Good News Agency – Year IX, n° 11
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), Maria Grazia Da Damos, Elisa Peduto, Azzurra Cianchetta. Editorial Secretary: Maria Grazia Da Damos. 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 4,000 media in 49 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
Better management for fishing's "last frontier"
Countries agree on guidelines for protecting deep-sea species and habitats
Stating that all fishing activity in deep sea areas should be “rigorously managed,” they lay out measures to be taken to identify and protect vulnerable ecosystems and provide guidance on the sustainable use of marine living resources in deep-sea areas.
Additional recommendations include:
Fishing nations should assess the deep-sea fishing being undertaken by their fleets in order to determine if any significant adverse impacts are involved;
Deep sea fishing activity should cease in any area where significant adverse impacts to vulnerable marine ecosystems are thought to be taking place;
Where DSF can be undertaken responsibly, more appropriate fishing methods should be used to reduce impacts on non-target species.
The guidelines also outline steps for improving information on the location and status of vulnerable marine ecosystems and deep sea fisheries. (…)
International Law Weekend 2008
by Dominik Zimmermann
Arctic Sovereignty Symposium -
by Dominik Zimmermann
Leading scholars and
government officials - from law schools and other organizations throughout the
Civil society crucial in
advancing human rights, UN officials tell
“Working hand-in-hand we can make universal human rights a reality for all of us”
Strasbourg, 26 August -
“Building a Europe for and with children - Towards a Strategy for 2009-
Three seminars will be held on the first day followed by high-level plenary sessions on days two and three. The issues of violence against children, child-friendly justice and child participation will be the main focus of the conference.
The conference will bring together some 300 representatives from governments, international organisations and institutions, NGOs and professional networks, parliamentarians, local authorities, ombudspersons, judges and children’s advocates as well as young people. (...)
Extraordinary meeting at the European Parliament will hear from the Rome-based UN agencies on high food prices
Brussels/Rome, 9 September - The European Parliament will hear from three UN agencies tomorrow on the current food price crisis. A special meeting of the Development Committee will be discussing proposals to release an extra €1 billion euros from the European Commission to support urgent needs as well as funding seeds and fertilizers for developing countries. As part of the discussions the Executive Director of the WFP Josette Sheeran, the Director-General of the FAO, Jacques Diouf and the Vice-President of IFAD, Kanayo F. Nwanze will tell the committee how the three Rome-based food agencies are working in partnership to respond to high food prices.
The continuing rise in food
prices is expected to push about 100 million more people into poverty, nearly
30 million of them in
Africa Week at the European
Parliament (8-12 September) will be marked by a series of seminars,
parliamentary debates, workshops and exhibitions in
Farmers in southern African nation to receive emergency assistance
Starting 29 September, FAO will set up markets known as Input Trade Fairs where farmers will be able to choose seeds and other agricultural supplies from local producers. Instead of receiving pre-packaged quantities of seeds, the farmers will be able to use vouchers to pick and choose the varieties they prefer, while the producers will have an opportunity to meet new customers. (...)
The JFFLS programme, funded mainly by the Government of Australia, also teaches students other technical and social skills which can help them to lead healthier, more prosperous lives. “We need to reduce the overall vulnerability of households, allowing them to maintain food security even in the face of emergencies like soaring prices and drought”, Diouf said. FAO’s Initiative on Soaring Food Prices includes emergency projects which are ongoing or have been planned in at least 78 countries worldwide. (...)
August 29 - ACDI/VOCA has won
a $2.4 million, 2-year Lebanon Business Linkages Initiative (LBLI) project, funded
by USAID under the FIELD Leader with Associates program. By targeting market
driver firms in agribusiness, tourism and information and communication
technology, LBLI will build on USAID’s previous
investments and further its goal of fostering sustainable growth and reducing
poverty in rural
UN agency launches database on world trade in creative products
15 August - A new public database in creative products - such as music, audiovisuals, newspapers and electronic publishing - has been launched today by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Currently the site shows global trade flows for 1996-2006. Selected products are listed along with the major exporters and importers in major markets for such creative products as art and crafts, music CDs and video and films. Statistics on some 235 products can be found at http://stats.unctad.org/creative (...)
Promoting a healthy and transparent real estate market: New UNECE advisory body now operational
The main areas of work of REM include: improving the environment for real estate investment, finance and regulations; stimulating the interest of local and international investors in individual countries; assisting countries with capacity-building in the real estate and land administration sectors; acting as experts in workshops and UNECE housing and land administration reviews; and promoting cooperation between the private and public sectors. (...)
UN High-level Event on the
Millennium Development Goals - 25 September,
The High-level Event (HLE) on
the Millennium Development Goals will take place at UN Headquarters on 25
September 2008. It will be jointly convened by the Secretary-General and the
President of the General Assembly to review progress, identify gaps and
motivate commitments to bridge the gaps to ensure that the MDGS are achieved by
2015. It will be a special informal event bringing together Heads of State or
Government, as well as leaders of the private sector and civil society. The HLE
will provide an opportunity for world leaders to announce concrete plans and
proposals to translate commitments into action and help accelerate
implementation of the MDGs. Moreover, the HLE will
send a message to the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for
UN health agency scales up
assistance to flood victims in India,
6 September -
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is working to curb the risk of
disease outbreaks and help millions affected by deadly floods in
WHO is sending emergency medicines and equipment to treat 60,000 people for one month. (...) More than 70 WHO staff from the National Polio Surveillance programme are monitoring the health situation in the camps, and the agency is also helping to immunize children between the ages for measles and provide them with oral vitamin A drops. The agency has also supplied 100 chloroscopes to ensure water quality in the camps, and has also given $12,000 to the Indian Red Cross to help deliver relief supplies, including water, tents, bednets and clothing. (...)
convoy sets out for flood-ravaged
While the main road from the
capital to the heavily affected city of
CARE and other agencies hope
to send larger convoys with water purification systems, food, and other
supplies in the coming days if road conditions improve. Access remains the
biggest problem; though helicopters have managed to reach
Geneva/Bogotá), 2 September–
In the past few weeks, clashes between government forces and armed groups have
had a serious impact on inhabitants of the Colombian departments of
The ICRC continues to be
concerned by the intensification of the armed conflict in this part of
Hilton humanitarian prize of $1.5 million goes to BRAC
largest NGO in the developing world, will use prize winnings in southern
Now in its 37th year, BRAC has
taken its model beyond
11 Days of Global Unity: September 11-21, culminating on the International Day of Peace
Creating a Culture of Peace - Celebrating a Sustainable Future
We are excited to invite you to be part of the 5th Annual Celebration of 11 Days of Global Unity Sept. 11-21! 11 Days is an annual worldwide promotion of peace, justice, sustainability and transformation that now includes more than 700 associated events in over 60 countries around the world. It culminates on September 21st, the U.N. International Day of Peace which itself has literally thousands of events in over 100 countries. Check out the Complete Guide to 11 Days of Global Unity for the full scope of worldwide activities.
detection dogs will soon be used to assist in MAG’s
mine clearance activities in
5 September - In partnership with the Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI), the Mine Detection Dog Centre and the Global Training Academy – and funded jointly by the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, US Department of State and MLI – the dogs are currently undergoing a comprehensive training programme at MAG’s Chamchamal operations base.
Three experienced teams from
Mine detection dogs will make a valuable contribution to the safe and efficient clearance of mines which will result in significant areas of safe land being handed back to communities.
UN to train African Union peacekeeping support staff
5 September – The United Nations peacekeeping arm launched a training programme this week for senior officials of the African Union (AU), aimed at improving the planning, deployment and management of its peacekeeping support missions. This is the third in a series of training courses designed specifically for senior AU civilian, military and police leaders who might be appointed to positions at the level of head or deputy head of mission, force or deputy force commander or police commissioner in missions.
Some 25 AU officials from 14
countries will participate in the 12-day training programme in
The Government of Denmark is providing funding for the programme, run by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), with support also coming from the Government of Botswana.
The previous courses in this
series were held in
UN Member States taking lead in combating terrorism - Assembly President
5 September - Member States of the United Nations have taken the lead in the fight against terrorism, forging ahead with implementing the first global and common strategy to tackle the scourge, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim said today. The President convened a meeting which kicked off yesterday to review the landmark 2006 Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, with over 100 Member States taking part.
The meeting concluded today with the Assembly’s adoption of a resolution reaffirming support for the Strategy; reiterating Member States’ strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations; and confirming that Member States have the primary responsibility to implement the document. The Assembly also decided to review the implementation of the Strategy again in two years time and “to consider updating it to respond to changes,” according to the resolution. (...) http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=27953&Cr=terror&Cr1
Security Council welcomes Somali peace and reconciliation accord
4 September - The Security Council
today welcomed the recent signing of a peace and reconciliation agreement by
The 15-member panel said it would continuously monitor the implementation of the accord and reiterated its strong support for the efforts of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). (...)
Promoting the International Day of Peace 2008
by Jim McDonnell
London, 22 August - The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) has produced a toolkit in different languages which aims to assist anyone who wishes to start a campaign or organize an activity around issues of peace and conflict. It focuses on awareness raising activities surrounding the UN International Day of Peace on September 21st. On this day, the world calls for 24 hours of worldwide ceasefire and non-violence. The toolkit includes campaign basics, facts and figures that can be used in a campaign, strategies in order for a campaign to be successful, and ideas for taking action such as public events that could be organized and ways to engage the media. Finally, it lists a number of other sources that could be helpful in raising awareness on conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The toolkit can be downloaded on the GPPAC website. GPPAC are asking organizations to send them information and material on what different groups have planned for the 21st of September. (...)
International Day of Peace- September 21
The United Nations' International Day of Peace - marked every year on September 21 - is a global holiday when individuals, communities, nations and governments highlight efforts to end conflict and promote peace. Established by U.N. resolution in 1982, "Peace Day" has grown to include millions of people around the world who participate in all kinds of events, large and small.
For 2008, this new Web site makes it easy to find and promote Peace Day events anywhere in the world. Just click on "Participate!" to locate an event or post information. And explore the rest of the site to learn more about Peace Day and how to get involved.
The 24-Hour Global Ceasefire: Along with being designated by the UN as the International Day of Peace, September 21 is also a day of Global Ceasefire. By acknowledging a unified day without violence, a Global Ceasefire can provide hope for citizens who must endure war and conflict; it proves that worldwide peace is possible. A cessation of hostilities for 24 hours can also enable relief workers to reach civilians in need with food, water, and medical supplies.
medical care and emergency distributions in Bihar,
Barcelona/New Delhi, September
5 - Two Médecins Sans Frontières
(MSF) teams have started providing medical care to the victims of the floods in
the northeastern Indian state of
While assessing the needs, and now that the roads are becoming passable again, MSF staff have organised mobile clinics in several locations in order to address the medical needs of the populations, particularly in those western areas of Araria district where relief has not yet reached. Last Tuesday, for example, in the Parwaha area alone, over 100 medical consultations were carried out. (…)
4 September - The Government
of Canada today announced financial contributions of Canadian $30 million
towards the eradication of polio in sub-Saharan
The funding will help immunize
children in sub-Saharan Africa, with $15 million already earmarked for
With these two latest
survivor cycles across
By Dan Nixon
Rotary International News, 3
September - "I am reminded of the effects of polio every day of my
life," says Ramesh Ferris, who is cycling
"Cycle to Walk is my way to prevent polio and give other polio survivors a chance to reach their full potential," said Ferris. He is promoting polio eradication at schools, Rotary, and other service clubs, health care providers, and government offices. (…)
For his part in that battle,
Ferris has had to draw deeply on his own determination many times. Born in
A visit to
To follow Ferris's journey, read his blog at www.cycletowalk.com.
Rotary maternal health project receives royal recognition
by Matthias Schütt
Rotary International News, 29 August - In appreciation for his work in improving maternal health care in northern Nigeria, Past Governor Robert Zinser of District 1860 (Germany) was initiated into the inner circle of the Emir of Zazzau, 1 of 10 powerful traditional leaders in northern Nigeria.
Idris awarded Zinser the
traditional title of Shahon Zazzau
(Eagle of Zazzau) during a special ceremony 8 August
at the emir’s palace in
Zinser is the project coordinator of a joint Nigerian-Austrian-German Rotary project to treat and prevent obstetric fistula, a painful birth injury that often results in a stillborn child and leaves the woman with chronic incontinence. (…)
As vice chair of the Rotary
Action Group for Population and Development, Zinser,
a member of the Rotary Club of Ludwigshafen-Rheinschanze,
has been involved in three projects in Nigeria since 1995, including conducting
advocacy and awareness campaigns on child spacing and the risks of early
marriage, training health personnel, and delivering quality equipment to
hospitals, with the goal of reducing maternal and child mortality. In 2005 the
current €1 million (US$1.46 million) project was started in the two states of
New middle school curriculum equips kids with tools to eat right and be active
Divided into four units, the curriculum combines reading and health to equip middle school students with information about making healthy food choices and being physically active. (…)
The curriculum is designed to be used by health education, physical education, and family and consumer sciences classes. Three units also meet the curriculum standards in other subject areas including social studies and science, with opportunities for interdisciplinary instruction. (…)
AU, EU launch energy partnership
8 September - The African
Union Commission (AUC) and the European Commission (EC) launched on Monday an
ambitious Africa-EU energy partnership to enhance cooperation in the field, a
press release of the EC said. Main elements of the Energy Partnership include
promoting electrification in Africa and launching as soon as possible the
process for the elaboration of an Electricity Master-Plan for
Besides, the two sides agreed
that transparency for further private investments in the energy sector should
be established. They agreed to promote energy interconnections in Africa and
between Africa and
UN-backed carbon forum helps
5 September -
Three days of deal-making and networking wrapped up today at the United
Nations-backed Africa Carbon Forum in
In one deal
completed at the Forum, the World Bank entered into an agreement with a local
agency to spread the use of energy–efficient light bulbs through rural
Solar Energy can bring clean energy to over 4 billion people by 2030
2 September - Solar
electricity can contribute largely to the energy needs of two-thirds of the
world's population - including those in remote areas - by 2030. This is the
main conclusion of the Solar Generation report, published by Greenpeace and the
European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) today. "Solar
photovoltaic electricity has the potential to supply energy to over 4 billion
people by 2030 if adequate policy measures are put in place today," said
Ernesto Macias, EPIA President, as the report was presented at a major
conference on photovoltaic (PV) energy in
Now in its fifth edition, Solar Generation confirms the impressive growth of the solar energy sector and demonstrates its potential of becoming a global energy contributor. By 2030, it estimates that over 1800 GW of photovoltaic systems will have been installed worldwide. This represents over 2600 TWh of electricity produced per year, or 14% of global electricity demand. This is enough power to supply over 1.3 billion people in developed areas and over 3 billion people in remote rural areas who currently have no access to mains electricity. (...)
Wind Technology Platform publishes Strategic Research Agenda: How wind energy could provide up to 28% of EU electricity consumption by 2030
In its newly released Strategic Research Agenda, the European Wind Energy Technology Platform (TPWind) presents an ambitious vision in which over a quarter of the EU’s electricity could be provided by wind in 2030. It describes the research priorities that tie in with this vision, and the financial and human resources these priorities will entail.
According to the Strategic
Research Agenda (SRA), wind energy could cover 12-14% of the EU’s electricity consumption by 2020, with a total
installed capacity of 180 GW. This could increase to 22-28% of consumption and
300 GW in 2030. The SRA points out that fulfilling this vision will be a major
industrial and technological challenge for Europe, and that public and industry
research resources across
The SRA is the most in-depth analysis to date of the research requirements of the wind energy sector, and is based on two years of work and discussions. It is supported by extensive annexes, which are available online. (...)
Second International Conference on Energy Solutions for Transport
Fueling the future of transport
This year, special focus is on
the future of electric vehicles, with topics ranging from CO2 Free Power and
Next Generation Utilities to Automotive Batteries, Plug-in Technology & New
Business Models. A123 Systems, Toyota
Europe, Ford Motor Company, Rocky Mountain Institute, Dong Energy,
The world famous aviator Bertrand Piccard of Solar Impulse shares his vision of sustainable mobility through the eyes of a scientist-explorer. (...)
New sustainable transportation ETF to be launched on NASDAQ
by Robert Kropp
Index-based ETF to track companies offering green solutions to growth in worldwide transportation.
September 2 - SocialFunds.com -- Invesco PowerShares Capital Management LLC plans to list its PowerShares Global Progressive Transportation Portfolio on the NASDAQ Stock Market on September 18, 2008.
Worldwide economic growth has increased demand for transportation solutions, but in most cases those solutions have not been matched by sustainable improvements in infrastructure. Sustainable transportation meets the needs of society without sacrificing ecological values.
To be traded under the ticker PTRP, the portfolio is an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that is based on the Wilder NASDAQ OMX Global Energy Efficient Transport Index. An index-based exchange-traded fund seeks to replicate the movements of an index of a financial market.
The Wilder Index tracks innovative and energy efficient transportation by focusing on businesses that are engaged in cleaner and improved means of transporting goods and people. It includes a global group of companies engaged in four focus areas: alternative vehicles; rail and subway systems; sea, land, air and intermodal; and transport innovation.
New UN tool allows armchair environmentalists to virtually visit global hotspots
4 September - An initiative unveiled today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) allows computer users to utilize the popular mapping tool Google Earth to “fly” to 200 of the world’s environmental hotspots.
The atlas will
showcase in three dimensions the impact of climate change and other human
activities on the planet in places ranging from remote rainforests in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the glaciers of Greenland and
Long haul to measure Arctic sea ice confirmed
3 September - WWF has welcomed the news that a pioneering expedition to deliver the most accurate measurements yet of the arctic ocean ice sheet has secured the funding it needs for the survey. The survey team, led by the experienced British polar expedition leader Pen Hadow, will depart in mid-February and plans to spend over 100 days hauling ground-penetrating radar equipment over the ice to the North Pole. “This will allow climate scientists to refine their predictions for the climate of this region and the world,” says Martin Sommerkorn, Senior Climate Change Advisor for the WWF International Arctic Programme. (…)
The trend of diminishing arctic ice due to climate change raises fears for entire arctic ecosystems that depend on the ice, from single-celled organisms, all the way up to larger animals. (…)
WWF is helping to support the Catlin Arctic Survey, and looks forward to receiving the
data the expedition will generate. It will help feed into preparations for
securing an effective global deal on climate change in
Now accepting proposals for Grand Challenges Explorations Round 2
Round 2 follows on the heels of the initiative's first funding round, which closed in May of this year, and generated nearly 4,000 applications from scientists in more than 100 countries. Two new topics are being introduced in Round 2 along with the initial four topics from Round 1.
One of the primary objectives
of Grand Challenges Explorations is to involve scientists around the world who
do not typically work in global health. This includes those with innovative
ideas in Africa,
Earth Day network launches new, improved ecological footprint calculator to assess environmental impact
Washington, DC, August 25 – Earth Day Network, an international environmental advocacy organization and a recognized leader in the field of carbon footprint measurement, has just released its newest tool to combat climate change: The Ecological Footprint Calculator. Set to debut on August 25, 2008, the Footprint Calculator is intended to raise environmental consciousness in an educational, user-friendly, and fun way.
Created by the originators of the ecological footprint, Global Footprint Network, the calculator provides users with a three-dimensional avatar of their choosing, and situates them on a block in a virtual neighborhood. The user is then taken through a series of questions about her food consumption, energy use, favorite mode of transportation, type of residence, recycling commitment, and spending habits. (…)
To take the quiz, visit www.earthday.net/ecofootprint. The new Footprint Calculator
has launched with measures for the
Religion and spirituality
Muslim and Christian women to explore religious contributions to peace
Bringing contributions from diverse backgrounds including the arts, media, education and theology, participants will wrestle, in critical solidarity with tradition, with issues pertinent to a just society of women and men. In order to ensure a constructive role of religion in our societies, the role of women is put up for discussion.
The meeting contributes to the
Decade to Overcome Violence 2001-
Ceremonies, books and broadcasts mark the WCC 60th anniversary
Amsterdam, 20 August -
"Stating that in seeking Christ they found each other, the 147 churches
that sixty years ago came together in Amsterdam, Netherlands committed
themselves afresh to Christ and covenanted with one another in constituting the
World Council of Churches (WCC)," said the Council's general secretary
Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia as he prepared to leave for a
commemorative event to be held at the location where the WCC was officially
founded sixty years ago, 23 August
"It is significant that as we gather sixty years later at the same venue we note that the churches have been faithful to their commitment. Not only have they stayed together, but they have deepened and broadened the Fellowship," Kobia added. (...)
Leading religious scholars
Themes for Interfaith Dialogue in Modernity and Post-modernity include how dialogue between scholars of religion impacts on religious institutions; the role of religion in peacemaking and conflict resolution; and issues of religious identity and multiculturalism.
“Today, when the cultures of the world are coming closer yet also seem to be drawing further apart, there is an increasing need for the representative faith traditions to engage in dialogue,” said Dr Paul Hedges, a Lecturer from the University of Winchester’s Department of Theology and Religious Studies, who also sits on the editorial board for The Journal of Religious History. (...)
"A Common Word" letter sparks a series of dialogues among Christians and Muslims
Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan, the architect of the "Common Word" initiative said: "The intention in sending out the 'A Common Word' missive was simply to try to make peace between Muslims and Christians globally." (...) Since the letter was released, churches, councils of churches and Christian leadership from the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Evangelical traditions have been working with Muslims to organize a series of dialogue events and consultations which are scheduled through 2010. (...)
UNESCO conference to review literacy
and adult education challenges in Latin America and the
Entitled “From Literacy to
Lifelong Learning: Towards the Challenges of the 21st Century”, the conference
will merge two major UNESCO initiatives. It will be one of five regional UNESCO
conferences in preparation of the Sixth International Conference on Adult
Education (CONFINTEA VI), which will take place in
International Literacy day 2008
The celebration of
International Literacy Day will include the award of the UNESCO International
Literacy Prizes, recognizing programmes operating in
5 September - The United Nations
Children’s Fund () is organizing
a campaign to ensure that all children in
UN agencies launch bid to include restored Iraqi marshlands on heritage list
5 September -
Two United Nations agencies unveiled a joint bid today to list
Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) said in a press statement that the joint bid - which is
also being funded by the Italian Government - aims to further the conservation
and protection of the marshlands. Also known as the Fertile Crescent, the
Marshlands of Mesopotamia have been spawning grounds for
UNESCO, which agreed to the bid at a meeting in
UNESCO backs plan to build
underwater museum in Alexandria,
4 September - The United Nations
cultural agency announced today it will help
Young publishers strive to breed book culture in kids
EI launches the Education and Solidarity Network
September 1 – Education
International has launched a new Education and Solidarity Network to help
strengthen and develop solidarity-based social protection systems by mobilising
professionals from the education sector around the world. This project is being
implemented in partnership with the Mutuelle Générale de l’Education Nationale (MGEN), the Association Internationale
Professionals in the education
sector have a role to play in the development of solidarity-based welfare
systems. The support of EI member organisations is essential in the implementation
of this network, the aim of which is to promote exchanges of best practices in
the area of social protection, the sharing of expertise, help in creating
mutual structures, and the dissemination of training modules devoted to
solidarity-based mutual support systems. An international conference will be
61st Annual DPI/NGO Conference:
3-5 September 2008 • UNESCO
Lesley Vann, Good News Agency’s Publisher Representative to the UNDPI
This year the 61st Annual
United Nations DPI/NGO Conference took place on 3-5 September 2008, at the
UNESCO Headquarters in
The DPI/NGO Conference was organized by the UN’s Department of Public Information in cooperation with the NGO community -- this year with the assistance of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Government of France. This Annual Conference is open to representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI), those in consultative status with the United Nations through the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and those working with UNESCO and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The Conference aimed to highlight effective ways in which civil society, in partnership with public and private international actors and the UN System, can contribute to the advancement of human rights at international, regional, national and local levels, generate greater awareness of human rights issues, and strengthen commitments to address human rights among diverse stake-holders worldwide. A major feature of this conference was its emphasis on active participation whether through involvement in the five roundtables, the 42 midday workshops or several breakout sessions. All activities including those offered via the Internet were intended to generate greater awareness of human rights issues and strengthen commitments to address human rights among diverse stakeholders worldwide.
The Conference reflected the mounting commitment within the United Nations, to the work of civil society. This unprecedented commitment to civil society has been chiefly the result of the vibrant vision articulated by former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. He recognised and assured the UN supported the advances made by civil society on the ground and in the daily lives of those who suffer.
There is vast evidence of the contribution made to human rights by civil society, in partnership with other actors -- from very broad evidence demonstrated by major NGOs such as Amnesty International -- to national and local levels, involving citizens and education more directly. A stellar example is the global reach of Human Rights Watch with its focus upon civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Additional examples include the Green Cross International and its partners, who appeal for the adoption of a Framework Convention on the Right to Water; and Kerala-based “Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (CHRO), [which] stand to protect, uphold and strengthen the rights of traditionally exploited and oppressed marginalized social segments of Tribals, Dalits, Minorities, certain Castes, Women, Children and victims of State Violations.”
Civil society has for years embraced the Earth Charter, a widely recognised and authoritative reference document on the vision, values, and ethics of sustainable development, available in over 30 languages. A Conference break out session on Human Rights, Sustainable Development, and the Earth Charter was held. The primary aim of the session was to provide participants with an overview of the Earth Charter and how its vision of global interdependence and universal responsibility complements and supports the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the global human rights movement. The breakout session also focused on the sharing of best-practices regarding the way in which the Earth Charter is used to support grass-roots efforts to address human rights violations and to promote an integrated approach to sustainable development. The above are key examples of civil society contributions yielding strength and significant advances for human rights globally.
The Conference demonstrated effective partnerships between civil society and international actors during the diverse “Roundtable” meetings, midday workshops and breakout sessions, permitting cross-pollination of ideas and recommendations addressing human rights. These merged the worlds of civil society with the UN System and its outreach. Meeting topics included, “Upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Overcoming Discrimination to Realize Human Rights and Dignity for All; Human Rights and Human Security; Human Rights Education and Learning as a Way of Life; Addressing Gross Human Rights Violations: Prevention and Accountability; Reaffirming Human Rights for All.
Midday Workshops have been an integral part of the DPI NGO conference since its early days. These continued to be among the most sought-after events during the busy three days. Midday workshops are organized for NGOs by NGOs. They are vehicles for peer-to-peer discussions, to exchange ideas and experiences and share approaches to common problems. The ultimate goal is to have participants take home information and knowledge that they can use in their activities.
The subjects of the Midday Workshops were chosen to enhance the conference themes and to represent thematic as well as regional balance. They were designed to be interactive, and to foster lively audience participation under the leadership of facilitators and expert speakers.
A Committee representing
different areas of the NGO world, including NGO partners in
The Paris Conference also
featured a variety of Special Events marking the 60th anniversary. These
included a story-telling project, which was sponsored by the Institute for the
Development of Education, Arts and Leisure, featuring stories of personal
experiences on different aspects of human rights. There were art displays that
were shown at UNESCO and outside the Conference Hall. Among the art exhibits
was a History of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that consisted of
nine panels displayed in French and English, and sketches on Human Rights
themes by International cartoonists both sponsored by the UN Department of
Public Information. NGO displays included 20 posters promoting Human Rights submitted
by Art Center School of Design in
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” (Article 19 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.) Media participation at the 61st Annual DPI/NGO Conference was subject to accreditation by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Accreditation remains strictly reserved for members of the press - print media, photo, radio, TV, film and news agencies - who fully meet United Nations media accreditation requirements.
In summary the 61st Annual DPI/NGO Conference, commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights engaged civil society and other United Nations System partners. At this Annual DPI/NGO Conference these partners demonstrated their relevance to global human rights progress. The goals of the Conference thus were met, with new inroads established. These goals included providing a forum for civil society, governments, media, academia, and the private sector to discuss human rights issues and what roles they need to play in addressing them.
This 61st Annual DPI/NGO Conference demonstrated once again that human rights outcomes, the United Nations and the world community, are all strengthened by the vibrant, incisive vision and contribution of civil society partners globally. Civil society daily is advancing action on behalf of the global common good.
Information for this article was located on:
Please click on the link below for useful background information on the Conference including Media Inquiries, Gallery of photos, and webcasts of the Opening and Closing sessions and the five Roundtable discussions: http://www.un.org/dpi/ngosection/conference/60/UsefulLinks.htm
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Next issue: 3rd October 2008.
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