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Good News Agency

In spite of everything, a culture of peace is emerging in all fields of human endeavour

monthly, year 16th, no. 239 – 9 October 2015


Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists in 54 countries and to 3,000 NGOs and 1,500 high schools, colleges and universities.

It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, an educational charity associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information It is a supporter of the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace. In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) provided to the UN Secretary-General for presentation to the UN General Assembly, Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing an active role in the field of Information through Internet.* 




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education

A Conscience of Wholeness


International legislation


Colombia: UN envoy welcomes parties’ agreement on no amnesty for sexual violence

2 October  – A senior United Nations envoy today welcomed an agreement between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that includes provisions not to grant amnesties for the most serious crimes, including sexual violence.

By the agreement reached on 23 September, the parties have agreed to create a Special Jurisdiction for Peace, which prioritizes the rights of the victims, including in the areas of truth seeking, reparations and guarantees of non-repetition.



Somalia ratifies the Convention on Cluster Munitions

1 October - Somalia is the 97th State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. An instrument of ratification was deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations at the UN headquarters in New York on 30 September 2015. The Convention calls on states to provide assistance, including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, and to provide for the economic and social inclusion of survivors, their families, and communities.



The European Union provides additional €30 million to support Palestine refugees through United Nations Relief and Works Agency

Brussels, 30 September - In the context of the efforts to help addressing the plight of the refugees in the wider Middle East region, the European Union (EU) announced that it will support Palestine refugees with fresh funding totaling € 30 million. This new assistance package announced at the visibility events in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York brings the total EU support provided to UNRWA in 2015 up to €125 million.




Human rights


UN launches ‘Nelson Mandela Rules’ on improving treatment of prisoners

7 October  – The United Nations today launched the Revised Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, dubbed the ‘Nelson Mandela Rules,’ which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed as “a great step forward” but also drew attention to three areas that could be strengthened from a human rights perspective.

“The Secretary-General welcomes the revised rules and progress made,” said Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, who represented the UN chief at the high-level presentation at UN Headquarters of the revised Rules, named after the late South African President who spent years in prison. South Africa also chaired the Expert group in the revision of the Standard Minimum Rules.

The senior human rights official highlighted as “important advances” the right to health of persons deprived of their liberty so that prisoners enjoy the same standard of health care as in the community and for continuity of treatment and care. “This provision is very important because the risk of transmission of HIV and other infectious diseases is much higher in prisons than in the general population,” he said, adding that the new health rules also provide an absolute prohibition on torture and ill-treatment of prisoners.



Ban welcomes US decision on early release of 6,000 prisoners

7 October – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed today the decision by the United States Government to release 6,000 inmates from federal penitentiaries in an effort to ease overcrowding in prisons and provide a degree of redress for persons who received disproportionately long sentences for non-violent drug-related offences.

“In order to address over-incarceration and overcrowding and their human rights implications, some States should develop and implement alternatives to custodial measures, and review penal policies and legislation to ensure proportionate sentencing,” said a statement issued today by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson in New York.

“He also welcomes proposals that aim to consider early release of additional prisoners who are serving sentences disproportionate to their crimes, many of which are drug-related,” the statement further noted. The Secretary-General also noted that States should only apply deprivation of liberty as a measure of last resort and only after alternatives have been duly considered.

“Consideration needs to be given to alternatives to criminalization and incarceration of people who use drugs, with an increased focus on public health, prevention, treatment and care,” he added in the statement.



Sri Lanka: UN war crimes resolution marks a turning point for victims

1 October - A crucial resolution adopted at the UN Human Rights Council today offers the victims of Sri Lanka’s armed conflict the prospect of finally getting the truth and justice they deserve.

“The adoption of this resolution is a turning point for human rights in Sri Lanka, and crucially recognizes terrible crimes committed by both parties during the armed conflict. Although far from perfect, if the resolution and the underlying commitments of Sri Lanka’s government are implemented in good faith it presents an opportunity for victims to finally get the truth and justice they have been waiting for,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s South Asia Research Director.

The resolution calls for international judges, defence lawyers, prosecutors and investigators to ensure the credibility of the justice process.



France / Italy: Red Cross restores family links for migrants

24 September – Working with the support of the ICRC, the French and Italian Red Cross Societies recently set up a cross-border “restoring family links” operation to help migrants re-establish contact with their families.

In recent months, an unprecedented number of migrants and refugees from Syria, Eritrea, Palestine, Nigeria and elsewhere have arrived in Italy and other southern European countries. In 2014, the Italian authorities registered 171,011 migrants. In the first five months of 2015, they registered a further 52,761 migrants. Many of them have fled violence and conflict in their countries of origin and made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.

As well as providing food, shelter and medical care, the Italian and French Red Cross Societies have been helping migrants re-establish contact with their families, with the support of the ICRC. https://www.icrc.org/en/document/france-italy-red-cross-restores-family-links-migrants-refugees


Philippines: new and safer homes for thousands of Haiyan survivors

23 September – When Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines in November 2013, it left widespread devastation in its wake. Over a million homes were destroyed. Together with the Philippine Red Cross, the ICRC has built nearly 4,500 storm-resilient houses for vulnerable families on SamarIsland. Each house is equipped with its own sanitation facilities.



Aqeela Asifi: 2015 Nansen Refugee Award winner

Aqeela Asifi is an Afghan refugee living in Pakistan whose tireless efforts to help girl refugees access education have made her a true symbol of triumph over adversity. As well as offering displaced girls a pathway out of poverty, the school that Asifi created in Kot Chandana refugee village also gives pupils the opportunity to build a new future when they return to Afghanistan. "When you have educated mothers, you will almost certainly have educated future generations," Asifi says. "So if you educate girls, you educate generations."

Few humanitarian honours possess the rich legacy of UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award. Established in 1954, the Nansen Refugee Award is named after Fridtjof Nansen, the first High Commissioner for Refugees for the League of Nations. The award is bestowed to a person or group for outstanding work on behalf of the forcibly displaced. The Nansen Refugee Award, through its laureates, aims to showcase the values of perseverance and conviction in the face of adversity.




Economy and development


Rice genetics placed in global data pool to help develop sustainable crops – UN agency

7 October  – The genome sequences of thousands of rice varieties have been placed with a United Nations-backed treaty on plant genetics by the world’s leading rice research institute to help boost plans to set up a global data exchange for crop genetic resources, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) Treaty made the announcement this week at a meeting for the plant treaty, which is being hosted by FAO in Rome this week.

FAO noted that “the need to develop crop varieties that are both more productive, less environmentally damaging and also shock tolerant” is crucial to development, particularly because of the growing global population and the agricultural shocks caused by climate change.



World Forum on Local Economic Development -  Turin, October 13 - 16

A means to address post-2015 development agenda challenges

The 3rd World Forum of Local Economic Development will take place in Turin (Italy) from 13 to 16 October 2015. The event is organized by the Municipality and Metropolitan city of Turin, the global network of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and its Committee on Local Economic Development, through the Andalusian Fund of Municipalities for International Solidarity (FAMSI), the Organization of United Regions (ORU FOGAR), the Brazilian Service of Support for Micro and Small Enterprises (SEBRAE), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

 Considering the new post 2015 agenda, which will define the development framework of the next 15 years, Local Economic Development (LED) is suggested as a tool for implementing the future agenda at the local level and advises a reviewed global economic governance structure.



At UN Assembly, Brazilian President urges solidarity towards Global Goals, tackling refugee crisis

28 September – Following the tradition of being the first Head of State to address the annual General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff today, in a wide-ranging address, stressed, among other issues, her country’s improved economy after the 2008 economic crisis and its efforts to provide refuge for migrants stranded across Europe.

Ms. Rousseff said that numerous fiscal measures undertaken by the Government since the global meltdown has led to the revival of Brazil’s economic stagnation. “During these six years, we adopted a comprehensive set of measures by lowering taxes, expanding credit, strengthening investment and stimulating household consumption,” said President Rousseff.

Brazil’s effort to reduce greenhouse emission gases was also emphasized by President Rousseff in her speech.



UN adopts new Global Goals, charting sustainable development for people and planet by 2030

25 September  – The 193-Member United Nations General Assembly today formally adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with a set of bold new Global Goals, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed as a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world.

“The new agenda is a promise by leaders to all people everywhere. It is an agenda for people, to end poverty in all its forms – an agenda for the planet, our common home,” declared Mr. Ban as he opened the UN Sustainable Development Summit which kicked off today and wraps up Sunday.

The UN chief’s address came ahead of the Assembly’s formal adoption of the new framework, Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is composed of 17 goals and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.

The Goals aim to build on the work of the historic Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which in September 2000, rallied the world around a common 15-year agenda to tackle the indignity of poverty.

Mr. Ban urged the world leaders and others convened at the event to successfully implement the Global Goals or Agenda 30 by launching ‘renewed global partnership.’



EU, IFAD and ASEAN launch 16 million euro programme to support smallholder farmers

September 21, Makati City/PhilippinesA new development programme designed to improve the income and food security of 10 million small-scale farmers and rural producers was launched earlier this month at the 37th meeting of the ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) in MakatiCity. Supported by the European Union (EU) in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the 16 million euro ASEAN Farmers' Organizations Support Programme (AFOSP) will assist farmers’ organizations to more effectively influence agriculture and food security policy on a national, regional and global level.

Some 40 national organizations and 300 local associations will benefit from AFOSP investments in agriculture services, training centres and marketing facilitation.



Helping Gaza farmers become successful entrepreneurs

21 September Gaza, Israel  – Shifa Hassan joined American Near East Refugee Aid ANERA’s land restoration program a few months ago. She is a member of the Society of Palestinian Rural Farmers in Gaza, one of ANERA’s two local partners in the program. The project is helping more than 150 Gaza farmers restore their land that was damaged during the 2014 Gaza war or had been fallow because of a lack of resources.

Shifa and others in the program also received tools to process and preserve the fresh vegetables they harvested. Shifa uses the profits to help support new graduates or volunteers looking for work in her poor community where job prospects are slim; the strategy is to harvest the vegetables as soon as possible and bring them to the cooperative to finish processing, preserving and selling the produce. http://www.anera.org/stories/helping-gaza-farmers-become-successful-entrepreneurs/


US$120 million initiative to economically transform rural areas in Pakistan

September 18, Rome – A rural development programme supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will increase agricultural incomes and employment for at least 100,000 rural households in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. IFAD is providing US$67 million to finance the Economic Transformation Initiative in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. The Government of Pakistan will cofinance with $23.63 million and lead the programme.

The initiative will focus on increasing agricultural production, introducing high-value cash crops and linking farmers to markets. It will also improve on existing infrastructure such as irrigation systems and rural roads in the mountainous region.



Industrial chickpea processor boosts quality to reach markets

14 September, Ethiopia.– In partnership with Agro Prom International, an Ethiopian food processor and exporter, ACDI/VOCA’s AGP-AMDE project officially inaugurated a new industrial chickpea processing and cleaning facility in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia on August 25, 2015. Due to quality gaps, Ethiopian chickpea exports usually end up in lesser-value markets. The ability of this new facility’s machinery to clean chickpeas to above 99 percent purity and its capacity to clean five metric tons per hour enables Agro Prom to sell to the more demanding and higher-value American, European, and Middle Eastern markets.






$3 million in grants to domestic violence shelters nationwide narrows gap between funding and demand for services

25 September Dallas, Texas - Through a 24-hour survey of domestic violence programs, the National Network to End Domestic Violence discovered that more than 67,000 domestic violence victims found refuge and help on a single day. To continue its long-standing commitment to support the prevention and elimination of domestic violence, The Mary Kay Foundation℠ is awarding $3 million in grants to 150 domestic violence shelters in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In advance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, all 150 shelters will receive a $20,000 grant.

Since 2000, The Mary Kay Foundation has donated $35.6 million to domestic violence organizations through its annual shelter grant program. Each year, grants are awarded to at least one domestic violence shelter in every state with the remaining grants distributed based on state population. The Mary Kay Foundation was created in 1996, and its mission is two-fold: to fund research of cancers affecting women and to help prevent domestic violence while raising awareness of the issue.



Pierre Omidyar donates $269 million in eBay shares

September 25 – Internet billionaire Pierre Omidyar has given away one-tenth of his holdings in eBay, a stock gift valued at nearly $270 million, according to EcommerceBytes. The Omidyar Group, which manages the philanthropic activity of the eBay co-founder and his wife, Pam, did not respond to requests for comment on what organizations or causes will benefit from last month’s gift.

The Omidyars donated $180 million last year, ranking them 12th on The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Philanthropy 50 roster of top U.S. donors. They have been fixtures on the annual list for more than a decade. The couple’s major beneficiaries include organizations that fight human trafficking, develop technology to help critically ill children, and support various causes in their home state of Hawaii, as well as their own nonprofit, the Omidyar Network.



Ukraine: Thousands most affected by conflict receive aid on both sides of front line

Kiev/Donetsk, 23 September – A new round of aid distributions is being carried out by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on both sides of the front line and will continue until Friday 25 September. The aid includes food, personal hygiene items and tarpaulins for more than 5,000 people living in two locations close to the front line in opposition-held territory and two nearby towns under government control. A ceasefire which has now held for some weeks has brought welcome respite to people in front-line areas and helped to make such an operation possible. In parallel, the ICRC has also carried out distributions in Mariinka and Krasnogorovka, in the area under the control of the Ukrainian authorities.

This humanitarian operation is taking place in close coordination with all parties concerned, as well as the JointCenter for Control and Coordination (JCCC) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.



AIDA and Costa support refugee relief with 200,000 euros in Germany and Italy

23 September, Rostock and Hamburg, Germany.  AIDA Cruises and Costa Crociere donate a total of 200,000 euros for projects of refugee relief in Germany and Italy to support people who escaped war and prosecution, hoping for a life in freedom and safety in Europe. AIDA Cruises will support the alliance of German aid organizations, “Aktion Deutschland hilft”, with a donation of 100,000 euros. The alliance of German aid organizations “Aktion Deutschland hilft” supports refugees in Germany among other things with integrating and orienting themselves but also provide active help in the arrival countries all around the Mediterranean Sea as well as in the countries of origin of the refugees.



Crowded House, Benedict Cumberbatch ‘Help Is Coming’ song and video to help refugees

By Aaron Brophy – www.samaritanmag.com

September 23  – Australian rock band Crowded House and British actor Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, The Imitation Game, Star Trek Into The Darkness) have teamed up for the new music video “Help Is Coming.”  All proceeds from the new song will go towards helping refugee children through Save The Children’s Refugee Crisis Appeal. Additionally, the Help Is Coming website has been created to host the video along with information on how to donate to the cause in the United Kingdom, the United States or internationally.

Save The Children is a worldwide organization aid organization who “give children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.” Some of the organization’s work includes emergency response programs for things like the Syrian refugee crisis, Nepal earthquake relief and ebola crisis in West Africa. They also provide things like education, health and nutrition, and HIV and AIDS support programs. Their slogan in all this: “We don’t choose sides. We choose children.



Global brands rally public support to World Food Programme and families affected by war

Rome - On 21 September, the International Day of Peace, many companies are donating television and digital media channels to drive support for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). As the world’s refugee crisis grows and humanitarian resources are stretched, this multi-industry effort championed first by McDonald’s represents a powerful, tangible way for people to make a real difference toward peace and support refugees and displaced people struggling daily to feed their families. Supporting companies include Burger King, Cargill, DreamWorks Animation, Facebook, Google, MasterCard, McCain, McDonald’s, OMD, Twitter, TBWA and United Airlines.

On television and online, several companies are using donated media and social channels highlighting a 30-second WFP-branded commercial called “Symbols.” All funds raised from this effort will go to WFP’s emergency response fund that is used to support WFP’s most critical operations, including crises in and around Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen.



United States announces additional humanitarian aid for Syria crisis

Washington, D.C. September 21 – The United States announced today nearly $419 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help those affected by the conflict in Syria. With this new funding, total U.S. humanitarian assistance since the start of the crisis is now more than $4.5 billion.

The United States remains the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, having provided urgently needed relief supplies and other life-saving assistance across all 14 Governorates of Syria, to Syrian refugees, and the communities that host them in neighboring countries.

More than half of Syria’s population - 12.2 million people - is in need of humanitarian assistance.

This new funding supports the operations of the United Nations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), as well as other international and non-governmental organizations. It provides medical care - including support to vaccination campaigns to help stem the spread of polio and measles-safe drinking water, food and much-needed shelter to help people affected by the conflict. It also aids governments and communities throughout the region that are straining to cope with the mass influx of refugees from Syria.



Lake Chad: Red Cross seeks to improve coordinated response to humanitarian crisis

Abuja, 16 September – The Red Cross began a two-day regional meeting in Abuja today aimed at improving its coordinated response to the Lake Chad crisis. Red Cross partners include the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the National Societies of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

The armed conflict in north-east Nigeria has created a massive humanitarian crisis with spillover effects on Cameroon, Chad and Niger: entire communities in all four countries have been uprooted. Hundreds of thousands of people, forced to abandon their belongings, now live in host communities or camps.

So far in 2015, Red Cross partners have come to the aid of more than 500,000 people in the Lake Chad region who have received food, essential household items, drinking water and medical care. The Red Cross is also helping separated family members get back into contact.



Google’s global public giving campaign to support assistance for child refugees

Fairfield, Conn., USA, Sept. 15 - Save the Children and Google today announced a new global public giving campaign to assist families fleeing the Middle East in unprecedented numbers and seeking a safe haven in Europe. For every $1 donated at google.com/refugeerelief Google will donate $1 up to a total of 10 million Euros (about $11 million U.S.) to be shared evenly among four nonprofits. Save the Children will use the funds to expand its work to address the needs of refugees seeking safety in Europe, including thousands of children and families from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Our staff members are on the front lines, working around the clock to help address the needs of refugee children and their families,” said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children.  “We’re happy to be able to support these efforts to bring essential assistance -- including shelter, food and water, physical security and medical care -- to people in need,” said Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Google.org.



Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announces the creation of a groundbreaking, formal network of global humanitarian organizations: The Hilton Prize Coalition

15 September, Los Angeles, California - The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation  announced a $2 million commitment to launch the next groundbreaking force in the humanitarian sector – The Hilton Prize Coalition. This new grant will formalize the coalition comprised of many of the first 19 Hilton Humanitarian Prize-winning organizations and kick-start the implementation of two new initiatives: the Hilton Prize Laureates Fellowship Program, designed to inspire a new generation of humanitarian leaders, and the Disaster Resiliency and Response Program, created to help Prize laureates combine forces to leverage their work partnerships, and to improve services and programs in the field. Nominations for the 2016 Hilton Humanitarian Prize will be accepted beginning on Sept. 28 and should be submitted though the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation website before Oct. 31.



Qatar Development Fund commits US$1 million to WFP to battle food crisis in South Sudan

September 14, Doha - The Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Qatar Development Fund and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding providing US$1 million to address the food crisis arising from the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, which has led to the deterioration of the humanitarian and health situations, widespread population displacement and disruption of livelihoods since fighting erupted in December 2013.

WFP aims to assist at least 3 million people in South Sudan this year, using every means at its disposal, including airdrops, river boats, and distributions of food, cash or vouchers.



 Peace and security

World Disarmament Week, 24-30 October

Disarmament Week has been observed by the United Nations since 1978. Member States are invited to highlight the dangers of the arms race, promote recognition of the need to stop the arms race, and increase public understanding of the urgent tasks of disarmament. NGOs organize a range of events seeking to raise public opinion and pressurize governments to act on disarmament.

26 September 2013: High-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament - 
In its Resolution 67/39 the General Assemble "decides to convene a high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament, that will be held as a one day plenary meeting on 26 September 2013, to contribute to achieving the goal of nuclear disarmament".

Arms Trade Treaty: This year during the annual United Nations Treaty Event - , much of the attention was focused on the Arms Trade Treaty, which was signed by 27 countries – including the United States – and ratified by three, bringing the total number of signatures to 113 and the total number of parties to seven.



U.S. and Iranian Presidents speak about nuclear agreement at UN

September 28 - U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani both spoke about the recent nuclear agreement in their remarks to the United Nations General Assembly on September 28. President Obama said, "For two years, the United States and our partners – including Russia, including China – stuck together in complex negotiations. The result is a lasting, comprehensive deal.... And if this deal is fully implemented, the prohibition on nuclear weapons is strengthened, a potential war is averted, our world is safer. That is the strength of the international system when it works the way it should."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, "Today, a new chapter has started in Iran's relations with the world. From the standpoint of international law, this instrument [the nuclear agreement] sets a strong precedent where, for the first time, two sides rather than negotiating peace after war, engaged in dialogue and understanding before the eruption of conflict." (Sunflower newsletter, October 2015)

Click the links to read the full remarks of President Obama and President Rouhani


Pope Francis speaks out for nuclear disarmament

September 25 - Pope Francis spoke out strongly in favor of peace and nuclear disarmament during his speech to the United Nations on September 25. In his highly-anticipated remarks, Pope Francis said, "There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons."

He also spoke about the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1. He said, "The recent agreement reached on the nuclear question in a sensitive region of Asia and the Middle East is proof of the potential of political good will and of law, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy. I express my hope that this agreement will be lasting and efficacious, and bring forth the desired fruits with the cooperation of all the parties involved."

"Video: Pope Francis Speaks at the UN on Nuclear Weapons," Nuclear Age Peace Foundation


Afghan youth leaders connect with their civil activist counterparts in Bosnia Herzegovina

23 September, Bosnia Herzegovina –32 determined Afghan youth leaders travelled to Bosnia Herzegovina to discuss the role of youth engagement in post-conflict, multi-ethnic countries. The youth – 16 women and 16 men from 25 provinces in Afghanistan – captured headlines across Bosnia and Herzegovina as they met with their Bosnian peers, civil society activists, members of Parliament, academics, historians, leading media outlets, grassroots activists and other key officials to exchange their ideas and learn from Bosnian experiences. Their visit was as part of a 10-day international exposure visit organized through Counterpart’s Emerging Civil Society Leaders Program (ECSLP), supported by USAID (U.S. Embassy and United States  Agency for International Development).



She is mapping the landmine problem of Myanmar

22 September, Myanmar.  While waiting for becoming a star of traditional songs, Maw Pray Myar has become famous as one of the most active team leaders for the Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) survey on Mine Risks conducted for the first time ever in three States and two Regions in the South-East of Myanmar. As a result of decades of armed conflict, Myanmar is experiencing some of the highest mine accident rates in the world: seven out of Myanmar’s 14 States are contaminated. With ceasefire negotiations being under way, some displaced people are considering return but land mine contamination continues to pose a serious risk. From February 2013 to June 2014, UNICEF  and its partner the DanChurchAid (DCA) conducted a KAP Survey on Mine Risks under the leadership of the Myanmar Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. The survey collects data from 41 villages and over 390 households, including 390 interviews with children.



Strong support for national Syria fundraising campaign in Denmark

21 September, Denmark -  At the big fundraising show on TV Sunday night hosted by the two biggest national tv-stations, the Danish people donated more than 13 mil. US$ (DKK 86,271,606) to be split between 12 aid agencies. DCA will receive more than 13% of these funds, and General Secretary Birgitte Qvist-Sørensen was very grateful for the generosity and willingness from the Danish people to help the refugees in and around Syria’s near regions. With more than 4 million refugees in the neighbouring countries and more than 7.5 million IDPs the Syrian crisis is one the worst in the Middle East in recent years. In recent weeks the refugees have been arriving Denmark in numbers that have triggered a hard debate in the press and in the social media.



Germany donates 873.000 EUR for mine clearance in BiH

Sarajevo, 18 September  – Mrs. Natalie Kauther, Deputy Head of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Ambassador Damjan Bergant, ITF Enhancing Human Security (ITF) Director, signed the additional Agreement in the amount of 873.000,00 EUR for mine clearance in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in 2015. ITF and the Federal Republic of Germany thus continue its strategic and successful partnership in BiH with a total amount of 1.273.000 EUR secured for demining activities in 2015. ITF and the Federal Republic of Germany, through its Embassy in Sarajevo, will continue to strengthen their strategic partnership also in 2016.



Mozambique: landmine clearance success shows a mine-free world is possible

Geneva, 17 September - Mozambique’s completion of antipersonnel landmine clearance shows that a mine-free world is possible. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines hails this major accomplishment that will allow hundreds of thousands of Mozambicans to cultivate their land, walk to school, and access water safely.

During a public event on 17 September 2015, the Instituto Nacional de Desminagem (National Demining Institute) announced the completion of antipersonnel landmine clearance throughout the country. Mozambique is still contaminated by other unexploded ordnance.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines is a network of non-governmental organizations in some 100 countries, working to end the suffering caused by antipersonnel mines, through the universalization and full implementation of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. The Campaign received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.






UN launches new joint partnership to help countries close gaps in primary health care

27 September – Underscoring the urgent need to transform how essential health care is delivered in low- and middle-income countries, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank Group and the UN World Health Organization (WHO) have launched a new partnership to support countries in improving the performance of primary health care.

The new partnership, the Primary Health Care Performance Initiative (PHCPI) was launched yesterday in New York on the margins of the three-day UN Sustainable Development Summit at an event co-hosted with the governments of Germany, Ghana, and Norway. They have released a new framework – ‘Roadmap: Healthy Systems-Healthy Lives’ – which can strengthen health systems. This is a partnership that can support countries to strengthen monitoring, tracking and sharing of key performance indicators for primary health care, according to WHO. The PHCPI will bring together health policymakers, practitioners, advocates and development partners to process the improvement of primary health care system. The Initiative monitors “vital signs,” or performance indicators, of primary health care.



Greece: MSF teams help create a transit camp for refugees arriving to Idomeni

26 September – A team of MSF logisticians has helped build a transit camp with the capacity to accommodate more than 1,000 people in the Idomeni area in Greece, close to the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). MSF has set up four large 240 square metre tents and two tents of 45 square metres to be used for our medical activities. The camp is also equipped with basic sanitation facilities and water supply.  The structures will serve as a facility for the thousands of refugees and migrants that pass through the area every day.

As Idomeni is a small, remote village with limited capacity to host the people who arrive there, many refugees and migrants have to stay in squalid conditions. Many resort to staying outside in the bush or at the train station, without any shelter and with little access to food or hygiene facilities. With winter approaching, people will face even harsher conditions. Lately, the MSF teams have witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of refugees crossing the border, sometimes seeing up to 5,000 people crossing every day.



Nigeria declared polio-free, removed from endemic list

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on 25 September that Nigeria is now polio-free and has been officially removed from the list of countries where polio is endemic. It’s been 14 months since any cases of polio caused by the wild virus have been detected there.

With Nigeria’s historic achievement, polio remains endemic in only two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan. That means transmission of the virus has never been stopped there.

 “Rotary congratulates Nigeria on its tremendous accomplishment in stopping polio,” says RI President K.R. Ravindran. “On behalf of the entire Global Polio Eradication Initiative, we thank volunteers, health workers, and parents in communities across Nigeria for their tireless commitment to ensuring every last child is protected against this devastating disease.” Nigeria’s success is the result of several sustained efforts, including domestic and international financing, the commitment of thousands of health workers, and new strategies that reached children who had not previously been immunized because of a lack of security in the country’s northern states.



Novo Nordisk joins Business Call to Action with diabetes awareness campaign in Kenya

22 September, New York - The Business Call to Action (BCtA) announces that Novo Nordisk, a global healthcare company with more than 90 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care, has joined BCtA with an initiative to improve access to safe and affordable diabetes care for the working poor people in Kenya. The company aims to reach 1.5 million people with a grassroots awareness campaign involving community leaders, healthcare workers and peer educators on diabetes risk factors, the importance of early detection and proper treatment of the disease.  Novo Nordisk’s awareness campaign builds on the company’s growing business in Kenya, including its successful effort to limit price mark-ups of insulin products. The Novo Nordisk’s Base of the Pyramid project in Kenya is a public-private partnership with the Kenyan Ministry of Health, the Kenyan county governments, the faith-based organizations Christian Health Association of Kenya and the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops.



Project HOPE airlifts medical supplies to Macedonia amid massive influx of refugees to Europe

Millwood, VA, USA, September 21  – Project HOPE announced today that an airlift of medical supplies arrived in Macedonia and additional aid was en route to the country to assist Syrian refugees and others who have fled conflicts in the Middle East. The donated medical supplies include splints, injection needles, syringes, stethoscopes, blood collection sets, anti-bacterial solution, gauze, examination gloves, alcohol swabs, casting tape, masks and catheters.

It is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 refugees have been passing through Macedonia daily en route to Western European countries where they hope to settle. Macedonia is not a member of the European Union. Project HOPE, a global health and humanitarian assistance organization, will continue to work with Macedonia’s Ministry of Health to identify medical needs, and a shipment of additional supplies will arrive in Macedonia within a month.

More than four million people have fled Syria to neighboring countries since the conflict began in 2011, and increasing numbers of refugees are attempting to reach Europe.



Global eradication of wild poliovirus type 2 declared

20 September, Bali – In an important step towards a polio-free world, the Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (GCC) today concluded that wild poliovirus type 2 (WPV2) has been eradicated worldwide. The GCC reached its conclusion after reviewing formal documentation submitted by MemberStates, global poliovirus laboratory network and surveillance systems.  The last detected WPV2 dates to 1999, from Aligarh, northern India. This announcement marks a major landmark in the global efforts to eradicate all three wild poliovirus serotypes and a further milestone and a significant step in preparation for globally coordinated vaccine switch , planned for April 2016. http://www.polioeradication.org/mediaroom/newsstories/Global-eradication-of-wild-poliovirus-type-2-declared/tabid/526/news/1289/Default.aspx


Gaza blood bank equipped for emergencies

18 September, Gaza, Israel.  The Gaza Blood Bank Society (GBBS) plays a key role during good times and during crises like last year’s war. Gaza’s main hospitals were in dire need for blood donations during last year’s war. They issued a call for urgent donations of all blood types. GBBS has received financial donations from a variety of funders. Dr. Ziyad, as one of the founders, says ANERA( American Near East Refugee Aid)  has been a life-saver, helping the blood bank with the society’s infrastructure by expanding its facilities into a new building that had not been operational for several months. Dr. Ziyad explained that selecting the right cold storage equipment, for example, is critical for the blood bank. So is keeping the refrigeration equipment functioning. ANERA provided GBBS with a new 66KVA generator, a reliable power source to sustain its operations.



Rotary donates kits to pregnant women

By Segun Olaniy

September 18, Abuja - As part of efforts towards attaining safe delivery, reduce complications during childbirth and infant mortality, the Rotary Club of Kubwa, District 9125, has donated birthing kits, mosquito nets and other materials needed for safe childbirth to over 70 pregnant women.

The project tagged “Safe Mothers, Healthy Children Project”, which was the first phase of the project, was carried out at the Byahzin Primary Health Centre, Kubwa recently with members of the Rotary Club of Kubwa who were at the Primary Health Centre to donate the items to the pregnant women during the weekly ante-natal clinic programme of the health centre. (...)



Pakistan launches low-season push against polio: first of nine vaccination campaigns aiming to leave no child unreached

15 September, Pakistan – Pakistan launched a nationwide polio campaign yesterday to vaccinate more than 35 million children in 163 districts of the country. Approximately 200,000 polio workers are participating in the polio campaign, during which Vitamin A will also be distributed. The Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, monitored the campaign in various areas of Islamabad including urban and rural slums, so that no child remains unvaccinated during this nationwide polio drive. Pakistan currently accounts for most of the children paralyzed by wild poliovirus this year (30), followed by Afghanistan (9). These are the only two countries in the world with wild poliovirus cases in 2015: the lowest number of countries in history. The quality of these campaigns – whether missed children are given the opportunity to be vaccinated – will determine how swiftly Pakistan can eradicate polio.




Energy and safety



EuroPCom 2015: 6th European Conference for Public Communication - 21-22 October

The sixth edition of EuroPCom, the European Conference on Public Communication, will be held in Brussels on the 21st and 22nd of October, 2015. Together, communication managers and senior experts from local, regional, national and European authorities will attend lectures, debates, and interactive workshops for a dynamic two-day program. Join over 900 colleagues from all EU member states to discuss major challenges in both EU and public communication.

 This year, the conference will be organized back-to-back with the annual meeting of more than 500 Europe Direct Information Centres, enabling EuroPCom to be more pervasive and encompassing in European communication than ever.



IKEA unveils solar-powered flat pack shelters for easily deployable emergency housing

Lori Zimmer

October 7 - IKEA just turned turned its flat pack sensibilities from the urban apartment to the global village by unveiling a comfortable, solar-powered shelter that can provide emergency housing for natural disaster victims and refugees. The flat pack homes were developed in collaboration between the IKEA Foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), and they can be set up in a snap to provide immediate shelter for those in need. (...)

IKEA’s shelters come flat packed, making for the easy transport of lightweight plastic shelters at once. Assembly of the 188 square foot hut is easy and can be built in just four hours. Five people can sleep comfortably inside, which is twice the size of the regulation refugee tent. The best part, the homes have solar paneled roofing, allowing inhabitants to generate their own electricity, extinguishing the need for candles or kerosene lamps. The roof also helps to deflect solar reflection by 70%, keeping the interior cool during the day and warmer at night.

The new IKEA/UNHCR shelters will make their first be deployed in Ethiopia next month.



India vows to cut carbon intensity in Paris pledge

By Karl Ritter, Associated Press Stockholm

October 1 -  (...) The world's third-largest carbon polluter filed its climate action plan to the Germany-based U.N. climate secretariat late Thursday, the deadline for pledges before a December conference in Paris, where governments are supposed to adopt a landmark deal to fight climate change.  In a 38-page submission citing Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian government said it would slash the rate of emissions relative to gross domestic product by 33-35 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. (...)

India plans a fivefold boost in renewable energy capacity in the next five years to 175 gigawatts, including solar power, wind, biomass and small hydropower dams. Even with a major boost of renewable energy, India is also planning to expand coal power — the biggest source of emissions — to satisfy its energy needs. Coal-fired power plants account for about 60% of India's installed power capacity. (...)



Following earthquake, UN says Chile’s investment in disaster risk reduction paid off

17 September – The head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) today lauded the Chilean Government’s successful efforts to reduce disaster risk and minimise the number of casualties from the 8.3-magnitude earthquake and tsunami which occurred last night.

“Chile’s investment in resilient infrastructure, early warning systems and urban planning have ensured that casualties have been low on this occasion despite the intensity of the earthquake,” Margareta Wahlström said in a statement. “The evacuation of one million people ensured that there was no repetition of the loss of life which happened five years ago when 523 people died.”

Chile is among the many disaster-prone countries that played a key role in formulating the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a global plan for reducing disaster losses that was adopted earlier this year at a UN conference held in the Japanese city.




Environment and wildlife


Climate pilgrims leave Rome with Pope’s blessing

Rome, September 30 - The historic People’s Pilgrimage, an epic walk from Rome to Paris headed by its leader, former Philippine Climate Envoy Yeb Sano left St Peter’s Square, Vatican City at 13:30 today.

Under the lenses of camera teams from several global TV stations the marchers first lined up behind a string of banners. The marchers which included activists from members of the Italian climate change coalition including Greenpeace, Legambiente, World Wildlife Fund, Marevivo, Friends of the Earth then walked two by two down the via della Conciliazione, the broad avenue which links St. Peter’s Square to Rome.

Speaking to reporters gathered in the Square Yeb stated that “the pilgrimage is signal to the world’s

government meeting in Paris that we, the people, want action on climate change. We are following the

inspiring leadership of His Holiness the Pope given in his recent Encyclical Laudato Sii which calls for a

rethinking of our economic system to protect creation and eliminate poverty. As we pass through towns and villages in four European nations, we will be meeting with local religious communities, environmental

activists, ordinary citizens.” Solidarity pilgrimages are taking place across the globe and can be seen online here: www.peoplespilgrimage.org 



CentralAfricanForest Initiative launched. Countries join efforts to tackle deforestation in the region

September 29, Rome/New York - FAO welcomed today the launch of a new Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) aimed at supporting the implementation of essential reforms and enhance investments to effectively address the drivers of deforestation in Central Africa. Launched on the margins of the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York, the initiative is a partnership of six Central African countries, donors and international organisations, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and FAO. Under the initiative, they will develop investment frameworks to support the sustainable use and conservation of their forest resources which play a vital role in climate change mitigation and poverty alleviation in the region.

Central Africa is home to the second largest tropical rainforest area in the world with over 240 million hectares (ha). Despite the fact that the annual rate of natural forest loss is declining in Africa, the region still records the highest forest losses on the planet.

Resource partners supporting this initiative include the European Union, France, Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom.




Religion and spirituality


Week of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns, UN Headquarters, New York, October 23-28

In honor of the anniversary of  the United  Nations,  the Week Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns was created in October 2007 to foster the growth of a culture of peace in which “we, the peoples of the world”, can address together our common challenges in a holistic, positive and transformative way. The Week’s activities recognize that spirituality and adherence to universal values, such as those expressed in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are important keys to providing solutions to global concerns. The aims of the Week, is designed to inspire and generate collective engagement in an annual worldwide celebration. Members of the UN community and the public are invited to participate.



Dr. Jane Goodall will address the 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions

Dr. Jane Goodall will be delivering a keynote address during the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions in SaltLake, October 15–19. The famed primatologist and conservationist known for her behavioral study of wild chimpanzees, will address two of this year’s themes: War, Violence & Hate Speech and Climate Change. Pouring love and passion into her 55-year career, Jane Goodall has given so much to the world, truly making it a better place.

The Parliament is the oldest, the largest, and the most inclusive gathering of people of all faith and traditions. The first Parliament took place in 1893. Since, this historic event has taken place in Chicago, USA • Cape Town, South Africa • Barcelona, Spain • Melbourne, Australia - and now in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.



Christians and Muslims forge plan to work closer together in Nigeria

Peter Kenny

October 1 - Christian and Muslim groups have met in Switzerland to plan how to work together at a new inter-religious center working for healing and reconciliation in Nigeria set to launch in March 2016. The meeting was held at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, near  Geneva Switzerland on September 27 and 28, the World Council of Churches said in a statement: "This center is a significant common project for Muslims and Christian leaders in Nigeria and a pioneering work in inter-religious encounter."

Institutions represented in Bossey were the Jordanian Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought (RABIIT), the WCC, the Christian Council of Nigeria and Jama'atu Nasril Islam.  (...)

The governance, management and program of the center are intended to model Nigerian Christians and Muslims working together on issues of concern to all Nigerians. The phrase "In the sandals of the other" was proposed as a descriptive title for the center. It will also share examples of people working together to support each other across religious boundaries



Religious Genius – a post Parliament training presented by the Elijah Interfaith Institute

The Elijah Interfaith Institute has identified “Religious Genius” as a fertile meeting ground for scholars and practitioners to share. Let us share the best of our religions, and not be reduced to the worst examples of our religions .The Elijah Institute will be offering a post-parliament training in “Religious Genius”, with the support of the John Templeton Foundation. “Religious Genius” provides us with a new language for interreligious exchanges, and is relevant to all the great Scriptural traditions, East and West.

The training is open to all who seek to have a profound experience of interfaith study and engagement. We particularly seek to involve those who represent or can influence any of the following: Religious Communities/religious leaders; Interreligious Communities; Youth Leaders; Academics.

The Post Parliament training will take place in Salt Lake City, immediately after the conclusion of the Parliament meeting, from October 20-23.




Culture and education


On World Day, UN urges international community to invest in recruiting, empowering teachers

5 October – Marking the first World Teacher’s Day after the adoption of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, senior United Nations officials appealed to the international community to value, support, and empower teachers.  “Today, as the global community comes together around the new 2030 Agenda, the role teachers play has never have been more important,” said the heads of key UN agencies in a joint statement on the Day. Quality teachers are increasingly recognized as the most important factor in children’s learning- and thus, in improving educational attainment levels, increasing the ability of young people to participate in society and today’s knowledge economies, boosting productivity and prosperity.

The statement was issued by UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova; UN International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Director-General, Guy Ryder; UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, Anthony Lake; UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Administrator, Helen Clark; and Fred van Leeuwen, the General Secretary of Education International, which represents teachers' organizations across the globe.



This year’s ‘Alternative Nobels’ announced

2015 Right Livelihood Awards honour courageous and effective solutions to secure human rights and respond to global crises

Stockholm 1 October - The 2015 Right Livelihood Honorary Award goes to TONY DE BRUM and THE PEOPLE OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS “in recognition of their vision and courage to take legal action against the nuclear powers for failing to honour their disarmament obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

Three Laureates will share the cash award of SEK 3 million (ca. EUR 320 000). The jury recognises:

SHEILA WATT-CLOUTIER (Canada) “for her lifelong work to protect the Inuit of the Arctic and defend their right to maintain their livelihoods and culture, which are acutely threatened by climate change.”

KASHA JACQUELINE NABAGESERA (Uganda) “for her courage and persistence, despite violence and intimidation, in working for the right of LGBTI people to a life free from prejudice and persecution.”

GINO STRADA, co-founder of EMERGENCY, (Italy) “for his great humanity and skill in providing outstanding medical and surgical services to the victims of conflict and injustice, while fearlessly addressing the causes of war.”

The 2015 Right Livelihood Awards were announced today in Stockholm at the Swedish Foreign Office International Press Centre. The Awards will be presented at a ceremony in Stockholm on 30 November 2015, hosted by the Society for the Right Livelihood Award in the Swedish Parliament.



Connecting the next 4 billion: How access to information underpins every SDG

By Joel Turner, Amber Ehrke

30 September - (...)The new goals reflect our current understanding of development in the face of pressing global challenges such as a digital skills divide, rising unemployment and population growth. The SDGs also acknowledge that information technology and the Internet have fundamentally reprogrammed the way we, as humans, interact and learn.

There is no single goal that calls for universal access to information. Rather, a number of targets support select goals through access to information and strengthening information and communications technology infrastructure. This makes sense. The SDGs recognize that we need to expand affordable access to information, not simply in service to education, or to health, but for practically every development priority. Access to information is not a development outcome, it is a development catalyst. (...)

 With new initiatives like Global Connect — which aims to connect 1.5 billion people to the Internet by 2020 — and current efforts through the Alliance for Affordable Internet and theMillennium Challenge Corp., it’s clear that the development community is prioritizing access to information and the Internet. (...)



At UN, global initiative launched boost protection of cultural heritage targeted by terrorists and traffickers

27 September – With a host of world leaders meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York as part of the opening of the 70th session of the General Assembly, key UN agencies joined Interpol today to launch a major new initiative to enhance the protection of cultural heritage targeted by terrorists and illicit traffickers.

The ‘Protecting Cultural Heritage – An Imperative for Humanity’ initiative was presented at the UN by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Italy and Jordan, with the participation of principals from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Interpol and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as ministers from various Member States.  The initiative will follow up on resolutions and decisions adopted by the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly and other international bodies.



Putting education first key to unlocking progress across new UN development agenda – Ban

26 September – World leaders and education activists met at the United Nations today for a high-level event to mark the inclusion of education as a transformative stand-alone goal in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Achieving quality education for all is Goal 4 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make up the new Agenda that world leaders adopted on Friday with the aim of ending extreme poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message to the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) event: “The world has just adopted a new global vision for sustainable development. Leaders pledged to finish the job started with the Millennium Development Goals. And they recognized that education is essential to building a better world.” SDG 4, he said, aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education – and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all people.

Over the past 15 years, the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) prompted unprecedented progress in the expansion of educational opportunities. Despite the achievements, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics found that 124 million children and youth are out of school and 757 million adults, two thirds of whom are women, cannot read or write.



Grants roundup: $75-million commitment from Microsoft to expand youth computer-science education

by Eden Stiffman

September 23 – Here are notable new grants The Chronicle has learned about in recent weeks:

Microsoft – $75 million over three years to nonprofits around the world to increase access to computer-science education for diverse populations of young people as part of the company’s YouthSpark program. The funding will also allow the company to expand its Technology Education and Literacy in Schools program. (...)

Warren Alpert Foundation – $20 million to Harvard Medical School for three purposes: $5 million will create a professorship in the Department of Health Care Policy, and the balance will create two $7.5-million funds — one to advance pioneering immunological investigations at the medical school and the other for the school’s current priorities and strategic needs.

Schooner Foundation – $1 million to Harvard Kennedy School of Government to support a new executive education program for leaders from African nations who work in technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship for economic development. (...)

Michael & Susan Dell Foundation – $1 million to the Hispanic Federation to support the expansion of College Readiness, Access, and Retention Futuros, its college-readiness program for Latino students.(...) https://philanthropy.com/article/Grants-Roundup-75-Million/233331


700 Afro-Colombian kids learn to curb disruptive behavior and promote community

17 September, Quibdó, Colombia - In northeastern Colombia’s Chocó department, ACDI/VOCA’s Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Program (ACIP) addresses violence among the city’s youth through innovative strategies that promote peace-building among vulnerable populations. As part of the program’s “Culture for Peace” efforts, ACIP builds values such as brotherhood, reconciliation, and peaceful coexistence among youth and children, offering them healthy and productive activities to occupy their free time. In partnership with Colombian singer Shakira’s Pies Descalzos Foundation, ACIP has trained 30 elementary and middle school teachers to implement meditation and mental relaxation techniques within their classrooms, reaching a total of 700 children. The teachers also encourage the children to replicate the meditation and anger management habits at home with their families as a strategy to address patterns of domestic violence.



The #UpForSchool story: a year of achievements and more to come

One year ago during the UNGA, A World at School launched the #UpForSchool Petition  in New York to put pressure on those leaders to keep their promise of universal education. 10 million people - That's how many have signed the #UpForSchool Petition. World leaders have backed it, celebrities have supported it, business leaders have welcomed it, communities have embraced it and youth activists have taken it to their hearts. The biggest ever petition on education will be delivered during UNGA.

The petition was led from the start by our network of Global Youth Ambassadors  - 500 of them in 85 countries. Youth rallies were held around the world to launch the campaign and support has been built in schools, colleges, communities and at youth events throughout the past 12 months.

Huge support has been given by faith-based organisations such as Muslim Aid, World Vision and the Salvation Army and by religious figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa. These are communities of people around the world standing up to the injustice of denying a child an education.



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With World Goodwill’s permission, we share with our readers this very meaningful and timely article from World Goodwill newsletter, 215 N° 2:


A Conscience of Wholeness

The seventy year period since the founding of the UN in 1945, when the Interdependent Age might be said to have begun, has seen the gradual emergence of a conscience of wholeness. As a species we are developing an intuitive sense of what is right and wrong in the relations between peoples and nations, alongside a body of experience in coordinating and planning action that reflects and responds to that conscience. When we get impatient about apparent lack of progress (and it is good that we do get impatient) we need to remind ourselves that ancient habits informed by separateness have conditioned who we are for centuries. As Kofi Anan has remarked, the spirit of international community is still ‘hardly more than embryonic’. Its development cannot be rushed. It takes time for a global conscience to put down roots – generations of persistent wilful activity and profound reflection by people of goodwill in all walks of life and all professions.

Yet the still embryonic sense that we are all part of a global community is changing the world. The seventy years since 1945 can be seen as a time when people of goodwill have increasingly and repeatedly been inspired to transform the shrine of human living in ways that reflect their awareness of wholeness. One of the key areas where we can trace the history of this process is in the treaties, reports, declarations and charters of major global commissions, conferences, and negotiations. It is here that we see the vision coming into shape at a global level, principles of wholeness gaining clarity and definition, and finding expression in legal frameworks. These are not voices from the fringe – they reflect humanity as a whole (governments and people) finding consensus as they help to shape the future around principles of human freedom and human unity (rights and responsibilities).

In 1945 there was little awareness of humanity’s relationship with the natural world of animals and plants, water and soil, and the air we breathe. In subsequent decades this has changed – so much so that one of the core dynamics in crafting an agenda to respond to the wholeness vision has been the question of how to address all the dimensions of meeting human needs while at the same time caring for the Earth.

In every field of human living there have been watershed declarations and reports that have been the product of dialogue between people of goodwill from different cultures, economic and political groups. Some of the most influential documents that have emerged out of these concentrated dialogues include:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948

The Charter of the United Nations echoes the Four Freedoms jointly declared by the allies in the Second World War. It famously affirms that every individual human being has a natural dignity and value with fundamental rights and freedoms. Eleanor Roosevelt chaired a Drafting Committee tasked with defining those rights. Representatives from different parts of the world and different political beliefs struggled to find consensus. On December 10 1948, the Universal Declaration prepared by the Committee was adopted by 48 members of the General Assembly of the UN – including established Western powers like the UK, the US, Netherlands and France, alongside newly independent nations such as India and the Philippines, and a diversity of countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Costa Rica and Argentina. Even in 1948 this truly was a universal affirmation of the individual. Articles 1 and 2 of the Declaration affirm universal principles of dignity, liberty, equality and brotherhood. These form the foundation of the Declaration. Seven paragraphs in the preamble set out the reasons for the Declaration, beginning with the primary recognition that the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of every individual member of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. The bulk of the articles specify individual, cultural, social and spiritual rights.

This honoring of the individual – in law and in ethics – is central to the wholeness vision. The shrine of human living depends on individual human beings – beings with soul and personality. The Declaration challenges every community to protect, empower and enable its individual members. As Eleanor Roosevelt remarked on the 10th Anniversary of the Declaration: Where do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home—so close and so small       that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual           person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office     where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice,     equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there,    they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

If anyone doubts the significance of the Declaration in shaping the modern world they can be reminded that it has been incorporated into or has influenced most national constitutions since 1948 and it is the foundation and inspiration for an increasing number of national laws and international treaties.

Brandt Commission 1977 – 1983

In 1977 World Bank President, Robert McNamara, in an attempt to break the log-jam of cold war diplomacy and the lack of progress in North-South relations, proposed the establishment of a commission of politicians and economists of international stature who would consult together as individuals and come up with a set of proposals for global development. Former German Chancellor Willy Brandt chaired the Independent Commission on International Development Issues. It included former Heads of State and leading diplomats from countries of the North and South. The goal was to change the thinking in government negotiations between the North and South by stimulating public opinion in support of global development (educating and informing goodwill networks around the world) and by specific proposals on issues of food and agricultural development, aid, energy, trade, international monetary and financial reform, environment, population growth and global negotiations. The Commissions two reports, North-South (1980) and Common Crisis (1983) offered clearly thought through possibilities for the future with a view of development that emphasized a dual relationship: the northern nations dependent on the poor countries for their wealth, and the poor countries dependent on the North for their development.

Brundtland Commission / World Commission on Environment & Development 1983 – 1987

Former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland was invited by the UN Secretary General to form an independent commission of world leaders and experts to develop proposals that could unite governments in initiatives to reduce poverty while at the same time responding to the growing environmental crisis. In 1987 the Commission produced its influential report: Our Common Future which, for the first time, introduced the term sustainable development. Development considered in terms of meeting the needs of the world’s poorest people, cannot be separated from the well-being of the environment: ...the "environment" is where we live; and "development" is what we all do in attempting to improve our lot within that abode. The two are inseparable.

Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989

Ever since the 1920’s and the pioneering work of Save the Children founder Eglantyne Jebb there has been a focus on the need to provide special protection to the rights of the child. In 1924 the League of Nations endorsed a World Child Welfare Charter defining five rights and in 1959 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a Declaration of the Rights of the Child with ten principles. This focus on children’s rights culminated in 1989 with the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. The Convention sets out civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of all children below the age of 18. It is an important milestone because nations that ratify the Convention are obliged by international law to report on progress they are making towards implementation. To date all members of the United Nations have signed the Convention with the exception of the United States and Somalia.

Human Development Reports 1990 – present

Launched in 1990, the annual Human Development Reports published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have been hugely influential in providing reputable statistics and analysis measuring development in terms of human beings meeting basic needs (health care, housing, security, education) rather than economic growth. The reports are produced by an independent team of leading scholars and experts from different regions, initially led by Pakistani Mahbub ul Haq and Indian Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. Writing in the first report, Haq noted: “People are the real wealth of a nation. The basic objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives. This may appear to be a simple truth. But it is often forgotten in the immediate concern with the accumulation of commodities and financial wealth.” Major tools for comparing development in different regions have been pioneered by the annual reports – including the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index, the Gender Inequality Index and the Human Development Index.

Declaration & Agenda 21 1992

In June 1992 governments met in Rio de Janeiro at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the Earth Summit – earlier, in 1972, they had met in Stockholm at a Conference on the Human Environment. By 1992, following the report of the Brundtland Commission, there was a clear understanding that human development and the elimination of poverty now had to be achieved without further damaging the environment. The Rio event was the first major international conference that was accompanied by a large gathering of thousands of environmental and development activists, popular movements, business leaders and others. Governments adopted the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development which proclaimed 27 principles, including the important Principle 4: In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.The most important agreement at the 1992 Summit was the list of recommended actions at the local, national and global level for the 21st century: Agenda 21. Forty chapters specify actions to be taken for sustainable development. The document, which has been modified at subsequent UN gatherings on the environment, has been hugely influential, guiding countless municipalities and organizations around the world as they develop environmental policies. One sign of its impact is that the Earth Summit has been reconvened every ten years since 1992 - 2002 in Johannesburg, and 2012 again in Rio when the groundwork for the Sustainable Development Goals was laid.

Commission on Global Governance 1992 – 1995

The ending of the Cold War created a new environment for global cooperation and fresh opportunities to make progress in fulfilling the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. Twenty eight individuals under the leadership of former Swedish Prime Minister, Ingvar Carlsson, and former Commonwealth Secretary-General Shridath Ramphal of Guyana established the Commission on the initiative of Willy Brandt and members of other global groups. The Commission’s Report, Our Global Neighbourhood, was presented to the UN General Assembly for review in 1995. It presented a call to action for leaders of governments and civil society to work together under a common world ethic and shared universal values. Policy recommendations included reform of the United Nations and programs for managing economic interdependence.

Earth Charter 2000

The Earth Charter is a statement of fundamental values and principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society. It is notable because it was the result of exhaustive consultations and dialogues over a six year period between representatives of civil society organizations from every part of the world and all sectors of society. The negotiation process was overseen by a commission formed by Maurice Strong (Chair of the UN Earth Summit in Rio in 1992) and Mikhail Gorbachev. The Charter affirms the need for a change of mind and heart requiring a new sense of global interdependence and universal responsibility. It further recognizes that peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part. The Earth Charter has the endorsement of groups representing millions of people, including over 250 universities around the world, UNESCO, religious groups, numerous cities and metropolitan authorities.

Charter for Compassion 2009

Author Karen Armstrong was awarded the annual TED Prize in February 2008. Awardees of the Prize are invited to make ‘One Wish to Change the World’ – and the TED community offers support in achieving that wish. Armstrong wished for help “with the creation, launch and propagation of a Charter for Compassion, crafted by a group of leading inspirational thinkers...and based on the fundamental principles of universal justice and respect.” Support grew quickly and thousands of people from around the world offered ideas for the Charter. One year after the TED award a multi-faith, multi-national group of religious thinkers and leaders met in Switzerland to review all the submissions and draft the final Charter. Over 75 events took place simultaneously on November 12, 2009 when the Charter was formally launched. The Charter calls upon all men and women to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion … to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity …. It affirms that: We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries…. Since 2009 hundreds of organizations, numerous cities, the Australian Parliament and tens of thousands of individuals have signed the Charter; almost 300 communities and cities are in process of creating a Compassionate Action Plan.


These are just some of the commissions and reports that have been influential in developing a global conscience and mobilizing goodwill forces in the work of rebuilding the shrine of human living. Many initiatives like the Club of Rome, the Club of Budapest, the Independent Commission on International Humanitarian Issues, and this year’s Fuji Declaration have not been included because of lack of space.





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Next issue: 13 November 2015.


Good News Agency is published monthly (except August) in English, Italian and Portuguese. Past issues are available at www.goodnewsagency.org . Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000. Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi (sergio.tripi@goodnewsagency.org). Editorial research by Fabio Gatti (fabio.gatti@goodnewsagency.org), Community of Living Ethics, Isabella Strippoli, Elisa Minelli. Webmaster, media and NGO coverage: Simone Frassanito (simone.frassanito@goodnewsagency.org


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations in 54 countries,  to 3,000 NGOs, 1,500 high schools, colleges and universities, as well as over 26,000 Rotarians in the world.


It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered, not-for-profit educational charity chartered in Italy in 1979 The Association operates for the development of consciousness and promotes a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity in diversity and on sharing. It is based in Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy. The Association is a member of the World Association of Non Governmental Organizations (WANGO) and of the Union of International Associations (UIA).


* http://decade-culture-of-peace.org/2010_civil_society_report.pdf - In section A - International Organizations, page 12, the Report says: ”Diffusion and exchange of culture of peace information via the Internet has become the major instrument for several international organizations, notably the Culture of Peace News Network, the Good News Agency and the Education for Peace Globalnet.”

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