Should UNDP Leave Korea Now?

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), March 31, 2000 | Go to article overview

Should UNDP Leave Korea Now?


It is known that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) will have to close its 35-year operation and leave Korea at the end of 2000, when its cooperation contract with the government expires. Given that Korea now enjoys a high economic status, and being a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the country may no longer see a need for technical assistance from the UNDP and U.N. specialized agencies.

Nevertheless, it is not desirable at this stage for Korea to lose such an important international organization as the UNDP. This is particularly so at a time when Korea, now running fast toward the group of advanced economies, is seeking to enhance its cooperation with the international community and the United Nations, and is especially so when a unique division still remains on the Korean peninsula.

When we look back upon the modern development history of Korea, the UNDP has contributed much to the economic, social, cultural and external development of the country. With an objective to promote sustainable human development, the UNDP has assisted Korea in its efforts to protect the environment, to empower women and to alleviate poverty. Especially, in regard to the desire to establish a special relationship of mutual trust with the two Koreas, the UNDP, as an honest broker, has facilitated dialogue and economic,technical cooperation between the two, and contributed through development to the maintenance of peace on the Korean peninsula.

For example, while promoting the development and economic revitalization of the Tumen River area and its hinterland, the UNDP funded a forum for the two Koreas as well as other countries of Northeast Asia where they could freely meet and discuss matters of mutual developmental interest, priorities for development assistance, and work out ways of removing obstacles to regional economic cooperation. Also, when the people of North Korea were suffering from serious natural disasters and related emergencies, the UNDP facilitated South Korea's assistance to North Korea in its efforts to improve agricultural rehabilitation and the environmental and food situation.

With greater focus on ways to integrate its services under the Sunshine Policy, the UNDP Seoul Office would be able to initiate and strengthen cooperation and dialogue between the two Koreas.

In cooperation with leading international environmental organizations such as the United Nations Environment Program and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the UNDP has effectively assisted Korea in addressing its environmental issues.

Given the trans-boundary movement characteristics of air and water pollutants, the countries concerned need to make collective efforts toward investigating the sources of pollution and alleviating environmental damage as well.

The UNDP, given its coordinating function of the U. …

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