Good News Agency – Year IX, n° 6



Weekly - Year IX, number 6 – 25th April 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. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti (in charge) and Elisa Peduto. Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next.  It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of more than 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 




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation



Final countdown - Just weeks until the Disability Rights Convention becomes law

3 April - Ecuador has announced that they will ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on Thursday, April 3 2008, fulfilling the twenty ratifications necessary for the convention to enter into force within the next thirty days. Very soon, years of work on the part of Survivor Corps (formally Landmine Survivors Network) to bring governments and disability organizations together in support of the treaty will pay off. The most comprehensive human rights treaty ever negotiated, affecting the lives of 650 million people with disabilities worldwide, will become international law.

The Disability Rights Convention is hailed as one of the most progressive human rights documents ever created. It defines the equality, inclusion and full participation of people with disabilities in society, and respect for their dignity and autonomy, as universal human rights. The treaty was negotiated with an unprecedented level of involvement and influence from non-governmental organizations, including people with disabilities. It will serve as a beacon for people with disabilities everywhere, giving them the tools they need to successfully advocate for their rights.

Survivor Corps had a major role from the start. As Landmine Survivors Network (LSN), we co-founded and helped lead the International Disability Caucus of more than 90 organizations, ensuring that the voices of people with disabilities were represented throughout the negotiation process. Government delegations and organizations alike relied heavily on the expertise we gained through our participation in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and our ten years of work with survivors with disabilities. (…)


Law to strengthen mine ban enters into force in Jordan

The Kingdom of Jordan issued a royal decree on April 1, 2008, making the possession of anti-personnel landmines or explosive remnants of war illegal. This action strengthens the country’s commitment to the AP Mine Ban Treaty (Ottawa Treaty).

by Lois Carter Fay, Geary Cox and Anthony Morin James Madison University’s Mine Action Information Center

Following a royal decree on April 1, 2008, the 2008 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban became law in the Kingdom of Jordan. This new law represents a deepening of the government’s commitment to addressing the landmine problem in the Kingdom.

Jordan has been actively working to eradicate landmines and other explosive remnants of war since well before it signed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, commonly known at the Ottawa Convention, in 1998. The Convention was opened for signature in Ottawa, Canada, December 3, 1997, and since then, some 156 countries worldwide have signed on to become States Parties. For the full text of the Convention, visit the International Campaign to Ban Landmines’ website.

States Parties to the Ottawa Convention are obliged to make consistent progress toward eliminating the threat posed by landmines, and Jordan has been pursuing this goal since becoming a signatory. Toward that end, the government of Jordan created the National Committee for Demining and Rehabilitation in 2000 to direct policy for and supervise mine-action activities. The NCDR is chaired by HRH Prince Mired and it directs management and regulatory activities, as well as coordinates mine-action programs and supervises the implementation of best policies and procedures.



Human rights



Human Rights Commissioner to visit the Russian Federation

Strasbourg, 18 April - The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, will carry out a high-level assessment visit to the Russian Federation starting on Saturday 19 April.

Mr Hammarberg will travel to the North Caucasus region, including the Chechen Republic, where he will discuss a wide range of human rights issues with the Republican authorities, in particular the functioning of the police and the judiciary as well as the rights of vulnerable groups of people. Commissioner Hammarberg will also visit various institutions, including prisons, hospitals, centres of social assistance to families and children and an orphanage. (…)

The visit is part of the activities carried out in accordance with the Commissioner’s mandate to assess the implementation of human rights commitments by all Council of Europe member states.


OSCE media freedom representative launches guidebook on media self-regulation at Paris forum

Paris, 17 April - Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, presented a new OSCE publication on media self-regulation today at the Eurasia Regional Forum for Media Development.

Organized by Internews Europe in Paris, the event brought together some 130 representatives from inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations to reinforce and strengthen their co-operation in the field of media development.

"I hope that our guidebook will encourage the further development of media self-regulation, boost the quality segment of journalism and, thus, help improve social support for media freedom in the OSCE area," Haraszti said in his address to forum participants.

"Media quality should never be a prerequisite to media freedom. On the contrary, ethical journalism can only develop in an atmosphere of guaranteed freedom. Journalists' self-restraint must be preceded and accompanied by governmental self-restraint in handling of media," added Haraszti.

The guidebook is a compilation of questions and answers on the topic of media self-regulation, with renowned international experts and practitioners contributing. The publication has been financed by the Governments of France, Germany and Ireland.

The Media Self-Regulation Guidebook is available in English, French and Russian from the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and is online at:


Cambodian campaigner wins World Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child

by Jim McDonnell

Stockholm, 16 April (WCPRC/SIGNIS) - Somaly Mam of Cambodia, who has campaigned against trafficking and child prostitution, has been named winner of the World’s Children’s Prize. She was chosen by a jury of children from 17 countries, who have been slaves, child soldiers, street children and refugees.

The prize is given by the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child (WCPRC), which is supported by 17 million children in 37,000 schools in 92 countries.

Somaly Mam also won the Global Friends’ Award which is the result of 6.6 million children across the world. Somaly Mam was subjected to abuse as a child and sold as a sex slave. She now fights to liberate girls in Cambodia from sex slavery, and rehabilitate and educate them. (…)

The World’s Children’s Honorary Awards went to Josefina Condori, Peru, and Agnes Stevens, USA. Josefina Condon works on behalf of hundreds of thousands of maids in an almost feudal system in Peru, and Agnes Stevens works for homeless children in the USA, where one million children are homeless. This year’s prize ceremony will be held on 18 April at Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, in the presence of Queen Silvia of Sweden.

Over 450 organisations, departments of education and media projects for young people all over the world support and co-operate with the WCPRC. More than 35,000 teachers contribute to the work of the WCPRC. The prize magazine The Globe and the prize website,   are produced in 10 languages and read by over 10 million young people.


Council of Europe film prize to be awarded at the end of the Istanbul film festival on 19 April

Strasbourg, 14 April - The second Film Award of the Council of Europe (FACE) will be awarded during the closing ceremony of the 27th international film festival (5-20 April) in Istanbul (…) The jury of the festival’s human rights section will reward the director whose film best raises public awareness and interest in human rights issues. 

This year, ten films are competing in the human rights section (for further details see Both documentaries and feature films are eligible for the prize. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, will present the prize - which consists of a bronze sculpture and a cash prize of 10 000 euros - on behalf of Secretary General Terry Davis. (…)

The Council of Europe, which is a separate body from the European Union and includes 47 European countries, is well known as the organisation which runs Eurimages, the body which supports and funds co-production, distribution and exhibition of European cinematographic works. (…) The decision to set up the FACE award is a reflection of the Council of Europe’s commitment to both cinema and cultural diversity, and a recognition of the contribution the world of cinema can play in developing human rights worldwide.

The FACE award is an annual collaboration between the International Istanbul Film Festival and the Council of Europe. Further information is available at or


Azerbaijan: new agreement aims to shed light on fate of missing

Geneva/Baku, 14 April - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the government of the Republic of Azerbaijan have signed an important new agreement to help clarify the fate of thousands of people who went missing during the Nagorny Karabakh conflict.

“Fourteen years have gone by since the ceasefire was announced between Armenia and Azerbaijan, yet it remains unclear what happened to over 4,000 people who are still missing,” said the head of the ICRC’s delegation in Azerbaijan, Martin Amacher. “Without news about the fate of their loved ones, these families will continue to remain stuck between hope and despair. It’s a source of endless pain for them.”

The Framework Agreement on Missing Persons in Relation to the Nagorny Karabakh Conflict will enable detailed data to be collected from the families of missing persons. The aim is to help identify their missing relatives. The data will be collected by trained volunteers from the Red Crescent Society of Azerbaijan and will then be handed over to the authorities to assist with future identifications.

The agreement was signed on 14 April by Mr Amacher and Eldar Makhmudov, Azerbaijan’s minister of national security and chairman of the State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons, the body mandated to deal with this issue. (...)



Economy and development



Saudi Arabia’s announcement of US$50 million contribution to the 8th Replenishment of IFAD’s Resources welcomed by IFAD President, Lennart Båge

Rome, 23 April - The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today announced its contribution of US$50 million to the 8th Replenishment of IFAD’s resources. The Kingdom became the first IFAD Member State to pledge resources to this Replenishment. (…)

Welcoming the announcement, IFAD President, Lennart Båge, expressed his “gratitude to His Majesty King Abdullah Bin AbdulAziz Al-Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, for this gesture of strong support to IFAD’s mission to increase food production through higher investment in agriculture in developing countries, particularly in the context of meeting the challenge of the present global food crisis.” 

In light of these new challenges and the need to meet the Millennium Development Goals, IFAD is reviewing its programme of work for the period 2010-12 and assessing its financial requirements in consultation with Member States. The Fund is proposing to increase its programme of work up to USD 3 billion to help meet new demands and increase its impact on food availability and the livelihoods of poor rural people.

Båge expressed the “hope that Saudi Arabia’s increase of contribution will inspire IFAD’s Member States to consider increasing their contributions.”

With its new contribution pledge, Saudi Arabia’s total pledged contributions to IFAD’s resource since the agency’s establishment in 1977, amounts to US$440 million.

At the same Replenishment session, Bangladesh became the second IFAD Member State to announce its contribution, that of US$600,000. 

Hot links: The replenishment process   Contact information:  Farhana Haque-Rahman, Chief, Media Relations, Special Events and Programmes


Warning system roots out hazardous consumer products

No hiding place in EU for dangerous goods on EU shelves. Annual report on Rapex early warning system reveals big increase in hazards detected.

17 April - European consumers are better protected from dangerous products than ever before: the number of unsafe products reported and withdrawn from the market in 2007 was 53% up on 2006. The annual Rapex report (out on 17 April) shows Commission efforts since last summer’s toy recalls are paying off.

Among several improvements, the Commission is now working more closely with China - still the source of more than half of all reported products. The Chinese authorities are now using a new tracking system to trace goods reported via the Rapex system.

The EU is also tightening the rules on product safety. After a review in September 2007, it put forward a number of proposals on:

  • safer toys (January 2008)
  • modernising the EU market (package to come into force in 2009)
  • magnetic toys - will have to carry a warning label on potential dangers. (…)


Caritas signs up to women and development pledge

16 April - Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight has signed up to a pledge with other dignitaries from around the world aimed at ending poverty among women. The Caritas Secretary General was attending a meeting of the Women, Faith, and Development Alliance in Washington, 13 April and signed up to the pledge on behalf of the 162 national Catholic charities she represents.

United Nations statistics show that women account for 70 percent of the world’s poor; that women are owners of just one percent of the world’s titled land; and that two-thirds of the world’s illiterate people are women.

The Women, Faith and Development Alliance received more than $1 billion in financial commitments. The alliance aims to boost the economic status of women and fight for the changes that will make such improvements possible. Among those taking part in the initiative are Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Queen Noor of Jordan, former Irish President Mary Robinson, and former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell. (…)

Caritas Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight said, “Women and girls are at the centre of efforts to end poverty. They are the majority of the world’s poor. Caritas is fully behind efforts seeking to increase resources for the advancement of women. (…)


Uganda: Sustainable-livelihood projects to benefit 40,000 in the north

Kampala, 11 April - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is launching sustainable-livelihood projects that will benefit up to 40,000 internally displaced people and returnees in their home areas in northern Uganda.

Its economic-security activities for war-affected people in Acholi districts are being adapted to fit evolving needs. Also, the ICRC’s new cash-for-work and income-generating schemes will complement its large-scale seed distribution programmes, which came to an end in March 2008.

Households participating in the cash-for-work scheme will carry out projects chosen by their own communities, such as opening up land for cultivation and restoring infrastructure.

On the completion of a project, participants will be paid in cash, at local rates. When people return home, they face a number of important challenges: for instance, limited income-earning opportunities and having to prepare land that has lain fallow for many years (as well as the competing claims of other essential tasks). (...) The sustainable-livelihood projects will also benefit the most vulnerable households - such as those headed by children, the elderly and the physically disabled - since the participants will be opening up land for them.

The cash-for-work projects will complement an income-generating scheme for vulnerable families. Groups of households will be provided with, for instance, irrigation pumps, brick presses and oil presses to enable them to increase their income. (...) The ICRC, through its various water, sanitation and health programmes, is striving to improve living conditions for over 500,000 people - the internally displaced in their camps and returnees in their home areas in Acholi districts.


International Federation launches new five-year food security strategy in Africa focussing on long-term investments

10 April - Investing in long-term food security projects in Africa is key to fight some of the root causes of hunger and malnutrition, says the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as it launches a new five-year strategy to scale up food security programmes in 15 African countries. The new plan, announced today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will be financed through an appeal for 45 million Swiss francs (US$ 43.5 million / € 28.5 million) over the next five years. The funds will be used to assist some 2.25 million people, or nearly half a million families.

More than 80 per cent of this budget will go directly to country level programming. It includes improving the capacities of National Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to further develop food security programmes such as sustainable farming (including activities such as the use of appropriate technologies, seed banks and soil nutrient management), microfinance projects, small-scale irrigation schemes and the establishment of community-based food security monitoring systems. (…) To increase their efficiency, long-term food security programmes will be integrated with existing community-based healthcare projects – especially HIV - and water and sanitation programmes. (…)

Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Burkina-Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda and Zambia are participating in the programme.


ACDI/VOCA conducts value chain workshop in Ecuador

April 10 - ACDI/VOCA’s Local Business Development Program - Programa de Desarrollo de Empresas Locales (PRODEL), as it is known locally - in collaboration with the Academy for Education Development (AED), organized and conducted a value chain workshop in Quito, Ecuador, March 26-28. This workshop, facilitated by Dr. Elizabeth Dunn of Impact LLC, brought together 35 participants made up of PRODEL program staff, USAID/Ecuador, Plan Ecuador (USAID’s Ecuadorian counterpart) and implementing private sector partners to discuss the value chain approach and its practical applications for the PRODEL project.

The workshop was based on value chain training curriculum developed by ACDI/VOCA for USAID under the Accelerated Microenterprise Advancement Project-Business Development Services (AMAP BDS) project. Participants discussed key concepts, tools and guidelines for value chain development, including strategies for addressing bottlenecks, promoting private-sector ownership of the competitiveness process and catalyzing improved performance. The training prepared PRODEL staff to better implement key components of the project, including firm selection, identification of constraints and opportunities for sustainable growth, and development of strategic and individual assistance packages for firms.

ACDI/VOCA is a leader in value chain approaches to development and helps to increase incomes in poor communities and promote economic growth by enhancing performance and thereby competitiveness of micro and small enterprises. To learn more about value chain training, click here.


Africa recorded a high growth rate in 2007 and growth is projected to remain high in 2008, according to ECA

Addis Ababa, 1 April - African economies are forecast to grow by an average of 6.2% in 2008, according to the latest edition of the Economic Report on Africa (ERA 2008), the annual joint flagship publication of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union (AU), launched today. The report, titled “Africa and the Monterrey Consensus: Tracking Performance and Progress”, notes that African economies continued to sustain the growth momentum of previous years, recording an overall real GDP growth rate of 5.8% in 2007. Although 30 countries recorded higher economic growth rates in 2007 than 2006, growth performance varied substantially across countries and regions. The report also notes that economic growth recovery in Africa has not yet translated into meaningful social development and has not benefited vulnerable groups.

Africa's growth performance was driven mainly by robust global demand and high commodity prices. Other growth factors in Africa include continued consolidation of macroeconomic stability and improving macroeconomic management, greater commitment to economic reforms, increased private capital flows, debt relief and increasing non-fuel exports. Africa has also witnessed a decline in political conflicts and wars, especially in West and Central Africa, though peace remains fragile in some parts of the continent.  (...) 


Indigenous peoples assistance facility

2008 Call for grant applications from indigenous peoples’ organizations and their communities

The Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility invites applications from indigenous peoples’ organizations and communities, as well as organizations that work with them, for grants to fund projects, innovative approaches and partnerships that promote the development of indigenous peoples and help them fulfil their aspirations.  Grants range from US$10,000 to US$30,000. Applicants must meet specific requirements and their proposals should respond to the needs of indigenous peoples in any of IFAD’s Member States.

A panel made up primarily of indigenous members will work closely with IFAD staff to review proposals and make final recommendations on grant awards. The panel will review grant proposals on the basis of project relevance, feasibility and institutional capacity and make final recommendations on awards.  Activities likely to be considered for funding will build on indigenous culture, identity, knowledge, natural resources, intellectual property and human rights. Projects should improve indigenous peoples’ access to decision-making processes, empower indigenous peoples to find solutions to the challenges they face and promote collaboration in the public and private sectors. Over the years IFAD has learned that entrusting direct management of resources and funds to indigenous communities and their institutions is an effective way to build capacity, self-determined development and ownership of programmes and projects. (…)






A billion dollars raised for gender equality and poverty reduction 

70% of the world’s poorest are women.

Washington, DC, April 20 - A unique partnership of internationally focused development, faith and women’s organizations announced it had raised a billion dollars for investing in women and girls around the world as a key strategy for ending global poverty.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu criticized organized religion for “failing to champion the cause of women and girls,” adding that religion has “too often been used to oppress women.” Speaking by video to a packed congregation at the huge National Cathedral in Washington DC, the Nobel Peace Laureate said religious leaders had “too often not named or failed to condemn” such discriminatory practices as child marriage, female genital mutilation and violence against women.

The former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, said the Breakthrough Summit: Women, Faith and Development Alliance, was a “call to action” to fully integrate gender equality and ensure the needs and outcomes for both men and women are incorporated in policies, practice, programs and legislation. Robinson, the former UN human rights chief, added the alliance wanted to enable countries to meet the third Millennium Development Goal of gender equality.

Some 70 organizations have committed to providing a billion dollars worth of funded programs in support of gender equality and poverty reduction. InterAction – which comprises more than 160 of the leading US development and humanitarian organizations – Women’s Edge and Religions for Peace are the founding partners of the alliance with the Washington National Cathedral. (…)

With more than 150 members, the Leadership Council includes former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, Africare, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Children’s Defense Fund, Christian Children’s Fund, Counterpart International, Grameen Bank, Islamic Call Society, NOW, Rockefeller Foundation, Save the Children, UNFPA, The Union for Reform Judaism, United Way, World Bank, World Council of Churches, World Vision, and other key players in the international community.


Costa Rican children score a goal against adversity

San José, Costa Rica, 17 April - Under the theme ‘A goal against adversity’, 180 poor adolescents from all over the country met in the National Stadium of Costa Rica to participate in the Second Presidential Delegates Tournament. The event was held to promote child and adolescent rights, especially for children who are victims of abuse and exclusion. The tournament was dedicated to Costa Rica’s President, Dr. Oscar Arias Sánchez, who inaugurated the tournament with an inspiring speech. “Only through continuing your education in secondary school and university will you be able to become extraordinary professionals, and score a goal against a lack of education,” said President Arias. “Only through continuing to play as a team, with all your family and friends, with all your hopes and dreams, will you be able to win, as they say ‘by a landslide.” (…) “Football isn’t just for guys,” said Deysha Guzmán, a footballer from Limón. “We girls are talented, capable and experienced players, too. What we need is a chance to play.” The youths said that they love playing football and that it keeps them from getting involved in risky activities. (…) “UNICEF Costa Rica is developing activities that use sports to promote child rights, and the right to play as a universal right, as well as an essential part of the integrated development of children,” said UNICEF Representative in Costa Rica Seija Toro. (…) “Sports can change the future of people as well as countries,” said UNICEF Costa Rica Programme Officer Rigoberto Astorga. “Through this initiative, Costa Rica continues to show that sports and prevention are the most effective strategies to promote child rights and to deal with violence affecting our children and society.”


Professional football against hunger

The power of football, a key tool for advocacy

Lisbon/Rome, 14 April - The UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Association of the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) today signed in Lisbon (Portugal) a cooperation agreement to promote a series of initiatives aimed at sensitizing the public on issues related to food security and the fight against hunger. (…)

The EPFL CEO, Emmanuel Macedo de Medeiros, assured that the European professional soccer leagues are proud to cooperate with FAO: "We have 862 million reasons to correspond to FAO’s invitation for partnership." (…) These initiatives, in the framework of World Food Day and TeleFood activities, will draw attention to the plight of 860 million people suffering from hunger in the world and will raise funds to support FAO micro-projects designed to help families and poor communities to produce their own food. With this strategy, the two organisations hope that football will become a tool for advocacy with the ultimate goal of improving living conditions for the world’s poorest people and a means to mobilize resources in the fight against global hunger.


Empress Shôken Fund supporting projects all over the world

11 April - In 2008, the Empress Shôken Fund will grant nearly 470,000 Swiss francs ($463,000 USD/€295,600) to 11 projects carried out by Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the globe. A special emphasis is being placed on African initiatives, which will receive around a third of this year’s grants. The awarded projects focus on a range of themes including humanitarian values in Mozambique, youth development in Argentina, human trafficking in Lithuania, disaster preparedness in Benin and India and first aid in Syria and South Africa. Others include social services in Cape Verde, and building capacity to respond to emergencies in Fiji and Lebanon through updating equipment and providing training.

The Empress Shôken Fund was established in 1912 by Her Majesty the Empress of Japan to support Red Cross Red Crescent activities worldwide. Since then, it has grown thanks to contributions from the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Imperial Family. (…)


Toys bring hope to children, troops overseas

by Aretha Fouch Price

Rotary International News, 9 April - Rotarian Jack Ham has collected close to 75 Beanie Babies over the years, and was ready to part with his furry little friends, including his favorite, Wilbur, a plush, pink pig he was attached to because of Ham’s last name. He wanted to give the stuffed animals to children who had limited or no access to toys. Ham, a member of the Rotary Club of Houghton, Michigan, USA, shared his desire to donate his collection with fellow club member Lieutenant Colonel Dallas L. Eubanks. Together, they came up with an idea of sending small stuffed toys to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to distribute to local children.

Eubanks says giving gifts to the youth overseas has a positive impact on the children as well as the soldiers, which he experienced during his tour of duty in Iraq in 2003-04. “It helps us bridge the gap with them, and it helps the soldiers feel like there is hope for tomorrow,” says Eubanks. “These gifts show the children that we are not all bad guys with guns and bullets.”

Ham and Eubanks presented the idea to their club and District 6220 (Michigan, USA) in May and within nine months, the club had collected more than 4,200 stuffed animals from around the country. Eubanks says the gifts bring smiles to the children’s faces and hopes the items will help ease tensions between the troops and local families.

The project grew well above what the club anticipated. “We thought we would receive about 500 to 600 stuffed animals,” Eubanks says.

Hundreds of toys too large to ship overseas were sent to orphanages in Mexico, delivered to nursing homes in Michigan, and given to local children. (…)


Caritas Bolivia celebrates 50 years of fighting poverty and social injustice

Caritas Internationalis is sending its tributes to member organization Caritas Bolivia as it marks 50 years of working with the most marginalised in the country.

7 April - Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organisation of 162 Catholic national charities, says that Caritas Bolivia has played an important role in combating poverty in its own country and in contributing to the work of the global network.

Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley Anne Knight said, “Congratulations to Caritas Bolivia on its 50th anniversary.  The staff of Caritas Bolivia has provided exceptional service to the poor that has been recognised both nationally and internationally, and most significantly by the poor in Bolivia itself. May their next 50 years be just as productive and worthwhile.

Caritas Bolivia held commemorative events 5-6 April throughout the country, with guests from Argentina, Antilles, Brazil, Mexico, and Europe who will join the Bishops of Bolivia in thanksgiving for these 50 years of social and pastoral service. (…)


ACT development in Malawi

6 April - The ACT Development meeting took place on a small conference centre in Lilongwe, Malawi. It was a historical moment for the ecumenical family.

Around the table, a variety of organisations were present: CHAM, who provides half of all health services in Malawi and helps thousands of sick and poor people every day; There were organisations like CARD, CCAP and ELDS who provide assistance to hundreds of villages - helping poor farmers to food security. There were organisations, who provide relief and assistance, when the more and more frequent floods and droughts hits in various places of the country with negative impacts on millions of people. And then there were church-based agencies from Europe and Canada.

Together they decided to form ACT Development in Malawi - the first forum in Africa with local and international church-based organisations working with long-term development. ACT Malawi shall ensure larger efficiency, greater visibility, stronger fundraising capacity, and last but most importantly an improved effort to combat poverty and insecurity. (…)


Sudan finishes its stockpile destruction just in time!

Author(s): Alessandro Palmoso

1 April - On 31 March, the Republic of Sudan finished destroying its antipersonnel mine stockpile, just ahead of its 1 April 2008 deadline under Article 4 of the Mine Ban Treaty. A final destruction ceremony took place in Juba, Southern Sudan and was attended by around 150 participants, including representatives of the Government of South Sudan, the Government of National Unity (GONU), the UN, the ICRC, representatives of the diplomatic community, the Sudan Campaign to Ban Landmines, and other NGOs.

Sudan’s stockpile destruction took place in two phases. The GONU first destroyed a total of 4,488 antipersonnel mineson 30 April 2007 in Khartoum. The 31 March ceremony in Juba saw the destruction of the Government of Southern Sudan/Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) stock of 6,078 antipersonnel mines, plus 109 anti-vehicle mines. Originally, the SPLA had declared a total of 5,000 antipersonnel mines. However, when gathering the mines for destruction, the SPLA found additional mines, which were subsequently brought to Juba for destruction. (…)



Peace and security



UN mine service considers new ways to clear land more effectively

17 April - The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) says it is considering the introduction of new and more efficient methods of checking land for mines that could drastically speed up the clearance of land in mine-affected regions for use by local communities.

Deminers currently use detectors to comb all land suspected of being hazardous, even when there is no credible evidence of landmines in the area. This process can be so slow that many countries affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war struggle to reach their targets of clearing land. But John Flanagan, the officer-in-charge of UNMAS in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), yesterday told a conference on demining in Sibenik, Croatia, that a review of standard procedures would allow mine clearance equipment to be focused more on areas that actually do contain mines and explosive hazards. (...)

A recent report by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining found that “general assessments and landmine impact surveys often overestimate the extent of land actually affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war.”

Under the new procedures, landmine experts would consider a range of indicators before determining whether to send deminers into a suspected hazardous area. (…)


German donation for AMCO/DCA activities in Albania

1 April - Federal Republic of Germany has again supported the activities of the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victim Assistance (ITF). The donation agreement was signed today at the Embassy of FR Germany in Ljubljana, by Ambassador dr. Hans-Joachim Goetz and ITF Director Mr. Goran Gačnik. The donation in the amount of EUR 339.209,59 is earmarked for demining activities in Albania. Germany is one of the most regular donor countries and has contributed on a yearly basis to ITF ever since ITF’s inception in 1998. Donations from Germany to ITF now amount to over 17 million EUR. Donations were earmarked for demining activities in South East Europe, namely in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia and Albania.

Ongoing implementation of demining strategy in Albania, since year 2000, remains one of the crucial conditions for reconstruction and socio-economic development of Northern Albania. The most recent donation from Germany is intended for a successful continuation of 2008 demining season, which is being carried out by the Albanian Mine Clearance Organization and aided by the international NGO Danish Church Aid (AMCO/DCA). (…)


Strong landmark African declaration to ban cluster bombs - only South Africa calls for

by Site Admin

Livingstone (Zambia), 1 April - At the conclusion of the first ever meeting of African countries on cluster bombs, 38 out of 39 countries attending the meeting endorsed a strong political “Livingstone Declaration”, committing them to negotiating a global ban on the weapons in Dublin next month. Only South Africa, one of the continent’s two producer states, called for exceptions to the ban. (…)

Governments from 39 countries in Africa discussed the most controversial topics to be resolved during the forthcoming two week diplomatic negotiation in Dublin from 19-30 May. African governments highlighted the definition of cluster munitions as the most critical issue for negotiation. Over the two day conference governments voiced widespread support for a broad definition that would not allow for exceptions based on so-called ‘technical fixes’ and on the need for far reaching humanitarian provisions for affected communities, including support for victims and clearance of their land. The Livingstone Declaration sets out the African context and priorities for the new treaty and formally commits endorsing states to negotiate the new treaty in Dublin to ban cluster bombs. (…)






MSF welcomes new fixed-dose combination against malaria

Developed through a partnership between DNDi and Farmanguinhos, ASMQ combines artesunate (AS) and mefloquine (MQ) in one fixed dose.

Rio de Janeiro, 17 April - Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) welcomes the launch in Brazil of a new drug against P. Falciparum, the most dangerous type of malaria. Developed by DNDi (Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative) in partnership with Farmanguinhos/Fiocruz, ASMQ is the first drug against malaria that combines artesunate (AS) and mefloquine (MQ) in one fixed dose. ASMQ is an important additional tool for better treatment for a disease that continues to kill over one million people each year globally, and kills a child every 30 seconds.

In 2006, MSF treated 1.8 million people for malaria in its projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

By combining two active pharmaceutical ingredients in one single pill, ASMQ greatly improves the treatment against malaria, both for adults and children. Advantages include multiple paediatric formulations, a reduced pill count, only three days of treatment, an at-cost price, and durability in hot climates, with no need for refrigeration. (…)

Governments meeting in ten days for important negotiations at the World Health Organization will consider further alternative R&D models addressing this link, and that can encourage the development of medicines that respond to the needs, and are priced within the reach, of patients and governments in developing countries.


Key Indian state turns the tide against polio

by Dan Nixon

Rotary International News, 11 April  - (…) Eighty percent of Uttar Pradesh’s 339 polio cases occurred in the Muslim community in 2007. But a Rotary-led initiative helped drop that rate to 30 percent of 20 cases during the first three months of 2008.

Overseeing the state’s effort to end polio is the Ulema Committee for Polio Eradication, established by Rotary International in July 2007. (Ulemas are leading Muslim legal experts in Islamic law.) (…) “The ulemas have done a remarkable job in making the polio program acceptable to hitherto ignorant Muslim parents,” said RI Director Ashok Mahajan, chair of the committee, at a meeting of the executive committee in January. “We want to spread the message of good health through the Ulemas, who are so much revered in the Muslim community.”

 “Misconceptions and rumors that were widespread in the community against polio have almost been removed, due to the efforts of the Ulema committee, and we will continue with our efforts until polio is eradicated,” said committee member Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali, president of the Ulema Council of India. “Our religion is not against immunization. Even the Saudi Arabian government has issued a directive that pilgrims visiting Mecca and Medina along with their children should carry polio vaccination certificates.”

In February, The Rotary Foundation awarded US$5.65 million to the World Health Organization and UNICEF for social mobilization activities and operational support focused on more than 4,300 high-risk communities in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The Foundation disbursed the funds from the $100 million challenge grant for polio eradication it had received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (…)


World Health Day 2008 - Infant mortality drops almost 50% in Brazilian city

The community and State of Ceará, in Brazil, have undertaken an innovative and effective social strategy called the "Four-leaf Clover" that has significantly diminished maternal infant mortality rates.

7 April - Within the framework of World Health Day, the Brazilian programme "Four-leaf Clover" won first place in the third cycle of the "Experiences in Social Innovation" contest 2006-2007, organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Since it began in 2001, the innovative social programme has increased prenatal care rates and lowered the infant mortality rate from 29.7 to 16.2 per 1,000 live births in 2006, a 48.1% drop. That same year, the programme provided care for 1,148 families at an annual cost of US$ 175 each.

The goal of the "Four-leaf Clover" strategy devised by the Sobral city Health and Social Action Department, in the State of Ceará, Brazil, is to reduce maternal-infant mortality. The programme assists families at clinical and social risk by reorganizing health care for mothers and children during four vital stages: prenatal, birth, puerperium and neonatal.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, every year almost 530,000 women die during pregnancy or delivery, over three million children are stillborn, more than four million newborns die within the first few days or weeks of life, and a total of 10.6 million children die before age 5. Within this scenario, "Four-leaf Clover" is an example of how to effectively resolve a problem affecting low and medium-income countries, and particularly the poorest, and coincides with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, two of which are to drastically improve the health of mothers and children before 2015. (…)


Polio eradication in India - April communication update

4 April - With less than 100 days to go before the onset of rains, detailed plans are being laid out by polio eradication partners in India for accessing families not regularly reached because of geographic isolation, flooding and mobile settlements along Bihar’s many riverbanks. One of the fundamentals of the strategy is getting microplans updated, especially where districts intersect – such as riverine areas. It is not uncommon for certain areas to get cut off from the rest of the district during monsoon months and have to be approached from a neighbouring district. When flood water recedes, leaving a rich topsoil, communities also spring up overnight. Therefore, a grid approach is now being used to plan, implement and monitor the programme in this sensitive area. This premise will also guide the communication and social mobilization component of the programme within this area.


HKI and partners to eliminate neglected tropical diseases in Sierra Leone

Freetown, Sierra Leone, 28 March - Over 2 million people in 60% of the communities in Sierra Leone suffer from debilitating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) (…) Helen Keller International (HKI) in collaboration with the Neglected Tropical Disease Task Force and the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) recently received a 3.5 million USD three-year grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement an integrated program for NTD control in Sierra Leone. HKI, along with partners PLAN, Sightsavers International, the University of Sierra Leone and WHO, will provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MHS) through the National Onchocerciasis Control Program (NOCP). (…) HKI and its partners will also work with the African Program for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC), the drug company Merck & Co., Inc. and the World Bank to expand NTD control to communities currently not covered by the onchocerciasis program.

Using the community directed approach that has already been proven successful in controlling onchocerciasis, HKI will identify and train community volunteers to integrate NTD control into existing health structures and delivery systems; the objective is to make distribution of the drugs and treatment both cost-effective and self-sustainable. HKI will also provide training and education to communities about NTD control, develop communication tools and strategies, and enable free drug distribution (albendazole for lymphatic filariasis and soil transmitted helminthes, and praziquantel for schistosomiasis) to the affected communities. (…)


WHO welcomes Noguchi awards for service to public health

Geneva, 28 March - Too often the sacrifices of people working in global public health go unrecognized, but not in this case. WHO welcomes the announcement that the Government of Japan is awarding the first Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize for service to global public health. The two recipients of the prize are Brian Greenwood, Professor of Clinical Tropical Medicine at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and distinguished innovator in malaria research; and Miriam K. Were, an AIDS specialist performing ground-breaking community-based work in East Africa.  "Awards such as these honour excellence and dedication," said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. "But they also draw attention to the importance of improving health in Africa and this is a top priority for WHO. I am delighted to congratulate the Government of Japan for this award which will hopefully ignite the imaginations and give courage to others to join in this vital work." Dr Were has been recognized for working all her life to deliver basic health services to the people of Africa at the local level, including her contribution to the AIDS fight. As chairperson of Kenya's National AIDS Control Council, Dr Were has provided critical leadership which has contributed to both a reduction in HIV prevalence and AIDS-related mortality. (…)



Energy and safety



Renewable energy holds promising future in India

by Anupam Tyagi, Indian Correspondent

Ghaziabad, India, 18 April - According to the 11th New and Renewable Energy five-year plan recently proposed by the government of India, from 2008-2012 the renewable energy market in India will reach an estimated US $19 billion. Investments of US $15 billion will be required in order to add the approximately 15,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to the present installed capacity. The government of India has planned a subsidy support system of approximately US $1 billion in government funds. This amounts to adding renewable energy capacity at 1 Watt per US $1, with potential subsidy support of US $0.07/Watt.

The Indian government has also set specific targets for renewable energy: by 2012 it expects renewable energy to contribute 10% of total power generation capacity and have a 4-5% share in the electricity mix. This implies that growth in renewable energy will occur at a much faster pace than traditional power generation, with renewables making up 20% of the 70,000 MW of total additional energy planned from 2008-2012. (...)


Urban sustainability: a force for change

by Stephen Lacey, Staff Writer

New Hampshire, USAs), 16 April - Over the last 50 years urban populations have exploded, causing a slew of environmental and social problems. However, many community planners see the world's urbanization not as a threat, but as a powerful force for addressing climate change and building a sustainable future.

The United Nations projects that sometime this year over 50% of the world's population will be living in cities. That's an increase of roughly 2.5 billion people since 1950. By 2020, the UN projects that 5 billion people will be living in cities. As this rapid urbanization continues, especially in developing countries such as China, India and Brazil, urban planners are trying to help cities become more environmentally and economically sustainable. (...)

"Certainly the city, if it is reconfigured in the right way, could become a very sustainable habitat for humanity," says Herbert Girardet, director of programs at the World Future Council and an expert on sustainable cities. "But we need radical new departures in urban planning and priorities for urban authorities for the city to ultimately become the solution." (…)

The eco-city of Dongtan may be the place where this change begins. Girardet is senior advisor to the project, which will be located on Congming Island in Shanghai Province. The city will integrate the most important aspects of sustainable design into its layout: small villages connected by bicycle paths, a robust public transportation system, a network of distributed renewable energy systems, local farming and a method to recycle all waste output. The idea, says Girardet, is to create a zero-waste city with a "circular metabolism."


Pure Power on the horizon - More than one third of the EU's new electricity generating capacity will be wind power

16 April - In its latest report entitled "Pure Power - Wind Energy Scenarios up to 2030", the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) outlines the road towards large-scale wind energy. Presenting three development scenarios for 2010, 2020 and 2030, the report examines in detail the probable impact on electricity, greenhouse gas emissions and the EU economy. It confirms the positive prospects of a technology that last year became the leader in terms of net power capacity additions in the EU. Wind power's share of new generating capacity is forecasted to be 34% in the period 2005-2020 and 46% in the decade leading up to 2030. Wind power's share of new capacity in Europe in the 25-year period 2005-2030 is 39%.

Wind power has experienced dramatic growth over the past years. It currently meets 3.7% of the EU electricity demand and has ranked second in terms of net power capacity additions over the last eight years. This strong development can be maintained, and further reinforced in the coming years, as long as the clear commitment from the European Union and its Member States continues. Swift adoption of the new EU Renewables Energy Directive by the European Parliament and the Council is the key to a strong future development.

Pure Power shows that the European Commission’s goal of increasing wind power's share up to 12-14% by 2020 is within reach. "On average, wind power capacity needs to increase by 9.5 GW per year over the next 13 years to reach 180 GW and meet 12-14% of EU power demand in 2020. This is certainly achievable considering that the EU wind energy capacity increased by 8.5 GW last year" commented Christian Kjaer, EWEA's Chief Executive. (...)[tt_news]=1315&tx_ttnews[backPid]=1&cHash=7c62923dfd



Environment and wildlife



Turtles to be climate change canaries

17 April - Just as canaries help miners monitor underground gases, marine turtles are emerging as excellent indicators of the effects of climate change. “Turtles are a really good way to study climate change because they depend on healthy beaches as well as mangroves, sea grass beds, coral reefs and deep ocean ecosystems to live”, said Dr. Lucy Hawkes, coordinator of an initiative to develop adaptation strategies for climate change impacts to turtles.

As part of the initiative, WWF launched a new website today, Adaptation to Climate Change in Marine Turtles (ACT).

“Understanding of how climate change may affect the beaches, the reef and the open ocean will not only benefit endangered sea turtle populations, but also the millions of people who live along the coastlines of the world and depend upon marine resources and environmental services.”

The public, educators, conservationists and scientists will be able to share information and projects to try to gain a better picture of how climate change will affect turtles and what might be done to combat the impacts. (…)


Indian rhinos on the move to a better future

Manas National Park, Assam, India, 16 April - After centuries of having their range contracted to the point of extinction, India’s rhinos are on the move outwards again. In a difficult operation, two male rhinos were taken back to a national park in Assam’s Himalayan foothills last weekend.

The return was an emotional moment for local residents, who lost their last rhinos a decade ago during a 20 year period of civil disturbance that wrecked infrastructure in the famed Manas National Park and allowed poachers free reign. (…)

It was an emotional moment too, for translocation organizers from WWF India and the government of the State of Assam, who saw the successful translocation as a successful launch to Indian Rhino Vision 2020, an ambitious plan to give India a population of 3000 rhinos, spread over seven Assam protected areas by 2020. (…)


GCI welcomes new family member: GC Uzbekistan

Green Cross International is pleased to announce the establishment of a national branch in Uzbekistan as of April 2008. For many years, the Republic of Uzbekistan has experienced a range of human and environmental catastrophes ranging from environmental degradation and resource scarcity to public health issues, mainly as a result of the deterioration and desertification of the Aral Sea water basins and industrial pollution. Green Cross Uzbekistan will strive to address these issues in accordance with the Green Cross mission to help ensure a just, sustainable and secure future for all.



Religion and spirituality



Addressing General Assembly, Pope stresses major UN role on raft of issue

Pope Benedict XVI arrives to speak at UN General Assembly Hall

18 April - Pope Benedict XVI today stressed the United Nations’ major role in seeking a better world as he highlighted, during an address to the General Assembly, the need to protect human rights, ensure development, security and reduce local and global inequalities.

“The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security,” he told the 192-member body in a half-hour speech that was greeted with a standing ovation. “Indeed, the victims of hardship and despair, whose human dignity is violated with impunity, become easy prey to the call to violence, and they can then become violators of peaces,” he added speaking in French and English.

Pope Benedict called the UN the embodiment of aspirations for a “greater degree of international ordering” in response to the needs of the human family. “This is all the more necessary at a time when we experience the obvious paradox of a multilateral consensus that continues to be in crisis because it is still subordinated to the decisions of a few, whereas the world’s problems call for interventions in the form of collective action by the international community,” he said.

Introducing the Pope, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim said the visit provided “a unique occasion to remind ourselves of our noble mission” to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours. (…)


Religious leaders fight global poverty by focusing on women and girls

$1.5 billion investments pledged by faith, women, and development communities at landmark global summit; Religions for Peace to help lead way forward

Washington, DC, 15 April - Leaders of different faiths in Religions for Peace, the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition, joined together with members of the international women’s and development communities to launch a new initiative that places women and girls at the center of the fight against global poverty.

An unprecedented US$1.5 billion in commitments to women’s and girls' issues was announced Sunday at the launch of the Woman, Faith, and Development Alliance (WFDA) at the Washington National Cathedral. At the “Breakthrough Summit,” visionaries and executives offered a historic look at the global needs of women and pledged support for the WFDA. Religions for Peace is a co-founder of the Alliance, along with the Cathedral’s Center for Global Justice and Reconciliation, Women Thrive Worldwide, and InterAction. (...)


Secretary General thanks Alexy II for promotion of religions' dialog at UN

Moscow, 10 April - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has supported the idea of the Russian Orthodox Church to promote dialog of religious leaders at the United Nations Organization. He expressed his gratitude and admiration of Patriarch Alexy II and other religious leaders for their role in the promotion of human rights and tolerance. Ban made the statement after the Thursday meeting with the patriarch at the St. Daniil's Monastery in Moscow. The interlocutors discussed ways to enhance the interaction between the UN and the Russian Orthodox Church in the dialog of world religions.

Alexy II voiced hope for further cooperation with the UN and said he was ready "to make a contribution to the UN's successful activity for the benefit of world peace." Ban affirmed the important role of religious leaders in the spiritual guidance of people. Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Kirill said the meeting also focused on ways to form an advisory council of world religions at the UN.


World Shift Day - May 18, 2008

The 3rd Timely Transformation Event of The Global Peace Meditation and Prayer Day , leading up to 2012: a call to unite our hearts as one in prayer and meditation for timely transformations

April 14 - World Shift Day will launch a 24 hour meditation and prayer marathon to encircle the globe starting with the Mt. Fuji event where over ten thousand people will gather in a ceremony for peace and the awakening of all humanity. The kick off event for World Shift Day will be The Symphony of Peace Prayers event taking place at the Mt. Fuji Sanctuary in Japan, May 18, ~ 10:00 am to 1:00 pm (Japan Time). Please click here for time conversion.

Link simultaneously with Mt. Fuji to launch World Shift Day or organize a meditation and prayer event to amplify the energies throughout the day. Participate as an individual, group or organization to collectively generate a worldwide energy field of  Pure Conscious Thought. Register so we can include you in the World Shift Day Circle of Friends. 



Culture and education



Intellectuals and Artists for Multilingualism and Cultural Diversity

This event, organised by the Observatoire Européen du Plurilinguisme in the framework of the UN International Year of Languages 2008, will be held at UNESCO headquarters.

Intellectuals and artists will be invited to express their views on the question of languages, multilingualism and linguistic and cultural diversity in the context of globalisation. 

"The prime expression of a people's genius is its language," said Stendhal.  Mr. Matsuura, UNESCO Director-General, speaking on the occasion of International Mother Language Day February 21 2008, said that "far from being a field reserved for analysis by specialists, languages lie at the heart of all social, economic and cultural life.  That is the meaning of the slogan launched by UNESCO for the International Year of Languages: “Languages matter!”  Each individual has a unique way of viewing the world, which, by its very singularity, contains a share of universality.  The same applies to languages and cultures, "[as] the challenge we must meet is, in reality, that of the irreplaceable nature of languages of culture, since each one effects a specific opening onto the human universal." (Heinz Wismann).

The event will include an on-line Visitors' Book, which can be consulted here. Intellectuals, writers, poets, philosophers, scientists, actors, film-makers, authors, composers, performers, painters, sculptors and artists the world over are invited to express themselves, in their own words, on the question of linguistic and cultural diversity through the Visitors' Book.

Further details regarding this event can be found on the websites of the OEP and Unesco.


World Book and Copyright Day

18 April - More than 100 countries will take part on 23 April in the 13th celebration of World Book and Copyright Day, proclaimed by UNESCO in 1996. Publishers, book shops, libraries, schools, cultural institutions and authors’ societies from all over the world have undertaken to celebrate the Day and promote the enduring importance of books.

In 2008, proclaimed International Year of Languages by the General Assembly of the United Nations, UNESCO wishes to emphasize the linguistic aspect of publishing: “When a language has no access to the world of publishing, it is excluded - together with those who speak it - from a significant part of the intellectual life and economic activity of society” declared the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura in a message on the occasion of this celebration. (…)

On 23 April, Amsterdam will succeed Bogotá as World Book Capital City, in keeping with an initiative launched by UNESCO in 2001. The Netherlands’ capital is planning to hold a wide range of events of international scope throughout the year including: conferences on copyright, scientific publishing, interculturality in literary creation, and children’s books. (…)


Indonesian cultural heritage takes center stage at WIPO supported event

Geneva, 17 April - As part of its efforts related to the protection of intangible cultural heritage, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has partnered with the Permanent Mission of Indonesia in Geneva, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG) to support a performance of the Wayang Shadow Puppet Theatre, an exquisite portrayal of Indonesia’s living heritage. 

Over 400 people attended the performance, rich in skill, symbolism and legend, which took place at the Palais des Nations, UNOG on April 15, 2008. The performance was provided by the Yayasan Redi Waluyo Foundation of Indonesia, including a seven year old puppeteer, with musical support from the Gamelan Kyai Gandrung of Geneva

Speaking at the opening of the exhibition, Mr. Francis Gurry, Deputy Director General of WIPO, noted that traditional cultural expressions are part of Indonesia’s intellectual and cultural assets, and directly convey precious cultural diversity.  The intellectual property system aims at establishing an environment in which musicians, artists and performers are able to obtain just remuneration and acknowledgement for their efforts while ensuring that the public is able to enjoy and benefit from their artistic genius. As intangible cultural heritage embodies rich and distinctive creativity in constant evolution, suitably balanced intellectual property measures can also contribute to its preservation, promotion and protection. (…)


CARE and Nike sponsor Kenyan girls soccer team visit to Atlanta

Kicking off their nationwide tour, the Kenyan team hosts a crash course clinic

17 April - CARE, the Atlanta-based humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, is partnering with Nike and the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), a self-help youth organization linking sports with environmental cleanups, AIDS prevention, leadership training and other community service activities involving approximately twenty thousand young people (Mathare is a collection of slums in Nairobi, Kenya with a population of approximately 500,000 people) to bring a soccer team of Kenyan girls to Atlanta and other US cities to meet and play against local girls soccer club. (…)

MYSA, which is located in the Mathare area of Kenya, one of Africa’s largest and poorest slums - uses sport as a youth development tool. Through the MYSA program, the Kenyan players are exposed to a comprehensive youth program that links sport with leadership training, AIDS prevention, cleanups and other community service activities. (…) The KASE team is made up of academic and athletic rising stars. In addition, many of the players have battled social norms and opposition to girls playing sports. Their preparation emphasizes women’s empowerment as a tool for success in obtaining gender equity. (…)


Global Action Week 2008

17 April - Global Action Week this year (21-27 April) will focus on quality education to end exclusion. A series of events will be organized to emphasize the importance of inclusive education as the only way to achieve Education for All, UNESCO’s absolute priority. On 23 April, UNESCO will hold a round table on “Quality Education to End Exclusion” bringing together young people with disabilities, teachers and youth from the suburbs of Paris (2 p.m., Room XII). (…) UNESCO will also take part in the “World's Biggest Lesson”, organised by the Global Campaign for Education. along with millions of other learners and stakeholders in education, all over the world (5 p.m. Room XI).

Moreover, a new website on quality inclusive education will be launched for Global Action Week* on UNESCO’s web portal, which is also hosting an online discussion forum on “Quality Education to End Exclusion.” The forum was opened on 1 April and will continue until 30 April.

Despite real progress since 2000 towards universal primary education, 72 million children are still not enrolled in school. (…) “Global Action Week offers us an opportunity to highlight an unacceptable situation that is slowing progress towards the provision of education for all,” the Director-General, Mr Matsuura, said in the run up to the event.

*Global Action Week is organized every year by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), a UNESCOpartner.


Dubai Cares provides multimillion dollar grant for Save the Children’s Sudan education programs

Westport, Conn., USA, 16 April - Save the Children today received a major grant from Dubai Cares, the largest foundation in the world devoted to improving primary education in developing countries. Through the Dubai Cares partnership, announced today in the United Arab Emirates, Save the Children will receive $16.6 million to provide quality primary education across Sudan, focusing on the regions of Abyei, Blue Nile, Darfur, Khartoum, North Kordofan, Red Sea, South Kordofan and Upper Nile.

The five-year program will provide direct support for 115,000 children in 200 schools and 50 early childhood development centers. Save the Children UK and Save the Children Sweden will work with Save the Children USA in implementing the programs in 200 communities across the country.  In addition, with support from Dubai Cares, Save the Children will train 500 teachers to introduce basic literacy skills to children at an early age. (…)

The foundation has raised nearly $1 billion from individuals and businesses in Dubai and will make initial grants in countries with the highest level of need and where implementing agencies can deliver the maximum benefit for children: Bangladesh, Bosnia, Chad, Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Maldives, Mauritania, Niger, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, Sudan, Yemen, and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan. 

Dubai Cares today also announced funding for UNICEF to implement a two-year program in Sudan, including the construction of schools in rural areas, training workshops for teachers and the provision of textbooks and school supplies.


Alliance of Civilizations Youth Solidarity Fund

New York, 16 April - To support youth-led initiatives that promote long-term constructive relationships between young people from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, the Alliance of Civilizations last month launched a Youth Solidarity Fund.

The Fund will provide seed funding in amounts up to 20,000 USD to a very small number of outstanding youth-led projects in the following areas: Intercultural and Interreligious Exchanges;  Youth Leadership Training:  Youth Voices in the Media

The Alliance of Civilizations places great emphasis on funding projects that have long-term outcomes and that connect youth from previously unconnected communities with a view to overcoming perceived or real cultural and religious divides. 2008 constitutes the pilot phase of this initiative. The AoC will only fund projects that are entirely managed by youth for the benefit of youth. The age definition used by the AoC is persons between 18 and 30 years old. (...)

The deadline for submitting applications is 30 April, 2008. To request an application pack, please contact the AoC Secretariat.


UN launches new training course to help developing countries use ICT

Bangkok, 16 April - Information and communications technologies (ICTs) - from wireless technology to the Internet - are widely accepted as powerful tools for enhancing human development. With access to ICT, people are able to find the information they need to improve their lives. However, without visionary policy makers and ICT savvy government officials the promise of a better future through the use of ICTs is unlikely to be realized. About sixty experts from around 30 countries in the Asia-Pacific region are taking part from this week in a new initiative aimed at equipping government officials with the knowledge and skills they need to fully utilize the potential of ICTs to achieve national development goals. The initiative, called the Academy of ICT Essentials for Government Leaders - A Modular Training Programme, is undertaken by the United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (UN-APCICT) (…)


Rabat children's hospital inaugurates an educational multimedia space

Paris, 14 April - UNESCO and the French association Docteur Souris (Doctor Mouse) launch today an educational multimedia space at the Rabat children's hospital in Morocco. (…) The cyberspace offers 15 laptops, a wifi Internet connection, educational space dedicated to young patients, as well as an animated interface in Arabic for small children. (…) Elaborated thanks to the French Association experience, this cybercentre aims at using information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve hospital conditions of sick and handicapped children. (…)

Since 2003, Docteur Souris has equipped 50 children's services in 6 French hospitals. It has now accepted the challenge to use the same model in a Southern country. The association is elaborating a methodology for wide dissemination of this now-how, free of charge, in order to respond to educational needs of persons excluded from the traditional educational system (refugees, rural population, prisoners etc.).


WIPO Signs cooperation agreements with two leading Mexican educational institutions

Geneva, 11 April - The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) signed this week separate cooperation agreements with two leading educational institutions in Mexico - the Technological Institute of Monterrey and the University of Guadalajara - to advance the teaching of intellectual property.

The Technological Institute of Monterrey, which has a student population of some 100,000 and specializes in applied sciences and technical fields, including biotechnology, business administration and education, is a multi-campus university system with academic centers in different regions of the country. It has a long tradition of teaching intellectual property in various disciplines, including engineering, agriculture and business. The University of Guadalajara, renowned for its schools of law and medicine, is the second largest public university in Mexico and also has a student population of some 100,000.  It is beginning to integrate intellectual property in its curricula. (...) The agreement signed with the University of Guadalajara mirrors that of the Technological Institute of Monterrey.

This is the first time a formal relationship is established between the WIPO Academy and academic institutions in Latin America and marks an important milestone in human resources development and capacity building in the region.


UNESCO brings Internet to island schools in Kenya

Nairobi, 4 Aprile - Many challenges faced UNESCO when bringing internet connectivity to Mkomani Primary School on Lamu, Kenya. Lamu is a remote, carless island in a country where over 98% of public primary schools lack computers. Mkomani School has 29 teachers and 1079 pupils - all girls - and a regular electricity supply.  When UNESCO's Director-General offered a donation during a visit to the school, the management asked UNESCO to help convert the school library into a computer room. Pupils at Mkomani School now have 17 computers connected to the Internet through a wireless connection.

Lamu town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



International Forum: Culture of Peace and Peace Education - Public Policies and Action -

April 26, Brazil, São Paulo Art Museum ― 9:00 to 18:30 hours

For the first time in history the younger generations have skills, and knowledge that the former try to acquire – at times with much effort. Also for the first time the social dynamics acquire a horizontal quality, and relations do not follow predetermined roles – each situation requires a new configuration in the power structure. Everything is being revised, and the world offers, provokes and exacts new perceptions, new priorities, new choices, and also new uncertainties.

How can education/learning find its context in midst of such a shifting reality? Which values should guide our feelings, thought, and action? How can the growing freedom be matched with our urgent need for interdependent cooperation? What is the role of the school and the community in providing a framework of meaning capable of accommodating the many dimensions of human existence, its aspirations and creative potential? How can public policies promote values and actions capable of generating peaceful alternatives?

This Forum will count with the contribution of prominent world authorities and pioneers of Culture of Peace and Peace Education. It provides a unique opportunity to get in touch with the developments of democratic practices for, as Nilson José Machado has said: “Education will always be moved by that which is possible to imagine, and not only by that which we imagine to be possible – it can never be reduced to utopias, but will never live without them.” (…)


Announcing the 5th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations

UN Headquarters, New York, August 11  -14, 2008

The mission of the assembly is to gather youth leaders from around the world (18-26 years old) and involve them in the success of the un’s millennium development goals (mdgs).

The aim of the Youth Assembly is to empower young people through lectures, workshops, campaign rallies, and special events to learn ways of identifying successful approaches to MDG success (the corner stone of the UN’s better world approach to improving the lives of millions).  This year’s event is titled: “STEP UP: Taking Plans Into Action”:  Practical help is shared on how to start NGOs, administer and manage campaigns, networking that identifies existing work by governments, the UN, or civil society at home or abroad, and the implications for social entrepreneurship on MDG success from the for profit world, outside of civil society.

The Secretary General for the events at the UN is Dr. Elaine Valdov, of the International Institute for the Culture of Peace. Lead Sponsor in 2008 
is the Permanent Mission of Hungary to the United Nations.  More than ten other Permanent Missions to the UN currently endorse the events and that number grows each year.  The events are also co-sponsored by International 
NGOs Affiliated with the United Nations, and is grateful for the participation of several United Nations agencies and affiliates.  The project is administered by Friendship Ambassadors Foundation Ildiko Szcucs, Project Director.  Patrick Sciarratta, the foundation’s Executive Director is cofounder of the events with Dr. Valdov.

Registration is now open for the free events (after initial application fee and acceptance) at the UN., the related Leadership Seminar, Meet New York, and other opportunities, too.  Go to:  and click on the Youth Assembly at the UN link for more details.


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Next issue:16 May 2008.


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