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From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Mon, 09 Dec 2002 13:29:33 -0800

November 25, 2002

AANA Bulletin is an ecumenical initiative to highlight all endeavours and 
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Healing's In The Hands Of Ordinary People, Says Leader

MONTREUX, Switzerland/GENEVA (AANA) November 25 - The quest for peace 
building in Africa is not a matter for heads of states and governments, 
religious leaders or the elite and educated, rather, it is in the hands of 
ordinary people on the continent, a woman church leader said.

Ms Loe-Rose Mbise , the Deputy General Secretary of the Evangelical 
Lutheran Church in Tanzania ELCT, was addressing  participants in the first 
preparatory gathering prior to the 2003 Tenth Assembly of the Lutheran 
World Federation LWF.

"If I in Tanzania know that people in Mozambique, South Africa, Sierra 
Leone, Liberia and other countries think not about peace for their own 
countries but also for Africa as a whole (then) I am healed," Mbise told 60 
women representatives from LWF member churches worldwide, gathered in 
Montreux for the November 14-17 Pre-Assembly Women's Gathering.

Her sermon during the November 17 Sunday worship service, focused on 
"Healing through Peace Building   Opportunities for Peace Building in 
Africa". Deliberations during the consultation were based on the Assembly 
theme, "For the Healing of the World".

Although Africa's 762 million people are faced with enormous challenges 
that discourage and demoralize many "conflicts, poverty, HIV/AIDS and a 
host of other concerns" there are opportunities for peace building, Mbise

Her reflection was based on Luke 19: 41-42. She pointed out that Jesus wept 
for the city of Jerusalem not because the people were dying and surrounded 
by many difficult situations, but "in a state of war, hunger, sickness and 
turmoil, he saw opportunities for peace building for the city and its

"Are there opportunities for healing through peace building in Africa? Who 
is seizing these moments filled with opportunities? (Or) are we so much 
used to seeing sufferings in Africa that we no longer recognize 
opportunities for peace building?" Mbise asked and challenged listeners to 
seize the moment because "Jesus is reminding us today" of the 
peace-building opportunities in Africa.

The ELCT deputy general secretary cited examples of peace building 
opportunities in Africa namely the courage, will and determination; unity; 
spirituality and faith; and the rich and diverse composition of the African 

Africa's colonial division, "has for a long time kept the people of the 
continent apart," Mbise noted. But she also sees an opportunity - although 
indeed tragic - situations of colonization, civil wars, apartheid and so 
on  have brought many people together.

"Can the hurting issue of refugees be turned into an opportunity that will 
enable future generations not to have to undergo the same experience 
again?" she wondered.

She cited an association of friendship between the people of Mozambique and 
Tanzania, and underlined an opportunity in linking such "associations of 
ordinary people from all corners of Africa" with other forums to form a 
"strong web to be used in bringing peace to the continent".

The ELCT official stressed that religious beliefs and values, a central 
feature of the lives of the African people, "are a source of a hope and 
courage" that transcend cultures and other barriers that could come in the 
way of peace building.

Mbise challenged the LWF church representatives "to recognize the numerous 
opportunities around us as a communion of believers, and as a body of 
Christ," and use them to bring healing to ourselves. Peace building for 
Africa is healing to Africa and the world, she said.

Prepared by Pauline Mumia

Projects Must Respect Rights of Indigenous Peoples

NAIROBI (AANA) November 25 - New dam-building, mining and road-development 
schemes should only get the green light after thorough assessments of their 
impacts on the lives and cultures of indigenous peoples, the head of the 
United Nations environment arm said here.

Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment 
Programme UNEP, said new construction and development projects were no 
longer allowed without an evaluation of their environmental impacts.

He said the same, legally-binding, standards should be applied to their 
impact on the life-styles and cultures of indigenous peoples.

Toepfer was addressing the 4th International Conference of the 
International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical 
Forests taking place in the Kenyan capital.

He said conserving and promoting cultural diversity was no nod in the 
direction of nostalgia. He said it was an "economic imperative".

Global studies, carried out by UNEP in collaboration with other UN 
agencies, academics and local people, have found a firm link between 
cultural and linguistic diversity and biodiversity.

"If you look at languages, you can see the links. On a global level we have 
less than 7,000 languages and of those up to 2,500 are on the Red List of 
endangered languages, the UNEP official said.

"If you correlate this to biodiversity, the wealth of animal and plant life 
on the planet, you see that where you are losing cultural diversity, you 
are losing biodiversity, and visa versa,"  he told the conference which has 
attracted indigenous peoples from Africa and Latin America to Asia and the 

Toepfer said the wealth of animal and plant life nurtured by indigenous, 
tribal and local peoples "for generations, for ages" amounted to a treasure 
trove of potentially promising new drugs, crops and industrial products for 
the 21st century.

Sadly, many of these cultures and their indigenous knowledge are being 
lost, partly as a result of the globalization of trade, of the media, and 
the rising dominance of western or northern-style values and traditions.

Big, infrastructure, developments such as dams and mining camps and 
insensitive tourism projects are also taking their toll.

Either forcing indigenous communities from their lands or by bringing such 
peoples and their cultures into conflict with news ones for which they may 
be ill-prepared.

"This why I fully support the Alliance's call for cultural damage to be 
assessed. The more we lose diversity, both culturally and in the natural 
world, the more we run the risk of instability, the possibility of 
disasters such as crop failures and basic knowledge on coping with natural 
disasters such as drought," said Toepfer.

"For example local people and tribes have, for millennia, developed 
strategies and methods for surviving in often harsh, sometimes, low 
rainfall areas," he said.

"These have allowed them to grow crops and graze livestock without 
sacrificing the fertility and stability of the land.  We must give this 
knowledge and the genetic resources so carefully nurtured by indigenous 
people our respect and an economic value," he added.

At the recently held World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), UNEP 
in cooperation with UNESCO, held a round table on Cultural and Biological 
Diversity for Sustainable Development chaired by President Chirac of France.

In April this year, UNEP helped broker the so called Bonn Guidelines at a 
meeting in the Hague, Netherlands, of the Convention on Biological 
Diversity (CBD).

The guidelines set out, for the first time, clear rules on how governments 
can balance the needs of those collecting genetic resources from the wild 
with the need to recompense local and indigenous people for their genetic 
material and knowledge.

Toepfer told delegates that in addition, UNEP would be furthering such 
issues at the next meeting of its Governing Council set to take place in 
Nairobi in February 2003.

"These issues are a real challenge for the UN system. However we will lay 
them before governments attending the Governing Council and ask them, what 
can we do more to conserve cultural diversity and to more fairly share the 
genetic diversity which they hold," he said.

"Genetic resources and indigenous knowledge are too often treated as a 
common public good. They are available for everybody, nobody has to pay 
them, there are no property rights. This has to re-considered and UNEP will 
do all it can in its power to see that happen," said Toepfer.

Prepared by Nick Nuttall,
Head of Media Services, UNEP, Nairobi

Sudan Peace Talks Rescheduled To Early Next Year

MACHAKOS, Kenya  (AANA) November 25 - The second round of elusive Sudan 
peace talks between the Khartoum government and the rebel movement, SPLM/A, 
have been deferred to early next year.

According to organisers, the talks which were being held here under the 
auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development IGAD will 
resume in January next year.

The negotiations were discontinued on November 18 with the two sides 
emphasising their commitment towards achieving a just and comprehensive 
peaceful atmosphere in the Sudan at the earliest time possible.

In a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Khartoum 
government and SPLM/A, and witnessed by IGAD, the parties reaffirmed their 
commitment to the Machakos Protocol of last July 20, which stipulated that 
unity shall be the priority of the parties during the interim period.

The parties recorded that they had reached a measure of understanding on 
structures of government and revenue sharing. They agreed to ensure that 
the National Civil Service and Cabinet Ministries be representative of the 
people of Sudan, and that the people of southern Sudan specifically shall 
be equitably represented at the senior and middle levels.

They agreed to continue their regularly scheduled meetings under the terms 
of reference established by the Cessation of Hostilities Committee.

The two sides further pledged to continue searching for lasting peace and, 
without prejudice to the positions of the parties, to resolve all 
outstanding issues and incorporate them into the final peace agreement.

These round of talks were expected to come up with a final word on power 
and wealth sharing and cease-fire. But, a source close to the talks told 
AANA that the parties failed to agree on the issues and that "the 
government was reluctant to address this matter adequately".

The source pointed out that the parties disagreed on the issue of a 
"sharia-free capital" saying: "The SPLM/A wants a neutral capital city but 
the government of Sudan does not seem comfortable with this idea".

In a separate agreement, the warring parties also resolved to extend their 
earlier understanding on the cessation of hostilities to March 31, 2003.

They agreed to continue their regularly scheduled meetings under the terms 
of reference established by the Cessation of Hostilities Committee.

"In accordance with the MOU between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A 
on the cessation of hostilities signed on October 15, 2002, the parties 
hereby agree to renew the said MOU from January 1, 2003 to March 31, 2003, 
during which period the parties shall continue to negotiate outstanding 
issues," said the document in part.

During the beginning of this round of talks on October 14, the two parties 
had signed a temporary cease-fire seeking to end military activity in the 
country as long as the talks were on.

Reported by Joyce Mulama

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