Good News Agency – Year V, n° 6



Weekly - Year V, number 6 – 30 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 legislation Human rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnvironment and wildlifeCulture and education



International legislation



EUHR Solana welcomes the successful outcome of the presidential election in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

April 29 - Javier SOLANA, EU High Representative for the CFSP, welcomes the successful outcome of the presidential election in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Brussels)

Following the election of Branko Crvenkovski as president of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), welcomed today the successful outcome of the election: "The successful outcome of the election is positive for the country. It is a display of maturity and responsibility. It is a victory for those leaders engaged in the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement and a vote for Europe. It is also a positive signal for the region. The people have spoken: there is no doubt today that Skopje is the capital of a functional, multi-ethnic, democratic State. What is now most important is that the President, a new Prime Minister and all political leaders rapidly resume work on the crucial reform agenda, in particular in the area of decentralisation. We will continue to assist the country on its path towards the European Union."


Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

On April 22, Irish Ambassador Richard Ryan spoke on behalf of the EU at the UN Security Council's open debate on the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The European Union welcomes and strongly supports this initiative by the Security Council to address the problem of the potential acquisition of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or materials by non-state actors. Measures are needed to address this important issue and enhanced international cooperation is required. Ambassador Ryan summarized the important EU efforts in this arena.

For a copy of his statement, please visit



Human rights



Liberia: ICRC launches poster campaign to reunite children with their families

23 April - The ICRC and the Liberian National Red Cross Society have launched a new tracing campaign. The campaign involves ICRC delegations and Red Cross Societies throughout West Africa, who are joining forces to trace the relatives of Liberian children separated from their families. The pictures of 495 Liberian children registered by the ICRC in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria appear on posters and booklets under the slogan “Help us find our parents." The materials are displayed in public places, such as markets, hospitals, schools and camps, both in Liberia and in the surrounding countries.

The campaign will cover all 15 counties in Liberia. It will involve every ICRC delegation in this part of Africa and will get pictures of these children into the remotest areas. Using posters will enable the ICRC to help children who can give no information about their families, or who have given incorrect information.

The ICRC has already run three similar campaigns in Liberia, in 2002 and 2003. The results were highly encouraging: between October 2003 and March 2004, 527 Liberian children re-established contact with their relatives, and 194 were reunited with their families in Liberia. Currently, the ICRC is handling the cases of 1,891 Liberian children looking for their families. (…)


Humanitarian groups respond to needs of migrants expelled from Angola into Western Democratic Republic of Congo

New York, 21 April (OCHA) -- In response to the humanitarian needs of thousands of Congolese migrants who have been expelled from Angola into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), United Nations humanitarian agencies and their non-governmental organization (NGO) partners conducted an assessment mission to a town in DRC’s Western Kasai Province yesterday.  The mission, led by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), to Tshikapa, some 750 kilometres from Kinshasa, has revealed urgent humanitarian needs for food, health care, clean water and transport.

In response to needs in the affected zones, the DRC’s Ministry of Solidarity and Humanitarian Affairs is opening two humanitarian crisis cells.  The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is bringing in other supplies, including medical and water/sanitation equipment for 35,000 people.  Médecins sans frontières, Belgium (MSF-B), the main NGO on the ground, is providing medical, transport, logistics and storage support.  The OCHA in DRC has organised, led and financed two inter-agency missions to the areas in the past week.  In order to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Kahungula, BandunduProvince, OCHA is tapping into its emergency humanitarian intervention fund to support MSF-Belgium and local partners. (…)


Palestinian Relief Agency resumes distribution of emergency food in Gaza strip

Gaza, 21 April (UNRWA) -- The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) today recommenced the distribution of emergency food aid to some 600,000 refugees in the Gaza Strip. UNRWA’s emergency food programme was suspended on 1 April following restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities at the sole commercial entry point for Gaza.  Those restrictions prevented UNRWA from transporting empty freight containers out of Gaza, causing the Agency a bottleneck that prevented 11,000 tons of food from entering from the Israeli port of Ashdod and costing UNRWA around $130,000 in fees.

For most of the last two weeks, the Israeli authorities have operated workable arrangements -- as is required under international humanitarian law -- at the Gaza entry point.  These have permitted the Agency to bring sufficient amounts of humanitarian aid into the Strip.  The Agency now has enough food in Gaza to provide for the needs of the refugees for the next 30 days. (…)


OCHA launches new web site

New York, 7 April (OCHA) -- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today launched its new Web site, OCHA Online (, with an expanded content and revamped design. “The coordination of response to humanitarian crises has emerged as one of the most important functions of the United Nations”, said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland.  “OCHA is uniquely placed at the centre of this coordination through its mandate, and this new Web site provides an insight into OCHA’s functions and activities.”

The new OCHA Online features tools and services that are critical for carrying out humanitarian operations.  The site also includes in-depth coverage of issues of concern to the humanitarian community, such as the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the plight of internally displaced persons and the humanitarian impact of sanctions.

A virtual news centre makes it simple to obtain press releases and the latest situation reports on natural disasters and complex emergencies, as well as the text of statements made by OCHA senior managers.  Publications, including newsletters and other documentation produced by OCHA, are also featured on the news centre. (…)



Economy and development



CARE partners with USAID and others to promote safe drinking water

Alliance launches at the United Nations with $5 million

New York, April 22 - A strategic public-private collaboration devoted to ensuring safe drinking water was officially launched today at the United Nations' Commission on Sustainable Development meeting in New York. The Safe Drinking Water Alliance includes CARE, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health/Center for Communication Programs (CCP), Population Services International (PSI), and Procter & Gamble. The group will receive $1.4 million over the next 18 months from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Global Development Alliance, designed to promote partnerships such as this in the developing world.

USAID's financial contribution leverages substantial in-kind and financial contributions from Procter & Gamble (estimated at approximately $3.5 million), as well as technical and program support resources from other partners. The alliance is designed to develop innovative approaches to ensure the safety of drinking water. Alliance members joined forces to offer their respective expertise and resources to better understand the behaviors and motivations for choosing particular technologies for treating household water, to share the knowledge gained, and identify opportunities for scaling up successful efforts to ensure safe drinking water. (…)


Nine Sister City Partnerships awarded sustainable development grants

Washington, March 23 - Nine sister city partnerships were awarded $45,000 in grant funds by Sister Cities International to fund joint projects focused on sustainable development in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. The grants are funded and managed by the Office of Citizen Exchanges, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. (…)

These are the first grants the network has awarded. A total of $45,000 will be distributed as $5,000 seed grants. Funded projects will tackle issues such as micro-financing, tourism development, economic development, government, youth education, health care and environmental management. (…)

Representing more than 2,400 communities in 123 countries, Sister Cities International ( is a citizen diplomacy network creating and strengthening partnerships between the U.S. and communities abroad. (…) Sister Cities International promotes peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation by focusing on sustainable
development, youth and education, arts and culture, humanitarian assistance and economic growth programs.

For further information: Ami Neiberger-Miller


Success of Asian highway would lead to economic integration, cultural contact across vast continent

Signing of Accord Set for 26-28 April Shanghai Regional Summit

New York, 20 April -- A UN treaty-signing event 26-28 April in Shanghai, China, if successful, will ensure completion of a multi-pronged 140,000-kilometre highway corridor connecting 32 Asian nations and linking Europe to Asia.  All regions and national economies should gain tremendously, including the region’s low-income landlocked States, primary partners in the 2002 Almaty plan of action for landlocked and transit access countries. The 26 April ceremony to mark the opening of the Asian Highway Agreement for signature will take place in the context of the sixtieth session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Experts relate the ultimate effect of the Asian Highway to the economic explosion that occurred in Europe after 1975, when the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) engineered a similar arrangement for that region.  For landlocked countries, the Highway portends a revival of the cross-continent access that the legendary Silk Route provided in the early part of the First Millennium. (…) The landlocked countries that would be linked more closely to seaports include Bhutan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal and Uzbekistan, according to ESCAP. (…)


Fao Regional Conference For Europe - Montpellier 5 - 7 May 2004

Rome/Montpellier, 20 April - The 24th FAO Regional Conference for Europe will be held at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure agronomique de Montpellier (ENSAM) in France between May 5th and 7th 2004. FAO Director-General Dr. Jacques Diouf will address the opening session of the conference on Tuesday 5th May at 10 am. Some 44 member states from the region, European Union representatives and other specialised agencies and observers will take part in the meeting.

 The agenda includes:

 The regional conference will follow a Non-Governmental Organization Forum which will take place on the 3rd and 4th of May 2004 at ENSAM. Conference documents are available online:


Global photography contest on rice launched

Highlights central role of rice in the fight against hunger and poverty

Rome, 22 April - A global photography contest to highlight the importance of rice as a staple food crop and a symbol of cultural and global identity has been launched by FAO and the United Nations. As 2004 is the UN International Year of Rice (IYR), professional and amateur photographers are invited to capture the "Rice is Life" theme in photographs illustrating the rich diversity of regions, people and resources linked to this internationally vital food source. IYR aims to promote improved production and access to this crop, which feeds more than half the world's population while providing income for millions of rice processors and traders. Development of sustainable rice-based systems will reduce poverty and hunger, and contribute to environmental conservation and a better life for present and future generations. (…)

Participants may submit slides, prints or digital images in either black and white or color. It is free to enter, and there are separate categories for professional and amateur photographers.

For competition details please visit the contest Web site at: The entry deadline is 30 July 2004.







Democratic Republic of the Congo: Relief supplies distributed in Katoyi

21 April - On 19 April the ICRC completed a distribution of food (salt, beans, maize flour) and other relief supplies (clothing, pots, blankets, soap, hoes, seed) to 7,600 households (over 35,000 people) in the Katoyi area (Masisi territory) of North Kivu. Since the roads and bridges were impassable, the distribution was carried out in Bihambwe, a day’s walk from Katoyi. Between 14 and 19 April, seven ICRC trucks made 40 round trips between Goma and Bihambwe to deliver the supplies.

The inhabitants of Katoyi had been forced to flee during the fighting in 1998. Now that security conditions have improved, most families are returning to the area. However, they are faced with major problems due to the loss of their means of survival (tools, seed and livestock), the damage done to their fields and the general collapse of infrastructure. The distribution was planned to coincide with the next planting season, which is to about to begin. Thanks to the supplies they received, the inhabitants of Katoyi will now be able to resume their traditional farming activities and improve their living conditions.


U.S. Rotary club efforts revitalize education in Afghanistan

By Vukoni Lupa-Lasaga - Rotary International

19 April - Rotarians are often the first volunteers to venture into corners of the earth where few private and public agencies have been working to make a difference in the lives of the poor. In Afghanistan, Rotary club efforts are helping to bring change to a country devastated by more than 20 years of war and neglect. Co-sponsored by the Rotary Club of La Jolla Golden Triangle, California, USA, a brand new grade school and a computer lab at a University in Jalalabad are just two examples of such initiatives helping Afghans to lay the foundations of a brighter future.

"It is clear that in the area in Afghanistan where we are working, Rotary is making a measurable difference in lives. We are doing things on the same or greater magnitude as [national] governments," says Past District 5340 Governor Steve Brown, one of several volunteers from the club involved in the country. (…)

Most recently, Brown led a delegation of four District 5340 Rotarians to the inauguration of the grade school and the computer center at the University of Nangarhar. On 11 March, at a ceremony attended by some 350 guests, the visiting Rotarians handed over the US$60,000 computer center to the university administration, now charged with the responsibility of running the facility that includes a satellite hookup to the Internet. To complement the computer center, the club has undertaken a project to teach English as a second language and distribute 12,000 dictionaries.  (…)


UN Volunteers programme and Southern African Student Volunteers announce new youth volunteering initiative

Pretoria, 2 April -- The UN Volunteers (UNV) programme and the Southern African Student Volunteers (SASVO) have joined forces to mobilize students and local communities to serve as volunteers in rural South Africa. With technical support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and a new partner, the US-based Association for Volunteer Administration (AVA), a global leader in volunteer administration and management, the project reaches out to a huge reservoir of untapped potential volunteers, South Africa’s young people.

By developing training modules in the most important areas of SASVO’s interventions i.e. agriculture, HIV/AIDS and social infrastructure, the joint project seeks to enhance the impact of volunteer contributions in these areas, as well as expanding SASVO’s capacity for volunteer management, and resource mobilization. The first UN Volunteers, Programme Advisor Horrance Chilando of Zambia and Training Specialist Charles Aheto-Tsegah of Ghana, arrived in December 2003 and January 2004, respectively, and have already facilitated the first workshops for SAVSO staff at their Pretoria headquarters. (…)



Peace and security



Turkmenistan reverses stance, will destroy 69,000 retained mines

Engineer Forces of Ministry of Defense of Turkmenistan prepare antipersonnel mines for destruction. 

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 9 April - On 8 April, a four-person International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) delegation observed a significant stockpile destruction event in Turkmenistan. The destruction took place at a firing range of the Engineer Forces of the Ministry of Defense of Turkmenistan, approximately 30 kilometers southwest of Turkmenabad (formerly Charjoh) in the Karakum desert. While Turkmenistan had previously reported that it intended to retain 69,200 antipersonnel mines for training purposes, it has now decided to destroy all but 200 of those mines -- and eventually even those 200 will be destroyed. Turkmenistan's current plan entails the destruction of 69,000 antipersonnel mines within the next six weeks, with two or three explosive events a day.

The ICBL, which had previously criticized Turkmenistan for retaining an unacceptably high number of mines, applauds Ashgabat's decision. Once the destruction process is completed, Turkmenistan will be back in line with its Mine Ban Treaty obligations to destroy stockpiled antipersonnel mines except for the "minimum number absolutely necessary". The ICBL thanks Turkmenistan for hosting its delegation and for the opportunity to observe the stockpile destruction. (…)


Regional conference on landmines in Tajikistan – May 15 and 16

ICBL delegation meeting with Kazakhstan's Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs. 

Almaty, Kazakhstan, 11 April - The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) will participate in a regional conference on landmines on 15 and 16 May in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The event is organised by the government of Tajikistan and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The two days conference aims to assess progress towards the Mine Ban Treaty objectives in Central Asia. Neighbouring states Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzkbekistan are invited. (…)

In Central Asia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are Parties to the Convention while Kazakhstan and mine-affected Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have yet to join. Recently Tajikistan started mine clearance operations on its territory and completed the destruction of its stockpile.


International Nuclear Safety Group Inaugurated

It was announced on 26 March that experts from 15 countries have joined to form the newly constituted International Nuclear Safety Group (INSAG) to provide authoritative advice and guidance on safety approaches, policies and principles at nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities. The group was formed at the request of IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, and Dr. Richard Meserve, Chairman of INSAG, who is the former head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and presently President of the Carnegie Institution. INSAG Members include representatives from Canada, France, Finland, Russian Federation, Spain, Germany, Brazil, United Kingdom, United States, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Japan, Hungary, India, China, and the NEA/OECD. Source: IAEA Staff Report, 26 March 2004.

The Sunflower, April -






Celebrities lend their voices to children's fight against malaria

Geneva, 22 April -- International celebrities Dikembe Mutombo and Youssou N'Dour have added their voices to those of tens of thousands of children across Africa who are calling for increased awareness, more protection and better treatment for malaria, which kills 3000 children every day.

In the run-up to Africa Malaria Day, commemorated on 25 April of each year, children throughout Africa are engaging in children's parliaments, TV and radio commentaries, plays, and other creative activities to send a clear message to those who have it in their power to make a difference: adults, decision-makers, governments and donors. Their intention?  To realize a child's dream of "a malaria-free future", the theme of this year's Africa Malaria Day.

"We are suffering a lot from malaria," says 13-year-old Efua Boateng, member of a church youth group in Ghana, "but I don't think the rest of the world understands. We need to let them know. We have to speak up on behalf of our younger brothers and sisters."

Dikembe Mutombo, New York Knicks basketball player, who comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is supporting their efforts by urging children to sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito nets. "Beating malaria is like winning at basketball," says Mutombo in a public-service announcement being broadcast Africa-wide. "You need to get to the net." (…)


Rotary recognizes the Government of Norway for its support of a polio-free world

Oslo, Norway, 20 April - In recognition of Norway's US$20 million in accumulated contributions to the global effort to eradicate polio since 1988, Rotary International today dedicated its Polio Eradication Champion Award to the Government of Norway.

A highly infectious disease that can cause paralysis and sometimes death, polio still strikes children in parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. Following an international investment of US$3 billion over 15 years, and the successful engagement of over 200 countries and 20 million volunteers, world health experts say it is possible to eradicate polio by the end of this year.

The award, presented by Rotary International President-nominee, Carl Wilhelm Stenhammar, was established in 1995 to recognize governments and world leaders who have made outstanding contributions toward the goal of eradicating polio. (…)

Rotary's commitment to end polio represents the largest private-sector support of a global health initiative ever. In 1985, Rotary members worldwide vowed to immunize all the world's children against polio by Rotary's 100th anniversary in 2005. Since then, Rotary has contributed more than US$500 million worldwide, and recently raised an additional US$119 million in 2003. Rotary members in Norway have contributed some US$2.6 million in support of polio eradication. Besides raising and contributing funds, over one million men and women of Rotary have volunteered their time and personal resources to help immunize more than 2 billion children in 122 countries during national immunization campaigns. (…)


Youth Leaders Advise UNFPA on their Generation's Rights and Needs

United Nations, New York, 20 April – A group of young people from around the world will advise UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, on the best ways to recognize and promote the rights and needs of youth within national development plans. The group will also ensure that UNFPA’s global initiatives are youth-friendly and adequately address young people’s concerns, particularly regarding their sexual and reproductive lives, HIV/AIDS and gender issues and their link with issues of livelihood.

The Youth Advisory Committee was formulated during a two-day meeting in New York, where more than 20 representatives of national, regional and international youth networks voiced their opinions on how to better integrate adolescents and youth in UNFPA’s programmes and initiatives. The meeting, held from 15 to16 April, also provided the participants with an

opportunity to discuss the challenges they faced in implementing their projects, in working with adults and in dealing with other youth. (…)


Integrated Traditional Medicines  - Peace Education for Better Health

World Congress 28-29-30 May, Verbania-Pallanza, Lake Maggiore, Italy

The Lama Gangchen World Peace Foundation is organising a World Congress on Traditional Integrated Medicines -  Peace Education for better Health in Verbania, in collaboration with the Local Ministry for Education and Culture of Verbania. The objective of this event is to bring a contribution towards the creation of a new world health system, which integrates the knowledge
of ancient traditional healing methods and modern medicine; an education that leads to wellbeing and the rebalance of the inner and outer world, creating the conditions for better health, on the physical, amotional and spiritual levels, and thus contribute to a more peaceful world.

The Lama Gangchen World Peace Foundation is actively committed to the development of a culture of peace and better living for world peace by cooperating in the humanitarian fields of health, education, the environment, spirituality and the preservation of indigenous cultures.


Tajikistan: Queen Noor to visit ICRC-supported limb-fitting centre

Dushanbe, 15 April (ICRC) – On 18 April, Queen Noor of Jordan will be visiting an ICRC-supported limb-fitting centre in Dushanbe during her official trip to Tajikistan as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been providing the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection’s limb-fitting centre with financial and technical assistance since 1997. During her visit to the centre, the Queen will see the production workshop that the ICRC renovated in 1999, the physiotherapy room and the hostel that the Ministry renovated in 2003, where patients and family members from outside Dushanbe will be able to stay. (…)

The Ministry’s limb-fitting services were severely affected by the 1992-1997 civil war, but the centre was able to start production in 1999 following the signing in 1998 of a three-way agreement between the ICRC, the Ministry and the Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan. By the end of 2003 the centre had produced over 1,700 artificial legs and feet, of which almost a quarter were for people with war-related injuries, including those caused by mines.

The ICRC will be maintaining its support for the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, so they can continue to provide and repair artificial limbs in the future.



Environment and wildlife




Debt swap yields $10 million for tropical forest conservation in Colombia

Bogota, Colombia, 23 April – Colombia unveiled today a debt-for-nature swap with the United States that will allow it to invest at least $10 million over the next 12 years to protect nearly 4.5 million hectares of its tropical forests.  Under the agreement, the U.S. Department of the Treasury will contribute $7 million to the deal, while WWF, Conservation International’s (CI) Global Conservation Fund, and The Nature Conservancy will contribute an additional $1.4 million.   The funds will go toward canceling part of Colombia’s debt to the United States. In exchange, Colombia will invest at least $10 million to protect tropical forests in key areas of the Andes, the Caribbean coast and the Llanos, or plains, along the Orinoco River – the world’s third-largest river in terms of volume.

Colombia is one of the five most biologically diverse countries on the planet, harboring one of every 10 species of plants and animals in the world.

Debt-for-nature swaps were established under the US Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) of 1998 to allow nations to reduce their foreign debt burden in exchange for making local-currency investments in conservation work.  In the past, Bangladesh, Belize, El Salvador, Panama, Peru and Thailand have benefited from the TFCA, which is up for reauthorization in this session of Congress. (…)


Caribbean boosts search and rescue abilities to cope with disasters

22 April - The Caribbean is enhancing its search and rescue abilities to cope with disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and volcanic eruptions. Representatives of disaster management organizations participated in a training workshop in Barbados recently on land-based search and rescue operations. They also received satellite telephones, laptop computers, "first responder" kits and other equipment. The event was part of a three-year US$3 million UNDP project to reinforce the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA), supported by the UN Trust Fund for Human Security. Japan is the main contributor to the trust fund. The project complements search and rescue planning and preparation activities that the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) supports.

CDERA coordinates disaster response among Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos.  (…)


WWF Indochina's A'Vuong Watershed Project wins US$ 75,000 award

Rüschlikon, Switzerland, 20 April – An innovative project in which indigenous mountain people of Vietnam protect and manage their watershed has won the US$70,000 ReSource award from one of the world’s leading reinsurers, Swiss RE (Swiss Reinsurance Company). The ceremony took place on 5 April 2004 in Rüschlikon, Switzerland.

The A'Vuong Watershed Project is a partnership between the WWF Indochina Programme and the Quang Nam Forest Protection Department (FPD). Its main aim is to ensure the sustainable management of the region's forest and rivers by the indigenous population. In doing so, equal consideration will be given to economic, social and ecological factors. Working together, the two parties want to curtail the overexploitation of forests and rivers in this central Vietnamese province. The allocation of land rights by the state to the local population is at the centre of the project, which was launched in February 2004. (…)

The wide-ranging measures, which can now be implemented with the support of the ReSource Award, are urgently needed. Frequent natural catastrophes threaten to destroy the livelihood of the people who live on the banks of the Thu Bon River in Central Vietnam. Around one million people are affected by the consequences of overexploited forest areas. The deforestation leads to devastating floods, such as the ones which hit the region in December 2003, as well as to seasonal droughts. (…)


Sustainable forest management is gaining ground in Asia-Pacific

FAO welcomes country collaboration in resolving forest problems - higher public awareness

Bangkok, 19 April -- Most countries in the Asia-Pacific region have developed well-defined policies and innovative tools for sustainable forestry, but since many lack the capacity to implement them effectively, overall progress remains slow, FAO said today. "It is encouraging to see that the concept of sustainable forestry is increasingly gaining ground in the Asia-Pacific region," said Hosny El-Lakany, FAO Assistant Director-General for Forestry, on the eve of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission meeting in Nadi, Fiji (19-23 April 2004).

"We see regional collaboration as a key force behind the progress that is being made," he added.

FAO brings the countries in the region together every two years to discuss common forest problems and policy issues, seek solutions and learn from each other's experiences. More than 30 countries are expected to attend the Asia-Pacific conference. (…)

Among the most pressing issues for the forest sector in Asia and the Pacific are illegal logging, participatory forestry, forest fires and forest rehabilitation. It is also necessary to ensure forests' role in poverty alleviation, biodiversity conservation and ensuring clean water, FAO said.  (…)


United Nations Environment Programme opens Brazil Office

Brasilia/Nairobi, 16 April – A new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) office was inaugurated today in Brazil. It will focus on issues including cleaner and greener energy, early warning and assessment and emergency response to natural disasters. (…) The office will help UNEP respond more effectively to the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, drawn up two years ago at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), with regard to developing new and coordinated approaches and mechanisms for achieving sustainable development focusing on emerging themes of local and sub-regional interest. It will also play an important role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially in ensuring environmental sustainability and integrating the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes to help reverse the loss of environmental resources. (…)



Culture and education



The People Speak 2004

Washington, 13 April (UNA-USA Membership E-News) – Last week a letter was sent to all UNA chapters inviting them to participate in The People Speak 2004, a project launched last year by the United Nations Foundation to initiate a nation-wide discussion of America’s role in world affairs and the future of U.S. foreign policy.  For more information on this exciting opportunity, please see (…) the project’s website at

The People Speak: Making Tough Choices About America’s Role in the World

September 13-30, 2004

We find ourselves at a critical time in our nation's history, as America struggles to define what it means to be a leader in the world. The mission of The People Speak is to engage doctors and lawyers, mothers and fathers, friends and neighbors in a discussion of the hard questions about America's role in the world. In September 2004, high schools, colleges, civic and business groups will be asked to organize events around one or more of the following topics: Peace, Security and Human Rights;  Energy Choices and Environmental Challenges; Prosperity in a Global Economy.

The People Speak project was launched in October 2003 to raise the level of national dialogue about America’s role in the world. The project was spear-headed by the United Nations Foundation and backed by a nonpartisan coalition of 13 national cooperating organizations from across the political spectrum, including the American Enterprise Institute, the Open Society Institute, the Jesse Helms Center, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the League of Women Voters, and Empower America.


USA: 2004 National High School Essay Contest on the UN - Winners Announced

UNA-USA is proud to announce the winners of the 2004 National High School Essay Contest on the United Nations: First Place: Justin Krause, 11th grade Justin is a student at Steamboat Springs High School in Steamboat Springs, CO and entered the essay contest through UNA-USA's Colorado Division. Read his essay, "From Barrier to Benefit." Second Place: Jessica Seiler, 12th grade. Jessica is a student at the Westridge School in Pasadena, CA and entered her essay through the UNA-USA Pasadena/Foothills Chapter. Read her essay, "Reaffirming America's Obligations to the United Nations." Third Place: Brian Moffett Taylor, 11th grade. Brian is a student at The Tatnall School in Wilmington, DE. He entered his essay through the open division of the contest (for those submissions not received by a UNA-USA chapter or division) and went
through an additional round of judging at the UNA-USA National Office. Read Brian's essay, submitted as a memo to the President of the United States.

These essays and further information about the National High School Essay Contest can be found on our website under Education and Model U.N. Programs - National High School Essay Contest.


Belarus school to revive local heritage, promote ecology and jobs

23 April - Turov, a small town in southeast Belarus, is establishing a school this year to revitalize traditional crafts, offer education on sustainable development, and promote ecological and agricultural tourism to improve local livelihoods. Known as the School of Traditions — Land of Ancestors, it will support the town's sustainable development action plan, initiated by Ecoline, an environmental organization, in cooperation with Green Library Lund, a Swedish group. The plan is based on Agenda 21, the UN's global blueprint for development in harmony with the environment for the new millennium.

Town meetings helped identify local development priorities, including preservation of cultural heritage, job opportunities, recycling and safe landfills for household wastes, and environmental education. The school, with support from UNDP and the World Bank, will help advance these priorities. …)  The school will help revive traditional handicrafts of the Polessye region, including weaving, withe (supple twigs) netting, and embroidery. Only natural materials will go into making household and decorative goods and clothing. (…)


Syria opens telecentres in rural areas to narrow digital divide

19 April - Syria's First Lady Asmaa al-Assad helped launch an information and communications technology (ICT) telecentre recently in Bosra, south of Damascus, that offers training in word processing, computer graphics, web site design and email. This and other telecentres that opened stimultaneously in al-Zabadani, near Damascus, and Dreikish, near Tartous on the Mediterranean coast, are part of an effort to help rural communities close the digital divide and promote progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.

The Ministry of Information and Technology plans to open another 11 of these reef (rural) telecentres this year, with support from UNDP. They will use ReefNet, a web portal providing information in Arabic catering to rural needs, including local information and news, food security, employment, laws and legal rights, social services, health and environment.

According to the UNDP Arab Human Development Report 2003, only 0.4 per cent of Syrians are Internet subscribers, indicating that the poor have virtually no access. The telecentres are training and service-oriented, focusing on technology as a tool to help people gain information and modern skills to improve their lives and livelihoods.  (…)


TRANSCEND: Peacebuilding, Conflict Transformation and Post-War Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resolution  -  Cluj-Napoca, Romania, May 24 – 28

Peacebuilding, Conflict Transformation and Post-War Reconstruction, Reconciliation and Resolution (PCTR-Cluj 2004) is designed for practitioners, political leaders and policy makers, and organisations working in areas affected by conflict, violent conflict, and war, as well as countries and regions in post-war situations. Building upon experiences in peacebuilding, conflict transformation, and post-war reconstruction, rehabilitation, reconciliation and healing, and people-centred, participatory development, from former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Colombia, Nepal, Somalia, Nicaragua, South Africa, and the Middle East, as well as from the countries of the participants themselves, the programme is highly intensive and practice-oriented. The training is needs-based and both skills and knowledge intensive, allowing participants to draw upon and address concrete issues and challenges facing them in their work and country/community. (…) TRANSCEND has held more than 400 training programmes worldwide for over 8000 participants. The PCTR is based upon the TRANSCEND Method for Conflict Transformation by Peaceful Means – adopted as a training manual by the United Nations – and draws upon approaches to conflict transformation and peacebuilding from more than 100 countries and cultures around the world.


The Earth Charter endorsed by hundreds of schools in Spain

Fundación Deyna has been leading a process to promote the Earth Charter throughout schools in Spain. Consequently, hundreds of Spanish schools have recently endorsed the Charter and many others are in the process of also doing so. The Secretariat has been following up with each school with suggestions on how to implement the Earth Charter within their institutions.
Please see list of endorsers at


Multi-media centre provides hands on training for youth in Benin

Cotonou, Benin, 19 April - The new Multi-Media Centre complex is bustling with hands-on activity. In every room, young people from around the country—nearly 300 in all—are learning how to be print journalists, photographers, radio and TV broadcasters, magazine writers, layout artists, computer graphics experts, web designers, videographers, digital videotape editors, and radio and TV technicians.  This innovative initiative was started by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, in cooperation with the Government. It integrates job training with education about preventing HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies, so trainees can also become local advocates for healthier behaviour.

The Centre, next to the football stadium in Benin’s main coastal city, has its own television and FM radio stations offering programmes produced by and for youth. The TV station, launched in 2003, boasts an audience of 1 million. The radio station broadcasts 24 hours, seven days a week, and reaches over 300,000 listeners every day. (…)



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Next issue: 21 May.


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