Remarks at the Opening Ceremony of the 12th East Asian Seminar on UN Studies
Amb. CHEN Jian
President of China Academic Net for UN Studies(CANUNS)
December 20, 2012 Beijing
Professor Yozo YOKOTA,
Professor Heung-Soon Park,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It’s my great pleasure to have you all here attending the 12th East Asian Seminar on the UN Studies today. Two days ago, I retired from UNA-China and assumed the new post as the President of China Academic Net for UN Studies(CANUNS). I am ready to work with you to enhance the trilateral academic cooperation on the UN studies.
In today’s world, we are living in an era of profound transformation and transition, with the rising tides of multi-polarity and globalization, increasing cultural diversity and fast-emerging ICTs. Meanwhile, we are living in the age of multiple crises too — food, fuel, flu and finance. These crises are compounded by other greater challenges, such as climate change, proliferation of deadly weapons and the plight of the two billion people living in poverty. In face up to the challenges, no single leader, institution or country can solve them on its own. Concerted efforts, collective actions and systematic responses are needed. Therefore, the global architecture is put to the test; the UN, as the center of the architecture, is put to the test; and more specifically, the East Asian Cooperation, as the integral part of our life, is put to the test. Therefore, the holding of the Seminar with the theme on ‘Global Governance and East Asia Cooperation in the UN’ is of significant importance. It will provide us a useful platform for dialogue and cooperation with the aim to indentify challenges and explore possible solutions for a better UN, a better East Asian cooperation and a better global governance structure.
The agenda items of the Seminar fall into two categories. One is about the UN’s role in global governance, and the other is about East Asian cooperation especially among our three countries, namely China, Japan and ROK. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my preliminary thoughts on the two broad issues.
The UN’s role in global governance is important and irreplaceable, since the UN, as the most universal, representative, authoritative inter-governmental organization, assumes the primary and paramount responsibility in maintaining peace and security, promoting economic growth, and protecting and promoting human rights. Over the past 67 years, the UN has made truly great and historic contributions to the world. However, with so much at stake, one cannot ignore the inability of the UN to resolve conflicts in some regions, the failure of the UN to reduce gaps between the rich and the poor, the developed and the developing world, the weakness of the UN to remove inequality of the vulnerable groups and communities. The weakness of the UN derives principally, I think, from three overriding constraints. The first relates to the fundamental design. With almost universal membership, it is difficult for the UN to strike a delicate balance between national interests and common global good, which sacrifices its efficiency and effectiveness. Moreover, created 67 years ago, the UN is no longer compatible to the rapid transformation of the world in the new century. The second lies in the persistent gap between scope and depth of the mandate entrusted to the UN and the operations and activities due to limitations in resources and authorizations. The third relates to the lack of coordination and coherence in and outside the UN system. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, in his recent speeches, identified climate change, peace and security, development and human rights as the four cornerstones for his new multilateralism. Ms. Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of IMF and Mr. Robert Zoellick, the former President of the WB also called for a stronger cooperation among global institutions and advocated the concept of multi-stakeholderism so as to ensure participation of societies in all diversity. We need to consider these key elements in the process of making the new global governance.
The East Asian cooperation among China, Japan and ROK is a heated topic today with current situation in East Asian attracting wide attention and diverse observations. Some are upbeat, believing that in the wake of the financial crisis, the East Asia retained a relatively stable and strong economic growth. The East Asian cooperation promises a bright future. Some are pessimistic, believing that the geographical tension, historical feud and present bitterness cast a shadow over the regional cooperation. We need to pay attention to the following three points in the course of our discussion on the East Asian cooperation:
First, we need to examine the history and current status of the East Asian cooperation, bearing in mind the achievements we have made ranging from trade and finance, peace and security, personnel and cultural exchanges, to institutional building, which I believe, constitutes the mainstream and serves as the basis of the East Asian cooperation. Second, we need to recognize the obstacles we face today, including divergence, grievance, institution deficiency and the US role in the region. Last but not least, we need to reaffirm our commitments to build a more peaceful, prosperous and harmonious region on the basis of peaceful coexistence, mutual benefits, openness and inclusiveness.
I hope we will conduct the meeting in a frank and candid way and come up with concrete, creative and visionary recommendations and suggestions. With that, I wish you a pleasant stay and the meeting a great success.