Good News Agency – Year IV, n° 8



Weekly - Year IV, number 8 – 9 May 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



Progress of the world's women: most positive change seen in women's political participation

No systematic differences between developed and developing world in women's share of seats in parliament - US, France and Japan lag behind 13 sub-Saharan countries

United Nations, New York, 1 May - A new report, launched today by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), revealed that although women have progressed relatively slowly in the last two years in the areas of education, literacy and employment, there have been encouraging signs of improvement in women's legislative representation. The increase in women's share of seats in parliament was attributed mainly to political measures in several countries, where quotas were legislated or adopted on a voluntary basis.

UNIFEM's report, Progress of the World's Women 2002: Volume 2: Gender Equality and the Millennium Development Goals, is the second edition of a biennial publication first produced in 2000 to track and measure the world's commitment to gender equality. (...) The goal of increasing women's political participation is a long-standing one. The target of 30 per cent representation in key decision-making positions has been agreed on at numerous international conferences in the last decade. Although there were definite signs of progress in all regions between 2000 and 2002 towards meeting the target, Progress 2002 indicates that women are still on the whole largely absent from parliaments. They account for about 14 per cent of members in 2002 overall. Only 11 countries had reached the 30 per cent benchmark in 2002 - Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Norway, Iceland, the Netherlands, South Africa, Costa Rica, Argentina and Mozambique. All of these countries have used quotas. (...)


UN, ASEAN forge partnership against drugs and crime

Vienna, 24 April (UN Information Service) -- Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and Mr. Ong Keng Yong, Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the interrelated issues of drugs and crime. The two organisations have agreed to work together in Southeast Asia, providing the 10 ASEAN member countries assistance in their fight against drugs and transnational crime.

This agreement will enhance the cooperation that already exists in drug control between ASEAN and UNODC, in support of the ASEAN and China Cooperative Actions in Response To Dangerous Drugs (ACCORD) Plan of Action.

This framework will deepen the partnership by developing a more comprehensive approach, including exchange of expertise on the interrelated issues of drug control and crime prevention. The Memorandum will facilitate the exchange of information relating to specific projects, programmes or activities, with a view to achieving better complementary action. UNODC and ASEAN also agreed to identify and develop joint technical co-operation projects and programmes. In addition, they will closely consult in the planning and execution of their respective technical cooperation activities in the region.



Human rights



Commission on Human Security presents report to UN Secretary-General

New York - On 1 May, Mrs. Sadako Ogata, former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Prof. Amartya Sen, Nobel laureate in economic science, presented the report of the independent Commission on Human Security to the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. 

The report proposes a new security framework that centers directly and specifically on people.  Human security focuses on shielding people from critical and pervasive threats and empowering them to take charge of their lives.  It demands creating genuine opportunities for people to live in safety and dignity and earn their livelihood. (...)

The Commission concentrates on a number of distinct but interrelated issues concerning conflict and poverty: protecting people in conflict and post-conflict situations, shielding people forced to move; overcoming economic insecurities, guaranteeing essential health care, and ensuring universal education.  In its report, the Commission formulates recommendations and follow-up activities. 

The idea of an independent Commission of Human Security grew out of the UN Millennium Summit which focused on securing “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want”. The Commission is an initiative of the Government of Japan and was launched in January 2001. 

The Commission’s report, Human Security Now:  Protecting and Empowering People, can be accessed at


Iraqi POWs repatriated from Iran

Geneva, 5 May  – Fifteen years after the end of the Iran/Iraq war, 59 Iraqi prisoners of war were repatriated on 5 May under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The prisoners' return resulted from negotiations between the Iranian authorities and the ICRC. A team of five delegates, including a doctor and a nurse, accompanied the returnees aboard an ICRC aircraft on the flight from Tehran to Baghdad. In accordance with the organization's standard procedures, the delegates had registered the prisoners beforehand and held a private interview with each one to ensure that he was returning of his own free will. Arrangements were made by the ICRC in Baghdad to reunite the returnees with their families in Iraq.

Since the Iran/Iraq war began in 1980, the ICRC has supervised the repatriation of almost 97,000 prisoners of war on both sides.



Economy and development



Brazilian city steps up fight against urban poverty

May 2 - Recife, an important city in the history of UN-HABITAT, is taking major new strides to fight urban poverty. The city plans to invest US$ 4.5 billion areas the next 15 years within the framework of its recently elaborated City Development Strategy (CDS).

The Metropolitan Council approved the plan in December 2002, which includes contributions from the twin municipalities of Recife and Olinda, the State of Pernambuco, the Federal Government and investment from the private sector.

During the first phase (2003-2007), a pilot-upgrading project, PROMETROPOLE, will be implemented in low-income areas, the “favelas”. A total of 35,000 households (154,000 people) will benefit from infrastructure improvement financed by the state of Pernambuco (US$21 million), the two municipalities (US$17 million) and the World Bank (loan of US$46 million). As urban poverty - less US$35 per person per month - affects 40 per cent of the population of the Recife-Olinda agglomeration, representing 800,000 people out of 2 million, this first project will only address the basic needs of 20 per cent of the urban poor. But it is a welcome first step, which hopefully, will be followed-up and scaled up. (...)


CMEx IV attracts wide media participation

Washington, DC, May 1 - Senior writers and editors from Associated Press, BBC World Service, National Geographic Traveler Magazine, Washington Post and United Nations Radio will exchange notes with their Caribbean counterparts when the fourth Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) comes off at Half Moon Golf, Tennis and Beach Club, May 15-19, 2003 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

The CMEx Secretariat, headquartered at Counterpart International in Washington DC, announced that several members of the international press corps will team with regional journalists, from Cayman to Curacao, at the biannual media meeting which encourages the lively exchange of ideas between movers and shakers in the world of tourism communications.

Cutting edge developments growing from the interaction between media, business, governments and the hospitality industry are expected to emerge from CMEx IV which will examine the theme "Maximising the Economic Impact of Tourism". (...)


World Bank loan to fight poverty in rural Algeria with job creation

Washington, April 29, 2003 — The World Bank today approved a US$95 million loan to the Government of Algeria to generate employment in low-income, rural mountainous areas of northwest and north-central Algeria. The Second Rural Employment Project seeks to raise the standard of living for Algeria’s rural poor and follows the first Rural Employment Project in north-west Algeria, which succeeded in engaging the local community, increasing employment and farmers’ income, as well as reducing soil erosion.

Poverty and unemployment are disproportionately high in rural Algeria. A study on growth, employment and poverty reduction based on 1995 data revealed that 70 percent of the poor in Algeria live in rural areas (19 percent of the rural population, equivalent to a total of 2.7 million people), and that there is a close relationship between poverty and unemployment. Rural communities are also affected by underemployment due to the seasonal nature of agricultural activities and conditions have worsened as a result of the persistent drought in the country over the last decade.

In response to these challenges, the Government of Algeria developed a National Agricultural and Rural Development Plan in 2000 to promote food security, identify and exploit resources with potential growth impact, and protect the environment. (...)


EU/UN sign Financial and Adnministrative Framework Agreement

New York, 29 April - EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Poul Nielson and UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette signed today in New York an updated Financial and Administrative Framework Agreement. This Agreement will pave the way for a closer strategic partnership between the EC and the UN in the fields of development and humanitarian aid: (...)


EU’s CARDS on the increase

29 April - In 2003, within the Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS) Programme, the EC will spend € 229 million in Serbia, € 13.5 million in Montenegro:, € 53 million in Kosovo: and € 38.5 million in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Since 1991, the EU has been the largest assistance donor to the Western Balkans.


UN-HABITAT gears up for its Governing Council

April 28 - The Nineteenth Session of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT will be held at the agency’s Nairobi headquarters from 5 to 9 May 2003. All 187 member states of the United Nations have been invited, along with local authorities, Parliamentarians, non-governmental organizations as well as private sector representatives from around the world, and various UN and intergovernmental organizations. Held every two years, the Governing Council is the forum at which the agency’s work and relationships with its partners are reviewed and guidelines established for the next two-year period. (...)

Charged in the UN system with coordinating and harmonising human settlements issues, UN-HABITAT’s mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.  (...)


At least one third of Iraq's spring crop unscathed

First FAO preliminary assessment

28 April, Rome -- At least one-third of Iraq's critical spring grain crop appears to have emerged unscathed from the conflict, according to preliminary surveys conducted by FAO.

In a statement issued today, FAO warned however, that the fate of the bulk of the winter crop of cereals, some 1.2 million tonnes of sorely needed wheat and barley, remains in doubt. The UN agency based its preliminary assessment on reports received from national staff in Iraq.

In Iraq's three northern governorates (Erbil, Dohuk, Sulaimaniyah) most farmers were not displaced from their fields during the conflict, which means they are well placed to begin harvesting their grain crops in a few weeks. The northern governorates are expected to produce between 30 and 35 percent of this year's total estimated crop of 1.7 million tonnes of grain.

If the harvest in the north proceeds on schedule, it will help alleviate food shortages by producing more than 500 000 tonnes of wheat and barley, enough to fill at least 20 000 truckloads that would otherwise have to be imported. (...)






Aid for Refugees and Communities in Sierra Leone and Liberia

Baltimore, MD, USA, May 1- (...) Lutheran World Relief is assisting the people of Sierra Leone through post-war reconstruction projects and is responding to the needs of new Liberian refugees through Action by Churches Together (ACT), the emergency alliance that includes LWR. In April, LWR shipped material resources valued at $1,254,253 to ACT partners Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sierra Leone and Lutheran World Federation. Included in these shipments were clothing, blankets, quilts, layettes, health kits, sewing kits, school kits and soap. LWR is also supporting displaced people within Liberia with much-needed food relief and medical care through Lutheran World Federation and Phebe Hospital, located in Monrovia.


UNICEF Iran sends 40 tons of high protein biscuits and medical supplies for Iraqi children to Baghdad today

Tehran, 30 April – Two trucks carrying high protein biscuits and medical supplies provided by UNICEF Iran crossed the Khosravi border point in western Iran today en route for Baghdad.

UNICEF staff in the Iraqi capital will distribute the biscuits and health supplies to medical centers and hospitals in Baghdad. This is UNICEF Iran’s first medical convoy to Iraq, following two tanker convoys which took supplies of drinking water to Al-Fao peninsula in southern Iraq earlier this month.

Today’s convoy – the first movement of UN relief supplies through the Khosravi crossing point -- is expected to pave the way for other similar ventures, according to Kari Egge, UNICEF Representative in Teheran.  (...)


Afghanistan: Micro-credit programme for the disabled

29 April - Life is hard for the disabled in Afghanistan, where those considered to be unproductive members of society are usually shunted aside.

In addition to manufacturing artificial limbs for the disabled and providing them with physiotherapy, the six limb-fitting centres the ICRC runs in the country therefore make every effort to ensure their social reintegration and to give them the means to recover their dignity. The ICRC's main tools in this area are education, vocational training and a micro-credit programme to start up or improve businesses.

Under this programme, small loans are given out free of interest. It is up to the disabled to choose and plan their activities. A committee of experts (all disabled persons themselves) assesses the candidate's capacities and the feasibility of his or her plan. It also monitors the business closely once it is operating. About 1,700 businesses had been started up by the end of 2002. (...)


CARE relief supplies, emergency team arrive in Baghdad

Organization aiding refugees in no man's land

Atlanta, GA, USA, April 28 - The international humanitarian organization CARE reports that its first shipment of humanitarian supplies, including food and hygiene kits, crossed the Jordan-Iraq border and arrived safely in Baghdad over the weekend. Meanwhile, a team of emergency response experts arrived in the Iraqi capital today to support CARE's Baghdad staff and ongoing relief efforts. (...)

Destined for children's hospitals and people in need throughout Iraq, the CARE convoy of 13 trucks carried the following donated cargo: oxygen regulators, milk powder, lactose-free milk, processed cheese, sugar, green peas, disinfectant, soap and hygiene kits. The hygiene kits contain soap, detergent, toothpaste, toothbrushes, towels, nailclippers, shampoo, sanitary towels and bandages, all packed in a plastic bucket. (...)


Stop Hunger Now delivers 2 million meals to Malawi

28 April - Malawi is suffering from the present Southern African food crisis, where at least a million of its people are on the brink of starvation. Due to recent floods and delayed precipitation, Malawi faces one of its worst harvest seasons ever. Stop Hunger Now is providing food aid to help feed hungry Malawians.

Through a generous donation by partner agency, Amigos Internacionales, a non-profit organization based in Longview, Texas, Stop Hunger Now provided two 40' foot containers of dehydrated soup blend to help the malnourished, ill and drought stricken needy of Malawi. The total quantity of this donation is the equivalent of approximately 2, 200,000 meals.

Stop Hunger Now, a non-profit 501(c) (3) international relief organization headquartered in Raleigh, NC, USA, has provided over $18 million dollars of cash and in-kind donations to help those in need in 45 countries around the world. (...)



Peace and security



EU financial support to Jordan and Egypt

Brussels, May 5 - The European Commission announced today that it intends to make available an accelerated package of €210M financial assistance in support of Jordan and Egypt to offset the economic impact of the war in Iraq. This emergency assistance will be drawn from existing commitments and is scheduled for quick disbursement to help the two countries most affected by the war to stabilise their economic situation. (...) €175 M of the total amount will be disbursed as budgetary assistance to Egypt while the remaining €35M will help to restore the stability of the Jordanian balance of payments.

This important package of financial assistance is designed for quick disbursement. The funds will be made available by reallocating money within the Commission’s current financial assistance programmes for Egypt and Jordan. Whilst it is too early to assess the full economic impact of the conflict, Egypt and Jordan are the two neighbouring countries of Iraq whose economies are likely to be most affected by the war. (...)

This package of accelerated financial assistance, in response to the conflict in Iraq, will come in addition to the €100M of humanitarian aid already made available by the European Commission, thus bringing the total amount of funds made available to €310 M.


EU reinforces co-operation with Mediterranean area

Brussels, May 5 - The European Commission has approved a number of actions to reinforce the EU’s regional co-operation with its Mediterranean neighbours in 2003. With a total budget of € 57 million, funded under the MED Regional Programme, the approved activities will encourage co-operation and dialogue between the 27 Euro-Mediterranean Partners in areas such as the Middle East Peace Process, training of public officials, water information systems, the South-South free trade area (Agadir Process), investment facilities and cultural heritage.

The Middle East Peace Projects (MEPP) 2003 (€ 10 million) will be a direct follow-up of the previous MEPP frameworks. They are to provide funding for the strengthening of civil societies in the Middle East, for enhancing peace initiatives on both the Israeli and Palestinian/Arab side, and to promote and explore ideas for a peaceful solution to the conflict (...)

Euromed Heritage III (€ 10 million) is designed to promote heritage common to both shores of the Mediterranean as a tool for policies of tolerance, peace and stability. The programme will support 4 projects selected under the Euromed Heritage II Call for Proposals, and aimed at increasing the Mediterranean Partners’ capacity in managing and enhancing their own heritage.


United Nations International Staff return to Baghdad today

Geneva, 1 May (UN Information Service) -- Ramiro Lopes da Silva, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, led a team of senior United Nations officials across the border from Jordan into Iraq this morning and is expected to arrive in Baghdad later today, where the group will re-establish a permanent presence of United Nations international staff in the Iraqi capital for the first time since hostilities began.

Mr. Lopes da Silva was accompanied by the country representatives of the World Health Organization, Dr. Ghulam Popal; the World Food Programme, Torben Due; the United Nations Children’s Fund, Carel de Rooy; and the United Nations Development Programme, Francis Dubois. Communications, logistics, security and other key staff completed the team of 21, which crossed the border at 11:20 a.m. local time, in a convoy of eight vehicles.

The arrival of the senior delegation in Baghdad will bring to more than

60 the number of United Nations international staff working in Iraq.  Additional staff will enter the country in the north, centre and south during May, to increase the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need.

Source: UNIC, Rome


Major meltdown marks progress against illegal arms in Serbia

30 April - Almost 4,000 automatic rifles, grenade launchers, pistols and other small arms - recently transformed into 12 tons of high-grade steel in a ceremony at a fiery furnace - will no longer threaten lives in Serbia. The event highlighted the collection of over 40,000 more small arms and about two million rounds of ammunition that citizens turned in between 25 March and 24 April, according to the Ministry of Interior, in support of a Government campaign to rid the country of illicit small arms and light weapons. The campaign is part of a massive crackdown on organized crime following the murder of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in March and supports wide reforms bolstering the push towards European integration. The collected weapons account for two thirds of the 60,000 to 70,000 illegal weapons that the Government estimates remained in the hands of citizens after a decade of wars in the region. (...)

Proliferation and illicit trafficking of small arms is a serious problem throughout the region, undermining the rule of law, fuelling crime and insecurity, exacerbating tensions and negating peace-building. For these reasons UNDP and the Stability Pact for South-East Europe are supporting the campaign through the South Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC), a joint project based with the UNDP country office in Belgrade. (...)


WHO launches partnership of European, Israeli and Palestinian cities

Programme aims at promoting dialogue and improving health

30 April - Geneva -- The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Solidarity Fund of Cities against Poverty today launched a new partnership for health and human development of European, Palestinian and Israeli Cities. This innovative programme aims at promoting dialogue through enhanced collaboration in the area of health between local governments and civil society. (...)

WHO has invited representatives from seven European cities - Geneva, Barcelona, Lyon, The Hague, Brussels, Torino, and Hamar (Norway) - to launch the initiative. Today, they will decide how cities can best work together to exchange health care expertise. Representatives are meeting today in Geneva with the Deputy Director General of the Union of Local Authorities in Israel (ULAI) and the Executive Director of the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities (APLA) to develop concrete next steps that will speed up the implementation of this promising partnership. (...)


RCI: Official Sponsorshipo of International Institute For Peace Through Tourism

Parsippany, NJ, USA, April 24 - RCI, the leading global provider of value-added services to developers, owners and associations in the vacation ownership industry, today announced a new alliance with the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT), and issued a joint message of "Hope Through Travel" to consumers.

The IIPT is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering and facilitating tourism initiatives which contribute to international understanding and cooperation, an improved quality of environment, the preservation of heritage, and through these initiatives, help to bring about a peaceful and sustainable world.

The joint statement, issued by RCI President and Chief Executive Officer Ken May and IIPT Founder and President Lou D'Amore, is as follows: "In these uncertain times, we recognize that travel and tourism is a worldwide cultural phenomenon that brings together and broadens people of all nations, and is one of humanity's few truly global sources of understanding.  We believe travel is not just an opportunity for some, but a right for all. (...)”


Security of tenure for Brazilian slum residents

April 23 - The Brazilian city of São Paulo is taking active measures to give residents of its slums security of tenure. The action is backed by the United Nations task force spearheading the Cities without Slums target enshrined in the Millennium Development Goals.

An initiative by the mayor, Ms Marta Suplicy, was given the stamp of political approval by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at a ceremony in the city on 8 April which included city authorities as well as representatives of local slum communities. The ceremony coincided with a meeting of the UN task force of which UN-HABITAT is a member. It confirmed the will of the government and the São Paulo city fathers to undertake decisive actions towards improving the living conditions of slum dwellers.

The two campaigns are part of preparations for a future launch in Brazil, to coincide with the celebration of World Habitat Day on 6 October 2003 in Rio de Janeiro. UN-HABITAT officials described the São Paulo initiative as a “strong signal” of the will of the Brazilian authorities to achieve the Cities without Slums target of the Millennium Declaration’s goal of improving the lives of least 100 million slum residents around the world by the year 2020. (...)






34 million friends of UNFPA Campaign hits $1 million milestone

United Nations, New York, 1 May —The founders of the grassroots campaign “34 Million Friends of UNFPA” today announced it has raised $1 million to support the United Nations Population Fund, mostly in small donations. More than 100,000 Americans have contributed to the campaign to help replace funds withheld by the United States Administration last July. (...) UNFPA will use the campaign’s first million dollars to make pregnancy and childbirth safer for women; reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS; equip hospitals with essential supplies; support adolescents and youth; and prevent and treat obstetric fistula, a debilitating condition that results from obstructed labour.

Campaign founders, Lois Abraham, a lawyer from New Mexico, and Jane Roberts, a retired French teacher and tennis coach from California, had never met, but they shared the same indignant reaction when the United States Administration withheld $34 million that Congress had appropriated for UNFPA. Ms. Roberts sent a letter to a newspaper, asking that, “as an exercise in outraged democracy, would 34 million Americans please send $1 each? This would right a terrible wrong”. Ms. Abraham emailed 40 friends, asking them each to donate $1 to UNFPA and pass the email along to 10 more friends. Thus, the “34 Million Friends” campaign was born.

Ms. Abraham and Ms. Roberts recognize that $34 million is an ambitious goal, but agree that the campaign is “just getting started”. The women intend to reach out to people in Europe to spread the word about what they consider to be “a humanitarian issue, not a political one”.(...)


Canada contributes $66 million to UNICEF for immunization and health programs for children

Ottawa / New York, 1 May – The Canadian Government announced today that it is contributing $66 million in Canadian dollars to UNICEF in support of vital immunization and vitamin A distribution programs for children in the poorest countries.

The gift to UNICEF comes as part of a package of global health initiatives by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) totaling $143.6 million over five years.

UNICEF will receive $32.3 million from CIDA over five years to help expand routine vaccination of children against such diseases as tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria, and tetanus. The gift will also help expand UNICEF’s use of auto-disable syringes, which enhance safety of injections because they can only be used once.

UNICEF will also receive $33.6 million to extend its highly successful vitamin A supplementation campaign, which presently reaches more than 200 million children in over 70 countries. Vitamin A strengthens the immune system, helping protect children against death and illnesses of all kinds. Canada is the leader in supporting UNICEF’s vitamin A programs. (...) Over the past six years, Canada has contributed more than $73 million (Canadian) to UNICEF’s immunization and vitamin A initiatives. (...)


Financial innovation will buy polio vaccine to help eradicate polio worldwide

Washington DC, April 29 - An innovative financing program to help eradicate polio (poliomyelitis) worldwide by 2005 was launched today when the World Bank approved a US$28 million no-interest loan for the purchase of oral polio vaccine (OPV) in Nigeria, Africa’s most polio endemic country. The World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International, and the United Nations Foundation, which together comprise the Investment Partnership for Polio, said they would move swiftly over the coming months to fund the immunization of children in other polio endemic countries. A US$20 million loan for eradicating polio in Pakistan is scheduled for consideration in mid-May.

The loans will be funded through the International Development Association (IDA)-the World Bank's soft-loan arm for the poorest countries. In a new approach to development aid, the partnership will "buy down" a country's IDA loans upon successful completion of that country's polio eradication program. Because of the generous loan terms, each grant dollar unlocks US$2.50-3.00 for affected countries to fight polio. To fund the buy-downs, the partnership has established a trust fund with US$25 million from the Gates Foundation and $25 million from Rotary International/UN Foundation. This US$50 million investment will buy down US$120-140 million in World Bank IDA loans. In this way, developing countries can mobilize what ultimately becomes grant funding to eradicate polio, and thus contribute beyond their national borders to the global campaign to eliminate polio transmission worldwide. (...)


UNFPA and OPEC Fund Launch Drive to Prevent HIV/AIDS in Central America and the Caribbean

24 April - A new initiative to prevent HIV/AIDS in Central America and the Caribbean was formally launched in Havana, Cuba, in early April. The effort, implemented by UNFPA with a $3.2 million contribution from the OPEC Fund for International Development, aims to raise awareness of sexually transmitted diseases among the youth of the region, which has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the Western Hemisphere. It will also provide young people with sexual and reproductive health care that is youth-friendly, and gender and culturally sensitive.

The new initiative is a follow up to an agreement signed by UNFPA and the OPEC Fund in November 2002. Countries benefiting from the initiative include Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras and Saint Lucia. The Havana launch coincided with the Second Forum on STIs/HIV/AIDS for Latin America and the Caribbean. Kunio Waki, UNFPA Deputy Executive Director, and Edwin Gutierrez, Senior Officer of the Vienna-based OPEC Fund, spoke at the event.



Energy and safety



EU proposal for Water Fund with a budget of €1 billion

29 April - The EC proposed the establishment of a EU Water Fund, with a budget of €1 billion, to help give people in the 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific signatory countries to the Cotonou Agreement access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. This builds on the EU Water Initiative, launched during the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, which confirmed the target of halving, by 2015, the number of people across the world without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation:



Environment and wildlife



Nicaragua and Guatemala communities manage and reduce disaster risks

1 May - Nicaragua and Guatemala, battling the onslaught of hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters for decades, are partnering with UNDP to respond to such crises. The aim is to pick up where humanitarian relief leaves off, by putting in place early recovery initiatives to mitigate the worst impact, and enhance preparedness in the rebuilding process.  (...)

After tropical storm "Michelle" severely damaged homes and livelihoods throughout the Caribbean and Central America, the regional governments in Nicaragua and the International Forum of Donors with the Atlantic Coast (FICCA) asked UNDP to coordinate with other UN agencies, national authorities and donors in assessing damages and needs, and managing the emergency and transition to recovery through FICCA.

UNDP implemented a capacity building project and by March 2003, only five months later, trained 86 local authorities and community members in disaster risk management, enabling better communication between the local authorities and SINAPRED at the national level.  (...)


EW So far yet so near

Chinese experts arrive in Nigeria to work with local experts as part of SPFS

30 April, Rome/Abuja -- At first glance the villagers of the southern Chinese province of Sichuan have little in common with the inhabitants of the State of Kano, situated in the north of Nigeria. Despite the miles that separate these two communities, both share many of the same environmental and climatic challenges and their farmers face similar problems.

A first group of 23 Chinese experts has just arrived in Nigeria to share experience and expertise with their Nigerian colleagues under the South-South Cooperation initiative, within the framework of the country's National Special Programme for Food Security (NSPFS).  (...)

South-South Cooperation is about allowing countries to benefit from the experience and expertise of other more advanced developing countries.

China has already successfully implemented a number of such cooperation programmes as part of the FAO Special Programme under agreements with Ethiopia, Mauritania, Bangladesh, Mali and Ghana. The SPFS in these countries has enabled farmers who took part in the programme to considerably increase their production, incomes and overall food security.  (...)


International World Environment Day celebrations to be held in Lebanon on 5 June.

First time in the Arab world.

Nairobi/Beirut, 30 April – Lebanon, a country whose fabled cedar trees have been revered since the sea-faring days of the Phoenicians, will host this year’s World Environment Day (5 June), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today.

It will be the first time in the 30-year history of this awareness-raising event that the main celebrations have been held in the Arab world.

This year’s theme, Water - Two Billion People are Dying for It! echoes one of the most pressing environmental issues facing the planet and its six billion citizens. The theme for World Environment Day also supports the celebration of 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater.  (...)



Religion and spirituality



Buddhist - Muslim dialogue at UNESCO

Paris, 30 April – About 20 religious leaders and experts on religion from a number of countries will gather at UNESCO Headquarters from May 5 to 7 to take part in a Buddhist-Muslim Dialogue on the theme “Global Ethic and Good Governance.”

The conference, organized by two NGOs accredited to the United Nations – the Museum of World Religions and the Global Family for Love and Peace – and by the UNESCO Chair for Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue based in Jerusalem, is part of UNESCO’s Interreligious Dialogue Programme. It will look at the relationship between Islam and Buddhism worldwide and especially in South East Asia.

This Buddhist-Muslim Dialogue, the first to be held under the aegis of a UN agency, will analyse those elements that unite Muslims and Buddhists, especially in South East Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. Shared values and practices that help to prevent or resolve conflict will be highlighted. (...)



Culture and education



Europe for Education Campaign at the European Parliament - 8 May

Brussels - Working together with the European Parliament's Committee on Development and Co-operation, EI is pushing for the adoption of a Resolution to increase EU contributions to the Education For All Goals. On 8 may, the European for Education Campaign is organising a large demonstration in the plenary hall of the European Parliament in Brussels. In the presence of European decision-makers, the seats of the European Members of Parliament will for once be taken by schoolchildren from all over the continent to make sure that the European Union stands up for all those children deprived of an education. We would like you to join us and participate in the event! In addition, we hope you could visit the Education for All - European Campaign photo-and-drawing exhibition in the main hall of the Parliament.


UNESCO hosts second conference on 'Education for tolerance: the case of resurgent antisemitism'

Paris, 30 April – The second international conference on “Educating for Tolerance: the Case of Resurgent Antisemitism,” organized by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in cooperation with UNESCO will be held at UNESCO Headquarters from May 12 to 14. The opening session on May 12 (7 pm) will be attended by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, Israel’s Minister for Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

A press conference (2.30 pm, accreditation required) with Mr Matsuura and Rabbi Hier will be held before the opening ceremony. (...)

The first conference on “Educating for Tolerance: the Case of Resurgent Antisemitism,” was held in June 1992 at UNESCO Headquarters. Three conferences were subsequently organized by the Wiesenthal Centre under the auspices of UNESCO: “From Xenophobia to Tolerance: Jews and Muslims in Europe and Beyond” (Paris 1995); “Migrantophobia, Caucasophobia and Anti-Semitism (Moscow 1996) and “Kosovo in the Mirror of Auschwitz” (Vienna, 1997).


IFLAC’s latest achievement for a culture of peace

Prof. Ada Aharoni, President of IFLAC-International Forum for Literature and Culture, has seen two of her poems win the UNESCO poetry contest for Poetry Day; the poems can be viewed on in the section "Poetica Babele" under "Israel".

Also, the IFLAC Peace Culture Anthology: GALIM 10: New Horizons 2003, has just been published, and it contains excellent material for peace studies and peace education programs. It has been recommended for schools and colleges by the Ministry of Culture  in several countries.  Likewise the 3 new Peace e-Book CD's have been highly recommended: You and I Can Change the World,  Women Create a World beyond War and Violence, and a book of children: The Peace Flower.  The Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel, who is a sponsor of IFLAC rightly stated: "We are the stories we read and the stories we tell..." The Peace E-Books can be viewed at:



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Next issue: 23 May 2003

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