Good News Agency – Year V, n° 2



Weekly - Year V, number 2 – 6 February 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 2,400 media in 48 countries, as well as to 2,500 NGO and service associations.

It is a free 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



Landmark United Nations Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants enters into force

Vienna, 27 January  (UN Information Service)  - The Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea, supplementary to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, will enter into force on 28 January 2004. It is a landmark for the fight against the smuggling of migrants and another milestone to the global effort to combat transnational organized crime.

This Protocol provides the international community with new tools to confront the smuggling of migrants. It defines the smuggling of migrants as “the procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident.” (…) This tool has been designed to strengthen the international community’s response in countering transnational organized crime groups and their highly sophisticated networks to smuggle migrants, exploiting human misery and making sizeable criminal profits in the process.

The Protocol aims to criminalize the smuggling of migrants and those who practise it, while recognizing that illegal migration itself is not a crime and that migrants are often victims needing protection. Under the Protocol, governments agree to make migrant smuggling a criminal offence under national laws, adopt special measures to crack down on migrant smuggling by sea, boost international cooperation to prevent migrant smuggling, and seek out and prosecute offenders. (…) The Protocol is furthermore an important international instrument in the area of international cooperation on criminal justice matters following the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which entered into force on 29 September 2003, and its Protocol against Trafficking in Persons, which entered into force on 25 December 2003. (…)



Human rights



Georgia: Psychological support for families of missing person

30 January - At the ICRC’s initiative, mental health professionals from the Georgian Centre for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, a non-governmental organization, provided psychological counselling for the families of missing persons for the first time on 21-22 January. Under expert guidance, the 20 participants – mainly mothers of the missing – took advantage of the session to express their anguish. New sessions are scheduled for the coming months.

In the course of its work to support the commissions set up in Georgia and Abkhazia to deal with the issue of missing persons – by providing technical assistance for exhumation and identification of mortal remains – the ICRC has become increasingly concerned about the needs of the families of the missing, people who have long awaited information about loved ones whose whereabouts are unknown.

In December 2003, the Georgian rehabilitation centre signed a memorandum of understanding with the ICRC to set up a programme to help the families deal with the psychological, social and other effects of their situation, in particular by setting up a referral system for collective or individual care. (…)


ILO to launch new study on economic costs and benefits of eliminating child labour

Geneva, 28 January (ILO News) - What is the projected cost of eliminating child labour worldwide? How will global society benefit - especially developing and transitional economies?  For the first time, these and other questions are answered in a new ILO (International Labour Organization) study entitled "Investing in Every Child: An Economic Study of the Costs and Benefits of Eliminating Child Labour" prepared by the ILO's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC).

This new report will be launched in Geneva on 3 February (…) Copies of the report will be available to the media in hard copy and PDF format through ILO offices in Abidjan, Bangkok, Beirut, Geneva, Lima, London, Manila, Moscow and Washington. An executive summary of the report is available in Arabic, English, French, German, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. (…)


Italy, Nigeria take action against human trafficking for sexual exploitation

Italian Anti-Mafia Bureau and the Nigerian Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice sign the “Memorandum of Understanding” in Rome

Vienna, 21 January (UN Information Service) – (…)  The Memorandum has been signed within the framework of the “Programme of Action against Trafficking in Minors and Young Women from Nigeria into Italy for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation” that the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) is presently finalizing. The Programme is a joint initiative of UNICRI and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The main objective of the programme is to contribute to the formulation and implementation of effective policies in the field of criminal justice and social prevention to curb human trafficking practices. (…)

On the occasion of the ceremony of the official signature, RAI (Radio Televisione Italiana) at its headquarters in Rome presented the results of the anti-trafficking programme achieved so far, as well as the TV spot “Let us help them to free themselves from slavery”. The TV spot was produced, as part of the information campaign and as one of the many activities carried out with the collaboration of RAI and UNICRI. That initiative is also well placed to promote the 2004 International Year of the United Nations to commemorate the Struggle against Slavery and its Abolition. (…)


Liberia: Agricultural assistance for 30,000 families

January 22  - This week the ICRC launched a major agricultural programme designed to benefit 30,000 families (some 150,000 people) over the coming six months. (…) The purpose of this programme is to enable residents and returnees to earn a living and thereby to help restore their dignity. For many of them, this will be the first time in years that they have been able to sow and harvest their fields. (…)

Since the war ended in early August, the focus of ICRC assistance programmes has shifted from the displaced and resident population in and around Monrovia to residents and returnees in the country's 15 counties. In addition to its agricultural assistance programme, the ICRC is currently involved in activities to protect civilians and people deprived of their freedom, restore family links, assist internally displaced persons and other vulnerable residents, improve access to safe drinking water, provide medical care and spread knowledge of international humanitarian law. The ICRC also provides support for and cooperates with the Liberia National Red Cross Society.



Economy and development



Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan - the search for alternatives

FAO asks for $25.5 million to finance development projects in main poppy producing areas

Rome, 2 February - Eliminating opium production in Afghanistan will only be successful if poverty and unemployment are reduced at the same time, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today. FAO is requesting $25.5 million to finance agricultural development projects over the next five years in four main poppy producing provinces -- Badakhshan, Helmand, Kandahar and Nangarhar, targeting around 1.5 million people. (…)

FAO proposed a set of interventions that could create alternative income opportunities and reduce the dependence on poppy production. FAO's proposal is based on the National Drug Control Strategy. (…)  

Afghanistan is the world's largest opium producer, providing almost three-quarters of global opium production. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), poppy production amounted to 3 600 tonnes in 2003. Recent trends indicate that poppy cultivation is spreading further into remote areas. Around 1.7 million people, 7 percent of the population, are directly involved in poppy production.

Poppy is only produced on approximately 1 percent (around 80 000 ha in 2003) of the total arable land in the country.


Sri Lanka women revive reed traditions and reach Equator Prize finals

30 January - More than 60 women in Horana, a village 40 kilometers south of Sri Lanka's capital Colombo, are broadening the diversity of plant and animal life and providing raw material for traditional weaving by reintroducing reeds and rushes in small rice paddies. The Committee for People's Rights, a civil society group, began the initiative five years ago with support from the UNDP Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme. Now the project has made it as one of 26 finalists for the Equator Prize 2004 that on 19 February will honour six outstanding community efforts to improve livelihoods and conserve biodiversity in tropical countries.

Traditionally paddies had areas where reeds and rushes grew, absorbing excess salinity and providing a home for many species, including birds, fish, insects and micro-organisms. The "green revolution" during the 1960s and 1970s relied on chemicals to boost rice harvests, but disrupted natural cycles and affected biodiversity, soil fertility and rural traditions.  (…)

The women are re-establishing typical small plots with paddies, reed beds and home gardens as economically viable for households. Small ponds are added to create habitats for rare fresh water fish and flowering plants. So far, 20 farmers have received training in turning fallow fields into such productive plots.  (…)


Italy's Tuscany links with Cuban towns for Millennium goals

29 January - Eight towns in the famous central Italian region of Tuscany have created an international cooperation agency called Adelante ("Forward" in Spanish) to link with towns in Cuba and eventually elsewhere in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The decentralized support strategy for human development, launched with UNDP last week in Havana, is the towns' direct contribution to the Millennium Development Goals.

In one year they have raised US$1.25 million to support development activities from a small levy on their public water supply system. Adelante will use the towns' financial and technical resources to help Cuban communities reach the Millennium goals. Cooperating in these efforts is UNDP Cuba's Local Level Human Development Programme, which has enabled communities to improve their lives and livelihoods. The initiative aims to replace the traditional donor-recipient model with one of partnership and cooperation among communities. (…)


The Seed awards - Supporting entrepreneurs in environment and development

New global award launched in Mumbai and Davos

Mumbai/Davos, 21 January – In India, a network of women slum dwellers is collaborating with UK engineers and a French water company to improve water delivery in their communities. In Ecuador, a consortium of European companies is working with the government and coffee farmers to ensure pesticides don’t contaminate water supplies. In South Africa, a small business owner is working with women’s cooperatives and the government to test market solar technologies in rural areas. Such stories are the type of innovative “partnership” that will be the focus of a new global award initiative, “The Seed Awards”, launched today at the World Social Foum in Mumbai and the World Economic Foum in Davos.

The Seed (supporting entrepreneurs in environment and development) Awards,” aim to reward people and organisations that are working together in partnership, the innovators in our world that are forging new strategies for the sustainable use of our natural resources. (…)

A key aspect of the new initiative is that it will not award outcomes, but rather innovative partnership proposals. Award winning partners – whether they are community groups, businesses, workers organisations or local authorities - will receive support in developing business plans, seeking funding and setting up partnerships.  (…)


Coffee crisis: FAO helps Nicaragua's small-scale growers

Seeds and basic tools for 3 000 of the worst-affected coffee producers

20 January, Rome/Managua -- FAO will work with the Nicaraguan Government to assist small-scale coffee growers hit by the global crisis in coffee prices, the Organization said today. (…)

Falling international coffee prices have damaged the economy of the Central American country, largely dependent on coffee, by reducing income, employment and food security for thousands of families in the rural sector.  (…) With production expenses currently higher than commercial value and a credit system riddled with debt, many farmers have been forced to abandon their coffee plantations. (…) The country's authorities have requested FAO assistance to safeguard the food security of some 3 000 of the worst-affected coffee-producing families in the Matagalpa and Jinotega regions, where much of the country's coffee is typically grown.

In the Matagalpa region FAO will also assist the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to create an income-generating programme to improve and diversify coffee production, initially for those living in the Rancho Grande and El Tuma-La Dalia areas. These programmes will then be introduced in other regions.  (…)






Rotary “Gifts of Life” project: cardiac surgery in India for Pakistani children

30 January, Chandigrah, India -  The Post Graduate Institute in Chandigrah welcome today five Pakistani children, aged between four and five years, who will undergo open heart surgery there. These very young patients, who are natives of Pakistan's Sindh province, were met  at the Wagah border  by members of the Rotary Club of Chandigarh Midtown.

A committee organized by Rotary Club in Pakistan studied the economic and social background of the children, besides analyzing their health condition before their names were recommended for surgery at PGI, said Rotary governor Kawal Bedi (district 3080). The project in Pakistan Rotary District 3270 is operated by Rotarian Muhammad Ayub, chairman of the Gifts of Life there.   

The cost of this initiative of solidarity and care, within the Gifts of Life project launched in 1999, amounts to USD 100,000 and is covered by contributions from Rotary Clubs in  Germany ($12,000) and Japan ($13,000), from the Rotary Chandigarh Midtown's governor's fund ($13,000) and through the local Rotary members’ personal initiative ($12,000). The amount collected was then doubled by the Rotary Foundation under the ‘matching grant’ scheme. For further information: Muhammad Ayub


Marathon runner Paul Tergat joins WFP race to beat hunger

Rome, 27 January - Marathon world record holder Paul Tergat joined the race to defeat global hunger on Wednesday when he was appointed ‘Ambassador Against Hunger’ by James T.Morris, the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme. Tergat, who received food aid as an eight-year-old school child in Kenya’s Rift Valley, will use the high-profile platform of international athletics to raise awareness of WFP’s school feeding programme. (…)

Tergat is currently the world’s fastest man over 26 miles, but as a hungry child in the drought- and poverty-ridden district of Baringo, Kenya’s marathon man struggled to make the three-mile trek to school. Paul’s life changed in 1977, when WFP started distributing free school lunches at his Riwo Primary School. “Without food, it was very difficult to walk to school, let alone concentrate on our studies. WFP’s lunches made it easier for us to make the most of our education,” said Tergat. “A full meal was also the perfect incentive to keep us in the classroom.”

For 30 years, WFP school feeding programmes have kept generations of children globally coming back for more. For a child suffering from hunger, going to school is not important; having enough food to eat is. Research shows that school feeding dramatically increases school attendance and boosts performance in the classroom. (…)


UNDP’s “With Africa Against Poverty” banner handed over to Tunisian President at opening of the Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia

Tunis, 26 January - The Africa Cup of Nations football tournament began here this week with a campaign supported by participating national teams and governments to raise public awareness on the need to accelerate the fight against poverty and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Throughout the three-week tournament, which began on 23 January, billboards of “Africa 2015”, a communications initiative sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), are being displayed in the five stadiums of the cities hosting the games. UNDP video spots on poverty and AIDS are also being shown on the giant screens in towns where people assemble to watch the games. On Saturday, UNDP Associate Administrator Zéphirin Diabré handed over to President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia a replica of the “With Africa Against Poverty” banner on Saturday as 60,000 spectators packed Rades stadium to witness the opening ceremony of the Africa Cup of Nations.

The banner bearing an appeal from UNDP and the Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF), was displayed in the stadium by 10 of the 200 ball boys wearing “Africa 2015” track suits with the UNDP logo and slogans on the fight against AIDS and poverty. The Millennium Development Goals will be highlighted in Arabic, English and French during the tournament. (…)


Germany trebles support to UN-HABITAT

January 21 - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder today pledged to increase his country's support for UN-HABITAT threefold to 500,000 euros for core funding to the agency over and above German support for specific project programmes. Mr. Schroeder, on his first official visit to Africa, made the pledge during a meeting with UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka and other senior officials at the United Nations office in Nairobi.

Mrs. Tibaijuka, who thanked him for Germany’s continued support, highlighted the challenges of urban poverty in a rapidly urbanising world, especially in Africa’s growing slums. She also explained the agency’s coordinating role in helping governments achieve the Millennium Development Goals of significantly improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by 2020, and of halving the number of people who lack access to safe water and sanitation by 2015. (…)


H.R.H. Prince Talal donates one million dollars to UNESCO solidarity fund for safe water at close of International Year of Freshwater

20 January - UNESCO’s Special Envoy for Water, H.R.H. Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, announced the donation of one million dollars to the Solidarity Fund for Safe Water for All as UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura formally closed the International Year of Freshwater (2003) at Headquarters.

This is the first donation* to the Solidarity Fund, approved by UNESCO’s General Conference in November 2003. H.R.H. Prince Talal made the donation on behalf of AGFUND (Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organization). The Prince is president of AGFUND, which has contributed more than $24 million to 68 UNESCO projects and has supported more than 900 development and humanitarian projects with diverse partners, including 32 water-related projects worth $31 million.  (…)



Peace and security



Development partners pledge over $1 billion to build peace in Burundi

26 January - Donors have pledged US$1.03 billion over three years to strengthen peace and security, promote reconciliation and spur development in Burundi. The pledges came at a forum that the Government of Belgium and UNDP organized in Brussels earlier this month.

International efforts to help resolve a decade of civil conflict in the central African country led to the Arusha Agreement in 2000 and a ceasefire accord last November between the transitional government and insurgent groups.

The forum focused on support for the second phase of the transition process, which will lead to a referendum on a constitution and local, national and presidential elections. Burundi requested aid to reduce its foreign debt, help displaced people return to their homes, improve government institutions, and reform the military and security forces.

Of the funds pledged, the European Union promised $279 million, the World Bank $140 million, the United States $135 million, the United Kingdom $50 million, Germany $46.2 million and Belgium $44.6 million. It was the third such meeting since 2000, and participants included representatives of the Government of Burundi, 25 national aid agencies and 26 international agencies.  (…)


“Khartoum Declaration on Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime” adopted at UNODC workshop in Sudan

Vienna, 23 January (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Government of Sudan jointly organized a workshop on “International Cooperation on Counter-Terrorism and the Fight against Transnational Organized Crime”, held from 17 to 19 January 2004, in Khartoum, Sudan.

The workshop was attended by experts from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda, Member States of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), as well as by observers from Algeria and Egypt. (…) On 19 January 2004, the workshop culminated in the “Khartoum Declaration on Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime” in which IGAD Member States reaffirmed their commitment to the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime and expressed their serious concern about the menace these problems pose in the region. Among other issues, the “Khartoum Declaration” focused on technical assistance needs of IGAD Member States with regard to the ratification and implementation of twelve international conventions and protocols against terrorism and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols. (…)


Canadian Government grants $110,000 to Givat Haviva

Givat Haviva, Israel, 20 January – The Government of Canada’s Human Security program has provided a contribution of $110,000 to the Women's Center at Givat Haviva, Canadian Ambassador to Israel Donald Sinclair announced today on an official visit to the Women's Centre at Givat Haviva located a few kilometers from the central Israel city of Hadera. (…)

Ambassador Sinclair attended the opening of a new and unique Women's Facilitator course, one of several in Givat Haviva’s Counselling Center for Peace Eduation.  

“Givat Haviva recognizes the many contributions Canada has made to peace throughout the world,” said Mohamad Darawshe, Givat Haviva spokesman, “and we are pleased that Canada has recognized the important work of Givat Haviva in educating for peace.” (…)

The Givat Haviva campus is home to many innovative projects that aim to improve relations between Arabs and Jews, provide better understanding of the essence of democracy and citizen’s rights in Israel, and build bridges with Israel’s Arab neighbours. More than 12,000 adults and children attend Givat Haviva workshops, seminars and courses every year.

Givat Haviva received the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education in 2001.

For further information:  Mike Flax Director, North American & UK Desk, Givat Haviva


Central, Eastern and South-Eastern European countries plan their transport infrastructures

Geneva, 16 January - The countries participating in the UNECE-sponsored TEM and TER Projects are elaborating a Master Plan aimed at the development of their priority transport infrastructure. The TEM and TER Master Plan is intended to identify main bottlenecks, missing links and other priority infrastructure needs in their road, rail and combined transport networks, and design a realistic investment strategy to meet those needs. Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and Ukraine are expected to have an active participation in the Master Plan’s work. The EU Commission, the World Bank, the EBRD, the EIB and other international organizations have also been invited to participate. (…) The work is expected to be completed by September 2004. (…)






Jimmy Carter escalates efforts against Guinea worm in Togo

New York, 26 January (Carter Center Press Release) - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and his wife, Rosalynn, will travel on behalf of The Carter Center to West Africa Feb. 2-6, 2004, to call international attention to the need to eliminate the last 1 percent of Guinea worm disease remaining in the world.  The Carter Center team will visit Togo and Mali and be joined in Ghana by World Health Organization Director-General Dr. LEE Jong-wook and UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Kul Gautam. The Carter Center, UNICEF, and WHO are lead partners in a worldwide coalition that has helped countries reduce incidences of the disease by 99 percent, from 3.5 million in 1986 to approximately 35,000 today. Ghana Minister of Health Dr. Kweku Afriyie will host and guide the visiting delegations during a tour of villages with Guinea worm disease.  (…)


Third phase of measles campaign underway in Côte d' Ivoire

Cote D’ivoire, 23 January  – UNICEF will launch the third phase of its mass vaccination campaign against measles on 23 January in the northern districts of Odienne, Tengrela, Boundiali, Korhogo and Ferkessedougou, targeting over 450,000 children from 6 months to 14 years of age, adding to the almost 1.5 million children vaccinated last year in the central areas of the country. Simultaneously, vitamin A will be distributed to children under 5 years of age. UNICEF’s aim is to reach and protect these children before the measles season peaks in March.

The remaining 6.5 million children will be vaccinated during 2004. These campaigns are funded by the European Commission's  Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), the American Red Cross (ARC), the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, and the United Nations Foundation. UNICEF is working closely with other implementing partners including WHO, International Committee of the Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières, Action Contre la Faim, and CARE International to ensure an effective campaign. (…)


Start of first free AIDS treatment programme in Ethiopia 

Joint efforts of MSF and Tigray Regional Health bureau bring ARVs to Humera. 

Addis Ababa, 21 January - This week the international medical relief organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Tigray Regional Health Bureau have launched the first program of free treatment with antiretroviral drugs (ARV) for HIV/AIDS patients in Ethiopia. There are 13 patients in Humera's 'Kahsay Abera' hospital who have started to receive their medicines. The new ARV program is part of the commitment by the Ethiopian government and MSF to increase the availability of ARV treatment to patients in need of it. (…)

While initiatives to introduce ARVs have commenced in other parts of Ethiopia, Humera is a remote area with a relatively mobile and vulnerable population that is unable to access and pay for the treatment available in major cities in other parts of the country. Humera has a number of high-risk groups due to the presence of large numbers of single men including migrant workers, attracting many commercial sex workers to the area. (…)


WHO pushing to rapidly scale-up measures to fight TB and HIV

Collaborative approach to speed distribution of AIDS treatment and reduce spread of tuberculosis in high HIV prevalence areas

Geneva, 21 January -- The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today a plan to expand collaboration between national tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS programmes to curb the growing pandemic of TB/HIV co-infection, with a principal focus on Africa where 70% of the world's 14 million people who are co-infected live.

The new policy guidelines define activities necessary to address the dual epidemic of TB and HIV and gives clear guidance for countries on the circumstances under which these effective activities need to be carried out. It will give critical support for ‘3 by 5’, the WHO plan to provide antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to three million people living with AIDS by the end of 2005. (…)

A key element will be to rapidly expand voluntary HIV testing and counselling in TB programmes, with the aim of identifying and referring more than half a million TB patients who are HIV positive for ARV treatment in the next two years. With additional training for health workers, TB programmes will also assist in HIV prevention, ARV distribution and patient care. (…)


"We Will Finish Polio Before Year's End," say Ministers of Health

Unique opportunity for eradication success now rests with key Governments

Geneva, 15 January - Polio should be relegated to the history books within the next twelve months, Ministers of Health from the six remaining polio-endemic countries declared today at a high-level meeting in Geneva. The Ministers unveiled a bold new plan to immunize 250 million children multiple times during a series of massive polio immunization campaigns in 2004.

Data presented from Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Niger, Nigeria and Pakistan, showing poliovirus beaten back to only a few remaining reservoirs, and aggressive new programmes, presented an unprecedented opportunity to eradicate a disease that once paralyzed hundreds of thousands of children each year.

After an international investment of US$ three billion over 15 years, and the successful engagement of over 200 countries and 20 million volunteers, polio could be the first disease of the 21st century to be eradicated. Health ministers in Geneva noted that the success or failure of the world's largest public health initiative, spearheaded by national governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF, now rests with the governments of the six endemic countries. Polio transmission levels are now at their lowest ever in the key countries of India, Pakistan and Egypt, providing these governments with a rare opportunity to halting spread of the virus. (…)



Energy and safety



ESCWA participates in the Government Leadership Forum Arabia 2004

The Executive Secretary of ESCWA (Economic & Social Commission for Western Asia), Ms. Mervat Tallawy, addressed The Government Leadership Forum (GLF) held in Cairo, 23-25 January 2004. The GLF is an annual Microsoft events, which was held with Chairman and Chief Architect for Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates, as key note speaker, under the auspices of the Egyptian President, H.E. Hosni Mubarak, and hosted by the Egyptian Prime Minister, Dr. Atef Ebid.

The GLF brings together top representatives from governments to discuss how countries are streamlining service delivery and empowering their citizens through the use of information and communication technology. The objective of the GLF 2004, held for the first time in the Middle East, was to provide a platform for local, national, and regional governments participation in the shaping of the Arab knowledge society; exchanging views on building a favorable environment for private investment and employment creation; modernizing public services and progressing with good governance; and identifying mechanisms to accelerate an inclusive socio-economic development path for the emerging Arab information and knowledge society. (..)



Environment and wildlife



Demonstration farms in Latvia show the path to sustainable forestry

Riga, Latvia, 27 January - Demonstration farms in Latvia are helping to provide expertise and direction for environmentally responsible forestry. The model areas have been established as part of the WWF and IKEA cooperation on Forest Projects.

One of the biggest land reforms in Europe´s history has quietly been taking place in former communist countries — posing big challenges for people and nature. After the state gave back much of its territory to the people over the last few years, Latvia's 160,000 new forest owners are now responsible for looking after one million hectares of forests, nearly half of Latvia's total forest estate. Most of the new forest owners however have neither a forestry background nor any natural or resource management experience. They are now faced with the challenge to learn to mange their forests. The future of Latvia's unique nature is largely in their hands and will depend on their vision — whether long-term management decisions for sustainable forestry will prevail over short-term economic gains.

Within this context WWF has created model areas to demonstrate — together with experienced Latvian forest owners — how these forests can be managed in an environmentally friendly way while providing economic benefits for the owners. (…)


West African environment ministers want NEPAD to use biosphere reserves as laboratories for sustainable development

26 January - West Africa’s environment ministers called on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to use UNESCO biosphere reserves as laboratories for sustainable development in the region, during a round table held at the Organization’s Headquarters today.

“Concerned by the ongoing environmental degradation and the concomitant increasing poverty across the African continent,” announced the ministers, “we are committed to promoting the use of biosphere reserves as operational sites for sustainable development in the fight against poverty and in implementing the action plan of the Environment Initiative of NEPAD.”

The declaration was made during a round table launching a new project involving UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) and the United Nations Environment Programme. With a budget of more than US$6 million, the new project will combine a range of activities over the next four years to improve the protection and sustainable development of biosphere reserves in West Africa. (…) In his remarks at the opening of the round table, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said that “biosphere reserves constitute perfect field laboratories for implementing the environmental objectives of NEPAD and the World Summit for Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002)”. (…)


DHL delivers help for the great apes of tropical Africa

Wildlife Officers in Guinea, Mali, Congo, Sierra Leone and Senegal get Urgently Needed Computers

Nairobi/London, 26 January - Some of the most ill-equipped offices in the world, where staff are in the front line in the battle to save the great apes from extinction, are being brought into the computer age courtesy of DHL, one of the world’s leading express and logistics company.

The company has responded to an appeal by the United Nations Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) and is making vital, free delivery of office equipment purchased by its UK partner, The Born Free Foundation (BFF) from the United Kingdom, to conservation authorities in west and central Africa. This gesture enlists DHL as a corporate partner of the GRASP Project.

This international collaborative effort with DHL demonstrates the crucial role that multinational corporations can play in assisting the drive to halt the extinction of humankind's closest relative - both in money and in kind. (…)



Religion and spirituality



2004 Parliament of the World’s Religions – Barcellona, Spain – July 7-13

Join 10,000 people of faith, spirit, and goodwill at the 2004 Parliament of the World's Religions in Barcelona, Spain - July 7-13, 2004

The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions, will be holding a 10,000 person conference in conjunction with the UNESCO Centre of Catalonia and the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures. The gathering will welcome people of all religious and spiritual traditions for dialogue, exchange, and education.

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



International Conference "Age of Connectivity: Harnessing the Generations"
New York, February 11, 10 am – 6 pm, United Nations Headquarters

The Conference’s purpose is to build bridges and develop projects, services and products that support the needs of people of all ages. Each month the world’s older population increases by 1.2 million! The quantity of life change has become a quality of life challenge.  Program examines the role of information and connection technology in influencing the quality of life of older persons in the world; it stipulates a framework of how to think about ICT as an agent of change -- offering a quality blueprint for an enriched “Society for All Ages” focusing on:

Social and Economic Sustainability through Technology, Rural and Urban Development, Entrepreneurship, e-learning, e-commerce, Networks, and Capacity Building. (…)

As part of a series of Interlinked Congresses addressing the “Age of Longevity” held in cities around the globe, this conference is being held during the Commission for Social Development. The International Council for Caring Communities (ICCC) organizes it in collaboration with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), UN Programme on Ageing, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UN ICT Task Force, Department of Public Information, the private sector, other NGOs. Please check UN Website for Conference up-date and registration form or


World Summit on Media for Children and Adolescents -- 19-23 April, Rio de Janeiro

International media professionals, researchers, educators from around the world will discuss, and analyse television, radio, film, internet and electronic games production for children and adolescents. On the agenda: the rights of children and adolescents to quality media. Media from All, Media for All is the theme of the 4th WSMCA. It is an initiative of the World Summit on Media for Children Foundation which started in 1995 in Melbourne, Australia, and rapidly converted into the leading international forum, dealing with quality of media produced for children and adolescents, new technologies, public policies, legal and commercial agreements. This forum consists of innovative and instigating discussions held through conferences, exhibitions, round tables, workshops, panels, master classes and videoconferences.

At the Summit, the International Child Art Foundation (ICAF) founder, Ashfaq Ishaq, will chair a session on using media intelligently and creatively. ICAF is one of the premier organizations for the world's children. ICAF employs the arts as a dynamic channel to nurture children's creativity, as a language-independent medium to connect children around the world, and as a powerful catalyst for peace building. ICAF publishes the CHILDART magazine - a unique, commercial-free, arts learning, self-discovery and global education publication for children, teachers and parents.


11Nobel Peace Laureates participate to PeaceJam at Pioneer High School, USA

PeaceJam is a year long, on-going international education program of the Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor (MI). The program is built around eleven leading Nobel Peace Laureates who will work personally with our students to pass on the spirit, skills and wisdom they exemplify. The participating Nobel Laureates are directly involved in developing the curriculum and the program itself. PeaceJam is the only organization in the world which has eleven Nobel Peace Laureates working together long-term for a common cause – our Youth.

The PeaceJam program is comprised of three components:

Education: The curriculum is flexible and activity-oriented, providing the means to discuss such issues as violence and racism, and the qualities of being a peacemaker. Inspiration: After spending time in the curriculum, we will attend educational field trips, the annual PeaceJam Youth Conference at Western Michigan University, where we will meet the Nobel Laureate whom we have been studying. Action: We will return to our community with a renewed perspective on making a difference, and with the charge to fulfill our service project commitment.

Our Swords Into Plowshares Peace Center and Gallery promotes and inspires justice and peace through the visual and performing arts by serving as a forum for artists to present works, which comment on social conditions, fostering visions of the world transformed to one where peace and justice prevail, and by encouraging people to use their creativity to express their desire for such a world and to take action to make those visions a reality.

Further information:

Victor L. Kennerly, Harry Hayward 


ADRA completes school project in Afghanistan

Silver Spring, MD, USA, January 27 - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) office in Afghanistan recently completed a six-month education project in Jowzjan Province, Northern Afghanistan. The project rehabilitated the Oramast Elementary School and provided it with 100 wooden desks and chairs, a sports equipment kit, playground equipment and a water well, benefiting five surrounding villages. Due to these improvements, eight new classes were started, including three for girls. (…)

Water and sanitation issues were also addressed by drilling hand-pump wells in the villages of Kutchilakhimonio, Kutchikhojimorzo, Mirvaismina, Kazontchi, Naowobod Jim Mahala and Harabkhona. Additionally, 187 hygiene and sanitation posters concerning hand washing were produced and distributed, and hygiene and sanitation activities were conducted in 23 schools.

The project, funded by the Government of the Faroe Islands, Hope for Humanity, HELP International and ADRA International, resulted in an "81% increase in school enrollment and a 75% increase in the number of children with access to clean water at school," reported Karla Leitzke, project manager for ADRA Afghanistan



* * * * * * *


Next issue: 27 February.


* * * * * * *


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to over 2,400 editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in 47 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway,  Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA, and it is also available in its web site:

It is a service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered non-profit educational organization chartered in Italy in 1979 and associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations.

The Association operates for the development of consciousness and promotes a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity in diversity and on sharing.         

Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy. E-mail:


* * * * * * *