals that accumulate in the body, and Larsson thinks the entire E.U. should adopt such a policy. Earlier in the week, Larsson announced that Sweden would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent below 1990 levels by 2010, even though the Kyoto treaty on climate change allows the country to increase its emissions by 4 percent.
Toronto 2001-01-25 - "We acknowledge that the mining industry has made improvements in reducing emissions of heavy metal poisons. However, a great deal still needs to be done," said Burkhard Mausberg, executive director of The Canadian Environmental Defence Fund, an independent organization dedicated to environmental justice, “Ottawa meeting will explore a national plan for the metals industry to reduce emissions over the next eight years and beyond”.
Inco Inc.said its environmental plans to cutback on toxins at its smelters through 2008 had been approved in 1999 by the same environmental and mining stakeholders that will meet meeting in Ottawa.
"We are currently working on a program, and have already spent C$60 million, to reduce those emissions by another 50 percent within the next two, two and a half years," Noranda Inc. spokesman Denis Couture told.
WWF identifying particularly sensitive seas areas
Gland, Switzerland, 24 January - In the wake of the recent oil spill in the Galapagos Islands, WWF, the conservation organization urged the Ecuadorian government to urgently approve and apply a series of regulations that would ensure effective implementation of the Special Conservation Law for the archipelago. "The Special Conservation Law was a great achievement of the Ecuadorian Government, but it is simply not being applied," said Peter Kramer, WWF's Network Relations Director, and former President of the Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands
At a global level, WWF is also calling on national governments to identify Particularly Sensitive Seas Areas (PSSAs) in their waters. PSSAs are marine areas that need special protection through action by the International Maritime Organization because of their ecological, economic, cultural or scientific significance, and their vulnerability to harmful impacts from shipping activities.
WWF has been supporting conservation programmes in the Galapagos for 40 years and contributed to the development of the Special Law. It has now offered its technical help to the government of Ecuador in order to enforce this legal instrument.
The seasonal climate model being developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center - Oceanographer Dr. Adamec's model is a virtual one, designed to simulate complex climate systems in cyberspace - uses real-world sea surface temperature measurements to set its simulated weather patterns in motion. Accurate analysis of total soil moisture is a major tool for understanding the nature of overall seasonal change.
Primary investigative pursuits for MODIS - Terra's Worldwide Biosphere Instrument -include the study of surface temperature (including fire detection), ocean sediment and phytoplankton concentrations, vegetation maps, pollution, snow cover, and more.
By making nearly 200,000 daily measurements, the TOMS instrument - an Orbiting Ozone Observatory - can survey nearly the entire planet on a regular basis offering scientists a powerful tool for measuring and mapping ozone.
The number of countries that signed the Montreal Protocol has grown from 24 to 175 in an effort to further protect the atmosphere from chloroflurocarbons. (CFC and halons). Montreal Protocol vas formulated at 09-16-1987, really an historycal step from the International environment politics on protect ozone.
Gland, Switzerland - 29 January, World Wetlands Day - The Algerian government have recognized the benefits of sustainable freshwater and designate ten desert wetland sites - known as gueltas and oases - totaling about 600,000 hectares -the largest block of wetlands to be conserved by a Mediterranean country - as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Thus, Algeria will be the first African country to designate oases, and the first country in the world to designate gueltas. Wetlands play a crucial role in the supply of freshwater: acting as giant sponges, they absorb rainfall and slowly release it over time, while helping to purify water and control floods.
"Responsible governments should already be planning to secure the water supply for future generations.” said Denis Landenbergue, Wetlands Campaigner for WWF’'s.
A total of 80 million hectares of wetlands are protected under Ramsar around the world.
UNESCO Director-General in Davos says education and cultural diversity are key to bridging digital gap
Paris, January 29 – UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura spoke of the importance of education and of respecting cultural diversity in seeking to bridge the digital divide at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland) today.
In an address at a Special Session on the Global Digital Divide Initiative, Mr Matsuura described bridging the digital divide as “one of the central challenges of our time […] in order to build knowledge societies.” Highlighting UNESCO’s human concerns in its work in education, the sciences, culture and communication, the Director-General cautioned: “If the knowledge societies are ever to take proper root and gain global acceptance, we must look beyond the technical and gadget appeal of ICTs [information and communication technologies] and home in on the human dimensions of the digital divide: cultural and linguistic diversity of contents, empowerment of civil society, privacy and ethical issues, and access, especially by safeguarding the public domain.”
by Robert Muller
We must not forget the important historical role played by the nation-state to get us out of the tribal situation and warfares in which humanity lived so long. But nations must have no illusions: they cannot survive if they cling to their obsolete belief in national sovereignty which is contrary to our henceforth global and planetary requirements. If they want to survive, they must create new communities and form of world cooperation, and strengthen immensely the universal United Nations. A true quantum leap is needed at this point of our evolution. If not, we will see much more disasters, waste, crisis and human despair on this planet. May God inspire leaders of nations to make the drastic necessary quantum leaps into the third millennium, eliminating incredible errors, wastes and dangers to this planet.
From the nation-state we must now move to regional unions on the model of the European Union and to a well-conceived, well organized World Union.
(Idea no. 319)
Next issue: 23 February.