UNU Interactive Seminars on Global Issues
From New and Complete Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, Thomas Jefferys, 1754

The UNU Interactive Seminar on Global Issues is a timely and informative seminar series on global issues as they relate to Japan. Exploring topics from environmental sustainability to international peace and governance, the series seeks to promote and provoke informed discussion among Japanese academia, civil society, and the public at large on issues of global concern.

Seminar topics are drawn from recent or forthcoming books by UNU Press, the scholarly publishing arm of the United Nations University. Seminars feature a lecture by a distinguished scholar associated with the book, a commentary by a discussant, and an interactive discussion between the participants and audience.

Seeking to attract a wide cross-section of Japanese society, the program is conducted entirely in Japanese.

(Seminars listed latest first)

Seminar XII · 2011.01.27, 15:00–17:00

The Dark Side of Globalization

Lecturer: Ramesh Thakur, Professor, University of Waterloo. Will shortly become Professor, Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, Australian National University

Discussant: Sukehiro Hasegawa, Professor, Hosei University

Programme (25 KB PDF)

The parallel beneficial and baleful effects of globalization explains why it is welcomed by some as a desirable and irreversible engine of prosperity and progress, but resisted by others as the soft underbelly of a corporate imperialism that plunders and profiteers in the global marketplace. Its benefits include the uplifting of millions from poverty into a life with dignity. Its dark side includes the transnational flows of terrorism, drug and human trafficking, organized crime, money laundering, and global pandemics.

In this seminar Ramesh Thakur, co-editor of the just-published UNU Press book The Dark Side of Globalization, will examine the challenges that the dark forces of globalization pose to the international system, from arms trafficking in West Africa through armed insurgencies in South Asia and the upsurge of jihad in the age of globalization. How do the various expressions of uncivil society manifest themselves and exploit the opportunities of globalization? Conversely, how can governments, international organizations and civil society deal with the problem?

Following the presentation will be discussant comments by Professor Sukehiro Hasegawa of Hosei University. The seminar will be followed by a general discussion among the participants and audience, and conclude with a reception.

The Dark Side of GlobalizationThe Dark Side of Globalization
Edited by Jorge Heine and Ramesh Thakur

Advance registration is required. To register, please send your name and affiliation to the Seminar Secretariat. Registration closes on January 26, 2011. Please note that parking at UNU is not available.

Seminar XI · 2010.05.21, 16:00–18:00

Critical Perspectives on Liberal Peacebuilding: Can Human Security Offer a Way Forward?

Lecturer: Edward Newman, Senior Lecturer, University of Birmingham

Discussants: Sukehiro Hasegawa, Professor, Hosei University
Sorpong Peou, Professor, Sophia University

Programme (112 KB PDF)

See also:

Towards a Human Security Approach to Peacebuilding
(487 KB PDF)

Research Brief by Madoka Futamura, Edward Newman and Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh

Peacebuilding in conflict-prone and post-conflict countries—aimed at preventing the resumption or escalation of violent conflict, and establishing a durable and self-sustaining peace—has generated a range of academic and policy debates and controversies. A key element of these debates relates to the nature and impact of liberal peacebuilding: the top-down, institutionalist promotion of democracy, market-based economic reforms and a range of other institutions associated with “modern” states as a driving force for building “peace”.

In this seminar Edward Newman, co-editor of the recently published UNU Press book New Perspectives on Liberal Peacebuilding, will discuss a core concern regarding international peacebuilding, namely the limitations of existing approaches and the need for greater emphasis upon welfare economics, human development and local engagement. Dr. Newman will propose a human security approach to peacebuilding and explore whether this can offer some solutions to current challenges.

Following the presentation will be discussant comments by Professor Sukehiro Hasegawa of Hosei University and Professor Sorpong Peou of Sophia University. The seminar will then open for a general discussion among the participants and audience, and conclude with a coffee and tea reception.

New Perspectives on Liberal PeacebuildingNew Perspectives on Liberal Peacebuilding
Edited by Edward Newman, Roland Paris and Oliver P. Richmond

Advance registration is required. To register, please send your name and affiliation to the Seminar Secretariat.

Seminar X · 2010.03.04, 16:00–18:00

Enhancing UN Accountability: The Role of Global Civil Society

Lecturer: Sumihiro Kuyama, Visiting Professor, United Nations University

Discussants: Kiyoko Ikegami, Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Tokyo Office
Tatsuro Kunugi, Visiting Professor, United Nations Institute of Advanced Studies

Programme (98 KB PDF)

In response to the numerous global challenges existing in the world today, effective global governance has come to the forefront of the international agenda. Many expect the United Nations to play a key role in strengthening global governance. Yet, to do so, UN organizations themselves must improve their own efficiencies and effectiveness. In this context, and in the context of UN reform in general, a growing demand has been placed on enhancing the accountability of the UN organizations.

In this seminar, Professor Kuyama, a visiting professor at the United Nations University and co-editor of the book Envisioning Reform: Enhancing UN Accountability in the Twenty-first Century (UNU Press, 2009), seeks to examine the subject of enhancing UN accountability, with a particular focus on the role to be played by global civil society.

Following the presentation will be discussant comments by Ms. Kiyoko Ikegami, the director of the Tokyo office of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and Professor Tatsuro Kunugi, a visiting professor at the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies. The seminar will then open for a general discussion among the participants and audience, and conclude with a coffee and tea reception.

Envisioning Reform: Enhancing UN Accountability in the 21st CenturyEnvisioning Reform: Enhancing UN Accountability in the 21st Century
Edited by Sumihiro Kuyama and Michael Fowler

Seminar IX · 2010.01.28, 15:00–17:00

Human Security

Lecturer: Michio Umegaki, Professor, Keio University

Discussant: Sukehiro Hasegawa, Visiting Professor UNU, Professor Hosei University

Programme (94 KB PDF)

The 1994 Human Development Report first introduced the idea of human security being related to “freedom from want” and “freedom from fear”; the importance of these two “freedoms” was further highlighted at the 2000 United Nations Millennium Summit. The Commission on Human Security, which was set up as a result of discussions at the summit, explored the issue further and alluded to another human security-related freedom in their 2003 publication Human Security Now; that is, the freedom to pursue a life worth living. This freedom values the role people themselves play in making their lives safer and more secure, and moves away from the idea of people being the passive beneficiaries of remotely-made policies. Individuals, being familiar with their local contexts, can play an important part in ensuring policies are customized to fit their particular situations.

In the seminar, Professor Umegaki, a professor at Keio University and one of the editors of the UNU Press book Human Insecurity in East Asia, will start out by discussing the above notion of people themselves being principle actors in terms of promoting and improving their own security, and continue by considering related questions. He will ask whether people are in a position to come up with well-thought-out solutions to their own security issues.

Following the presentation will be discussant comments by Professor Sukehiro Hasegawa, Visiting Professor, United Nations University, Professor Hosei University and Former Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste.

Human Insecurity in East AsiaHuman Insecurity in East Asia
Edited by Michio Umegaki, Lynn Thiesmeyer, and Atsushi Watabe

Seminar VIII · 2009.06.30, 15:00–17:30

Protracted Refugee Situations

Lecturers: Edward Newman (senior lecturer, University of Birmingham); Saburo Takizawa (professor, Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin University; visiting professor, United Nations University; former Japan representative UNHCR)

Discussant: Kazuko Ito (attorney at law; secretary-general Human Rights Now)

Programme (80 KB PDF)

Over two-thirds of refugees in the world today are trapped in protracted refugee situations. Millions of refugees struggle to survive in camps and urban communities in remote and insecure parts of the world, and the vast majority of these refugees have been in exile for many years. Such situations constitute a growing challenge for the international refugee protection regime and the international community.

In this seminar Edward Newman, co-editor of the recently published UNU Press volume Protracted Refugee Situations: Political, Human Rights and Security Implications, will present the results of a number of projects on protracted refugee situations, highlighting the political, social and security implications which arise from prolonged human displacement.

Saburo Takizawa, Visiting Professor United nations University and former Japan Representative UNHCR will present the findings of The Indochinese Refugees Study, organized by the UNHCR Japan office, which examined the integration of approximately 11,000 Indo-Chinese refugees (Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian), resettled in Japan over the past 30 years. The study assesses their integration process as well as the impact this resettlement has had on Japanese society.

He will also comment on "Japan's refugee regime under (re)construction", and in particular on the decision to start a pilot resettlement scheme from next year, and will analyze the latest trend (increasing asylum seekers, increasing recognition and a sharp increase in humanitarian status).

Following these presentations will be a commentary by Ms. Kazuko Ito, Attorney at law and Secretary General of Human Rights Now.

Protracted Refugee Situations: Political, Human Rights and Security ImplicationsProtracted Refugee Situations: Political, Human Rights and Security Implications
Edited by Gil Loescher, James Milner, Edward Newman and Gary Troeller

Seminar VII · 2009.01.30, 18:00–20:00

Food Security Control and Freedom of Trade

Lecturer: Mitsuo Matsushita is professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo and a counsel to Nagashima, Ohno & Tsunematsu, a leading international law firm in Tokyo.

Discussant: Aya Iino is assistant professor, College of Commerce, Nihon University and former advisor to the Mission of Japan to International Organizations covering WTO dispute settlement issues in Geneva.

Programme (80 KB PDF)

Every government enforces food safety regulations, including prohibiting the import of substances that may threaten human life and health. By contrast, the GATT/WTO provides for the freedom of trade and the principles of no discrimination and special national treatment, while international agreements such as the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Agreement and the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement seek to prevent WTO Members from taking domestic measures in the protection of human life and health that are deemed excessive and too trade restrictive.

In his presentation, Professor Mitsuo Matsushita, professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo, attempts to cast light on this relationship between domestic measures for food safety and international disciplines by referring to actual WTO dispute settlement reports. Following will be discussant comments by Aya Iino, assistant professor, College of Commerce, Nihon University.

The WTO and Global Governance: Future DirectionsThe WTO and Global Governance: Future Directions
Edited by Gary P. Sampson

Seminar VI · 2008.11.27, 16:15–18:45

Business-Society Interaction towards Sustainable Development

Lecturer: Mikoto Usui, Professor Emeritus, University of Tsukuba

Discussant: Makoto Teranaka, Secretary General (Executive Director) Amnesty International Japan

Programme (92 KB PDF)


For the governance of sustainable development to be effective and legitimate, the participation of a diverse set of actors is required. Given the enormous power the business sector can exercise in lobbying and influencing sustainable development governance, the challenge for this group is to envision ways to credibly and effectively collaborate with others. Key in this regard is the creation of a policy environment that ensures business leaders and civil society activists are able to collaborate and implement internationally acceptable standards for corporate social responsibility.

Join us as Prof. Mikoto Usui, professor emeritus of Tsukuba University, examines some of the main hurdles that must be overcome to forge a more legitimate relationship between the business sector and civil society in sustainable development governance processes. Following will be discussant comments by Makoto Teranaka, secretary general of Amnesty International Japan.

The Politics of Participation in Sustainable Development GovernanceThe Politics of Participation in Sustainable Development Governance
Edited by Jessica F. Green and W. Bradnee Chambers

Seminar V · 2008.06.20, 16:15–18:45

Interlinkages and the Effectiveness of Multilateral Environmental Agreements

Lecturer: W. Bradnee Chambers, Senior Programme Officer, UNU-IAS

Discussant: Akinori Ogawa, Senior Fellow, United Nations University

Programme (28 KB PDF)


There has been growing awareness in recent years that a major reason for the worsening global environment is the failure to create adequate institutional responses to fully address the scope, magnitude and complexity of environmental problems. Much of the criticism has focused on the necessity for greater coordination and synergism among Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and among policies and laws that take better account of the inter-relationships between ecological and societal systems.

In the fifth session of the UNU Interactive Seminar on Global Issues, Prof. W. Bradnee Chambers seeks to explore the gap in knowledge and policymaking that exists vis-à-vis the global environment and push our understanding on how to approach international environmental law. In so doing, he considers the assumptions around cooperation among MEAs, offers a framework for measuring the effectiveness of MEAS, and shows how the effectiveness of MEAS can be improved through a strengthening of interlinkages. Mr. Akinori Ogawa, Senior Fellow, UNU, will serve as discussant for the event.

Sustainable CitiesInterlinkages and the Effectiveness of Multilateral Environmental Agreements
W. Bradnee Chambers

Seminar IV · 2008.05.16, 16:15–18:45

Sustainable Cities

Lecturer: Tokue Shibata, Professor Emeritus, Tokyo Keizai University

Discussant: Hidenori Tamagawa, Professor, Graduate School of Urban Science, Tokyo Metropolitan University



Developing countries are rapidly urbanizing and most of the world's population will soon be living in cities. It is crucial that the sustainable development of cities be advanced and Japan, as one of the most urbanized countries in the world, offers a remarkable series of lessons in sustainable urban planning.

Drawing upon his experiences as a senior planning official within the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Prof. Tokue Shibata seeks to appraise the Tokyo experience past and present, placing particular emphasis on the municipal management of refuse. Following the lecture will be a commentary by Prof. Hidenori Tamagawa of Tokyo Metropolitan University on Japanese perspectives towards the development of sustainable cities.

Sustainable CitiesSustainable Cities: Japanese Perspectives on Physical and Social Structures
Edited by Hidenori Tamagawa

Seminar III · 2008.04.18, 16:15–18:45

Climate Change in Asia

Lecturer: Yasuko Kameyama, Senior Researcher, National Institute for Environmental Studies

Discussants: Akinori Ogawa, Senior Fellow, United Nations University; Yurika Ayukawa, Climate Policy Senior Officer, WWF-Japan

Programme (36 KB PDF)


Looking beyond the Kyoto Protocol's first containment period, an intense and growing international debate over the future climate change regime has emerged. Countries in Asia have particularly high stakes in this regime given the region's high population, growing greenhouse gas emissions, burgeoning economies and vulnerabilities to the impact of climate change. Limited capacity, however, has hampered the participation of many Asian countries in the international debate.

In this third session of the UNU Interactive Seminar on Global Issues, Dr. Yasuko Kameyama of the National Institute for Environmental Studies examines the institutional dimensions of climate change and, importantly, identifies linkages between climate change and sustainable development. Commentary afterwards will be provided by Ms. Yurika Ayukawa, the climate policy senior officer at WWF-Japan.

Change in AsiaClimate Change in Asia: Perspectives on the Future Climate Regime
Edited by Yasuko Kameyama, Agus P. Sari, Moekti H. Soejahmoen and Norichika Kanie

Seminar II · 2008.03.21, 16:30–18:45

International Water Security

Lecturer: Mikiyasu Nakayama, Professor, Graduate School of Frontier Science, University of Tokyo

Discussant: Yutaka Takahashi, Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo

Programme (32 KB PDF)


Water is essential for all and has no substitute. Unlike many other resources, water is not easily transferred from one location to another. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, two-thirds of the world population will face serious water scarcity by 2025. Indeed, there is heightened concern among scholars about the possibility of “war over water” erupting in the 21st century. Solving water-related problems requires a multi-disciplinary approach, including engineering, agriculture and social science perspectives. In addition, strong political commitment is required to avoid conflicts over war.

Join us as Professor Mikiyasu Nakayama of the Graduate School of Frontier Science at the University of Tokyo critically assesses the challenges and solutions of water resources in the 21st century, with a commentary afterwards by Professor Emeritus Yutaka Takahashi of the University of Tokyo.

International Water Security: Domestic Threats and OpportunitiesInternational Water Security: Domestic Threats and Opportunities
Edited by Nevelina I. Pachova, Mikiyasu Nakayama and Libor Jansky

Seminar I · 2008.02.22, 16:30–18:45

Unintended Consequences of Peacekeeping Operations

Lecturer: Chiyuki Aoi

Commentator: Noriyuki Wakisaka



UN peacekeeping operations have a remarkable record of keeping the peace between and within states over the past 60 years, but the inescapable fact is that peacekeeping operations can also yield unintended consequences. In this inaugural session of the UNU Interactive Seminar on Global Issues, Prof. Chiyuki Aoi of Aoyama Gakuin University provides greater insight and knowledge into UN peacekeeping operations and their unintended consequences. Following her lecture will be discussant comments by Noriyuki Wakisaka, editorial writer for the Asahi Shimbun.

Unintended Consequences of Peacekeeping OperationsUnintended Consequences of Peacekeeping Operations
Edited by Chiyuki Aoi, Cedric de Coning and Ramesh Thakur


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