Good News Agency – Year VIII, n° 1
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 (in charge) and Elisa Peduto. Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of more than 3,700 media in 48 countries and to 2,800 NGOs.
It is an all-volunteer 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 in the web site http://www3.unesco.org/iycp/uk/uk_sum_monde.htm
Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions will enter into force on 18 March 2007
19 December 2006 - The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in October 2005, will enter into force on 18 March 2007, three months after the deposit of the 30th instrument of ratification on 18 December at UNESCO. As of 15 December, 22 instruments of ratification had been registered*. On the 18th, another 13 countries**, as well as the European Community, deposited their instrument at the Organization’s Headquarters, bringing the total number of ratifications received to 35. The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, welcomed the high-level of interest shown by Member States for this new legal instrument. “The rapidity of the ratification process is unprecedented. None of UNESCO’s other cultural conventions has been adopted by so many States in so little time,” Mr Matsuura said. (…)
The result of a long process of maturation and two years of intense negotiations, marked by numerous meetings of independent and then governmental experts, the text seeks to reaffirm the links between culture, development and dialogue, and to create an innovative platform for international cultural cooperation. To this end, it reaffirms the sovereign rights of States to elaborate cultural policies with a view both “to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions” and “to create the conditions for cultures to flourish and to freely interact in a mutually beneficial manner” (Article 1). (…)
The European Year of Equal Opportunities for All: launch on January 30-31 in Berlin
January 8, 2007 - The European Year of Equal Opportunities for All will be celebrated across the European Union in 2007 to draw the attention of European countries to the problems created by discrimination and the opportunities offered by diversity.
The Year will promote equal opportunities and raise awareness about the rights of everyone to equal treatment, and about the benefits of diversity. The celebration will be marked by hundreds of different activities staged throughout the European Union with all 27 EU Member States taking part. The main aim is to reach out to the general public and therefore most of the Year's activities will be held on a local, regional, or national level. This will be supported and complemented by several pan-European activities such as a campaign on European antidiscrimination policies and legislation or the presentation of the results of a Eurobarometer survey about European citizens' attitudes towards and knowledge discrimination and inequality issues.
The European Year of Equal Opportunities for All will be formally launched with a big opening conference in Berlin from January 30th-31st, chaired by the German Presidency.
December 13, 2006 – The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. After nearly five years of negotiations, Landmine Survivors Network (LSN), and governments and disability organizations from around the world, applaud the adoption of this Convention, the first major U.N. human rights treaty of this century. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed the agreement on the Convention “as a historic achievement for the 650 million people with disabilities around the world.”
Together with the Convention, the General Assembly has adopted an optional protocol which will allow individuals to complain to the international monitoring body, as well as allowing the monitoring body to undertake in-country inquiries.
LSN along with other members of the International Disability Caucus (IDC) has been instrumental in lobbying for the inclusion of this article to ensure that the Convention is held in the same esteem as other human rights treaties. “This is possibly the most comprehensive human rights treaty ever negotiated, and in record time,” said Jerry White, LSN co-founder and executive director. (…)
Created by and for survivors, LSN empowers individuals, families and communities affected by landmines to recover from trauma, reclaim their lives, and fulfill their rights.
Location: UPEACE Hedquarters, San José, Costa Rica.
10 December 2006 - The UN-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE) officially launched the UPEACE Human Rights Centre today on the occasion of International Human Rights Day (10 December 2007).
The launch took place at a ceremony at the UPEACE campus in San Jose, Costa Rica. The ceremony was opened by the Rector of UPEACE, Julia Marton-Lefèvre. The Rector welcomed the launch of the UPEACE Human Rights Centre as a very important and positive addition to the expanding work of UPEACE.
The Director of the UPEACE Human Rights Centre, Prof. Elizabeth Griffin, outlined the mandate of the Centre. She stated: Our vision is that the UPEACE Human Rights Centre will provide a space which fosters education, training, research and advocacy on key and emerging human rights issues. We take a multi-disciplinary approach to human rights and our activities will focus on promoting the integration of the theory and practice of human rights.
During the ceremony a photo exhibition entitled Imagining Human Rights was opened. The exhibition is comprised of photos taken by UPEACE faculty and students that speak to human rights.
3 January 2007 - The ICRC in Lebanon has recently completed seven major water repair and rehabilitation projects in the south of the country and the Bekaa valley. (…)
In southern Lebanon, where infrastructure was heavily damaged by the armed conflict last summer, the ICRC provided a standby electric generator for the Taybeh water treatment plant, to be installed in early January 2007. This generator, with a 1100 kVA capacity, will allow the South Lebanon Water Establishment (SLWE) to pump water from the Litani river to an upper water treatment plant which was also repaired in recent months by the ICRC. This will benefit all inhabitants of the villages in Bint Jbail Caza.
At the Marj al Khoukh well, which has a daily output of 3,500 m3 of water serving approximately 15,000 residents of Marjayoun Caza, a standby electric generator with a 550 kVA capacity was installed in the past few weeks. In Yohmor and Arnoun, the ICRC completed the rehabilitation of the water pumping station. "Out of 66 villages in Nabatieh Caza, Yohmor and Arnoun are the most deprived ones, due to lack of water resources, wells or springs, and due to their complex water supply system," said Mr. Corban.
In the Bekaa valley, the Shamsine water station, which will service 10 villages in the Al-Sharki area, was repaired by ICRC water engineers and the Bekaa Water Establishment (BWE) in recent weeks. In addition, the ICRC donated a new pump set to the BWE, providing 4,000 m3 of water per day, and a new electric control panel for the Lakkis well in Baalbeck was installed. This well can provide 2,500 m3 of water per day to the city of Baalbeck.
Global ICRC assistance provided to water production centres since 30 July 2006 benefited an estimated 419,700 inhabitants in southern Lebanon, the Bekaa region, and Beirut's southern suburbs, ensuring the provision of 47,500 m3 of water daily.
United Nations, 21 December 2006 (IPS) - The world's new economic powerhouses, including India, Brazil, South Africa and China, are largely responsible for a dramatic surge in trade and investments among the 132 developing nations in the global South.
"The South as a whole is not only richer in absolute terms but their combined economic weight relative to the global economy has also substantially increased," says Yiping Zhou, director of the U.N.'s Special Unit for South-South Cooperation. According to the latest figures, South-South trade has grown rapidly over the last decade: from 222 billion dollars in 1995 to 562 billion dollars in 2004. The figures for 2005 and 2006 are expected to be significantly higher. (…) South-South foreign direct investments (FDI) have also increased, from about 14 billion dollars in 1995 to 47 billion dollars in 2003, with figures for 2006 expected to reach beyond 55 billion dollars.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan points out that trade within the South has risen rapidly. Southern multinational corporations have become providers of capital and technology, and have created jobs and generated wealth. "Faster-growing developing countries have also emerged as an important source of investments, (migrant) remittances and development aid," he said Tuesday, addressing a meeting on the U.N. Day for South-South Cooperation.
Annan said that recent meetings and initiatives, including last year's South America-Arab Summit and this year's China-Africa Summit, "signal a strong commitment among developing countries to maintain and increase this momentum." (…)
Latin American and Caribbean countries consolidate improvements in fiscal accounts
The region is taking advantage of favourable macroeconomic conditions to increase its fiscal revenues and lower its public debt.
21 December 2006 - Following the tendency of recent years, Latin American and Caribbean countries continued to consolidate their fiscal position in 2006. This positive trend in fiscal accounts and public debt management allows for the ongoing reduction of regional vulnerability, in a process that can be observed since 2002, states ECLAC's recently-released Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean 2006. The region's fiscal performance will allow central governments to generate primary surpluses (that is, minus public debt interest payments) of 2.1% of GDP for the end of 2006, a positive achievement compared to last year's figure of 1.7%. Taking overall deficits into account (that is, including debt interest payments), the deficit narrowed from 1.1% to 0.3% of GDP. In its new report, the United Nations regional commission notes how 2003-2006 fiscal performance exhibits traits that are noteworthy in comparison to other periods of growth. Fiscal improvements in 2003 and 2004 are based on both increased revenues and average increases in expenditure beneath regional GDP. In 2005 and 2006, the primary surplus growth reflects the strong expansion of resources, which more than compensated for increased public expenditure over the two-year period. (See chart 1).(…) Given that output increased greatly in some countries during this period and fiscal revenues have been boosted by surging commodity prices, ECLAC recommends that governments seek equilibrium in regards to legitimate demands to increase public spending while being careful not to undermine efforts to achieve sustainable balance of public accounts. This is especially important in cases where public debt levels are still high, as half the countries in the region have a debt level in excess of 40% of GDP.
FAO welcomes UN Resolution on International Year of Natural Fibres 2009
Another contribution towards Millennium Development Goals
Rome, 21 December 2006 - Yesterday’s UN General Assembly decision declaring 2009 the International Year of Natural Fibres will contribute to the Millennium Development Goals by further developing the efficiency and sustainability of these agricultural industries that employ millions of people in some of the world’s poorest countries, according to FAO.
The UN decision follows a request by the biennial Conference of FAO in November 2005.
Millions of people around the world, among them some of the poorest people in some of the poorest countries, depend on the production and processing of natural fibres for their livelihood. Natural fibres contribute to food security and economic development for these farmers.
The International Year of Natural Fibres will raise consumer awareness of natural fibres and strengthen demand for natural fibre products, improving the livelihoods of the farmers who produce them and revenues for countries that export them, says FAO. At the same time, promoting the use of natural fibres will enhance the environment. (…)
Under the general guidance of an International Steering Committee, FAO would be the coordinator of activities in the Year of Natural Fibres, with many activities being undertaken by partner organizations. FAO is now seeking funding from donor countries and organizations to finance activities in support of the International Year of Natural Fibres 2009.
New US$37.3 million programme to create rural jobs and enhance market access in Viet Nam
Rome, 21 December 2006 – Approximately 50,000 poor rural households in Viet Nam’s Ha Tinh and Tra Vinh provinces will participate in a new development programme designed to help smallholder farmers add value to their products and become more involved in regional and national markets, and to create new jobs in poor rural areas. The US$37.3 million Programme for Improving Market Participation of the Poor in Ha Tinh and Tra Vinh Provinces will be partly financed by a US$26.0 million loan and a US$400,000 grant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The financing agreement was signed today at IFAD headquarters by Van Nam Nguyen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to IFAD, and IFAD President Lennart Båge. The Government of Viet Nam will contribute US$4.1 million to the programme. The remaining funds will be provided by the German development agency, GTZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit), the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Viet Nam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (VBARD) and the local governments in the programme area.(…)
With this loan and grant, IFAD will have provided funds for seven programmes in the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam since 1993, totalling US$132.79 million.
Despite slow progress on world development goals, still reason for optimism: UN adviser
20 December 2006 – Progress on attaining the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seek to tackle poverty, hunger and other social ills by 2015, remains slow but countries are realizing the importance of the life-and-death targets and increasingly know what needs to be done to attain them, the UN adviser on the project said today, sounding a note of optimism.
However Jeffrey Sachs, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the MDGs, said he was under no illusion that while talk about the goals by donor countries or organizations was welcome, it means little unless concrete action is taken to back up their words.
“I think we can end this year on a note of optimism that many important things are being done. Many different governments are joining the effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The biggest reason for optimism is that we are a world that is rich in knowledge, science and technology and proven approaches to fighting poverty, hunger and disease and I think the world’s going to get the job done,” he told reporters. (…)
The MDGs were agreed by world leaders at the UN’s Millennium Summit in 2000. They cover eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and fostering a global partnership for development.
New IFAD-financed programme to support post-conflict recovery in Eritrea
Rome, 15 December 2006 – Over 200,000 Eritrean families affected by recent border wars and long periods of drought will participate in a new agricultural and livestock development programme designed to raise productivity and boost rural incomes. The US$23.12 million Post-crisis Rural Recovery and Development Programme will be partly financed by a US$12.24 million loan and a US$343,000 grant from the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD). The financing agreement for the loan and grant was signed today by Zemede Tekle Woldetatios, Ambassador of Eritrea to Italy, and IFAD President Lennart Båge at IFAD’s headquarters. The Government of Eritrea will contribute US$1.04 million to finance the programme. The Global Environment Facility will provide US$7.28 million to finance the natural resource management component of the programme while the rest of the funding will be made available by programme participants.(…)
Programme activities will take place in Dedub and Gash Barka — the country’s hardest hit regions during armed conflicts with Ethiopia in the late 1990s. Over 80 per cent of the population in these regions is poor and food insecure. Thousands of households cultivate plots of no more than one hectare and have no livestock. The programme will reach out to the communities’ most vulnerable families, including those headed by women, returnees and internally displaced people. (…)
A second Smart Community in Yemen
UN-ESCWA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Yemeni Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation and the National Program for Capacity Building (NPCB) affiliated with the Al-Saleh Social Foundation for Development. It comes as a follow-through to implementation of the Smart Community Project (SCP) Yemen by establishing a SCP village in Hadran village in the Bani Matar Valley about 40km west of the capital, San’a. This village will be the second such SCP to be established in Yemen, with activities that focus mainly on coffee plantation, a major agro-food activity for which this region is well known.
The MOU signing was followed by a Letter of Agreement signed between UN-ESCWA and NPCB in order to start implementation of the project. This will be in the form of a training programme for Multi-purpose Technology Community Centre (MTCC) managers and Agro-Food Processing Unit (AFPU) operators, in addition to the rehabilitation of two premises that will house the MTCC and the AFPU in the village. During the mission of Mr. Hratch Kouyoumjian, UN-ESCWAs consultant on information and communication technology (ICT), to Yemen, an awareness workshop was organized for all those concerned with SCP implementation in Hadran, Bani Matar. The workshop included key presentations about the project and about the importance of coffee for the region. (…)
Burundi: Government sets up fund for flood victims
Bujumbura, 5 January 2007 (IRIN) - The Burundian government has set up a national solidarity fund to support people affected by rain-induced floods in seven of the country's provinces.
At the same time, President Pierre Nkurunziza issued a decree on Thursday declaring the provinces of Kayanza in the north, Muramvya and Karuzi in the central part of the country, Ruyigi in the east, and Bubanza and Cibitoke in the northwest, as "hunger-stricken following floods". He also announced the setting up of the solidarity fund, to which every Burundian must contribute money for four months from the end of January. (…)
In February 2006, the government set up another solidarity fund for five drought-affected provinces in the north and east of the country. However, in June 2006, the government announced it had decided to use $10 million - initially intended to feed drought-affected people in the northern and eastern provinces - for the education and health sectors, saying the situation had improved as farmers there had had a good harvest season.
January 4, 2007 - At the second year anniversary, Christian Children’s Fund (CCF) has completed the second phase of a three-year program of recovery and reconstruction. CCF has collected $19,080,054.68 for tsunami relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts in India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. This includes $11,221,699 million in public contributions and $7,858,355.68 million in grant awards.
CCF responded within hours after the tsunami ravaged the coastal areas of South Asia in December of 2004, when more than 200,000 lives were lost and 1.5 million children and families were displaced. CCF emergency response teams, working with local CCF staff and volunteers, immediately distributed food, bedding, clothing, medicine and other basic relief supplies to displaced families. CCF moved quickly to establish a three-year plan of reconstruction and development initiatives that would provide a long-term impact to tsunami-affected families through livelihood restoration and child protection programs. Recovery efforts continued in year-one and moved into reconstruction efforts which continued throughout year-two.
During the first two years CCF has spent for tsunami relief and recovery in India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, a total of $12,636,751.62. This expenditure includes: $6,412,365.48 in public contributions and $6,224,386.14 expenditures in grant funding. (…)
Poor farmers who cooperate and share their knowledge harvest more. That is the philosophy of the Farmer Field School.
29 December 2006 - In Cambodian society, the poorest usually struggle individually for survival. They are isolated from the decision-makers, and that impedes improvement of their livelihood. But the farmers in the small communities often have both knowledge and energy to carry on, especially if they believe in themselves and share their knowledge. And that is precisely the most important principle of the Farmer Field School.
Together with the village leaders, the hired project advisor selects the families suitable for participation in the Farmer Field School. Besides being poor, they must be energetic and determined to participate. When the group has been formed, the members arrive at a common decision about where to meet, what to discuss and their individual goals.
The first task is to find a piece of land that can be use as demonstration plot, where the group can do crop experiments. People living on the verge of hunger take no chances on their own land. Therefore, the members make a small piece of their land at disposal of the group, an in return they will get a share of the harvest. Alternatively, the village chief will be asked if the group may borrow a small plot.
The group decides with which crops they will experiment and the kind of instruction or training they need. The activities have point of departure in real problems. These may be from pest control to acute floods or the use of new crops. (…)
December 28, 2006 - Two years ago, one of the worst tsunamis in history devastated the lives of millions of people in Southeast Asia. Immediately after this terrible disaster, Northwest Medical Teams sent volunteers and staff, and medical supplies to five countries in the disaster area.
In the past two years, Northwest Medical Teams’ volunteers and staff have treated thousands of people living in temporary shelters, helped to rebuild hospitals and clinics, trained new healthcare workers to replace those killed by the tsunami, and established trauma counseling programs staffed by local counselors.
Now with help from Northwest Teams volunteers, the survivors of the disaster are learning to save the lives of others. Donnie Woodyard, an Indiana paramedic serving with Northwest Medical Teams, oversees the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) initiative in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka. Tsunami funds are being used to not only provide jobs, but to train people in life-saving skills.
Recently, a group of newly certified emergency medical technicians (EMTs) saved the life of a seven-day-old infant. Using their CPR skills, the Sri Lankan EMTs suctioned the child’s airway and breathed life back into her lungs.
Netherlands give UNICEF largest single donation ever
Over $ 200 million for education in emergency and post crisis countries
Geneva/The Hague, 22 December 2006 - Millions of children in the developing world have a new ray of hope as the Dutch government today announced it has pledged $201 million to UNICEF to radically expand the agency's ongoing efforts to ensure that children in conflict, natural disasters and emerging from crisis can go to school. It is the single largest earmarked donation UNICEF has received in its 60-year history. While schooling children stuck in emergencies, whether conflict or natural disasters, is a core part of UNICEF's mandate, this donation will allow for a dramatic scaling up of programmes. Children recover more quickly if they are in school, a safe haven both physically and psychologically. "UNICEF has a proven track record in innovation and working with local community organizations. We know our investment will bring us much closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially those on Education FOR ALL BOYS AND GIRLS ," said Dutch minister for Development Cooperation Agnes van Ardenne. Presently half of the children in the world who currently receive no education live in the 70 countries in which a conflict is raging or has raged.(…)
UNICEF will also receive an additional US$ 56 million for water and sanitation programmes, US$ 24 million for child protection programmes and US$ 24 million for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment from the Dutch government. (…)
Save the Children receives $1 million Gates Foundation Grant to assist displaced families in West Darfur
Westport, Conn., USA, December 20, 2006 - Save the Children announced today that it has received a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a water and sanitation project in West Darfur, Sudan. The grant will help the agency provide sanitation facilities and clean drinking water to more than 55,000 displaced children and family members forced to flee their homes and live in temporary shelters due to continued violence. (…)
The grant is the third that Save the Children has received from the Gates Foundation for ongoing emergency relief in Darfur. The previous two grants were instrumental in helping Save the Children conduct a rapid assessment of conditions affecting children and launch humanitarian relief efforts in West Darfur.
December 14, 2006— Africare hosted the launch of new nonprofit--The Sierra Leone Fund- Thursday, and opened the doors for discussion of past and present efforts to deliver aid to Sierra Leone. The event took place one week after the Hollywood release of the film, “Blood Diamond,” and served as an opportunity to garner support and international awareness about the country’s development needs. The Sierra Leone Fund was founded as part of a grassroots effort to alleviate the aftermath of a ten year civil war in Sierra Leone that began in 1991.
In remarks at Thursday’s reception, Africare President Julius E. Coles commented on the drive and youthful spirit of the new organization’s founders. He reminded all in attendance that Africare was also once a small basement operation between two men with a vision. A vision that later extended into 35 nations across the African continent, and some $580 million in development assistance to improve the quality of life for African people.
In Sierra Leone, Africare’s work began in 1984 when the Ministry of health requested Africare staff replicate a similar program they had developed in Gambia. Their goal, in partnership with UNICEF and the World Bank, was to improve management distribution of essential drugs to rural areas. Alan Alemian was a member of that team, and a key player in the emergency relief programs developed to aid refugees when civil war erupted in 1991. (…)
The emergency camps, in addition to food distribution and medical assistance, developed agricultural relief programs that provided land for displaced refugees to produce their own subsistence crops and reduce dependence on food aid. These programs continued throughout the duration of the war before transitioning into post-conflict programs like CORAD. (…)
Nairobi, Kenya, December 14, 2006 - In partnership with the government of Kenya, CARE is launching a new program that will improve access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene for school children. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Water Challenge, the program, known as SWASH+ (Sustaining and Scaling School Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Plus Community Impact), will identify, develop and test innovative school-based water, sanitation and hygiene projects in Kenya's Nyanza Province. Over five years, SWASH+ will reach at least 300 schools (including 90,000 students in the first three years) and will provide valuable information on the costs and benefits of school water, sanitation and hygiene.
The global problem of access to safe water and sanitation is staggering. More than 1 billion people lack access to improved water sources, and more than 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation. In Kenya's Nyanza Province, even under the most optimistic scenario, more than 3,700 primary schools require improvements in safe water and hygiene facilities, and more than 35,000 school latrines are required throughout the province to meet government recommended standards. (…)
A consortium made up of CARE, Water Partners International and their local partner SANA, the Millennium Water Alliance, the Center for Global Safe Water at Emory University, and the Global Water Challenge will implement an applied research study and government-led scale-up over the next five years. (…)
Fairfield, CT, USA, December 12, 2006 - The GE Foundation, the philanthropic organization of General Electric Company, today announced that it will provide emergency grants totaling $2 million for humanitarian efforts in the Darfur region of Sudan. CARE and UNICEF will each receive $750,000, and International Medical Corps will receive $500,000.
The funding will enable these organizations to help meet the health, nutrition, water, sanitation, emergency and other needs of the displaced residents. The grants will allow the three recipients to continue their existing activities in response to the escalating humanitarian crisis in the region. Current activities include the furnishing of temporary shelter, sanitary facilities, potable water, health services and food aid, with the goal to reduce child and maternal mortality and malnutrition rates. (…)
Rotary International President William B. Boyd receives royal award
by Lisa Baker, Rotary International News
11 January 2007 - Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II recently bestowed Rotary International President William B. Boyd with the Companion of the Queen’s Service Order Award.
The award is given to New Zealand residents who have served as a valuable volunteer to the community, whether in elected or public office. The queen appoints 30 people each year.
“While Lorna [Boyd’s wife] and I are honored for me to receive the QSO, we recognize that this is recognition of the standing of Rotary in our community,” says Boyd.
The queen honored Boyd for his work in the New Zealand community, which he’s served as a Rotarian since 1971. He’s also served in his community as an elder and youth leader in the Presbyterian church, scout master, secretary of several school committees, and 30 years as a rugby referee with the rugby union. (…)
An awards ceremony will take place later in the year, after Boyd completes his term as RI president. He will receive a citation for service to the community as well as a badge and a medal.
Author(s): Tamar Gabelnick
4 January 2007 - On 28 December 2006, Angola marked in a public ceremony the destruction and demilitarization of its known stock of antipersonnel landmines, thus meeting its 1 January 2007 deadline under Article 4 of the Mine Ban Treaty. During the 2005-2006 phase of the stockpile destruction program, 83,557 antipersonnel mines were located. Of this total, 10,866 were demolished; 70,179 were demilitarized and the plastic and metal parts recycled; and 2,512 will be kept for training purposes under Article 3 of the Mine Ban Treaty. The Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) had destroyed 1,320 OZM 4 mines in 2003-2004.
The achievement is especially notable considering that Angola had previously stated that it did not believe it could meet its deadline. Angola had twice asked other States Parties for an “extension,” though the treaty does not allow for extensions for stockpile destruction.
Additionally, over 30,000 antipersonnel mines were discovered since the spring of 2006 when Angola submitted its most recent Article 7 transparency report. That report, which covered the period through March 2006, listed a total of 50,659 antipersonnel mines in stocks. By working diligently through the end of December, Angola ensured that it would be in compliance with the Mine Ban Treaty by destroying all known stockpiles, not just those listed in the Article 7 report. The ICBL congratulates Angola and its implementing partners on this accomplishment.
The Stockpile Destruction program cost 1,765,000 Euros, and was funded by the European Commission (1,500,000 Euros), the government of Angola (170,000 Euros), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (95,000 Euros). It was managed by the NationalIntersectoral Commission for Demining and Humanitarian Assistance for Mine Victims (CNIDAH) in cooperation with the FAA, the National Demining Institute (INAD), and the UNDP. (…)
13 years of demining in Mozambique is history
20 December 2006 - Under a formal ceremony in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, the country’s government received comprehensive documentation from 13 years of NPA demining. It is considered by NPA that the mine problem in Mozambique are now at a level that can be organized and handled nationally.
Representatives form Mozambique’s government, the Norwegian and the Dutch embassy, UN’s mine programme, UNDP, EU and international NGOs in Mozambique were present at the ceremony which officially ended NPA’s 13 years of effort to clear mines.
When the civil war ended in 1992, mines became a major obstacle to refugees returning home from neighbouring countries like Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. NPA began clearing mines in the following year to help the refugees return home safely. Later, when people started to rebuild their lives, NPA accordingly focused on clearance of areas for agricultural and infrastructural purposes to help them rebuild. NPA were counted among the most central international NGOs in the country. Mr Gamiliel Munguambe, director of the Ministry of education, planning and information in Mozambique thanked NPA on behalf of the government. (…)
Franz Chávez and Diana Cariboni
Coroico, Bolivia, January 5 (IPS) - Bolivia's anti-narcotics police have changed tactics under President Evo Morales. Instead of forcibly eradicating coca crops, they now bring vaccines and primary health care to the people of the Yungas region, in exchange for information and assistance that leads to the detection of drug labs and trafficking activity. (…)
The policy of negotiated eradication has been adopted by the commanders of the mobile rural patrol unit (UMOPAR). The assistant to UMOPAR chief Lieutenant-Colonel Julio Cruz Vera is a doctor. This forms part of the strategy of forging a relationship of trust with the residents of the subtropical valleys in the Andean highlands near La Paz, where coca is grown and where coca processing facilities (coca base and cocaine hydrochloride laboratories) are occasionally found.
In his camouflage fatigues, Cruz Vera patrols the thickly forested mountains of the Yungas region not far from the city of La Paz, explaining to the local residents -- most of whom are small farmers -- that the trafficking of precursor chemicals and their use in the production of coca paste and cocaine could land them in prison. "People were mistakenly informed that we were going to eradicate coca crops and seize people's harvests," Major Alfredo Villca, UMOPAR commander in Yungas, told IPS. "But now we are conducting outreach efforts to work with community leaders and explain how our fight against drug trafficking will work." (…)
Flare-up of Rift Valley Fever in the Horn of Africa
FAO experts at work
Rome, 4 January 2007 – A Nairobi-based FAO team drawn from animal health experts in a number of countries of the Horn of Africa is working with veterinary in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia to address the latest outbreak of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in the region. Together with officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) and various international aid agencies present in the area, the FAO team is helping draw up preparedness, communication, surveillance and response activities.
Since 1998, when flood-related RVF flared up in the Horn of Africa and encroached into the Arabian Peninsula, FAO has been working to demarcate the areas in sub-Saharan Africa at greatest risk and pinpoint hot spots across East and West Africa to be able to forecast where the next outbreaks will occur and put adequate response strategies in place.
RVF, a mosquito-borne viral disease affecting ruminants and humans has historically occurred in 5-15 year cycles, but with climatic changes -- including succession of droughts and floods or human modifications of the ecosystems -- these intervals could change in the future.(…)
Current activities are receiving technical support from the Crisis Management Centre (CMC), set up in October 2006 to facilitate rapid responses to fast-moving transboundary animal diseases that are highly contagious among animals and may be transmissible to humans.
RVF can cause serious economic losses in livestock, particularly sheep and cattle, although goats, camels, Asian water buffaloes and possibly some wild antelopes are also susceptible.(…)
2 January 2007 - Targeted strategies to overcome unique challenges to immunizing every child have been launched by each of the remaining four polio-endemic countries: Nigeria, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
With indigenous transmission of polio now geographically restricted to key, identified populations, all four countries convened technical oversight body meetings in early December 2006 to review the epidemiological data and agree local strategies to overcome uniquely local challenges. The strategies aim to accelerate eradication efforts in the most targeted manner possible, zeroing in on those areas and populations where the poliovirus continues to circulate. (…)
With outbreaks in previously polio-free countries stopped or on the verge of being stopped, the world has a unique opportunity in 2007 to focus all efforts on stopping the disease in the remaining four endemic countries. Key to success will be the ongoing financial support of the international donor community, as the intensification of targeted eradication activities in Nigeria, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2007 will have a substantial impact on budgets. A full update of the External Financial Resource Requirements (FRR) reflecting new budgetary needs will be published by the spearheading partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative by the end of January 2007.
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, December 28, 2006—To raise awareness about the HIV and AIDS pandemic around the world, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) International has launched a new resource section on its Web site about the HIV and AIDS crisis.
This new resource is divided into four topic areas. “What Everyone Should Know” details the myths, facts, and important information regarding the viruses, and offers Web visitors accurate and up-to-date information. “Our HIV and AIDS Response” includes information on ADRA’s global efforts to fight against the disease. Here, visitors can read about ADRA’s HIV and AIDS initiatives around the world in education, prevention, testing, and treatment, as well as working with children living with or affected by the disease.
“Help Today” encourages visitors to get involved by telling others about HIV and AIDS, participating in an awareness or fundraising activity, or donating to one or more of ADRA’s initiatives. To facilitate Web visitors’ involvement, the “World AIDS Day Resources” section provides access to awareness kits, ribbons, and other materials to commemorate World AIDS Day and involve communities, churches, small groups, and schools in the challenge to stop HIV and AIDS. (…)
Unprecedented collaboration accelerates work to reduce, refine and replace animal testing for safety assessment - Significant progress made.
27 companies join forces with the European Commission services. We anticipate that even more companies will engage in the Partnership, says European Commission and European industry
Brussels, 18 December 2006 - The European Partnership on Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA) today presented its progress report one year on from its launch. On the occasion of this second “Europe Goes Alternative” conference in Brussels, representatives from the European Commission and European industry welcomed the significant achievements that have been made during the last 12 months, but stressed the importance of even more partners joining the collaboration.
“In the past 12 months, 19 companies have joined the European Commission and the eight founding industry members of the EPAA, and this increase in expertise and resource has allowed us to accelerate progress” said EPAA Steering Group co-chairs Georgette Lalis (for the European Commission) and Charles Laroche (for European industry). “Nevertheless, if we are to achieve our ambitious aims of rapidly developing new safety assessment models that reduce, refine and replace animal testing, we need the broadest group of partners possible. We strongly encourage other companies to join the EPAA” they added.
The unprecedented character of the partnership, bringing together seven industry sectors and numerous Commission services, was able in its first year to identify common grounds for collaboration, to put in place a five-year action programme based on a preliminary and realistic assessment of needs, and to establish a structure for implementation of the programme drawing on the expertise of all member companies and Commission services. (…)
December 14, 2006—Africare President Julius E. Coles joined key government Heads of State and partner NGOs Thursday for the first White House Summit on Malaria. The summit opened discussion for global partners to highlight their past and future measures to eliminate the mosquito-borne disease that according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention kills one child every 30 seconds on the African continent.
In conjunction with President Bush’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) to reduce the number of Malaria-related deaths in Africa by 50%, Africare deployed several projects to four different countries in West and South Africa (Angola, Senegal, Nigeria, and Benin) between 2003 and 2006 in an effort to reduce childhood and maternal morbidity and mortality linked to the malaria infection. Over $6.5 million in funds were dedicated to the projects through partnerships with USAID, Exxon Mobil, Shell and the Global fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The monies have been used in large part to train staff/local health providers, vaccinate infected persons, and purchase bed nets to reduce the spread of the disease. (…)
Jordanian, Israeli Mayors sign on MOU to advance cross border park at the Rotenburg/ Naharayim/Gesher site
January 11, 2007 - Yesterday, at the initiation of Friends of the Earth Middle East, an historic Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Mayors from Israel and Jordan, recognizing the value and importance of rehabilitating the Jordan River and identifying the potential of advancing peace through creating a cross border park, based on ecological values and cultural heritage. Signing on the agreement were Eng. Abdullah Salman, Mayor of Mu’az Bin Jabal municipality in Jordan, and Israeli Mayors of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, Mr. Yossi Vardi and Beit She’an Valley Regional Council, Mr. Dani Tamari.
According to Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of Friends of the Earth Middle East, signing of the agreement - despite ongoing political tensions – “is a result of recognition from both sides that it is not possible today to live on agriculture alone; new possibilities need to be developed.” (…)
The mayors declared that their intention is to create a cross border park bird sanctuary, eco-lodges and a visitor’s center, in the area of Bakoora/Naharayim/Gesher, using the infrastructure still intact at the old Rotenberg site. Other developments include cultural heritage sites at the Roman and Ottoman bridges at Gesher, the Mamluk Khan and the old customs house at the Gesher site. (…)
To date, the Lower Jordan River is severely polluted and has literally been turned into a sewage canal, creating a serious hazard for the ecosystem. Mayors and citizens of the area are determined to reverse this situation and return the area to its once thriving state.
This activity is part of the “Good Water Neighbors” project, supported by the European Union, the British Government and the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Foundation.
For more information, please contact Mira Edelstein, 054-6392937, or firstname.lastname@example.org
FAO encourages early withdrawal of highly toxic pesticides
Assurances given by Danish company
Rome, 20 December 2006 - Danish chemicals company Cheminova has submitted plans for phasing out highly toxic forms of pesticides in developing countries to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in line with the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides. FAO welcomed the move as “a step in the right direction” in an ongoing process involving the Danish Government, civil society, the press and Cheminova itself in seeking to reduce the risks stemming from hazardous pesticides.
Cheminova Managing Director Bjørn Albinus yesterday submitted what he called a “realistic scenario” for phasing out the World Health Organization Class I pesticides, including methyl parathion and monocrotophos, from developing countries between next year and 2010. But Mr Albinus said that the process could be accelerated as circumstances allowed. FAO’s Director of Plant Production and Protection, Shivaji Pandey, noted that in line with the provisions of the International Code of Conduct the phase-out should take place as soon as possible and “the sooner the better”. (…)
FAO noted that a growing number of developing countries, including China, Thailand and Vietnam, are prohibiting the use of methyl parathion, monocrotophos and several other Class I pesticides. Mr Pandey called upon other companies and governments to follow these examples and expedite the withdrawal of WHO Class I pesticides – the most hazardous – from developing country markets in line with recommendations in the Code of Conduct.
Europe’s air is getting cleaner, UNECE report shows
Geneva, 15 December 2006 -- The meeting of the Parties (the Executive Body) of the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution this week heard about the continued success of many Parties in cutting their emissions of air pollutants. The 51 Parties to the Convention span the entire UNECE region from North America to Europe and Central Asia, a large area that has had many air pollution problems. A report using information provided by UNECE countries identifies clear downward trends in releases of sulphur dioxide (SO2) in Europe. The total release across Europe was estimated to be less than 15 million tons in 2004 – a decrease of 65% from the 1990 figure. This means that the SO2 target for the year 2010 set for Europe by the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol has already been reached. Even so, there are big differences in the achievements of individual countries. While some have surpassed their target, about half still need to reduce their emissions. When this is done, the widespread “acid rain” effects caused by sulphur will be limited to very sensitive soils and areas where damage has been severe. For emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), the situation is not so good, though total European emissions fell to less than 18 million tons by 2004 – 30% less than the 1990 levels. A further cut of 15% is needed to reach the Protocol target. (…) The report presented to the Executive Body also provides information on how individual countries are working to control their emissions (both through national strategies and through action using national legislation). The steps taken by some can provide useful examples to others. Such results are very important. The Convention has, for more than 25 years, developed international cooperation across the UNECE region to address the problems of air pollution. It has based its decision-making on sound scientific and technical activities and on data reported by Parties. (…)
UN-ESCWA at the first Arab media assembly on environment and development
The League of Arab State and the Meteorological and Environmental Protection Agency (MEPA) organized the “First Arab Media Assembly on Environment and Sustainable Development” in coordination with UN-ESCWA, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and Islamic Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) in Cairo in late November. A host of media figures from various newspaper, TV channels and radio stations in the Arab region participated in the event. UN-ESCWA, represented by Ms. Hanan Atallah, a Research Assistant in the Water and Environment Issues Team, delivered a presentation on “Accessing Environmental Information and Assessing its Adequacy and Quality for Dissemination”. The presentation gave an overview of UN-ESCWA’s Training Manual on Sustainable Environmental Management for Arab Media, which was distributed to most of the participants. The presentation tackled major challenges facing Arab journalists dealing with environmental issues, highlighting the difficulty of obtaining credible information.(…) UN-ESCWA received an appreciation award from Prince Turki Bin Nasser Bin Abdel Aziz, General President of Meteorology and Environment Protection and CEO of the Council for Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment (CAMRE), for its contribution in the meeting.
Religion and spirituality
Reykjavik, Iceland, 24 December 2006 (BWNS) -- The Baha'i community of Iceland joined with twelve other faith groups and collaborative partners here to form the country's first national interfaith forum last month. The Iceland Forum for Interfaith Dialogue was officially founded on 24 November 2006 in ceremonies at the Reykjavik City Hall. "The object of the Forum is to promote tolerance and respect between persons of different religions and religious organizations with differing outlooks on life as well as to protect religious freedom and other human rights," said Ingibjorg Danielsdottir, secretary of the Baha'i community of Iceland.
This initiative was put together by the Intercultural Center in Reykjavik. The Center is a human rights advocacy organization based in Iceland. One of this organization's main areas of focus is in facilitating exchange between different cultures and groups. The Forum took some 18 months of patient negotiations to create.
The president of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, was present at the City Hall ceremonies that launched the Forum, as were representatives of the thirteen founding faith and belief communities. The founding groups drafted and signed an "Interfaith Dialogue Policy Statement." The document calls for the building of understanding and respect, as well as the upholding of religious freedom between persons and religious organizations. (…)
Do we know where we are headed? The Vision Project contributes to answer the question
A new and desperately needed vision is emerging
Henry Guy, email@example.com
Arlington, Texas, USA, January 8, 2007 - We have never needed to see greater possibilities more than in these troubled times. The world does not seem to work. We need a new vision that helps us make sense of a new world. We need it now. We need a visionary that can touch us all and help us to pull together, before we pull each other to pieces. Yet when we look around, there isn’t one. Why is there no single visionary who can inspire the whole of humanity? For all the obvious reasons: there are 6.5 billion humans, no single language, and our cultures, religions, and viewpoints are so diverse.
Yet this new and desperately needed vision is emerging. It is not coming through just one visionary; it is coming through many. People from all walks of life, from all nations, races, and religions are catching bits of this new vision. When one searches for it through the works of contemporary visionaries, the dim outline begins to emerge. It is big and synthetic and powerfully moving. Catching the drift of this new vision, we instantly know it to be the promise of humanity given wings.
This is the premise underlying the freshly launched website, The Vision Project: contact notable visionaries and ask them to write “A Vision for Humanity.” Many have responded including A. T. Ariyaratne, Andrew Cohen, Jean Houston, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Yasuhiko Genku Kimura, Satish Kumar, Hans Küng, Ervin Laszlo, Robert Muller, David Steindl-Rast, Nancy Roof, Jeffery Sachs, Elisabet Sahtouris, and Sergio Tripi. The project coordinators hope that it helps many others form their own view of this emerging vision for our time.
New U.N. Chief to disclose financial assets
United Nations, January 5, 2007 (IPS) - The U.N.'s new Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has moved swiftly to hold himself up as a model international civil servant by voluntarily declaring his financial assets to the newly-created Ethics Office.
U.N. spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters Friday that Ban submitted his financial disclosure statement on Tuesday, his first day in office in the U.N. Secretariat, where he is starting a five-year term as the world body's chief administrative officer. His statement is expected to be reviewed -- like those of all other staff members required to file such statements -- by the U.S. accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. "Upon completion of the review, the secretary-general has also decided to publicly disclose the statement," Montas said.
Although his predecessor Kofi Annan also made a declaration of his assets, he did not go public with the disclosure statement. Since the secretary-general is technically not a U.N. staffer because he is elected by the Security Council and the General Assembly, he is usually exempted from staff rules.
When he took his oath of office before the 192-member General Assembly last month, Ban said he will seek to "set the highest ethical standard." (…)
by Nazanin Zaghari, Information Officer, Federation Tehran Delegation
19 December 2006 - Three years ago, on 26 December, a devastating earthquake levelled the city of Bam, destroying the ancient citadel, and leaving 26,000 people dead, 30,000 injured and 75,000 homeless. At least 85% of the city’s buildings were razed, including 119 health centres, clinics and hospitals, as well as 131 schools, which left some 20,000 students without school facilities. Bam is located on a main fault line in Iran, which is ranked as the fourth most disaster-prone country in the world.
Today, nine schools, two health clinics, an orthopaedic centre and a road rescue centre, financed through the International Federation, have emerged from the rubble. Official inauguration ceremonies took place in Bam on the eve of the third anniversary of the tremor. (…) It was a dream shared by all the students who had to study in temporary classes, housed in containers, while construction was going on. Now, with the inauguration of the new schools, equipped with modern facilities, this dream has finally come true, to the joy of teachers and parents as well.
In the recovery phase which followed the emergency operation, the International Federation gave priority to the reconstruction of schools, committing itself to building a total of nine schools in Bam, including five standard schools, three special institutions for disabled students and a model school complex. The five standard schools were completed and handed over to the Ministry of Education in September 2006 and the three special schools for disabled children were completed at the end of November 2006. The Arg-e-Bam Model School Complex is close to final completion. (…) http://www.ifrc.org/Docs/News/06/06121901/index.asp
Journalism competition on Latin America and the Millennium Development Goals
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the international news agency IPS Inter Press Service invite entries for a Journalism Competition on Latin America and the Millennium Development Goals. The articles submitted must be devoted to the main issues addressed by the Millennium Development Goals -- poverty, hunger, primary education, gender inequity and equal participation by women, maternal health and infant mortality, the fight against AIDS and other diseases, environmental sustainability -- their causes and ways of overcoming them, and promoting a global partnership for development. The competition will award prizes to the best five reports, features, stories, interviews or news articles of any kind, published between October 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007 in a printed medium with a permanent periodical circulation in Latin America and the Caribbean. The three articles judged to be the best will be awarded prizes of 5,000 US dollars (USD), USD 2,500 and USD 1,000, respectively. The top five articles will appear in a book to be published by the end of 2007, together with a selection of news articles produced by IPS on the same subject, written within the same time period as that specified for the competition.(…) http://content.undp.org/go/newsroom/december-2006/journalism-competition-on-latin-america-and-the-millennium-development-goals-.en
World Psychology, Spirituality and Healing
This book is a process. With new information, download a more edited, up-dated copy of "Children of The Stars: An Uncommon Wisdom, An Uncommon Sense, Healing from Ritual Abuse"
“My name is Paul F. Mitchell, BA, BSW. I am just a person who might have something to offer an audience of like-minded individuals and groups. You haven't met me before. I am simply sending a book out to people who might find it useful. Just think of me as a concerned person living on planet Earth who is trying to do my share to raise consciousness. I have spent the last 14 years researching and putting this book together. (…) The process of writing this book has been one of integrating and putting on paper that which I have been researching, analyzing and realizing for a long time. While sending this book out in different stages of development, each successive stage represented a significant development within me. (…)
“I don't want anything out of this for myself. Although this work is copyrighted, I have had this done primarily so that it can not be used by others to make a profit. Feel free to make as many copies and pass them around as you want. Think of it as the way the original healers in the days of Hippocrates thought: if they were able to offer some healing to their fellow human being, having the ability to give assistance in this manner was all they wanted in return. (…) In addition to the traditional ways of looking at and dealing with the areas of concern discussed in this book, it would be great if it gave individuals, groups and organizations further insight into the subjects covered.” (…)
I have a web site where people can download as many copies of this book as they wish. The site is http://paulmitchellfoun.tripod.com
Gender, Images, and Global Contexts
March 8–10, 2007, University of Helsinki, Finland
Gender, Images and Global Contexts brings together two successful conferences: the Christina Conference on Women’s Studies, organized in Helsinki in 2003 and 2005 and the European Gender and ICT Symposium, previously organized in Amsterdam (2003), Brussels (2004) and Manchester (2005). It explores the challenging phenomena of gender and ICT that take place in-between the cultural images and societal contexts in the processes where the local intertwine with the global.
We invite scholars, students, educators, policy makers and other practitioners to consider the challenges and possibilities brought forth by global information and communication technologies for working practices, education and feminist theorization. The conference aims to be a meeting point for researchers from different disciplines and research schools. (…)
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