Good News Agency – Year IX, n° 14



Weekly - Year IX, number 14 – 14th November 2008

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. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of 4,000 media in 49 countries and to 2,800 NGOs and 500 high schools, colleges and universities. 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




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation



A new directive to improve the safety of toys     

7 November - The EP Internal Market Committee has adopted a report aimed at making toys safer. The new legislation will beef up safety regulations and ban the use of certain chemicals and heavy metals. Parliament’s plenary will vote in December, just before the festive season. The report on the safety of toys, drafted by Marianne Thyssen (EPP-ED, BE), was adopted on Thursday 6 November by the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. The aim of the new draft directive is to strengthen and update the rules on toy safety. The existing directive has given good service but needs replacing. (...)

MEPs gave their backing to the Commission’s draft legislation but adopted amendments tightening restrictions on the use of chemicals and perfumes, clarifying the rules on warnings and totally banning the use of heavy metals in toy manufacture. (…)

The committee’s draft report will be put to the vote at Parliament’s plenary in Strasbourg in December. According to the rapporteur, negotiations with the Council and Commission will start soon with the aim of reaching a first-reading agreement, so that “toys can be made safe as quickly as possible”.


Intercountry adoption: International standards and Ukrainian practice

Organized by Ukrainian Ministry for Family, Youth and Sports, OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine

Kyiv, 6-7 November - The event will focus on international legal instruments on the protection of children’s rights in intercountry adoption.

Ukrainian authorities will discuss challenges and best practices with their counterparts from key countries of origin and destination for adoption in the region. Discussions are expected to lead to the modification of national legislation on intercountry adoption to ensure the protection of the best interests of the child and prevent possible violations, including trafficking in children.


Landslide UN vote in favour of Arms Trade Treaty

31 October - Today 147 states at the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to move forward with work on an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The Control Arms campaign, which represents millions of campaigners around the world welcomed the vote but called for more urgency from states to advance the process quickly and ensure a strong Treaty with human rights and development at its heart. 145 states supported for the Treaty and two others subsequently added their names, an increase on the 139 states who voted to start the UN process in October 2006, showing increasing global consensus in favour of the Treaty. 116 of the yes voters also co-sponsored the resolution. The vote was particularly strong in Africa, South and Central America and Europe indicating strong demand for arms control both from countries severely affected by armed violence and from major exporters. Only the US and Zimbabwe voted against, ignoring increasing global consensus for an ATT. (…)

The Control Arms campaign is made up of Amnesty International, the International Action Network on Small Arms and Oxfam International. You can find out more on the Control Arms campaign and the Arms Trade Treaty at (…)


Help ban cluster bombs now! Sign the People’s Treaty

31 October - The Cluster Munitions Convention’s signing ceremony will take place in Oslo, Norway, from 2-3 December 2008. That is only one month to ensure that countries - your country - will be ready to sign the treaty! To keep pressure on governments, sign the People’s Treaty now.

Ten years ago on 3 December 1997 in Ottawa, Mines Action Canada, in collaboration with campaigners from around the world, launched the first “People’s Treaty”. While inside the conference hall 122 governments signed the historic Mine Ban Treaty banning antipersonnel mines, outside ordinary citizens demonstrated their personal commitment by signing the People’s Treaty. (...) Anyone can sign the People’s Treaty and everyone should. All signatures count!



Human rights



Human Rights in culturally diverse societies: challenges and perspectives

The Hague (Netherlands), 12-13 November - European societies are becoming increasingly culturally diverse. More than ever, respect for human rights can enable societies to remain cohesive. This objective is the driving force behind the conference entitled ‘Human Rights in Culturally Diverse Societies: Challenges and Perspectives.’ Guusje ter Horst, Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands, Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer- Buquicchio and Eva Smith-Asmussen, Chairperson of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), will attend the conference, which builds on the Organisation’s White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue, published in May 2008.

Participating experts will address topical issues: Is freedom of speech unlimited? What should be the relation between the state and religion? How can we ensure the full enjoyment of freedom of assembly by all? The aim of the discussions is to contribute to the development of human rights policy approaches to better manage Europe ‘s cultural diversity.


Young Europeans presents strategies to combat racism in sports to European Parliament

7 November - Representatives of the project “Youth Voices against Racism”, an initiative of UNESCO, FC Barcelona and the European Coalition of Cities against Racism (ECCAR), in partnership with the European Parliament, visited the Parliament in Brussels on 6 November and presented a document containing 10 recommendations to counteract racism in and through sports. These recommendations emerged from a consultation organized with young people between the ages of 15 and 18, implemented by ECCAR, whose network comprises 82 cities in 17 countries. (...)


Human rights conference in Stockholm

5 November - The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers Chair Sweden hosted a conference on ‘Systematic Work for Human Rights Implementation,’ on 6-7 November in Stockholm, to ensure that the reality within countries corresponds with regional and international human rights standards. Entitled ‘Rights work!’ the conference was organised in close cooperation with the Council of Europe. Conference speakers included: Ms Nyamko Sabuni, Swedish Minister of Integration and Gender Equality, Gunilla Carlsson, Swedish Minister of International Development Cooperation, Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights and Yavuz Mildon, President of the Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. (more ...)



Economy and development



Cassava’s comeback - On the plate of over 1. 5 million people in Africa

Rome/Brussels, 13 November - After years of massive crop losses caused by a devastating virus, farmers are harvesting healthy cassava  - one  of Africa's principal foodstuffs - throughout the Great Lakes region, FAO announced today, hailing the achievement as a milestone in its ever stronger partnership with the European Union.

By the last planting season, virus-free cassava planting material had been distributed to some 330 000 smallholders in countries struck by the virus - Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. The improved crop now benefits a total of some 1.65 million people. 

(...) In the Great Lakes region though, high prices of food and fertilizer are just part of the problem. As the recent violence in eastern DR Congo tragically demonstrates, the region is still grappling with peace. But, especially under circumstances of extreme instability, cassava can make a crucial difference. Cassava roots can be harvested whenever there is a need, or left in the ground when farmers are driven from their land. Also, cassava is not an easy prey, when land is unattended: thieves will find it very difficult to dig it from the ground.


Experts to address problem of lack of access to water and sanitation for millions in Asia-Pacific Region 

Event is part of UN project to help region extend water and sanitation services to urban poor.

Bangkok, 10 November - Despite important progress in recent years, half of the people in Asia still have no access to adequate sanitation and almost 20 per cent lack improved water sources - despite the fact that numerous technically feasible and financially sustainable solutions exist. This is one of the broad topics that will be addressed at the 2nd International WASH Practitioners’ Marketplace and Fair, in the town of Cox’s Bazaar, in Bangladesh, between 11-13 November. Organized by STREAMS of Knowledge - a global coalition of resource centres engaged in capacity development in the area of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) - and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Fair will also address specific topics such as integrated water resource management, community participation and sanitation entrepreneurship. (...)


US fund helps landmine victims in Quang Tri (Vietnam)

5 November - The Vietnam Victims Memorial Fund (VVMF) of the US has provided US$2.5 million and developed a mushroom growing project to help victims of landmines in the central province of Quang Tri. According to VVMF Chief Representative in Vietnam, Chuck Searcy, the project will provide technical assistance in growing, processing and exporting mushrooms and credit for landmine victims in the province in order to help them increase their incomes and improve their living conditions. VVMF also plans to call for investment into a company in the Lao Bao special economic zone in Huong Hoa, Quang Tri province, which will help families of landmines victims with mushroom farming technique and create a trademark for their products. Profit from the company’s operations will be used to support mine-sweeping operation in Quang Tri.


UN-HABITAT launches Opportunities Fund for Urban Youth-Led Development

Nanjing, 5 November - UN-HABITAT on Tuesday unveiled a groundbreaking US$2 million fund to finance inspiring youth-led development projects around the world.

The Opportunities Fund for Urban Youth-Led Development, announced at the Fourth Session of the World Urban Forum in Nanjing, China, was created to engage the partnership and leadership of young women and men in achieving sustainable urbanization. The Fund is initially being financed through a US$2,000,000 grant over two years, provided by the Government of Norway. Other governments and donors are being invited to contribute to the fund. (...)

The exciting event, featuring a series of illuminating speeches from international leaders in the field of youth-led development and performances from prolific young artists from across the globe, drew in a crowd which demonstrated the recognition which youth have achieved at this year’s World Urban Forum. (...) Today marked a turning point in the history of international development: Youth integration must be considered crucial to the success of any future programme. (...)


Fund unveiled to support UN youth-led projects for development

5 November - A $2 million fund to finance youth-led development projects was announced yesterday by the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-HABITAT) at the Fourth Session of the World Urban Forum in Nanjing, China. Known as the Opportunities Fund for Urban Youth-Led Development, the fund is initially being financed by Norway and will work to engage young women and men in achieving sustainable urbanization and tackle issues including rampant youth unemployment, barriers to entrepreneurship and lack of appropriate training and education. (...)


Migration for development: a global joint initiative 

Manila, 28 October - The United Nations and the European Commission have started a Joint Initiative on Migration and Development. This 15 million Euro (Php 950 million) programme, funded by the European Commission and implemented by UNDP in partnership with IOM, UNFPA, UNHCR and ILO, introduces a new way of making migration work for development. The initiative aims to promote the positive impact of migration using an innovative, bottom-up approach that will support small-scale actors to undertake concrete actions.

Taking on board the recommendations of the first Global Forum on Migration and Development, held in Brussels in 2007, the Joint Initiative will reinforce the role of civil society organizations and local authorities, by ensuring that the capacity of these key stakeholders is strengthened to become efficient actors for development. Through the codification of good practices in Migration & Development, the EC-UN Joint Initiative aims to ensure that decision makers are better informed of good practice in this area, with a view to informing policy making. (...)


Harnessing carbon financing to boost sustainable farming  

Win-win-win for development, climate efforts

Rome, 28 October - Some 100 experts from five continents meet today to chart the way to harnessing a large new flow of funding - carbon finance - to agricultural development and to improving the lives of poor farmers the world over.

Billions of dollars are available every year under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism to finance initiatives helping reduce the amount of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere. But so far little of this money has been going to agriculture, although it offers very real potential to reduce GHG pollution since it is a leading source of emissions -contributing some 30 percent at global level when land-use changes and the intensive livestock sector are included. (...)


Volunteers and activists get it together

A new joint publication from IAVE, CIVICUS and UNV on Volunteering and Social Activism finds both are important strategies for fostering people’s participation in social change and human development.

24 October - Today on United Nations Day and World Development Information Day, IAVE, CIVICUS, and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme are pleased to launch a joint publication, “Volunteering and Social Activism: Pathways for participation in human development”. The paper is based on a study undertaken by the three organisations in 2007-2008. The background study finds that both volunteering and social activism are important strategies for fostering people’s participation in social change and human development. (…)

The paper argues that volunteering, like social activism, can be purposeful and change-orientated. Volunteering can be directed at influencing agenda-setting, policy-making, decision-making and representation, and is also an important mechanism for promoting empowerment, personal transformation and social inclusion. (...)

The full publication is available for download free-of-charge here.


UN agencies agree on how to help Africa respond to global crises and agricultural subsidies

Addis Ababa, 24 October - UN agencies and organizations (...) have agreed on broad coordinated actions to respond to the challenges posed to Africa by rising food and oil prices, the global financial crisis, climate change and agricultural subsidies in rich countries. The agencies and organizations met from 21-22 October in the framework of the Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM), which was established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 57/7, to coordinate the work of UN agencies and organizations in support of the African Union and its NEPAD programme. (...) The Organizations agreed that one of the critical reasons for the food insecurity in Africa was the displacement of the population due to conflicts and the reliance of refugees on food aid. (...) The organizations resolved to improve their cooperation, harmonization and synergy and coherence, stating that these were central to the effectiveness of the operations of the cluster system of the RCM. (...)






Emergency assistance in DR Congo

4 November - Despite the lack of humanitarian access, several ACT members have been able to deliver some initial assistance to communities displaced by the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. ACT members distributed a 14-day food ration and non-food items to 150 households in the Sasha IDP camp last week, and a stock of medicines were delivered to a health centre in the Minova area. Additionally, a therapeutic feeding centre has continued to assist 90 children throughout the fighting. (…)

The ACT members in eastern DRC met on 3 November as soon as the town of Goma was declared safe, and negotiations by the UN for humanitarian access to the affected areas were underway.

ACT members are departing tomorrow on four simultaneous two-day assessment missions. In addition to the immediate need for food, water and shelter, particular attention will be paid to needs for psychosocial and protection support within affected populations. Based on the findings of the assessment missions, a preliminary ACT appeal will be drafted by 10 November.


Conflict in DR Congo: CARE provides emergency supplies, cholera treatment for desperate families

Goma, 3 November - While a fragile ceasefire holds in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), CARE is distributing emergency supplies and providing cholera treatment for some of the thousands of people who are still taking refuge in the capital city of Goma. The leader of the rebel group has said he will guarantee safe passage for aid agencies trying to reach the more than 250,000 people who fled their homes after heavy fighting between rebels and the army last week.

CARE is initially targeting 1,700 people still taking refuge in churches, open spaces and schools in Goma, who have no access to drinking water, shelter, food or medical support. The emergency supplies include hygiene items, blankets, kitchen supplies and plastic sheeting. (…) CARE is also coordinating with the medical aid agency Merlin to establish a temporary cholera treatment center, after cases were reported among the displaced people in Goma. (…)


IKEA provides soft toys to children in cyclone-affected Myanmar 

Yangon, Myanmar, 6 November - Save the Children is distributing 200,000 IKEA soft toys to children in Myanmar as part of its relief effort to assist children and families affected by Cyclone Nargis, which struck the country six months ago. Children in the most affected areas of the country will be able to enjoy the comfort of soft toys, helping them to recover after their difficult experiences. (…) Save the Children has reached almost 500,000 people - including about 200,000 children - with lifesaving relief, education and protection programs since the cyclone hit. The agency moved quickly to assist families through the aftermath of the storm and continues to assist children and their families as they rebuild their lives. The IKEA soft toys are being distributed through Save the Children’s child-friendly spaces in more than 120 villages and through community child protection groups in selected villages. (...)

IKEA Social Initiative supports sustainable long-term projects with the aim to improve children’s rights to a healthy and secure childhood with access to quality education. Save the Children and UNICEF are its main partners. (...)


BVLGARI announces initiative to support ‘Rewrite the Future’

BVLGARI launches major fundraising project to defend Children’s Rights, coincides with 125th anniversary.

Rome, 4 November - 2009 marks the 125th anniversary of Italian luxury goods company Bulgari. In honor of the year, Bulgari has chosen to support Save the Children’s Rewrite the Future campaign. Save the Children is one of the largest independent international organizations for the defence and championing of children’s rights; they are present in over 100 countries around the world. The Rewrite the Future campaign is committed to providing quality education to 8 million children living in conflict-affected areas by the end of 2010. 

Considerable progress has already been made by rebuilding schools, supplying much needed school supplies, and protecting children from abuse and exploitation - thus paving the way for a durable change in almost 6 million children’s lives. Bulgari’s ultimate goal is to raise €10 million for Save the Children by the end of 2009, of which €1 million will be donated in advance to kick off the initiative. (...)


Cyclone Nargis: Major milestones reached, but more humanitarian work still to be done

31 October - Six months ago on 2 May 2008 the destructive power of Cyclone Nargis made landfall on Myanmar. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) today announced that while the Red Cross has reached major milestones, important and difficult work remains ahead if people and communities are to reach the living standards they knew before the Cyclone Nargis tragedy. (…) An estimated 260,000 families in the Ayeyarwady Delta region have received lifesaving support through the MRCS and the IFRC. (...)

The International Federation’s cyclone recovery programmes in Myanmar are projected to continue through April of 2011, three years after Nargis made landfall. Through 30 September 2008, contributions and pledges received by the IFRC total 57.8 million Swiss Francs (USD 50.8 million or EUR 37.8 million). Expenditures during the same period total 28 million Swiss Francs (USD 24.6 million or EUR 18.3 million), with the balance of available funds targeted at a range of vital ongoing recovery, capacity building and disaster preparedness programmes. (...)


Caritas Vietnam opens its doors after 32 years 

28 October - Caritas Vietnam re-launched on 22 October, ending a 32-year hiatus in its operations in the Communist country. Caritas Vietnam will start work with the approval of the government, providing emergency relief and integral human development. Caritas Vietnam has applied for but not yet received membership of Caritas Internationalis.

The President of Caritas Vietnam, Bishop Dominic Chu Trinh of Xuan Loc said the Church in Vietnam was committed to accompanying the poor and to extending its services to all persons in need, regardless of their faith. (…) Caritas Vietnam’s operations will include the needs of disabled, orphaned, ethnic minority and poor children; women, especially those living in poverty and victims of violence and of human trafficking; drug users; people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. (...)


Rwanda: Safe drinking water for 22,000 people

Kigali, 23 October - Around 22,000 people now have better access to safe drinking water thanks to a water-supply project which has just been completed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Kabarondo, Ruramira and Kigarama, in Rwanda’s Eastern Province.

The project, which was launched in January 2005 and cost 245 million Rwandan francs (around 450,000 US dollars), involved upgrading and expanding the water-supply network in the three localities. The work was carried out in cooperation with Electrogaz (the national water board) and the local population. (...) To ensure that the systems last, the ICRC lent its support to the introduction of a water management scheme in rural areas around Kabarondo and Ruramira. In addition, it offered support and encouragement for the process by which Electrogaz took over responsibility for the technical management of a pumping station in nearby Bunono.

The ICRC is planning to complete another water-supply project this year in Mbazi, in the Huye district of the Southern Province. The total number of beneficiaries of the project is estimated to be over 10,000 people.



Peace and security



Cambodia: Japanese-funded clearance enables grassroots development

Funding from the Japanese Government’s Kusanone Assistance programme will support MAG Cambodia’s operations for the coming year.

7 November - A funding agreement for US$584,764 was signed on October 27th in Phnom Penh. The grant will support six mine clearance teams, one Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team and two Community Liaison Teams. The teams will operate in Battambang, Preah Vihear, Banteay Meanchey and Pailin provinces, where there are still a large number of casualties from landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) every year. The high level of contamination in these provinces also contributes to poverty by denying access to land. (…)

Six other non-governmental organisations were also successful in their funding applications and were also present at the signing ceremony, which was presided over by the Japanese Ambassador, H.E. Mr Shinohara Katsuhiro. Over US$1million of grant aid was awarded.

The Kusanone Assistance scheme was introduced to Cambodia in 1991, and aims to protect vulnerable individuals from factors which directly threaten their lives, livelihoods and dignity. (...) Since 2002, the Government of Japan has given almost US$4million to fund MAG’s work in Cambodia.


Briefing for Arabic diplomatic missions in Geneva on the Convention on Cluster Munitions 

Author(s): Site Admin <>

Geneva, 4 November - In the lead up to the Oslo Signing Conference which will be held in Oslo, Norway on 3 December 2008, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, member of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), held on 30 October a lunchtime briefing for Arabic Missions in Geneva on the historic new Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). The CCM was negotiated in May and adopted in Dublin by 107 countries on 30 May 2008 and will be signed Oslo as a successful culmination of the “Oslo Process on Cluster Munitions”.

The purpose of the briefing was to update the Arabic diplomatic missions on the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Oslo Signing Conference, as well as on the Beirut Regional Conference on Cluster Munitions that will take place in Lebanon 11-12 November. Speakers included representatives from the Permanent Mission of Lebanon to the UN in Geneva, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The presentations were inspirational, informative and concise - all stressing the humanitarian imperative for the CCM to enter into force and be fully implemented as rapidly as possible. (...)


Geneva: Military officers learn to turn rules of war into concrete actions

Geneva, 30 October - Seeking to turn theory into practice, senior military officers from around the world will gather in Geneva on 3 November to consider concrete steps that can be taken to integrate the rules of armed conflict into training and procedures, thereby limiting the effects of war on civilians and their property. The officers will be participants in this year’s Senior Workshop on International Rules Governing Military Operations, organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Swiss Armed Forces. (…) Senior officers from 51 countries will take part in the two-week workshop in Geneva and Stans (near Lucerne). They come from countries that have been experiencing armed conflict such Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Burundi, or from NATO member States such as the United Kingdom and the United States. (…)

The ICRC maintains relations with the armed forces of some 160 countries, about 60 armed groups, and several private military and security companies in an effort to ensure that they comply with international humanitarian law (IHL) in their operations. (…)


ITF signed Memorandum of Understanding with Georgia on Humanitarian Mine Action Assistance 

23 October - Mr Goran Gacnik, ITF Director, and Mr Kartlos Koranashvili, Deputy Head of International Relations and Euro-Atlantic Integration Department at Ministry of Defence, signed a framework agreement on cooperation on Humanitarian Mine Action Assistance encompassing the capacity development of national mine action structures and mine victim assistance.

ITF national mine action capacity development assistance will among other include the stipulation of the assistance in setting up the national mine action centre and the provision of trainings and technical assistance; mine victim assistance will focus on programme development and coordination as well as implementation of adequate projects covering the whole spectre of the assistance, ranging from rehabilitation to socio-economic inclusion of mine survivors.

International Trust Fund For Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) is a humanitarian, non-profit organization devoted to eradication of the landmines from the ground in the region of South-Eastern Europe and the world.


Germany allots €200,000 for mine clearing in Georgia

by N. Kirtskhalia

Georgia, Tbilisi, 22 October - The Government of Germany allocated €200,000 for demining of the territory of Georgia. Assistance will be provided to Halo Trust non-governmental organization, which is already ascertaining the types of mines used during the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict. Gori has been already demined. Presentation of the demining project was held on 22 October at the bridge on the road to the village Pkhvenisi.

The correspondent can be contacted at


Rats and robots sniff out landmines

by Sheila Oviedo

22 October - A small-but-growing number of private humanitarian efforts are helping to address the global problem of landmines, which inflict 15,000 to 20,000 casualties per year. In Sri Lanka, a group of scientists and engineers has developed a low-cost robot to detect unexploded landmines in areas covered with vegetation. The Moratuwa University Robot for Anti-Landmine Intelligence (MURALI) is an eight-legged, single-motor robot that moves like an iguana over rough terrain. (…) A MURALI robot can “coordinate and lead” a group of robots in a given area. When the leader detects a landmine, it signals the others on how to support the removal effort. (...)

Meanwhile, the Antwerp-based organization Apopo has been training rats to detect unexploded landmines and the technique has gradually gained a following in post-conflict African countries. At least 30 HeroRats are now working to detect landmines in Mozambique, and teams will be deployed in Sudan, Uganda, and other countries. HeroRats was conceived by Bart Weetjens, a Belgian engineer. (...)


UNAMID and Mine Action Team detonate unexploded ordnance

Source: United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)

21 October - joint patrol consisting of UNAMID protection force and police and accompanied by the Mine Action Team, carried out the demolition of Unexploded Ordinance (UXOs) on 18 and 19 October 2008 in Kutum, Sector North. This took place around Al Zeeba village, in Kutum, where two 107mm High Explosive Squash Head (HESH- Anti-armor ammunition) projectiles and a partially detonated Improvised Explosive Device (IED) were discovered. Government of Sudan Military representatives in the area accompanied the team and observed the demolition operation.


F3 - Freedom from Fear - Max Planck Institute Magazine 

“With the right information and progressive thinking, we can work together towards a stronger Freedom from Fear”.

Turin, Italy, 20 October - UNICRI, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute, has released the inaugural edition of “F3 - Freedom from Fear”. The magazine aims to bring information and in-depth analysis of complex issues to the fingertips of international decision-makers and crime prevention scholars. The international community today faces increasingly complex crises. We are confronted by problems which did not exist in the past. As such, global policy-makers must also act in a diverse way, and must be at the forefront of knowledge in order to develop effective, durable solutions. The magazine serves as a central focal point for members of the international community to exchange ideas and promote positive discussion on issues with which they are faced. It offers a platform for internationally renowned thinkers, policy-makers, international entities and national organizations to thoroughly examine the issues which effect each and every one of us. (…)


Lebanon program celebrates one million square meters of released land - Yallah Shabeb Campaign

19 October - On October the 19th the Lebanon programme launched the celebration of the great achievement of 1,000,000 square meters of released land after cluster bombs clearance in the South of Lebanon. The programme has been running since September 2006; the initial capacity of 4 teams working for 18 months under an ECHO grant have then been reduced to 2 since February this year. Despite the reduction of capacity, the teams increased the productivity and reached the 1,000,000 sqm as for the beginning of October. The activities are currently funded by the EC until the end of 2008 - although the contamination in the South of Lebanon is still high, the programme is at a stake for 2009 due to lack of funding so far.






Record-level US support for bird flu programme

Indonesia, Viet Nam and Egypt among major beneficiary countries

Rome, 11 November - The United States will provide an additional $44.4 million in support of FAO's avian influenza control and prevention campaign, FAO announced today. With the new funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), US support to the FAO avian influenza programme has reached a total of $112.8 million. The United States remains the largest donor to FAO's bird flu control activities implemented in more than 96 countries.

The funds are mainly earmarked for avian influenza control in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, South Asia, West and Central Africa and Viet Nam, as well as global efforts. Indonesia, Viet Nam and Egypt will be the top beneficiaries. (...)

The main donors to FAO's avian influenza programme, which currently amounts to around $282.7 million, are: the United States, Sweden, Australia, Japan, the European Commission, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, the World Bank, UN Development Programme, the Asian Development Bank and France. The programme is also supported by funds from FAO's Technical Cooperation Programme.


Rotarians meet Taliban supporter of Afghan polio immunization drive

by Dan Nixon  

Rotary International News, 7 November  - On the eve of Afghanistan's 19-21 October National Immunization Days, Stephen Brown, past governor of District 5340 (California, USA), had an extraordinary opportunity to witness the country’s drive to end polio in action.

Brown and Fary Moini, a fellow member of the Rotary Club of La Jolla Golden Triangle, were in Afghanistan to help develop Rotary humanitarian and educational projects. They were invited by Dr. Ajmal Pardis, chair of the country’s National PolioPlus Committee and a member of the Rotary Club of Jalalabad, to attend a 15 October meeting of Islamic leaders, or mullahs, in Jalalabad.

The meeting emphasized the importance of the polio eradication initiative and linked immunization against the disease to the duties of parents to protect their children, as explained in the Quran. "The most interesting speech, to us, was from a powerful Taliban mullah, Imam Abdul Wakil, who talked very passionately about the importance of this effort," Brown reported in his online journal. "He was clearly very well spoken, and everyone was on the edge of their seats listening to him. There were about 40 mullahs present, about 30 elders, about 10 students from the Taliban madras [Islamic] school, and local and national media."  (…)


ANERA receives $1 million from Qatar

7 November - We are pleased to announce that ANERA just received a donation of $1 million from the Emir of Qatar to fund our deliveries of vitamin-fortified milk and biscuits to preschool children in Gaza. ANERA started the Milk for Preschoolers Program in 2003 after co-sponsoring a study that showed young children in Gaza were suffering from anemia, vitamin A deficiency, and chronic malnutrition. Many were at risk of irreversible physical and neurological damage. The program has provided approximately 20,000 children in over 160 preschools with a box of fortified milk and a packet of fortified wafers. This small snack ensures that preschoolers, during crucial growing and development years, have at least one source of nutritious food each day. (...)

ANERA is a leading provider of development, health, education and employment programs to Palestinian communities and impoverished families throughout the Middle East. (...)


Mental health added to MSF medical intervention at the Balochistan earthquake, southwestern Pakistan

7 November - Our teams are distributing non-food items and treating people through fixed and mobile clinics. The psychological consequences of the earthquake are taking their toll on the population and there is an obvious need for mental healthcare. MSF is preparing to start a programme within the coming days. Many people have lost family members, and some have no one left. Their houses have collapsed and winter is coming fast, bringing very cold nighttime temperatures. Tremors are still felt routinely, adding to the population’s fears.


Malaria Project launched by Rotary International, District 2080, Italy

After the despatch of 10,000 therapeutic doses to Malawi, the Project Committee aims at Gambia

Rome, October - The objective of this Project Committee is to offer the Rotary Clubs the possibility of concentrating on joint projects with the aim of making the best use of human and economic resources. From this viewpoint, the Subcommittee for Health and Hunger has proposed participation in the Malaria Project to the Clubs of the District, a project which constitutes a substantial commitment for the prevention of infant mortality. This project was started in the last Rotarian year by the Roma Nord-Ovest Rotary Club, in collaboration with the Clubs of the 9210 District, and recorded the provision of 10,000 therapeutic doses to Malawi;  these medicines reached the hospital structures directly and without charge.

This year the Roma Nord-Ovest Rotary Club has decided to raise the number of therapeutic doses from 10,000 to 14,000, with the aim of starting a new opportunity for health service in The Gambia. This opportunity was made possible after the Government of The Gambia confirmed its readiness to control the distribution of the medicine and the correct execution of the medical operations connected with it.



Energy and safety



7th EU-China Energy Conference: Strengthening energy cooperation 

Brussels, 6 November - An EU-China conference on energy sources is taking place today in Brussels. The conference was opened by Matthias Ruete, Director general for Energy and Transport at the European Commission and Jianlin Cao Chinese Vice Minister of Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). The conference is aimed at enhancing cooperation by bringing together high-level European and Chinese representatives from industry and administration. (...) The conference concentrates on energy technologies providing solutions to the numerous challenges that China and the European Union are facing today in the global energy market. Issues such as energy efficiency, renewable energies, hydrogen energy and fuel cells, gas hydrates, carbon capture and storage and nuclear energy are addressed this year. (…)

Since the last conference in Shanghai in 2006, several initiatives are under negotiation to strengthen EU-China Energy cooperation (among others the EU-China Clean Energy Centre and the Euro-Chinese Institute for Clean and Renewable Energy). (...)


European Commission launches new Citizens’ Energy Forum to work for more choice and better deals for EU energy consumers

Brussels, 28 October - EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva and the Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs opened, today in London, the first ever meeting of a new Citizens’ Energy Forum, a platform designed to implement and enforce consumer rights on the energy market across the EU. The aim of the forum is to tackle consumer problems and propose practical solutions so that current EU-wide consumer rights exist in practice and not only on paper and improve regulatory conditions in the retail markets. The Forum brings together national consumer organisations, industry, national regulators, and government authorities to work on key issues such as switching energy suppliers, user-friendly billing, smart metering or protecting vulnerable groups. (…)



Environment and wildlife



Video message by Desmond Tutu: “act as global citizens” on climate change

5 November - Archbishop Desmond Tutu has urged the citizens of the world’s more privileged nations to insist on emission cuts, in a video message that was recently posted on the online platform youtube. “As an African I urgently call on ordinary people in rich countries to act as global citizens, not as isolated consumers. We must listen to our consciences, and not to governments who speak only about economic markets,” the Nobel peace prize laureate has said in the message that was uploaded by the anti-poverty advocacy organization World Development Movement based in the United Kingdom.

The message is part of a campaign that advocates against measures such as the construction of new coal-fired power stations in the UK, which undermine the country’s ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% until 2050. “Do not fly in the face of the poor, allowing the emissions produced by endless and unnecessary business flights to keep growing. Insist on an 80% cut in your national emissions and hold your governments accountable,” Tutu asks the viewers. View the message from Archbishop Desmond Tutu


First stage of one million native trees in the Peruvian Andes

December 2008 in Andean village of Acopia, Department of Cuzco, Peru

Yachay Wasi has started its Campaign of planting one million native trees in the Circuit of Four Lakes in the Peruvian Andes. The Native Trees, which have been selected by local biologists, are:

100,000 units each of Chachacomo, Qeuña, Qolle, Kiswar, Molle, 50,000 units each of Sauco, Sauce and 400, 000 units of other species.

In December 2008, during the beginning of the rainy season, the first stage of the Campaign will be implemented: planting 2000 native trees around the village and lake of Acopia. Currently, training on how to plant the trees, organized by Yachay Wasi with the participation of local biologists, is being given to residents of Acopia and nearby villages. Each school child will be invited to select a tree and to care for and watch it grow. Visitors in the Cusco region are also invited to participate and will be lodged in Acopia free of charge during the planting period.

Yachay Wasi has reached out to world citizens to contribute  $1.00 per tree. A partial amount of the $2,000.00 needed was raised from donations from the public. Contributions are still needed.

Yachay Wasi is a Planting Partner in UNEP Billion Trees Campaign

This Campaign of planting a Million Native Trees is a necessary outgrowth of a Sustainable Development project in the same area begun in August 2004 by an Environmental study funded by Yachay Wasi. Yachay Wasi completed in February 2008 the First Phase of this Environmental project Recovery of the Circuit of Four Lakes with the financial assistance of Rotary International (Australia, USA and Cusco, Peru). (…)


Earthjustice wins flooding appeal against Water Management District

Case aimed at stopping damaging flooding in Southwest Florida

Sarasota, FL, USA, 31 October - Earthjustice, on behalf of the Crowley Museum and Nature Center, today won on appeal in a major case aimed at stopping damaging flooding which killed thousands of trees on the nature center’s property and in Flatford Swamp in the upper Myakka River. 

The flooding is due to the practice of flooding vegetable fields with groundwater for irrigation. So much water is wasted in this practice that a river of irrigation water floods and kills thousands of trees downstream of the farms. The Southwest Florida Water Management District issues permits for the flood irrigation, despite the fact that the farms sit in an area that’s been severely impacted by excess water withdrawals from the underground aquifer. (…)


EPA partners with WRI to heighten awareness of ecosystem services

Washington, D.C., 29 October - The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a collaboration to deliver improved science and practical tools to help companies and governments protect ecosystems and address climate change. “This is an important collaboration in bringing research on ecosystem services into the mainstream of science, business and public policy,” said Rick Linthurst, national program director of the EPA’s Ecological Research Program.

WRI’s ecosystem services brochureEcosystem services are the benefits people obtain from forests, wetlands, and other ecosystems. A forest, for example, not only provides wood for timber and paper but also controls erosion, purifies water, stores carbon dioxide, and offers recreation.

The partnership will bring a greater recognition and understanding of the importance of ecosystems to economic development and human well-being. (...)


European Forest Week, 20-24 October 2008

Forests combat climate change, provide renewable energy and supply fresh water: policymakers must integrate all these elements in a sustainable way

Geneva, 29 October - The first ever European Forest Week took place last week, 20-24 October 2008 in Rome, Brussels and all over Europe, to discuss the role of forests and the forest sector in combating climate change, providing renewable energy and supplying water. The Week highlighted measures necessary to fully utilize the sector’s potential.

The Rome-based events brought together some 450 participants from the forest, water, energy, and housing sectors. The week marked the first ever policy-level meeting between the forest and water sectors. In Brussels, a Conference by the European Economic and Social Committee addressed the “role of forests in meeting EU’s climate change commitments.” All over Europe, about 150 affiliated events took place in 30 countries, to highlight the potential of Europe’s forests and what it takes to fully utilize it. (...)


CEC launches trinational vaquita conservation plan

Trinational cooperation key to rescuing the vaquita, a small porpoise exclusively found in the Upper Gulf of California, currently the planet’s most-endangered marine mammal.

Mexicali, Mexico, 28 October - In response to the urgent need to save the vaquita porpoise, the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States asked the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to formulate a strategy to support Mexico’s efforts to recover the world’s most-endangered marine mammal. Today, the CEC launched the North American Conservation Action Plan (NACAP) for the Vaquita (Phocoena sinus), a vital cooperative initiative that is the result of contributions from scientists, academics, environmental groups and officials in the three countries. The vaquita is critically endangered and its population is estimated at only about 150 individuals. (...)


Amur leopards benefit from Russian conservation concession

Vladivostok, Russia, 22 October - For the first time ever, a partnership between WWF and a for-profit timber company has been awarded a “conservation concession” to restore approximately 10% of the critically endangered Amur leopard’s habitat.

The Forest Department of Primorskii Province in the Russian Far East has leased out a forest area of 45,000ha in the south-west of Primorye, which straddles Vladivostok and the Chinese boarder, to the Nerpinskoye Cooperative Society (also known as Nerpinskii rybcoop) for the next 25 years.

The last remaining viable wild population of Amur leopard, estimated at less than 40 individuals, is found in this area and WWF and Nerpinskii rybkoop plan to implement a project that will increase biodiversity by selectively removing oak trees, which will open the forest canopy and make way for the more valuable and native spruce, Korean pine and Manchurian fir trees. (…)



Religion and spirituality



Seminar on Interreligious Dialogue

“Intercultural dialogue: a challenge for faiths and convictions?”

Brussels, 11 November - Organised by the European Commission as part of the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue and as a follow-up to the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All, a seminar on “Intercultural dialogue: a challenge for faiths and convictions?” will take place in Brussels on 11 November.

Bringing together project coordinators, policy makers, experts in the fields of education and the media, as well as representatives of religious and secular groups active in the field of intercultural dialogue, this one-day event aims to explore initiatives which promote dialogue within and between communities of faith and conviction. Through three panel discussions, which will focus on the challenges for education, for the media and for the dialogue between faiths and convictions, speakers will present practical examples and experiences to participants. To encourage debate each session will end with an open discussion. (...)


Religious Pluralism, Globalization, and World Politics by Thomas Banchoff (Oxford University Press)        

18 November - This book explores the ways globalization, especially modern communication and migration, has helped religious communities develop and express stronger transnational identities. While the three Abrahamic faiths have worked from existing claims of universal truth, religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism are also beginning to redefine their roles on the world stage. The chapters of this book explore this oft-ignored phenomenon from a multi-disciplanary perspective, drawing on the insights of such notable scholars (...). Topics under discussion range from international development and conflict resolution to transitional justice and bioethics, as well as the controversial subject of religious freedom.

Thomas Banchoff is Director of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, and Associate Professor in the Government Department and the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. His research and teaching center on the politics of religious pluralism, both nationally and internationally.



Culture and education



9th Meeting of the Working Group on Education for All, 12-14 November

The Ninth Working Group meeting on Education for All will meet at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, from 12 to 14 November, 2008, focusing on four key topics: the role of education in meeting global challenges and the Millennium Development Goals; teachers; equity and governance; and education financing. These issues were chosen for their predominant influence on whether or not children, youth and adults can benefit from quality learning opportunities. (…)


The training activity “Measures for paediatric unblocking” in the schools is ready to start

The Rotary project, District 2080, is broadening to other Rotarian districts

Every year fifty children lose their lives in Italy through suffocation from a foreign body (27% of accidental deaths – data for 2007 of the Italian Society of Paediatrics) at home, at school and on holiday, not only through the “foreign body” which they have swallowed accidentally, but above all because the person who helps them in the first dramatic moments does not intervene in an appropriate way, thus causing disastrous consequences. “Not knowing” causes errors: picking up a child who has a blockage by the feet or, worse still, putting their fingers into the child’s mouth are the first two things which are done by those who are not prepared … and which can be fatal.

This is the origin of the idea of carrying out the project of “Paediatric first aid - measures for the unblocking of the air passages at the paediatric age”, addressed to the population, but above all to all those people who live close to children: the infant school and elementary school teachers.

For this project, which originated in a Rotary Club of Rome (RC Roma Olgiata) a campaign has been launched, supported by the Italian Journalists’ National Football Team which, in ten matches, will collect the funds to support, with the Italian Red Cross, a specific training activity for the schools.

Almost all the Italian Rotary districts have backed this innovative course of “Measures for paediatric unblocking”, which have supported the project of Governor Cecchini (District 2080) with enthusiasm. For any information or clarification: Dr. Marco Squicciarini, President of the Project:


Conference on youth and adult learning in Africa - November 5 to 7 

4 November - Adult learning and education in the African region is the focus of a UNESCO conference taking place in Nairobi, Kenya, from November 5 to 7. The conference is part of a regional series leading up to the Sixth International Conference on Adult Education (…)Entitled “The Power of Youth and Adult Learning for Africa’s Development”, the conference will bring together representatives from 49 African countries to look at trends and challenges in the field of youth and adult education, and highlight relevant practices and innovations. (...)


2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue: Brussels debate on the role of the media

3 November - The last of the seven “Brussels Debates” organised in the framework of the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue takes place on Wednesday, 5 November 2008. The debate entitled “Talking Our Way out of Trouble: How Media Debate Can Combat Intolerance” is organised by the European Commission in cooperation with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). It will take place at 18:30h in the Residence Palace and will be opened by EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding. The debate will focus on the role of the media in intercultural dialogue and in particular the ways in which the media can contribute to the fight against the stereotypes and prejudices which feed conflict and intolerance. The series of Brussels Debates is one of the core activities of the European Year. Six Debates have already been held this year, covering migration and immigration, the role of arts and culture in intercultural dialogue, inter-religious dialogue, active citizenship and intercultural dialogue in the workplace, multilingualism and the role of education. (…)


Culture Programme conference, 12 December - Culture in motion

5 November - On 12 December the first Culture Programme conference to focus on presenting past and on-going project results (Culture 2000 and Culture Programmes) will take place in Brussels. The aim of the event is to enable exchange of experience and good practice between cultural operators. The aim of the event is to enable exchange of experience and good practice between cultural operators. It will help show the synergies between the Culture Programme and the European Agenda for Culture adopted by the Commission and Member States last year. (…)


Universal Children’s Day - 20 November 

By resolution 836(IX) of 14 December 1954, the General Assembly recommended that all countries institute a Universal Children’s Day, to be observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children. It recommended that the Day was to be observed also as a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world. The Assembly suggested to governments that the Day be observed on the date and in the way which each considers appropriate. The date 20 November, marks the day on which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.

In 2000 world leaders outlined Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015. Though the Goals are for all humankind, they are primarily about children. UNICEF notes that six of the eight goals relate directly to children and meeting the last two will also make critical improvements in their lives. (MDGs, UNICEF.)


International Day for Tolerance - 16 November

In 1996, the General Assembly invited Member States to observe the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November, with activities directed towards both educational establishments and the wider public (resolution 51/95 of 12 December). (…)

On the day of its fiftieth anniversary, 16 November 1995, UNESCO’s Member States adopted a Declaration of Principles on Tolerance. Among other things, the Declaration affirms that tolerance is neither indulgence nor indifference. It is respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance recognizes the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. People are naturally diverse; only tolerance can ensure the survival of mixed communities in every region of the globe. (...) Fighting intolerance requires law, education, access to information, individual awareness, local solutions.


UNICRI and Terra Madre: Promoting the UN Millennium Developments Goals and the rule of law

“We are [also] called upon to show greater understanding - that the world we live in is highly interdependent and that our interests are deeply interconnected with all others. We cannot stand alone”. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Turin, Italy, 23-27 October - One of the most important international events organized in Turin is Terra Madre, a world meeting of communities, which takes place every two years. The network of communities created around the world is guided by crucial principles such as the safeguard of the environment, of food and agricultural biodiversity, the protection of the dignity of workers and of the health of consumers. Respect for local cultures and for traditional products are other essential principles of this worldwide network.

This worldwide movement embodies best practices in the field of development and international cooperation by adopting a subsidiarity approach. It has created an in-depth dialogue with developing countries, provides market access and is a source of pride for thousands of farmers. This experience contributes to reducing the vulnerability of people to crime by enhancing local cultures and productions and the principles of social justice and development. (...)




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Next issue: 5 December 2008.



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Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next. Past issues are available at . Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph.D. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti, Maria Grazia Da Damos, Elisa Peduto, Azzurra Cianchetta. Editorial Secretary: Maria Grazia Da Damos.

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