Good News Agency – Year V, n° 5



Weekly - Year V, number 5 – 9 April 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 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



Treaty on Biodiversity to become law

Rome, 31 March (FAO) -- Twelve European countries and the European Community have ratified the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, triggering the 90-day countdown to the Treaty's entry into force, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today.

The latest ratifications bring to 48 the number of countries worldwide that have ratified the agreement, which will, therefore, enter into force on 29 June 2004.

The Treaty will ensure that plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, which are vital for human survival, are conserved and sustainably used and that benefits from their use are equitably and fairly distributed.

"This is a legally binding treaty that will be crucial for the sustainability of agriculture", said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.  "The Treaty is an important contribution to the achievement of the World Food Summit's major objective of halving the number of hungry people by 2015".

"Years of multilateral negotiations under the auspices of FAO's Intergovernmental Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture have finally been successful", said José Esquinas-Alcázar, Secretary of the Commission. "The Treaty provides an international legal framework that will be a key element in ensuring food security, now and in the future.  The challenge is now to ensure that the Treaty becomes operative in all countries." (…)



Human rights



Uzbekistan: ICRC to hand over education programme

2 April - On 26 March the Ministries of Public Education and of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education of Uzbekistan, the ICRC and the Red Crescent Society of Uzbekistan signed an agreement that sets a handover date for a programme that the ICRC has been supporting for several years and that is aimed at spreading knowledge of international humanitarian law in the country’s secondary schools and universities.

Under the agreement, instructors will be trained with a view to developing a solid teaching base for the programme, which will be handed over to the authorities in 2007. A similar agreement was signed with the Ministry of Education of the Kyrgyz Republic on 9 March.


Iraq: Launch of international support programme for trade unions

Brussels, 2 April (ICFTU Online) - International trade union organisations are launching a support programme for the development of trade unions in Iraq, following a February mission to the country, and a subsequent planning workshop in Brussels. (…)

The ICFTU, together with the Global Union Federations, intends to help develop a solid institutional, legislative and policy framework which ensures a just reconstruction. The international trade union movement will also assist Iraqi workers in establishing and consolidating independent and democratic trade unions.

A basic requirement is a new labour code which fully respects the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards. The international labour movement is pressing for a key role for the ILO in developing the new legislation, to replace the existing Ba’athist laws which underpinned decades of anti-union repression by the previous regime. (…)


Women trade unionists pledge support to PlayFair at the Olympics campaign

Brussels, 1 April (ICFTU Online) - Women from trade unions around the world gathered today in Brussels for the launch of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions’ (ICFTU) annual Women’s Committee, running from 1st- 2nd April. Featuring trade unionists from countries ranging from Bulgaria to the Dominican Republic, one centrepiece of the Committee’s activities was the signing of an Olympic torch; a powerful endorsement by women trade union leaders of the PlayFair at the Olympics campaign. Thousands of people, representing workers and consumers from more than 25 countries, have already participated in campaign launches and subsequent PlayFair acitivities. Launched on March 4th by Global Unions, Oxfam and the Clean Clothes Campaign, PlayFair has so far resulted in more than 30,000 letters, faxes and emails being sent to the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and global sportswear manufacturers including Fila, Asics and Puma.

A report produced for the campaign documented numerous and serious violations of trade union rights and other fundamental standards. Most workers producing global sportswear products are women. Exposed to serious flaws in health and safety, exhausting work schedules and poor pay, these women also suffer sexual harassment at their workplaces. (…)


UNODC launches local media campaign in over 40 countries to assist victims of human trafficking

Vienna, 1 April (UN Information Service) -- As part of its global human trafficking awareness campaign, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has joined forces with its partners in over 40 countries to produce customized versions of its latest video spots.  Each of the versions includes a local telephone hotline number where victims can receive assistance and concerned citizens can find out what they can do to help. (…)

Human trafficking is a growing global phenomenon, with 800,000 to 900,000 people trafficked across international borders annually, according to  reports from the United  Nations and the United States Department of State. The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which supplements the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, promotes international cooperation to prevent and fight trafficking. The UN Protocol calls on countries to protect and assist victims in legal proceedings and provide social assistance in areas such as counselling, housing, education and health care. Additionally, the Protocol points to the need to improve the social conditions that lead to human trafficking and to raise awareness about the issue through public information, such as UNODC’s television campaign.The video spots can be viewed at



Economy and development



Better harvests improve sub-Saharan Africa's food supply situation

But millions still need food assistance

Rome, 7 April - While overall availability of food has improved in sub-Saharan Africa, millions of people in several countries still rely on food assistance to survive, FAO said today in its first Africa Report for 2004. The report is a regional and country-by-country breakdown of the crop prospects and food supply situation in sub-Saharan Africa issued three times each year. According to the report, estimated cereal import requirements in sub-Saharan Africa in 2004 "remain high" but are expected to be lower than last year. Altogether 24 countries in the sub-region are facing food emergencies.

In Eastern Africa, food production has generally improved compared to last year, mainly due to good crops in Ethiopia and Sudan. "However," says the report, "the food situation in parts of Somalia, Eritrea, Tanzania and pastoral areas of Kenya is of particular concern." (…)

February and March rains in much of Southern Africa generally improved crop prospects, but heavy downpours caused flooding in Angola, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, resulting in substantial crop damage. (…)

The food supply situation for 2004 in Western Africa is generally favourable, reflecting above average to record harvests in the Sahelian countries and satisfactory crops in almost all other countries, the report says. Markets are well supplied and cereal prices have declined substantially, according to the report. But, in Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone internally displaced people and refugees continue to need food assistance. Also of concern is the threat from desert locusts already well into the development stage in the northern parts of several Sahelian countries as well as in Algeria and Morocco.

The Africa Report is produced by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning Service and is based in part on joint FAO/World Food Programme assessment missions to African countries throughout the year. Several such missions are scheduled for five countries of southern Africa in April/May.


Retailers to meet with women entrepreneurs from developing countries

Geneva, 25 March (UNCTAD) -- Top retailers will meet with women entrepreneurs from developing countries in Geneva on 29 March to explore how business can be used as a route to poverty reduction and gender equality. The meeting, convened by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)with the support of the government of Canada, will lead to a partnership between women producers, buyers and UN agencies. (…)

The partnership is thus aimed at enhancing export opportunities and increasing earnings for home-based women workers and women microentrepreneurs while promoting sustainable and gender-sensitive methods of production. To be known as the Trade Initiative for Poverty Alleviation and Gender Equality, the partnership will help its target beneficiaries to develop competitive and marketable products and to comply with the regulations and standards of production demanded by global consumers.

The Geneva meeting will be attended by representatives of such retailers and importers as Coop, Migros, Schilliger, Catambo and Fair Trade Village, all of Switzerland; Ikea of Sweden; British Importers of Canada; Artisans du Monde of France; and the UK-based International Fair Trade Association. Three women entrepreneurs from the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) of India, Acao Communitaria of Brazil and Talking Beads of South Africa will also take part. (…)


UN ICT task force, Wireless Internet Institute unveil wireless universal connectivity initiatives

New York, 24 March (Department of Economic and Social Affairs) -- Heeding a call from Secretary-General Kofi Annan to extend Internet connectivity to underserved populations around the world, the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Task Force and the Wireless Internet Institute announced today a series of programmes to accelerate the adoption of wireless Internet in support of universal connectivity.

In his challenge to Silicon Valley in 2002, the Secretary-General said:  "We need to think of ways to bring wireless-fidelity applications to the developing world so as to make use of unlicensed radio spectrum to deliver cheap and fast Internet access."

In response, the UN ICT Task Force and W2i have put together "Wireless Internet for Underserved Populations and Local Communities", a programme designed to address one of the leading development challenges of our time -- universal connectivity -- by involving all key stakeholders, from government and civil society to the private sector and field practitioners.

Under the programme, field conferences and publications undertaken in partnership with the private sector and international development organizations will seek to accelerate adoption of broadband wireless Internet in underserved areas and communities around the world.

Early underwriters of the initiative include IBM and Intel. (…)






Liberia: Rice and vegetable seed for 30,000 families

24 March - This week, in time for the planting season starting in April, the ICRC is distributing 20 kilos of rice seed, two kilos of beans and one vegetable-seed kit per household to 30,000 families living in north-western and south-eastern Liberia (…). In all, 150,000 people will benefit from the programme, which should enable many families to sow and harvest rice back home for the first time in years. The ICRC had previously distributed axes, machetes, hoes, rakes, shovels and other tools to the same households through village committees. Both distributions were planned after the needs in each county had been carefully assessed. (…)

Since the war ended in early August 2003, the focus of ICRC programmes has shifted from displaced persons and residents in and around Monrovia to residents and returnees in the country’s 15 counties. In addition to providing agricultural assistance, 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 and spread knowledge of international humanitarian law. It also provides support for and cooperates with the Liberia National Red Cross Society.


African Superstar Baaba Maal supports Africa's youth

Washington, DC, March 24 -- West African singing sensation, Baaba Maal, a new United Nations Development Program Youth Emissary, has pledged his support to the youth of Africa, including a major youth-focused food security initiative being implemented by Counterpart International, a US-based non-governmental organization, and its local partners in Baaba Maal's home town in northern Senegal. Following a powerful "Acoustic Evening with Baaba Maal" at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium in the nation's capital last week, the singer commended Counterpart's school feeding, nutrition and health program in his native Department of Podor. "I think it's a good project, it's a good idea ... and if I can help, I am ready to do it," said Baaba Maal of the initiative funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Baaba Maal, who promised to visit the schoolchildren on his return from the United States, has been raising awareness among young people on the continent about the threat of HIV/AIDS, illiteracy and initiatives to reduce poverty. (…)

Counterpart's program, which provides a hot and nutritious meal to schoolchildren each day, seeks to boost literacy rates, improve school attendance and enrollment, alleviate short-term hunger, improve attentiveness in school, and educate children in Podor about positive lifestyle choices and personal care. The program allows the semi-nomadic pastoralists of the north an opportunity to keep their children in school during the harsh dry season instead of following their herds in search of pasture.  (…)


New look Aquaplastics website: click to give clean water to Africa

22 March - The European plastics industry is launching its new look Aquaplastics website ( to raise money for water and sanitation projects in Madagascar and Malawi.

The success of the charity website in raising €150 000 for much needed water projects in Nigeria and Mali last year prompted the European plastics industry to start the project again in 2004.

As last year, Aquaplastics is being launched today, 22nd March to coincide with World Water Day. People across the world are invited to visit the site and help raise money by registering a click each day until 22 June 2004. For every click, the European plastics industry (through APME, the Association of Plastics Manufacturers in Europe) will donate 10 cents to help international charity WaterAid deliver clean, safe water and sanitation to people in Madagascar and Malawi. Life expectancy in Malawi is just 40 years, and less than half the population of Madagascar have access to a supply of safe, clean water. (…)

Don't wait any longer and click on to give water to Africa!



Peace and security



"Sailing Together": Delegation of Jewish and Arab youth on a sailing visit to South Africa

Givat Aviva, Israel, 28 March - A group of ten youth (five Jews and five Arabs, aged 14-15) is currently completing their preparations for a trip to South Africa. The group, chosen and trained by the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace at Givat Haviva, will be hosted in South Africa by the Jewish Maritime League from April 2-14, where they will participate in sailing competitions as well as diverse cultural and social activities. Over the past three months the group has undergone a training process at Givat Haviva, accompanied by the Director of the Department of Education of the Menashe Regional Council, Zeev Shafrir, along with sailing training at the Center for Sea Training and Education at Sdot Yam.

The joint sailing expedition is one of the many projects initiated and implemented by the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace at Givat Haviva. Other projects include a soccer and educational project, joint initiative of Givat Haviva and Maccabi Tel Aviv; this summer a delegation of youth trained in the fine arts will visit the United States to visit various summer camps; additional educational activities are held every day in schools across the country, promoting peace education and coexistence.
Two years ago the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace at Givat Haviva was awarded the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education, an especially prestigious award attesting to the quality of activity at Givat Haviva. For further information: Mohammad Darawshe, Public Relations Director, Givat Haviva:


Afghanistan offers hope in mine-ravaged region

Kabul, Afghanistan, 26-March - Today the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) congratulated Afghanistan for its commitment to the ban on antipersonnel landmines and pushed for increased efforts to promote the landmine prohibition amongst the country’s Asian neighbours. The 1997 Nobel Peace Prize-winning campaign is in Kabul for its regional meeting, opened today by Afghan Vice-President Mr Amin Arsalah. (…)

Afghanistan joined the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, or Ottawa Convention, on 11 September 2002 and is now working vigorously to implement the agreement. Just under half of the Asia-Pacific region, and very few Central Asian countries, have joined the Mine Ban Treaty. Only two of Afghanistan’s neighbours are party to the Mine Ban Treaty: Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. (…)

Donations for mine action in the country have quadrupled in recent years, and as a result the goal of a mine-free Afghanistan is within reach in years, not decades. Landmines contaminate all but two of Afghanistan’s provinces and are scattered over an area of more than 780 square kilometres, including towns and villages, grazing land and roads. To date some 260 square kilometres have been cleared.(…)






Workers and employers develop joint actions to fight HIV/AIDS in eight African countries

Brussels, 2 April (ICFTU Online) - Representatives of employers, and trade unions held an unprecedented meeting in Geneva to develop bipartite national action plans for workplace responses to HIV/AIDS. The meeting, running from 30 to 31 March, follows up on a joint policy statement of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) targeting eight countries which are among the worst-affected by the pandemic in Africa. (…) Employers' and workers' representatives, meeting inside the International Labour Organisation's headquarters in Geneva, made joint presentations on the work they have carried out so far in Cote D'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. (…)

The participants also held discussions on resource mobilisation with multilateral and national donors, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the German technical cooperation agency (GTZ), as well the Dutch and Swedish governments.


Canadian Government Ups the Ante by $10 million Canadian Dollars in Fight Against Measles in Africa

New York, 2 April -  UNICEF today welcomed Canada's donation of an additional 10.5 million Canadian dollars toward reducing child measles deaths in war-torn countries in Africa. The funds are targeted at the countries where children are at a greater risk of measles because of a mosaic of emergencies including war, conflicts, natural disasters and devastated health care systems.  Recipient countries include Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Mali and Niger. Measles kills more children than any other vaccine-preventable disease – nearly 500,000 children die every year in Africa. (…)

The donation, made through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will strengthen the efforts of the Measles Partnership for Africa. The prime goal of the partnership is to reduce measles deaths globally by 50 per cent by 2005, compared to the 1999 figures of 869,000 deaths. Since 1998, CIDA has donated over 68 million Canadian dollars to UNICEF to combat measles.  These donations were given both through the Canadian International Immunization Initiative and through donations for activities in emergency countries.

Despite these donations, UNICEF warned that a shortage of funds stands in the way of reducing measles deaths even further and urged the global community to follow the lead of Canada and the partners of the Measles Partnership for Africa and provide the necessary funds. (…)

UNICEF Media: Mohammad Jalloh ,  - Kate Donovan


Rotary International sponsors Community Health Conference in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia, 1 April - More than 400 business and professional leaders from throughout the world will convene at the Saint Petersburg Hotel 2 April to discuss Rotary's funding and volunteer support of Russian health initiatives.  Scheduled speakers include Member of Parliament Alexander Radko, Rotary International President Jonathan Majiyagbe, Malmö University Hospital physician Dr. Peter Nilsson and Ms. Teela Pakkasvirta, from the Finnish Consulate in St. Petersburg.  

 The development conference is one of a series of 15 Rotary-sponsored "Presidential Celebrations" highlighting global cooperation and volunteerism and is followed by a Rotary in Russia conference on 3 and 4 April. 

Today, there are 1,527 Rotarians in 74 clubs throughout Russia.  Recent Rotary-funded St. Petersburg health projects include equipment for the Theo Erismann Hospital's Hematology Department and the Alexander Hospital.


Far more pregnant women getting antenatal care

Study finds 20% jump; opportunity to reach women with key health services

Geneva / New York, 30 March - The number of pregnant women in developing countries receiving antenatal care during pregnancy has increased significantly since 1990, signalling that an untapped opportunity exists to reach poor women with a whole package of life-saving health services, according to a joint report issued today by UNICEF and the World Health Organization. 

The number of women receiving antenatal care has increased 20 per cent since 1990, with the greatest progress in Asia (31 per cent) and the least improvement in sub-Saharan Africa (4 per cent).  "The advantages of receiving regular antenatal care cannot be stressed enough," said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF. "If a woman comes for antenatal care early in her pregnancy, there is time for early diagnosis and treatment of infections in the mother, and an opportunity to prevent low birth weight and other conditions in the newborn.  These findings have enormous significance for maternal health and child survival." (…)

The study finds that antenatal care is heavily influenced by such factors as wealth and education.  In poor households women are far less likely to use antenatal care than women in well-off households. For example, in Pakistan, 7 per cent of women from poor households received antenatal care, compared with 70 per cent of women in the wealthiest households. (…)

For further information, please contact: Erin Trowbridge, UNICEF Media, New York Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media, New York Christopher Powell, Communications Advisor, Family and Community Health WHO, Geneva:   


Religious shareholders mount big push to spur stronger drug company response to HIV/AIDS crisis

New York, March 24 - Religious and other concerned shareholders today announced a major coordinated campaign through the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) to pressure four major pharmaceutical companies - Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), Merck (NYSE:MRK), Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) - to take new steps on the HIV/AIDS crisis, including the pandemic in Africa.

Even though HIV medicines can turn AIDS from a death sentence into a chronic disease, only 4 percent of the estimated 40 million world citizens suffering from HIV/AIDS have access to the life-saving medicines. Of that total, 95 percent of the victims live in the developing world where major pharmaceutical companies have been faulted for not doing enough to make HIV/AIDS medications more readily available to the millions who need them.

The ICCR-backed resolutions call on each of the four leading pharmaceutical companies to "review the economic effects of the HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria pandemics on the company's business strategy, and its initiatives to date, and report to shareholders within six months following the 2004 annual meeting." (…)

ICCR members have engaged pharmaceutical companies on HIV/AIDS issues for three years. ICCR-sponsored resolutions on HIV/AIDS are also pending at major employers Caterpillar, Inc. (NYSE: CAT), ChevronTexaco Corp. (NYSE: CVX), Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO), and PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP). In an unusual move, the Coca-Cola board of directors is supporting the resolution on HIV/AIDS facing that company. (…)



Energy and safety




Vienna International Centre hosts exhibition on Algerian Space Programme

Vienna, 2 April (UN Information Service) -- An exhibition on the Algerian Space Programme was officially inaugurated in the Rotunda of the Vienna International Centre on 29 March by Taous Feroukhi, Permanent Representative of Algeria to the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV), and Antonio Maria Costa, Director-General of UNOV. The exhibition is jointly organized by the Algerian Space Agency and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA). (…)

The exhibition coincides with the first anniversary of Algeria’s accession to the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and the setting up of the Algerian Space Agency. (…)

Emphasizing that the "use of space technology is no longer an esoteric activity that only the developed countries can afford", Mr. Costa highlighted the importance of satellite imagery for Algeria in monitoring agricultural land use, using its natural resources in a sustainable manner, planning urban and rural development, monitoring industrial and marine pollution and supporting cartography for infrastructure such as road and rail networks. (…)


Democratic Republic of the Congo: Clean water for 200,000 people

On 23 March the ICRC delivered a transformer to the national electricity board in Kisangani so that electricity could be supplied to the REGIDESO water-treatment plant in Lubunga, in Orientale province. The town’s more than 200,000 residents will thus have access to clean water again.

Lubunga had been without drinking water or electricity for more than 18 months because the transformer had broken down. As the electricity board was unable to repair it, the ICRC decided to donate a new 100 kVA transformer, this vital item being the last piece of equipment needed to put the water-supply system back into service after its rehabilitation with material and technical assistance provided by the ICRC. Ensuring access to drinking water for a wide section of the urban population in cooperation with local institutions is an ICRC priority in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


ADRA North Korea & partners to improve energy source

Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, 29 March – Access to reliable sources of energy has long been a struggle for rural farmers in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). But the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), in partnership with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), have trialed a technology that will enable rural households to produce adequate energy for their own essential requirements.

The project will use biogas plants, a widely used process for energy production around the world, to produce a year-round energy supply. Biogas is a biological process, which aims to utilize the cycles in nature that produce energy. This process has been used in the past but the production of gas often ceases in winter as the temperature in the biogas plant falls below 59ºF (15ºC), the minimum temperature for the efficient production of biogas. (…)

The newly installed biogas plants will utilize both anaerobic processes for the fermentation process and aerobic processes to naturally heat and insulate. Insulating the biogas plant and placing the "digester" in a greenhouse also increase efficiency. The greenhouse also allows the family to extend the growing seasons of food within the greenhouse or keep animals warm during the winter months. It is the first household plant in DPRK working the whole year without additional heating required. (…)


Light-sensitive gloves boost hygiene

17 March - A new type of disposable glove releasing chlorine dioxide when exposed to light or moisture could kill potentially harmful microbes, according to a study in “Clinical Infectious Diseases”.  One can imagine the enormous potential for health care and food workers. With costs similar to traditional gloves, these vinyl or polyethylene gloves reduce the chances of transmission of microbes such as E. coli, staphylococcus or salmonella, regularly encountered in medical or food-handling work. As soon as the gloves come out into the light, chlorine dioxide (an undetectable gas commonly used in water purification) is released and continues to emit for up to four hours. Trials showed that after 20 minutes, 99.99 percent of the bacteria were destroyed.

Infusing materials with chlorine dioxide to control infection could be extremely helpful to a number of industries, according to US study author Dr. Michael Barza. For instance, medical devices such as vascular and urinary catheters, if made with the gas-emitting microspheres, could help prevent infections that might endanger already vulnerable patients.

A major benefit of this new technology is that it will not lead to the advent of “super-germs” as antibacterial soaps and cleaners can, a characteristic of chlorine dioxide being that it does not breed resistance among microorganisms.



Environment and wildlife



Three wildlife species chosen for trinational protection

San Francisco, 24 March – The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC)—an organization created by the NAFTA environmental side accord—today announced the first three wildlife species to be safeguarded under a new trinational effort to protect species of common conservation concern in North America.

The leatherback turtle, humpback whale and pink-footed shearwater were jointly selected by the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States, in cooperation with environmental groups, as pilot species for the first North American Conservation Action Plans. The action plans will establish a common conservation approach across the continent, and will act to reduce threats, share expertise and provide key information to the public and wildlife officers. (…)

In June 2003, the three North American governments adopted a long-term strategy for the conservation of critical species and habitats in North America. The action plans form a key element of this strategy, as does a complementary process aimed at establishing a North American Marine Protected Areas Network. (…)



Culture and education



Japanese youth support UN counter-narcotics efforts

Vienna, 25 March (UN Information Service) -- The Tokyo-based Drug Abuse Prevention Centre’s (DAPC) “No! Absolutely No!” campaign against drug abuse in developing countries sets a unique example of what young people can do when they approach a worldwide problem.

A group of six upper-secondary school students from Japan – Yumi Sogou, Takashi Yamaguchi, Nishiki Yamamoto, Haruka Kikou, Yumi Kobayakawa, and Manami Shiga – presented Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), their latest contribution of US$ 190,000, thus increasing their 10-year total to almost US$ 3.9 million.

“Your contribution in support of our work over the last decade matches the contribution of some of the major donor countries,” Mr. Costa said in a meeting with the young ambassadors. 

Since 1994, DAPC has been running a nationwide fund-raising campaign in Japanese cities, collecting money in the streets, as well as from the private sector and civil society at large. Each year, six to eight of the most active participants come to Vienna as designated Young Civic Ambassadors to present their contribution to the UNODC. 

DAPC’s contribution to UNODC is used for grants, ranging from US$ 5,000 to US$ 20,000, supporting non-governmental organizations in developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe in their grass-root activities in drug abuse prevention. So far, more than 300 grants have been given to such organizations in over 90 countries. (…)


Rotarians on the field: elementary school opens for hundreds of children in Afghanistan

Jalalabad, Afghanistan -- Through the efforts of dedicated volunteers, a new elementary school is opening to serve the needs of up to 2,000 local girls and boys. The school in Jalalabad has been transformed from tents and dirt floors to new classrooms full of supplies, a library, and a health clinic all housed in a concrete building.

The project sprouted from the vision of San Diego Rotary member Fary Moini, who resolved to build a new school for children on the outskirts of Jalalabad.  She has made a number of trips to Afghanistan, with supporting funds and supplies from her Rotary club, to work on the school.  Working with her fellow Rotary club members at the La Jolla Rotary club, Fary raised more than $100,000 for the project.


UNIS Vienna launches new web site

Web site offers enhanced features, comprehensive database

Vienna, 25 March (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Vienna today launched its new Web site:

The revamped, easy-to-use Web site offers a variety of enhanced features, including press releases issued both from the Department of Public Information (DPI) New York, and from UNIS Vienna. Top News will guide you through the latest press briefings held by UNIS -– scheduled press briefings and summaries covering past events are also online.

The Web site is aimed at offering a comprehensive insight into the various activities of UNIS Vienna, besides offering the media quick, up-to-date information.  Visitors to the site can check out the latest events and happenings at the United Nations in Vienna, the various observances and days celebrated in Vienna.  Besides this, visitors can also find information on internships in the United Nations, library services, guided tours, schedules as well as lecture programmes for student groups.



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Next issue: 30 April.

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