Good News Agency – Year V, n° 8



Weekly - Year V, number 8 – 11 June 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



Benin and Niger get UN grant to support peaceful settlement of border dispute

4 June – A United Nations Trust Fund has awarded the African nations of Benin and Niger $350,000 each to help defray the costs of settling their border dispute at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  The two countries went to the Court in May, 2002 asking that it determine the course of the boundary between them in the River Niger. They want the ICJ to spell out which State owns each of the islands in that river, particularly Lété Island. They are also seeking a determination on the boundary between Benin and Niger in the River Mekrou.

The Trust Fund, which was set up in 1989 specifically to encourage States to take their disputes to the ICJ, has so far made grants to six countries. Taking a case to the ICJ can be especially expensive for poorer countries. The trust fund grants are made on the condition that the money is strictly used to defray those expenses incurred. The grants follow the recommendation of a three-member Panel of Experts – comprising the Ambassadors of Jordan, Mauritius and Singapore – to approve the applications of Benin and Niger.


Biodiversity for food security

FAO launches campaign in favour of biodiversity - World Food Day/TeleFood 2004

Rome, 20 May 2004 -- "Biodiversity for Food Security" is the theme of this year's World Food Day, to be celebrated on 16 October 2004, FAO announced today.

This year's World Food Day/TeleFood campaign will emphasize the importance of biodiversity for agriculture, food security and rural livelihoods, and especially for those populations living in marginal and harsh environments. (…)

Biodiversity, essential for agriculture and food production, is threatened by urbanization, deforestation, pollution and the conversion of wetlands. (…) Reduction of biodiversity entails a reduction of options for ensuring more diverse nutrition, enhancing food production, raising incomes, coping with environmental constraints and managing ecosystems. Recognising, safeguarding and using the potential and diversity of nature is critical for food security and sustainable agriculture. Global efforts to conserve plants and animals in gene banks are vital, FAO said. But it is also important to maintain biodiversity on farms and in nature, where it can evolve and adapt to changing conditions or competition from other species.

The FAO's International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which will enter into force on 29 June 2004, will play a crucial role in the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources and in future efforts to achieve sustainable agriculture and food security. (…)



Human rights



Asylum-seeker numbers fall again in first quarter of 2004: UN refugee agency

4 June  – The number of asylum-seekers reaching the world’s developed countries fell again in the first three months of this year, continuing a downward trend documented over the past few years, according to new figures released today by the United Nations refugee agency. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said a “spectacular decline” in the number of Iraqis, Afghans and Russians – who are overwhelmingly Chechens – seeking asylum led the way for a global fall in asylum claims. Between 1 January and 31 March this year, there were 92,679 applications for asylum in the industrialized world – a 16 per cent drop on the previous quarter and more than 25 per cent below the same quarter last year. The latest data maintains a steady trend that began in 2002. Last year, asylum-seeker numbers had already fallen to their lowest levels since 1997.

UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told a press briefing today in Geneva that “this is the eighth quarter out of the last 10 during which the number of asylum applications has decreased.”

Almost every one of the 29 countries measured by the UNHCR’s Population Data Unit reported sharp falls from the last quarter of 2003, with Europe recording an overall slump of 18 per cent, North America down 8 per cent, and Australia and New Zealand sliding by 7 per cent. (…)


Global events planned to spotlight plight of child domestic labourers, UN says

31 May – With rap music and pinwheels, marches and solemn statements, numerous organizations across the planet will mark the third World Day Against Child Labour on 12 June this year with a specific focus on efforts to spare young people from working as domestics, the United Nations Labour Organization (ILO) has announced.

As part of the commemorative events, the agency will launch a new report in Geneva entitled, "Helping Hands or Shackled Lives? Understanding Child Domestic Labour and Responses to It."

The ILO says that most children employed in other people's homes are “grossly exploited and abused.” While the practice is sometimes rationalized as a “better” alternative for children from poor families, the study recommends feasible and realistic action to help these youngsters.

“It is vital that child domestic labour, so often neglected because exploitation and abuse takes place behind closed doors, receives attention,” said June Kane, the report's author. “We have to remind ourselves that children are not just doing 'odd jobs;' they are in a workplace – even if it is someone else's home.”

Among the global activities planned to mark the Day are a rap music performance by children in Niger as well as a special march in Brazil, the ILO said. Nepal will use the occasion to launch a major social mobilization campaign to change general perceptions about child labour.



Economy and development



South Africa project wins international award for urban renewal for the poor

4 June - The International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) has given a new award, for improving the quality of life of people living in slum areas, to Westlake Estate in Westlake, South Africa, near Cape Town. It presented the René Frank Habitat Award 2004, last week at its world congress in Houston, Texas. Named for the federation's Deputy President, who spearheaded the award's creation, it represents a break from the practice of honouring only major commercial real estate developments. The award aims to highlight models for cities and countries worldwide. The winner received a prize of US$15,000, sponsored by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) of the US, which is to be distributed among the project's community associations.

Over 40 per cent of city inhabitants in developing countries live in slums, shanties, or simply on the streets. Recent estimates put the number of slum dwellers at over 924 million, about one-third of the world's urban population.

UNDP encouraged the Paris-based federation to establish the award to raise awareness about the Millennium Development Goals among its members, specifically a target of Goal 7 on environmental sustainability: achieving significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.

The federation, created in 1949, is a multi-lingual organization serving real estate professionals in 70 countries. Among other partners supporting the new prize are UN-Habitat, the Wall Street Journal and the NAR. (…)


Namibia: fighting poverty through milk production

FAO will help to develop the country's dairy sector

Rome, 4 June - Poor farmers in northern Namibia will benefit from a new project agreed by FAO and the Government of Namibia to help develop the country's dairy industry, FAO said today.

Northern Namibia suffers from a high level of poverty and food insecurity. Agricultural productivity is low and unemployment is high. Appropriate farming methods as well as marketing infrastructure are needed. The aim of the FAO project is to improve the income and livelihoods of livestock farmers in the northern region of Namibia.

This will be done by training farmers and others in improved milk production and in the collection, processing and marketing of milk and value-added milk products.       id experience shows that small farmers can improve their earnings from dairy products by up to 50 percent when they are directly involved in processing and marketing their own surplus milk. (…)


15 million dollar loan to China will give rural poor people access to credit and savings

Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, 27 May - ore than 100 000 rural poor households in two provinces of China will have better access to savings and loans through a pilot programme to reform the country’s rural credit cooperatives. The reforms will help gear financial services to the needs of the poor, especially women.

The USD 21.3 million programme will be financed largely by a USD 14.7 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). A further USD 6.1 million will be contributed by rural credit cooperatives and USD 409 000 by the Government of China. (…)

Annual incomes of rural households in the targeted provinces of Chongqing and Shaanxi range from USD 50 to USD 180 – less than a quarter of the country’s per capita average. One of the major obstacles to eradicating poverty is the difficulty rural people have in managing their limited assets and in gaining access to loans that they could use to set up a small business to generate income. (…)







Sudan: cross-line operations reach 150 000 people in Nuba Mountains

Seeds, tools and construction materials distributed by FAO

Rome, 7 June -- Farmers in Sudan's contested Nuba Mountains have received seeds, tools and construction materials from FAO to rehabilitate agriculture and build dams, seedbanks and community nurseries. Around 150 000 people on both sides of the conflict between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) will benefit from FAO's agricultural rehabilitation projects in the region.

 FAO supplied timber, cement, metal, wheelbarrows and watering cans by road from the government-held town of Kadugli, through Joint Military Commission checkpoints in the border town of Kauda, to farmers living in areas held by the SPLM. (…)

Farmers in SPLM and government areas have also received farming tools produced by local blacksmiths and groundnut, sesame, cowpea, maize and sorghum seeds, including early-maturing, drought-resistant varieties introduced by FAO to reduce the risk of crop failure.

Approximately 85 percent of the population of the Nuba Mountains, which has been a zone of conflict and civil unrest since 1985, is dependent on agriculture and livestock.


ADRA, Partners Aid Families Affected by Bolivian Unrest

Silver Spring, Maryland, 4 June -- The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) office in Bolivia recently completed a three-month project in response to civil unrest and violence in late 2003. The unrest left 70 people dead and more than 400 wounded in the cities of El Alto and La Paz and the infrastructure severely damaged.

The project installed "sanitary batteries" and playgrounds in 16 ultra-poor neighborhoods. Each sanitary battery consists of six latrines and four showers. Each playground includes two swings, a slide, and other equipment. In addition, nearly 5,000 children that were psychologically affected by the civil unrest received counseling and social activities services.

To ensure sustainability, construction of the sanitary batteries and playgrounds was completed through a food-for-work program. Food was provided to 2,000 parents who helped in the construction and who worked with ADRA to clean up the 16 neighborhoods, which suffered the most violence. The $116,000 project, spearheaded by ADRA, was in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP), the Embassy of France, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and Save the Children.


Dominican Republic Flood Response

June 3 - An FHI (Food for the Hungry International) team of staff and pastors delivered food packages to 60 families in Jimaní, the Dominican border town that received the worst damage from recent flooding and landslides.

While some of the people aided are in refugee camps, most of the food is helping those who are temporarily sharing homes with host families. Local churches helped FHI identify homes of both church members and non-members alike that were hosting flood victims. A church in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo donated the food distributed in Jimaní, thereby allowing FHI to use cash donations for other purposes. (…)

FHI currently plans to purchase and distribute cooking utensils to those who lost household goods in the floods in Jimaní. Additionally FHI hopes to facilitate trauma counselling for Jimaní's children. FHI is also assessing the flood effects in its current work zones in Elias Piña and Monte Plata, where staff have reported pockets of severely affected communities. (…) News of the flooding has brought financial support from FHI partner offices around the world, including the United States, Costa Rica and Korea.

Food for the Hungry International (FHI) is a global partnership that is motivated by Christ’s love to meet both physical and spiritual hungers of the poor.


Nepal: First patient treated under new physical rehabilitation programme

27 May - The first artificial limb to be manufactured under a physical rehabilitation programme that the ICRC set up last month for conflict victims in Nepal was recently fitted on a patient under treatment at the Green Pasture Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre in Pokhara.

The ICRC is supplying the hospital with imported materials, components and equipment for manufacturing artificial limbs, as well as training its orthopaedic technicians. The limbs are produced by the hospital itself, which provides patients with the medical and physical rehabilitation services they need and fits them free of charge.

The programme is being carried out in close cooperation with the Nepal Red Cross Society, which is responsible for identifying and registering patients.



Peace and security



Vilnius leads the way – First regional conference on landmines, 8-9 Jume

Lithuania destroys its last antipersonnel landmines and advocates for the regional approach on landmines by hosting a two day conference

Author: Sylvie Brigot

June 1 - On 8-9 June Lithuania, in cooperation with Canada, Germany and the Netherlands, will host the first ever regional conference on landmines in Vilnius for North and Eastern Europe countries. In addition to Lithuania, Belarus, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and more recently Estonia have joined the Mine Ban Convention. Poland and Ukraine are signatories and have yet to ratify. Other participants to the conference will include Finland, Latvia and Russia, as well as Austria, Netherlands, Italy and the United Kingdom.

On 7 June, Lithuania will organise a ceremony during which it will destroy the last batch of its 3,925 antipersonnel mines stockpile. By destroying all its stock and by doing so far ahead of the deadline imposed by the Convention (1 November 2007) Lithuania is demonstrating its commitment to rid the earth of this weapon and fully comply with its obligations.

In a region which counts the biggest stockpiles of antipersonnel mines, it is encouraging that Lithuania chose to destroy its stock before the first Review Conference of the Convention, the Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World, scheduled on 29 November-3 December in Kenya. (…)






Sudan: Immunization Begins for Millions of Darfur Children

Children hardest hit by massive humanitarian crisis

New York/Geneva, 7 June – WHO and UNICEF said today that an ambitious plan to vaccinate millions of children against measles in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region began over the weekend.
The aid agencies say that they hope to reach 2.26 million throughout June, working in a region plagued by violence, population displacement, and the approach of seasonal rains that close large parts of western Sudan each year to vehicles. “We have the potential to save up to 50,000 lives by preventing a measles outbreak here,” said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director for UNICEF. (…)

The month-long campaign is being led by the Sudanese Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, in coordination with several national and international organizations. Thousands of vehicles have been drafted-in to transport heat-sensitive vaccines and mobile teams along dangerous roads throughout the inaccessible region’s three provinces. (...)

Funding for the campaign comes from the British Government’s Department for International Development (£ 500,000), the US Government’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (US$1 million), the Humanitarian Aid Office of the European Commission (£ 1 million), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (US$500,000), the Government of Italy, and the UNICEF Netherlands National Committee (US$250,000).

For further information, please contact: Angela Walker Sampson, UNICEF Communication Officer


Rotary District effort will protect 1 million babies in China from Hepatitis B

By Vukoni Lupa-Lasaga - Rotary International

2 June - In its largest health undertaking to date in mainland China, Rotary District 3450, comprising Hong Kong, Macau, and Mongolia, is funding a project to immunize one million newborn babies in poverty-stricken communities against Hepatitis B within a decade. Raising the district's ongoing involvement with humanitarian efforts in China to a new level, the HK$20 million (approximately US$2.6 million) initiative is a signal to the government and people of China that Rotary is committed to exemplifying its motto of Service Above Self on the mainland. In the past decade, collectively and individually, clubs in the district have raised a total of more than US$10 million to support disaster relief, education, health, environmental protection, and poverty alleviation in China. (…)

According to World Health Organization statistics, more than one third of the world's Hepatitis B carriers live in China. About 127 million residents — roughly 10 percent of the population — are infected. Each year, about 280,000 people die of Hepatitis B-related diseases, principally liver cirrhosis and cancer. Immunizing newborn babies is the most effective way to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. In 2001, then District Governor Johnson Chu and Liu Pei Long, director general of China's health ministry, signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a project co-sponsored by the government and District 3450. Over the next two years, a joint committee of government and Rotary district officials incorporated a company to implement the project, held workshops, made feasibility studies in a pilot city, and met with local administrators.

The initiative took off in 2003 with the massive immunization of more than 60,000 babies in Handan, Hebei Province, after an awareness campaign among doctors and parents. (…)


First cerebral palsy centre for Afghan children opens in Kabul

21 May - The first ever centre for Afghan children with cerebral palsy was officially opened in Kabul on 17 May. Financed by the Italian Red Cross and operated under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the centre is housed in the Indira Ghandi Children's Hospital in the Wazir Akbar Khan district of the Afghan capital. The cerebral palsy programme will initially run for two years. In addition to providing physiotherapy to its young patients, it offers counselling for families and training courses. Eight people are currently being taught the special skills needed to treat children suffering from cerebral palsy.

Close to 200 children have been registered for the programme since it was launched in January 2004, and the number is rising daily as word of the centre's existence gets around. Some parents are bringing their children for treatment from as far away as Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar.

Cerebral palsy is a motor disorder caused by brain damage resulting from prolonged or difficult labour, diabetes in the mother, a brain haemorrhage, or lack of oxygen during birth. Very little is known about its causes in Afghanistan.

Even more important than hospital treatment, which each child receives once or twice a week, is what the children do at home. Counselling the families is therefore a major part of the centre’s work. (…)



Energy and safety



Bonn conference offers sunny outlook for renewable energy

Bonn, Germany, 4 June – The International Conference for Renewable Energies has set the stage for renewable energy to be a major part of the world’s energy future, said WWF as the conference draws to a close.

According to WWF, the conference was successful in delivering an Action Programme for implementing renewable energy, which includes a number of ambitious commitments. Developing countries in particular are moving forward. Amongst the most ambitious commitments were those from China, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, and Egypt. (…)

An NGO analysis of the Action Programme, however, shows that so far only about 20 of the 180 reviewed proposals are truly outstanding. Among the commitments of industrialized countries, only a few are noteworthy — such as commitments to increase wind power and renewable energy from Germany, Spain, Denmark, and New Zealand.

The Political Declaration sets forth a follow-up process with a monitoring system to ensure that the momentum continues and governments and the private sector deliver on the commitments made in Bonn. WWF will continue to urge governments, the private sector, and international financial institutions to make commitments for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects through its PowerSwitch! Campaign. The campaign urges the power sector in industrialized countries to become CO2-free by the middle of the century, and in developing countries, to make a significant switch from coal to clean energy.  (…)


Electric olives

By Claire Doole (Head of Press at WWF International)

27 May – (…) Stretching across Spain’s southern-most tip, Andalucia is home to the world's first "olive power plant". In 1995, an electricity plant in the town of Palenciana became a global pioneer in using olives as a source of renewable energy.   The plant turns olive residue into biomass — a type of fuel generated from animal waste and plant material such as wood and crops. This is then burnt to generate electricity and heat. The Palenciana plant currently produces enough green electricity for 27,000 households, and has since been joined by four others in the region. (…) Many believe that, after wind power, biomass is the biggest renewable energy source that can be exploited on a large scale.

According to a new report from WWF and the European Biomass Association, 15% of electricity in OECD countries — enough to supply 100 million homes — could come from biomass by 2020. Compared to traditional power stations, this could cut CO2 emissions by about 1,000 million tonnes each year, an amount equivalent to the combined annual emissions of Canada and Italy.

With most industrialized countries struggling to meet commitments to reduce CO2 emissions, these figures should be a huge incentive to promote biomass along with other renewable energy sources. Spain, for example, agreed to limit emissions to a 15% increase over 1990 levels by 2012 under the Kyoto Protocol. However, the country’s CO2 emissions have already gone up by 40% since 1990. However, the biomass industry remains underdeveloped in most industrialized countries. It supplies just 3% of Spain’s total electricity consumption, while in most industrialized countries, the figure is only 1%.  (…)



Environment and wildlife



Europe's success in fight against foot-and-mouth disease - risks remain

FAO calls upon countries to stay vigilant - 50th anniversary of European FMD Commission

Rome, 10 June -- Europe can consider itself almost free from the extremely contagious foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), after centuries of devastating epidemics that have caused tremendous losses, FAO said today, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Dublin, Ireland.

FAO called upon European countries to remain vigilant against possible outbreaks and to continue their support to neighbouring regions where the virus is still endemic. The risk of introducing the virus through illegal trade remains high, the UN agency warned.

 "Europe has made remarkable progress against FMD over the last decades. Today, out of the 33 member countries of the Commission, 31 countries are free from FMD, while the virus remains endemic in Turkey and Israel," said Keith Sumption, Secretary of the Commission.

The Commission was founded in 1954, three years after a major pandemic hit France, Germany and many other European countries with nearly one million outbreaks. The last major FMD outbreak occurred in 2001, when a devastating epidemic affected the UK, with outbreaks also in Ireland, France and the Netherlands. (…)


Progress reported in implementation of international fishing code

Responsible fishing key to conserving earth's oceans, says FAO

Rome, 8 June -- A growing number of countries are taking steps that will help conserve and restore the world's oceans by bringing their fishing sectors in line with the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the UN agency said today.  (…)

According to FAO, 52 of its member countries report having fisheries management plans in place that incorporate elements of the Code, including measures to promote use of selective fishing gear, to prohibit destructive practices and to ensure that permitted catch-levels reflect the state of stocks and allow depleted populations to recover. Fifty countries are taking steps to make sure that their ships fishing in the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of other countries are properly authorized and to better monitor foreign vessels operating in their own EEZs. Forty-nine have implemented policies aimed at limiting accidental by-catch and reducing discards. (…)

The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries -- drafted in 1995 by FAO and 170 countries during extended negotiations --- is not binding, but by endorsing it governments commit themselves to operating according to the Code's principles and standards, a number of which are aimed at protecting ocean ecosystems and marine animal and plant species.


World Environment Day – June 5: Wanted! Seas and Oceans – Dead or Alive?

Widely acknowledged as the most important event in the environment calendar, World Environment Day "inspires action by governments, individuals, non-governmental organisations, community and youth groups, business, industry and the media to improve their environment, including clean-up campaigns, tree planting, street rallies, exhibitions, green concerts, essays, painting and photographic competitions, recycling efforts and much more".

This years’ theme (Wanted! Seas and Oceans – Dead or Alive?) asks that we make a choice as to how we want to treat the Earth’s seas and oceans. It also calls on each and every one of us to act. Do we want to keep seas and oceans healthy and alive or polluted and dead? responsible for the To celebrate this day in 2004, the Universal Forum of Cultures – Barcelona 2004 has drawn up a program of activities in agreement with Barcelona City Council, the Catalan Autonomous Government and the central Government. The UNEP has decided that Barcelona should be the main venue for the World Environment Day events, in response to the express request sent by the Mayor of Barcelona to the Executive Director of the UNEP.

Among various events, from June 11 to June 14: Festival of the Sea, an event that focuses on the sea and its culture. Each day of the festival will highlight particular environmental issues.

UN environmental agency signs accord for ‘clean’ Athens Olympics

2 June – In an effort to limit adverse ecological effects from the upcoming Athens Olympic Games, the United Nations environmental agency today signed an agreement with the Greek organizers to boost goals such as waste management, anti-littering and water conservation. At the same time it said much more needs to be done to ensure greater attention to environmental considerations at future Olympic Games. “Athens 2004 have made environmental commitments in areas such as recycling, public awareness and developing green spaces. We are sure that some of these will leave a lasting and healthy legacy beyond this year's summer games,” UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said. Noting the Games are being organized in the “most difficult atmospheres of recent times with heightened concerns about security,” Mr. Toepfer added that “this has probably come at a price, and other considerations, including parts of their environmental programme, may alas have fallen short of their initial aspirations.” (…)

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in the Greek capital calls for the Organizing Committee to develop a compilation of ‘Environmental Challenges and Achievements’ which will offer a detailed account of the environmental perspective of all aspects of the Games – including a specific assessment of the venues. (…)


Initiative to help Mali reduce toll of natural disasters

1 June - The Niger and Senegal rivers that flow more than 2,200 kilometres through Mali offer vital resources for development, but heavy rains often trigger floods, such as those during the last two years, that take a toll on lives and property. The country also faces threats such as droughts, livestock diseases and infestations of locusts.

One of the world's poorest countries, Mali is all the more vulnerable because it lacks a disaster prevention planning and management framework. To remedy this, the Government, UNDP and other partners are helping the General Directorate of Public Safety and local authorities to meet nature's challenges. The initiative was launched recently in Koulikoro, an industrial centre that is vulnerable to flood damage. It is a hub for rail, road and water transport on the Niger, north-east of Bamako, the capital. Support for the two-year, $650,000 project comes from the Government, local authorities, UNDP and other partners. They will coordinate with civil society organizations, the Ministry of the Interior, local communities and the UN country team to strengthen national rapid reaction capabilities. (…)

The initiative will set up a legal framework for managing disaster risks and strengthen the staff skills and organization of the General Directorate of Public Safety and some of its offices. Communities will get information and training on how to prevent and respond to disasters, and local and regional authorities will get help in disaster response planning. (…)


Living modified organisms: new guidelines for risk assessment

A new tool to help determine if a genetically modified plant is a weed

Rome, 1 June - New guidelines for determining if a living modified organism (LMO) poses a hazard to plants have been published by FAO. Some 130 countries adopted this unique international standard on how to assess the risks of LMOs to plants. With some LMOs there is a potential risk of introducing a gene that could cause a normal plant to become a weed, FAO said. FAO published the guidelines two weeks after the release of its annual report 'The State of Food and Agriculture 2003-04' which calls for adequate biosafety regulations. (…) 

The guidelines also cover other LMOs that may be harmful to plants, such as insects, fungi and bacteria. "Living modified organisms" are any living organisms that possess a new combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology; they are a subset of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Genetically modified seeds, cuttings and tissue cultures are living parts of plants and therefore LMOs.

The Interim Commission on Phytosanitary Measures, which adopted the Guidelines in April, is the governing body of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). This international treaty helps to stop the spread of pests and diseases affecting plants. (…)



Culture and education



UNA-USA Model United Nations Summit & Leadership Conference – New York, 11 July

Every summer, UNA-USA holds a Model U.N. Summit and Leadership Conference, bringing together students and faculty advisors who share a desire to deepen their understanding of Model U.N. The conference consists of workshops for novice and experienced delegates, conference organizers, and advisors.

In Model U.N., students step into the shoes of ambassadors from U.N. member states to debate current issues on the organization's vast agenda. Student "delegates" in Model U.N. prepare draft resolutions, plot strategy, negotiate with supporters and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the U.N.'s rules of procedures - all in the interest of mobilizing "international cooperation" to resolve problems that affect almost every country on Earth.

This year's summit is hosted by Seton Hall University's School of Diplomacy and International Relations (40 minutes from New York City). Participants will spend a day at U.N. Headquarters for seminars on U.N. issues. Fee per participant includes 5 nights lodging at Seton Hall, 5 breakfasts, 3 lunches, reservation for banquet, day at U.N. Headquarters, Model U.N. Simulation at Seton Hall, and UNA-USA materials. Please log on to our webpage for more information.


The Earth Charter keeps on spreading around the world

The World Youth Peace Summit has partnered with the Earth Charter Youth Initiative

The Earth Charter Youth Initiative has been approved as a strategic partner of the World Youth Peace Summit ( This is a major youth conference to be held in Nairobi in October 2004, which plans to bring together 2000 selected youth from all over the world to discuss matters of world peace with Nobel Prize laureates and distinguished political and religious leaders. The focus of the Summit will be on peacemaking. 

Sustainable Communities Conference 2004 to be held in Vermont, USA

The City of Burlington, the Global Community Initiatives, and the University of Vermont will host the Sustainable Communities Conference.  The event will be held in Burlington, Vermont from July 14-18. The focus of the conference is to demonstrate the ways communities around the world are using the principles of the Earth Charter, Local Agenda 21, and other principles, highlighting the integration of environmental integrity, social and economic justice, democratic processes, and respect and care for the community of life. Information, registration, rooms and many of the hotel reservations can be done on-line at

We, the World initiative adopts the Earth Charter as their Declaration of Interdependence

This international initiative will be inaugurated by We, The World on September 11 as part of a strategy for building mass public awareness and involvement in the vitally important work of peace and sustainability. This international celebration will include festivals, live concerts,
coordinated civic actions, broadcasts, web-casts and public signings of the Declaration of Interdependence, which will be represented by the Earth Charter, the symbolic thread uniting all these events.   For more information please visit

A new global ethical framework is needed to guide our decisions and actions ensuring the common good. Use the Earth Charter as an instrument to understand and achieve a more sustainable future


Education International Launch the World Teachers' Day 2004 website (5 October)

2 June - The English version of EI's World Teachers' Day 2004 website has been launched! This year, visitors to the site are able to download all customisable graphical material, send electronic greeting cards, as well as search for information on activities organised in their country. The official EI-WCT Joint Statement on World Teachers' Day is also available on the site.

Visit the World Teachers' Day 2004 website today!

EI steps up the fight against AIDS

2 June - EI and WHO have jointly produced another publication on their HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme. In "Teachers Against AIDS", information about AIDS and the roles of teachers, teacher unions, health and education ministries as well as partnerships between international organisations are outlined as to how teachers take up the battle for life in the EI/WHO HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme.



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Next issue: 2 July.


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