Thursday, 29 November 2012

History of UNICEF greeting cards

In the late 40s, when UNICEF was established,  unlike other UN organizations funded with compulsory contributions from member states, the Fund received just voluntary donations from people and governments.
Maurice Pate, first UNICEF's Executive Director and his assistants were always working on new ideas to raise money and expand the net of donors for the Fund. (information excerpt from the book "The children and the Nations" published by Development historian Maggie Black at: )

The first design for the cards, shown below, was a picture of a maypole painted on glass by a seven-year-old Czechoslovakian girl Jitka Samkova. Jitka and her classmates were regular drinkers of Unicef milk, and the paintings they produced were a 'thank-you', sent off to UNICEF's bureau in Prague by their teacher.

The picture from Prague was sent to the office in Vienna directed by Al Davidson, who asked Grace Holmes Barbey, Executive Director Assistant in an information mission in Europe, to bring the painting, first to Paris and then to the HQ in New York. Once arrived in New York, Ms Barbey in collaboration with Gil Redfern, Helen Matousek and Mrs Edwards and with the support of the Executive Director decided to publish a small amount of greeting cards based on the May pole painting to fund a small project (excerpt from an interview of Ms Holmes Barbey).

Nowadays, UNICEF greetings and Christmas cards are printed in the hundreds of millions.  In 2010 the sales of Cards and Gifts amounted to US$15.5 million a bit lower than expected due to the global recession, but still representing an important financial source for the work of the Fund.

Don't forget to buy UNICEF cards and gifts for a good cause!!!!!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Information on social instability and ethnic clashes in Ferghana Valley

The Ferghana Valley is one of the most densely populated geographical areas of the world. Borders demarcation of the three countries of the Valley, namely Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan was established in Soviet times putting aside any consideration of geographical, economic, ethnic and religious differences of the local population.
The new administrative arrangements decided by the Communist Party with the National Policy of 1930, divided the population  favoured inter-ethnic hostility. Recently, in 2005 and 2010 the tension resulted in demonstrations and killings.

Physical map of the Valley
Distribution of population UNEP/Grid-Arendal Apr.2005

Main problems faced by the population in the valley (FEWER International):

Increase in corruption
Politicisation of ethnic commuities
Growth of radical islamic organisations
Disputes over natural resources
Destabalising role of regional enclaves
Growing influence of international drug cartels
Growth in terrorist activities
Western countries exploitation of natural resources
Russia's influence in Central Asia
Lack of security coordination among Central Asian states hardening position of radical groups
Efforts at stabilisation by IGOs and NGOs*

*A number of international organizations are working in the Valley carrying out projects of community mobilization and public awareness to reduce inter-ethnic tension

Introductory information

ICE Inventory of Conflict and Environment. American University - Washington D.C. - "Ferghana Valley. A Soviet legacy faced with Climate Change"(2011):

Frederick Starr (ed.) -  Ferghana Vallery the hearth of Central Asia (June 2011) 

Chatham House - Local and Regional Politics in the Ferghana Valley (Jan.2011)

Recent information

Mercy Corps -  Ferghana Valley Field Study Central Asia May 2003Reducing the Potential for Conflict through Community Mobilization

Human Rights Watch - Skewed justice over 2010 conflict inj Kyrgyzstan (Oct.2012)

Ferghana News- Knut Vollebaek: The underlying reasons for the June events have still not been eradicated


UNEP/GRID Arendal - Collection of maps showing data on environmental, economic and social statistics

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

5th Annual Conference on Access to Justice - 19-20 December 2012 held in Alexandria, Egypt

The Protection Project is a not-for-profit human rights research and training institute based at The Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C. The Institute is engaged in the elimination of human rights violations around the world. In order to achieve this mission the Protection Project continually works to achieve the following goals:

  • Promotion of human rights values around the world;
  • Protection of human security, and enhancement of women’s and children’s rights;
  • Fostering of civil society and NGO development through capacity building and coalition building; Strengthening the rule of law by promoting citizen participation in the political process;
  • Advancing human rights education; Encouraging state observance of internationally recognized human rights;
  • Eliminating trafficking in persons;

The Institute together with the Alexandria University Faculty of Law will arrange the 5th Annual Conference titled “Access to Justice,” which will take place on December 19-20, 2012 at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria, Egypt.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Climate Change Conference - COP18 held in Doha, Qatar 26th November - 7th December 2012

Since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force in 1994, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC has been meeting annually to assess progress in dealing with climate change. Almost 200 governments are parties to the U.N. Framework Convention, which produced the 1997 Kyoto Protocol binding highly industrialized countries to greenhouse gas reductions. The U.N. Climate Change Conference will be held in Doha, Qatar, over the next two weeks. The 18th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework on Climate Change is expected to focus on strategies for accelerating actions to reduce greenhouse gases and to inhibit the increase of global temperatures.

more info on the official website

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

"Education First" the UN Secretary General Initiative to support quality education

Education First is the name of the United Nations Secretary-General’s initiative establish to promote quality, relevant and transformative education for poor children .
Globally, more than 61 million children don't have access to school facilities. The initiative aim at boosting efforts to reach the “Education for All” Millennium Development Goal, which aim to fulfil the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.

 Yet worldwide, some 61 million children are still not in school. Education is the basic building block of every society. It is a fundamental human right, not a privilege of the few.#EducationFirst


Education is the basic building block of every society. It is a fundamental human right, not a privilege of the few. #EducationFirst


If we do not act swiftly, educational disparities will become greater sources of division both within & between countries. #EducationFirst


#EducationFirst: everyone goes to school, everyone learns, & everyone contributes to society.


Today, some 71 mln adolescents in low-income countries, are receiving no post-primary education.



It is not enough for education to produce individuals who can read,write & count. Education must be transformative.#EducationFirst


An additional US$ 24 billion needed annually to fill financing gap for primary and lower secondary education. # EducationFirst


When we put #EducationFirst, we can reduce poverty & hunger, end wasted potential, & look forward to stronger & better societies for all.

Initiative website

Friday, 9 November 2012

State of the World Population Report from UNFPA launched next Wednesday 14 November 2012

The State of World Population 2012: By Choice, Not By Chance: Family Planning, Human Rights and Development will be released globally on 14 November. The report presents evidence of the economic impact of family planning on families, communities and countries. The reports outlines the importance of family planning as an  an essential human right. The costs of ignoring the family planning right and the lack of adequate policies affect poverty, exclusion, poor health and gender inequality.
The report will be released in Berlin, Geneva, The Hague, London, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Stockholm, Tokyo, Washington, D.C., and more than 100 other capitals worldwide.
At the moment, the access to the document is available upon registration at the following page:

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Information on labour rights and employment laws on ILO website

Guy Ryder
ILO The International Labour Organization is the UN specialized agency which seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights.
 It was founded in 1919 and is the only surviving major creation of the Treaty of Versailles which brought the League of Nations into being and it became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946. The ILO formulates international labour standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations setting minimum standards of basic labour rights: freedom of association, the right to organize, collective bargaining, abolition of forced labour, equality of opportunity and treatment, and other standards regulating conditions across the entire spectrum of work related issues. It provides technical assistance primarily in the fields of vocational training and vocational rehabilitation; employment policy; labour administration; labour law and industrial relations; working conditions; management development; cooperatives; social security; labour statistics and occupational safety and health. It promotes the development of independent employers' and workers' organizations and provides training and advisory services to those organizations. Within the UN system, the ILO has a unique tripartite structure with workers and employers participating as equal partners with governments in the work of its governing organs. The Organization is currently directed by the new Director-General Guy Ryder who took office in October 2012.

The website of the organization includes three interesting databases to compare information on the member states on labour standards and employment legislation:

Natlex is the database, maintained by the arranged by ILO's International Labour Standards Department, including information on national labour, social security and related human rights legislation.

 EPLex provides information on all the key topics that are regularly examined in national and comparative studies on employment termination legislation. The information is broken down to cover more than 50 variables, and will be updated annually to facilitate analysis of impacts and trends over time. EPLex replaces the ILO's existing Digest on Termination of Employment Legislation.

 NORMLEX is the new information system which brings together information on International Labour Standards as well as national labour and social security laws.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Internet Governance for Sustainable Human, Economic and Social Development. IGT 2012

Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan will host from 5th to 9th November the 2012 edition of the Internet Governance Forum.
Differently from other UN fora, the participation to the assembly is not restricted to governments' delegations, but also representatives from private sector and NGOs will attend the event.

The forum will mainly focus on the following themes:

  • Internet Governance for Development
  • Emerging Issues
  • Managing Critical Internet Resources
  • Security, Openness and Privacy
  • Access and Diversity 
  • Taking Stock and the Way Forward

All Main sessions, workshops, Dynamic Coalitions, Open Fora, Side Sessions and Pre-events will have webcast, captioning and remote participation.

Official Website