The results of two years of work were on display today, Oct. 3, as the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the Maritime Ship Modelers Guild unveiled a refurbished, 13-foot model of the Cunard liner, RMS Franconia. Originally donated to the museum by the Cunard Line in 1955, the model spent many years languishing in storage, in need of repair. In July of 2003, the Franconia Project officially began as members of the Maritime Ship Modelers Guild took on the challenge of the restoration. Treating the model like an archaeological site, volunteers completely dismantled each piece of the ship and carefully catalogued all of the parts. The modelers then identified the tasks that needed to be tackled, assigning a working group from the modeler’s complement to each of the various steps. The model is an example of a builder’s model, large models that were constructed at the same time as the ships themselves, using the same plans. Intended to grace the boardrooms, lobbies and ticket offices of steamship companies, these models had a unique level of accuracy, finish and detail. Thanks to the specially built workshop constructed to house the model during refurbishment, the lengthy restoration process became one of the museum’s most popular working exhibits. Countless museum visitors witnessed the evolution of the project first-hand, taking advantage of the opportunity to speak directly with the volunteers. Commodore Ronald Warwick, captain of the Queen Mary 2, returned to the museum to help members of the guild and museum staff celebrate the completion of the project. In 2004, during the Queen Mary 2’s inaugural visit to Halifax, Commodore Warwick participated in the Franconia Project by reinstalling the model’s funnel. The restored Franconia now has a permanent spot in the museum’s displays. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is located at 1675 Lower Water St. in Halifax, and is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Marking the International Day of Disabled Persons, United Nations officials today highlighted efforts to find innovative approaches to help people with disabilities achieve full and equal participation in all aspects of economic, social, cultural and political life.In a message to commemorate the occasion, Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that the commitment to full and effective participation of disabled persons in economic and social development is deeply rooted in the principles of the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments.The Secretary-General also urged the international community to pledge to fight exclusion, create opportunities for all people, and “build societies in which persons with disabilities are seen not only as beneficiaries of society’s support, but as an empowered and empowering source of social, cultural, political and economic development.”For his part, General Assembly President Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic noted that the UN system has played a powerful, catalytic role, first by placing the issue on the world agenda more than a generation ago and then through regular monitoring and reporting of the progress achieved at national and international levels.Mr. Kavan pointed out, however, that there is no comprehensive database on disability statistics and the application of benefits of treaties and conventions dealing with human rights and the elimination of discrimination of populations with disabilities remains lacking.”At this critical juncture, it is imperative that relevant governmental and regional institutions focus on the issue of sustainable livelihood and independent living through infrastructure for education, training, capacity building, rehabilitation, medical and social services, safety nets and promotion of employment opportunities,” he said.Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, stressed that disability must be understood as a human rights issue, and that violations of civil liberties and humanitarian law are often causes of disability. “Discrimination undermines human dignity and deprives persons with disabilities of those basic rights and fundamental freedoms that most of us take for granted,” he said.The High Commissioner also referred to the process undertaken by the UN General Assembly to consider proposals for a new international treaty to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, stressing that a new accord would enhance dramatically the “visibility” of persons with disabilities, and would represent an important step forward in the recognition and protection of their human rights.
In a letter sent to Senators Norm Coleman and Carl Levin on Monday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Chef de Cabinet, Mark Malloch Brown, said Dagfinn Knutsen would be available to brief them and their colleagues from the other investigative committees.”As the lead auditor of all of the OIOS audits into the Oil-for-Food programme, no one is better placed to answer whatever questions Congress members may have on this particular issue of audits,” UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters in New York.He recalled that last week in Washington, DC, Mr. Malloch Brown told US lawmakers that the UN would work with Congress to ensure an orderly process that meets the needs of all the congressional committees and those of the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) commissioned by the Secretary-General and chaired by former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.Senator Coleman is the Chairman of the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which is holding hearings on Oil-for-Food. Senator Levin is its ranking minority member.