About GPPAC Northeast Asia
The Northeast Asian Region of GPPAC is home to over one-quarter of the world’s population, and source of several potentially explosive armed conflicts.
With the Cold War era political structures remaining, the development of regional networks founded on civil society structures have been severely inhibited in the region. An often politically tense climate caused by surrounding the Korean Peninsula crisis, the threat of Japanese remilitarization and the political stalemate across the Taiwan Strait has lead to the unbalanced development of civil society organizations (CSOs) in many areas. The challenge to engage participation in certain sub-regions is clear, and varied approaches are needed depending on the official attitude towards civil society as a valid concept in itself.
Regional Process in Northeast Asia since 2004
The GPPAC process in Northeast Asia is a pioneering initiative, particularly in light of its goals to forge and strengthen cross-border ties between civil society organizations (CSOs), and to improve communication channels with governments that may not traditionally be responsive to civil society initiatives in the field of peace and security. Moreover, Northeast Asia is a region of the world that still experiences fractured and often tense internal relations due to the prevailing Cold War structures. The evolution of a Northeast Asian conflict prevention community – notably one that establishes a credible and coordinated regional voice on issues of peace and security, and seeks actively to engage with governments and the UN – is a significant means in itself to promoting a culture of prevention.
Following the first regional consultation in February 2004, “Focal Points” were established in Vladivostok, Ulaanbaatar, Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, Nagoya and Tokyo in order to develop the grassroots level process of GPPAC. A 15 member Regional Steering Group comprising CSO representatives from each sub-region was also set-up to guide the regional process, while Peace Boat, Women Making Peace and the Asian Peace Alliance took the helm as the Regional Co-Initiators.
A multifaceted programme of action and research, networking building and advocacy has taken shape over the last three years. Some concrete examples of activities include: i) holding joint press conferences in Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong to spread awareness of GPPAC and highlight regional concerns; ii) lobbying Heads of States of participating governments in the “Six Party Talks” for the peaceful resolution of the Korean peninsula nuclear issue; iii) consulting widely with conflict prevention actors at the local and regional level over six months to formulate the Northeast Asia Regional Action Agenda.
Through such activities, the level of regional cooperation, trust and goodwill has grown from strength to strength, and the fledgling association has transformed into a functional and effective cross-border network. This feeling of solidarity and common ground was evident at the GPPAC Northeast Asia Regional Conference, which was held at the United Nations University (with the support of the UNU, UNDP and UNIC) in Tokyo from February 1- 4, 2005, and attended by over 50 CSOs from around the region. The Northeast Asia Regional Action Agenda makes concrete recommendations that address key regional issues, including the Korean peninsula issue; the threat of Japanese remilitarization; the Cross-Strait issue; and lack of historical reconciliation and understanding.
Adoption of the Action Agenda at the Conference, after two full days of intensive debate regarding a range of controversial issues, is testament to the common spirit of Northeast Asian civil society to work together for peace and security. Moreover, the conference provided stimulus for everyone involved to deepen their commitment to building a culture of prevention and continue working together in the future at a regional level and international level.
Since its adoption, the Action Agenda has served as the guiding document for activities undertaken by GPPAC partners throughout the region. Key examples of regional cooperation include the Regional meetings held at Mt Kumgang in 2006 and Ulaanbaatar in 2007, further details regarding which can be found elsewhere on this web site.