Global perspective Human stories

Opening annual session, UN commission for Asia-Pacific looks to strengthen its role

Opening annual session, UN commission for Asia-Pacific looks to strengthen its role

Gathering today in Bangkok for the start of the annual session of the United Nations regional commission for Asia and the Pacific, government officials are expected to take up proposals to restructure the way the agency operates and streamline its activities, in addition to tackling economic and social issues affecting the area.

The 58th session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) comes at a time when the revitalization of the organization is a key part of the agenda, according to the Commission's top official.

"It is clear that the member Governments have a strong sense of ownership and are committed to strengthening the role of UN/ESCAP as a unique intergovernmental body in the Asia Pacific region," Executive Secretary Kim Hak-Su told delegates in his opening address. "It also served to reinforce my confidence in the continuing vitality and utility of this organization."

The new proposed structure would tightly focus ESCAP's work on "poverty reduction, managing globalization, and addressing emerging social issues," Mr. Kim stressed.

With the main theme of "Sustainable Social Development in a Period of Rapid Globalization: Challenges, Opportunities and Policies Option," the Commission is also expected to examine issues relating to Asia's ageing population, the empowerment of women, and the rights and needs of persons with disabilities in the region.

Meanwhile, the region's input to the forthcoming UN World Summit for Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg in August, is also on the agenda.

Senior government officials are taking part in the first three days of talks, scheduled to wrap up on Saturday, with their recommendations expected to be endorsed at the conclusion of the ministerial segment on 22 May.

Government ministers will arrive on Monday to begin their deliberations, which will be opened by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.