Good News Agency – Year II, n° 4



Weekly - Year II, number 4 –  23 February 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 1,400 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:



International legislation




Disarmament and peace


Energy and safety


Economy and Development


Environment and wildlife




Culture and education





International legislation



African Ministers of Public Service adopt Charter for Public Service

New York, 8 February (DESA) -- Forty-one African Ministers of Public Service unanimously adopted a Charter of Public Service for Africa at the conclusion of the third biennial Pan-African Conference of Ministers of Civil Service, held in Windhoek, Namibia, from 5 to 6 February.

The Charters adoption is the beginning of a campaign by African governments to restore prestige and dignity to the public service, reinforce integrity in public life and raise performance levels and competence in government at large. It was drafted with the assistance of experts on public service matters from the United Nations and the African Training and Research Centre in Administration for Development (CAFRAD). It took two years to complete, and several meetings of ministers and experts to arrive at a consensual text.

Strengthening the public service is considered a necessary prerequisite to building the capacity of African States to face the many challenges of globalization, and to play a leading role in development for Africa.


UNICEF applauds agreement with Uganda on child soldiers

9 February - The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) applauds the Government of Uganda for granting full access to a political and military training camp housing child soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and for agreeing that all soldiers in the camp under the age of 18 will be handed over to UNICEF for care and protection.

This action represents a major breakthrough for ending the recruitment of child soldiers by all sides in the conflict in DRC.


President of Russia meets with UNOV Director-General

Vienna, 9 February - Russian President Vladimir Putin met here today in Vienna with Pino Arlacchi, Director-General of the UN Office in Vienna and Executive Director of the UN Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP). Among the issues discussed were money laundering, drug control, organized crime and on-going cooperation between the Russian Federation and the United Nations in Vienna.

President Putin said he strongly supported the activities of the United Nations because the area in which Mr. Arlacchi and ODCCP work "is one of the most important today". He said "negative phenomena become global and must be countered on a global scale".

Noting that Russia had signed the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in Palermo, Italy, in December, he affirmed that his government would do its best to ensure ratification as soon as possible. He also expressed interest in the completion and adoption of the remaining protocol on arms trafficking early this year.



Disarmament and peace



Peace-building can be powerful deterrent to conflict, Security Council told

5 February – Peace-building done well was a powerful deterrent to violent conflict, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today, as the Security Council began a day-long debate on comprehensive approaches to the question. The Secretary-General said peace-building was not a dramatic imposition of a grand plan, but a process of building pillars of peace from the ground up, bit by bit. He said whether it started before, after or during the eruption of conflict, peace-building must be seen as a long-term exercise.  At the same time, there was an unmistakable element of urgency -- a need to achieve tangible progress on a number of fronts in a short time.


Southern Africa: SADC military officers receive peace training in SA

10 February - Senior military officers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) converged in Benoni, about 30 km east of Johannesburg, on Monday for a two-week United Nations peacekeeping training course, news reports said on Wednesday. Opening the course, Deputy Defence Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge was quoted as saying that the officers should be ready to be deployed for peacekeeping duties anywhere in Africa. "The learners we have here are some of the key operational planning staff in their respective countries," she said. "In future, these individuals could well find themselves deployed to a UN mission headquarters as members of staff," she added.



Economy and Development



NGOs address Preparatory Committee for Least Developed Countries Conference

7 February In a short meeting this morning, the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee for the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries heard an address by a representative of a parallel meeting of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

During its current one-week session, the Preparatory Committee is conducting the first formal reading of a draft programme of action and considering national reports on preparations for the Conference, which will take place in Belgium in May.

In her statement on the draft programme of action, Motarilavoa Hilda Lini of the NGO the Pacific Concerns Resource Center Inc. said that, in its substance, the draft pointed in a number of encouraging directions, which should be developed and built on as a positive lead for the international community. The Conference in May could mark another step forward in lifting the burden of debt from the world's poorest people, she said. It should also give a strong signal for ensuring strengthened flows of official development assistance (ODA) to those countries. The event had a vital role in setting a positive agenda for the upcoming financing for development conference, and in strengthening donors' commitment to the United Nations target of allocating 0.15 per cent of gross national product to development assistance for least developed countries.


Donor funding doubles for agricultural rehabilitation

Funding from donor governments doubled to nearly US$54 million in 2000 for FAO's agricultural rehabilitation projects to help countries recover from emergencies. Contributions went to support 114 projects in 43 countries and regions. Government donations were up from US$26 million in 1999, continuing the positive trend of recent years…

Among the principal reasons for the increase in funding, Ms Bauer (Chief of FAO's Special Relief Operations Service) cites more systematic liaison with donor governments and NGOs in the field, which has generated additional support. FAO has also increased its participation within the UN humanitarian community, particularly with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which organizes UN assistance in complex emergencies that go beyond the capacity and mandate of any single humanitarian agency.


New report of Plan to Cut Global Poverty by 50% calls for renewed efforts to avoid failing

Rome, 19 February  - The United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) introduces its new poverty report at a press briefing in Rome. Entitled, Rural Poverty Report 2001 The Challenge of Ending Rural Poverty, the report states that world leaders will not meet their commitment to cut global poverty in half by 2015, with only 10 million people escaping poverty annually, instead of the expected 30 million. According to the report, the ramifications of this failure are especially acute in sub-Saharan Africa where the rate of poverty reduction is six times too slow to meet the 2015 target. The report calls for renewed efforts to focus on the oft-neglected needs of the rural poor. Those living in rural areas still form the majority of the worlds poor and all scenarios for the future suggest that this will still be true 30 years from now, says the UN Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan. If we are to live up to our Millennium goal, we need a much greater and clearly focused effort.


Namibia: land reform to be speeded up

10 February - Namibian President Sam Nujoma said on Tuesday his government would speed up its efforts to give land to people but reiterated the state would stick to its willing-buyer, willing-seller policy, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

"Starting this year increased efforts will be made to resettle our landless people in a speedy manner," Nujoma said at the first cabinet meeting of the year. "In the same vein, I also call on those who own excess land to cooperate with the government in its efforts to address and resolve the present imbalances in land redistribution," he said. Reports said that an estimated 34,000 people have been resettled on commercial farm land since independence from South Africa in 1990. The government wants to resettle a further 243,000 people and has said it wants to acquire 9.5 million hectares of land for its programme. White farmers numbering just over 4,000 own nearly 30.5 million hectares, with 2.2 million hectares held by an estimated 200 black commercial farmers.






United Nations supports mobile health clinics for indian quake victims

New York, 7 February (UNFPA) -- The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) announced today it is supporting 12 mobile health clinics in Gujarat State, India, and providing counselling support to women affected by the recent earthquake. Following a rapid needs assessment, identifying health sector needs in the entire State, the UNFPA has dispatched emergency resources and additional personnel.

The mobile clinics are part of the UNFPAs integrated population and development programmes in Gujarat State, which are now being refocused to help earthquake victims, especially pregnant women and newborn babies. The clinics will provide reproductive health care, including HIV prevention, and help ensure safe deliveries. The projects cover the five districts of Surendranagar, Kutch, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha and Dahod. Three of the five districts were severely affected by the earthquake, which has resulted in the collapse of the district health system in Kutch, and severe damage in the Surendranagar and Banskantha Districts.


WFP welcomes U.S. aid to Afghans suffering from hunger and cold

Rome, 7 February - The United Nations World Food Programme today welcomed the arrival of U.S. emergency aid for Afghans displaced by cold and the hunger spawned from two successive years of drought. Afghans have been suffering from severe and widespread food shortages since last summer's devastating drought in Central Asia. But with deadly sub-zero temperatures now killing hundreds of people, many of them children, in Afghanistan, WFP officials said the U.S. aid will help save many lives among the battered population.

"This airlift will give the Afghan refugees in Pakistan and the internally displaced in Afghanistan the assistance they desperately need," said WFP Country Director Gerard Van Dijk. 

WFP, the world's largest food aid agency, has been feeding 1.6 million people in Afghanistan who have borne the brunt of the drought. Meanwhile, a new emergency operation for Afghanistan (estimated at $71 million) is expected to begin April 1 for some three million people as more and more Afghans flee the barren countryside in search of opportunities in the cities.


Guinea: Washington grants US $5m for refugees

10 February - US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Wednesday that his government had given an additional US $5 million in emergency aid to refugees and internally displaced persons in Guinea. Of this, $3.5 million will support the UNHCR's ongoing relocation of refugees to safe sites within Guinea, Boucher said. He added that $1.25 million would enable the World Food Programme to feed the refugees and the remaining $250,000 would go to the International Organization for Migration to help in the voluntary repatriation of Sierra Leonean refugees.


West Africa: Germany gives US $250,000 for ECOMOG

10 February - Germany agreed on Monday to provide US $250,000 to airlift West African troops due to be deployed on the border between Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Economic Community West African States (ECOWAS) reported.

The agreement was signed in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, by German Ambassador Karlfried Bergner and ECOMOG military liaison officer Colonel Dixon Dikio. Bergner also presented ECOWAS with a second set of five satellite telephones to support its efforts to bring about peace and security in the subregion. Some 1,700 troops from Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal are to protect the Guinea-Liberia-Sierra Leone border, facilitate the free movement of persons and ensure the safety of humanitarian agencies serving the tens of thousands of refugees trapped in the areas of conflict.


India: Restoring family links for earthquake victims

15 February - Following the earthquake that struck the Indian state of Gujarat two weeks ago, the Indian Red Cross Society, supported by the ICRC, set up a programme enabling quake victims to send news to family members elsewhere in India and abroad. Through the worldwide Red Cross / Red Crescent network, people outside India may also request information on their relatives by submitting tracing requests to their local National Societies.

"With many villages razed to the ground, large numbers of people are still on the move, seeking to join friends or relatives, while others are living in temporary shelters," said Violene Dogny, ICRC tracing coordinator in India. "It may therefore take longer to find those about whom we receive enquiries from abroad."

The Red Cross has based a team in Bhuj, the worst-hit town, and completed an initial assessment of needs in more than 30 villages. Around 25 personal messages have already been collected and sent to family members abroad, in most cases through the American, British and Canadian National Societies, but also through others in East Africa and the Gulf, where many Indian communities are to be found.


Ethiopia / Eritrea: ICRC repatriates Ethiopians from Eritrea

15 February  - Some 570 people of Ethiopian origin were repatriated on 9 February from Eritrea under ICRC auspices.  Most of the returnees were families from Asmara. After expressing their wish to go back to Ethiopia, they were transferred to the border under the supervision of ICRC delegates based in Eritrea and with the help of the Eritrean Red Cross. A team of ICRC delegates based in Ethiopia met them on the other side and, with the aid of the Ethiopian Red Cross, provided them with assistance before handing them over to the authorities.

A similar operation for 873 persons took place on 3 February 2001. Since early December last year, four other operations have been carried out in which more than 5,110 Ethiopian civilians, mainly former internees, were repatriated under ICRC auspices.

The ICRC will continue to assist people affected by the international armed conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea and make efforts to ensure that the rules and principles of international humanitarian law, in particular the 1949 Geneva Conventions, are respected and applied.


Gates gives boost to India and El Salvador aid efforts

CARE and Save the Children's relief efforts in India and El Salvador following January's earthquakes in the two countries got a $3 million boost from the Bill and Melinda Gates.

Foundation. CARE will use its $1 million grant to help begin rebuilding Bhuj, Anzar, Bhachua, and Rapar--four of the hardest hit areas in the Indian state of Gujarat. The state was hit with a earthquake measuring 7.9 on Richter scale on January 26. CARE says it will work to rebuild primary schools, health centers and water systems that were all but destroyed by the quake.

Save the Children is focusing on providing health care services and emergency shelter in India.

In El Salvador, both CARE and Save the Children will work to build temporary schools to help some of the nearly 300,000 children that are currently out of school in the country. El Salvador was hit with an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale.

By JASON TOPPING CONE © Earth Times News Service






UNAIDS congratulates Tanzania for speedy action on AIDS

Pledges Support for AIDS Commission and for Partnership Forum

Dar-Es-Salaam, 9 February Tanzania is now moving quickly to grapple with AIDS and is to be congratulated for setting up the structures needed to deal with a fast-growing epidemic, according to the United Nations top AIDS official.

"Tanzania must be commended for its growing and visible political commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS," said Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), during a three-day visit to Tanzania. "Not only has it mainstreamed HIV/AIDS issues into development strategies, but the government has also placed AIDS high on its expenditure agenda by giving it high priority for resource mobilization and allocation. This is a clear indication of how seriously it takes the epidemic."


UNDP launches new initiative against HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa

UNDP is allocating $8 million for a new initiative to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. The project aims to increase people's understanding of how HIV/AIDS is transmitted and help governments put in place policies to combat the pandemic and support people living with the disease. The initiative will also promote partnerships between governments and non-governmental organizations in addressing risk factors linked to the spread of HIV/AIDS, including inequality between the sexes, poverty and other social and economic factors.

UNDP Resident Representatives serving in 15 countries in Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region approved the project on 9 February at the end of a five-day gathering in Maseru, Lesotho. In addition to the UNDP funding, other partners will provide $5.9 million towards the project's total cost of $13.9 million.


The Gambia gives youth a voice in battling HIV/AIDS

In partnership with the newly established National Youth Council, UNDP is supporting a national platform on the issue of youth, HIV/AIDS and poverty in The Gambia.  The national platform aims to sensitise young people on the linkages between HIV/AIDS, poverty and gender relations and create opportunities for youth throughout the country to discuss HIV/AIDS and related issues.

The platform will give young people a voice in shaping local strategies to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic and making recommendations to the Youth National Conference in April. The sensitisation programme will draw youth representatives from the districts and administrative capitals, as well as the media, and transform them into advocates in the battle against HIV/AIDS.


Non-governmental groups show Ethiopians how to prevent further spread of HIV/AIDS

In Ethiopias intensifying battle against HIV/AIDS, non-governmental organizations are on the front lines, distributing condoms and counselling couples, young people and sex workers about avoiding infection. While most operate on a small scale relative to the countrys pressing needs - one in ten adults is infected with HIV - NGOs are developing innovative approaches to AIDS prevention. Adanech Kebede, 25, counsels women and couples in their homes. It was difficult at first," she says. But gradually, after we became friends, people opened up and began to talk about personal matters like sexual relationships.


A million children saved through vitamin A supplementation

12 February - Almost a million child deaths have been averted since 1998 through the distribution of high-dose vitamin A capsules, the United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF announced today at the XXth International Vitamin A Consultative Group meeting in Hanoi.

Noting the tremendous success of the campaign so far, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy urged renewed global commitment to ensure children in countries prone to vitamin A deficiency are given supplements twice a year.

"It is unacceptable for any child to die as a result of deficiency in vitamin A, when a high-dose capsule costing about 2 cents, given twice a year, can provide adequate protection to a child," said Ms. Bellamy. "Our understanding of the role of micronutrients in child development has greatly increased over the last decade. We no longer have any excuse for lack of action."


AIDS triple therapy for less than $1 a day

MSF Challenges Pharmaceutical Industry to Match Generic Prices

New York/Geneva, February 7 — Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) welcomes the announcement made by generic drug manufacturer Cipla that it will sell its triple-combination therapy for AIDS to MSF for $350 per year per patient and to governments for $600 per year per patient. The details of the offer request that government purchases have the "backing of MSF," which is not practical or necessary, therefore MSF requests that Cipla offer this price directly to governments and UN agencies.

This offer demonstrates that the target price of $200 per year, set out in an MSF report at the international AIDS conference in Durban last July, is almost within reach. The same combination in the US which would cost about $10,400.



Energy and safety



Green cars in U.S.

The greenest cars sold in the U.S. are both made by Honda, says the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy in its annual guide to cars and trucks.  The groups ranked more than 1,000 vehicles in the model year 2001 and found that the Honda Civic GX, which runs on compressed natural gas, and the Honda Insight, a gas-electric hybrid, were the most environmental on the road.  The hybrid Toyota Prius came in third.  The GMC Sierra, Dodge Ram Pickup, and the Ford Excursion, as well as a Ferrari sports car, brought up the rear.


UK nuclear firm invests in offshore wind power

London, United Kingdom, 16 February (ENS) - The United Kingdom's nuclear power generator, British Energy, is to begin developing large scale offshore wind power in a joint venture with Renewable Energy Systems, one of the largest wind energy companies in Europe.

Friends of the Earth hailed Thursday's announcement as "a victory for common sense." …

The announcement follows last December's opening of the Blyth Offshore Wind Project in northeastern England. The £4 million (US$5.8 million) project one kilometer off Blyth Harbor is not only the largest ever erected offshore but the first to be built in such a demanding position, subject to the full forces of the North Sea.

The project was developed by Blyth Offshore Wind Limited, a consortium of Powergen Renewables, Shell, Nuon and AMEC Border Wind. Work started in July, with Danish wind energy company Vestas, AMEC Marine, Seacore and Global Marine Systems as the main contractors.



Environment and Wildlife



China: reusable chopsticks in restaurants

6 February - More than 100 state-owned restaurants in Beijing promised this month to "go green" and start washing and reusing chopsticks.  The federal government in China is considering a tax on disposable chopsticks, and Shanghai and other cities are considering a ban on them.

Environmentalists say the changes indicate that Chinese citizens are beginning to realize that their consumer decisions affect the environment.  China currently discards about 45 billion pairs of chopsticks every year, coming from as many as 25 million trees.  Kang Dahu, a 22-year volunteer with green groups, said, "Just imagine, years from now, when my grandchildren ask me what happened to all of China's trees, I'll have to say, 'We made them into chopsticks.' Isn't that pitiful?"


Environmental groups ads

To maintain public interest and grow their membership lists, environmental groups are having to become increasingly sophisticated marketers.  For example, the Nature Conservancy is spending $1 million to pilot TV and print ads featuring Paul Newman in Portland, Ore., Denver, Colo., and Charlotte, N.C.  The National Wildlife Federation recently joined McDonald's for a Happy Meals promotion. NWF also lent its name to a promotion with BP/Amoco gas stations -- when customers purchased at least eight gallons of gas, they could also get stuffed animals (Endangered Wildlife Friends!) with the NWF logo and the message that fossil fuel companies contribute to global warming.


Mercury assessment among key decisions taken at end of UNEP Governing Council

Nairobi, 9 February - A global study on the health and environmental impacts of mercury is to be undertaken by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), it was announced today.

The study, which will also undertake an assessment of the cost effectiveness of mercury anti-pollution measures and technologies, was one of several important decisions adopted at the close of the 21st session of UNEP's Governing Council.

It was also decided "to establish an open-ended intergovernmental group of ministers or their representatives" to examine how to strengthen international environmental governance and the funding of UNEP in the run up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in 2002 in Johannesburg.

The first meeting of the new group will take place within three months and is likely to coincide with the meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development taking place in New York in April.


Explore the virtual environmental reality on UNEP dot net

Nairobi - 8 February - The launch today by UNEP of a new  interactive environmental Web site ( known as "UNEP dot net" will provide an expanded series of environmental management solutions.  The network portal will offer a forum for scientific, technical peer review; provision of insights on environmental issues to the global community; and exchange of ideas, information and data. 

Developed with industry, academic, government, and NGO partners, UNEP.Net is an Internet-based environmental information network, or meta-system (system of systems).  This will bring together new integrated information frameworks and harmonized, readily accessible data sets to support assessment and decision-making across the international system, including UNEP's own assessment activities.  It will also reduce national reporting burdens.


Shell ordered to decontaminate Brazilian pesticide plant

Sao Paulo, Brazil, 16 February (ENS) - Shell Chemicals of Brazil was ordered yesterday by the Sao Paulo State Environmental Protection Agency to clean up an area 90 kilometers (56 miles) east of Sao Paulo where it manufactured toxic pesticides during the 1970s and 1980s.

The company has been given 30 days by the Sao Paulo State Environmental Protection Agency to present a decontamination plan for the pesticides aldrin, dieldrin and endrin that are poisoning the water and soil at the site. The mayor of Paulinia, the town where the pesticides plant is located, has been requested by his environmental secretary to evacuate the area.

Shell admitted that it had contaminated the groundwater and community on February 8, sixteen years after the pesticide plant closed.


Greenpeace: nuclear-free Tasman flotilla 2001

Sidney - A flotilla of seven yachts from Australia and New Zealand left port on February 18, 2001 to sail to the north-west Tasman Sea where they will protest the use of the Tasman and the Pacific Ocean as a nuclear highway for plutonium ships to Japan.. "We are trying to stop these shipments from taking place worldwide and to break the nuclear cycle that the world is locked into," said Henk Haazen, skipper of Tiama

The governments of many countries oppose these plutonium and nuclear waste shipments from Europe to Japan. These shipments pose significant risks to the environment and people’s health along the transport route. While dozens of costal nations will be endangered by the shipments, their governments have not been consulted about the rout, security arrangements, or emergency planning details.


New fishing net may help keep ocean creatures

Most fishing gear isn’t discriminating when it comes to catching seafood: globally, the annual amount of such bycatch is more than 44 billion pounds, about 80,000 cetaceans and seabirds and marine turtles are unintentionally caught worldwide every year.

The new net (developed by Atlantic Gillnet of Gloucester, Massachusetts) that looks and feels like a normal gillnet has a substance — barium sulphate — added to the nylon that reflects sound in ranges used by echo-locating animals, limiting the catch of non-targeted fish A tinted-blue version of the net has the added benefit of reducing the numbers of seabirds caught, according to Edward Trippel, research scientist with the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans at St. Andrews Biological Station,

“ It might turn out to be a global solution” says researcher David Potter with the National Marine Fisheries Service.


Windmills to power Australian Antarctic bases

Australian Antarctic Division scientists plan to power their Antarctic bases with giant windmills, and says that if the wind turbines survive the freezing environment, wind power could replace conventional diesel powered generators at all Antarctic bases.

Several Antarctic bases have small wind turbines for recharging batteries and these generate only around 10 kilowatts of power, while Australia's planned giant windmills would generate 280 kilowatts each.

"In terms of annual wind, that is probably the best in the world. There are high constant winds" the division's Peter Magill said.


New from the Office of Pesticide Programs

Pesticide Tolerance Reassessment and Reregistration - EPA (Office of Pesticide Programs) is reviewing older pesticides (those initially registered prior to November 1984) under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to ensure that they meet current scientific and regulatory standards. This process, called reregistration, considers the human health and ecological effects of pesticides and results in actions to reduce risks that are of concern.


Hazardous waste ship blocked: asbestos on board

16 February - The Netherlands has prevented a Mauritius-flagged vessel from leaving the country on suspicion that it would sail to India for scrapping. The Sandrien, a 560-foot-long cargo carrier used to transport chemicals and molasses, contains asbestos, heavy metals and other toxic materials. The environment ministry claims that if the ship was allowed to sail, it would breach a 1999 European Union regulation implementing the 1995 United Nations Basel convention ban on industrialized states exporting hazardous waste to developing countries. This case sends a clear message to the shipping industry that it cannot dump its toxic ships on Asia



Culture and education



Financial sector workforce hit by mergers and acquisitions

"Human Factor" is key element in success rates for merged companies

Geneva, 5 February  - The decade long wave of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) that is reshaping the world's banking and financial service sectors is accelerating aggregate employment declines in an industry that was traditionally characterized by stable and even lifetime employment, according to an ILO report* released in Geneva today for a tripartite meeting of industry experts. In spite of the vast scale of M&A activity during the last decade, the report notes that "two-thirds of M&As fail to achieve their objectives," despite the often massive job losses and organizational restructuring they entail.

All too often, the report says, the sought after benefits of greater size and efficiency risk being nullified by increased complexity and losses related to top-heavy organisations, while the difficulties of adequately blending cultural and other human factors in the integration of combined enterprises are often underestimated.

The report attributes much of the foundering of M&A expectations to shortcomings in dealing with the human resource fallout of redundancies, which may seriously undermine operational capabilities and employee morale. Among the consequences of heightened merger activity for the financial sector workforce that survives the restructuring, the report cites "reduced job security, increased workloads, anxiety and stress," all of which can impinge negatively on performance in an intensely competitive work climate.


New UN public service announcement targets trafficking of women

Vienna, 2 February - A new UN public service announcement spotlights the harsh reality behind human traffickers' promises to young women of attractive jobs in other countries. The video spot, created by the Vienna-based UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), uses powerful music and images of women from several countries to underscore the many dangers of what some experts refer to as "modern-day slavery".

According to ODCCP, more than 700,000 women and children are bought and sold every year for sexual exploitation and forced labour. The traffickers, often tied to organized crime groups, prey on a lack of awareness and dreams of a better life. From Himalayan villages to East European cities, women and girls are enticed by the prospect of a well-paid job abroad as a domestic servant, waitress or factory worker. The ODCCP spot shows what many women soon discover -- their documents are taken away, they are "kept in line" with violence and threats and most or all of the money they make is taken by their criminal "owners.

Two video clips ( 30 and 60 seconds) can be viewed and ordered for broadcast at:


UNESCO Director-General stresses role of data-sharing and education in environmental preservation

Nairobi (Kenya), 9 February - UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today stressed the importance of education and of scientific information-sharing to bolster the political will required to meet the challenges of environmental protection, in an address to the 21st session of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Nairobi. 

Before reviewing UNESCO’s activities and co-operation with UNEP in environmental protection, Mr Matsuura observed that ten years after the Earth Summit in Rio, the world’s nations had not done what they had undertaken to do for the environment. He explained that “insufficient political will and at times hesitant citizen involvement” play an important role in this failure and stressed the “need for greater efforts in favour of education and information.”


Director-General stresses role of peace education at inauguration of UNESCO chair at University of Ulster

Paris, 7 February - UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today emphasized the importance of education in building peace and democracy at the formal inauguration of the UNESCO Chair in Education for Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy at the University of Ulster at Coleraine on the last day of his first official visit to the United Kingdom since he took office in November 1999.

At the inauguration, held in the presence of Sean Farren, Minister of Higher Education of Northern Ireland, Mr Matsuura expressed satisfaction over the activities of the Chair which started operating over a year ago, saying it has been providing relevant educational support for the peace process in Northern Ireland, and promoting international links and contributing to weaving a worldwide network towards a culture of peace. But he insisted that to secure peace is not only to prevent new conflicts but also to overcome the fissures of past wars.

Mr Matsuura said it is UNESCOs duty to encourage peace-building from the foundations up, by favouring the emergence of a true culture of peace among citizens whose legitimate differences are recognized and appreciated, while their equal and absolutely essential human dignity is affirmed.






The building of a just and peaceful world is man’s duty, just as its destruction could be determined by man.

In a democratic environment which tends to assign to the citizen-elector a growing responsibility for the directions of social development, the formation of a public opinion which is widely aware of the main events that happen in the world is the key for directing the efforts of humanity towards a global village based on unity in diversity and on sharing, fundamental qualities for the development of a responsible and sustainable social life.


In this perspective, the importance of the media is fundamental and the consequent social responsibility of editors cannot be based any longer on the only element which has so far been unquestioned: the search for company profits through the maximum possible diffusion of the media. This aim has so far prevailed over every other consideration, thus taking from the media the responsibility for the formation of an aware and balanced public opinion.


In pursuing the maximum possible company profits, the media have placed the accent on the dissemination of sensational and dramatic news, which appeal to the characteristics of a public seen as a tangled mass of emotions and mortify the interest of another part of the public, which has a quite different vision of life and of the information which describes it. This situation in the world of information is the most obvious evidence of a human activity which, with some enlightened exceptions, sacrifices  quality and balance on the altar of quantity and immediate profit, ignoring those responsibilities of an ethical kind which that very activity of itself implicitly confers.


Today, however, the media cannot continue any longer to overlook the positive and constructive occurrences among  that  part of humanity - estimated at between  10 and 15 percent of the citizen-elector-contributors in the developed countries - which has by now adopted a social behaviour in harmony with the fundamental values of a fair and sustainable social development. To give voice also to the events which indicate in the world the response of humanity to the greatest problems of our time is a responsibility of the media which can no longer be put off, in order to allow public opinion to be formed on the basis of a range of information corresponding to all aspects of the reality in which we live.


Therefore, as is the custom for many other categories of great importance in social life, the public opinion consisting of that 10-15 percent of the population orientated towards the construction of a just and sustainable global village asks the media to adopt and respect the deontological code here laid down.


Deontological Code of the Media


1. It is the moral responsibility of the media to pursue the aim of disseminating information on every aspect of the reality in which we live.

2. The media must disseminate information with respect and consideration for all the public.

3. The information should be organized by distributing the “weight” of the different sectors so as to respect the right to knowledge of important social groups.

4. The information must reflect reality with a variety of news which mirrors the components of reality itself to the extent to which they define it.

5. The information must seek, as far as possible, the causes of the events in the determining behaviour of man.

6. The media have the privilege and the task of also setting the events reported in the context of their correspondence to the principles of responsibility and the search for the common good.

7. It is the privilege, task and responsibility of the media to do their best to emphasize the connections between the most significant world events.


The Deontological Code of the Media will be presented to the publishers of the world’s press, radio and television when it has been signed by a large number of signatories belonging to:

-  organizations of the United Nations;

-  non-governmental organizations;

-  voluntary service associations;

-  journalists for whom the mandate of the editor represents a restraint;

-  enlightened editors who have already showed agreement with the values

   of the Code.


To express your agreement with this initiative, include your data here below and send this page to Good News Agency,


I support the Deontological Code of the Media:

Name and surname

Organization (name and address, also e-mail)

Position in the organization