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         16 May 2002

On 27 and 28 May 2002, the United Nations University (UNU), in collaboration with the UN Agencies and the South Asian embassies in Japan, is organizing an international conference on "The United Nations and South Asia."

The seven countries of South Asia--Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka -- constitute one fifth of the world's population. The region faces substantial challenges in the areas of economic development, environmental protection, democratic governance, internal and inter-state conflicts, and new security issues such as international terrorism. The scale of the problems, and their potential spill-over effect to the rest of the world, make it imperative both for the South Asian countries and the international community to address these issues in an integrated manner.

The Charter of the United Nations stipulates maintaining international peace and security, and promoting social and economic advancement, as two of the UN's core purposes. In both of these areas, South Asia presents defining, cross-cutting challenges to the United Nations system. The conference will focus on issues of particular relevance to the region and explore the potential for improvement both in domestic and international efforts at alleviating the problems of South Asia.

The conference will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, 27 May, at the UN House in Tokyo with opening remarks by UNU Rector Hans van Ginkel and a representative from the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Keynote addresses will be given by I.K. Gujral, former Prime Minister of India, and Sartaj Aziz, former Foreign Minister of Pakistan, followed by plenary speeches on poverty alleviation, the future of nuclear weapons in South Asia, and SAARC as a framework for regional cooperation.

Working group sessions will focus on topics of national security; human security; links between environment and development; governance; insurgency and terrorism; environmental security; South Asian contributions to UN peacekeeping; and aid, trade and regional development. Closing plenary speeches on 28 May will address South Asia after Afghanistan and India-Pakistan relations. The South Asian Ambassadors to Japan will deliver closing remarks.

More information about the conference, including an online registration form, is available on the UNU website ( Media representatives are cordially invited to attend. A copy of the programme is attached for your reference. [MS WORD / PDF]

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For more information, or to reserve a place at the conference please contact:
UNU Public Affairs Section,
Tel. (03) 5467-1243, -1246; Fax (03) 3406-7346




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