Good News Agency – Year VIII, n° 12



Weekly - Year VIII, number 12 – 5th October 2007

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 (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



Human rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education



Human rights



Education International applauds adoption of Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

September 28 - After two decades of negotiations, the United Nations has finally adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. On 13 September 2007, the UN General Assembly voted to adopt the historic declaration with a large majority (143 in favour, 4 against and 11 abstentions).Vicky Tauli-Corpus is chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Speaking in an emotional tone filled with joy, she said: "The 13th of September 2007 will be remembered as an international human rights day for the indigenous peoples of the world."

Education International's General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen applauded the move and urged EI member organizations "to renew efforts to achieve quality public education for all and particularly for indigenous children, who are among those most likely to be deprived of education or to be exploited through child labour."

The 12-page Declaration addresses both individual and collective rights including cultural rights and identity, rights to education, health, employment, language, and others. It also outlaws discrimination against the world's 370 million indigenous and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them. The Declaration also emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions, and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations. Its adoption will strengthen the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide and serve as a comprehensive framework for cooperation in implementing new minimal international standards for indigenous people’s rights.

The four countries voting against the declaration -- Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States -- said they could not support it because of concerns over provisions on self-determination, land and resources rights and provisions giving indigenous peoples a right of veto over national legislation and state management of resources. Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine abstained.

The UN Human Rights Council adopted the declaration in June 2006 and recommended its adoption by the General Assembly, over the objections of some member states with sizeable indigenous populations.


Save the Children joins actress Angelina Jolie and UNHCR to improve education for refugee children in war zones

Washington, DC, September 27 - One year after launching a global campaign to bring quality education to children in war zones, Save the Children yesterday joined former President Bill Clinton and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie in calling for more support to assist the educational needs of millions of displaced children living in refugee camps. The announcement came at a press conference during the first day of a three-day conference hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative (GGI), which brings together global leaders to devise and implement solutions to the world's most pressing challenges.

Representing the Alliance of twenty-eight Save the Children agencies worldwide, Save the Children USA President and CEO Charles MacCormack reconfirmed the Alliance's commitment to help secure a quality education to an estimated 39 million children who live in countries affected by conflict and cannot go to school.

A year after the launch of the agency's Rewrite the Future campaign, Save the Children has assisted 3.4 million children in more than 20 countries and put the issue of education for children in communities affected by war on the world's agenda. (…) At the press conference, UNHCR issued an appeal to raise $220 million for refugee education. Save the Children fully supports the UNHCR initiative and its work to raise awareness of the immense need for education for children in conflict-affected areas. (…)


Partnerships for children in conflict in the spirit of the Holy Ramadan

Amman, 23 September - As millions of Muslims around the world observe the current month of the Holy Ramadan, a partnership has emerged between UNICEF and Showtime Arabia, a leading regional subscription cable TV operator. The aim of the partnership is to support the cause of children affected by armed conflict in Darfur, Iraq and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

UNICEF’s first ever Eminent Advocate for Children,, Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan, recorded a 45 second public service announcement which is being aired via all Showtime Arabia Pay TV network channels, throughout the Gulf as well as numerous  countries in the Middle East. The TV spot reminds viewers that children are the most vulnerable to violence and exploitation in conflict situations. UNICEF-Showtime alliance highlights Queen Rania continued commitment and dedication towards supporting children’s issues worldwide. All monetary proceeds of the month-long campaign will help assist UNICEF interventions in Darfur, Iraq and the occupied Palestinian territory. (…)


Seville, Spain: ECLAC and SEGIB sign agreements for research into topics involving social security and youth

The agreements were signed by José Luis Machinea, ECLAC Executive Secretary, and Enrique Iglesias, SEGIB Secretary General.

September 14 - The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Ibero-American Secretariat General (Secretaría General Iberoamericana, SEGIB), meeting in Seville, Spain, today announced an agreement to develop a programme of joint studies and research in the areas of social security and youth. Representing the two institutions were José Luis Machinea, ECLAC Executive Secretary, and Enrique Iglesias, SEGIB Secretary General, who signed two Memoranda of Understanding outlining the activities included in the cooperation accord. In the first agreement, ECLAC and SEGIB agree to conduct a project on the "Impact of the Ibero-American Multilateral Convention for Social Security" to bring about improvements to the economic and social situation of migrant workers from Ibero-American countries through research on the foreign workers from the region eligible to maintain pension rights in their country of employment, as outlined in the Ibero-American Community Multilateral Convention for Social Security. This Convention received the backing of authorities attending the VI Ibero-American Conference of Ministers Responsible for Social Security, held recently under the auspices of the Ibero-American Organization for Social Security (OISS) and SEGIB. The initiative was also taken up and approved by the XV Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Salamanca in 2005 and ratified in the Montevideo Agreement adopted at the XVI Ibero-American Summit of 2006 in Uruguay.(…)



Economy and development



Converting wood waste into pellets to reduce greenhouse gases

Costa Rica pioneers “green” project for poor countries

Rome, 1 October – Costa Rica’s pilot project to convert polluting wood residues into a profitable “green” energy source, presents new prospects for timber industries in developing countries, FAO said today. The project converts large stockpiles of sawdust and other residues from wood industries into wood pellets which can be used as a renewable source of energy, and as a substitute for fossil fuels.

“Costa Rica’s pioneer project will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to sustainable development,” says Jan Heino, FAO Assistant Director-General for Forestry, working with the government of Costa Rica to provide technical assistance. In many countries, surplus wood residues from sawmills occupy large amounts of space and often pollute local rivers. The decay of these residues leads to emissions of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Moreover, the residues can ignite spontaneously and thus present a fire risk for the sawmill owner. The project in Costa Rica is based on the Kyoto Protocol’s so called Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Public or private entities may fulfil their obligations under the Protocol through investing in "Clean Development" projects in developing countries. While reducing emissions, CDM projects aim to promote sustainable development in the host country. Emission reductions achieved through a CDM project can be traded as tons of carbon dioxide equivalent for a value of approximately US$ 10 for one ton.(…)


New project won – East Timor: strengthening property rights

September 28 - ACDI/VOCA, under a subcontract with Associates in Rural Development (ARD), has been awarded a five-year program to strengthen property rights in East Timor. Conflicts over property rights and land tenure have been a major cause of civil unrest in East Timor in recent years, and this project will work to support the government in resolving the problem. ACDI/VOCA will implement public awareness and conflict mitigation activities.

ACDI/VOCA has been working in East Timor for the past three years on the USAID-funded NGO Sector Strengthening project. Its local partner, Belun, a Timorese intermediary service organization, will have a key role, building on its related initiatives over the last few years.

This project was awarded under the Prosperity, Livelihoods and Conserving Ecosystems (PLACE) IQC contracting mechanism, under which ACDI/VOCA is a member of the ARD consortium.


A goat means hope for tomorrow

September 28 - A group of 100 marginalized women have this summer been selected to participate in a goat husbandry project in order to ensure sustainable livelihoods. They are all from an area of Ethiopia that has struggled with drought for the last six years.

The beneficiaries are all living in the rural area near Bulbula town, 200 kilometers south of the capital Addis Ababa. Many of them are alone with the responsibility of the household either because their husband is dead or because he is living with a younger wife.

Yet, becoming an owner of a female goat can be the first step out of poverty. It is cheap to feed as it mostly eats grass, it provides the family with milk and most importantly, it gives birth to two sometimes three kids. The idea behind the goat husbandry project is that a newborn goat will after staying with its mother for some months, be transferred to another beneficiary. If the newborn is a female, it will stay in the project. If it is a male, it will be sold on the local marked in order to buy a female instead. The goat project is implemented by a new local NGO partner called VoCDA, which is already working with other projects aiming to improve the living standards of the most vulnerable women in this region. (…)


Launch of an interactive web-based platform in support of agriculture and rural development

“e-agriculture is a truly demand-driven platform,” according to FAO’s Anton Mangstl

Rome, 28 September – The UN Food and Agriculture Organization today announced the launch of a unique interactive web-based platform focusing on the role that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can have in supporting agriculture and rural development. The online platform,, will enable users to exchange opinions, experiences, good practices and resources related to e-agriculture, and to ensure that the knowledge created is effectively shared and used worldwide.  Developed by global stakeholders in collaboration with FAO and partners, the platform is part of an e-agriculture Community of Expertise, a global initiative to enhance sustainable agricultural development and food security by improving the use of ICT in the sector.  The Community includes policy makers, rural service providers, development practitioners, farmers, researchers and information and communication specialists involved in agriculture and rural development.

Over 3400 stakeholders from 135 countries were involved in the development of the platform. They participated in an online survey, providing relevant content, and joining in virtual forums held during July and August 2007.  Over the past decade, the digital divide - the divide between those with regular, effective access to digital and ICT and those without - has been shrinking in terms of numbers of fixed phone lines, mobile subscribers, and Internet users. Nonetheless, only 18 percent of the world's population have currently access to the internet. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates that one billion people worldwide still lack connection to any kind of information and communication technology. Of these people, most depend in some way on agriculture for their livelihoods. (…) To join the e-agriculture Community of Expertise, please visit


Wanted: greener fish

Market trends require stronger environmental performance by seafood industry

Rome, 25 September - The US$400 billion seafood industry has no choice but to adapt to intensifying demand from retailers and consumers for "environmentally friendly" fish, FAO said today. During opening remarks made to industry representatives attending the 2007 Seafood Industry Congress (25-27 September, Dublin), Grimur Valdimarsson, Director of FAO's Fishing Industries Division, said that the need for seafood producers to guarantee environmental performance is unavoidable. (…)

In broad terms, this means that producers will need to be able to assure retailers and consumers that their fish were not taken from overexploited stocks, farmed in ponds where mangroves once stood, or caught in nets without turtle-saving excluder devices installed. Doing so requires monitoring fishing activities via tracking systems, labels and similar mechanisms. There are already a number of initiatives under way that seek to do this, established either by seafood retailers or public interest organizations. While expressing concern over the proliferation of diverse and competing efforts, Valdimarsson stressed that, overall, the trend is a positive one. (…)


Dominican Republic and St. Lucia are considering a pan-Caribbean tourism strategy to use the region's multi-billion dollar tourism revenues to combat poverty.

New York, September 25 – Caribbean countries Dominican Republic and St. Lucia have plans to address the sustainability of the Caribbean's tourism industry following the 2007 World Leadership Awards, produced by Counterpart International in New York City last week.

Lelei LeLaulu, president of the nongovernmental organisation, confirmed that two of the five honorees President of the Dominican Republic Leonel Fernández, and Senator Allen Chastanet of St. Lucia, the current Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, are considering a pan-Caribbean tourism strategy to use the region's multi-billion dollar tourism revenues to combat poverty. LeLaulu said Counterpart was delighted that its laureates were "not sitting on their laurels but were actively assembling action plans to increase the value of tourism to all stakeholders, including local communities." Regional marketing, Caribbean competitiveness, carbon footprints and tourism linkages, agreed LeLaulu were some of the key issues the two leaders are expected to explore in the months ahead. Counterpart International and the Dominican Republic's Global Foundation for Democracy and Development would be involved. (…)


IFAD’s Executive Board approves more than US$197 million in loans and grants to combat rural poverty in 14 countries

Rome, 13 September – The Executive Board of IFAD approved almost US$164 million in loans and close to US$25 million in grants to support development programmes and projects that will improve the lives of poor rural people in 14 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Near East.  The Board also approved close to US$9 million in grants to six international centres that conduct agricultural research and development activities in rural regions of poor countries.  The 91st session of the Board took place at IFAD headquarters in Rome from 11 to 12 September. A loan of US$5.7 million and a grant of US$0.3 million will allow small-scale farmers in the Woleu-Ntem province of Gabon to diversify their incomes by developing and marketing new products from staple crops such as banana, cassava and peanut. Through training courses, farmer exchange visits and a new market information system, the project will also help farmers’ organizations better defend the economic interests of their members and market their goods more efficiently. The project will directly benefit 28,000 small farmers, half of whom are women and a third young people.(…)


Regional meeting in Macao to review progress in dealing with population ageing–Oct.9 to 11

Bangkok 1 October - As the regional focal point on population ageing, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) will bring together representatives from 25 countries in Asia-Pacific to a High-level Meeting in Macao, China to review progress made in response to the challenges of population ageing. The Meeting will be held from 9 to 11 October 2007.

Convened at a time when population ageing – resulting from declining fertility and increasing longevity -- has emerged as an important issue in the Asian and Pacific region, the High-level Meeting on the Regional Review of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) will appraise progress made in the implementation of the landmark agreement. Adopted by the Second World Assembly on Ageing convened in Madrid in 2002, MIPAA calls for changes in attitudes, policies and practices at all levels and in all sectors, so that the enormous potential of “a society for all ages” may be fulfilled in the twenty-first century. In Asia and the Pacific, the number of older persons is growing rapidly, from 410 million in 2007 to about 733 million in 2025 and to an expected 1.3 billion in 2050. In terms of percentages, older persons will constitute about 15 per cent of the total population in 2025 and up to nearly 25 per cent by 2050, from over 10 per cent now.(…)






Myanmar: UN to resume delivering food in Mandalay District

30 September  – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced that it has been assured by Myanmar that authorities will lift restrictions on the movement of the agency's food aid. WFP Country Director and Representative Chris Kaye confirmed that the Mandalay Area Military Commander on Saturday issued the transport permit to allow for the delivery of nearly 200 metric tons of food to Lashio in northern Myanmar. WFP has therefore scheduled food deliveries to WFP operational areas to resume next week. Mandalay's local authorities halted all movements of food supplies out of the Division earlier this week, obstructing WFP's operations in northern Shan and the Central Dry Zone, both of which depend on food deliveries from Mandalay. (…) Operating in Myanmar in collaboration with 22 UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, WFP provides much-needed food for vulnerable persons in the country, including HIV/AIDS and TB patients under treatment, primary school children in marginalized areas of the country and communities in former poppy-farming areas. A program supporting the nutrition status of mothers and children addresses acute malnutrition rates that prevail in several operational areas.


Maria Sharapova and LeBron James team up against poverty

World-renowned photographer Patrick Demarchelier photographed both stars for a new series of UNDP pro bono advertisements for the promotion of the Millennium Development Goals

26 September - Maria Sharapova, United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador, has invited NBA star LeBron James to "Team Up Against Poverty" on a new UNDP advertisement to garner support for achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals. LeBron James, Patrick Demarchelier and Maria Sharapova. Sharapova’s work with UNDP  includes promoting international efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Adopted by 189 countries in 2000, the Goals are clear, time-bound targets for achieving measurable improvements in the lives of the world’s poorest people. They aim at eradicating poverty, putting children in schools, promoting women’s rights, fighting killer diseases, and providing access to safe drinking water. UNDP coordinates global and national efforts to reach these Goals. This ad campaign revolves around the concept of "Teaming Up Against Poverty" to achieve the MDG’s.  The advertisements  features celebrities from the world of sports, arts, fashion or business portrayed in teams of two by the world’s greatest professional photographers.(…)


UNICEF and FC Barcelona unite for children in Geneva

Geneva, 26 September – UNICEF and Futbol Club Barcelona renewed the second year of their five year partnership with the handing over of this season’s team jersey bearing the UNICEF name and a pledge to give a further 1.5 million Euros for children. In 2006 FC Barcelona donated 1.5 million Euros to UNICEF. These funds were used to help children affected by AIDS in Swaziland, the country with the highest estimated HIV rate in the world. “At FC Barcelona, we are aware of the global dimension of soccer. The increasing number of FC Barcelona supporters and fans around the world in the last few years has been spectacular. The club has an obligation to respond to this enormous positive wave. The best way to do so is by using soccer as a tool to bring hope to millions of vulnerable children in need around the world”, said Mr. Joan Laporta, President of Futbol Club Barcelona. (…)


As Uganda deals with unabated flooding, Save the Children works to assist affected families

Westport, Conn., USA, September 25 - Save the Children is providing a rapid response to extreme flooding in north and northeastern Uganda, where unusually heavy rainfall since August has affected an estimated 500,000 people.  The rains and associated flooding have uprooted tens of thousands of families and have destroyed wells, food crops, schools, hospitals, roads and bridges.

(…) In addition to distributing blankets and clothing for children, Save the Children will focus on ensuring that children do not miss out on their education while their country recovers. The agency will construct 50 temporary classrooms; distribute school materials to 10,000 children; build 300 latrines; and provide 5,000 desks and 100 mobile blackboards to replace damaged furniture. Save the Children also will establish 100 child-protection committees in affected areas.

Uganda is one of the worst hit of 17 African countries enduring severe flooding. Across the continent, more than 1.5 million people have been affected by the disaster. Save the Children has been working in Uganda for more than 20 years. The agency also has ongoing relief efforts in the flood-affected South Asian countries of Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.


Niger - Innovative food bank keeps families together by helping them through the ‘hunger season’

In Niger, a combination of recurrent drought and widespread poverty leaves the most vulnerable people unable to cope when environmental shocks occur. Now, a new type of bank provides poor farmers with access to cereal grains when there are seasonal or unexpected food shortages. The banks, managed exclusively by women, are improving nutrition, keeping families together and gathering interest in the form of grain in the warehouses.(…)

 IFAD-funded cereal banks in Niger were traditionally used to store crops immediately after harvest so farmers could sell them during the dry season when market prices tend to rise. But in response to the 2005 food crisis, IFAD’s Project for the Promotion of Local Initiatives for Development in Aguié created a new type of food bank in Maradi. Known locally as a soudure bank, it lends food to farmers during the planting period to help them get through the ‘hunger season’ that precedes the harvest. (…)

After the drought and locust infestations of 2005, Niger ranked at the very bottom of the UNDP’s Human Development Index, which measures human development in every country of the world through longevity, knowledge and standard of living. (…)


Rotary Clubs respond to Peru earthquake

by Joseph Derr, Rotary International News

13 September - Rotarians are moving into action following a powerful earthquake that rocked Peru on 15 August, killing more than 500 and destroying some 35,000 homes. The Coastal provinces of Chincha, Pisco, and Ica were the worst hit. The destruction of highways and medical facilities in the earthquake has complicated rescue operations.

  Bruce Dearnley is one of the Rotarians gearing up help. In Peru, he will work closely with local Rotarians to distribute ShelterBoxes. A member of the Rotary Club of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, USA, Dearnley graduated in April from the ShelterBox Response Team training program. He is among the first new U.S. recruits to go on a ShelterBox mission. The Rotary Club of Chincha has mobilized to meet the immediate needs of victims, providing blankets, clothing, food, medicine, vaccines, and water. The club is now collecting money to provide community education on the proper water and sanitation techniques, public latrines, tents and tarpaulins, and other essential items. In addition, the Rotary Club of Shoreline Breakfast in Seattle, Washington, USA, has joined forces with the Consulate General of Peru, and the Peruvian community in Seattle to send a 40-foot container of emergency supplies to Lima. The club also plans to hold a fundraiser to assist the Rotary Club of Pisco with their rebuilding efforts.



Peace and security



UN General Assembly decides to hold high-level dialogue on interreligious and intercultural understanding and cooperation for peace in October

4-5 October - The General Assembly, in its resolution 61/221 of 20 December 2006, (OP. 14) decided “to convene in 2007 a high-level dialogue on interreligious and intercultural cooperation for the promotion of tolerance, understanding and universal respect on matters of freedom of religion or belief and cultural diversity, in coordination with other similar initiatives in this area”. In its resolution 61/269 of 25 May 2007, the General Assembly further decided that the High-level Dialogue would be held on Thursday and Friday, 4 and 5 October 2007 at the ministerial or highest possible level, and that it shall consist of three plenary meetings: one in the morning of Thursday, 4 October and two on Friday, 5 October.

The General Assembly also decided to hold in the afternoon of 4 October 2007 an informal interactive hearing with representatives of civil society, including representatives of non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to be chaired by the President of the General Assembly.  The informal interactive hearing will be held in the Trusteeship Council Chamber and will be opened and presided over by the President of the General Assembly.

Following the opening, the hearing will be divided into two consecutive segments on the following tentative topics: (a) "Challenges of Interreligious & Intercultural Cooperation Today"; (b) "Best Practices & Strategies for Interreligious & Intercultural Cooperation Going Forward".


Kosovo's status process can be concluded soon, top UN envoy says

30 September – Following direct talks between Belgrade and Pristina, the Secretary-General's top envoy to Kosovo expressed optimism that the status process of the Serbian province - which the world body has run since western forces drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid ethnic fighting - can be concluded soon. Direct negotiations between both sides, the first to be led by the Troika comprising the European Union, Russia and the United States, were held on Friday in New York. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative Joachim Rucker yesterday said he welcomed the "New York Declaration" of the two parties reaffirming their commitment to engage seriously until the end of the process on 10 December. "In this context, it is very important that the parties also reaffirmed their commitment to avoid provocations and refrain from any activities or statements that might jeopardize the security situation," Mr. Rucker said. "It is too early to say what the final outcome of negotiations will be. However, it is significant that the Contact Group reaffirmed its Guiding Principles: that there be no partition of Kosovo, no union with another state, no return to the pre-1999 status, and that any settlement needs to be acceptable to the people of Kosovo." (…)


10th Anniversary of the Mine Ban treaty negotiations celebrated in Oslo, 17-18 September

Author(s): Tamar Gabelnick

Oslo, Norway, 26 September  - On 17 and 18 September, celebrations were held in Norway to mark the 10th anniversary of the negotiation of the Mine Ban Treaty, which was agreed on 18 September 1997 in Oslo. An all-day civil society event was held on 17 September, and a morning panel discussion was hosted by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 18 September, followed by an evening ceremony. All events involved the active participation of ICBL ambassadors, staff, and member organizations.

On 17 September, the Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development hosted the “Civil Society Conference at the 10th Anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty - Towards Human Security.” The series of panel discussions commemorated civil society’s critical contribution to the creation of the mine ban treaty and examined how the close civil society-government partnership the worked so well on landmines has been or could be repeated in other areas, including the International Criminal Court, small arms, child soldiers, nuclear weapons and conflict diamonds.

(   ) The Norwegian government’s event on 18 September was called “Clearing the path for a better future.” It focused not just on the accomplishments and challenges of the Mine Ban Treaty, but also on the urgent need to take action on cluster munitions and other threats to human security. Speakers included Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Raymond Johansen, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General Jan Egeland, and Nobel Laureates Jody Williams and Shirin Ebadi. (…)


Peace churches host dialogue with Iranian President and 100 religious leaders

Meeting is third in a series seeking to the use the common ground of faith to address political tensions

New York, September 26 - More than 100 religious leaders today participated in an hour-long, interfaith encounter with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Church Center for the United Nations. The gathering was organized by the Mennonite Central Committee and endorsed by the American Friends Service Committee, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Mennonite Church USA, the Mennonite Church Canada and the Church of the Brethren General Board. Other endorsers included Sojourners/Call to Renewal, Pax Christi USA, the World Council of Churches Commission of Churches on International Affairs, and the World Conference of Religions for Peace. The meeting also included Catholics, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and others.

This is the third in a series of conversations focused on establishing a dialogue between people of faith in the United States and the people and government of Iran. (…) This ongoing dialogue emerges out of the concerns of religious leaders in the United States that the escalating political and economic confrontation between the U.S. and Iran could lead to war. They have called on the governments of Iran and the United States to establish direct, face-to-face diplomatic negotiations as one part of an effort to create a path to peace. Known as “peace churches” for their historic witness to nonviolence, Mennonites and Quakers have long been at the forefront of international movements for peace and reconciliation. (…)


German second contribution to ITF in 2007 

September 13 - The International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance received a donation from the Federal Republic of Germany in the amount of 500.000,00 EUR for the second time this year. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed today by H.E. Dr. Hans – Joachim Goetz, German Ambassador to Slovenia and Mr.Goran Gačnik, ITF Director. This is already 11th German donation to ITF, this time earmarked for demining activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

Demining is still the key element for a successful reconstruction and socio-economic development of the mine affected areas. One of the most mine-contaminated countries in Europe and the world is still Bosnia and Herzegovina which will receive 300.000,00 EUR from the latest donation provided by Germany. Additional 200.000,00 EUR shall be earmarked for the implementation of demining programme in Serbia, which Germany supports since 2003.

Germany remains one of the most important donors to the ITF in the field of demining operations in SE Europe. One of the crucial issues in the normalization of the situation in the region of SE Europe is the demining of mine and UXO contaminated areas.


Third group graduates from Rotary peace program

by Tiffany Woods, Rotary International News

The Rotary Foundation’s third group of students studying peace and conflict resolution at a university in Bangkok, Thailand, will graduate from their intensive, three-month program on 14 September. The 20 students, who hail from 13 countries and received financial aid from the Foundation, will earn certificates in peace and conflicts studies from Chulalongkorn University for completing the Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies program.

The program is aimed at professionals working for governmental and nongovernmental organizations. Graduates are expected to return to their jobs and apply the skills they’ve learned. The first class of students graduated in September 2006. The next group will begin studying in January. This week's graduates include a staff correspondent for a newspaper in India, a deputy police superintendent from Nigeria, a teacher from the United States, and a program coordinator for a nongovernmental organization in Tajikistan. (…)

The Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies Program was established to provide professionals from around the world the opportunity to be trained in conflict resolution and mediation strategies and to become better equipped to help prevent and resolve conflict, as well as foster policies and create settings that ensure peace, worldwide. Offered in English, the program is aimed at mid- to upper-level professionals in governments, nongovernmental organizations, and private corporations. (…)


UNMAS and ITF enter into partnership agreement 

September 12 - International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) and United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which outlines the scope of activities to be jointly carried out in the field of mine action assistance. The Memorandum defines the areas of mine action activities in which UNMAS and ITF will be cooperating in the future.

The Memorandum between ITF and UNMAS allows efficient coordination and implementation of activities in the field of mine action. ITF director Mr.Goran Gačnik pointed out the importance of the signed MoU in what regards the unification of knowledge, experience and resources in solving the mine problem in the world. At the same time bilateral discussions on future cooperation between ITF and UNMAS in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Sudan have started.

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) was formed in October 1997 to serve as the UN focal point for mine action. At the global level, UNMAS is responsible for coordinating all aspects of mine action within the UN system. At the field level, UNMAS is responsible for providing mine action assistance in the context of humanitarian emergencies and peacekeeping operations. UNMAS and its UN partners operate within the framework of an inter-agency policy formulated in 1998, which clarifies the principles upon which UN mine action is based, and defines roles and responsibilities within the UN system (more






China: civil society key to defeating AIDS

International groups, global leaders press UNAIDS to convene NGO meeting

New York/Toronto, September 27 – The United Nations AIDS Program should support Chinese AIDS activists, who face increased government surveillance and intimidation, in their efforts to openly meet and discuss AIDS, human rights and access to legal services, 27 human rights organizations, foundations and AIDS organizations from around the globe said today. 

In an open letter to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), leading HIV/AIDS experts and advocates are calling attention to the ongoing crackdown on AIDS activists in China and asking the Chinese government to respect human rights and encourage nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to participate fully in the fight against AIDS. In particular, the letter calls for a special UN conference to address China’s HIV/AIDS challenges. 

Those signing the letter include an unprecedented number of Asian AIDS organizations and such notable global figures as former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis and the chair of UNAIDS’ Reference Group on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, Mark Heywood. (…)

Many Chinese AIDS activists fear an increasing crackdown on AIDS groups in the months leading up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Previous high-profile events in China have led to tight constraints on public dissent and the detention of groups considered “undesirable.” 

“The spirit of the Olympic Games is inconsistent with the intimidation of AIDS activists, the shuttering of AIDS NGOs and the harassment of those most at risk,” said Richard Elliott, the executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. “UNAIDS must make it clear to the Chinese government that a successful fight against AIDS cannot be sacrificed on the altar of the Olympic Games.”


UN mission reiterates call for total cessation of violence in Afghanistan  

Kabul, Afghanistan, 19 September – With days to go before the end of a nine-week peace campaign in Afghanistan, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reiterated its call for a total cessation of violence countrywide on and around 21 September, Peace Day.

The appeal came as teams of UN and government health workers began a three day polio immunization effort in insurgency affected areas of Afghanistan’s south and east. The immunization drive aims to take advantage of the window of opportunity for accessing children in need created by the Peace Day campaign. “We call again upon the entire community, every woman, man, and child, to support genuinely and in whatever way they can this effort for a real Peace Day in Afghanistan,” said Bo Asplund, UNAMA Deputy Special Representative. “To save even a single life is a success.”

Peace Day is marked each year by UN member states on 21 September. But this year in Afghanistan the day has been the focus of a campaign that began on 19 July when UNAMA teamed up with Jeremy Gilley, founder of Peace One Day, actor Jude Law, and the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) to promote Peace Day. Multiple partners have since joined in, including businesses, civil society, government, international donors, UN agencies, politicians, Afghan celebrities and performers as well as individual citizens. The effort has become the biggest peace campaign in Afghanistan ever. On 11 September Special Representative Tom Koenigs, accompanied by the heads of nearly every UN agency in Afghanistan, appealed for a complete cessation of violence countrywide.

Afghanistan is one of four countries that still suffers endemic polio, the others being India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Insecurity has meant that many districts in the southern region have been missed in recent polio immunization drives. According to Unicef and the World Health Organization five children have been paralyzed from this preventable disease in recent weeks.


New guidelines to improve psychological and social assistance in emergencies

Geneva, 14 September - International humanitarian agencies have agreed on a new set of guidelines to address the mental health and psychosocial needs of survivors as part of the response to conflict or disaster. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings clearly state that protecting and promoting mental health and psychosocial well-being is the responsibility of all humanitarian agencies and workers. Until now, many people involved in emergency response have viewed mental health and psychosocial well-being as the sole responsibility of psychiatrists and psychologists. (…)

The guidelines have been published by the IASC, a committee that is responsible for world-wide humanitarian policy and consists of heads of relevant UN and other intergovernmental agencies, Red Cross and Red Crescent agencies, and NGO consortia. The guidelines have been developed by staff from 27 agencies through a highly participatory process. (…)


New water partnership “breaks ground” in northern Uganda

Africare partners with Invisible Children, African Well Fund to bring clean water to northern Ugandan schools ... and students around the world can help!

Washington, D.C., September 13 - The Awere Senior Secondary School was established in northern Uganda in 1982, that is, 25 years ago. Yet for the past 16 years, the school has been essentially homeless. Civil conflict during that time forced the school — its teachers, its students, and whatever books and supplies they could transport — to move in search of safety from building to building across the region. They lacked, not only a building to call their own, but an overall environment that was safe.

In the coming months, Awere’s 720 students will make their way back to the original school site in the rural Gulu district. And there, they will find — not only peace, not only the re-opening of a permanent school — but also brand new water-and-sanitation facilities, which are essential to the students’ basic health and nutrition. The water-and-sanitation facilities will be delivered collaboratively by three nonprofit organizations: Africare, Invisible Children and the African Well Fund. Beneficiaries will be the Awere Senior Secondary School and six other schools in the northern Ugandan districts of Amuru, Gulu and Pader. (…)


Project HOPE delivers medicines and supplies to the people of Georgia

Humanitarian Airlift is largest in HOPE’s 15-Year History in Georgia

As part of the U.S. Department of State’s Humanitarian Airlift, Project HOPE and four other health-related non-governmental organizations (NGOs) provided nearly $11 million of  medicines and medical supplies that will be distributed to five hospitals in the Tbilisi area of Georgia to help serve the health care needs of the country. A United States Air Force transport plane carrying the cargo was met by Georgian and United States government officials at Tbilisi International Airport on September 14. (…) Working with the Georgia Ministry of Health, the U.S. Department of State provided a “wish list” of medicines and medical supplies to Project HOPE and the other participating NGOs. The plane’s cargo includes much need medicines such as antibiotics, cholesterol-lowering medications and cardiovascular drugs.

Partnering with Project HOPE, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), ACTS International, International Relief and Development (IRD) and SAE-Hellinicare worked together to collect medicines and medical supplies from some of the world’s largest health care companies.

Of the nearly $11 million of supplies on the plane, Project HOPE sought donations valued at almost $8 million from companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Merck, Schering-Plough, 3M and others. (…)



Energy and safety



Kick the Habit - World Environment Day 2008 to be hosted by New Zealand with focus on fostering low-carbon economies

Nairobi/Wellington, 1 October - New Zealand, one of the first countries to pledge a carbon-neutral future, will be the main host of World Environment Day 2008, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today. The challenge of climate change and threats to polar regions and beyond were spotlighted in Norway as part of World Environment Day (WED) 2007. The focus of the global 2008 celebrations hosted in New Zealand will be on the solutions and the opportunities for countries, companies and communities to "Kick the habit" and de-carbonize their economies and life-styles. Measures include greater energy efficiency in buildings and appliances, including light bulbs, up to a switch towards cleaner and renewable forms of electricity generation and transport systems. The focus will also be put on the role of forests in countering rises in greenhouse gases. An estimated 20 per cent of emissions contributing to climate change globally are a result of deforestation. New Zealand, where forestry is an important industry and conservation of forests is a high priority, plans to use WED to highlight the role technologies and forestry management can play in achieving domestic and international climate goals.(…)


More European companies switch to green power

Lausanne, Switzerland, September 14 - The Green Power Market Development Group - Europe (GPMDG-EU) today announced the completion of its first 100 megawatts (MW) of green power projects at 50 corporate facilities across 16 European countries. GPMDG-EU, a coalition of leading European companies, made the announcement at the 5th European Conference on Green Power Marketing in Lausanne. GPMDG-EU is convened by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and The Climate Group, two leading international organizations dedicated to finding solutions to climate change. (…)

The projects draw upon a variety of renewable energy technologies, including 46 MW of utility-supplied green power purchases, 40 MW of on-site biomass thermal energy, 9 MW of on-site wind power, 2 MW of on-site solar thermal, 2 MW of biomass power, and 1 MW of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and geothermal heat pumps. They total 100 MW in generation capacity and produce the equivalent of approximately 500 million kilowatt-hours per year-enough to power more than 110,000 European households.

Companies that have switched to renewable energy are reporting a number of bottom line advantages, including reduced corporate greenhouse gas emissions, diversification of energy sources to hedge against fluctuating fossil fuel prices, as well as strengthening customer relationships and brand differentiation. (…) Members of GPMDG-EU include BT, Dow, DuPont, General Motors, Holcim, IBM Europe, IKEA, InterfaceFLOR, Johnson & Johnson, Michelin, Nike (Customer Service Centre), Staples, Tetra Pak and Unilever.



Environment and wildlife



Local communities celebrate new protected areas in Papua New Guinea

Bensbach, Papua New Guinea, 28 September – The creation of three new wildlife management areas in Papua New Guinea will protect some of Asia-Pacific’s most threatened and unique wildlife habitats. The new Aramba, Tonda extension and Weriaver areas cover about 710,000 hectares in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province, and join up with the existing Tonda wildlife management area of 610,000 hectares. These areas, together with the adjoining Wasur National Park in Papua, mean that almost 2 million hectares of the TransFly Ecoregion will be protected.

“The creation of these new protected areas means that the TransFly region will now contain the largest continuous protected area in the country,” said Dr David Melick, WWF’s TransFly Ecoregion Coordinator. The TransFly is a vast, low-lying coastal region of grasslands, savannas wetlands and monsoon forest in south-central New Guinea. Home to such unique wildlife as marsupial cats, endemic flying possums and birds of paradise, the region covers more than 10 million hectares, straddling the borders of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. (…)

Hundreds of local tribal groups from surrounding villages celebrated the announcement of the protected areas in a traditional ceremony. Local community leaders, politicians and wildlife officials took part in the ceremony, as well as world-renowned conservationist and author Professor Jared Diamond, and WWF representatives, including WWF International’s Executive Director of Conservation, Guillermo Castilleja. (…)


New reserves in Vietnam provide lifeline for endangered wild ox

Hoi An, Vietnam, 28 September – Twenty years after its discovery in the forested mountains of Vietnam, local authorities here have agreed to establish new nature reserves to protect a critically endangered wild ox. As part of a plan to protect the saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), the central Vietnamese provinces of Thua Thien Hue and Quang Nam will create two 121km2 reserves. The reserves will link up with the Bach Ma National Park to cover a continuous protected landscape covering approximately 2,920km2 — stretching from the Vietnamese coast to the Xe Sap National Biodiversity Conservation Area in neighbouring Laos. (…)

Found only in the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos, the saola was discovered in 1992 by a team of scientists from the Vietnamese Ministry of Forestry and WWF; the first large mammal to be discovered anywhere in the world since 1936.  The saola is a primitive member of the Bovidae family, which includes antelopes, buffalo, bison, cattle, goats and sheep. Although very little is known about the species, its global population is thought to be no more than 250 individuals, and its distribution highly restricted to only six provinces in Vietnam and four in Laos. The largest population is found in the far south of the saola's distribution range in Vietnam on the border between Thua Thien Hue and Quang Nam provinces where the nature reserves will be established. Other species that will be protected by this enhanced green corridor include the Truongson muntjac, red-shanked douc and white-cheeked crested gibbon, as well as many other newly and yet to be described species.

Earlier this week, WWF announced the discovery of 11 new species of animals and plants in this remote area of Vietnam, including butterflies, orchids and a snake. (…)


Fight against climate change: projects from South Africa and Bangladesh share prestigiouse environment award - Winners of the United Nations Environment Programme Sasakawa Prize 2007 Announced

Nairobi, 27 September  - Ms. Jeunesse Park of South Africa and Bangladeshi NGO Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha are the co-winners of the UNEP Sasakawa Prize 2007, a $200,000 prize awarded yearly to individuals or institutions who have made a substantial contribution to the protection and management of the environment.

Commenting on this announcement, Ms. Park, who has been working on climate change since 1990, said that "it has been rewarding to recently see the growing interest in this crucial global crisis and to know that we have played a small part in facilitating action in South Africa". For his part, Abul Hasanat Mohammed Rezwan, Shidhulai Executive Director, noted that the prize will help his organization "provide clean solar-powered lighting and educate thousands of people on literacy, sustainable farming and climate change", as well as promote "self-reliance for hundreds of villages in Bangladesh".

The four-member jury chose the co-winners, at a meeting at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, and the award ceremony will be held on 27 October 2007 at the Museum of Natural History, Rose Center for Earth and Space, in New York, USA. (…)


Greening The Olympics: The Walk From Hong Kong To China

On the 22nd of September, British born Paul Coleman (52) and his Japanese wife Konomi Kikuchi will begin walking from Hong Kong To Beijing, joining China’s efforts to ‘Green The Olympics.’ This walk will finish in August 2008 when the Olympics begin and is expected to draw considerable attention throughout China and the region.

This 3000 kilometer walk comes on the heels of last years Earthday Friendship Walk that received great popular, and governmental support as the couple made their way through China, Korea and Japan in an effort to unite the environmental movements of the three nations. In Beijing they were warmly welcomed by Mr. Li Yucai, China’s Vice Minister of Forestry, whose department arranged tree planting events, and by members of the Dongsi Olympic Community and Olympic Committee, who received them into the city with a press conference that propelled the couple into the Chinese limelight. (…)

Coleman, is no stranger to trotting around the planet. Since 1990, when he walked from Canada to South America to draw attention the destruction of the worlds forests and the first United Nations Earth Summit he’s walked over 44,000 kilometers through 39 nations.  He began that first two year continent spanning walk with just enough money for a month, and for his efforts received the support of tens of thousands of people. In Mexico his support extended all the way to the President who provided him with a Federal Police Escort and a profile that led to the planting of over 1,000,000 trees. (…)

Paul Coleman’s Website:

Peace Messenger Site:


“Environment for Europe” - Counting down to the sixth ministerial conference, Belgrade, Serbia, 10-12 October

Geneva, 21 September - Environment ministers throughout the UNECE region are gearing up for the Sixth “Environment for Europe” Conference, scheduled to take place at the SAVA Centre in the Serbian capital of Belgrade from 10 to 12 October . In Belgrade, they will take stock of progress made in improving the region’s environment since their previous meeting in Kiev four years ago, and decide on priorities for future cooperation. The Belgrade Conference will gather more than 1,200 delegates representing the 56 countries of the UNECE region. More than 20 intergovernmental organizations will also be attending the Conference. At least 50 ministers and high-level officials are expected to participate, as will more than 200 representatives of national and international non-governmental organizations, including environmental NGOs, business, trade unions and local authorities. The Environment ministers are expected to hold policy debates on a number of topical environment-related issues. (…)

The Belgrade Conference will be the sixth in a series of regional conferences at which environment ministers and other policymakers have convened to discuss ways of strengthening cooperation to protect and improve our environment. The “Environment for Europe” process is aimed at harmonizing environmental conditions and policies in all UNECE member States. The ultimate goal is to raise standards globally. (…)


"Sciences Po", Paris - President Gorbachev speaks on new geopolitical challenges related to sustainable development imperatives – 26 October

Green Cross France and the Agence française de Développement (AfD) are co-organising a conference on the new global challenges related to sustainable development imperatives.

A first roundtable will address the links between environmental degradation, poverty and international security, with Michel Rocard, former French Prime Minister, Jean-Michel Severino, Director of the Agence Française de Développement, Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN Habitat and a multinational Corporation's CEO.

The second one will elaborate on the strategic issues that derive from climate change and other ecological disruptions, and on the need of a new form of global environmental governance. Mikhail Gorbachev, Jean-Marie Bockel, Secretary of State in charge of International Cooperation, Okonjo Iweala, former Minister or finance of Nigeria will give their respective views. Michel Camdessus' (former IMF Secretary General) participation is pending. More info soon on :


Mayor, Nonprofits announce partnership to green Mexico city transport

Mexico City, September 19 - Mayor Marcelo Ebrard this morning announced a five-year partnership to green Mexico City's transportation system, following through on his campaign promise to fix the city's notoriously gridlocked and polluting traffic.

Ebrard signed a commitment here today to partner with Centro de Transporte Sustentable de Mexico (CTS-Mexico), the World Resources Institute (WRI), and EMBARQ - the WRI Center for Sustainable Transport to reduce transport-related air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions; improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of urban transport; improve accessibility, traffic safety and public security; and improve the quality of public spaces in Mexico City.

Combined with a host of other green initiatives that Ebrard has recently launched, this new partnership places the mayor in an elite group of megacity mayors such as Michael Bloomberg of New York City, Bertrand Delanoë of Paris, and Ken Livingstone of London who are leading a growing global movement to create cleaner, healthier, and more livable urban areas. (…)



Religion and spirituality



Healing of Memories - Reconciling Communities  - Dublin, Ireland, October 1-4

This international ecumenical consultation will assess best practices in dealing with large-scale crimes affecting entire nations or ethnic communities.

During the first days of October, some thirty international academics and reconciliation practitioners meeting at the Dominican retreat centre Tallaght, Dublin, will study the exemplary cases of Guatemala, Germany, South Africa, Cambodia, Northern Ireland. The aim of their work is a summary or manual that would help churches, civil society groups and policy makers to understand the needs and options of community healing.

The consultation "Healing of Memories - Reconciling Communities" is co-organized by the Irish School of Ecumenics and the World Council of Churches. It is part of the preparatory process leading to the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in 2011.


“Towards an ecumenical agenda for advocacy on human rights and human dignity”

Workshop on Human Rights in Asia - Bangkok (Thailand), 4-6 October 

Thirty human rights activists, scholars and other members of Asian WCC member churches and related organizations will be gathering in Bangkok (...) to work “Towards an Ecumenical Agenda for Advocacy on Human Rights and Human Dignity”. Participants from Aotearoa-New Zealand, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam will share an overview of their respective national human rights context (...).

After an overlook of the theological, scientific and judicial background of human rights and human dignity, the group will focus on strategies for the promotion of the issue, including ideas on how to engage ecumenical networks and interfaith groups in human rights advocacy.

The workshop aims to foster cooperation on human rights activities among churches and ecumenical partners of the region - and beyond, as the outcomes will be shared at following gatherings. This is the first in a series of WCC regional human rights workshops to be held until 2012, eventually covering all the continents. The event is organized by the WCC together with the Church of Christ in Thailand and the Christian Conference of Asia.


Religious leaders call for interfaith fast to end the war in Iraq

From conquest to community. From violence to reverence.

October 7-8 - Religious leaders from several traditions invite you to join with millions of other Americans participating in interfaith events in your local community on October 7 and 8th, for the breaking of bread, fasting, and breaking our fast together as we covenant together to live out the deepest calling in each of our traditions - the desire for justice and for peace for all people. (...)

On this day, people of faith in local communities across our nation will act as catalysts to transform the meaning of the day from one of conquest to community and from violence to reverence. Just as Isaiah called the People Israel to hear the Yom Kippur fast as God’s call to feed the hungry, just as Jesus fasted in the wilderness, just as Christians through Lenten fasting and Muslims through Ramadan fasting have focused on spiritual transformation, just as Mohandas Gandhi, Cesar Chavez and others drew on fasting to change the course of history, so we call on all our communities of faith to draw now on fasting as a path toward inner spiritual transformation and outward social transformation.

Ending this war can become the first step toward a policy that embodies a deeper, broader sense of generosity and community at home and in the world.

See for local actions and more information.


Pathways to Peace: religious perspectives on solving global problems

New York, October 11, Church Center for the UN, 777 UN Plaza, 1:15-2:45 PM

On October 4-5 the UN General Assembly President has organized a High Level Dialogue on Inter-Religious and Intercultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace.  This two day dialogue has been organized to foster "tolerance, understanding, and universal respect on matters of freedom of religion or belief and cultural diversity" (UN Website), and provide ideas on how civil society can help. Building on this high-level dialogue, this briefing hosted by UNA-USA's Council of Organizations will be an opportunity for an informal dialogue with the NGO community about ways in which various faith traditions address peace and conflict resolution (i.e. the context or framework); kinds of activities/practices these traditions are undertaking to implement this framework; and examples of inter-religious initiatives intended to promote peace and conflict resolution.

Featured speakers: Nurah Jeter Ammat'ullah, Executive Director, Muslim Women's Institute for Research and Development; Aaron Etra, Vice Chair for UN Affairs, B'nai B'rith International; Reverend Christopher Ferguson, Main UN Representative, World Council of Churches. Moderated by Rev. Liberato C. Bautista, Assistant General Secretary, United Nations, United Methodist Church-General Board of Church and Society.

Full contact information to: Jessica Hartl, UNA-USA,


Global Link Teleconference - May Peace Prevail On Earth heard around the world!

October 13th, Prayers for the Native American Tribes and 50 States of USA

Participants from around the world connect on a telephone conference line to offer blessings and prayers for peace to prevail in each of the Native American Tribes and the 50 States of USA.  Native Prayers led by Grandmother Silver Star of the Cherokee /Lakota Nation from the Heart of the Dove.To view participation map, testimonials, and teleconference information please visit www. Hosted by The World Peace Prayer Society


2007 Meeting of prayer for peace of world religions in the “Spirit of Assisi "

“For a world without violence: religions and cultures in dialogue”

Naples (Italy), October 21-23 - The next Encounter (...) will happen in Naples, a city marked out by its history, and by its location at the heart of the Mediterranean: at the crossroads of different cultural and religious traditions. The chosen theme, “For a world without violence: religions and cultures in dialogue”. Faced with violence which is both widespread and permeating many levels of our society: in the confrontational nature of the current international situation, but also in the alienation felt by contemporary humanity - in the rich North, as in the poor South of our world - the sense urgency is tangible. We have to reaffirm, with courage, the way of dialogue and cooperation between religions and between cultures.

In Naples, using different languages, addressing differing cultures, one message will be enounced: Only through dialogue and open exchange of ideas with the other is it possible to construct that authentic civilization, based on living together, which is so necessary for every contemporary society. Naples, at the heart of the Mediterranean, will host representatives from religions and cultures of the world from October 21 to 23, becoming a capital city of peace, facing up to the challenges, the questions, and above all the expectations of men and women, of entire peoples.

Three days of encounter, of prayer, and of comparison, building together, through dialogue, “a world without violence”.


First lay conference on Catholic-Jewish relations at the Vatican

Bridging the religious gap - Interreligious Information Center (IIC), October 21-25

Catholic and Jewish lay persons from twenty-five U.S. cities, representing their local Churches and Synagogues, will meet with high-ranking Church Officials at the Vatican to create a greater understanding of issues between the two faiths.  It is hoped that the meeting will generate increased local activities.  Although a lay conference, clergy are welcome as special consultants. (...) The conference is being organized by the Interreligious Information Center in cooperation with the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Pontifical Council for Religious Relations with the Jews, Cardinal Walter Kasper and Father Norbert Hoffman. William Cardinal Keeler is actively serving as Honorary Chairman and a Consultant.  The National Council of Synagogues and The Religious Action Center of the Union for Reform Judaism are also participating.


International refresher programme on Religions, Conventions and Minorities

14 - 21 November, Kathmandu, Nepal

Safeguarding traditional wisdoms, embracing fruits of evolutions, recognizing differences as unique qualities; defining journalistic responsibilities for stability, peace, harmony and progress

The Refresher Programme in Nepal will analyse the role of religions in ensuring peace and stability in the nation and in the region. And all religions especially those who have played an important role in the field of education and health might have to exert greater influence in making Nepal more stable and all-people friendly.

The event will analyse and suggest the role of its superpower neighbours such as India and China so that tragedies like Tibet does not repeat and those tragedies are redressed by independence and sovereignty of peoples.  Other major issues planned to be explored during the event are traditions, conventions, role of professionals such as journalists, press freedom, international efforts, poverty, Maoists revolts, democratic reforms, and so on. The programme will focus on all major issues related to the theme and regional affairs. Participants will be invited to enter into a permanent network of action starting on regional level, later on international level. (…)



Culture and education



Liberia: UN mission hands rehabilitated school for Christian and Muslim over to community

29 SeptemberThe United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia (UNMIL) handed over a school it rehabilitated for some 1,500 Christian and Muslin children to a community on the outskirts of the capital Monrovia. "This school is a symbol of the progress that Liberia is making and of UNMIL's engagement to support the Government in meeting the needs of its citizens," the Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative for Recovery and Governance Jordan Ryan said at the hand-over ceremony in Sawebeh. Stressing the significance of education for the development of Liberia, he said that "it is now time for the Ministry of Education takes the responsibility to make sure the school works well." (…) He underscored the uniqueness of the Sawegbeh English and Arabic Grammar School project because it is the first with additional amenities to meet the Islamic community's needs. "The Muslim community is an integral part of Liberia and deserves to be educated like any other," he stated. Thanking the Mission for its efforts, Elder John Mills of Sawegbeh, where former internally displaced persons (IDPs) have resettled, said that his people "will always remember the good work UNMIL has done in our community." (…)


26 September: European Day of Languages 2007

Languages and their use lie at the very heart of the European Union. The languages we speak define who we are. The European Union respects the cultural and linguistic diversity of its citizens.

At the end of the hugely successful 2001 European Year of Languages, jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the European Commission, it was decided that 26 September each year should be the European Day of Languages, to celebrate the rich heritage of cultures and traditions embodied in all the languages of Europe – and not only the 23 official languages of the EU.

Language diversity offers you an opportunity to step into someone else's shoes and experience life from a different perspective.

It is important that all European citizens are able to understand European policies and legislation and participate in defining them. Just as importantly, the European Commission wants to encourage them to learn new languages so as to better exploit the cultural, social and professional opportunities offered by European integration. It is in this spirit that Commissioner Leonard Orban has been given multilingualism as a portfolio in its own right. (…)


Santiago, Chile: ECLAC and Kobe University sign cooperation agreement

The two institutions will carry out important joint initiatives over the coming years. 

26 September 2007 - The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Research Institute for Economics and Business Administration (RIEB) of Kobe University, Japan, have signed a cooperation agreement to develop and implement academic initiatives over the next several years.

The agreement -- signed today at ECLAC's Santiago (Chile) headquarters by Junichi Goto, RIEB Director, and José Luis Machinea, ECLAC Executive Secretary -- establishes the following activities: Opportunities for RIEB graduate students to work on doctoral research in ECLAC  and participate in internship programmes and courses; Research exchange; Mutual access to libraries of both institutions; Exchange of institutional publications; Development of joint research projects and publications; Planning and execution of joint conferences and seminars.

The Research Institute for Economics and Business Administration of Kobe University has more than half a century of excellence in international research to its credit.(…)


Millennium Development Goals - Press Award results

Mexico City - UNDP awarded journalists from Brazil, Honduras, Mexico and Uruguay for producing the best news articles on the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). The winners of the first edition of the Latin America and MDG 2007 Journalism Award were selected by a five member international jury, whose decision was released today. The series “Working Children” written by a team led by Marcela Turati, reporter of the Mexican newspaper Excelsior, won the first prize of the contest.  Organized by UNDP and the news agency Inter Press Service (IPS), the first prize is worth US$5,000. The series describing how hundreds of children risk their life in Mexico´s farming fields was selected among 466 works that were submitted in the contest, which seeks to encourage regional media to spread the word about the challenges associated with accomplishing the MDGs, which include halving poverty by 2015.(…) The second prize, worth US$2,500, was awarded to Bruna Cabral de Vasconcelos and her team for the series of articles about health and gender entitled “Faces of Maternity”, published by the newspaper Jornal do Commercio from Brasil.

The third prize was shared by Zósimo Camacho and his team, of the Mexican magazine “Contralínea”, for the series “Dying in Poverty”, and Paulo Aurelio Martinelli and his team, of the Brazilian newspaper Correio Popular, for the series “Mata Atlantica, the forgotten forest”. Each team will receive US$1,000.(…)


Eco-Ar-Te para o reencantamento do mundo / Eco-Art for the re-enchantment of the world

Earth Charter International/Carta de la Tierra

September 24 - We're pleased to announce the development of a collective work titled "Eco-Ar-Te para o reencantamento do mundo" (Eco-Art for the re-enchantment of the world), under the coordination of Michèle Sato, Affiliate of Earth Charter International, which will be published soon by the publishing house of the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar).

This 36-chapter book is an alliance between art and the environment. Text, image, landscape, poetry, sound and body are used via theater, cinema, photography, painting and many other forms of artistic expression -- all allied with environmental dimension for a wonderful result.

The opening chapters feature "Committed to the Earth Charter" by Leonardo Boff, and "Science and the Culture of the Earth Charter" by Marcos Terena. These texts are transcriptions of unpublished lectures that were originally presented in Mato Grosso in 1998 during the International Earth Charter Conference.

Along with this book, the Mato Grosso Network for Environmental Education (REMTEA) is promoting it's fifth annual gathering, which has always worked in association with the Earth Charter movement of the state of Mato Grosso. The Earth Charter and the Environmental Education Treaty for Sustainable Societies and Global Responsibilities will also be highlighted during the event, which will be held in October 10-13, 2007 at the Federal University of Mato Grosso, Cuiabá.

For more information please see



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Next issue: 26 October 2007.



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