Good News Agency – Year III, n° 15



Weekly - Year III, number 15 – 26 July 2002

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 published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next.  It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of more than 2,400 media in 46 countries, as well as to 1,000 NGO.

It is a service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information.




International legislationHuman rightsPeace and safety

  Economy and developmentSolidarityHealthEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education



International legislation



Annan welcomes Switzerland's request to join UN

New York, July 17 - Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed Switzerland's intention to join the United Nations, saying that the country's involvement in UN activities and its long-time role as host to many of the organization's agencies has already given it a "head start" in knowing what it takes to be a member of the UN family.  

Meeting with the Swiss Permanent Observer to the UN, Jeno Staehelin, who presented a letter from President Kasper Villiger requesting that Switzerland join the world body, the Secretary-General said he was "delighted" that the country decided in a referendum last March that it wanted to join the UN.  "Switzerland is in many ways a vivid example of what the United Nations stands for - a tolerant, peaceful and multicultural society built on democratic values," Mr. Annan said. He noted that Switzerland was already a major UN centre, playing host to the organization's second largest duty station in the world, and has long been a member of numerous UN agencies and programmes as well as a party to many UN treaties.  

"I am sure that as a full member, Switzerland will put this knowledge to good use and will make its voice heard across the breadth of our work," Mr. Annan said.  Looking forward to the country's "constructive participation" in the UN's work he said,  "and I will be the first, once the Security Council and General Assembly act on this letter, to welcome Switzerland warmly and fully into the UN family."


Conference on human trafficking: Nigeria, 1-3 August

Drafting strategies and policies to combat human trafficking and child labour will be the focus of a three-day international conference to be held in August in the Nigerian capital Abuja, Nigerian officials announced this week.

The 1-3 August conference will be attended by governments, international NGOs and the United Nations who will look into the causes, consequences, prevention, rehabilitation of victims and punishment of offenders. Countries, including Algeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Cameroon, France, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Japan, have been invited to attend because they represent major centres in the illicit trade, the Office of the Special Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Human Trafficking and Child Labour said in a statement.

UNICEF estimates that up to 200,000 children are trafficked annually in West and Central Africa, with some countries serving as provider, transit, or receiver point for children who work as domestics, agricultural labourers, street vendors or sometimes as prostitutes. (…)


Human rights



East Timor tells UN Forum it will soon adopt global treaty protecting children's rights

New York, July 19  - East Timorese officials today told a United Nations meeting on children the new nation was on the verge of adopting an international treaty that protects the rights of youngsters. The announcement was made at a briefing by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) on "The Protection of East Timorese Children and the Convention on the Rights of the Child." The event in Dili drew a wide range of government and UN officials, civil society groups and journalists.

East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri told the briefing that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is currently being considered by Parliament, which he expects will soon endorse East Timor's adoption of the measure. The Prime Minister also said he hoped that the current generation of East Timor's children that have been raised in a climate of violence will now be able to enjoy the country's newly achieved stability. Mehr Kahn, the Director of UNICEF's Southeast Asia regional office, opened the briefing by congratulating East Timor's government for moving quickly since the country's independence to bring about improvements and take many new and important initiatives. (…)


ADRA Aids Resettlement Community in Uganda

Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, July 16 — This month the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) office in Uganda began another phase of its aid program for 3,000 people of Ugandan heritage who were expelled from Tanzania in early 2001. ADRA Uganda is supplying household items such as blankets, plastic sheeting, water cans, cooking pans, and kitchen utensils to the 820 families who have been resettled permanently in the Kamwege district. The German Foreign Ministry and ADRA’s office in Germany allocated funds for this phase of the resettlement project.

When the families were first sent back to Uganda in early 2001, they camped in a temporary site. Many of these families had settled in Tanzania as far back as the 1930s; therefore, they had no home areas in Uganda to which they could return. Early this year ADRA Uganda joined the taskforce that was formed to create and implement a resettlement plan for the 820 families. In April 2002, the families were resettled in the sparsely populated area of Kamwege. (…)


Integrating gender perspectives into the World Summit on the Information Society

9 July - Gender and women's rights advocates are intensifying their organizing efforts to advocate for stronger attention to gender and women's rights issues at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The inter-governmental meeting, hosted by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) will be held in two phases, in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005 (see for more information). At the African Regional Preparatory Meeting for the WSIS, held in Bamako, Mali from 25-30 May, a Gender Caucus was formed with support from UNIFEM and others. The Caucus continues to attract new members and brought its advocacy activities to the first global Prepcom (1 - 5 July in Geneva).

The Gender Caucus is calling on all actors to include gender concerns and targets whenever ICTs are discussed - from policy and planning to action and evaluation. The Caucus is building on recommendations from the Beijing Platform for Action and other inter-governmental meetings -- and reaching out to a growing constituency through electronic networking -- to develop concrete proposals to bring to future regional PrepComs and the global Summit in 2003. The Preparatory Meeting for the European region will take place from 7 - 9 November in Romania.

For more information, visit or to sign up for the e-mail discussion list of the gender caucus, email: UNIFEM's statement to the Preparatory Committee meeting of WSIS can be found at:



Peace and safety



UN monitors first-ever voluntary Afghan disarmament exercise

New York, July 18 - Three Afghan factions in a district near Mazar-i-Sharif yesterday began turning over their weapons under UN monitoring, in the first voluntary disarmament exercise ever in the country. In a process supervised by Afghan elders, the weapons are being delivered to collection points in Sholgareh district - the scene of four separate conflicts over the past six months - by members of the Jamiat, Jumbesh and Hizb-e-Wahdat factions. They are then transported to military depots outside Mazar-i-Sharif, to be registered and kept under guard by Jamiat and Jumbesh forces - with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) empowered to monitor their safekeeping.

The process is taking place under the auspices of the multi-party Security Commission in Mazar-i-Sharif, observed and facilitated by UNAMA.  The UN Mission reports unanimous support for the exercise by the people of Sholgareh district, as well as widespread agreement on expanding disarmament in the region.


Fort Worth Sister Cities International to host Peace Conference, 21-25 July

Fort Worth, Texas, USA, July 8 – Fort Worth Mayor, Kenneth Barr, along with Fort Worth Sister Cities International, an internationally recognized and award-winning municipal peace organization, will host the People to People for Peace Conference, a powerful leadership dialogue to link the leadership of our youth, cities, diplomats and corporate officials to the quest for global peace. The conference will take place July 21-25 in Fort Worth, Texas. This conference will serve as a model for cities around the world seeking to create a culture of peace.  Texas Christian University Chancellor Michael Ferrari is the chairman for the event. (…)

This groundbreaking initiative will have the active participation of national and international diplomatic and municipal entities, Sister Cities International, Tarrant County mayors and their Sister Cities programs, as well as representation from the many regional organizations committed to peace. (…)


Peace in Peacetime: San Juan, Porto Rico, 12-14 August

Peace in Peacetime, an International Encounter on Peace and Development will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico from 12 to 14th August 2002.  The encounter is being convened jointly by the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress and the Senate of Puerto Rico in association with the Earth Council and the Economists Allied for Arms Reduction (ECAAR).

This Conference does not intend to add to the collection of statements for peace and disarmament. It will seek, from the bottom of our human life stream, a profound, strong, and urgent call for sanity and human sensibility, for the sake of our common future. (...)

The Conference will bring together people from all walks of life. With only their humanity and a deep concern for its future in common, they will reflect on the crises of peace, development, and the “illusion models” that influence our values and perceptions and signal a way out, making a profound, urgent and primordial call, to our common roots and destiny, lighting a candle of hope and peace in the midst of the dark night which is seemingly engulfing us at present. A candle that will light up other candles.


International conference in Kabul to build a mine-free Afghanistan – 28-31 July

The Government of Afghanistan is hosting the conference and the event is being organised in co-operation with the Afghan Campaign to Ban Landmines (ACBL), the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), and the United Nations' Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan (MACA) President Hamid Karzai will open the meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, sharing the platform with special guests Jody Williams (co-recipient with the ICBL of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize) and UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi. Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, ardent advocate on the landmine issue and Patron and Honorary Chair of the Landmine Survivors Network (LSN), will also give an address.

It is hoped that the Government of Afghanistan will announce plans to accede shortly to the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (or Mine Ban Treaty). The conference also promises to boost mine action activities in Afghanistan, which is still one of the most mine-contaminated places on earth. This is the first international diplomatic conference after so many years of war, and is an important step in its reconstruction and recovery.

There will be approximately 100 participants from Afghanistan and abroad: including experts on the Treaty, deminers, landmine survivors and representatives from several Government Ministries and Departments, the United Nations, international organisations, donor countries and States Parties to the Treaty.

By: Sue Wixley (



Economy and development



Leading companies in Ghana endorse UN Global Compact

19 July - Five of Ghana's leading companies, along with several other organizations, have signed on to the UN Global Compact, adding their support to efforts to make globalization work for all the world's people.

Ghana's Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, speaking at the signing ceremony in Accra recently, said: "We live in a globalized world, and though the anti-globalization movement may seem far away, it symbolizes the potential danger for companies and other partners ignoring social responsibilities." This awareness calls for a new way of doing business and developing partnerships, he noted. (…)


Small loans make big difference in Bahrainis' lives

17 July - Women and men from poor families in Bahrain are starting business ventures such as handicrafts, pottery, carpentry, flower arranging and hair-dressing with small loans from a programme that is making a big difference.

The MicroStart initiative has far-reaching benefits, and is seen as a model for other Gulf States. Four per cent of Bahrain's households - about 3,500 families - will participate this year.  Participants - nearly three quarters of them women - are moving from dependence on charity and government aid towards self-sufficiency, in the process boosting their self-esteem, said project manager Hessa bint Khalifa Al Khalifa. "Their whole attitude towards life has changed," she noted.

A joint initiative of UNDP and the UN Capital Development Fund operating in nearly 20 countries, MicroStart helps establish effective microfinance institutions. In Bahrain, three civil society groups are participating partners so far: the Children and Mothers Welfare Society, the Al Eslah Society and the Awal Women's Society. (…)


Argentina: IMF defers loan payment

17 July - The government of Argentina avoided defaulting on its last remaining open line of credit gained a temporary reprieve for its devastated economy when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to postpone a loan repayment of nearly US$1 billion that was due this week. The one-year respite on a payment of US$985 million is the first piece of positive news for the government after months of bitter and fruitless negotiations with the IMF and other multilateral lenders like the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.,,date:07-16-2002~menuPK:34461~pagePK:34392~piPK:34427~theSitePK:4607,00.html#Story2


IFAD to Support Community Initiatives Project in Lao People's Democratic Republic

Rome, 17 July – A USD 21.14 million project in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic – the ‘Oudomxai Community Initiatives Support Project’ – will receive a USD 13.41 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). A loan agreement was signed today at the Fund’s Headquarters by HE Mr. Soutsakhone Pathammavong, Ambassador of LAO PDR to France and Mr. Lennart Båge, President of IFAD.

The project area comprises seven districts containing 728 villages. (…)

The Oudomxai Community Initiatives Support Project’s overall goal is sustained reduction in poverty and improvement of the economic and social conditions of the targeted population. Specific objectives are increased income, food security and returns to land and labour based on sustainable farming practices, natural resource management and improved living standards of the target population. Presently, crops are grown under shifting cultivation systems which account for almost one third of the cultivated area. Opium poppies are widely grown in the northern uplands, and in 2000 the estimated total production was 167t from 19 000 ha. The project will assist beneficiaries to diversify their crops.

The project will support the target group’s initiatives, adapting participatory development as its basic approach to ensure their participation in and ownership of the project and therefore its sustainability. The project will have the following five components: community development, agriculture and natural resource management, rural financial services, rural infrastructure development, institutional support.

With the programme, IFAD will have financed 8 projects in the LAO PDR, for a total loan amount of about USD 47.50 million.


IFAD to Support a Regional Development Initiative in Gash barka, Eritrea

Rome, 17 July  – A USD 16.14 million project in the State of Eritrea, the ‘Gash Barka Livestock and Agricultural Development Project’, will receive a USD 10.00 million loan and a USD 3.5 million Belgian Survival Fund Joint Programme grant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). A loan and financing agreement was signed today at the Fund’s Headquarters by Mr. Petros Tseggai, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of the State of Eritrea and Mr. Lennart Båge, President of IFAD.

The project area is Gash Barka zoba, which is administratively subdivided into 14 sub-zobas. Gash Barka zoba is part of the Sudano-Sahelian agroclimatic zone and covers 27% of the country’s total land area. (…)

The objective of the project is to reduce poverty among the targeted population through locally determined investments in people’s livestock and crop production enterprises and improved access to drinking water and health services. The project’s primary target group is 16 000 households, who will benefit from support for livestock and crop production and improved access to drinking water. In addition, the community-based and the public health care systems will be strengthened, thereby improving access to health services potentially benefiting the entire population of Gash Barka Zoba. The project will be implemented by the Gash Barka Zoba Administration, whose capacity will be strengthened as part of project implementation. (…)






Iran: UNICEF delivers more aid to quake victims

Islamabad, Pakistan, 23 July  - The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has delivered 30 mt of additional relief supplies to victims of last month's devastating earthquake in northwestern Iran. "Shelter and especially reconstruction are still the main needs," Luc Chauvin, a UNICEF programme officer in the Iranian capital, Tehran, told IRIN on Tuesday.  "While people have been provided with tents by the Iranian Red Crescent, this will only be a temporary solution as winter approaches."

His comments follow Monday's delivery of three large container trucks containing 5,000 jerry cans and 10 five-thousand-litre collapsable water tanks to Razan district, 250 km southwest of Tehran, in Hamadan province - one of three provinces affected by the quake.  "This particular area has not yet received any international assistance," Chauvin said. (…)


Congo: ADB grants government US $43 million

Kinshasa, 23 July - The African Development Bank (ADB), the continent's foremost lending institution, has given the cash-strapped Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) US $43 million and lent it another $15 million.

The bank's vice-president, Bisi Ogunjobi, signed the deal with the government on Monday in Kinshasa, the nation's capital, a week after World Bank President James Wolfensohn announced a $450-million grant to the country. Future ADB aid to the DRC - ruined by four years of war – will serve to provide the public with potable water, education, and health services.

This agreement marks the resumption of ADB aid to the DRC, after a hiatus of five years. In June, the bank approved a mechanism to clear the country's $800 million debt to the institution and the African Development Fund, which represented 60 percent of the DRC's total debt to the bank.

Ogunjobi commended the government's efforts to stabilise the currency and bring inflation under control. He is due to end his five-day visit on Tuesday.


ADRA Completes Housing Project in Montenegro

Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, July 22 — The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) office in Germany has issued its final report about the one year housing project in Montenegro. This project involved the installation of 16 pre-fabricated housing units in Berane, Montenegro, for occupation by people who left Kosovo because of ethnic conflict.

ADRA Germany obtained the pre-fabricated houses from a community that had used them as temporary housing for people moving to Germany. No longer needed, the houses were in good condition. Beds, cupboards, tables, and chairs were included with each house. ADRA Germany arranged for the units to be shipped to Berane during the summer of 2001.

ADRA’s office in Montenegro arranged for installation details such as preparation of concrete foundations and connection with the water system and electricity. Early in 2002, the roofs were repaired and insulated, and better heating systems were installed. In addition to providing funds, ADRA Germany worked with ADRA Montenegro and local organizations to complete this project.


UNICEF, McDONALD'S ® and Ronald McDonald House Charities ® team up to raise funds for children

McDonald's Announces "World Children's Day" for November 20

New York, July 19 - UNICEF and McDonald's today announced plans to team up to raise money on behalf of the world's children as part of a new McDonald's fundraising initiative called "World Children's Day," which will benefit Ronald McDonald House Charitiesâ (RMHC) worldwide and UNICEF programs in about a dozen countries. The initiative was announced by Jack Greenberg, McDonald's Chairman and CEO, and Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF.

McDonald's World Children's Day is a major fundraising initiative that will be inaugurated on November 20, 2002. On that day, McDonald's restaurants in 121 countries will raise money for local children's organizations through a variety of activities and promotions developed by each restaurant. UNICEF will be a beneficiary of the World Children's Day effort in select countries, including the United States, where McDonald's will support UNICEF's renowned "Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF" program.

The November 20th date coincides with the anniversary of the United Nations adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which took place on November 20, 1989. (…)

UNICEF offices will work directly with McDonald's restaurants in participating countries to raise funds and awareness for children's causes. (…)


Democratic Republic of the Congo: Providing safe water

18 July - The ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have stepped up efforts to contain a recent outbreak of cholera in the city of Kalemie in Katanga province. So far about 100 people are reported to have contracted the disease. The outbreak occurred when a failure of the water-supply system forced the city's estimated 120,000 inhabitants to collect drinking water from nearby lake Tanganyika and local rivers. Kalemie is considered a high-risk area for cholera outbreaks.

With the material and financial support of the ICRC, the local Red Cross has set up 22 points, manned by over 60 volunteers, where people can bring their water to have it disinfected. The ICRC has also provided four tanks in which to store safe water. Meanwhile, other humanitarian organizations have opened a cholera treatment centre at a local hospital.

 Despite the crisis, the ICRC has been able to pursue its regular activities in Kalemie. These include financial and technical help for the local water board and efforts to restore and maintain family links by means of Red Cross messages. The ICRC also provides basic drugs and technical support for a local hospital.


Rotary grows by 4.6 percent in year July 2001- June 2002

Rotary clubs added 54,939 members to their rolls in the 2001-02 Rotary year, bringing net membership worldwide to 1,243,431, a 4.6 percent increase over the previous year and the best one-year growth ever. More than 1,100 Rotary clubs were chartered in the year ending 30 June 2002, bringing the net total to 31,256 clubs in 163 countries.

The greatest percentage membership growth was in Asia, where Bangladesh, India, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand registered double-digit percentage increases. Membership in Rotary clubs in India grew almost 18 percent, for a net gain of 14,209 members, making the country the world leader in the number of new Rotarians. (…)

Rotary, an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide providing humanitarian service, building goodwill and peace in the world.







South Africa: New hope for mothers

Johannesburg, 22 July (IRIN) - HIV positive mothers in three sites in South Africa will now get treatment to ensure their survival after the births of their babies.

The newly-launched MTCT (mother-to-child transmission) Plus initiative run by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, recently announced grants of more than US $9 million to 12 hospitals, health centres, and clinics in eight African countries.

Previously, prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes have focused on infants, but very little has been done for the mothers. AIDS activists have raised concerns that the programmes are saving babies but condemning them to live as orphans.

Mothers in Medecins Sans Frontieres-run clinics in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, and at programmes managed by the universities of Witwatersrand and Natal will for the first time be able to get antiretroviral therapy, care and support services. (…)


Ethiopia: Millions of children to be vaccinated against polio

Addis Ababa, 19 July - Some 14 million children are to be immunised against polio as part of a final drive to eradicate the virus from Ethiopia, the health ministry said on Thursday.

The immunisations, to be carried out on children under five in two rounds during October and December, are critical if Ethiopia is to be polio free by 2005.

The global fight against polio - spearheaded by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF - is one of the largest public health campaigns ever. It aims to wipe out the disease by the year 2005.

Dr Tesfanesh Belay, head of the ministry's family health department, said the national  immunisation days (NIDs) were "critical". (…) The campaign - which will cost around US $16 million - will take place in some of the remotest areas of the country. (…)

Reported polio cases have reached an all time low of less than 500 worldwide compared to an estimated 350,000 cases in 1988 when the campaign began.


Somalia: First-ever AIDS awareness campaign

19 July - A group of campaigners against HIV/AIDS in Somalia, called AIDSOM, last week held the country's first ever public awareness demonstration in the coastal town of Marka, south of Mogadishu.

Riding in trucks draped with banners carrying Somali slogans such as "AIDS is real, don't ignore it", and "get a blood test before marriage", the group of young men drove through the streets spreading their message over loudspeakers, one of the campaigners told PlusNews.


AIDS drug prices drop sharply but unevenly in Latin America and Caribbean

New York, July 18 - The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) announced today that the price of drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS dropped dramatically last year in Latin America and the Caribbean, as a result of agreements between health ministries and drug companies.

In its study of prices between May 2001 and May 2002, PAHO found wide differences among the 14 countries surveyed.  For example, the cost of one common antiretroviral therapy dropped from around $21,500 to $1,600 in Haiti.  In Brazil, another common therapy dropped from $1,400 to $635 - the lowest in the region - while some countries were paying more than $6,000 for the same treatment. (…) Unfortunately, even with greatly reduced prices, many countries cannot yet afford to provide antiretroviral drugs to all in need.  Out of at least 475,000 people in need in the region, only 170,000 currently have access to the drugs - mostly in Brazil.  And the incidence of infection continues to increase.

PAHO, established in 1902, is the oldest health organization in the world, and serves as the regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).  In the framework of the WHO/UNAIDS Accelerated Access Initiative, it is working to help countries increase their access to comprehensive HIV care and support.


African First Ladies launch historic organization to fight HIV/AIDS

Geneva, 16 July - In an unprecedented meeting, the First Ladies of 18 African countries will gather in Geneva from 17-19 July to formally establish the "African First Ladies Organization Against HIV/AIDS."

"As the most highly visible women and mothers of their nations, the First Ladies have the capacity to focus much needed attention on the challenges and opportunities of AIDS in Africa," said Sandra L. Thurman, President of the International AIDS Trust (IAT), which is facilitating the meeting with UNAIDS. "By joining forces for advocacy, resource mobilization and social change, these First Ladies are demonstrating true leadership. The organization they are creating here this week will be a powerful catalyst for action against AIDS - in their individual countries, across Africa and around the world."

According to UNAIDS, of the more than 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, an estimated 18 million are women. In sub-Saharan Africa, women account for 55% of adults infected with HIV. (…)

Although the gathering in Geneva represents the official launch of the First Ladies Organization, members of the organization met informally on at least nine occasions in 2001 and 2002. These meetings culminated in a session convened by the IAT during the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children in May 2002 at which time the formation of an organization was actively discussed. (…)


World Health Organization releases draft Tobacco Treaty text ahead of October negotiations

16 July - The World Health Organization (WHO) today released the draft of a treaty text which will provide the basis for the final stage of the negotiations of a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The text was put together by Ambassador Luiz Felipe de Seixas Correa, Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body on the FCTC. When adopted, the FCTC will be a historic step in global tobacco control.

The Chair’s new FCTC text, which represents the first complete draft of the treaty to emerge during the negotiation process, details points of potential agreement on such key issues as tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, illicit trade in tobacco products, taxes, international cooperation in areas such as agricultural diversification and financial resources. These points will be considered by the World Health Organization’s Member States meeting in Geneva from 14-25 October 2002. This is expected to be the penultimate negotiating session before proposed adoption of the FCTC by the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2003. (…)


Training manual on gender, HIV and AIDS brought to life in Vietnam

9 July) - In Vietnam, an Advocacy Campaign on HIV/AIDS is adapting UNIFEM’s training manual on Gender, HIV and AIDS for radio and television. A QUIZ at the beginning of the manual will be developed into a quiz show, Demographic Silhouettes which generate understanding of the socio-economic impact of the epidemic on the household will be developed into a game show, the Critical Issues that were identified will be the subject of a panel discussion by experts and the Role Plays will be dramatized into television and radio dramas.  Television spots and public announcements will also be developed and broadcast regularly on national television.

The training manual was developed to build awareness of the gender implications of HIV/AIDS, and has been widely used and adapted by a number of training and academic institutions for integration into their courses.

For more information, contact Nazneen Damji, UNIFEM Programme Specialist on Gender, HIV and AIDS, at


Rotary Presents Polio Eradication Champion Award to Grand Duke of Luxembourg

Luxembourg, 4 July - In recognition of the country's outstanding financial contribution to polio eradication, Rotary International presented Grand Duke Henry of Luxembourg with the Polio Eradication Champion Award today. (…)

The award recognizes Luxembourg for making the highest per capita contribution of any donor nation to the polio eradication initiative in 2001 (US$8.30/capita). The government of Luxembourg made their first commitment to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in autumn of 2001. This contribution of 3,510,000 Euros (approximately US$3.2 million) was targeted for use in six African countries: Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Mali, Namibia, Niger and Senegal. (…)

After launching the PolioPlus program in 1985, eradicating polio has become Rotary's main philanthropic goal, which aims to immunize all the world's children against polio by its one-hundredth anniversary in 2005. To date, Rotary has contributed US$462 million and has committed a half billion US dollars by 2005.

In addition, Rotary reaches out to governments worldwide to obtain vital financial and technical support. Through skillful advocacy work, Rotary members, in collaboration with partner organizations, have helped deliver more than US$1 billion of funding to the program from donor governments. That amount, combined with direct funds from Rotary, is more than half the money needed for the entire global polio eradication program. Besides raising and contributing funds, over one million men and women of Rotary have volunteered their time and personal resources to help immunize nearly 2 billion children in 122 countries during national immunization campaigns.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).



Environment and wildlife



UNEP to study environment of Palestinian Territories

Mr. Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories from 13 to 16 July in preparation for an environmental desk study of the Palestinian territories.

Jerusalem/Nairobi, 17 July - Mr. Toepfer was invited to the region by the Israeli Environment Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and by Minister Yousef Abu Safieh of the Palestinian Higher Agency for the Environment. During his visit to the region Mr. Toepfer also met with Prime Minister Sharon and with Chairman Arafat. Furthermore, he held talks about the framework of the desk study with the environmental authorities in Israel on 14 July and with the environmental authorities in the Occupied Palestinian territories on 15 July. In addition, site visits relevant to the desk study were organized by both hosts. (…)

The Desk Study team will be chaired by Mr. Pekka Haavisto, former Finnish Minister of Environment and Development Cooperation, and managed by a UNEP staff member acting as Project Coordinator. In addition, the desk study team will include the necessary number of experts to address environmental issues such as water, waste management, soil protection, and environmental administration.

The desk study will outline the state of the environment and identify major areas of environmental damage requiring urgent attention. It will be based on review of available, relevant studies and interviews with officials and experts. (…)


Afghanistan: Repair of irrigation canal benefits thousands of farmers

18 July - The repair of a 13-kilometre-long irrigation canal in Bamyan — an ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) "cash for work" project — was completed at the end of June. The canal irrigates 1,200 hectares of land, meeting the needs of between 1,000 and 3,000 farmers. It will be essential to the next harvest of potatoes and wheat in the region, which has been severely affected by the conflict.

The Bamyan valley was once cultivated and fertile, but in recent years the fighting has forced people to flee the region and made farmland inaccessible. Heavy rains in March caused landslides that seriously damaged the Tiboti-Surkhdar canal, which the valley relies upon for irrigation. Tonnes of mud and gravel needed to be removed so that water could again flow normally. The local population had been unable to organize the repairs on their own because of ethnic tensions.

(…) "The project was completed just in time to save the August harvest. And it will be essential to ensuring that local farmers achieve self-sufficiency. Until now they have been dependent on ICRC food distributions, which took place every three months", said Christophe Driesse, an ICRC delegate in Bamyan. (…)



Religion and spirituality




Apostolic Journey of His Holiness John Paul II to Canada

The theme of World Youth Day

The pastoral program of the XVII World Youth Day is based on the theme announced on Palm Sunday 2001: “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world” (Mt 5: 13-14). These words from the Sermon on the Mount are an incentive to bear witness in our daily life and in our various activities to the message of the Beatitudes (Mt 5: 3-12), the basis of the Christian life. Jesus' words are also an encouragement for all Christians, for they show his trust that men, women and young people in every age will radiate his presence in the world.

The Papal Welcoming Ceremony - Thursday, July 25, 2002

The theme chosen for the festive welcome of Pope John Paul II to the World Youth Day in Toronto is that of the Beatitudes (Mt 5: 1-12). As the Pope arrives at Exhibition Place on the shores of Lake Ontario, the young people join in welcoming the Successor of Peter, who has been the inspiration and driving force for the World Youth Days ever since the beginning of his pontificate. The ceremony particularly emphasizes the Beatitude: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt 5: 9). The message of the Beatitudes needs to be heard loud and clear in these times of bloody conflict throughout the world. In the Beatitudes young people can find a blueprint for their Christian life - both as individuals and as members of a community - as well as a source of hope for the future. The ceremony highlights the different nations taking part, each represented by two young people, as a sign that the Gospel represents a leaven of peace and unity among peoples, and that the Cross of Christ has opened a new era of brotherhood. It culminates in the praying of the Our Father, which sets the Pope's visit in the broader spiritual context of World Youth Day, making all people brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ and children of the one Father.


The Sunrise of Compassion: July 28, Mt. Fuji, Japan

This event, called the ‘Sunrise of Compassion’, will occur during the United Nations’ “International Year of the Mountains” televised concert originating from Mt. Fuji, Japan on July 28, 2002.

At the moment of sunrise on Mt. Fuji, thousands of people from around the world will simultaneously pray, meditate, visualize, chant, sing, and perform ceremonies expressing their heartfelt desire for a world of peace for everyone. Richard Lukens, International Director of the 1985 ‘Live Aid’ global broadcast which was seen by 1.5 billion people in more than 140 countries, will be producing the ‘Sunrise of Compassion’ event.

This is an opportunity for people everywhere to mobilize and use their united power to help bring about more peaceful and loving conditions on our planet. (…)


World Peace Prayer Society: two events in New York to foster world pace

A special September 11th Memorial Peace Pole will be presented to Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City to honor the memory of this day in the spirit of peace. The 12-foot aluminum pole will carry the message "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in twelve languages of those who lost their lives.  Prayers and messages from peace-loving people all over the world are being collected to be offered with the Peace Pole - a call to shift the energy from fear to love, from war to peace. You can add your prayers on line at:   (…)

You are also invited to ignite the Spirit of World Peace on Saturday, August 17 as a powerful prayer for world peace goes out from the  World Peace Festival in Amenia, New York.   In a spectacular World Peace Prayer Ceremony, the flag of every nation will be raised as everyone sends a non-sectarian prayer for peace to each one. This event will be a profound experience of unity at an unprecedented level of global participation. Each one of the thousands of people attending the Festival, plus many more participating on line at at 4 pm (NY time) or in spirit, will add an important voice in building a worldwide vision of peace and harmony for all humankind.  Please join us in this global call for world peace. (…)



Culture and education



The Ark of Hope goes to Johannesburg

The Ark of Hope carrying the Earth Charter, will arrive in South Africa on 10 August and will be on exhibition at Nedcor Headquarters in Johannesburg until 17 August, and then on exhibition at Industrial Development Corporation in Johannesburg until 23 August.

A celebration for the ark and the Earth Charter will take place on 23 August evening at the Industrial Development Corporation. Children of the Earth and the Ark of Hope are working with children in Diepsloot, a squatter camp/informal settlement in Johannesburg, to bring the inspiration, affirmation, and prayers of the people of New England, USA to South Africa, and to encourage the children in Diepsloot to create their own handmade Temenos Books filled with their hopes for the future.  On Saturday, 24 August the children of Diepsloot will walk the Ark to their informal settlement in Johannesburg, which will be its home-base while it is in Johannesburg for the Summit. Contact information for the Ark of Hope while it is in Johannesburg is through Glenys van Halter, director of Zizanani in Diepsloot,


Iran launches resource centre for civil society groups

22 July - The Government of Iran and UNDP joined in inaugurating the Iranian Civil Society Organization Resource Centre in Tehran earlier this month to encourage wider participation in Iran's development efforts.

The centre will promote knowledge-sharing and cooperation among civil society organizations and community groups, with access to a specialized library and a technical database. It will also encourage networking between local and international organizations, global funding agencies and the Government through its Web site and a cyber teahouse.

Activities will include research projects and studies, a bi-weekly newsletter, legal consultancy, and training workshops on human resources and management. (…)

Civil society groups have a long history in Iran, and community organizations have traditionally provided disaster relief, education and health services, and charity. In recent years, the Government began encouraging civil society participation in economic and social development, and a number of new groups have formed. (…)


Towards the III World Social Forum: invitation to an adventure in free journalism

22 July - Beginning today, those who struggle for a new society and press have an additional partner and challenge.  The Porto Alegre 2003 portal is already on the air for the past several hours.  Jointly launched by the Brazilian edition of Le Monde Diplomatique newspaper and IPS News Agency , and produced with the collaboration of the ATTAC movement in Brazil, it renews the commitment these organizations maintain with the World Social Forum since 2000, when the idea of a global meeting of alternatives to neoliberalism emerged.  In its archives, the new portal holds the hundreds of texts, in several languages, which were part of the Porto Alegre 2002 site that preceded it.  However, innovations abound. The new portal is composed of six different sites, updated weekly, that will permit a deeper analysis of the most relevant international developments.  These sites will distribute texts from hundreds both paper and electronic publications that today are part of an independent press that rose together with the movement for a new world order.  Brazilian authors are included from the very beginning of its launching. (…)


Earth Charter Community Summits on September 28

The Second Earth Charter Community Summits will host grassroots gatherings simultaneously that inspire people to make the vision and principles of the Earth Charter, a reality in their homes, workplaces, schools, and communities.

The Earth Charter Community Summits are a time to come together and to choose a future and to follow a path that is rich in hope, optimism and love. The plan for this year's Earth Charter Community Summits is to involve as many cities as possible to host festivities and interactive discussions so people are inspired by the Earth Charter's vision and principles and take part in the implementation of the Earth Charter in their locales. The First Community Summits took place last September. There is an interest in expanding this year's summits beyond the US to include cities in other countries. Summits across time zones around the globe present a challenge for satellite uplinks and whole-scale round-robin connections via webcast among the cities.

"A new global ethical framework is needed to guide our decisions and actions ensuring the common good. Use the Earth Charter as an instrument to understand and achieve a more sustainable future; think globally and act locally!”" -


Congo: Belgium to finance 5 million primary education textbooks

19 July - In collaboration with the Ministry of Education of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Belgium has initiated a project to produce five million primary school textbooks for Congolese children and teachers, Belgian Secretary of State for Cooperation and Development Eddy Boutmans has said. The announcement followed Boutmans' visit to the DRC last week. [Full report on Http://]


Geneva University sets up University Centre for International Humanitarian Law

18 July - Geneva University's law faculty and Graduate Institute of International Studies signed an agreement on 16 July setting up the University Centre for International Humanitarian Law (UCIHL). The centre is to become a focus of excellence in the field of international humanitarian law. The UCIHL will be concentrating on the legal dimension of international humanitarian law in the widest sense, taking in relevant aspects of international criminal law, human rights and refugee law.

The Centre will run regular research and teaching programmes (with a postgraduate diploma course starting this Autumn) and will do ad hoc work for particular groups, such as university lecturers and workers from humanitarian organizations.

The ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) played an important role in setting up the Centre and will be closely involved in its management and work. Antoine Bouvier, the ICRC's specialist on links with the academic world, sees the founding of the UCIHL as an important event. "There are already several courses on human rights and there are research programmes on human rights and humanitarian work, but there are very few institutes specializing in the study of international humanitarian law. The UCIHL will be one of the leaders in its field and will attract the top researchers and students, not least because Geneva is home to the main humanitarian organizations."

UCIHL Website:


African students learn about sustainable development issues through UN-backed project

New York, July 17  - An international team of scientists, teachers and graduate students have been travelling throughout Africa as part of a United Nations-sponsored project designed to expose the continent's children to science and technology.    

"Under African Skies 2002," a collaboration between the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) and Cosmos Education, has been on the road since 22 June, travelling to over 50 schools in five southern and eastern African countries and motivating the students to define the role of science and technology in the future of sustainable development. (…)

Prior to launching the five-week-long expedition, the project held a conference on improving science and technology education in developing countries. The event, held at the UN Environment Programme's Nairobi headquarters, brought together more than 400 secondary school and university students under the theme, "Science and Sustainability - Applying Appropriate Solutions for a Global Society."


Afghanistan: massive return to classrooms indicated by latest results of nationwide survey

11 July - Ongoing results received from the nationwide assessment of learning spaces, being jointly conducted by the Afghanistan Ministry of Education and UNICEF, is indicating that there has been a massive return of children - both boys and girls - to schools around the country.

Preliminary data has now been collated from 20 provinces (2/3rds of the whole country), covering some 2,744 schools. Nearly 1.25 million children are now attending school in these 20 provinces.1.1 million children are enrolled in Grades 1-6 - original predictions before the start of the new school term in March anticipated a total national enrolment in these Grades of 1.7 million children. If the survey continues to show a similar trend from the rest of the country, UNICEF believes that the final number of children in the classroom will exceed all expectations. Indications are that enrolment will be 60% higher than before March, with the number of girls coming to school over 90% higher.

The latest information shows that 30% of pupils now attending school are girls, and the ratio between girls and boys is relatively similar across the country. Even in Kandahar, where girls' enrolment prior to the Taliban era was negligible, girls now make up 10% of the student population.

The survey also gives an insight to the number of teachers. Across the 20 provinces, over 27,000 teachers are involved in education - 36% are women. In Kabul city, the number of women teachers exceeds men by more than 3,000. While these figures provide a positive message about education in Afghanistan, several problems remain.  (…)

From: United Nations Children's Fund


China promises universal science literacy

Beijing, 10 July – China has set itself a goal of ensuring that every member of the population is scientifically literate by the year 2049, the centenary of the creation of the People’s Republic of China. In a report released in Beijing last week, the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) committed itself to helping all members of the country’s 1.3 billion population achieve a level of scientific understanding.  The aim is to ensure that every member of the public has a basic knowledge of science, a scientific world-view, and the ability to apply scientific methodology to problems.

Despite China's recent rapid economic development, the public’s general knowledge of science remains relatively low. A survey carried out by CAST late last year showed that only 14 people per thousand had a basic knowledge of science.

According to Lei Yihong, director of CAST’s Science Popularisation Institute in Beijing, researchers found the equivalent level of scientific awareness among 6.9 per cent of the population in the United States in 1990, and 4.4 per cent in countries of the European Union. (…)

From: SciDev.Net


Non-sexist advertising awards in Chile

9 July - With UNIFEM's support, the Chilean-based Center for Women's Studies celebrated the fifth consecutive award ceremony for Non-Sexist Advertisement in Ibero-America. The awards recognize ads that portray women in a positive light and avoid stereotypical depictions of men and women and messages that are discriminatory or violent to women.

This year's winner in the television category was the Argentinean ad "Lindas" by Young & Rubicam, which portrays the beauty of women of all ages and walks of life. In the graphics category, the award went to Master Comunicação of Brasil for "East-West." The jury was composed of Latin American women who are heads of advertisement firms and media outlets.

The Women's Study Centre is an independent, non-profit organization founded in 1984 by women social scientists and economists concerned with gender issues. Known as CEM from the initials of its Spanish name --Centro de Estudios de la Mujer-- it conducts research, training, communication and consulting programs on labour and employment, citizenship and political participation, and public policy planning.

For more information, contact CEM, at




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Next issue: 6 September 2002




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