Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Support Women's Heath and Rights

Americans for UNFPA is working (in the time after the appropriations markups and before the new President and Congress are sworn in) to get the next President on the record supporting global women’s health and rights. They’re taking out an ad in Roll Call in September, aimed at Obama and McCain, with a simple statement “Dear Senators Obama and McCain, promise to fully fund global women’s health by restoring the $235 million that has been blocked from UNFPA in the last seven years” and the signatures of supporters. The visibility of the names of global women’s health and rights supporters will demonstrate the value of global women to both presidential candidates.
Take a second to sign this ad, and your name will be listed with thousands of others in an ad directed at Obama and McCain.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

UN Recognizes Glasgow as an 'Official City of Music'

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced yesterday that the city of Glasgow would be the newest addition to its Creative Cities Network. UNESCO recently created this global partnership to encourage universal social, economic and cultural development by promoting creativity at a local level. Glasgow joins the ranks of other artistically innovative cities like Seville and Bologna.

Culture, affirms UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura, is an defining trait of all societies. It allows people to see the world both introspectively and retrospectively; they are better able to understand their values and their individual purpose in life. Additionally, it highlights the lifelines of societies and encourages people to be proud of their nations achievements as well as their own.

Glasgow was named to this exclusive list because of the role of music in defining and supporting its economy. It averages 130 concerts a week, ranging in style from underground grunge rock to traditional Celtic music. Music revenues account for $150 million of Glasgow's annual GDP. Through the UN's recognition, Glasgow and the other cultured cities will be able to share their individual culture with a much larger audience and encourage new outlets for self expression both at home and abroad.

Image Source

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Remembering and Embodying UN legend Sergio Vieira de Mello

When a truck laden with explosives crashed into Baghdad's Canal Hotel August 19, 2003, 22 dedicated public servants perished. On the anniversary of this attack, it is important not only to remember those whose lives were tragically and unjustly cut short, but their principles. In today’s world where foreign policy is shaped by hard power and military might, it is essential to stick to Sergio Vieira de Mello’s belief in the power of conversation and peaceful negotiation.

Sergio, the mission’s head, is regarded as a legend within UN and foreign policy circles. The efforts of the talented peacemaker and diplomat have resulted in the repatriation on countless Cambodian refugees, and Sergio led the building of the world’s newest nation, East Timor. His remarkable abilities as a negotiator and his unwavering dedication to fostering peace was recognized by Secretary General Kofi Annan, who appointed Sergio to lead the mission head in Iraq. He had little time to fulfill his humanitarian and diplomatic duties, as the terrorist’s bomb claimed his life only months into his mission.

Sergio’s legacy continues: he is the subject of Chasing the Flame, a newly released book by Pulitzer Prize Winner Samantha Power. Both an HBO documentary and feature film based on his extraordinary life are in the works. Also be sure to check out the new blog, also titled Chasing the Flame. It is dedicated to keeping Sergio’s peacemaking vision alive. His devotion to fostering constructive and open dialogue is as relevant and important as ever to shaping American foreign policy.

Reminiscing on Sergio’s memorable role in crafting a more peaceful form of diplomacy, Annick Stevenson opens the Chasing the Flame blog:

Imagine a world in which everybody would speak to his/her neighbor, would listen to his/her views and would try to understand them, would, more generally, always wish to know the will of others before deciding, would negotiate before envisaging any military reaction, would never ever view war as the solution to any conflict whatever the reasons may be...A world in which war would become impossible because it would too difficult to think of killing someone you share so much with. This world existed. It was in the mind of Sergio Vieira de Mello. This is how he conceived it and lived it, as much as he could, or at least as a matter of principle.

Five years later, let us not only honor his memory, but follow his example.

Visit the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation

Image Credit: the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Grassroots Organization Thrives Thanks to UNDP Support

A local aid organization in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, L’Association Trait d’Union des Jeunes Burkinab├Ęs (ATUJB), is working to reintegrate former professional sex workers into society with UNDP’s help. ATUJB seeks to provide women with health care, vocational training, and behavioral support, and thanks to UNDP, the number of women helped as well as the resources available have vastly increased. Over 5,000 women are being assisted, empowered thanks to ATUJB to start their own businesses, get educated, and find sustainable jobs.
UNDP also allocated the organization $100,000 to enable it to branch out its services to neighboring towns, as well as increase their capacity for HIV/AIDS services.
On Burkina Faso alone, UNDP gives support to 146 organizations battling HIV and AIDS, and these organizations are contributing to real change. HIV prevalence rates fell from 6.5% in 2001 to 2% in 2008.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

UN Provides Immedaite Assistance to Displaced Georgians

In response to fighting between Georgian and South Ossetian forces, the United Nation's World Food Program provided timely humanitarian aid to 2,000 displaced persons in Georgia's capital Tbilisi. Today the WFP will extend its food rations to those outside of Tbilisi, particularly targeting the conflict's most vulnerable victims: rural residents, school children, tuberculosis patients and people suffering from HIV/AIDS. But the WFP is not the only UN agency working to provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced: UNHCR has established two humanitarian corridors out of South Ossetia. In upcoming days it plans to provide basic, non-food based assistance to civilians and to offer temporary shelter and refuge where needed. Their teamed efforts, coupled with aid from other humanitarian groups, is essential in providing relief, refuge and assistance to the tens of thousands who had fled South Ossetia over the last four days. Additionally, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has announced the need for an immediate ceasefire between the warring sides.

Friday, August 8, 2008

How UNDP is Lowering Oil Prices with Buffalo

Tractors are becoming too expensive due to fuel prices; therefore, buffalo are again being widely used for ploughing, for manure in light of expensive chemical fertilizers, and also for cash when needed.

“King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has for years said buffalo were integral to a sustainable agricultural policy and since 2000, Thai NGOs, with the UN Development Programme's (UNDP) Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme, have been working with farm groups to boost output and cut back on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The buffalo has been crucial to that strategy” according to IRIN.

From 2000, the programme began donating buffaloes to 11 different communities throughout Thailand. In batches of 10 to 27, they have over time led to sizeable numbers of offspring on farms throughout the country.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Play safe-Help stop HIV

UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Dr. Bernhard Schwartlander, has participated in the launch of the “Play safe-Help stop HIV” campaign. This initiative to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS during the Olympics in Beijing provided 100,000 condoms accompanied by HIV prevention and anti-discrimination information at the launch in Olympic Village. Additionally, all Olympic games participants will receive an AIDS fact sheet and two AIDS videos spots featuring China’s Yao Ming and Germany’s Michael Ballack who serves as a UNAIDS Special Representative.