Good News Agency – Year IV, n° 1



Weekly - Year IV, number 1 – 10 January 2003

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. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti. 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 rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education



International legislation



African and Asian parliamentarians seek equality for women

2 January -  Parliamentarians from more than 20 African and Asian countries meeting recently in Bangkok, Thailand, called for stepped up efforts to adopt legislation and policies for equality between women and men, one of the Millennium Development Goals.

Participants in the second Africa-Asia parliamentarian forum on the role of legislatures in human security and gender also advocated national budgets that support equity for women and agreed to set up knowledge networks among parliamentarians and to strengthen expertise on gender issues among lawmakers.

The event, together with the first such forum in Marrakech, Morocco last March, will provide input on gender issues for the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III), scheduled for December. (…)


Belarus seeks alternatives to jailing lawbreakers

3 January - A recent national conference at the legal faculty of Belarusian State University in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, focused on legal reforms to reduce the number of lawbreakers put in prison. Belarus has the third highest rate of imprisonment per capita, behind only the United States and Russia, because the penal code has mandated heavy sentences for relatively minor crimes, noted Neil Buhne, UNDP Representative and UN Resident Coordinator. "As a result, people are imprisoned longer than they should be, with little or no benefit to society, and the cost of imprisoning so many is a heavy burden for the government budget," he said.

The meeting was part of a UNDP project to help the Supreme Court develop recommendations on legislation to improve the administration of justice, and to organize workshops for judges on major law enforcement issues.  (…)


South-east Europe coordinates action against human trafficking

20 December - Border and anti-trafficking police officers and prosecutors from 13 south-eastern European countries have agreed to step up efforts against trafficking in people by adopting a common law enforcement manual to strengthen action and coordination. A recent meeting in Bucharest, Romania, brought together participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine and Yugoslavia.

Most trafficking victims are women and girls coerced or lured by promises of jobs and smuggled across borders by criminal rings and forced into prostitution. Unlike "people smugglers," traffickers exploit their victims after illegally bringing them across borders.

About 120,000 women and children are trafficked into the European Union each year, mostly though the Balkans, according to the International Organization for Migration. Traffickers take advantage of social instability, weak law enforcement, and increasing poverty and discrimination faced by women. Amounting to at least US$7 billion a year, trafficking in people has become the third largest criminal business worldwide, after drugs and weapons, according to Paul Holmes, former chief detective of the London Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard) vice squad, the manual's co-author.

The manual covers best practices on investigative methods; regional legislation, procedures and investigative capacities; and contact information on institutions and organizations. It focuses on steps to protect victims' rights. (…)



Human rights



Eritrea/Ethiopia: Civilians repatriated

Asmara/Geneva (ICRC), 28 December – On Saturday, 28 December, 154 Eritrean civilians were repatriated from Ethiopia under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). They crossed the border at Mereb bridge, between the towns of Rama, Ethiopia and Adi Quala, Eritrea. Five of the 154 were children, who were reunited with their families in Eritrea. In the course of same operation, an Ethiopian child was repatriated from Eritrea to be reunited with his family.

The Eritreans were accompanied on the first leg of their journey by ICRC delegates based in Ethiopia. At Mereb bridge the group was met by Eritrea-based delegates before being placed in the care of the Eritrean authorities. The Eritrea-based delegates had accompanied the Ethiopian child to the same border checkpoint, handing him over to the Ethiopian authorities. Volunteers from the Eritrean and Ethiopian Red Cross Societies also took part in the operation, handing out food and water on their respective sides of the border.

The ICRC will continue to assist people affected by the recent armed conflict between the two countries and will strive to ensure compliance with the rules and principles of international humanitarian law, in particular the 1949 Geneva Conventions.


Côte d'Ivoire/Liberia: Lost children reunited with loved ones

Geneva (ICRC), 20 December – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has repatriated nine Liberian children from Côte d'Ivoire and reunited them with their parents. The children were living, unaccompanied by adults, as refugees in the Tabou area of southwestern Côte d'Ivoire. The current conflict in Côte d'Ivoire made it an urgent priority for the ICRC delegation in Monrovia to find the childrens parents in Liberia. The recent fighting in western Côte d'Ivoire has further displaced many unaccompanied Liberian refugee children registered by the ICRC before the present crisis.

This year, the organization's delegations in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Côte d'Ivoire have registered hundreds of unaccompanied minors of Liberian nationality, that is, children who are not being looked after by any member of their family. The children have been given the opportunity to write Red Cross messages (brief personal messages delivered through the Red Cross network) to their families in Liberia. Each has been accompanied by a photograph.

The ICRC carries out a great deal of cross-border tracing in behalf of unaccompanied children in West Africa, reuniting them with their families when this is possible and when both parties agree.


African women's sexual and reproductive health and rights conference "Prosperity through empowerment -- 4-7 February , Johannesburg, South Africa

AMANITARE, the African Partnership for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Women and Girls, is a Pan-African ten-year initiative of RAINBO (Research, Action, and Information Network for the Bodily Integrity of Women). The Partnership's mandate is derived from the outcomes of the World Conference on Human Rights (Vienna, 1993), The International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994) and The Fifth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995). Its main aim is to build an influential social movement to institutionalise the recognition of African women and girl's Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights as fundamental to their civil and human rights. The Partnership currently boasts the active participation of 42 Partners from 16 different countries spanning all sub-regions of the African continent.

Conference objectives: In an effort to realize the Partnership's overall goal, AMANITARE is organizing a Pan-African conference entitled, "African Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Conference: Prosperity Through Empowerment", that will be held from 4th to 7th February 2003 in Johannesburg, South Africa. With its forward-looking agenda, this conference will provide a rare opportunity to bring together African Women's Health and Rights movement activists with policy makers, researchers, health care providers, youth representatives, and the media from all sub-regions of the African continent - creating a unique forum for debate and creative strategising around Gender and Health in Africa. (…)



Economy and development



IFAD to provide USD 20 million to Orissa Programme in India

Rome, 18 December  – The ‘Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Programme’, a USD 91.2 million project in the Republic of India will receive a USD 20 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). A loan agreement was signed today at the Fund’s Headquarters by H. E. Himachal Som, Ambassador of India and Mr. Lennart Båge, President of IFAD.

The incidence of rural poverty is high in Orissa which is the second poorest state in the country. The Orissa Tribal Programme will cover eight districts in Western Orissa, where poverty is highest in areas where tribal people live. On an average, households have enough food through agriculture for a maximum of only six months in a normal year. This is due to poor agricultural land productivity partly due to pre-dominance of rainfed agriculture, relatively small landholdings, and insecurity of land tenure.

The Programme is expected to benefit approximately 75,000 households living in over 1000 villages. About 61% of the total population are members of various tribal groups and 12% belong to the so called ‘scheduled castes’. In this context, the Programme will adopt an ‘inclusive approach’ - targeting all households living in the participating villages and hamlets in the selected micro-watersheds. As the tribal population is the most disadvantaged among the social groups, their development has been accorded high priority by the Government of India. This Programme thus reflects IFAD’s response to the national priority. (…)


E-Security and Knowledge Economy       

2nd UNECE Workshop on E-Regulations, Geneva, 12 February

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe will hold the Second Annual Workshop on E-Regulations focusing on the theme of E-Security and its Implications for the Development of Knowledge Economy. The discussion aims to understand the extent of positive correlation and negative externalities between these highly intertwined domains and the potential role of governments, business community and international organizations in ensuring the secure environment of the digital economy and sustainable development of the Information Society. (…)

The workshop, which will be held in collaboration with the European Commission, the European Forum for Electronic Business and the University of Lausanne, aims to provide an overview of pressing issues and approaches on e-security and the new challenges it may bring to decision makers, stakeholders, and citizens of the Information Society.

 Prominent international speakers from both public and private sectors as well as representatives from international organizations will be invited to address major relevant issues and offer innovative considerations over the future actions necessary to develop e-security tools and policies positively correlated with the agenda of inclusion and diffusion of e-public goods. This one-day event will contain four expert panels, namely: e-security and knowledge economy, e-security technologies, e-security policy and regulatory framework, and e-security and international organizations. (…)






To save lives, WHO rushes medical supplies to drought-ridden Ethiopia

Safe drinking water and child health targeted

23 December - Geneva -- The World Health Organization (WHO) has shipped a first batch of 54 new Emergency Health Kits to Ethiopia to strengthen the health sector response to the severe drought. Today, the kits arrived in Addis Ababa ready for immediate secondary distribution.

Thanks to funding from the Government of the Netherlands, WHO will be able to send a total of 164 Emergency Health Kits to Ethiopia in the coming weeks. These kits will provide 1.64 million people with basic health care supplies for a period of three months. An Emergency Health Kit is one ton of essential drugs, supplies and instruments, sufficient to support the basic health needs of 10 000 people. This first shipment comes only four weeks after Mr Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, launched an international appeal for help to avert a crisis that is threatening millions of people.

Poor rains between February and May 2002 have caused an acute shortage of water in several parts of Ethiopia. This year’s harvest is likely to be around 15 % less than the average annual yield. The crisis can spell death for hundreds of thousands of people. The Ethiopian Government expects as many as 14 million people, 20% of the total population, to be at extreme risk by March 2003. (…)


Education International thanks Swedish member Lärarförbundet for donation to the Solidarity Fund

For the third consecutive year Swedish member Lärarförbundet (Swedish Teachers' Union) is donating the money saved for not sending Christmas cards to the EI  Solidarity Fund. A total of 50,000 Swedish crowns (5487 euros) will go to assist fellow member organisations in emergencies such as natural disasters, famine, war, persecution or other life threatening situations, as well as to development programmes such as providing them with internet access. EI thanks Lärarförbundet for their generosity and hopes more members will follow suite.

| Find out more about EI Solidarity Fund |


General Board of the Church of the Brethren funds send more than $90,000 in aid.

New grants from the General Board's Global Food Crisis Fund and Emergency Disaster Fund will send more than $90,000 to support projects in the US and the Middle East.

Accounting for more than half that total is a $50,000 allocation from the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF). The large grant will support the work of the Middle East Council of Churches in the ongoing aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. The funds will be used for community development programs including health and food security, leadership training, and income generation for impoverished people. The funds will be distributed to multi-denominational projects throughout the region. (…)

Two dozen allocations have now been made from the Emergency Disaster Fund in 2002, and 14 from the Global Food Crisis Fund.



Peace and security



American Cities Say "NO" to War in Iraq

Across the US, City Councils - representing millions of American citizens -- pass anti-war resolutions, with many more on the way.

Washington, DC, USA, January 7 - At least 29 City Councils from Baltimore to Seattle, from Philadelphia to Kalamazoo, have passed resolutions opposing war in Iraq. Anti-war resolutions are pending in many more communities, from Chicago to Houston and all points in between. Faced with crushing budget deficits, safety concerns about urban terrorist attacks that might accompany a strike against Iraq, and the prospect of their constituents fighting a costly and bloody war, growing numbers of City Councils have passed public resolutions that express mainstream American concerns about a possible war in the Middle East and its domestic repercussions.

The effort to give voice to millions of American citizens through these resolutions is being organized and facilitated by Cities for Peace, a coalition that includes the Institute for Policy Studies, the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, the National Priorities Project, chapters of the American Friends Service Committee and other grassroots organizations, student groups and faith-based organizations, which are facilitating the drafting and passing of the resolutions. Similar resolutions are being passed by student council bodies, faculty senates, major labor unions and church boards around the country. (…)


ICFTU Appeals to UN over Ivory Coast conflict

Brussels, 8 January 2003, ( ICFTU OnLine) -  In an appeal to United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) has welcomed the initiative of the French government, with the UN and the African Union, to host round table talks between the Ivory Coast government and opposition forces on 15 January.

As the death and injury toll inside the Ivory Coast continues to rise, and thousands of people are forced to flee their homes, the global trade union body is also pointing to the grave threat to the security of neighbouring countries posed by the ongoing conflict, which is also causing massive economic disruption throughout the region.  Ivory Coast is a major world producer of agricultural commodities, and workers from several nearby countries depend on employment in Ivory Coast for their livelihoods.

The ICFTU's Ivory Coast affiliate, the UGTCI, is today holding a national meeting of union representatives in the capital Abidjan, to bring further pressure on all sides to stop the fighting and fully commit themselves to the process of dialogue to resolve the conflict.

For more information, please contact the ICFTU Press Department on +32 2 224 0232 or +32 477 580 0486.

The ICFTU represents 158 million workers in 231 affiliated organisations in 150 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions:

Agreement reached to resume dialogue on people still missing since 1991 Gulf War

Geneva (ICRC), 19 December – After years of constant effort, a formal agreement was concluded on 18 December by all members of the Tripartite Commission under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). This paves the way for a resumption of the work of the Commission's Technical Sub-Committee.

The Tripartite Commission, which is chaired by the ICRC, is made up of representatives of Iraq, Kuwait and the other members of the 1991 Coalition (France, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States). It was set up soon after the 1991 Gulf War to ascertain the fate of the hundreds of civilians and military personnel unaccounted for following the hostilities. The Commission and its Technical Sub-Committee held sessions until 1998, when they were suspended.

As a direct result of this new agreement, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have decided to meet within the framework of the Technical Sub-Committee – also chaired by the ICRC – beginning in January 2003. The ICRC is hopeful that this process will yield concrete results, thus relieving the anguish of families who have waited all too long to know what has happened to their loved ones.


Sri Lankans hand over 1.1 million signatures for a landmine ban

Author/Origin: SLCBL (

Colombo, Sri Lanka, 18 December - In January 2002, as a part of its advocacy events, the Sri Lanka Campaign to Ban Landmines (Inter Religious Peace Foundation) launched a “Citizens Anti-landmines petition” aimed at obtaining 2 million signatures from citizens appealing to the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to accede to the Ottawa Treaty, and calling upon the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to stop using antipersonnel landmines. By November 2002, this initiative had collected over one million signatures and represented a cross section of the Sri Lankan society (including those in the LTTE controlled areas).

The GoSL and the LTTE consented to giving 30 minutes of their time during the “peace talks” on 4th December 2002 to enable the Sri Lanka Campaign to present the said petition (…) At the presentation of the petition, Ven. Madampagama Assaji Thero (national coordinator)  reminded the parties of the overwhelming appeal by the citizens of Sri Lanka to the GoSL to accede to the Ottawa Treaty, and to the LTTE to renounce the use of antipersonnel landmines. In the context of the LTTE renouncing the use of antipersonnel landmines, Ven. Assaji Thero drew attention to the “Deed of Commitment” under the “Geneva Call” process.

In reply, the chief negotiators of the GoSL and the LTTE, Minister Peiris and Dr. Anton Balasingham, respectively, explained that they were seriously considering the renunciation of the use of antipersonnel landmines.


Healing the Disease of Violence: Peace Education and the Season for Nonviolence

Opening for the Gandhi-King Season for Nonviolence, January 30, United Nations, New York

Under Secretary-General Olara Otunnu, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, will share his peace education initiatives. Dr. Etienne Krug, Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Injuries and Violence in Geneva will present the WHO Report, Global Health and Violence. Ambassador Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury from the Bangladesh Mission will present the General Assembly’s Culture of Peace Program.  Rev. Mary Omwake representing The Association for Global New Thought (AGNT) will present an overview of the Gandhi-King Season for Nonviolence.

The Gandhi-King Season for Nonviolence, January 30 through April 4, is an international, educational, media and grassroots campaign dedicated to demonstrating that nonviolence is a powerful way to heal, transform and empower our lives and our communities.  For additional information on the Season, please go to:

This program is organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information, The Office of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, The NY Task Force for the Gandhi-King Season for Nonviolence, The Interfaith Center of New York, The Temple of Understanding, Pathways To Peace, Association for Global New Thought and the M.K.Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence.

For additional information please contact Monica Willard, NY Season for Nonviolence Task Force, Interfaith Center of NY, 212-685-4242 or 631-754-1008,






Congolese military and police launch new war - against AIDS

Kinshasa, DRC, 20 December - Even as it prepares to implement a peace accord signed earlier this week to end Africa's widest war, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is mobilizing its troops to combat an enemy potentially deadlier than the rebels it has been fighting for the past four years. In an historic gathering earlier this month, representatives of the highest levels of government - including the ministers of interior, defense and health - sat side by side as they exhorted police and military leaders to take decisive action to protect their troops, their families, and the nation from the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS.

More than 100 senior military and police officers participated in a strategy session on 3 December to define steps to fight AIDS within their ranks and in communities across the DRC. The meeting was organized by the Ministry of Health, in partnership with UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and the International Centre for Migration and Health. Dressed in khaki and blue, the battle-hardened officers of the Congolese Armed Forces and the Congolese National Police nodded in sad acknowledgment as the ministers described how the epidemic was ravaging the DRC and neighboring countries.

The unprecedented participation of three ministers and dozens of top military and police leaders in a technical health meeting is indicative of the priority now being given to the fight against HIV/AIDS by the administration of President Joseph Kabila. (…)


New $2.5 million grant from the Netherlands helps make pregnancy and childbirth safer for women

United Nations, New York, 20 December – In an end-of-year show of support to women’s rights and reproductive health services, the Dutch government announced this week an additional $2.5 million contribution to UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. The new pledge follows a $2 million grant that the Netherlands allocated last July in addition to its regular 2002 pledge. This brings the total Dutch contribution to almost $55 million and makes the Netherlands UNFPA’s top donor for this year. (…)

The latest grant from the Netherlands is particularly vital in light of the loss of the 2002 United States contribution to UNFPA. The U.S. Administration announced last July that it would withhold $34 million - that had previously been appropriated by Congress to UNFPA - based on false claims that UNFPA supports coercive abortion in China. The decision was taken despite recommendations by a State Department fact-finding team to release the funds.

Many of the 130 donor countries supporting UNFPA have also stepped forward with additional funding, outside their regular 2002 pledges. These extra contributions included nearly $1.6 million from Belgium, $2.5 million from Canada, $700,000 from Denmark, $2 million from Finland, $400,000 from Germany, $200,000 from New Zealand, $2.2 million from Sweden and $4.7 million from the United Kingdom. The total amount of extra funds from donor countries to UNFPA was $18.7 million.

The loss of the U.S. funds has also prompted two American women, Lois Abraham of New Mexico and Jane Roberts of California, to launch their own grass-roots movement to compensate for the downfall. Their goal is to reach out to 34 million friends who would lend their direct financial support to UNFPA. Information about the “34 Million Friends” campaign has been sent out through e-mails to colleges, list-serves, club memberships and others. As a result, UNFPA has so far received over $150,000 from men and women who care about family planning and reproductive health services. (…)


Global Fund to provide US$66.9 million for anti-AIDS action in Haiti

19 December - Haiti, beset with the worst HIV/AIDS epidemic in the western hemisphere, is to receive US$66.9 million over the next five years to strengthen prevention and treatment from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  The grant is the first made by the fund in Latin America and the Caribbean. The fund, based in Geneva, Switzerland, was established last year to mobilize public and private resources against three of the world's largest killers, supporting efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The initiative will provide anti-retroviral therapy to more than 1,200 people living with HIV next year through a pioneering approach that enlists community members to help ensure the treatment regime is followed. It will also mount a large-scale awareness and prevention campaign to reach more than 400,000 youth, together with distribution of 15 million condoms.

Last year, 30,000 Haitians died from the disease, and an estimated 250,000 people, half of them women, are living with HIV -- about six per cent of those from age 15 to 49.

UNDP and the Fondation Sogebank, a private Haitian organization, will manage the programme, which includes 17 projects to be carried out by community groups and other partners. So far, the fund has allocated $24.7 million for the initiative's first two years. (…)



Energy and safety



A new global classification and labelling system for chemicals (GHS)

Geneva, 17 December - A new global system, that is able to protect people from the mismanagement of chemicals, classify them according to their hazard and create a labelling system based on pictograms universally understandable, has been adopted last week in Geneva. This system is now available for worldwide implementation.

Through the different steps from their production to their handling, transport and use, chemicals are a real danger for human health and the environment. (…) To face this danger, Governments decided to harmonize existing communication systems on chemicals in order to develop a single, globally harmonized system to address classification of chemicals, labels, and safety data sheets.

The Globally Harmonized System for the Labelling and Classification of Chemicals was adopted last week by the UN Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (CETDG/GHS), an ECOSOC subsidiary body serviced by the UNECE secretariat, in Geneva after a decade of efforts and cooperation amongst a broad number of countries and organizations, notably the Committee, ILO and OECD under the umbrella of the Inter-Organization Programme for the Management of Chemicals (IOMC). (…)



Environment and wildlife



Teamwork needed to decipher environmental science

By J.R. Pegg

Arlington, Virginia, USA, January 8 (ENS) - A new internal report calls on the National Science Foundation to embrace a more interdisciplinary approach to its work in order to provide the public and policymakers with the information and tools to address critical environmental challenges.

Advances in science have expanded the horizons of what can be studied, the report's authors wrote, and have created the demand for collaborative teams of engineers and natural and social scientists to move beyond current disciplinary research and educational frameworks.

The report, "Complex Environmental Systems: Synthesis for Earth, Life, and Society in the 21st Century," provides recommendations for the National Science Foundation's next decade of environmental research and education programs. It was prepared over the past two years by the foundation's Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education and presented to National Science Foundation (NSF) directors today at the foundation's headquarters in Arlington.

"Environmental researchers and educators in the next decade have to be synthesizers," said NSF Director Rita Colwell. "This is not just another report." (…)


Free battery recycling offered to public agencies

Atlanta, Georgia, USA, January 7 (ENS) - Rechargeable battery recycling will be made available to public agencies free of charge under a new program from the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC).

The RBRC, a non-profit public service organization dedicated to recycling rechargeable batteries, announced Monday that any public agency that wishes to participate in its Charge Up to Recycle!® battery recycling program may do so free of charge beginning this month.

In 2001, RBRC omitted fees associated with its community recycling program. Starting this month, the program will be available at no charge to public agencies as well. This includes federal, state and local governmental agencies, public hospitals, police and fire departments, and military institutions.

Since RBRC lifted its participation fees for communities, they have seen an increase in program participation of 21 percent.



Religion and spirituality



2004 Parliament of the World's Religions

The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions is excited to announce the selection of Barcelona, Spain as the site for the 2004 Parliament of the World's Religions. (…) Attendees of the Parliament will learn of the extraordinary reconciliation process headed by governmental, educational, cultural, and religious organizations to heal the historic wounds remaining from Spain's treatment of Jews, Muslims and the indigenous peoples of the Americas. The 2004 Parliament will be the first "official" multi-lingual Parliament of the World's Religions. (…)

The 2004 Parliament, to be held in July 2004, will be the signature event of a 141-day Forum of Cultures, co-sponsored by the Universal Forum of Cultures Barcelona 2004, with the support of UNESCO. The Universal Forum of Cultures, the first ever of its kind, will take place in the northern seafront of Barcelona, in a 100 acre public park overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The Forum, grounded in a commitment to constructive dialogue between cultures, will focus on three core themes essential to human progress and development: the conditions for peace, sustainable development, and ways to protect and promote respect for cultural diversity. (…)

To learn more about the Universal Forum of Cultures, visit their site at 

The mission of the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions is to cultivate harmony between the world's religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its other guiding institutions in order to achieve a peaceful, just, and sustainable world.



Culture and education



World premier of new music will highlight concert, 'gift to Dayton' from University of Dayton and Wright State University

Dayton, Ohio, USA, Jan. 3 -- More than 400 musicians from the University of Dayton and Wright State University will take one stage Feb. 1 to make and mark history with a musical gift to the city of Dayton -- a free concert featuring the world premier of a new composition commissioned in honor of the 100th anniversary of flight.

In Sunshine and In Shadow, created by award-winning composer Robert Jager around the text of three poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar, will serve as grand finale to the concert, which marks the first collaboration ever between the WSU and UD music departments. (…)

The concert will also include a guest appearance by Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Neal Gittleman and several numbers performed by student ensembles and faculty artists serving as soloists, section leaders and conductors. Approximately 200 students from UD will perform with the University's chorale, orchestra, choral union, symphonic wind ensemble and Ebony Heritage Singers gospel choir. Some 225 students will perform from Wright State's chorus, orchestra, wind symphony, chamber singers and Paul Laurence Dunbar Chorale. (…)



US National Council for Science and Environment promotes collaboration with minority serving institutions

December 31 - How can the United States tap the full range of its scientific potential when addressing conservation issues?  This question motivates much of the National Council for Science and the Environment’s work with the country’s approximately 330 Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), and was the underlying theme of a recent three-day workshop held at Tuskegee University.

The Tuskegee workshop was organized by NCSE specifically to develop strategies that will increase the role of MSIs in meeting the science and technology goals of the Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). (…)

Minority Serving Institutions play unique and critical roles in educating the next generation of scientists and engineers. The schools with the top three enrollments of African American graduate students in science and engineering are Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Southern University A&M, Texas Southern University and Howard University.

Similarly, the top four schools, and eight of the top ten schools, for enrolled Hispanic graduate students in science and engineering are Hispanic-Serving Institutions led by the University of Puerto Rico and including Florida International University, California State University at Los Angeles, University of New Mexico and University of Texas at El Paso. (…)


Aga Khan underlines Kazakhstan’ vital role in Central Asia-- applies State Peace Award to fund unique scholarship

Astana, Kazakhstan, 18 December – (…) The Aga Khan, who was on a short visit to Astana, received from President Nursultan Nazarbayev the State Award for Peace and Progress. The Award citation commended the Aga Khan for his “distinguished contribution to strengthening peace and friendship with mutual confidence amongst peoples and for vigorous activity aimed at the solution of humanitarian problems.” (…)

In Spring 2003, the world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble will perform and conduct master classes in Kazakhstan as part of a Central Asian tour sponsored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. (…) The Music Initiative will help record, preserve, and strengthen educational activity around traditions related to the music of the peoples of Central Asia. (…)

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private development agencies working to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in Central and South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The Network’s agencies work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of their gender, origin or religion and its underlying impulse is the ethic of compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for philanthropic activity is in excess of US$200 million. (…)


Fifth ‘Horizon: Pave Peace’ on line anthology is now available on the web

Horizon Pave Peace is an electronic magazine founded and edited by Prof. Ada Aharoni.  It is dedicated to promote Cultural Bridges among people and nations, and conflict resolution through culture and literature. Since its foundation in 1996, interest in peace culture has grown and Horizon has constantly from its outset been a guiding vehicle to peace researchers, educators and media. It provides conflict resolution conceptions, alternative models of development, and the deconstructing of enemy images, as well as international peace poetry and stories, and reports on peace conferences and projects. It allows peace researchers, media and teachers, as well as the public at large, to share their insights and experience into how to spread alternatives to violence in a complex world of strife and national conflicts. It also draws attention to the urgent need of a new objective trend in the media, that reports on positive cultural developments instead of a media that mainly focuses on sensational reporting of crime, violence and disasters that inflate the negative aspects of society, and is a deformation of reality and normalcy. 


“The Future of Peace”, a mind-expanding and soul-stirring book

The Future of Peace: On the Front Lines With the World's Great Peacemakers by author and Buddhist teacher Scott A. Hunt, is a major contribution to the promotion of peace. This book is filled with harrowing journeys, valuable lessons, and enlightening conversations with the Dalai Lama, Jane Goodall, Hanan Ashrawi, Aung San Suu Kyi, Oscar Arias, Maha Ghosananda, Thich Quang Do, John Hume, Betty Williams, Mairead Maguire, Uri Avnery, and Shulamit Aloni.  

"From some of the most horrendous chapters in human history," writes Scott A. Hunt, "these great leaders have emerged to show us a different path, proving not only that cessation of war is possible, but that the removal of hatred and violence from our hearts is possible as well ... they show us that the promise of peace remains intact. It is to these people that we can turn in order to replenish our encouragement, hope, and inspiration."

The Author is  an active member of many human rights, social justice, and environmental protection groups, including: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, American Refugee Committee International, The International Rescue Committee, The US Association for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, The Nature Conservancy, The World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace USA, The Jane Goodall Institute, Cultural Survival, and the American Himalayan Foundation.


Rotary’s Open World Program

The Open World Program, operated by the Center for Russian Leadership Development at the U.S. Library of Congress, is a special program available to Rotary clubs in the United States. Designed to give young Russian political leaders a firsthand look at the U.S. political system and business and community life, the program also aims to promote understanding and forge bonds of friendship between the two nations. Each participating Rotary club hosts five Russian participants (four delegates and one facilitator) and develops a program of study that allows the participants to learn more about specific aspects of American life. Each program is based on one of the eight civic themes.

During intensive short-term visits, participants learn about the responsibilities of and the interrelationships between the three branches of the U.S. government at the federal, state, and local levels. The program also demonstrates how the private and nonprofit sectors help to meet social and civic needs. To achieve these objectives, participants engage in hands-on experiences, direct observation, and substantive dialog with their U.S. professional counterparts.

Download the Open World Brochure for a more comprehensive overview of the program’s goals and objectives. For more information:



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Grading Government Performance

Children and students are graded for their performance and behavior. Why should not governments be graded too for their performance? A yearly performance report should be produced by the UN or by an  outside organization similar to Amnesty International.

A Performance International can show for example:

·                     the number of years a country has lived in peace with others,

·                     violence statistics,

·                     ratification of international treaties,

·                     implementation of UN recommendations on a host of subjects (human rights, labor relations, the environment, etc.),

·                     disarmament, shifting of military expenditures to peaceful, productive and social services,

·                     demilitarization, etc.

Such a report would lead to a lot of good in the world.

Robert Muller, '5000 Ideas & Dreams For A Better World' - Idea 53, September 1994



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Next issue: 24 January 2003


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