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. Recognizing that majority of the poor in developing countries live in rural areas, and that agriculture constitutes the main industry in most developing countries, the Republic of Korea is committed to sharing its development experiences of rural areas and agriculture in developing countries, including Saemaul Undong (New Village Movement), and endeavoring to develop its experiences into a exemplary regional development model.
The rising need for a new international development agenda in the face of the impending 2015 MDG achievement deadline, which is approximately two years away, the international community is fully engaged with discussions for the establishment of a new post-2015 development agenda. Accordingly, the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, under the theme “The Post 2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage,” has held a variety of events including the Special Event to follow up on efforts made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (“Special Event on MDGs”) (September 25), High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (September 24), and the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-level Forum on MDG Success (September 23). In particular, at the Special Event on MDGs, Member States decided to launch a process of intergovernmental negotiations at the beginning of the 69th session of UNGA in September 2014, and to host a Summit at Heads of State and Government level in September 2015 for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda. Related to this, at the high-level side event on MDG Acceleration hosted by the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme, held during the high-level segment of the current session of the General Assembly, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea Yun Byung-se announced the Republic of Korea’s willingness to share the Republic of Korea’s development experiences, including Saemaul Undong (New Village Movement) and to contribute to the revitalization of partnership. Moving forward, the Republic of Korea will commit its efforts to ensuring that the major achievements made in the development arena under the Country’s leadership, such as the Seoul Development Consensus for Shared Growth and Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, be reflected in the discussions of the post-2015 discourse.
Climate change is also a serious threat to the global community that hinders development. According to a recent report by the IPCC, continued greenhouse gas emission at the current rate will lead to over a 1 meter rise in sea level by 2100; and issues of climate change are being recognized as serious threats to human survival. To appropriately respond to this, with the UNFCCC at its core, the international community is in the process of completing the new climate change negotiations for post-2020 by 2015. To garner political momentum, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is planning to host a Climate Summit in 2014.
Joining the international community’s efforts to decrease carbon emission, at the domestic level, the Republic of Korea is actively implementing policies and creating institutions to deal with climate change issues including by voluntarily committing to the most stringent greenhouse gas emission reduction goal among developing countries of a 30% reduction of business as usual (BAU) by 2020, and by implementing emission trading scheme starting 2015. At the international level, the Republic of Korea is also playing a leading role in the international community’s efforts to climate change response by hosting the secretariat of the Green Climate Fund in Songdo, Incheon in October 2012.
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 disasters around the globe. 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.