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.*
World’s first binding treaty on conventional arms trade opens for signature at UN
New York, June 3 – The first international treaty regulating the global arms trade opened for signature at United Nations Headquarters this morning, culminating a decades-long push to halt illegal shipments of weapons such as missiles, combat aircraft and attack helicopters.
Approved overwhelmingly two months ago in the UN General Assembly by a vote of 154 to three – Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Iran and Syria – with 23 abstentions, the treaty, according to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), “will foster peace and security by putting a stop to destabilizing arms flows to conflict regions.”
Angela Kane, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, opened this morning’s special event, saying that the day opens “a new chapter in which States will sign up to an international contract bringing responsibility and transparency to the global arms trade.” While the treaty is “not perfect,” she said it is certainly “robust”.
The Treaty will come into force 90 days after it has been signed by 50 nations. Though it will not control the domestic weapons use, once ratified, it will require States to establish national regulations to control the transfer of conventional arms and regulate arms brokers, among other objectives.
For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news
Legislation banning bloody investments
Denmark is considering legislation banning investment in landmines and cluster munitions, Business and Growth Minister Annette Vilhelmsen has announced.
27 May – DanChurchAid has campaigned for a move of this kind, known as ‘disinvestment’, in cooperation with Denmark Against Landmines. So we welcome this import step by Denmark. It shows leadership. And it corrects a ‘laisse-faire’ approach to investment in companies producing illegal weapons that has not worked, and that is not in the sprit of Denmarks treaty obligations.
We are keen that Danish legislation should be match the best examples abroad, for example in addressing both direct and indirect investment, and in ensuring that it applies to anyone – individuals or organisations – subject to Danish law.
Critics may think this difficult or impossible. But 112 nations are now united against cluster munition production and use. And with increasing numbers of them now introducing legislation to ban investments in forbidden weapons, success is entirely within reach.
Lomé Conference sets course for Africa-wide cluster munition ban
23 May, Lomé, Togo – Representatives from 35 African states have been outspoken in calling for a ‘concerted and accelerated effort’ towards an Africa-wide ban on cluster bombs at a meeting in Lomé this week. Cluster Munition Coalition campaigners attending the meeting from 8 African states, including survivors, called on states to act now to protect civilians from harm.
States adopted the “Lomé Universalization Strategy on the Convention on Cluster Munitions” at the meeting, which sets out concrete steps states will take to achieve continent-wide membership of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions and a commitment to the full, effective, rapid implementation of the treaty.
Africa played a leading role in bringing to life the ban on cluster munitions and today the continent accounts for 42 of the 112 states that have joined the Convention. The Lomé Universalization Strategy on the CCM was adopted by states present including: 17 States Parties, 13 signatories and five non-states parties – Eritrea, Libya,Gabon, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe. It urges the 19 African signatory states and the 12 African states that have not yet signed the CCM to become States Parties at the earliest opportunity, and to strive towards the universalization of the convention to include all countries on the African continent.
Iraq ratifies Cluster Bomb Ban
May 15 – The Republic of Iraq has ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions, after depositing its instrument of ratification on 14 May. Iraq’s ratification represents a landmark moment for the Convention, given the history of use in the country, and is an important development for Iraq given the high level of cluster bomb contamination remaining and its impact on communities. After Laos, Iraq has the second highest number of recorded cluster munition casualties in the world. Iraq’s plight highlights the urgent need to address and halt the use of cluster munitions by all states, notably the well-documented, ongoing and widespread use of cluster munitions in Syria by the Syrian forces.
“In Their Words” – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre marks its 10th anniversary with videos of advocates talking about their work
London, May 30 – Today Business & Human Rights Resource Centre launched a platform featuring short videos of advocates talking about their work on companies’ human rights impacts. The initiative, called “In Their Words”, marks the 10th anniversary year of the Resource Centre. The organizations featured in the videos are headquartered in Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Mexico, Uganda and the UK.
Without the efforts of human rights advocates on the ground, the Resource Centre’s work would not be possible. The Resource Centre disseminates information on companies’ human rights impacts (positive and negative) to a global audience. It provides guidance to everyone working in this field. And it invites companies to respond to allegations, which helps ensure that its coverage is balanced and encourages companies to address concerns. So far it has sought over 1500 responses, from companies of all sizes and in all regions. Over 70% have responded.
UN emergency fund provides $9.8 million to assist Syrian refugees in Jordan
22 May – The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has provided $9.8 million to support the establishment of a new camp for Syrian refugees inJordan and to help meet the growing needs of those fleeing the ongoing conflict. The CERF allocation will support the first phases of the establishment of the new camp, which is expected to accommodate up to 110,000 refugees by the end of the year. The funds will be channelled through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to assist the first 50,000 vulnerable refugees in need of life-saving shelter and non-food items as well as water, sanitation and hygiene services in the new camp.
United States: Facebook makes human rights commitment
22 May – Facebook has taken a critical step toward increasing respect for human rights by joining the Global Network Initiative. Facebook joined the Global Network Initiative after participating as an observer in the organization for the past year. By becoming a full member, Facebook has pledged to abide by of human rights principles for respecting the rights to freedom of expression and privacy. The company also agrees to independent, third-party monitoring to show that it is complying with the initiative’s standards.
“Facebook has an undeniable responsibility to safeguard human rights for the more than billion people who use it,” said Arvind Ganesan, business and human rights director at Human Rights Watch and board member of the Global Network Initiative. “By joining the Global Network Initiative, Facebook is taking an important step to respect its users’ human rights and to be accountable to them. The real test is to see how it implements GNI’s principles.”
Boys in Save the Children pilot program alter their views of girls in rural Egypt, demonstrate support for breaking social barriers
Washington, DC, May 13 – Boys who were presented alternative views of traditional roles of girls and women through a Save the Children pilot project in rural Egyptdeveloped a more positive outlook on the role of girls. Research showed that boys at the end of the pilot had a lower tolerance for accepting violence against women and girls, and exhibited greater support for girls to make their own decisions about marriage, participate in sports, go out with their brothers outside the home and go to school.
The pilot project, called Choices, was sponsored by the Nike Foundation. The research, gathered at the start and at the end of the pilot, measured changes in attitudes and behavior among adolescents who participated in the activities. The study was conducted among 100 girls and boys, ages 10 to 14, in four villages in Assiut and Beni Suef governorates. The Choices curriculum was first tested by Save the Children in Nepal in 2009. The curriculum engages parents, community members and children in a dialogue on various topics, such as how boys can be respected even if they treat girls as equals, how treating girls equally begins with small actions, and how boys and girls can express emotions and realize their hopes and dreams. Choices is being applied in other areas of Egypt, and being replicated in Ethiopia andBolivia this year.
Economy and development
Belgium donates €9.2 million to fight poverty, aid governance
29 May, Rome – Belgium has announced its full support of the renewed FAO Strategic Framework through direct funding to the FAO budget. Belgium will donate €9.2 million over the three-year period 2013-2015 towards FAO programmes that focus on hunger eradication and malnutrition, sustainable production and also poverty eradication in rural areas as well as better governance for food and agriculture in recipient countries, FAO has announced. The donation goes towards FAO programmes that boost productivity and sustainability in agriculture, promote better market access for small producers, and develop capacity and better governance in recipient countries.
Remittances can transform rural areas
Making every dollar count
Rome, 27 May – The Global Forum on Remittances jointly organized by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank ended on 23 May 2013, with the private sector, civil society and policymakers determined to make every dollar count that migrants send home to their families in rural areas.
More than 350 participants from across the globe gathered in Bangkok for the three-day Forum, which ended with a key message from delegates and participants: Empowering the millions of remittances recipients in rural areas can provide a pathway out of exclusion, as well as improved livelihoods. The common goal of the participants – central bankers, money transfer operators, postal networks, and microfinance organizations – was to identify strategic ways to invest the US$450 billion migrants send home annually to their families..
Extraordinary success stories shared with the Forum participants demonstrated how remittances could be a bridge to the rural poor, for example by providing the funds for a first-ever insurance policy, or a loan to get a small business project off the ground, which could bring financial security to a migrant worker’s family.
Indonesia – FAO to strengthen fisheries and aquaculture cooperation
27 May, Jakarta/Rome – Indonesia and FAO will strengthen cooperation in the field of marine affairs, fisheries and aquaculture under an agreement signed here today. The three-year Memorandum of Agreement, which sets up a framework for future joint activities in those sectors, was signed by Indonesian Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Sharif C. Sutardjo and by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, paying a three-day official visit to Indonesia. Under the agreement, specific arrangements will be made to increase cooperation in a number of areas including sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development, marine conservation and the prevention, deterrence and elimination of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The agreement also covers capacity building, education and training, research and the exchange of experts – including through South-South cooperation – as well as food safety. Indonesia is a prominent actor in South-South cooperation and a member of the G20.
Africa‘s natural resources can fuel economic transformation — UN report
New York, May 27 – The African Economic Outlook 2013 states that African countries must take full advantage of their natural resource wealth to accelerate the pace of growth and ensure the process can benefit ordinary Africans. It also stresses that this must be accompanied by inclusive social policies that seek to reduce inequality in the continent.
The report says the continent’s economic prospects for 2013 and 2014 are promising, with the economy projected to grow by 4.8 per cent the first year and accelerate further to 5.3 per cent the next. However, it emphasizes that economic growth alone will no be enough to reduce poverty, tackle persistent unemployment, and address income inequalities and deteriorating levels of health and education.
According to the report, four key elements are necessary for inclusive growth. These consist of: creating the right conditions for transformation including infrastructure and the creation of more competitive markets; implementing more effective tax systems as well as improving land management; ensuring proceeds from natural resources are invested in projects that benefit civil society; and actively fostering economic diversification.
The report is produced annually by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Development Centre of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and UNDP. For more details go to UN News Centre at:
IFAD loan of US$3 million to revive small-scale agriculture in Seychelles
May 22, Rome – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a US$3 million loan to the Republic of Seychelles to help revive the agriculture sector, strengthen small-scale artisanal fisheries and promote rural microenterprises on the islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. Although the tourist sector–which employs about 30% of the labour force and provides more than 70% of the country gross domestic product (GDP)–has led economic growth, the country’s economy is extremely vulnerable to external shocks, such as food price volatility and financial crisis. The agriculture sector contributes only 3,2% of GDP and employs 3% of the population. To meet the country’s food requirements and sustain the tourism industry, food imports are as high as 90%. The new project will focus on improved production of fresh vegetables and fruits, and improving the quality of organic food, small livestock, pork and fish, for both local consumption and potential development for other markets. It will then link smallholder farmers to the hotel and restaurant industry through public-private partnerships.
The project will also address climate change adaptation issues and reduce consumption of non-renewable energy. Cofinanced by the government of Seychelles, the project will be implemented by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Industry. With this new project, IFAD will have financed two projects in Seychelles, for a total investment of approximately $4.1 million
Coffee producers connect to global markets at SCAA
Rural farmers from Peru and Ethiopia make business connections at 2013 event
May 16 – ACDI/VOCA recently helped coffee producer representatives from Peru and Ethiopia to connect to important players at the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) 2013 international exposition, held in Boston. The specialty coffee trade organization’s annual event is an opportunity for coffee grower groups to meet with buyers and market their specialty coffee. Connections formed at SCAA may result in long-term, mutually beneficial business relationships. Often rural farmers face challenges in gaining access to such key players. Members of ACDI/VOCA headquarters and programs attended to help facilitate these connections.
Two youth recognized for financial acumen spread their knowledge to help others in poverty
May 10, Kansas City, MO, USA – Two Children International youth are role models for using financial education to escape poverty. Ivonne, from Ecuador, and Aafia, from India, both participate in Aflatoun, Children International’s education program that teaches social and financial responsibility. The girls have different backgrounds, but have the same drive, determination and desire to share what they have learned with others. Those traits helped them get where they are this week: finalists in the Child and Youth Finance International’s Youth Summit in Istanbul, Turkey.
Both Ivonne and Aafia are examples of young women sharing knowledge to empower other women of all ages. Ivonne’s knowledge has helped her mother turn chocolate-making into a profitable business. Determined Aafia shares her knowledge with other young women.
Building a brighter future in Bolivia
U.S.-Bolivian collaboration helped stabilize communities in Yungas
May 6 – In 2012 a successful collaborative project of the U.S. and Bolivian governments drew to a close. The seven-year community development program left visible markers of its success, including new schools, clinics, sanitation systems, roads and other infrastructure. Less visible, but perhaps more important, are the democratic habits and sense of commitment to long-term stability that have taken root in the target communities.
USAID/Boliva’s Integrated Community Development Fund (ICDF) was implemented by ACDI/VOCA, working closely with the Vice Ministry of Coca and Integrated Development. The main goal of ICDF was to meet basic human needs and alleviate poverty by improving social and economic conditions in Bolivia’s two main coca-growing regions: the Trópico de Cochabamba and the Yungas region. ICDF provided an opportunity for the two countries to work effectively toward a shared goal of reducing illegal coca production. Over the life of the project, ICDF implemented over 650 projects, investing $24 million in 13 municipalities. The majority of the investment was in community development projects, valued at more than $16 million, with education, potable water and sanitation the most popular sectors.
Former Rotary Youth Exchange student designs a backpack bed for the homeless
By Megan Ferringer
The Rotarian, June – During Australia’s colder months, emergency shelters often fill to capacity. Many homeless people searching for a warm bed are turned away, handed a piece of cardboard and a blanket for the night. Tony Clark, an IT entrepreneur, 1992 Rotary Youth Exchange student, and the founder of the Melbourne-based nonprofit Swags for Homeless, offers an alternative.
In the past year, his organization has distributed more than 3,000 swags, or portable sleeping units, to charities and shelters throughout Australia, New Zealand,Germany, and the United Kingdom. The Backpack Beds, which Clark and his wife, Lisa, designed, are made of a lightweight fabric and have a built-in, 6-foot foam mattress and mosquito netting. But most important, they offer warmth with their waterproof, windproof design. The entire assembly weighs only 6.5 pounds and rolls into a backpack. (…) The bed, which can be purchased with a A$68 donation, has won four international honors, including the Australian International Design Award and the German Red Dot “Best of the Best” award – one of the most prestigious accolades in the product design world. The innovative beds offer more than physical comfort, say those who have used them – they also provide a renewed sense of dignity. (…)
The success of Swags for Homeless throughout Australia and Europe has encouraged Clark to bring his Backpack Beds to the United States. Rotary clubs in District 9800, which includes Melbourne, funded and transported 100 beds to Baltimore and parts of New Jersey and New York to help the region’s homeless and those displaced by Hurricane Sandy. District 7500 (New Jersey) worked with Australian Rotarians to coordinate the effort. Swags for Homeless also donated 60 beds for distribution in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.
“We knew we had to take this idea and spread its success to other countries and help save others,” Clark says. “Thanks to Rotary, this is an important moment: It will be the first time Backpack Beds will be distributed to street-sleeping homeless and disaster victims in the USA.”
Saudi dates help WFP deliver Ramadan Gift
May 29, Kabul – Thousands of the poorest Afghan families will be able to break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan with an evening serving of delicious, nutritious dates thanks to a contribution from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The dates are already pre-positioned in WFP’s Kabul and Kandahar warehouses and will soon be distributed to over 35,000 students in Kabul, Panjshir and Kandahar provinces. The dates are not only a healthy snack for school children and their families, but are also a gift to help poor households celebrate the holy month of Ramadan. They will furthermore serve as an incentive for parents to send their children to school.
Since 2001, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has supported the World Food Programme globally with a yearly contribution of 4,000 metric tons of dates, from which vulnerable Afghans have benefited since 2003.
Save the Children releases disaster safety and preparedness checklist for families
These precautionary measures will keep kids safe and calm in the event of an emergency
Washington, D.C., May 29 – In light of National Hurricane Preparedness week, now through June 1, Save the Children is releasing its disaster preparedness tips to help parents across America keep their children safe when disasters like hurricanes or tornadoes strike. In addition to basic survival items such as water, a flashlight and a battery-powered radio, families with children need to include kid-friendly supplies in their emergency kits.
Save the Children’s U.S. emergency response team is making sure the needs of children in tornado-affected Oklahoma are prioritized during the recovery process. The organization is working with the community to open safe play areas in shelters and help restore child care services so parents and children can begin rebuilding their lives. In addition, Save the Children is helping lead the creation of a task force with federal, state and local partners in Oklahoma to address children’s needs through summer programs and when school resumes.
ADRA International continues to assist tornado victims in Moore, Oklahoma
by Yael Elden, ADRA International
May 28 – ADRA International, Adventist Community Service (ACS), teams of volunteers, and other humanitarian organizations have been working together and assisting victims in Moore, Oklahoma for the past few days. The monster tornado that ripped through miles of the Oklahoma City region has affected more than 10,000 people. The assessment process has been ongoing due to the wide scope of damage. Each county impacted by the severe damage from the storm has opened up their own warehouse to receive donated materials.
ADRA International and ACS have been coordinating teams of volunteers and have been delivering cleaning kits and other relief supplies to families in need. ADRA and ACS’s continued plan of action is to continue to implement the necessary procedures to ensure successful team relief activities the rest of the week. Regular meetings with government officials, the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, and other humanitarian organizations have assisted in the process of providing the appropriate relief aid items to victims.
Saudi Arabia sends 340 metric tons of dates to refugees in Southern Yemen
May 27, Sana’a – The United Nations World Food Programme today welcomed a 340 metric ton donation of dates, worth more than US$680,000, from the Kingdom ofSaudi Arabia.
The dates, destined for distribution among refugees from the Horn of Africa in southern Yemen, will be distributed by WFP in monthly rations between June and December. Almost 20,000 refugees will eventually be reached, most of them located in and around the sprawling Kharaz Camp, isolated in the desert outside Aden in Lahj governorate.
In 2013, WFP is providing food assistance to a total of 70,000 refugees from the Horn of Africa. The budget for the operation is US$4 million, of which all but US$600,000 has been provided. Aside from Saudi Arabia, major donors to WFP’s refugee activities are Denmark and Switzerland.
Saudi Arabia has been a consistent contributor to WFP activities in Yemen. In 2012, the Kingdom contributed US$1.5 million to support WFP programmes, and this year the Saudis have donated US$5 million towards WFP’s Emergency Operation, a US$242 million programme that is the agency’s primary activity in Yemen in 2013. The operation is aimed at delivering food assistance to nearly 5 million people. As of mid-May, it still needed US$95 million to meet all of its objectives.
HNA Group, WFP sign agreement to provide school meals for children in Ghana
May 22, Beijing – A US$1.6 million agreement between HNA Group – a leading China-based corporation – and WFP was signed today in Beijing by WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin and HNA Group Chairman ChenFeng. The funds will help WFP provide take-home rations to promote girls’ education under its school meals programme in Ghana.
HNA’s support to WFP’s school meals programme in Ghana is planned as the first stage of an ongoing collaboration. The group has also expressed its interest in helping similar projects in other African countries as well as raising additional funds from its corporate partners, investors, customers and employees.
Over 66 million children of primary school age go to class hungry around the world. It costs on average only US$0.25 per day to feed a child in school through WFP. The HNA Group’s donation will help nearly 3,900 girls in Ghana attend and stay in school for five years.
TOMS Shoes for kids in Lebanon refugee camps
May 20 – At one elementary school in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, teacher Fakhrieh Al Zaabouti was saddened when a 7-year-old child arrived to school in tears. “His left shoe was torn apart and he was so upset.” But, his tears soon turned to joy when he received his new pair of TOMS Shoes. This is ANERA’s first delivery of TOMS Shoes in Lebanon.
Children in a preschool at a refugee camp near Beirut celebrated with balloons and games when volunteers from ANERA joined UNRWA teachers to fit them with new shoes. “A new pair of shoes is so important for Palestinian children in Lebanon who need almost everything,” one preschool director shared. When entering the camps, most children only have second-hand or torn and battered sandals. A new pair of shoes is a luxury many families cannot afford.
Peace and security
Myanmar: Ban welcomes ceasefire agreement in Kachin
New York, May 31 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the agreement reached between the Government of Myanmar and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), calling it a first step towards reconciliation in the country.
According to media reports, the seven-point plan reached by the two parties includes an agreement to a preliminary ceasefire. They also agreed to establish a political dialogue and hold discussions on resettling more than 75,000 people who have been displaced since fighting began almost two years ago. “The Secretary-General notes the seven point agreement as a significant achievement that could lay the basis for a genuine process of national reconciliation in the country,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said.
Colombia: Ban welcomes agreement between government and FARC
26 May – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the announcement that the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) have reached an agreement on rural development. According to media reports, the agreement, reached after months of peace talks in Havana, Cuba, calls for the economic and social development of rural areas and providing land to poor farmers.
Libya: new awareness-raising song warns children of explosive weapons risk
21 May – MAG is making schoolchildren in Libya aware of the dangers of explosive weapons, with the help of a new life-saving song written by two of the country’s leading creative talents.
Over the last two years, MAG has significantly reduced the threat of accidents by removing 440,000 explosive items from across the country. But many remain, and making vulnerable people aware of the dangers through risk education – tailored safety messages given to those most under threat, in various ways – is a key part of MAG’s work.
The song debuted in two north-western cities on International Mines Awareness Day 2013. An audience of 3,000 in Misrata heard the song performed by children from Abdel Ati el Jarm School, while in Zintan, as well as the song, local schoolchildren staged a play that tells the story of a family whose son is injured as a result of the father keeping an unsecured gun in the house.
Written by MAG’s Libyan staff, it ends with the following poem, translated from Arabic:
Hiroshima peace forum notes that peace begins with you
by Arnold R. Grahl
20 May, Rotary News – In a ceremony heavy with symbolism, RI President Sakuji Tanaka joined other Rotary and community leaders 17 May in laying a wreath inHiroshima Memorial Park, dedicated to the victims of the atomic bomb dropped on the city during World War II.
The subject of peace has been at the heart of Tanaka’s year as Rotary’s president. A member of the Rotary Club of Yashio, Japan, Tanaka selected Peace Through Service as RI’s theme for his year, and he organized three global peace forums to motivate Rotarians and others, particularly youth, to work for peace in their daily lives.
The wreath-laying event took place during the third of these forums, in Hiroshima, Japan, 17-18 May. Tanaka also visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museumand signed the guest book, which contains messages of peace from many past and present world leaders.
More than 2,700 people attended the forum, including Rotarians, community leaders, and students and alumni of Rotary’s Peace Centers program — a peace studies initiative that provides future leaders with the skills needed to resolve conflicts and promote peace. (…)
Since 2002, Rotary clubs have annually sponsored up to 110 scholars who embark on one to two years of study, earning either master’s degrees or professional certificates in peace and conflict resolution at Rotary Peace Centers at universities around the world. Seventy peace fellows have graduated from the Rotary PeaceCenter in Tokyo at International Christian University, and another 21 are currently enrolled; 25 peace fellows from Japan have studied abroad at Rotary Peace Centers.
MAG welcomes Iraq’s ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions
17 May – Iraq has become the 83rd country to ratify a treaty banning cluster munitions. The Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits all use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. In addition, it establishes a framework for cooperation and assistance to ensure adequate care and rehabilitation to survivors and their communities, clearance of contaminated areas, risk reduction education, and destruction of stockpiles.
Israel – A local-to-national program for building a shared society
A Givat Haviva flagship program, Shared Communities is a bold, concrete response to the urgent challenge of creating a socially cohesive society in Israel. The program builds structured, multi-level cooperation between over 20 pairs of communities alienated from each other by the most critical social divides that threaten the democratic fabric of Israel today: Jewish/Arab, secular/religious, affluent/poor and new immigrant/veteran citizens, among others. Israeli citizens and local leadership are engaged across these divides through the creation of inter-community alliances and frameworks that facilitate joint action around common values, projects and goals.
By actively demonstrating the mutual benefits of cooperation in the day-to-day experience of a wide cross-section of divided populations, the program builds the sustainable underpinnings for creating a shared future and shared society. Local activity is linked to broader efforts that will facilitate replication across Israel – advancing peaceful, economic and social development on a national scale.
IPB Triennial gathering: The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded
Stockholm, Sweden, 13 – 15 September 2013
Is the title of the Triennial Gathering of the International Peace Bureau, IPB, of which Pax Christi International is a member. Every three years IPB holds a special gathering to bring together their members and supporters and to discuss the challenges facing the peace movements
in an unstable and over-militarized world. This year we will explore the interrelationships between military interventions and the economy of war.
The International Peace Bureau is dedicated to the vision of a World Without War. Our current main programme centres on Sustainable Disarmament for Sustainable Development and we campaign mainly on the reduction of military expenditure. We believe that by reducing funding for the military sector, significant amounts of money would be available for social projects domestically or abroad and lead to the fulfilling of real human needs and general development. IPB plays a central role in the Geneva-based Special NGO Committee for Disarmament, which is a sub-committee of CONGO, the Conference of NGO in Consultative Status with ECOSOC.
Global health ministers add their weight to new polio ‘endgame’
Lasting polio-free world achievable, if new Plan is fully financed and implemented
27 May, Geneva, Switzerland – Global health ministers attending the World Health Assembly acknowledged the progress achieved in the past year in bringing polio to its lowest ever levels, thanks to actions of Member States in placing polio eradication on an emergency footing. Delegates endorsed the new Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018 to secure a lasting polio-free world and urged for its full implementation and financing.
At the same time, the Assembly received stark warning of the on-going risk the disease poses to children everywhere, with confirmation of a new polio outbreak in the Horn of Africa (Somalia and Kenya). Noting the generous pledges made to support polio eradication at the Global Vaccine Summit, delegates urged donors to rapidly convert these pledges into contributions.
Health ministers called on all countries to do more to protect frontline health workers everywhere, and ensure access to all children no matter where they live. Deadly attacks on health workers occurred in some parts of Pakistan (in December) and Nigeria (in February), and the Assembly praised the dedication and heroism of health workers everywhere.
IFRC and Afghanistan government commit to collaboration to eradicate polio and achieve universal health coverage
Geneva: 23 May – Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have released a joint statement committing to a closer partnership in promoting access to health care in the country. During a meeting on the side of the 66th Annual World Health Assembly, Her Excellency Dr Suraya Dalil, Minister of Public Health of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the IFRC said that despite the great strides the country has made in providing health care in recent years, half of all children still have poor access to lifesaving immunization services.
The statement said the Afghan Red Crescent Society was in the perfect position to bridge the health care gap with its extensive network of staff and volunteers, particularly women, across the country. “More than 2,000 Red Crescent women volunteers are actively engaged in community health programmes in 34 provinces. Trained Red Crescent volunteers, who live in the same community as the local population and speak the same language, can help reach the most inaccessible, poor and marginalized communities and help bridge social, cultural and other barriers that impede progress towards providing universal coverage of immunization.”
Kenya: New clinic brings comprehensive care to most vulnerable
Nairobi, 16 May – The international humanitarian medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today inaugurates a new clinic in Kibera South. The centre offers comprehensive basic healthcare and maternity services integrated with the management of chronic diseases like HIV, targeting one of the most vulnerable populations in Nairobi. The ceremony will also mark the opening of Urban Survivors, a photo/multimedia exhibition by MSF, highlighting the critical humanitarian situation in slums across the world.
MSF is the only provider of free healthcare in Kibera, and already operates another free health clinic as well as a centre for victims of sexual violence. Poor hygiene and sanitation conditions in the area cause illnesses such as respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases and skin diseases, which amount to over 60 per cent of all consultations at MSF’s existing facilities in Kibera.
The integration of care for chronic diseases with other services enables patients to seek a one-stop service. Often, patients with chronic diseases such as HIV, hypertension or diabetes suffer from more than one pathology. MSF’s integrated approach facilitates the early diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of associated pathologies. (…)
Energy and safety
First US offshore wind turbine launches in Maine
by James Montgomery
May 31 – Today marks a milestone for offshore wind energy in the U.S. with the official launch of a prototype floating turbine off the Maine coast, the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine deployed off the coast of North America. The 1/8-scale prototype VolturnUS, a 65-foot-high 20-kW turbine, will spend the summer being “de-risked” off the coast near Castine. Maine Senator Susan M. Collins did the honors, with a (scored) bottle of Madeira. The project, backed the DeepCWind Consortium with the U. of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center and roughly 30 partners from government, academia, and industry, is one of seven offshore wind demonstration projects backed by the Department of Energy, and one of two being pursued in Maine, all exploring different technologies and strategies to lower the costs and complexities involved with offshore wind development. This particular project will focus on a semi-submersible platform, with a concrete hull and lightweight composite materials instead of steel.
Congo confident $12 billion hydropower plant will proceed by 2015
by Michael J. Kavanagh
May 30 – The Democratic Republic of Congo will be ready to build the 4,800 megawatt Inga III hydroelectric plant by 2015, after two failed attempts to kick-start the $12 billion project, Minister of Energy Bruno Kapandji said. Support from the African Development Bank and World Bank, and the emergence of South Africa as a guaranteed purchaser of 2,500 megawatts of power will help the country find the at least $8.5 billion of financing it needs,
Kapandji said in a May 24 interview in Kinshasa, the capital. Inga III is the next step in the creation of a 40,000 megawatt Grand Inga complex, which would be the largest hydropower project in the world.
Currently China’s Three Gorges hydroelectric complex is the biggest with a generating capacity of 22,500 megawatts, while Brazil’s Itaipu is the second largest at 14,000 megawatts. Inga lies on the Congo River, the world’s biggest by volume after the Amazon and the power project is expected to supply a number of neighboring countries.
Japan hosts IAEA Nuclear Energy Management School
29 May, Tokyo – The IAEA Nuclear Energy Management (NEM) School opened up its doors on 27 May 2013 for a second consecutive year in Tokyo, Japan. This year’s course follows NEM schools that served young professionals since 2010 in Italy, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
The purpose of the NEM schools is to transfer nuclear knowledge and practical experience to educate future leaders in managing nuclear energy programmes. Young professionals with managerial potential from Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Nigeria, Sudan, Thailand and Vietnamare attending the programme in Japan. The majority of the 32 participants come from developing countries that are interested in generating nuclear power to enhance sustainable development.
The NEM course curriculum covers a range of topics on the peaceful uses of nuclear technology that are relevant to the participating countries. More than 30 experts from the IAEA and other institutions will provide their expertise and experience to the course participants. The course also serves to build nuclear technology capacity in Member States and is a networking platform for the attending young professionals.
Environment and wildlife
Protecting environment key to ending poverty, finds UN High Level Panel
30 May – Taxes, incentives, regulations, subsidies, trade and public procurement need to be realigned to favour sustainable consumption and production patterns if the world wants to end poverty, according to the UN High Level Panel charged with setting the new direction for global development. “Without environmental sustainability we cannot end poverty,” said the UN’s High Level Panel on the post-2015 Development Agenda.
The report of the 26-member panel, which included UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Queen Rania of Jordan and Unilever CEO Paul Polman, has the potential to influence over USD 25 trillion of development spending and marks a clear break from the practice of treating development and sustainability as separate topics. The report calls for hard-hitting measures to be taken in both developed and developing countries to reduce the impacts of consumption, production, trade, waste and pollution.
The Panel’s findings have the potential to influence over USD 25 trillion of international resource flows to developing countries to redraft government and corporate behaviours. “We came to the conclusion that the moment is right to merge the poverty and environmental tracks guiding international development” states the Panel report. The Panel underlined the inadequacies of GDP measures of progress and recommended mandatory social and environmental reporting by all companies with a market capitalisation above USD 100 million.
Proposed goals to secure food, water and energy for a growing world population should include key targets to safeguard sustainable agriculture, fisheries, freshwater systems and energy supplies, the report said.
One of the nation’s dirtiest power plants to clean up sulfur dioxide emissions
29 May, Homer City, PA, USA – After a year of litigation, the Homer City Generating Station, the largest source of sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution in the entire country in 2010, will now be subject to a precedent setting hourly limit for SO2 pollution. The new protections aim to ensure that the coal-fired power plant never exceeds Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health standards for sulfur dioxide, even during startup and shutdown, protecting the health of families across the region.
The new protections set a national precedent in the fight to secure the health and safety of families in coal-dependent Pennsylvania and beyond. These new conditions to the Homer City permit are among the first in the nation to set hourly limits on SO2 emissions. Sulfur dioxide is one of the most dangerous pollutants to come from coal-fired power plants. Just five minutes of exposure can lead to respiratory problems, difficulty breathing, contribute to lung disease and cause heart attacks. In 2010, EPA issued a new 1-hour SO2 health standard based on scientific evidence that linked short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide with these adverse health effects. EPA expected the new standard to benefit millions of Americans, in particular, children, the elderly, and asthmatics.
Seattle adopts highest standard for electronics recycling
e-Stewards Program prevents environmental and health hazards in developing nations
Seattle, Washington. May 23 – The City of Seattle has joined a growing group of public agencies and private companies that have become e-Stewards® Enterprises, to ensure that electronic waste from city activities will not be exported to developing nations where crude processing is an environmental and human health hazard. Serious environmental pollution and risks to human health arise from electronic products such as computers and television sets being disassembled and burned in primitive factories or out in the open. These issues have been documented by the Basel Action Network (BAN), a Seattle-based nonprofit with a worldwide reputation as a leader in the international campaign to stop these abuses.
Locally, King County, University of Washington, and Boeing have signed on to the e-Stewards Enterprise agreement. Committing to the agreement means surplus electronic equipment of the city that cannot be directly donated to schools, will go to an e-Stewards third-party audited and Certified processor. Seattle has contracted with Total Reclaim, a local e-Stewards recycler in the SODO area. Since last October when the City began contracting with Total Reclaim, the company has processed more than 50,000 pounds of surplus electronics at a cost to the City of less than $300 – a low cost largely thanks to the valuable materials that can be recovered.
Good news for sharks at Indian Ocean Tuna Commission meeting
13 May – WWF welcomes the adoption of key conservation measures for oceanic white-tip sharks, whale sharks and cetaceans following the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) annual meeting last week in Mauritius. IOTC member states agreed on important measures for the management of tuna fisheries and other vulnerable species such as white-tip sharks, which are not to be retained and need to be released unharmed if possible, while purse seiners can no longer set around whale sharks and cetaceans. One very positive outcome was the adoption of a proposal by the Maldives with regard to interim target and reference points, and a framework for management decisions to be taken in response to changes in stock status. WWF looks forward to continuing work in cooperation with the Maldives Government and other developing coastal states in the region to improve the management and conservation of tuna stocks.
Religion and spirituality
Interfaith conference promotes dialogue, peaceful coexistence
by Chap. (Lt. Col.) David Deppmeier, Army News Service
31 May – Over 300 leaders from religious groups, academic institutions, governments and nongovernmental organizations from 70 countries attended the 10th Doha Conference on Interfaith Dialogue last month in Doha, Qatar. The event was sponsored by the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue.
This year marked the tenth anniversary of the interfaith forum for DICID, which has been a leading international organization in the region promoting interfaith dialogue as a means to counter the rise of violent sectarianism. DICID’s primary mission is to promote the culture of interfaith dialogue, the peaceful coexistence of humanity and the acceptance of others of different religious traditions.
Religious leader liaison engagements promote mutual respect, contribute to the chaplain’s core task of advising the commander on religious affairs issues, and support the USARCENT campaign plan by building relationships that help foster common capabilities with partner nations in the region.
Buddhist teachings can help tackle world’s most pressing challenges — UN Chief
New York, May 24 – The teachings of Buddhism can offer significant insights on how to face today’s most pressing challenges, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, in a <“http://www.un.org/en/events/vesakday/2013/sgmessage.shtml”>message marking Vesak Day, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha.
“Now more than ever, we need the spirit of non-violence to help inspire peace and quell conflict,” Mr. Ban said. “This year’s observance, falling at a time of widespread strife and misery, is an occasion to examine how Buddhist teachings can inform our response to prevailing challenges.”
Mr. Ban noted that confronting troubling problems is a big part of Buddhism as the Buddha himself — when he was a young prince — left the safety of his palace to discover the four sufferings of birth, sickness old age and death.
Culture and education
Two Evolutionary Leaders events in NYC – June 3rd honoring Emily Squires & June 4th for World Environment Day
New York, 31 May – Two extraordinary Evolutionary Leaders events coming up soon! The Evolutionary Leaders include many of We, The World’s longtime partners and supporters such as Deepak Chopra, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Deborah Moldow, Michael Beckwith, Marianne Williamson, Ashok Gangadean, Diane Williams and many more dedicated to conscious activism and global transformation. The June 3rd event is dedicated to Emily Squires who was a longtime partner and supporter of We, The World, Co-Founder of the Coalition for One Voice and who also wo rked tirelessly on Evolutionary Leaders activities. And she positively affected millions of lives by directing and writing for “Sesame Street” from 1982 to 2007. The June 4th event is dedicated to World Environment Day.
Countries must ensure all people can practice, play sports without stigma – UN chief
28 May – Secretary-General today called on countries to ensure that all individuals have the right to practice and play sports in a safe environment free of discrimination and prejudice. During the three-day conference, sport ministers from the majority of 195 member States of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will discuss policy solutions to overcome the main challenges in physical education and sport today.
In his remarks, Mr. Ban stressed that children and girls in particular deserve to engage in sports under safe conditions. He added that adults must act as role models by using sport to promote democratic values and principles such as fair play, inclusion and dedication to the common good. The Secretary-General added that he hoped the conference would encourage sport governing bodies to intensify their efforts to eradicate all forms of discrimination.
“New” GPE to enhance quality education worldwide
28 May – The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) must support quality education in developing countries and ensure teachers’ involvement in local education group plans. It was the message delivered by Education International at the Board of Directors meeting, held from 21-22 May in Brussels, Belgium.
The GPE Board of Directors approved US$439 million in grants to 12 developing countries, providing critical funding and momentum toward quality education for all children.
Targeted countries are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritania, Senegal, Somalia, Tajikistan, Tanzania (Zanzibar), Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
This new financing reflects GPE priorities: increasing access to basic education in fragile states, improving the quality of education, generating measurable results and championing girls’ education.
Gender interventions in Nigeria empower vulnerable children and female caregivers through education, economic strengthening and advocacy
Sarah Mkeryi Amahson
May 28 – In Nigeria, women and girls carry the bulk of the caregiving burden for those infected with HIV and children left vulnerable or orphaned by AIDS. These responsibilities often prevent girls and women from obtaining an education and developing income-generating skills. Compounding these problems are social norms that inhibit girls and women from accessing HIV & AIDS information and services and severely limit their control over their sexuality, thereby leaving them vulnerable to violence and abuse. Other harmful Nigerian customs include depriving girls and women of economic resources and legal rights needed to protect themselves.
Fortunately, since 2009, the PEPFAR-funded, USAID project, Community Based Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CUBS), has been addressing these challenges by working with orphaned or vulnerable girls and female caregivers, as well as key stakeholders at national, state, and community levels. In 2012, for example, the MSH-led CUBS conducted gender training for 260 service providers, law enforcement agents, and state and local government representatives. The training helped participants to: understand gender concepts; identify gender-related needs; design interventions to meet gender-related needs; and provide legal protection and other social services to support women and girls. Since this training, many of CUBS’ local partners have reported positive changes in their communities. (…)
UNESCO to make its publications available free of charge as part of a new Open Access policy
14 May – Janis Karklins, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, announced the new policy during the opening of the World Summit on the Information Society Forum in Geneva on 13 May. By adopting this new publishing policy, UNESCO aligns its practice to its advocacy work in favor of Open Access and strengthens its commitment to the universal access to information and knowledge.
The Open Access (OA) movement was born in the scientific community to address the spiraling costs of the scientific literature, which is essential to researchers. A wide range of universities, institutions and governments support it as an alternative to the traditional model of knowledge dissemination through costly academic journals. Starting from July 2013, hundreds of downloadable digital UNESCO publications will be available to users through a new Open Access Repository with a multilingual interface. All new publications will be released with an open license. By championing Open Access for its publications, UNESCO reinforces a fundamental goal of an Intergovernmental Organization – to ensure that all the knowledge it creates is made available to the widest possible audience.
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Next issue: 5 July 2013
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