Good News Agency
A culture of peace is emerging in all fields of human endeavour
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.*
Bangladesh agrees on action plan to improve working conditions, ILO says
May 4 – Bangladeshi lawmakers will receive an agreed upon labour reform package as soon as next month to improve the nation’s working conditions, the United Nations labour organization today said wrapping up a high-level visit to the South Asian country still reeling from the deadly collapse of a garment factory. The package “would improve protection, in law and practice, for the fundamental rights to freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, as well as occupational safety and health,” the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a joint statement issued also on behalf of the tripartite partners, who include representatives of the Government, employers and workers.
Bolivia ratifies Cluster Bomb Ban
May 3 – The Plurinational State of Bolivia has become the latest country to join the global ban on cluster munitions, after depositing its instrument of ratification on 30 April. Bolivia will become the 82nd State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions when its ratification enters into force on 1 October 2013 in accord with the waiting period mandated by the Convention.
Among Latin American countries, only Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela have not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Colombia and Paraguay have signed the treaty and but need to complete a ratification process.
Bolivia is the fourth country to ratify the treaty in 2013, following the ratifications of Nauru (4 Feb), Liechtenstein (4 March) and Chad (26 March) and the first to announce their decision following discussion of the global ban at the 15-18 April Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) Intersessional Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.
Bolivia has never used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions.
May 2 – Maryland on May 2, 2013, became the sixth US state in six years to abolish the death penalty, continuing a trend to end this inherently cruel punishment in the United States. Maryland’s governor should commute the sentences of the five men who remain on the state’s death row. Gov. Martin O’Malley on May 2 signed a bill abolishing the state’s death penalty and replacing it with the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Maryland’s repeal of the death penalty is just the latest sign of growing momentum against capital punishment in the United States. With the addition of Maryland, 18 states and the District of Columbia have rejected the death penalty. Legislatures in several other states are considering bills to repeal capital punishment. Legislatures in several other states are considering bills to repeal capital punishment.
Members of the European Parliament online: the use of social media in political marketing
by Lucia Vesnic-Alujevic
April 15 – The appearance of political marketing and campaigning on social media is a relatively new phenomenon, whose major advantages are seen in the rapid transportation of information through the Internet and the possibilities for large numbers of people to connect. This is especially significant for politics on the EU level, which embraces an electoral body of 375 million citizens. Despite the fact that not everyone uses the Internet in Europe, the percentage of those who do is considered to be high enough for its application in politics.
In the context of the European Parliament and the constant fall in voter turnout, but also the growing use of Internet in the society, especially electoral campaigns, the goal of this paper is to examine the connection between European politics, Members of the European Parliament and the use of social media, and to give suggestions on how the use of social media in political marketing could be further advanced.
25th anniversary of the UN Committee against Torture
Time for universal rejection of torture!
May 7 – Today marks the 25th anniversary of the UN Committee against Torture, the guardian of one of the most widely accepted international human rights conventions.
In a campaign for universal ratification of the Convention against Torture, several leading human rights organisations now call on the remaining 42 countries to join the treaty and recognize the full competence of the Committee against Torture.
The Convention against Torture, ratified by 153 countries, is the only treaty at the international level concerned exclusively with the eradication of torture around the world. By ratifying the convention, States commit to make torture a crime, ensure accountability for perpetrators, and to provide redress for torture victims. The Convention also requires States parties to take effective measures to prevent all forms of torture and ill-treatment of people deprived of their liberty.
In a joint effort, international NGO’s are addressing the remaining States to encourage them to join the Convention and make it the first universally-ratified human rights treaty – and a great step towards a world free from torture.
Of the countries that have not yet ratified the UN Convention against Torture, almost all have made voluntary pledges to consider ratification, especially in the context of the regular Universal Periodic Review by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.
May 3 – World Press Freedom Day at the UN
by Georgina Galanis
World Press Freedom Day was marked this week with a call to action to ensure the safety of journalists in every country, echoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who declared: “When it is safe to speak, the whole world benefits.” http://ow.ly/kECVw
Remembering the life and time of Tim Hetherington and Chris Chondros on World Press Day at UN Screening. This portrayal of a passionate journalist was urgently poignant, informing, infused with insight and integrity – how RISC training can prevent war casualties of journalists and first responders – an outpouring of heartfelt honor in James Brabazon comments and captivating panel – please support this valiant and imperative effort to provide human rights and skillsets to all who must endure the frontline.
From the website http://stfdocs.com/films/
With thanks to the Permanent Mission of Greece + Costa Rica in partnership with UNESCO raising awareness about the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. ~ peace to the shutter,
ICBL Participates in Peru Victim Assistance meeting
On 24 and 25 April, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) participated in a national victim assistance meeting in Lima, Peru. Objectives for the meeting included reviewing and revising Peru’s national disability plan, or “Plan for Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities,” in line with a new disability law approved in December 2012. The meeting explicitly sought input from mine victims, for incorporation into the plan.
Participants included members from the national mine action center (CONTRAMINAS, the National Disability Council (CONADIS) mine victims, persons with disabilities and their representative organizations. Importantly, the meeting also included government and NGO participants from rural and remote areas of Peru to help with the task of decentralizing the issue of victim assistance and disability in Peru. In addition to the ICBL, international actors such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN Development Program, the Polus Center, the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights and representatives of the Mine Ban Treaty Implementation Support Unit also actively participated.
Following two days of hard work, participants shared proposals for how best to work for the rights of persons with disabilities, including survivors with disabilities, in the areas of health and rehabilitation, education, social protection and employment.
The recommendations will be used to inform the revision of Peru’s national disability plan.
16th UNAFF (United Nations Association Film Festival) – Call for entries
October 17-27, 2013 Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, San Francisco and Stanford University –
celebrates the power of international documentary films dealing with human rights, the environment, protection of refugees, famine, homelessness, racism, disease control, women’s issues, children, universal education, war and peace. In addition to our ongoing celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this year we emphasize the theme Individual To Universal
“Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible” (Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) Regular deadline May 23, late deadline June 3. For technical specifications, entry fees and form, and awards see:
Strong cereals production seen in 2013
New record expected for coarse grains
9 May, Rome – Strong growth is expected for global wheat, coarse grains and rice production in 2013, according to early forecasts published in the May issue of FAO’s monthly Cereals Supply and Demand Brief. Assuming more normal weather conditions than in 2012, global wheat production in 2013 is expected to reach 695 million tonnes, 5.4 percent up from last year’s harvest and just some 6 million tonnes short of the 2011 record level. And in 2013, coarse grains production is expected to set a new record at 1 266 million tonnes – 9.3 percent up on the previous high of 1 167 million tonnes registered in 2011.
Of this total, maize is forecast to account for about 960 million tonnes, some 10 percent up from 2012. The bulk of the increase is expected in the United States, the world’s largest producer, where maize plantings are forecast to reach their highest level since 1936. Recovery from drought in the major CIS producing countries should also contribute significantly to the record global production.
Still tentatively, FAO foresees rice production in the forthcoming 2013 season to rise to 497.7 million tonnes, 16 million tonnes more than in 2012, with particularly large increases expected in India and Indonesia.
ACDI/VOCA has sent 11,000 volunteers to foster global economic development
Highly qualified volunteers share expertise overseas, support development efforts
April 29 – Today ACDI/VOCA’s 11,000th volunteer returns from Lebanon, fresh from training farmers on a market information system. Such specialized ACDI/VOCA volunteers have traveled to 130 countries over the past 42 years. Their expertise has ranged from artichoke production to product packaging, from rural finance to slaughterhouse management, from animal breeding to coffee cupping.
In developing and transitional nations, small- and medium-scale producer groups and enterprises drive economic growth but need technical and managerial assistance, appropriate equipment, partners, and new markets and the means to reach them. Volunteers bridge this gap with training, advice on best practices and assistance with plans for growth, helping men and women build local businesses, rural economies and regional trade.
Norway announces NOK 25 million to strenghten resilience in Niger
April 24, Copenhagen/Oslo – Responding to the continuing challenges in Niger and the Sahel, the Government of Norway has announced an additional contribution of NOK 25 million to the United Nations World Food Programme’s activities in Niger. This critical and very generous contribution will contribute to the strengthening of resilience and reduction of emergency levels of malnutrition among communities seriously affected by the recurrent crises. The contribution is earmarked for the key food security initiative “Nigeriens feeding Nigeriens” which focuses on increasing agricultural production and access to markets. “With more than 80 percent of the Nigeriens relying on farming, supporting small scale farmers, helping them to improve their yields and increasing their access to markets is key in overcoming the challenges of the severe and recurrent droughts,” says Ertharin Cousin, the Executive Director of WFP.
In September 2012, a Strategic Partnership Agreement was signed between Norway and WFP. With a pledge of NOK 980 million (US$168 million), the Strategic Partnership Agreement ensures predictable funding to WFP for humanitarian and resilience building activities through 2015.
IFAD US$20 million loan to bolster economic development in the State of Piauí in Brazil
April 9, Rome – The US$20 million loan agreement for the Semi-arid Sustainable Development Project was signed at IFAD headquarters today. The IFAD project aims to reduce the levels of poverty and extreme poverty among rural women and men – with a particular focus on young people who live in the semi-arid region of Piauí. This will be done by increasing their employment opportunities, improving their income and strengthening the capacity of rural institutions. The project will cut across 89 municipalities to reach about 70,000 poor rural families. Many of the families are small-scale farmers whose livelihoods depend on farm and off-farm activities such as the production of honey, growing cashew nuts, raising goats and sheep, rural tourism and creating handicrafts.
The IFAD-supported project will promote training and assistance on the use of sustainable technologies such as an improved water conservation and agro-forestry systems. In addition, the project will enable participants to access financial services and short-term credit and provide small grants for farm-level investments.
IFAD US$58 million grant to improve food security in Afghanistan
April 8, Rome – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a grant of US$58 million to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for the Community Livestock and Agriculture Project to improve food security by enhancing the skills, services and income opportunities of rural women and men. The grant agreement was signed today.
After almost 30 years of conflicts, Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, with more than 70% of the population considered food insecure. While the Afghan economy has recently grown in its trade and construction sectors, the agriculture sector continues to remain underdeveloped. The IFAD-supported project aims to improve agriculture and livestock productivity by building the capacity of community organizations and local government agencies to buoy locally-owned and led development. This will include strengthening weaknesses in the value chain to ensure small farmers are better linked to markets.
“The Future of Growth – Economic Values and the Media”- Bonn, Germany, June 17-19
“The Future of Growth – Economic Values and the Media” is the issue of the sixth Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum from 17-19 June 2013 at the World Conference Center Bonn (WCCB).
The world economy faces enormous challenges. Pressed to deal with climate change and scarce resources, it must also respond to growing social, political and cultural tensions. As billions of people vie for lives in dignity on a shared planet, the debate on global regulatory and structural policies is swelling. The recent financial crisis has brought transparency and stakeholder accountability into sharper public focus.
Experts from the fields of politics, business, finance, culture, academia, civil society and the media will jointly explore fundamental concerns, such as: What opportunities are presented by new economic values? Is growth imperative to increasing prosperity? How can the media help to raise awareness of sustainable consumption and responsible use of resources? How can fair competition be assured at local, regional, national and international levels? Can interaction between stakeholders be improved? What potential do digital media have to inspire interactive participation in the economic dialogue, especially among younger generations?
Support reaches 500 families affected by the Iran-Pakistan earthquake
by Sumitha Martin
3 May – The Pakistan Red Crescent Society has just completed a relief operation assisting 500 families affected by the Iran-Pakistan earthquake of 16 April. The families, from three villages in the badly hit sub-district of Mashkeel, Balochistan province in southwest Pakistan, have been provided with non-food items such as tents, shelter repair kits, mosquito nets, hygiene kits and kitchen sets. The society also provided medicines for health facilities.
The families are among a total of about 5,000 families in Balochistan who were affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck the Iran-Pakistan border. In Pakistan, approximately 31 people died, 1,560 were injured and 5,904 houses were damaged as a result. (…)
The Pakistan Red Crescent Society’s relief operation was conducted over a period of five days and was completed on 1 May. The operation which followed a rapid assessment of needs on the ground as well as consultation with the authorities, was a small-scale effort undertaken at branch level, in view of the small size of the disaster. According to information received from the local Red Crescent branch, some affected families have begun to rebuild their lives and damaged infrastructure. This is because a significant portion of communities possess a certain level of financial self-sufficiency by engaging in small business in the area. (…)
Generous UK contribution provides Syrians with lifeline through WFP
April 30, Rome – Amid mounting concern about the deepening suffering caused by conflict in Syria, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a generous contribution from the Government of the United Kingdom of £28.3 million (around US$43 million) that will help provide much-needed food assistance to tens of thousands of Syrians both inside and outside their country. Thanks to the support of the UK among other donors, WFP will be able to provide food rations to displaced families in Syria itself, as well as supporting more than half a million refugees in neighbouring countries.
WFP will also use the new UK contribution to issue food vouchers to thousands of Syrian refugees who are either sheltering in camps in Turkey or as urban refugees in Lebanon. In both countries, the presence of so many refugees is stretching the capacity of communities and governments.
The UK is also helping WFP scale up its logistics capacity by providing armoured vehicles and personal protective equipment to assist field monitors inside Syria move around in dangerous areas.
Palestinians from Syria seek shelter in Lebanon
April 30 – Fathers, mothers, children, grandparents and relatives lined up quietly at the entrance of Beit Atfal Assumoud community center in the Palestinian refugee camp of Burj El Shamali, near Tyre in southern Lebanon. They check their names on a paper register on the wall so they can receive vouchers to exchange for groceries, clothing, quilts, hygiene kits and baby kits. For many this is the first sign of help since they arrived in Lebanon after fleeing the conflict in Syria.
ANERA is providing emergency relief aid with support from the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and other US donors and in coordination with local partner organizations. With a $250,000 grant from OCHA, ANERA so far has delivered the supplies for more than 1,000 refugees in three Palestinian camps and gatherings around Tyre. ANERA’s relief program includes health awareness on critical issues like proper nutrition during crisis, hygiene, water and sanitation.
Central African Republic: drinking water for over 700,000 people
April 30 – To alleviate the shortage of drinking water in the Central African Republic the ICRC has just dispatched almost 200 tonnes of water treatment products there. In Bangui and other parts of the country, 700,000 people will now have good-quality water for four months. Bangui’s Amitié Hospital, where hundreds of people in fear of their lives had taken refuge after the violent events in the capital, has been particularly badly hit by the water shortage.
Rotary receives top Edison Award for Future Vision grant model
Innovative new funding approach increases humanitarian group’s capacity to improve lives and strengthen communities worldwide
April 26, Evanston, Ill., USA – Rotary International has received a Silver Edison Award in recognition of the service organization’s Future Vision Plan, a new grant model that greatly enhances the scope, impact, and sustainability of humanitarian and educational projects funded by The Rotary Foundation, Rotary’s charitable arm. The Future Vision Plan received top honors among funding models competing in the Lifestyle and Social Impact category.
The Edison award coincides with the successful completion of a three-year pilot project in which 100 Rotary districts (a district is a regional grouping of Rotary clubs) representing more than 70 countries participated in the Future Vision process.
Future Vision creates a platform for enhanced global volunteer collaboration by providing technical and funding support to innovative local efforts that address community needs, thereby enhancing the capacity of successful projects to achieve sustainable, high-impact results. This approach to social innovation is unique because it combines global reach, local resources, and highly skilled volunteers within a funding structure that distributes $100 million annually in support of qualified projects that address a range of high priority world needs.
Future Vision launches globally July 1, 2013, for all of Rotary’s more than 34,000 clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas.
Contact: Kimberly Dunbar [email protected]
Japan donation helps boost food security in Lesotho
April 25, Maseru – The Government of Japan has announced a contribution of more than US$2.3 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to assist people in Lesotho who are going hungry because of difficulties in obtaining sufficient food for themselves and their families.
It is estimated that some 725,000 people – nearly one in three living in Lesotho – will face food insecurity this year. WFP is assisting vulnerable people with food distributions, and 125,000 of the most needy will receive cash through the Cash for Assets programme, which addresses land and soil degradation and also enables recipients to buy their own food from the local market, thus stimulating the local economy.
Foundations commit more than $2-billion to end polio
by Caroline Preston
April 25 – Michael Bloomberg, Ray Dalio, Carl Icahn, and Carlos Slim are among the billionaire philanthropists joining Bill and Melinda Gates in a new push to eradicate polio.
Their four foundations, along with three other philanthropies new to the anti-polio cause, today pledged a total of $335-million over six years. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has for years made ending polio a key part of its mission, pledged $1.7-billion in new money.
The announcements were made at the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi. The pledges will support the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a 15-year-old effort led by national governments, Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Unicef, and the World Health Organization. The new pledges come as polio eradication has faced obstacles including the recent killings of health workers conducting vaccination campaigns in Nigeria and Pakistan. (…)
Caritas in earthquake-hit Sichuan
22 April – Caritas organisations are responding in Sichuan province in China after Saturday’s powerful earthquake there. Staff members from Caritas partner Jinde Charities have arrived in the earthquake zone to coordinate the work of church employees and officials. The emphasis of their work will be primary medical care and counseling for the victims of the disaster.
Caritas is concerned about being able to reach parts of the remote mountainous region. Many villages remain cut off from the outside world. Telephone communications are down. Poor weather and damage to roads is further hampering reaching the most isolated communities. Caritas says the full scale of the disaster is yet to be seen.
Pope Francis said on Sunday, “My thoughts also go to those who were affected by the earthquake that struck an area south-west of mainland China. We pray for the victims and for those who are suffering because of the violent earthquake.”
WFP receives wheat from the United States to help Syrian families facing bread shortages
April 21, Beirut – An American ship carrying enough wheat to feed more than one million people for four months (25,000 metric tons of wheat) has delivered its cargo for distribution in Syria as part of the emergency food assistance provided by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The contribution, worth more than US$19 million, will allow WFP to add wheat flour to the monthly food basket of over one million people. WFP is prioritizing areas where there are severe shortages of bread, especially in the rural parts of the country.
The United States is WFP’s largest donor in fighting hunger worldwide and has contributed the most so far to the UN food agency’s relief efforts for vulnerable Syrians inside their country and those who fled to neighbouring countries. Since the beginning of the crisis, the US has contributed nearly US$125.5 million to WFP’s Syria emergency operation.
WFP welcomes US$40 million Kuwaiti donation for conflict-hit Syrians
April 18, Rome – The United Nations World Food Programme today welcomed a contribution of US$40 million from the government of Kuwait to provide assistance to Syrians in acute need.
WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said: “Kuwait has led the way in the region, providing outstanding support for the people of Syria and more than a million refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries. It costs WFP around US$19 million a week to finance our operation to provide food and voucher assistance. The numbers are growing, so this contribution is very much appreciated”. The Kuwaiti donation will cover half of the Rome-based agency’s resourcing needs to feed vulnerable Syrians and refugees until the end of the June.
Improved Disaster Resilience for Afghan communities thanks to Netherlands and WFP
April 14, Kabul – The Netherlands have long been a strong supporter of WFP’s work globally, and a new contribution of US$ 10 million will enable WFP to support more than 250,000 people with food assistance, while helping them build more food secure lives for themselves in parts of Afghanistan affected by recurring natural disasters.
WFP will use the donation for “Food-for-Asset” activities – small-scale infrastructure projects such as check dams or tree planting, which help to build food security and disaster resilience. These projects are identified and executed by communities, with technical guidance and material support from WFP and its part.
Empire State Building to showcase EU colors on 9 May for Europe Day 2013
8 May 2013, New York – On Thursday evening 9th May, New York City’s iconic landmark, the Empire State Building, will be lit in the European Union’s flag colors, blue and yellow, to mark Europe Day 2013. For the past six years, the Empire State Building has been lit in EU colors to celebrate Europe Day – 9 May. 2013 marks the 63rd Anniversary of Schuman’s historic proposal for an integrated European coal and steel community.
On 9 May 2013 Europe will celebrate the 63rd anniversary of the Schuman Declaration. Sixty-three years ago, on 9 May 1950, the then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman made the first move towards the creation of what we now know as the European Union (EU). Only five years after the Second World War, he proposed the creation of a supranational European institution. The countries which he called upon had almost destroyed each other, and reconciliation was a brave thing to imagine at that time. This year’s celebrations will be especially poignant following the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize 2012 to the EU. In its citation, the Nobel Committee said that the EU had “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”.
The European External Action Service (EEAS) will be joining the other European Institutions throughout the month of May to celebrate Europe Day worldwide. EU Delegations will be leading a range of different events in their host countries on the theme of Europe in the World. Lectures, competitions, film festivals and other events organised by the EU Delegations in cooperation with Member States’ embassies will demonstrate the best the EU has to offer.
A new mine risk education team is born
25 April – The DCA Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) programme is steadily growing in South Sudan. Having begun operations in January 2013, the programme now has two fully accredited Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams and two Risk Education (RE) teams. A third RE team is currently being recruited. This is all thanks to a donation from the Common Humanitarian Fund administered by UNDP in South Sudan. The most recent team to be accredited was the second RE team. But accreditation in Mine Action is no easy task!
The recruitment and training took place in Jonglei, a state that is difficult to access, especially in the rainy season, and is plagued not only by mine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination, but also by consistent and fierce tribal conflict. Ensuring the tribal make-up of the team was balanced was very important, as was ensuring that both men and women were represented in the team. In some areas, women only feel comfortable speaking with other women, and man with other men. For this reason, every DCA RE team has both genders represented.
As well as ensuring gender and tribal balances, local languages must also be considered when recruiting a team, as there are over 50 local languages spoken in South Sudan. (…)
Security Council unanimously approves new UN peacekeeping mission in Mali
April 25 – The Security Council today approved a 12,600-strong United Nations peacekeeping operation to take over from the African-led mission in Mali on 1 July and authorized the blue helmets “to use all necessary means” to carry out security-related stabilization tasks, protect civilians, UN staff and cultural artefacts, and create the conditions for the provision of humanitarian aid.
While officially established today, MINUSMA (UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) troops will not be on the ground until 1 July, when they will take over from the African-led force (AFISMA) and begin an initial 12-month mandate. That start date is subject to review and could be delayed in the event of a major international military operation or a continued threat from terrorist forces on the civilian population or international personnel, according to the resolution. However, as of today, MINUSMA will assume responsibility for the mandated tasks being carried out by the UN Office in Mali (UNOM), which deployed in January and provides good offices aimed at facilitating contacts between the Government and those groups that wish to take part in the search for a political solution to the crisis. (…)
The Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) support for Danchurchaid’s (DCA) mine action activities in South Sudan. Risk education to vulnerable communities.
April 22 – Through the grant from CHF, DCA is planning to train two teams and volunteers in Risk Education (RE) methodologies. The RE teams will be deployed in remote communities where their job is to facilitate Risk Education and locate and train local Sudanese people to act as Risk Education focal points.
The Risk Education will ensure provision of life saving massages in areas where people’s lives are extremely constrained and threatened by ERW. It is estimated that approximately 15,000 persons will benefit from the RE activities facilitated by the local focal points. Furthermore DCA will provide an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team to the project. This team will work closely with the RE trainers, and whenever an ERW is located, the team will safely demolish it – thereby eliminating the risk to the local population.
The project commenced March 1st and will run until the end of September 2013.
Middle East – Members Pax Christi Austria in EAPPI programme
Josef Windischer, Secretary General of Pax Christi Austria participates in the Ecumenical Advocacy Programme for Palestine and Israel from 15 April till 15 July 2013. He will be located in Tulkram, West Bank. The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) brings internationals to the West Bank to experience life under occupation. Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) provide a protective presence to vulnerable communities by monitoring and reporting human rights abuses and by supporting Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace. When they return home, EAs campaign aims for a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through an end to the occupation, respect for international law and the implementation of UN resolutions.
ANGOLA: A village free of landmines
April 13 – Luzi is a village in the eastern province of Moxico. Like many communities in this war-torn part of the country, Luzi was heavily fought over by Government and UNITA forces during the war. Between 2010 and 2012, MAG cleared 137,715 m2 of land in Luzi, removing 52 anti-personnel landmines, 17 anti-tank mines and 10 items of unexploded ordnance. The impact of this work has been huge. In 2007, the village had a population of 65. The community did not have any access to social services: in the event of illness, locals would have to go to the hospital in the city of Luena, 185km away, while school classes were held in the Catholic church. Today, there are more than 2,000 people living in Luzi. A market, school, health centre and housing have all been built on the cleared area, and land is being used for farming.
Give peace a budget: seven ways to spend $1.7 trillion dollars
The Global Day of Action Again Military Spending was held in the United Kingdom. Pax Christi UK produced a new film ready for GDAMS, “Give Peace a Budget: Seven ways to spend $1.7 trillion dollars”. On 15 April, Pax Christi UK held a meeting at the House of Commons and the film was showed then for the first time.
Good Faith: Essential for Nuclear Disarmament and Human Survival
May, The Sunflower -The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has published a briefing paper by Judge Christopher G. Weeramantry, a member of the NAPF Advisory Council and former Vice President of the International Court of Justice. The paper, entitled “Good Faith: Essential for Nuclear Disarmament and Human Survival,” was distributed at the 2013 Non-Proliferation Treaty PrepCom in Geneva, Switzerland.
Judge Weeramantry writes, “There can be no basis for the disregard or incomplete performance of an obligation [good faith] so deeply ingrained in international law, so clearly undertaken by the nuclear powers, so carefully pronounced by the International Court of Justice and so definitely determining whether humanity will flourish or perish.”
To download a copy of Judge Weeramantry’s briefing paper, click here.
Rotarians take part in Immunization Days in Côte d’lvoire
May 1 – Rotarians in Côte d’lvoire took part in National Immunization Days (NIDs) beginning 26 April. They joined thousands of health workers and volunteers in mobilizing public support, ensuring the safe delivery of the oral polio vaccine, and administering the life-saving drops to more than 3 million children. The nation’s last case of polio occurred in July 2011. The NIDs also provided vitamin A supplements and de-worming tablets to children to expand public health benefits, which is another objective of the new polio endgame strategic plan.
Global Vaccine Summit yields US$4 billion in funding commitments to polio endgame plan
April 25 – The 2013-18 Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan and about US$4 billion in funding commitments took center stage at the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi 24-25 April.
Developed by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the plan is designed to interrupt transmission of the wild poliovirus by the end of 2014, strengthen routine immunization, lay the groundwork for securing a lasting polio-free world, and transfer the eradication initiative’s assets to other public health efforts. The GPEI estimates the new plan will cost about US$5.5 billion. Governments, nongovernmental organizations, foundations, and other donors announced the commitments during the vaccine summit. They also called upon additional donors to commit the additional US$1.5 billion needed to ensure eradication. The event drew 300 representatives from the GPEI partners and national governments, health experts, business leaders, and philanthropists. Rotary polio ambassador and actress Archie Panjabi emceed the event.
The extensive polio eradication infrastructure established by the GPEI is also helping to fight measles, malaria, and other diseases, along with aiding response to disaster-related health emergencies. After polio is eradicated, the endgame plan calls for the transfer of the GPEI’s assets to ensure lasting public health benefits.
South Sudan: New surgical team at work in Jonglei
April 25, Geneva/Juba – A new surgical team is at work at Bor Hospital in Jonglei, South Sudan, expanding the care available for wounded or sick people. Poor medical infrastructure and lack of access to health care, particularly surgery, continue to be issues of concern in the country.
This is the third surgical team currently active in the country. The others are already at work in Malakal, Upper Nile state, and elsewhere in the field. The ICRC remains very concerned about the situation in Jonglei state.
The new surgical team, which is on secondment from the Canadian Red Cross, consists of a team leader, a surgeon, an anaesthetist, operating theatre ward nurses and technicians. “We are providing much-needed medical expertise, and we are ready to meet emergency medical needs. Our field hospital can be operational in a matter of hours,” said Karine Farrell, the Canadian team leader. The team is currently providing post-operative care for weapon-wounded patients who were recently operated on at Bor Hospital. It is also providing valuable technical support and on-the-job training to prepare hospital staff for future emergencies.
The Canadian Red Cross has also made medicines, medical supplies, operating theatre equipment, shelter equipment and beds available to the ICRC. These items, some of which have been sent on to Bor, will stay in the country and will be used wherever emergencies arise.
Nigeria: MSF starts treating lead poisoned children in Bagega
23 April, Abuja – Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has finally been able to start medical treatment for children suffering from lead poisoning in the village of Bagega. In the first of four groups to receive medical care, MSF has started 34 children on specialised chelation therapy to remove the lead from their blood, and will monitor a further 126 children. The medical humanitarian organisation urges that this is just the beginning; it cannot treat children from the remaining three groups until the lead has been successfully removed from their homes.
Acute lead-poisoning in children can cause severe brain damage and death. MSF has been treating victims of the Zamfara lead poisoning crisis – the worst outbreak ever recorded – since it was first discovered in 2010, and has so far treated over 2,500 children. Until today, however, the medical humanitarian organisation has been unable to start treatment in Bagega because it had not been remediated. Remediation in this context involves the removal of lead contaminated soils and mining and mineral processing wastes from the village, residential compounds, homes and buildings, common areas, wells and ponds.
BASF receives European Water Stewardship certificate
May 3, Tarragona, Spain – BASF is the first chemical company to achieve gold-level certification according to the European Water Stewardship (EWS) standard for its production site in Tarragona, Spain. In order to attain this certificate, auditors of third party certification body TÜV Nord Integra assessed the entire water management performance of BASF’s production site, from extraction of water at its source to its reintroduction in downstream water bodies.
The European standard was developed by governments, businesses and NGOs under the leadership of the independent organization European Water Partnership (EWP) and became effective at the end of 2011. The application of the EWS standard aims to lower the quantity of water used by companies and farms while simultaneously safeguarding the integrity of local ecosystems within the vicinity of the site. BASF uses water as a coolant, solvent and cleaning agent, as well as directly in chemical production. The company has implemented the standard in order to promote its global water goals.
USA: Energy Department announces $7 million to promote clean energy in tribal communities
May 1 – The Energy Department today announced up to $7 million to deploy clean energy projects in tribal communities, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and promoting economic development on tribal lands. The Energy Department’s Tribal Energy Program, in cooperation with the Office of Indian Energy, will help Native American communities, tribal energy resource development organizations, and tribal consortia to install community- or facility-scale clean energy projects.
Tribal lands comprise nearly 2% of U.S. land, but contain about 5% of the country’s renewable energy resources. With more than 9 million megawatts of potential installed renewable energy capacity on tribal lands, these communities are well positioned to capitalize on our domestic renewable energy resources—thereby enhancing U.S. energy security and protecting our air and water. Through the “Community-Scale Clean Energy Projects in Indian Country” funding opportunity, the Energy Department will make up to $4.5 million available, subject to congressional appropriations, for projects installing clean energy systems that reduce fossil fuel use by at least 15% in either new or existing tribal buildings. Renewable energy systems for power generation only must be a minimum of 50 kilowatts and use commercial-warrantied equipment.
USA – Renewable energy optimization in the heart of coal country
by Eric Mathis, Sustainable Williamson
April 30 – In the depths of coal country, one would not expect to find a growing diversified energy economy that includes a healthy mix of renewables. But in Williamson, WV, Sustainable Williamson is bullish on making a change, and hopes to inspire other communities throughout central Appalachia, coal country and the nation.
As part of its non-profit IndieGoGo campaign, Sustainable Williamson created a series of videos that depict a wide array of renewable energy projects that are either successfully deployed in the coalfields or are in the queue for deployment in the near future. It hopes that these projects will provide a working framework for “energy optimization” in the region — transitioning communities from an aging, tired fossil fuel economy to a rejuvinating renewable energy mix without picking winners or losers. This campaign focuses on creating a healthy combination of energies, both fossil and renewbale, that truly establishes an “all of the above” strategy. (…)
WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge takes flight as cities aim to create climate friendly lifestyles for urban dwellers
30 April – As the UNFCCC working group tasked to discuss the scope, structure and design of the new 2015 global climate agreement convenes in Bonn this week, WWF urges delegates to recognize and gain inspiration from the key role cities are playing in the transformation toward a sustainable, 100% renewable energy future. Although urban dwellers currently account for over 70% of global CO2 emissions, cities also have the potential to create conditions for climate smart and sustainable lifestyles, allowing the world’s population to live well within the boundaries of our one and only planet.
WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge was designed to highlight and reward cities that are prepared to make substantial long-term efforts to combat global warming. In 2013, 66 cities from Canada, India, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the USA participated in the first international Earth Hour City Challenge by reporting their commitments, performance, completed or ongoing actions, as well as climate action plans. In March, six cities (Vancouver, New Delhi, Forli, Oslo, Uppsala, San Francisco) were selected by an expert jury* as Earth Hour Capitals in their respective countries.
Volunteer helps Ghanaian business pioneer biogas
Electricity made from organic material cuts costs, lowers diesel consumption
April 22 – Electricity is often expensive or difficult to come by in developing countries. Access to environmentally friendly energy sources can be even more challenging.
HPW Fresh and Dry Limited (HPW), an exporter of locally produced pineapples, mangoes and papaya, was established in Ghana in 2006. In January 2010 HPW set up a branch in the eastern region to dry fresh fruit. It has the capacity to produce 270 tons of dried tropical fruit every week.
The drying plant is independent from the Ghana energy grid. It is powered by diesel generators and a sophisticated biogas system. The biogas system generates power from the organic waste created from processing the fruit. However, the original biogas system was not producing the expected level of power, and HPW requested a volunteer who could help the company improve biogas productivity and rely less on the generators.
ACDI/VOCA’s USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program works to connect smallholder farmers and small businesses with technical assistance provided by volunteer experts. F2F volunteer Kenneth Barnes from Placerville, California, traveled to Ghana to help the company tackle this problem. Barnes assessed the situation and trained 12 HPW employees on biogas systems—not just instructing them on techniques but explaining background information to help ingrain the solutions.
IAEA Team Completes Initial Review of Japan’s Plans to Decommission Fukushima Daiichi
by Greg Webb, IAEA Division of Public Information
22 April – Tokyo, Japan – As requested by the Government of Japan, the IAEA team held extensive discussions with officials from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). The team also met with officials of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The team visited the nuclear accident site to gain first-hand information about conditions at the power plant and progress toward decommissioning the facility.
In a draft report delivered to Japanese authorities today, the team acknowledged a number of accomplishments that have been made to prepare Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station for decommissioning. In addition, the IAEA team provided advice in areas where current practices could be improved.
The IAEA team’s final report will be delivered to Japan within one month.
First evidence of a leatherback turtle along Pakistan’s coastline
April 29, Pakistan – A leatherback turtle, one of the rarest living reptiles, was recently caught and safely released back into the sea by a group of fishermen near Surbandar village, Gwadar, Balochistan province in Pakistan. WWF-Pakistan staff helped in the rescue and release of this turtle. This rescue, along with the recent location of a large population of olive Ridley turtles from offshore waters previously thought to be extinct from the area, is a positive sign for the marine biodiversity of Pakistan.
Along the coast of Pakistan five species of marine turtles are reported to occur which include green, olive Ridley, hawksbill, loggerhead and leatherback turtles. Of these, leatherback is considered to be the rarest species occurring along the area and indeed globally; they are one of the most endangered species of marine turtles.
WWF-Pakistan with the support of provincial wildlife departments has been involved in turtle conservation and awareness programmes along Sindh and Balochistan coasts for almost two decades. With the establishment and strengthening of sanctuaries and wildlife refuges as well as awareness raising activities, local communities are now better equipped to protect turtles and their nests and reduce bycatch in fishing gears as evidence from the recent finds show.
New population of rare Irrawaddy dolphins found in Palawan
26 April – Palawan, Philippines: A new Philippine population of critically-endangered Irrawaddy dolphins was reported recently by WWF-Philippines. Spotted by chance off Quezon, Palawan in Western Philippines, this pod of rare marine mammals, locally called Lampasut, was observed displaying typical behavior, foraging for prey around lift net fish traps sitting approximately one kilometer offshore.
Previous populations of these dolphins have been documented in Malampaya Sound, as well as off the island of Panay. The Quezon pod represents the fourth known group of Irrawaddy dolphins reported in the Philippines. This species enjoys the highest level of international protection. All trade is forbidden, under international agreements. Some Irrawaddy dolphin populations are classified by the IUCN as critically endangered.
UN recognizes severity of wildlife crimes
26 April – Governments meeting to discuss responses to global crime waves are urging countries to impose strict penalties for the trafficking wildlife products like elephant ivory and rhino horn. Members of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Friday passed a resolution encouraging UN member states “to make illicit trafficking in wild fauna and flora a serious crime” and to ensure organized criminal groups are prosecuted.
Under UN rules, serious crimes should receive sentences of up to four years in prison or more. In many instances wildlife smugglers are released after paying fines significantly lower than the value of the illegal goods.
During the crime commission meeting, governments identified links between the illegal trade in wildlife and timber products and other transnational organized crimes such as drug and arms running, human trafficking, money laundering and terrorism. The wildlife trafficking resolution was put forward by the United States and Peru.
Victory for a heritage fish of New England
Removal of river blockade will help restore alewives in the Gulf of Maine
April 23 – Portland, ME, USA – A new law that takes effect today will remove a blockade across a U.S.-Canadian border river erected nearly two decades ago that prevented alewives (river herring) from returning to their historic spawning habitat. The impediment (now understood as an ecological mistake) was established in 1995 at the request of sport fishing guides, who accused river herring of competing with them for smallmouth bass.
In July 2012, in response to a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice, the EPA issued a finding that no “…sound scientific rationale for excluding indigenous river herring (or other migratory species) from the St. Croix River …” To address EPA’s finding the Maine legislature passed a law (L.D. 72) to remove the blockades. By not vetoing the bills, Governor Paul LePage let the bills become law last week. River herring (alewives) spend most of their lives out at sea, but as anadromous fish, they must swim upstream to spawn in spring. With access to their historic habitat restored, scientists predict the river herring population will increase from tens of thousands to 10 million or more in time.
Peace spirituality and theology – The Tablet Interview with Marie Dennis
In March, Marie Dennis made a speaking tour with Pax Christi in the United Kingdom. The main topic was the Martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero. On 30 March 2013, an interview was published in The Tablet. The title of the interview is “On a road made by walking it.”
Relevance today of Pacem in Terris
Gisèle Turcot from Pax Christi Montréal in Canada, wrote an article about the relevance today of Pacem in Terris, the encyclical of Pope John XXIII on “Peace on Earth” of 1963. The article has been published in Relations, March 2013. Read here.
Several other Member Organisations published press releases on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary. Read the Press Release from the Indian National Commission for Justice, peace and Development here, and at the websites of Pax Christi France and Pax Christi Flanders.
Catholic Peacebuilding and U.S. Policy Focus of Conference
Catholic leaders, academics, and U.S. government officials addressed Catholic Peacebuilding and U.S. foreign policy at a major conference, Peacebuilding 2013: Pacem in Terris at 50, 9-10 April, at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Pax Christi International was represented by Marie Dennis, Co-President, and José Henriquez, Secretary General.
About the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day – May 17
The purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide. 17 May marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union.
World Telecommunication Day has been celebrated annually on 17 May since 1969, marking the founding of ITU and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865. It was instituted by the Plenipotentiary Conference in Malaga-Torremolinos in 1973.
World Information Society Day – In November 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society called upon the UN General Assembly to declare 17 May as World Information Society Day to focus on the importance of ICT and the wide range of issues related to the Information Society raised by WSIS. The General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/60/252) in March 2006 stipulating that World Information Society Day shall be celebrated every year on 17 May. World Telecommunication and Information Society Day – In November 2006, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya, Turkey, decided to celebrate both events on 17 May as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. The updated Resolution 68 invites Member States and Sector Members to celebrate the day annually.
UNESCO and China highlight role of culture in post-2015 development agenda
International congress in Hangzhou, China from 15-17 May
May 3, New York – The United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and China announced today an international congress on the role that culture plays in achieving sustainable development. The congress, entitled ‘Culture: Key to Sustainable Development’ will take place in Hangzhou, China from 15-17 May, and seeks to shape the 2015 global development agenda and beyond.
“Culture is what makes us who we are, it gives us strength, and it provides answers to many of the challenges we face today,” said the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova. “This power is increasingly recognized by countries across the world. We need now determined political will to act on this recognition, to mainstream culture in all development strategies and programmes at global, regional and local levels, to integrate culture within national development goals,” she said.
Today, cultural heritage, cultural and creative industries, sustainable cultural tourism, and cultural infrastructure generate substantial revenues, notably in developing countries, helping them combat poverty and unemployment.
The congress will bring together some 450 policymakers, leaders from development institutions, representatives of the private sector, civil society, academia, and the arts, and is expected to provide substantive input to the discussions on the framework for the post-2015 development agenda.
Antioch University New England introduces new certificate in sustainable business
May 3, Keene, NH, USA -– If you want to integrate sustainability practices into your business or nonprofit, the new Sustainable Business Certificate from Antioch University New England (AUNE) will accommodate your needs perfectly. In this noncredit certificate program, students are introduced to sustainability concepts through a systems approach, learning how to apply sustainability to finance, human resources, and organizational development.
The certificate is ideal for anyone asked to integrate sustainability into a business, and to lead sustainability initiatives. Individuals new to the sustainability field will gain a solid understanding of triple-bottom-line thinking and sustainable operations. Small- to mid-size business entrepreneurs who want to integrate best practices for sustainability into their strategic planning and operations will find it suits their needs.
UNESCO and Nokia to use mobile technology to improve education in Nigeria
30 April – Participating teachers will sign up for a mobile service called “English Teacher”, which sends teachers educational content and messages with pedagogical advice once a day. The messages are organized into thematic modules and include images and exercises.”English Teacher” leverages a technology that is already owned and used by a majority of Nigerian educators. “English Teacher” is available to anyone in Nigeria without a subscription fee. It is hosted on the popular Nokia Life+ platform, which offers an extensive menu of content and covers topics as diverse as education, health, agriculture, and entrepreneurship. When teachers sign up for the service they receive daily messages designed to improve and support their instruction.
The content was developed by the British Council and draws on the organization’s 75 years of experience building resources for English language teachers. The programme runs for 72 weeks and begins whenever a user signs up for the service.
Carter’s pledges $100,000 to Save the Children’s early childhood education program
Save the Children teams up with leading children’s apparel manufacturer to help mothers better prepare their children to learn in school
April 26, Washington, D.C. – In celebration of Mother’s Day, Save the Children has joined forces with Carter’s to help less fortunate Moms in America give their babies a better start in life.
From April 27-May 12, through its 100,000 Ways to Celebrate Moms Campaign, launched in partnership with Save the Children’s Early Steps to School Success Program, Carter’s stores and carters.com will be accepting monetary donations to give Moms the best Mother’s Day gift of all, the support they need to prepare their children to succeed in school. Carter’s will match all customer donations during this time up to $100,000.
Carter’s believes that childhood should be a celebration and looks for opportunities to help nurture and protect children and build communities in which children can thrive. Whether providing clean and comfortable clothing, sending volunteers into classrooms, or empowering others to help children in need, Carter’s works to make children’s lives easier so they can be free to do what they do best – enjoy childhood. (…)
Gaza preschool teachers get trained on early childhood development
April 25 – In Gaza, 15 community workers and 127 preschool teachers gathered at the YMCA for training classes on the fundamentals of early childhood development and how it can apply to the classroom. They learned about active learning, nutrition and healthy eating habits, reading strategies, child protection and positive parenting. ANERA organizes the training sessions as part of its early childhood development initiative.
In Gaza, the USAID-funded Right Start! program works with 60 preschools and 30 community centers to provide specialist training for preschool teachers and principals, equipment and learning materials as well as educational development activities such as reading, painting, drama and summer camps.
Pax Christi International Summer Youth Camp in Italy
Pax Christi Italy is organizing a summer camp from the 3rd to 8th August 2013 for youth aged 18-30 years old in the city of Vicenza, home to one of the largest US military bases in Europe. The participants will be introduced to the “Popular Movement of Non-Violent Resistance” of Vicenza city and with the Pax Christi Italy. The camp will be an opportunity to gain insight in to issues behind increasing militarization, the spreading of military culture, and grassroots organizations’ response through non-violent resistance. Youth from Pax Christi Member Organisations are warmly invited to participate. For further information, e-mail:[email protected]
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Next issue: 7 June 2013.
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 ([email protected]
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 23,000 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.
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