[Green Korea] First Korea-led international organization to be established
2010-04-23 AM 10:37:20
According to the collected data of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the total number of international bodies that have opened offices in Korea is 27 as of late January, 2010. Most of these organizations came to Korea after 2000, six invited by the central government, 15 invited by local governments and another six are NGOs (non-governmental organizations).
The Korean government is already assisting these international bodies with cheap office space, facilities and equipment and is preparing even more incentives to attract other similar international bodies. The government believes these efforts will allow Korea to have a greater edge on global issues since these bodies promote international cooperation and other worldwide campaigns.
New incentives include tax benefits, special visas, reasonable price for land and office space, partial coverage of operating costs and even temporary assistance in human resources in the form of a secretary and intern, which is unheard of in other countries.
For the employees working for the organization and their families the government intends to prepare adequate living conditions complete with high-level education and medical services . Other efforts will go to setting up a systemic training and management system to nurture and secure good human resources who fit the standards of international bodies.
Founding of Asia Forest Cooperation Organization
Among 10 or so international bodies that the government is either looking to attract or establish, the Asia Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO) has shown the most progress.
AFoCO was first proposed at the Korea-ASEAN Special Summit that took place on Jeju-do Island in Korea in June 2009. Two months later the first working-level meeting took place in Indonesia from Aug. 24 to 27. There, an additional agreement was clinched based on the early draft set up by Korea. The same year the leaders reconfirmed the establishment of the new body through the keynote statement at the 12th Korea-ASEAN Summit that opened in Thailand on Oct. 24.
In December last year the Korea Forest Service (KFS) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade distributed the final draft on AFoCO to the foreign affairs departments of 10 ASEAN nations and were in the middle of finalizing other details.
“We plan to hold a Korea-ASEAN deputy foreign ministerial-level meeting by May this year to sign the tentative agreement,” said Lee Young-joo, a senior official in the international division at KFS. “We’re in the middle of coordinating suggestions from other nations regarding sharing of expenses, the official title and others. Once we adjust the final details, collect necessary signatures and go through a ratification process, AFoCO will begin its operation from next year.
The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs is studying ways to either newly establish or attract international bodies related to water conservation. This is in relation to President Lee Myung-bak’s speech at UN General Assembly in September 2009, in which he stressed the importance of establishing a specialized and unified water management system in the region.
The Ministry of Public Administration and Security proposed the establishment of an international cyber security body at the 2009 Integrated Information Security Strategy Conference held in Seoul last year. A preliminary search and study is now underway.
Separately, Incheon is out to attract three international bodies to its city: UN-HABITAT (United Nations Human Settlements Programme), UN-CITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) and NEASPEC (North-East Asian Sub-regional Programme for Environmental Cooperation) by 2012.
Examples of international bodies in Korea
On October 16, 2009, the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) announced that it had developed an oral vaccine called “Shanchol TM,” whose price is only 1/20th of the cost of existing cholera vaccines. It was a breakthrough especially for those living in Africa, in displaced people’s camps or other disaster hit-areas more prone to disease. IVI is the only international body devoted to developing vaccines to prevent widespread disease like cholera, shigellosis and typhoid fever for developing countries. It is also the only international organization to have its headquarters in Seoul.
The institute, which was first founded in the early 1990s under the auspices of the UNDP (UN Development Programme), decided on locating its headquarters in Seoul after much competition between Asian countries and officially opened as a non-governmental international body at a research complex in Seoul National University in Gwanak-gu district, Seoul, in October 1997.
As of January 2010, IVI has 40 nations plus the World Health Organization as members. Over 140 employees, including an executive board and secretary-general taken from some 20 nations, are serving at the headquarters in Seoul.
UN- APCICT (United Nations - Asian Pacific Training Center for Information and Communication Technology for Development) which opened in Songdo, Incheon, on June 16, 2006, is an international body under the UN established in Korea. APCICT was established under the unanimous agreement of 62 member nations to develop human resources in the field of information and telecommunication technology (ICT) and, therefore, narrow the information gap between countries.
APCICT has so far trained over 1,600 people from over 40 nations in the Asia-Pacific region including high-level public servants. The Academy of ICT Essential for Government Leaders, an education program that was made through a survey of experts and related officials from 21 developing nations was even adopted as a promotion test for public servants in the Philippines. Other countries like Mongolia, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Armenia have translated the program to use it for their own ICT education.