International Symposium on Development
"Development: With a Special Focus on Human Security"
- Outline -

June 1999

Sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations University, the International Symposium on Development, with the theme of "Development: With a Special Focus on Human Security," was held on June 24th at the United Nations University. Professor Ryokichi Hirono, professor emeritus of Seikei University, served as chair and the symposium included the participation of representatives from a range of international organizations, donor countries, developing countries, non-governmental organizations, and others. Following is an outline of the proceedings of the symposium.

In an opening address, Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura explained the international context and the motives holding this symposium, referring, for example, to the refugee problem in Kosovo. After a message from U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Keizo Takemi then delivered a keynote speech. The ensuing discussions focused on three specific areas: health care, poverty eradication, and African development, touching on the inter-relationship among these three concerns. The symposium concluded with an open questions and answers session.

1. Keynote speech by State Secretary Takemi

Mr. Takemi noted that the objective of the symposium was to explore the concept of "Human Security" as a policy idea, which Japan is conveying to the international community as one of the essential principles for the conduct of Japanese foreign policy in the twenty-first century. Employing this concept to define new policy approaches for each area of development, State Secretary Takemi went on to highlight key concerns relating to each of the symposium's themes. Mr. Takemi pointed out that in addressing the various problems which arise from globalization and regional conflicts, the state-centered security and economic policies perspective should also include a focus placed on individual humans (human security). Mr. Takemi referred to the importance of individual (especially women), the key role of NGOs and stressed the need for partnership among donor countries, developing countries, international organizations, and NGOs as well as the importance of strengthening the role and function of the United Nations as an international coordinator.

2. Health care

From the perspective of "Human Security", it is important to offer universal access to basic health care services, that is Primary Health Care. For the realization of this target, recognition was given to policies such as countermeasures against poverty, comprehensive reform of health care systems including education in the broad sense as well as a focus on basic health care, public finance, decentralization and administrative structure, and an emphasis on participatory methods, including cost-sharing by beneficiaries. Using illustrative examples, Japan's efforts in official development assistance, which stress Primary Health Care and the necessity to consider the indigenous traditions of developing countries, were introduced. A proposal to launch a comprehensive intellectual network for human security, including health care, was then offered for consideration.

3. Poverty Eradication

From the perspective of Human Security, the participants affirmed that it was essential to understand poverty in terms of not only income levels but also in terms of human development, such as education and health. Within this context, Japan's measures against poverty were then introduced. In the implementation of poverty countermeasures, it was stressed that focus should be placed on areas such as the need for improved management of globalization including international finance, the utilization of NGO's knowledge and networks, the active participation of people, good governance such as democracy, and the objective assessment of assistance. In addition, it was noted that poverty countermeasures must also take into consideration the perspective of conflict prevention.

4. African development

Africa faces numerous issues such as poverty, unemployment, a lack of infrastructure and basic social services, and regional conflicts. It was pointed out that in order to make Africa an equal partner in the global community, in addition to economic and industrial development and initiatives on heavy-debt problems, human security oriented assistance, which stresses individual ownership, is important. This approach can be applied to human resources development, agricultural development, the promotion of small enterprises, micro-financing, etc. The foundation of this approach is to build confidence in Africa's future ("Afro optimism"), based on a valid recognition of the realities of Africa in terms of economic growth and peace. In pursuing this approach, it was noted, it is important to strengthen our partnership with Africa and to realize Africa's full potential.

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