Home > UN and ROK > Policy on Major Issues > Development and humanitarian assistance
In September 2000, the first year of the new millennium, 198 nations, including the Republic of Korea, adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration at the Millennium Summit with the aim of improving the lives of such people suffering around the world. The Millennium Declaration gave birth to a set of concrete and measurable development objectives, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have been designed and internationally agreed upon to fight poverty as well as to ensure inclusive, equitable and sustainable development. The MDGs represent the global community’s vision and commitment to protect the most vulnerable groups around the world in many dimensions.
The MDGs consist of eight goals designed to correspond to the major challenges the international community is facing. Given that all eight MDGs are interconnected and mutually reinforcing, the Korean Government takes into consideration the need to pursue the goals through a holistic and
comprehensive approach in its development cooperation policy towards achieving the MDGs. The Republic of Korea has paid special attention to areas such as education, health and women’s empowerment in its development cooperation policy, in recognition in the far-reaching impact they have on development as a whole. The Republic of Korea’s focus on these goals is a result of the valuable lessons it has learned in the development experience.
The Republic of Korea also believes that inclusive, sustainable and equitable growth is a key to successful development. In this regard, the Republic of Korea has placed priority on the development of rural areas and agriculture in developing countries as the majority of poor people live in rural areas and agriculture is the major industry of most developing countries. With respect to priority areas, the Republic of Korea is focusing on the Asia-Pacific region in consideration of its geographical proximity, and further plans to expand its support for ASEAN countries under its New Asia Initiative. The Republic of Korea also recognizes the need for intensified support for the regions and nations which lag behind in achieving the MDGs. The Korean Government has been expanding its support for the development of Africa under Korea’s Initiative for Africa’s Development. The total amount of Korea’s ODA to Africa has more than doubled since the adoption of the initiative in 2006, and is expected to increase further. At the same time, the Republic of Korea has been increasing its ODA to conflict-affected and vulnerable countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
Climate change is also a serious threat to the global community that hinders development. States must take action at the national level and also work together internationally via the Post-2012 framework in order to adequately respond to this daunting crisis. In this vein, the Republic of Korea recently launched “Low Carbon Green Growth” as its own national vision which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in 2050, in line with the overall goals of the international community. Additionally, the Republic Korea plans to raise 200 million US dollars over the next 5 years for the “East Asia Climate Partnership,” which will establish a comprehensive East Asian response strategy to climate change. Sharing the common concerns on the deteriorating environmental situation and recognizing the need to cope with such challenges in concerted efforts, the Republic of Korea has also acceded to major environmental conventions and protocols such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer.
Humanitarian needs across the world have dramatically increased in recent years. The food crisis has hit the poorest and the most vulnerable in developing countries, while the severity of large-scale natural disasters became more epidemic. The 2004 Tsunami and the 2008 Cyclone Nargis, for instance, resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties and left millions affected.
The Republic of Korea has set out the timely and effective provision of humanitarian assistance as a major priority. To this end, the Republic of Korea has adopted a need-based policy, reaching out first to countries in need of immediate relief but lacking in their own capacity to do so. The assessments reflected in the Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) and flash Appeal set by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) remain as a key guiding reference for its humanitarian assistance. At the same time, the Korean government fully respects the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence as recognized by the UN General Assembly resolution.
To provide effective assistance, the Korean government has taken initiatives at various levels. Nationally, it established the Overseas Emergency Relief Act in 2007, which enabled an efficient response to the twin disasters of May 2008 in China and Myanmar. The Republic of Korea has also played an important role in establishing a framework on disaster management and emergency response in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly through the ASEAN+3, ASEAN Regional Forum and Korea-China-Japan trilateral talks.
At the global level, the Republic of Korea has strengthened its cooperation with the UN and other relevant multilateral bodies, inter alia as a member of the OCHA Donor Support Group (ODSG) and the Humanitarian Liaison Working Group (HLWG) of the UN. It has steadily increased its contributions to the CAP, the Flash Appeal and the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), and expanded the scope of cooperation with major humanitarian assistance agencies such as WFP and UNICEF.
In the face of the food crisis, the Korean government has decided to provide 100 million dollars over 2009-2011 for emergency food aid and assistance to strengthening the agricultural capacities of developing countries. With its first-hand knowledge in agricultural development, the Republic of Korea plans to assist in various areas, including farming infrastructure, agriculture technology, and coherent policy-making.