Good News Agency – Year IX, n° 7



Weekly - Year IX, number 7 – 16th May 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



New Council of Europe convention on adoption

Strasbourg, 7May - The Committee of Ministers has just adopted a new convention on child adoption, on the occasion of its 118th session in Strasbourg.

“The Convention updates the 1967 Convention in the light of social and economic developments in the last 40 years. It improves the procedure for national adoption and makes it more transparent, efficient and resistant to abuse. In this way it also improves the conditions for international adoption” said Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Organisation.

The aim is to take account of social and legal developments while keeping to the European Convention on Human Rights and bearing in mind that the child’s best interests must always take precedence over any other considerations. (...)

The convention will be open for signature at a date to be fixed around mid-November at the handover from the Swedish Chair to the Spanish Chair.  Full text of the convention


Over 100 countries negotiate cluster bomb ban

Treaty to be finalized in Dublin, Ireland, during May 19-30

A global treaty banning cluster bombs that cause unacceptable harm to civilians will be finalized later this month in Dublin, Ireland. The U.S. government won’t be there, despite the presence of more than half the world’s countries and all major NATO allies (United Kingdom, Germany, France, etc.).

The treaty process has moved rapidly from conception to near completion in just over a year, while going largely unnoticed in the U.S. It started in February 2007 when 46 governments met in Oslo to endorse a call by the Norwegian government to conclude a new legally binding treaty in 2008 to prohibit the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians and to provide adequate resources to assist survivors and clear contaminated areas. Subsequent “Oslo Process” meetings were held in Peru, Austria, and New Zealand to develop a draft treaty text. The meeting in Dublin will be the actual treaty negotiation and adoption of the final text. (…)



Human rights



European Parliament: No peace without justice (NPWJ) welcomes the adoption of the Cappato report as a strong stand for the worldwide promotion of human rights, democracy and rule of law

Brussels/Rome, 8 May - The European Parliament Annual Report on Human Rights in the World in 2007, prepared by Rapporteur Marco Cappato, the Italian Radical MEP, was approved today in plenary by the European Parliament. The Report, which assesses the state of human rights in the world in 2007 and also evaluates the EU's efforts to promote human rights through its policies, is in part a response to the annual report on human rights published by the Council and Commission last October. No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), which collaborated closely with the Rapporteur through the civil society consultation process established by the EP Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomes the clear stand taken by the European Parliament on several policy issues we consider to be priorities for the European Union and its member States in the protection and promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law throughout the world. (...) Read more


Djibouti: First country to launch the joint UNFPA/UNICEF global program to accelerate the abandonment of FGM/C

Djibouti, 8 May - Djibouti First Lady Ms Kadra Mahamoud Haïd launched the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme and Trust Fund to accelerate the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). Djibouti is one of the 17 countries that have been selected in Africa to implement the UNFPA/UNICEF joint program. For every 10 women and girls, nine have undergone FGM/C in Djibouti. The practice of FGM/C transcends cultural, racial, and socio-economic dimensions. (...) At global level, UNICEF estimates that every year approximately 3 millions girls are being at risk of FGM/C.

UNFPA and UNICEF are committed to support the abandonment of FGM/C globally because of its harmful effects on the reproductive and sexual health of women and girls and it violates their rights and dignity. One of the major strategies is building partnership with Government, donors, foundations, the media and religious leaders.

The First Lady Ms Kadra Mahamoud Haïd stressed, “I consider the joint program to accelerate the abandonment of FGM/C as a route towards social progress, as a tool to fulfill the basic human rights especially on integrity and dignity for girls and women. Noting that the FGM/C is gender based violence, the Government of Djibouti has set up legal and institutional mechanism to eradicate the violence.” (...)


UNESCO: World Press Freedom Day 2008

More power to people through freedom of information

5 May - Some 150 media professionals from around the world today adopted a declaration emphasizing the importance of freedom of expression and free access to information to participatory democracy at the close of a two-day conference entitled “Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and the Empowerment of People” in Maputo.

Also during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day in the capital of Mozambique on Saturday, the Mexican reporter, Lydia Cacho Ribeiro received the 2008 UNESCO Press Freedom Prize, awarded to her by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, in a ceremony held in the presence of the President of the Republic of Mozambique Armando Guebuza.
Aiming to encourage UNESCO Member States to implement policies that are favourable to the basic human right of freedom of expression and that facilitate access to information, the “Maputo Declaration: Fostering Freedom of Expression Access to Information and Empowerment of People” emphasizes the importance of open government, transparency, accountability and public access to information.

The declaration recognizes the contribution of public service, commercial and community broadcasting to enable all members of society, including marginalized populations, to be heard and take part in the decision-making process. It further calls on the media and on the press to contribute to access to information and facilitate the participation of marginalized and linguistic minorities. (…)



Economy and development



Africa fastest growing market in communication technology, says UN

12 May - Africa has been the fastest growing market worldwide in communication technology over the past three years and will continue to emerge as an important market for the industry, according to the head of the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Speaking at the opening of a major trade fair for the African telecommunications industry today in Cairo, Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the ITU, said the African information and communication technologies industry “is an exciting place to be. Market liberalization continues and most countries have established regulatory bodies to ensure a fair, competitive and enabling environment.” The trade fair, called “ITU Telecom Africa,” was inaugurated by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. (...) Around 200 companies from 45 countries are exhibiting products at the trade fair which has attracted some 70 heads of international companies and 50 government ministers. (…)

The ITU coordinates global use of the radio spectrum, promotes international cooperation on assigning satellite orbits, works to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world and establishes worldwide standards to foster seamless interconnection between a wide range of communications systems.


High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and BioenergyRome, FAO, 3-5 June

Rome, 12 May - This summit meeting of world Heads of State and Government responds to the international emergency caused by soaring food prices. Beyond immediate solutions, however, it will seek to map out a strategy for world food security in the years ahead. Emerging challenges to food security such as climate change and bioenergy will be addressed while, crucially, policies and measures will be weighed to help farmers everywhere take advantage of higher prices to produce more food for a growing world population. 

The vital importance of these issues is ensuring the participation of a large number of world leaders, including President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Media accreditation form at:


Nine more countries added to MicroPlace

MicroPlace brings the number of countries they make microfinance loans in up to twenty

9 May - Mexico, Peru, and South Africa have been added to the countries investors can invest in at MicroPlace. MicroPlace offers online microfinance investment opportunities for investors to help the working poor in twenty countries while generating financial returns. Investments with MicroPlace have generated 20,000 loans all over the world since it started in October 2007.

Brazil, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, Paraguay, and Kazakhstan have also been added to countries MicroPlace invests with. Other countries served by MicroPlace include India, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Cambodia, Ecuador, Georgia, Ghana, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Nicaragua, and Tanzania.

MicroPlace is a wholly-owned subsidiary of eBay.


FAO’s FishInfoNetwork: 25 years and still growing

A long-lived, self-sustaining development initiative eyes its future

Rome, 9 May - A network of independent intergovernmental organizations established by FAO to help developing countries improve post-harvest handling and marketing of fish projects has reached an important milestone.

Since the late 1970s, the FishInfoNetwork (FIN) has worked at the regional level in the developing world to promote trade in fish products, offering up-to-date information on markets and prices, bringing buyers and sellers together, and providing training in processing technology, food safety issues, and quality requirements in key import markets. (...)

Today FIN consists of seven independent centres, each with a regional focus: EuroFish (Eastern and Central Europe), InfoFish (Asia and Pacific region), InfoPeche (Africa), InfoPesca (South and Central America), Infosa (Southern African suboffice of InfoPeche), Infosamak (Arab countries), and InfoYu (China). They are coordinated by Globefish, based at FAO’s Rome headquarters. (...)

Fisheries and aquaculture play an important economic role in many developing countries, according to FAO. (...)


Arab bank to help Africa fight food crisis

by Charles Mangwiro

Maputo, May 9 (Reuters) - The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) said on Friday it will provide African farmers with financial assistance to help boost yields as the continent reels from rising global food prices. BADEA Director General Abdelaziz Khelef said the bank would help the world’s poorest continent reduce food shortages. “We are working with almost all African countries to give them soft loans, particularly the rural world to increase agricultural productivity as one way of alleviating high food prices in the short term,” he told Reuters in an interview.

Prices of staple foods have risen more than 40 percent in the last year and many developing countries have seen shortages, hoarding and riots, prompting the United Nations to warn of malnutrition and social unrest. (...)

BADEA, created to strengthen economic, financial and technical cooperation between Arab and African countries, plans to increase total commitments by $225 million to $900 million under its 2005-2009 five-year plan. (...)


New project won: Ghana-Millennium Challenge Account Ghana agriculture project

9 May - ACDI/VOCA won a 2-year, almost $3 million project funded by the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Ghana for what is called the country’s southern horticulture zone. This project is part of an approximately $547 million compact signed by the Millennium Challenge Corporation with the Republic of Ghana in 2006. The compact was created to address fundamental structural problems in the Ghanaian economy, as well as to improve the economic, political and social stability of the country.

Ghana’s principal economic goal is to improve the standard of living of its citizens and to achieve middle-income status, driven by private sector-led growth, within a decade. The MCC compact is intended to advance these goals by enhancing economic growth through poverty reduction.

The government of Ghana created the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) to serve as the public accountable entity for the implementation of the five-year program. (...)

The ACDI/VOCA program focuses on improving the productivity of agriculture, increasing production of high-value commercial and basic food crops, and fostering greater private investment in agriculture. To that end, the program will also improve the physical and institutional infrastructure in this critical sector of Ghana’s economy.


IFAD provides US$4 million for poverty alleviation project in Nepal

Second phase of social exclusion project to target communities and rural women

Rome, 8 May - IFAD has announced a US$4 million grant to support the second phase of a project to fight social exclusion in Nepal.

The Poverty Alleviation Fund is a community-driven project that focuses on groups that have been traditionally excluded, mainly for reasons of gender, ethnic origin, caste and location. The project uses incentives to encourage community organizations to include rural women, dalits (outcasts) and indigenous people as members and beneficiaries who can also hold positions of responsibility.

The US$113 million project is partly funded by the US$4 million IFAD grant, under the organization’s debt sustainability framework. The International Development Association is contributing a grant of US$100 million. The Government of Nepal will contribute US$1 million and project participants the remaining US$8 million.

The grant agreement was signed today in Rome by Lennart Båge, IFAD’s President, and Krishna Gyawali, Nepal’s Joint Secretary, Ministry of Finance. (...) With this project, IFAD has supported 12 programmes and projects in Nepal with loans and grants worth US$130.9 million.


UK to provide 2.5 billion Birr development assistance to Ethiopia

7 May - The UK Department for International Development (DFID) announced on Wednesday that it would provide development assistance of 2.5 billion Birr over the next year to help Ethiopia achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). UK Ambassador to Ethiopia, Norman Ling told a press conference held here that his country would support Ethiopia’s effort to meet the MDGs by reducing poverty. The assistance to be provided to Ethiopia is greater than any development assistance UK is providing to any other African country, according to the Ambassador. He said the support would be continued in a strengthened manner. (...)

Over the past four years DFID’s programs in Ethiopia have been supporting to build democracy, promote long-term growth and make education, health, agriculture, water and sanitation services better and more widely available. The head said the department would utilize the current development assistance for the continuation of those activities and support the nation’s poverty alleviation efforts. (...) DFID is the UK government department responsible for leading the government’s fight against world poverty.


Companies unveil new initiatives in the fight to decrease poverty

The UK Government and the United Nations challenge the Private Sector to apply core business skills to enhance economic growth

London, 6 May - Joining the Business Call to Action, a dozen companies today announced concrete initiatives that apply core business expertise, utilizing their technology and innovative spirit to tackle the multiple challenges of poverty.

The announcements were made at the Business Call to Action event, hosted by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Kemal Derviş, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and with the participation of more than 80 global business leaders who came to London to showcase innovative and creative initiatives to reduce poverty in the developing world. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President John Kufuor of Ghana were also present at the event.

Over the next five years, these new business initiatives, announced by Diageo, Vodafone, Coca Cola, Sumitomo Chemical, Microsoft, SABMiller, Thomson Reuters, Citi and Cisco are expected to create thousands of jobs, and potentially improve the lives of millions of poor people across Africa and Asia. They are part of a concerted push to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that will enable poor people to access speedy flows of information, money and business expertise as well as creating new employment opportunities. (...);jsessionid=amO1__gzTXcb






Save the Children reaches 72,000 people in Myanmar; efforts continue to assist thousands left homeless by cyclone Nargis

Westport, Conn., 9 May - As the death toll in Myanmar continues to rise as a result of Cyclone Nargis and as hardships for hundreds of thousands of survivors left in its wake increase, Save the Children is mounting a rapid response to provide lifesaving relief to children and families in five regions hit hardest by the storm.

Save the Children staff members have reached 72,000 people with life-saving materials including food, water, and materials for shelter, but concern is growing that thousands of survivors may die if clean water and other materials are not provided within the next few days. (...) Since Monday, 1,000 bags of rice, 20 rolls of tarpaulin, sugar and salt have reached Pathein, where Save the Children has set up one of its bases of operations. The agency plans to use boats to transport materials to hard-to-reach locations. (…) Save the Children has raised nearly $1.5 million dollars in donations from individuals, corporations and foundations for its response to help children and families affected by Cyclone Nargis. (...)


Romania to set up evacuation transit centre for refugees

Bucharest, Romania, May 9 (UNHCR) - The Romanian government has agreed to set up a special evacuation transit centre for refugees in other countries facing acute danger. It will be the first of its kind in Europe. Under an agreement signed in Bucharest on Thursday by Romanian Interior Minister Christian David and senior representatives of the UN refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the centre will provide a temporary haven for refugees pending final resettlement in a third country.

The new centre, to be located in the western Romanian city of Timişoara and able to accommodate up to 200 people, will shelter individuals or groups of people still facing acute danger in their country of first arrival and in need of immediate evacuation

Senior UNHCR officials warmly welcomed the development. “It’s an extraordinary gesture for an EU [European Union] member state to make available sovereign territory to accommodate the most destitute refugees awaiting permanent resettlement in a third country,” said Machiel Salomons, UNHCR’s representative in Romania. Once the facility is up and running, UNHCR will identify those persons in need of transit evacuation, provide them with refugee certificates and negotiate for their onwards resettlement. (...)


Chad: Thirty years of helping the victims of armed violence

N’Djamena (ICRC) - Today, 8 May, the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Chad is celebrating not only World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day but also the 30th anniversary of its humanitarian work in the country.

The ICRC established a full-time presence in Chad in 1978 to meet needs arising from the armed conflict between the government and the National Liberation Front of Chad. Between 1978 and 1982, ICRC staff working in Faya-Largeau, Bardaï, Abéché, N’Djamena and Moundou assisted thousands of victims of the armed conflicts and other violent situations that affected the country. (...) The ICRC worked in Chad for a number of years, adapting its activities as the situation improved. In 1997, management of its operations in Chad was transferred to the organization’s regional delegation in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

However, the situation in eastern Chad began to worsen in 2003 and the ICRC (...) therefore reopened its delegation in N’Djamena and now has a sub-delegation in Abéché and seven operational bases from which it carries out activities across the whole country.

To mark the 30th anniversary, the ICRC delegation in N’Djamena has organized an exhibition of photographs which tell the story of its operations in Chad since 1978. (...)


Indian philanthropist commits US$1 million to polio eradication

by Joseph Derr

8 May - During a ceremony on 21 April at Rotary International headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, Arch C. Klumph Society inductee Rajashree Birla gave a brief speech. The Rotary senior leaders in the audience expected her to talk about her US$300,000 contribution to The Rotary Foundation, which endows an Ambassadorial Scholarship and supports SHARE. Instead, Birla, of Mumbai, India, focused mostly on polio eradication. As she concluded, the soft-spoken Birla then made an announcement that took everyone by surprise: She is committing an additional $1 million to Rotary’s US$100 Million Challenge for polio eradication. (...)

Birla is the second donor from India to make a commitment of $1 million or more for Rotary’s US$100 Million Challenge for polio eradication. When asked what lessons Rotarians can learn from nongovernmental organizations like the Aditya Birla Centre, she humbly replied: “Rotarians have a lot of compassion, which is very necessary. I do see people going to the smallest details to give all their support to the downtrodden or the needy people. I think I have to learn from Rotary.”


MAG fundraiser completes record-breaking ski trek

2 May - Dave Leaning, a former Royal Marines Commando who saw service in Afghanistan, has completed his epic 2,500km solo fundraising ski trek across the length of Norway. The 28-year-old adventurer crossed the finish line at Nordkapp, the northernmost point of Europe, becoming the first Englishman to complete the solo trek in one winter season.

Dave’s remarkable journey has raised enough to clear over 1423.85 sq/m of contaminated land. Having worked as a military radio operator in conflict-torn Afghanistan the dangers of landmines are all too familiar to the ex-Marine.

“Mines do not distinguish between soldiers and non-combatants, and innocent lives are snuffed out or irrevocably changed on a daily basis by these indiscriminate weapons. Through this expedition I am seeking to raise the profile of this problem and those who are striving to make a difference,” he said before starting on his journey. (...)


EU contributes €5 million to UNRWA for the most vulnerable Palestine refugees

29 April - Mr. John Kjaer, the head of the European Commission office in Jerusalem, today confirmed the EU’s signature of an additional €5 million commitment to UNRWA for 2008. This is in addition to the EU’s contribution of €66 million to UNRWA’s General Fund for 2008, of which 95% has already been disbursed. The €5 million will be used to help run UNRWA’s Special Hardship Cases Programme throughout the occupied Palestinian territory and to support UNRWA’s ongoing reforms. (...)

The €5 million contribution from the European Union will in part be used to provide cash subsidies to help bridge the poverty gap for some of the most vulnerable Palestine refugees. The cash subsidies are in addition to food assistance, and give families the flexibility to make purchases according to their primary needs and to increase the likelihood of their purchasing fresh foods. €1 million out of the €5 million will be used for UNRWA’s reform efforts, helping to strengthen the Agency’s capacity to serve Palestine refugees both effectively and efficiently.

Since 1971 the European Union has regularly supported UNRWA, becoming its largest multi-lateral donor. For the period 2007-2010, the European Commission has pledged to provide €264 million to UNRWA’s General Fund. (...)



Peace and security



Milestone in the development of a joint strategy for water supply in the Middle East

Green-Cross program “Water for Peace” supports study for solving water conflicts

2 May - Access to water is one of the main reasons for the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The mediation project “Water for Peace in the Middle East” is striving to conduct a study about the needs for and availability of water. To this end, the Peres Center for Peace, Green Cross France and Green Cross Switzerland are holding the conference in Geneva from 2 to 4 May 2008. Approximately 30 experts from Israel, Palestine, Europe and USA will conduct a joint analysis of water needs and water availability of today and tomorrow for decision makers on the basis of generally accepted guidelines.

The study will serve as an exemplary model at an international conference of UNESCO in Paris in November 2008 on the topic of preventing and solving water conflicts. The key for solving regional water conflicts lies in finding a solution for managing water in line with needs. Previous studies and deliberations focused on the existing inequitable water distribution on the basis of current consumption patterns and resource analyses. (...) For the first time, Palestinian and Israeli experts are working together on a water requirements study, and policy decision-makers are awaiting the results with interest. (…)


Ireland: Peace is all our responsibility

6 May - First Minister Rt. Hon Dr Ian Paisley MP, MLA has said that each of us has a solemn responsibility to make and sustain peace through mutual respect for others.

Speaking at the opening of the Boyne Visitors Centre, Dr Paisley said: “I believe that we should live in peace and I want to see the principle of mutual respect triumph. The opening of this centre today is tangible evidence of a greater understanding and respect between out two cultures.

“Mutual respect means that you are free to try to convert me to your way and I am free to try to convert you to my way, but only by way of argument, not arms. The power of true christianity is in the power of declaration, not by the power of destruction.” (...)

 “There must be an end of all atrocities and the building of the ways of peace. The coming generation has a right to demand this from us. We must not fail them.” (…)


Nigeria: Military instructors trained to teach international humanitarian law

Abuja, 29 April (ICRC) - Between 14 and 25 April, thirteen officers from different units of the Nigerian army, navy and air force attended the fifth instructor’s course on international humanitarian law (IHL) at the Armed Forces Command & Staff College Jaji.

The course was organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Its aim was to provide instructors from the Nigerian armed forces with a solid understanding of IHL and enable them to teach the subject at all training facilities in the country.

During this course, three participants from a previous instructor’s course taught alongside the ICRC instructor. Jacques Villettaz, head of the ICRC’s regional delegation in Nigeria, expressed the hope that these facilitators would gradually form the core of a team of qualified IHL instructors and in due course create an IHL cell within the Nigerian armed forces. The ICRC and the Nigerian armed forces held the first IHL instructor’s course in 2004. So far, over 100 instructors have undergone training. (...) The Nigerian armed forces play a major role in peacekeeping operations in Africa. (...)






UK-European Campaign for Safety and Health at Work 2008

13 May - European Campaign for Safety and Health at Work, formerly known as Euroweek, will this time be a two-year campaign focussing on risk assessment.

The UK’s campaign, aimed at employers, workers, safety representatives and other stakeholders, will be officially launched in London on 24 June 2008. Full details of activities and downloadable tools and materials will be available on that date.

A number of nationwide events are planned for European Week itself on 20-24 October 2008.


UNHCR signs landmark accord in Syria with international NGO

Damascus, Syria, May 8 (UNHCR) - Boudewijn van Eenennaam, head of the UN refugee agency’s governing body, on Thursday attended the signing of a landmark contract between UNHCR and the International Medical Corps (IMC), paving the way for the aid agency to become the first international non-governmental organization (INGO) to work with Iraqi refugees in Syria.

IMC will run three health clinics for refugees in Damascus under the agreement. The Danish Refugee Council and Premier Urgence are also slated to start work in Syria soon in support of UNHCR community services and education programmes. (...)

To date, international NGOs have not been given permission to work with Iraqi refugees in Syria. A limited number of small local charities have been working with UNHCR over the past few years, but the Syrian Arab Red Crescent is UNHCR’s main implementing partner in the country.

IMC will start work at a time when Syrian Arab Red Crescent clinics dedicated to refugee health care are having to cope with rising numbers of Iraqi patients. More than 150,000 refugees have visited the clinics since the beginning of the year, compared to 200,000 for the whole of last year.

Hussein Ibrahim, country director for IMC, anticipates the first clinic will open next Thursday in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana, with clinics planned to open later this month in the city’s Seyidda Zeinab and Masaken Barzeh areas. (...)


WHO calls for prevention of cancer through healthy workplaces

Geneva, 27 April -  (...) WHO provides policy recommendations to help countries stop the use of carcinogens in the workplace, and provides health ministries with the latest information to frame health arguments and legislation to rid workplaces of carcinogens. Recently, WHO issued an official statement warning countries to stop using asbestos or face a cancer epidemic in the coming years. There are safer alternative materials to replace asbestos, for example using pine fibres in producing cement building materials.

In October this year, WHO with support from the National Cancer Institute of France will be convening a global workshop with participation of public health policy makers, scientists and major international stakeholders to elaborate recommendations for strengthening national and international policies on preventing occupational and environmental cancer. (…)


Monitoring AIDS treatment by physical symptoms is effective 

Result is almost as good as therapies based on advanced laboratory tests, a new study finds

Geneva, 25 April - When millions of HIV-infected people in poor countries began receiving advanced drug therapies, critics worried that patient care would suffer because few high-tech laboratories were available to guide treatments. But according to a study being published today in The Lancet, these concerns are as yet unfounded. In fact, the study indicates that when clinicians use simple physical signs of deteriorating health - such as weight loss or fever - these doctors can provide therapies almost as effective as those relying on the most advanced laboratory analysis.

“The results of this study should reassure clinicians in Africa and Asia, who are treating literally millions of people without these laboratory tests, that they are not compromising patient safety,” said a coauthor of the paper, Dr Charles Gilks, who is the Coordinator of Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) and HIV Care at WHO in Geneva. “In fact, the outcome of their treatment is almost as good as of those patients in the USA and Europe where laboratory-guided treatment is the norm.”


Medical examination of children in Chernobyl area

Green Cross: social and medical care programme - This programme, implemented by Green Cross National Organizations in Belarus, Russia, the Ukraine and Switzerland, and a partner organization GTZ/Vietcot in Vietnam, focuses its activities on three areas in three regions. Children, young adults and families are at the centre of Green Cross's particular attention.

1-15 May - A team of ten doctors will go to villages and make medical examinations of 200 children in five schools in the region affected by the Chernobyl disaster. The majority of these children will then be invited to summer rehabilitation camps.



Energy and safety



IEA hosts experts meeting on energy breakthrough technologies for sustainable energy future

Over 40 international delegates discussed nanotechnology, biotechnology, and advanced computing to enable research needs and priorities.

7 May - The International Energy Agency (IEA), through its Ad-Hoc Group on Science and Technology (AHGSET), brings together scientists and energy technologists to facilitate breakthroughs in energy technology. The AHGSET works closely with the IEA Implementing Agreements and other technology research and deployment bodies to call attention to the need to bridge the gap between breakthrough basic science research and applied energy research and development.


Promoting energy efficiency investments

Case studies in the residential sector

Existing buildings are responsible for over 40% of the world’s total primary energy consumption. An impressive amount of energy could be saved simply by applying energy-efficient technologies.

Yet, various market barriers inhibit energy efficiency improvements in existing buildings and result in energy savings that are significantly lower than potentials. Financial barriers - including the initial cost barrier, risk exposure, discount-factor issues and the inadequacy of traditional financing mechanisms for energy-efficient projects - play a major role. Policies that may help to overcome financial barriers to improving energy efficiency in existing residential buildings are the focus of this study.

The publication provides illustrations of policies and measures implemented in five IEA member countries and the European Union. Each case includes relevant background and contextual information, as well as a detailed evaluation of each policy according to five pre-defined criteria: relevance, effectiveness, flexibility, clarity and sustainability.

Promoting Energy Efficiency Investments aims to inform policy makers and offers ideas on the most effective policies, programmes and measures available to improve energy efficiency in existing residential buildings.


Global Renewable Energy Forum in Brazil - 18-21 May 2008, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil

A joint activity of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy

The overall objective of the Global Renewable Energy Forum is to create a suitable environment for the promotion of a proactive dialogue that can strengthen interregional bonds and set up joint actions between countries and regions oriented to reduce poverty and enhance energy security through the use of renewable sources of energy. The Global Forum will also pursue the objective of promoting business and commercial networking and relationships at the intra and inter regional level. (…) The attendance expected will amount to between 1,000 and 2,000 participants.



Environment and wildlife



City of Los Angeles sets example with green building law


13 May - On April 22nd 2008, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa announced the adoption of a green building law intended to impose environmental standards on private developers. Global Green USA (Green Cross U.S national affiliate) has been instrumental in drafting the green building law with the City of Los Angeles and all stakeholders involved, using its extensive experience from green building initiatives and activities of the Smart Energy for Sustainable Development Program. The green building law will be enforced starting in November 2008, forcing private developers and public authorities alike to respect environmental standards in future construction of buildings to consume less energy in the construction process and make sure the design of buildings consume a minimum amount of energy in the long-term. Standards of green buildings include energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems as well as the use of recycled materials for construction and drought-resistant landscaping. (...)


Environment diary teams up with Yahoo kids


13 May - In an effort to sensitive youth through environmental awareness initiatives, Green Japan’s Green Lane Environmental Diary has been successful in teaching schoolchildren about their daily impact on the environment and our influence on ecosystems around the world.

The purpose is to motivate schoolchildren in daily ecological activities, which eventually involve adults around them including parents, schoolteachers and neighborhoods. To date, the program is taught in 5,000 elementary schools and reached a total of 500,000 students over nine years. The campaign led by Green Cross Japan is about to experience greater visibility in Japan and abroad as Yahoo Kids has agreed to showcase the Green Lane website as a top page topic in the new Environment section in Yahoo Kids. The Green Lane column and link shown on the Yahoo Kids website is expected to reach a large target audience since every elementary school in Japan has access to the Yahoo Kids website to initiate children to the internet. For the first time, environmental education will be taught at the same time as introductory classes to the internet in elementary school education. (...)


Green Cross Denmark participates in COP15 preparations

28 April - In preparation for the COP15 Conference planned to take place in Copenhagen between November 30th and December 11th 2009, the Danish Ministry of Environment has invited GC Denmark and numerous organisations, business leaders and environment ministers to take part in the COP15 preparation forums leading up to the Conference.

COP15 is an international event organised by the United Nations Climate Change Convention and hosted by Denmark. The purpose of the event is to devise realistic strategies to curb climate change and establish a worldwide climate change agreement forratification by the world’s ministers of environment. Participants attending the conference consist of ministers of environment and international organisations from 189 different countries. (…)

The main goal of the COP15 Forum is to secure a process based on common understanding and interchange of information between governments and international organisations leading up to the COP15 Conference in Copenhagen. The concept of the Forum is to further the possibility of creating contacts and synergy between the various groups involved in activities before and during the COP15 Conference. (…)



Religion and spirituality



European inter-religious encounter 22-25 May 2008

Shared Values for a Changing Europe

Fondazione Opera Campana dei Caduti of Rovereto, Italy and Religions for Peace in Europe have joined forces to create a meeting space, an Encounter, where some of the most pressing challenges to the religious traditions represented in Europe will be addressed.

During these days, some 250 participants - politicians, senior religious leaders and grass root activists - will meet and acknowledge the shared values and responsibilities that we need in today’s changing Europe and for a sense of identity in our common home.

The focus of the Encounter will be to facilitate how different faiths and civil structures can co-operate in building that European society we all need and want to feel at home in.

The issues community cohesion, economic disparity, immigration and movement of population within Europe require each of us to look at our own responsibility. The Encounter will challenge the different representatives to offer their own perspective of their responsibility and contribution.


Leaders of different faiths inaugurate historic Religions for Peace Inter-religious Council-Sri Lanka

Representatives from North and South convene in unprecedented multi-religious summit in war-torn region

New York, 30 April - Senior religious leaders of diverse faiths from around the world - Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian - launched the groundbreaking Religions for Peace Inter-religious Council (IRC)-Sri Lanka in Kandy and war-torn Trincomalee on 28 April and 30 April 2008, respectively.

The conference was organized by Religions for Peace-International in partnership with its local affiliate, Religions for Peace-Sri Lanka, and the National Peace Council. The 22-member Religions for Peace IRC-Sri Lanka becomes the country’s most representative multi-religious body and includes such senior Buddhist leaders from the South and senior Tamil religious leaders from the North (...). The Council will offer mediation, reject extremist tendencies, and educate the public on the positive, socially transformative power of multi-religious cooperation. The Council has begun building district-level IRCs in Kandy and Trincomalee. (…) “Sri Lanka has endured decades of violent conflict, and cooperation among the religious communities is vital for peace,” said Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace. “With the new Council, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, and Muslim goodwill now has a channel for sustained cooperation.” (…)


High-level multi-religious delegation helps build peace in Southern Thailand

Religious leaders begin building the Religions for Peace Inter-religious Council-Thailand to Advance Reconciliation and Peace

Bangkok, 25 April - As crises continue in the three Southern provinces - Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat - Religions for Peace, in partnership with World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) and Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), organized a high-level multi-religious delegation to the Southern Thailand on 22-23 April 2008.

The delegation met with local Buddhist, Muslim and Christian leaders, as well as with senior representatives of the Yala provincial government, the Civil-Police-Military Joint Task Force (CPM) and the Southern Boarder Provinces Administrative Center (SBPAC). The delegation also met with H.E. Mr. Anand Panyarachun, Chairman, National Reconciliation Commission, and H.E. Mr. Chuan Leekpai, Former Prime Ministers of Thailand in Bangkok on 23 April 2008. (...)

Rev. Sugino (Director of Inter-religious Development and Field Coordinator) said, “The historically friendly ties among Buddhists and Muslims in the Southern Thailand needs to be re-established. Multi-religious solidarity can facilitate the conditions for healing, reconciliation, dialogue and common action for peace. Rev. Sugino noted that religious leaders have agreed to begin the process of forming national and provincial inter-religious councils, consisting of senior leadership of Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, and other religious traditions, as a mechanism for reconciliation and peaceful common living. (…)



Culture and education



East Yakima set to help youngest residents Thrive

Ready by Five kicks off with $5 million for expanded early learning services and planning capital from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Thrive by Five Washington

Yakima, Wash, 9 May - Thrive by Five Washington and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced today $5 million for the first round of funding for Ready by Five, a community partnership that will substantially increase access to high-quality early learning opportunities for children from birth to age 5 in the partnership’s project area of East Yakima.

Ready by Five (formerly known as the East Yakima Early Learning Initiative) will provide parents and caregivers with education and support to help develop children’s potential and creativity, helping to ensure that all children in this community are ready to succeed in school and thrive in life. To read the full press release, visit the Ready by Five Washington Web site.


Indian students say “I Decide”

8 May - UNODC and the Delhi Public School Society are working together to improve the drug awareness education in some 200 Indian schools. By integrating drug awareness into school curricula and extra-curricular activities, the programme seeks to empower youth by promoting one message: “I decide - I will not take drugs.” (...) The programme is part of a broader initiative to reduce drug abuse and the spread of drug-related HIV infections in India. (...)

UNODC worked with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the Department of Education and the Ministry of Resource Development to include substance abuse-related content into text books and school modules. This has helped teachers start an important dialogue on drug abuse prevention with students; something not covered by the existing education syllabus. (...)

As part of the programme, students take part in interactive exercises to build knowledge and clarify important myths about drug abuse prevention. One of the key areas is the link between drug abuse and HIV/AIDS. (...)

As a result of the programme, teachers have reported a visible change in attitudes towards drug use. Problems and issues are discussed more freely. In some schools, students have started ‘I Decide’ clubs. (...)


UNICEF and JICA launch partnership for community-based early childhood care and education in Niger

More than 100 integrated preschools for rural children

Niamey, 6 May - The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and UNICEF are joining forces to bring essential early childhood services to rural children in Niger. In an agreement signed today, JICA and UNICEF will support the creation of at least 100 integrated community preschools over the next two years reaching out to rural children in two of the country’s regions with the lowest school enrollment rates.

Rural preschools began to appear only five years ago in Niger with the support of partners such as UNICEF, and enrollments have increased dramatically since. To reach the goals of the 10-year education plan in Niger, an additional 80,000 children will need to be enrolled in preschools in the next five years, making the creation of new facilities all the more important. (...)

Community preschools make a substantial contribution in bringing children into the school system earlier, increasing their chances to enroll and perform well in primary school. In addition, preschools have proven a strong strategy for promoting girls’ education. According to national statistics, girls make up 50 per cent of preschool enrollments, compared to 41.5 per cent of primary enrollments. Using a community-based strategy also allows for a rapid expansion of preschool services. (...)


2008 Biennale on Education in Africa: looking beyond primary education

5-9 May - The 2008 Biennale on Education in Africa, the foremost education meeting in the region, is under way in Maputo, Mozambique. Discussions will focus on post-primary education, one of the principal challenges facing education systems in Africa today.  Some 600 stakeholders, including all African ministers of education as well as UNESCO’s Director-General and Assistant-Director General for Education, will address three major areas: the goal of 9-10 years compulsory Education for All; skills development and the world of work and building knowledge and competencies for Africa’s development.

On 6 May, UNESCO and the Gérin-Lajoie Foundation will sign a wide-ranging cooperation agreement concerning joint basic education initiatives in selected developing countries. (...)


Community radio encourages girls’ education in Mozambique

by Emidio Machiana

Maganja da Costa District, Mozambique, 2 May - For almost a year, many families in Mozambique have awakened at daybreak to the pleasant voice of the young announcers at Erive Community Radio, the Maganja da Costa District’s new UNICEF-supported radio station.

Since the station began broadcasting, communities throughout the district have seen a gradual change in people’s behaviour - a change mainly affecting the lives of girls.  “In our radio programmes we discuss many children’s rights issues, such as our right to health, to protection against violence and abuse, and to education,” says the host of Erive’s children’s programme, Regina João Marenço, 14. “We have been given a lot of prominence to promote girls’ education.”

In the last year, the number of girls enrolled in Maganja da Costa’s primary schools has increased by almost 5,000.


European campaign for Higher Education Staff and Student Mobility in full gear

30 April - The joint campaign of EI and the European Students’ Union (ESU) for Staff and Student Mobility in Europe is in full gear. Entitled “Let’s Go”, the campaign is supported by the European Union’s Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) and aims to achieve full freedom of movement for higher education staff and students in Europe.

Earlier in February, the campaign website ( was officially launched at the meeting of EI’s Higher Education and Research Committee (HERSC). The website contains a wiki section, where visitors can contribute to the knowledge database of the situation of staff and student mobility in each country in Europe. (...)


World Intellectual Property Day 2008 – Celebrating Innovation

Geneva, 22 April - This year’s World Intellectual Property Day on April 26, 2008 focuses on celebrating innovation and promoting respect for intellectual property (IP). In his message to mark the eighth World IP Day, Dr. Kamil Idris, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), highlights the intrinsic link between creativity, innovation and IP. Dr. Idris pays tribute to inventors around the world who have driven technological advances and enriched our collective cultural heritage. Dr. Idris released the following message:  “World Intellectual Property Day is rapidly growing in popularity. Since its launch, eight years ago, increasing numbers of governments and organizations are joining WIPO in the annual celebrations on 26 April. (…) On World Intellectual Property Day we are celebrating not only the enormous power of human creativity, but also the intellectual property rights that help to fuel and channel it, making it such an important driving force for economic, cultural and social development. (…)”


"Poets at the summits"

The first edition of the event will take  in the Valley of Chamonix Mont-Blanc from 20 to July 25

Its objectives are to gather ambassadors, artists and actors of peace  from many countries members of the United Nations. "Poets at the summits" will live symbiosis with nature,  it will pose an act more for the culture of peace and its transmission. Art and culture are keys for expression of our relationship to the environment and dialogue between peoples and civilizations.

On the website:  are given all relevant information, the program - page   

"Poets at the summits" is an initiative founded by the poet and actress of peace Marie  ROBERT . Messenger of the culture of peace for Unesco. she will receive in May 2008 for all her work the gilt medal of the prestigious Arts Sciences Letters Academic Society of Paris

To register: Organization of Poets at the summits, 66 Clos des Charmilles, Chamonix 74400 Mont-Blanc - France -  


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Next issue: 6 June 2008.


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