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International Briefing

ENS 031006 - 2

ACNS/Jim Rosenthal
Archbishop Rowan Williams with young children at Displaced Persons Camp near Khartoum   (ACNS/Jim Rosenthal)

[Episcopal News Service] 

ENGLAND: Ethical Investment Advisory Group confirms earlier decision on Caterpillar
GREAT BRITAIN/IRELAND: Fairtrade campaign takes off
SUDAN: Archbishop of Canterbury tells world community to 'deliver' now on aid

    ENGLAND: Ethical Investment Advisory Group confirms earlier decision on Caterpillar

    [ENS, Source: Church of England] The Church of England's Ethical Investment Advisory Group, after careful consideration at a specially convened meeting to discuss Caterpillar Inc. -- the US-based manufacturer of construction and mining equipment -- has unanimously reaffirmed its previous decision, taken in September 2005.

    The decision involved not recommending disinvestment from Caterpillar; continuing its program of engagement with Caterpillar; and making clear its intention of revisiting this decision if there are new sales of Caterpillar equipment to the Israeli defense forces for use in the demolition of Palestinian houses.

    The EIAG, whose members include some nominated by the three investing bodies of the Church of England (the Church Commissioners, the Central Board of Finance and the Pensions Board) and representatives from the Mission and Public Affairs Council, the Archbishops' Council and the General Synod, is responsible for giving ethical investment advice to the Church's three investing bodies. The bodies alone have the legal authority to make investment decisions.

    John Reynolds, chair of the EIAG, said: "The EIAG reports regularly to the General Synod, and is gratified by what it sees as the rising level of interest in our work, and in particular by the wish of the General Synod to debate our report and the specific recommendations we make. We fully recognize that sometimes that interest will be critical, and lead to proposals that the EIAG reconsiders recommendations it has made.”

    Full story:

    GREAT BRITAIN/IRELAND: Fairtrade campaign takes off
    By Trevor Grundy

    [ENS, Source: Ecumenical News International] Millions of shoppers in Britain and Ireland are being asked over the next two weeks to "think Fairtrade" and buy products that give those in poorer countries who grow and manufacture them a better deal.

    Fairtrade Fortnight started on March 5 in Dublin when former Boomtown Rats punk rock singer Sir Bob Geldof urged people to "Make Fairtrade Your Habit." Geldof said, "While the politicians sort out the big problems, ordinary people can do something vital by purchasing products made in some of the poorest countries in the world."

    The Rev. Alex Bienfait, a team leader for the fair trade campaign of Anglican churches in Kent, told Ecumenical News International, "I cannot imagine any Christian church not using Fairtrade products when they can."

    Thousands of activities are expected to take place during the two weeks.

    "It's great to see Third World workers getting some benefit out of their goods," said John Marshall, a former mayor of Newcastle in northeast England, where on March 18 African singers and Indian dancers will popularize products from developing countries.

    "Through Fairtrade, we have been able to change our agricultural techniques to improve the quality and quantity of our teas," said Silver Kasoro-Atwoki from the Mabale Growers Tea Factory Ltd. in Uganda.

    Growers in Africa and other parts of the world sell their products to co-operatives supported by the Fairtrade Foundation, established in 1992 by the Roman Catholic Aid Agency (CAFOD), Christian Aid, Oxfam, New Consumer, Tradecraft and the World Development Movement.

    Globally, Fairtrade is estimated to benefit more than five million people -- farmers, workers and their families in 58 countries. British sales of products with the Fairtrade mark were put at 195 million British pounds (US$338 million) in 2005. And global sales of Fairtrade products increased by 40 percent between 2003-2004, to reach an estimated US$1 billion.

    "British shoppers are creatures of habit and rarely change once they like something," says Barbara Rowther, head of communications at Fairtrade in London. "We plan to point them towards Fairtrade approved products and that will help people in some of the poorest parts of the world."

    SUDAN: Archbishop of Canterbury tells world community to 'deliver' now on aid

    [ENS, Source: ACNS] "Deliver" was the word Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams used to get his message across as he spoke to the global powers and promise-makers via press, media and addressing the people of Sudan. He confronted daily the vulnerability of the people and places he met on his first visit to the Episcopal Church in Sudan February 26-March 6.

    Time and again the word "deliver" encapsulated the urgency of the situation as viewed by Williams. "Rebuilding is harder than tearing down," he said. "Expectations of help from the global community is high but the delivery is slow."

    Full story and photographs by Jim Rosenthal: