Good News Agency – Year V, n° 15



Weekly - Year V, number 15 – 3 December 2004

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 3,700 media in 48 countries, as well as to 2,500 NGOs and service associations.

It is a service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace” and it has been included as an international organization in the web site




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and development

SolidarityPeace and securityHealthEnergy and Safety

Environment and wildlifeCulture and education



International legislation



FAO Council adopts right to food guidelines

Seen as landmark commitment to human rights

Rome, 24 November - The Council, the executive governing body of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), yesterday evening adopted Voluntary Guidelines that would "support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security."

The adoption of the Right to Food Guidelines comes two months to the day after the FAO Committee on World Food Security endorsed them following some 20 months of often difficult, but constructive negotiations.

According to FAO, the Guidelines were conceived "to provide practical guidance" to help countries implement their obligations relating to the right to adequate food.

This should improve the chances of reaching the hunger reduction goals set by the 1996 World Food Summit and the Millennium Assembly of the United Nations. Both agreed to cut the number of hungry people in the world by half by 2015.

Unless people are moved off the roles of hungry at a much greater rate than is currently the case, it is very unlikely that the goal will be met, said FAO. (…)


ICFTU heads for historic changes at World Congress

Brussels, 23 November - Ahead of its 18th World Congress (5th - 10th December), the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) today outlined in greater detail its plans and aspirations for the 5 day event and published its draft congress resolutions which will determine how the international trade union movement will operate in years to come.

Under the banner of "globalising solidarity - building a global union movement for the future", delegates will gather at the Congress in Miyazaki, Japan, hosted by the ICFTU's Japanese affiliate RENGO, to debate and decide on issues of historic importance. The Congress will feature notable speakers including Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and Finnish President Tarja Halonen - co-chairs of the World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalisation, International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director General Juan Somavia and other dignitaries.

Over 700 delegates from the 234 ICFTU-affiliated organisations will attend the Congress. A central issue in the debate is the unification of the international labour movement to create a new international trade union organisation. As outlined in the Congress theme report
( - 414KB), presented by General Secretary Guy Ryder, a new organisation would bring together the ICFTU and the World Confederation of Labour (WCL) as well as democratic trade union centres which belong to neither of the two international organisations.

The ICFTU represents 148 million workers in 234 affiliated organisations in 152 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions:


Russia’s ratification of the Kyoto Climate Treaty “historic” says Kofi Annan

Nairobi, 18 November - In a move underlining the vital links between the environment and global peace, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Andrey Denisov today formally handed over the accession papers on ratification of the Kyoto Protocol to Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations. Mr. Annan said in a statement: “I congratulate President Putin and the Russian Federation for their leadership in making it possible for the Protocol to enter into force – as it will, 90 days from tomorrow, on 16 February 2005. This is a historic step forward in the world’s efforts to combat a truly global threat. Most important, it ends a long period of uncertainty.” (…)

The Secretary-General also said: “All countries must now do their utmost to combat climate change and to keep it from undermining our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. I therefore take this opportunity to urge those developed countries that have not ratified the Protocol to ratify it and limit their emissions. The Parties to the Climate Change Convention will have their next major meeting in Buenos Aires from 6 to 17 December. I hope they will use that occasion to seize the promising possibilities that have been opened up by this major development.”

Today’s short ceremony, attended by Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, occurred as the UN Security Council was meeting in Kenya to discuss the situation in Darfur, Sudan. It also underlined the importance of UNEP and its African headquarters to world affairs. Scientists expect that Africa, which is only responsible for just over 3 per cent of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, is likely to be hit hardest by the impacts of climate change.

In a statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia had not taken the decision to ratify lightly, acknowledging that the Kyoto Protocol will have consequences for “Russia’s social and economic development.” Nevertheless, he stated that a thorough analysis of all the ramifications have concluded that the treaty was vital for “the promotion of international cooperation.”  (…)



Human rights



Conde de Barcelona International Prize awarded to Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

At a ceremony presided by Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain on 26 November, the Conde de Barcelona Foundation awarded its International Prize to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for its humanitarian work and its commitment to the principles of neutrality and impartiality. His Majesty the King of Spain presented the prize to the President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro, and the Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jacques Forster, in Barcelona's Palau de la Música.

The prize, which rewards people and organizations whose work contributes to peace and forwards the cause of international solidarity and cooperation, includes a gift of 60,000 euros. The ICRC and the International Federation will use the prize to promote tolerance, non-discrimination and respect for international humanitarian law. (…)

The Conde de Barcelona Foundation promotes intercultural dialogue and communication.


World March of Women: Campaign on Sexual Violence against Women

Montreal, Québec, Canada, November 20 - The international Peace and Demilitarization collective of the World March of Women launches a global campaign on sexual violence against women in conflict situations and militarized zones.

The campaign will begin on November 25, 2004, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It will continue for a year.  In the first stage, from November 25, 2004 to May 24, 2005, groups that work with women victims of sexual violence will inventory incidents of sexual violence against women in armed conflict and militarized zones. They will assess the actions undertaken by the government to provide justice to these women and prevent the phenomenon from recurring; they will also carry out lobbying and public education campaigns based on these cases.

The information gathered will be made public on May 24, 2005 (International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament). This information will be used in a publication to be distributed to the participating groups of the March as a tool for national lobbying efforts. The data will also be used in the framework of specific events like International Peace Day, September 21.

The World March of Women is an international feminist action network connecting grass-roots groups working to eliminate poverty and violence against women. The March is composed of 5500 participating groups in 163 countries and territories.


UNICEF congratulates media code of conduct on reporting on children's issues

Antananarivo,  Madagascar, 20 November - On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of  the signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, professionals from  TV, radio and the print media in Madagascar gathered together, after two  days  of  intense  discussions, to sign a code of professional conduct related to reporting on child rights issues. (…)

The  three  day  seminar,  held  just outside of Antananarivo, the nation's capital,  was  organized  by  UNICEF  with  the support and facilitation of Mediawise,  a  noted international training agency for journalists based in the  United  Kingdom.  In  addition to discussing questions of ethics, the seminar  also  introduced  participants  to techniques and tools for better reporting.

"You have incredible power and with that power comes great responsibility," said  Barbara  Bentein,  the  agency's  Representative, while addressing the journalists  in  her  closing  remarks.  "Thank  you  for  your  efforts in constructing a code that is without precedent in Madagascar. I hope, in its light,  you  will  continue  to  keep  us  all  on our toes in terms of our collective  responsibility  to  the Convention on the Rights of the Child," she added.

In  addition  to the development of the code, one of the main highlights of the  three day seminar was a session introduced by eight young people, aged 10-14, who have started their own newspapers in four different provinces of the  country.  Not  only  have these children succeeded in writing articles about  issues  that  concern  them, but they have also, with the support of UNICEF, conducted a mini-monitoring exercise on the portrayal of children's issues in the print media. (…) UNICEF  intends  to  follow  up  this  seminar with provincial trainings to broaden the discussion on the way reporting on child rights is conducted.



Economy and development



FAO announces major review to boost support for MDGs

Director-General pledges full involvement in UN reform

Rome, 26 November - The UN Food and Agriculture Organization is to carry out a major review of its activities to ensure that the Organization gives maximum support to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Director-General Jacques Diouf told the opening session of the FAO Governing Council meeting in Rome this week that the Organization had to face the same challenges as the United Nations itself with regard to the MDGs. (…)  Diouf recalled that FAO's member countries set a goal of reducing the incidence of chronic hunger in the world by half by 2015 at the 1996 World Food Summit, and this aim was later enshrined in the first MDG.

Elaborating on his remarks, the Director-General said the changes to be made were aimed at ensuring FAO's full involvement in the reforms taking place across the UN system, as well as within multilateral development banks and bilateral organizations. They would help to make FAO stronger, more effective, and more efficient within a relevant UN system through a greater harmonisation and integration of activities and resources at headquarters and in the field.


Germany applies for ECLAC membership

The European country cooperates actively with this regional United Nations commission.

25 November 2004 - Today, the Federal Republic of Germany formally requested it be admitted as a Member State of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), a United Nations regional commission whose headquarters is in Santiago, Chile. (…)

Six other European countries already belong to this regional commission: France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.

ECLAC is one of the United Nations' five regional commissions. It was founded in 1948 to contribute to Latin America's economic development, coordinate actions to promote and reinforce economic relations among countries and with other countries around the world. Its work later expanded to include the Caribbean countries and another objective, that of promoting social development, was added. (…)


FAO and US Peace Corps sign agreement to strengthen collaboration

Sharing skills and knowledge to improve food security and living conditions of rural people

Rome, 25 November - The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United States Peace Corps signed an agreement to enhance their collaboration and optimize efforts to help improve the conditions of rural populations around the world.

Specific areas of cooperation include food production, distribution and access, and support to the FAO Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) activities in low-income food-deficit countries. The organizations will also team up on projects related to small-scale irrigation; school gardens; natural resource, animal and plant protection; women in rural development; and planning and management in the agricultural sector.  (…)


First Northeastern Social Forum, Recife, Brazil    24-27 November

For the last four days (24 to 27 November), civil society has taken to the streets of Recife. The first Northeastern Social Forum is a truly innovative event in the most underdeveloped and conservative region of Brazil.

More than 8,000 people, including peace campaigners, feminists, gay rights activists, environmentalists and representatives of charities and nongovernmental organizations have gathered to discuss, debate and share their experiences of resistance to neoliberal globalization.

A key feature of the Forum is the organizers' determination to include representatives of the most excluded sectors of the most excluded region of Brazil. Descendents of fugitive slaves have travelled by bus for four days through this vast region, where feudal violence against landless people is commonplace. Thousands have marched through the streets of Recife to denounce violence against women in a region where the culture of 'machismo' remains strong.

A key objective of the Forum is to raise the visibility of the 'social question of the Northeast'. Their slogan is "Another Northeast is Possible',  but their debates are consciously linked to the wider national and global picture. Another World is Possible!

For more information and pictures:


North Korea has bigger harvest, but millions still need food aid

Pyongyang/Rome, 23 November - Despite its best harvest in ten years, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will post another substantial food deficit in 2005 and require external aid to support more than a quarter of its 23.7 million people, two United Nations agencies said today. A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) projected domestic cereals availability in the 2004/05 marketing year (November-October) at 4.24 million tonnes, including milled rice and potatoes - a 2.4 per cent increase on 2003/04. However, it warns that insufficient production, a deficient diet, lower incomes and rising prices mean that 6.4 million vulnerable North Koreans - most of them children, women and the elderly - will need food assistance totalling 500,000 tonnes next year. (…) WFP has provided the DPRK with almost four million tonnes of food assistance, valued at $1.3 billion, since 1995. 


UN Launches International Year of Microcredit 2005 - Microentrepreneurs ring in the year by opening stock exchanges around the world

18 November  - The United Nations launches the International Year of Microcredit today in an effort to build support for making financial services more accessible to poor and low-income people. It will aim to raise public awareness about microcredit and microfinance, and promote innovative partnerships among governments, donors, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, academia and microfinance clients.

The Year’s overarching goal is to provide greater access to credit, savings, insurance, transfer remittances and other financial services for poor and low-income households in order to move towards more secure livelihoods and prosperous futures. (…)

Message by Kofi Annan, Secretary-General, United Nations, on the launch of the International Year of Microcredit 2005

“Microfinance has proved its value, in many countries, as a weapon against poverty and hunger. It really can change peoples' lives for the better -- especially the lives of those who need it most.

“A small loan, a savings account, an affordable way to send a pay-cheque home, can make all the difference to a poor or low-income family. With access to microfinance, they can earn more, build up assets, and better protect themselves against unexpected set-backs and losses. They can move beyond day-to-day survival towards planning for the future. They can invest in better nutrition, housing, health, and education for their children. In short, they can break the vicious circle of poverty. If we are to reach the Millennium Development Goals, that is exactly the kind of progress we need to make.

“Let us be clear: microfinance is not charity. It is a way to extend the same rights and services to low-income households that are available to everyone else. It is recognition that poor people are the solution, not the problem. It is a way to build on their ideas, energy, and vision. It is a way to grow productive enterprises, and so allow communities to prosper.

“Where businesses cannot develop, countries cannot flourish. Let us use this International Year of Microcredit to put millions of families on the path to prosperity.”


FAO introduces online learning centre for rural finance

Launch of UN International Year of Microcredit 2005

Rome, 18 November - People working in the field of rural finance now have access to online information and training materials, which will help them provide better financial services, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today at the launch of the Rural Finance Learning Centre (RFLC), an internet portal that provides access to a large variety of resources and online training materials covering a wide range of subjects related to rural finance. It has been created for use by field practitioners, trainers, policy-makers, universities and donors.

"The challenges in rural areas are characterized by long distances, poor infrastructure, highly seasonal incomes and widespread poverty. Rural finance is about providing a range of financial services for people in these areas, including savings accounts, loans, insurance products and money transfers," said Geoffrey Mrema, Director of the Agricultural Support Systems Division of FAO. The Learning Centre gives FAO an excellent opportunity to promote capacity building in rural finance, which will increase the availability of financial services in rural areas and thus help people living there to improve their livelihoods. (…)


International Conference on Volunteerism & Millennium Development Goals

The role of volunteerism in helping to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is the theme of the three-day International Conference on Volunteerism and the Millennium Development Goals being held in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital city, starting 5 December 2004, International Volunteer Day.

Hosted and organized by Pakistan’s National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) and in partnership with the United Nations system, in particular the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, the International Conference on Volunteerism and the Millennium Development Goals will consider the actions needed to promote and advance volunteer contributions as an essential ingredient to achieve the eight goals. (…)


ADRA implements innovative agricultural technique in Brazil

Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, 17 November – In the semi-arid region of Bahia, Brazil the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is implementing polyculture, an innovative agricultural method to improve crop production and increase the income of families in the community of Uau· and surrounding areas.

Polyculture is a diversified multi-crop farming practice that focuses on the interaction of crop components. The technique matches plants that complement each other – one plant’s outputs are another plant’s inputs. For example, in some of ADRA’s polyculture fields in Bahia, cacti are planted in rows with other food producing plants to draw water to those. (…)

The two-year pilot project, funded by the ACCENTUS Charitable Foundation through ADRA Switzerland, will train families in polyculture cultivation techniques, distribute appropriate seeds and plants to implement the techniques, and provide technical assistance. The project will be implemented in 10 villages and directly impact more than 1,000 people. (…)

A separate project funded by the Government of Finland through ADRA Finland already provided polyculture training to 200 families in Uau.






NetAid launches poverty awareness training for youth

New York, 22 November - NetAid announces the launch of the Global Citizen Corps (GCC), a new programme which gives young leaders in the US the training and resources to raise awareness and take action in the fight against poverty. GCC Leaders come from diverse backgrounds, but are united by their passion and commitment to ending global poverty.

The program will kick-off with a day-long orientation on 20 November at NetAid’s office in New York City. Throughout the day, students will engage in a series of workshops designed to deepen their understanding of global poverty and help them prepare action plans for the first Global Action Day at their schools, which will be World AIDS Day, 1 December.

Twenty-two outstanding GCC Leaders have been selected from high schools in New York City and the northeast of the country to participate in the GCC pilot. Additional students from Georgia to Hawaii will take part in a GCC Field Correspondent programme, setting the stage for national expansion beginning next school year. GCC Field Correspondents will be supported by an online community and will receive Global Action Day resources and activity packs via correspondence.

NetAid is a nonprofit organization with some 80,000 members. Its mission is to mobilize people in developed countries to make ending extreme poverty a global priority. It was established in 1999 through a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Cisco Systems.


First American food aid sent through Libya for Darfur refugees in Chad

Al Kufra, Libya,  22 November – For the first time, the United Nations World Food Programme is sending United States food assistance through Libya, along a humanitarian corridor across the Sahara desert, to reach nearly 200,000 Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad.

More than 6,500 metric tons of food for the refugees, who have fled attacks in western Sudan’s Darfur region, arrived in the Libyan port of Benghazi in early November after a three-week journey by ship from New Orleans. The first convoy of more than 350 trucks has started the gruelling 2,800-kilometre trip from Benghazi across the rugged Libyan terrain. (…)

Donated by the U.S. government, the food includes sorghum, cornmeal, lentils, vegetable oil and corn-soya blend. The shipment allows WFP to provide the 200,000 refugees with almost all the commodities needed for their daily diet over a two-month period. (…)

WFP has so far received just over US$50 million of the US$71 million it needs for its operations in east Chad until February 2005, leaving a shortfall of just under 30 percent.

To date, donors to WFP’s operations in Chad for the Sudanese refugees from Darfur are the United States (US$27.8 million), the United Kingdom (US$5.5 million), Germany (US$3.6 million), France (US$2.7 million), the European Commission (US$2.4 million), Canada (US$1.7 million), Switzerland (US$1.4 million), Netherlands (US$1.1 million), Ireland (US$960,000), Norway (US$890,000), Australia (US$764,000), Japan (US$405,000), Finland (US$249,000).


WFP Welcomes Czech food aid donation for Albania

Tirana, 22 November 2004 - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed today a donation of 239 metric tons of wheat flour, valued at over US$98,000, from the Czech Republic, for impoverished communities in Albania. (…)

Since 1999, the Czech government has donated over US$1 million in humanitarian aid to WFP. Most of the donations have been directed to countries close to home, and struggling with the legacy of post-communism, such as the Balkans and North Caucasus. In a clear indication that the country intends to both diversify and increase its donor potential, the Czech Republic made a financial contribution to WFP’s emergency operation in Iraq last year. (…)

Albania, where 44 years of Communist rule ended in 1990, is struggling to overcome widespread unemployment, low income and an economy that is still largely dependent on agriculture. WFP has been providing emergency assistance to the country since 1997, when the collapse of the pyramid financial schemes led to massive economic upheaval. Two years later, it helped the country overcome the Kosovo crisis when hundreds of thousands of Kosovars fled to Albania in search of refuge. (…)

In Albania, WFP activities focus on three areas: social sector assistance; communal forestry and pasture management; and community asset building through food-for-work projects, including construction of roads to remote villages and rehabilitation of irrigation and drainage canals.


Liberia: the ICRC helps farmers prepare for the next planting season

Monrovia (ICRC) : The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has begun distributing tools for thousands of rural families in Liberia. This week, cutlasses are being distributed to 2300 households in Lofa County (Salayea district), so that fields can be cleared for the upcoming planting season.

"In addition to cutlasses, farmers will receive tool kits for reconstruction and agricultural needs, such as shovels, nails, hammers, hoes, axes, wheelbarrows and saws. The ICRC will also provide the population with rice, beans, vegetable seeds as well as blankets, mats, mosquito nets, buckets, clothing and soap." explains Sarah Wilson, ICRC Relief Coordinator.

The ICRC plans to provide tools and seeds to 65'000 families during the dry season in Lofa and Gbarpolu - northwest and also in the southeast. Lofa – one of the most war-affected regions of Liberia - was virtually empty when the ICRC moved back in October 2003, today over 25'800 families live there according to the latest ICRC population assessment. Most of them are spontaneous returnees from neighboring countries and displaced camps and people keep coming back. (…) The ICRC is supporting persons returning to their homes in the north and south of Liberia through the construction and rehabilitation of wells and the refurbishing of health clinics through supplies and staff, thus facilitating the access to safe drinking water and primary health care to the returnees.


ADRA provides 9.9 million bread rolls to school children in North Korea

Silver Spring, Maryland, 23 November—The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) bakery school feeding program in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has produced and distributed 9.9 million calcium-enriched bread rolls in its second year of operation. The bread rolls were supplied to nearly 21,000 children in 396 kindergartens as part of ADRA’s Kindergarten Nutrition Project. Each child received a daily ration of two bread rolls.

To produce the bread, the World Food Programme (WFP) supplied wheat flour, vegetable oil, dried skim milk, and sugar. ADRA Switzerland provided yeast and salt. The rolls were distributed to all kindergarten children in four counties within Pyongyang Province and the two districts within Pyongyang City with the lowest nutrition rates.

The local government organized transportation of the bread rolls every three days to the counties within Pyongyang Province through the local Flood Damage Rehabilitation Committee (FDRC). Two trucks were used to distribute the bread rolls within the districts of Pongyang City on a daily basis, six days per week. Each week, nearly 250,000 bread rolls were distributed. (…)



Peace and security



UN starts clearing mines from Cyprus buffer zone

18 November  – The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) today began a €2.5 million (euro) de-mining project in the country's buffer zone. "Every mine removed leaves space for stepping-stones to mark the path of peace and reconciliation," said UNFICYP chief Zbigniew Wlosowicz in a speech at the launch the Landmine and Ordinance Clearance Programme, which is being carried out by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and funded by the European Union. (…)

Mr. Wlosowicz thanked the EU for its cooperation in freeing the buffer zone of mines, and said it would "not be long before we see a similar launching ceremony in one of the Turkish Forces minefield."


IAEA receives Berlin Peace Clock Prize for contributions to global peace, security

15 November - At a ceremony in Germany this month, the IAEA was awarded the Berlin Peace Clock Prize in honour of the Agency´s contributions to global peace and security. IAEA Deputy Director General Werner Burkart accepted the award 8 November on the IAEA´s behalf, describing it as a "great tribute" to the IAEA as the world´s Atoms for Peace organization.

The prize was awarded by the Berlin Committee for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Dr. Klaus Hüfner, the Committee´s Chairman, presented the award to Dr. Burkart in Berlin on the eve of an historic day in Germany that marks the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. The Berlin Peace Clock was created by Berlin jeweler Jens Lorenz and first set in motion the day the wall fell. (…)


Countries stand united in the battle against landmines

In the run-up to the “Nairobi Summit on a Mine Free World” which will be held in the Kenyan capital from 29 November to 3 December 2004

New York, 4 November - A meeting of high-level representatives from 14 countries infected with the scourge of landmines and the explosive remnants of war met yesterday in New York to join forces in their common battle. “Today we unite as victims of these terrible weapons that kill and maim our people.  Our collective knowledge and will are key to freeing --once and for all--our land from this legacy of war,” Ambassador Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins said.  Mr. Martins is the Permanent Representative of Angola to the United Nations, and chaired the inaugural session of the Forum of Mine-Affected Countries – in short, FOMAC. (…)

The convening of the forum comes in the run-up to the “Nairobi Summit on a Mine Free World” which will be held in the Kenyan capital from 29 November to 3 December 2004.  The summit aims to review progress in the implementation of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, and to chart the away ahead.  The convention was opened for signature in Ottawa, Canada, in December 1997, and 143 countries are now bound by it. 

As a first concrete action, the FOMAC agreed that the group should develop a unified position on the declaration and the 5-year plan of action that is currently under negotiation and expected to be endorsed at the summit. (…)






Assistance through the Trust Fund for Human Security for enhancing HIV resilience of communities in Thailand

On November 24, the Government of Japan and the United Nations (UN) decided to extend assistance of a total of 1,031,009.10 US dollars (approximately 112 million yen) through the Trust Fund for Human Security for the program "Strengthening HIV Resilience in Thailand Mobile Populations Source Communities" to be implemented in the Kingdom of Thailand by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

This project aims at strengthening HIV resilience of people who move from rural communities to urban areas mainly for seasonal and employment reasons, recognizing that people increase their HIV vulnerability due to a) unstable social and legal status, b) poverty and the lack of resources in communities, c) the lack of moral constraints due to separation from families. (…)

The Trust Fund for Human Security was established in the UN Secretariat in March 1999 by the initiative of the Government of Japan, with total contributions of 29.0 billion yen (approximately US$ 256 million) up to the present. The Trust Fund has assisted numerous projects of UN agencies that address various threats against human life, livelihood and dignity, from the perspective of Human Security.


Caritas Iraq sends relief to the people of Falluja

Vatican City, 19 November - The embattled population of the city of Falluja, Iraq, received a large donation of medicines and medical supplies from Caritas Iraq via an Iraqi Red Crescent Society convey yesterday. Two vans adorned with banners reading "The Catholic Church in Iraq, the Brotherhood of Charity" departed from the Caritas Iraq headquarters in Baghdad for the Fallujah public hospital accompanied by Caritas Iraq staff. Plans for an additional donation of medical supplies and food are underway.

Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development, and social service organisations present in over 200 countries and territories.


WHO awards million dollar contract for global treatment preparedness activities

Geneva, 18 November - The World Health Organization (WHO) is awarding a USD$1 million contract to a global consortium of people living with HIV/AIDS and treatment activists to help prepare people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) for antiretroviral treatment (ART).

Following a competitive process, the Collaborative Fund for HIV Treatment Preparedness consortium - a programme created in 2003 to channel funds for community-based education, managed by the US-based organization the Tides Foundation - was awarded the contract through WHO's 'Preparing for Treatment' programme.

The WHO initiative supports community-based treatment preparedness activities as part of the drive to increase access to treatment and prevention in line with the "3 by 5" target to get three million people living with AIDS on antiretroviral treatment by the end of 2005. (…)

In implementing the million dollar grant, the Tides Foundation-Collaborative Fund is supporting more than 30 networks of PLWHA around the world in treatment preparedness activities, including treatment literacy projects and civil society advocacy initiatives. (…)


World’s children unite to take action on HIV/AIDS

Participating worldwide in the “Lesson for Life”, over three million children learn about HIV/AIDS and demand more support for children and young people affected by the disease

New York, 18 November - Millions of children around the world will participate in a Lesson for Life on World AIDS Day (1 December) as part of a massive effort to educate children about HIV/AIDS prevention and spur them, their communities and governments to accelerate action on behalf of children and young people affected by the HIV/AIDS crisis.

“Young people are at the centre of the epidemic,” said Miquel de Paladella of the Global Movement for Children (GMC). “They have a right to life-saving information that will help protect them from HIV/AIDS and also have a major role to play in stopping the spread of this devastating epidemic.”

In both formal and non-formal education settings, the Lesson for Life gives children a leading role in teaching others the facts about HIV/AIDS, and in taking action in their communities to mitigate its impact. Providing a platform for children directly affected by HIV/AIDS to share their experiences, concerns and ideas, the Lesson for Life has been organised by the GMC, the world-wide movement of organisations and individuals, including children, uniting efforts to build a world fit for children. In all, tens of thousands of schools and other venues in more than 50 countries will participate in the initiative. Children, young people, youth groups and schools will use discussions, plays, dramas, and writing to learn about HIV/AIDS and find ways to act on behalf of affected children.  (…)


Rotary members worldwide unite to eradicate polio by the end of 2005

Role of civil society vital in world's largest global health endeavor

By Vivian Fiore

Evanston, IL, USA, November - This month, more than 150 Rotary club members from the United States, Canada, France, Denmark, Australia and the United Kingdom will join thousands of fellow members and millions of other volunteers in India and West African nations to help immunize children against polio. Through Rotary International, the fight against polio has been largely driven by volunteers, over 20 million of them. Rotary has contributed more than $500 million to polio eradication and advocated with governments to provide additional funding. Never before have individual volunteers and the influence of the private sector played such a core role in a global public health effort. Great progress is being made. India is very close to driving out polio, with only 77 cases so far this year compared with 163 by the same date last year. Epidemiologists predict that polio will be stopped in India and all of Asia ahead of the end-2005 global target. (…)

Despite the progress in Asia, much work remains in west and central Africa, which accounts for approximately 90 percent of the 885 polio cases reported this year. (…) In response to this outbreak, 23 African nations are synchronizing mass immunization campaigns with the goal of reaching over 80 million children in Africa's largest ever coordinated health initiative for children. The first round of the campaigns was conducted from 8-12 October and the second is scheduled for 18-22 November. (…) 

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). (…)

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Energy and safety



World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations establishes the first global technical regulation for motor vehicle safety

Geneva, 18 November - More than 20 nations have agreed on a new standard that will lead to safer vehicles worldwide. This regulation establishes the first global international vehicle safety standard. The new door retention standard is the result of three years of intensive research, development and negotiations supported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). On the horizon are many additional standards that will regulate head restraints, motorcycle brakes, the installation of lighting devices, vehicle window glazing and pedestrian safety. (…)

Ultimately, the new global standards, known as “Global Technical Regulations,” or GTR’s, will lead to the adoption of best safety practices from all participating nations. In the end, reduced design and engineering costs should mean lower production costs for manufacturers and savings for consumers. (…)


UN-Energy/Africa adopts a two-year Work Programme

By Yinka Adeyemi, ECA, 18 November 2004

UN-Energy/Africa – made up of seven UN agencies, NEPAD and the African Development Bank - has adopted a two-year programme of work which is aimed at developing energy infrastructure and services in Africa. The work programme broadly covers energy access, rural energy and efficient energy provision in Africa. (…)

To improve energy access and contribute to poverty reduction, UN-Energy/Africa will assess the feasibility of an African Rural Energy Development Facility, patterned after the African Water Facility, the $680 million medium-term fund housed at the African Development Bank which will be used to finance portfolios of water projects in Africa.

The Group has also received project documents on the first Regional Micro/Mini-Hyropower capacity development and investment in rural electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa and will facilitate the African Energy Ministerial Forum. Among projects still in development are the African Energy database, African Power Pooling Assessment and the African Capacity Building for Clean Development Mechanism, the statement said.



Environment and wildlife



Indingenous communities in Colombia conserve ancestral territories

Buenaventura, Colombia, 26 November - WWF is working with indigenous river communities in Colombia to develop management plans for their ancestral territories.

WWF-Colombia, together with the Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN), Defensoria del Pueblo, the regional environmental authority for Valle del Cauca, and others have completed management plans for 125,579ha of ancestral territories along the Raposo, Mayorquín, and Yurumanguí rivers in Colombia's southwest Pacific Ocean region. The plans are aimed at establishing the communities’ collective well-being by providing economic, technical, and logistical support for the management plan's implementation, and assisting the communities' capacity to conserve biodiversity and improve livelihoods. (…)

The ancestral territories included in the management plan are biologically diverse, hosting a range of ecosystems that include mangroves, swamp forests, Mora woods, and Assai palm stands, as well as humid lowland forests. It is also home to a high concentration of species, including the puma (Panthera onca) and the Caiman crocodile (Caiman cocodrilus). (…)


New dam monitoring network underway in Zambia

Itezhi Tezhi, Zambia, 25 November - A long awaited hydrological and monitoring network for Zambia’s Itezhi Tezhi Dam is finally in place, following a three-year initiative to improve water flows in the Kafue Flats. (…) Located in central Zambia, the Kafue Flats wetland is a flat swampy area stretching 6,500km2 along the Kafue River, from the town of Itezhi Tezhi in the west to the town of Kafue in the east. Prior to the construction of the dam in 1972, the flats were once teeming with wildlife, birdlife, and a wide range of plant diversity, with natural flooding once providing many benefits to the people living in the area. The dam’s operating rules have in the past affected wetland productivity with fisheries experiencing reduced spawning areas. Traditional grazing areas for livestock have been flooded at times when they should be dry, and crops have received less nutrients once deposited by annual floods.

WWF, in partnership with Zambia's Ministry of Energy and Water Development (MEWD), Zambia Electricity Supply Company (ZESCO), have been working towards changing the dam’s operating rules to replicate as much as possible the natural flooding regime of the Kafue River without compromising the water needed for electricity generation. By installing equipment to monitor meteorological and hydrological data — such as rain gauges and water-level gauge plates — water releases from the Itezhi Tezhi Dam can be better managed and flooding can be restored to a more natural pattern and help re-establish the productivity of the flats. (…)


Indonesia's gifts to the EarthBangkok, Thailand - WWF has recognized Indonesia's  efforts to protect the country's rich and diverse natural heritage as a Gift to the Earth.

24 November - The Indonesian government has added 1.3 million hectares of protected areas through establishing nine new national parks and expanding an existing one. The new parks will protect a huge range of biodiversity, especially the endangered Sumatran tiger, as well as rhinos, elephants, and orang-utans. The government is also promoting collaborative management of protected areas following the issue of a ministerial decree last month.

WWF has recognized these efforts as a Gift to the Earth, the conservation organization's highest accolade for a globally significant contribution to the protection of the planet. (…)

Some of the newly protected areas include Tesso Nilo, one of Sumatra's remaining lowland forests and home to 60–80 elephants, and Sebangau, the largest remaining peat swamp forest in Kalimantan on the island of Borneo and home to 2,500–4,500 orang-utans. (…)



Culture and education



UNA-USA Launches HERO: A UNA-USA Campaign

HERO's vision is to bring a sense of global commitment, a spirit of hope and an understanding of the scale of the issues being faced by the UN by addressing two components of the Millennium Development Goals: the fight against HIV/AIDS and the right to education.

The first line of defense against HIV/AIDS is education. Education not only provides academic knowledge, but also helps prevent HIV infection by increasing students' and teachers' awareness of the virus and improving their life skills. But because of HIV/AIDS, resources are spread thin and traditional social structures that provide for the needs of children are dramatically weakened.

To help strengthen the ability of schools-including students, administrators and teachers-as well as communities to holistically meet the needs of HIV/AIDS-affected children, UNA-USA is proud to launch the HERO (Help Education at-Risk Orphans and vulnerable children) campaign.

The HERO (Help Educate at-Risk Orphans and vulnerable children) campaign has four objectives:

Raise funds for community-based programs that provide basic education and necessities to orphans and vulnerable children in AIDS-affected communities.

Develop with UNESCO educational materials for students and a training program for teachers of orphans and vulnerable children.

Raise awareness in the United States of the impact of HIV/AIDS on children in sub-Saharan Africa.

Build a global community in support of basic education for African children. 


Open Hombroich Scientific Forum

Science And The Akashic Field - An Integral Theory of Everything

3 - 5 December, Planet Life Academy, Event Hall Raketenstation Hombroic, Neuss – Germany

On the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of December an extraordinary Symposium is scheduled at the Planet Life Academy: world-renowned scientists from Europe and the United States come together to discuss the "integral theory of everything" presented by Ervin Laszlo in his latest book.

Laszlo's book is published in the United States in November under the title Science And The Akashic Field: An Integral theory of Everything.  It is being published in Europe at the same time in Spanish, Dutch, and Norwegian editions, with further editions scheduled for Japan, Russian, and China.  The book offers an introduction to the worldview that is now emerging at the cutting edge of the physical, biological, and human sciences.

The Symposium will discuss the origins and principal features of this worldview and explore why and how it is arising in physics and in cosmology, in the biological sciences, and in the new field of consciousness research and what implications it holds for our knowledge of the cosmos, of life, and of consciousness. The participating scientists are to present their views in non-technical language and open the floor to discussion by everyone present.


The Earth Education Academy developed a course integrating the Earth Charter principles

12 October - The Earth Education Academy in Denmark has developed an English language course, which integrates The Earth Charter principles. The course will be attended by students of many different nationalities and is a combination of intensive English language lessons and intercultural dialogue and activities. It focuses on: a) improving English and communication skills in an international atmosphere with other young people from around the world; b) expanding students’ horizons and giving them the opportunity to share and discuss their dreams, thoughts and ideas for a future world; c) engaging them in an openhearted dialogue of the universal values and principles for a sustainable way of living as described in The Earth Charter. The values and principles of The Earth Charter are a major topic in the communication exercises in the English language lessons and play a central role in the discussions during the entire course.



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Next issue: 17 December.


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