□ The Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Minister Kang, Kyung-wha) and the Korea Forest Service (Minister Park, Chong-ho) announced that AFoCO*, which was established under the lead of the Korea government, obtained Observer status** in the UN General Assembly on December 15 (GMT-5).
* Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO) : Headquartered in Seoul, AFoCO is an international organization that was envisioned in the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit (June 2009) to enable Asian countries’ collective response to global forestry issues, such as climate change and forest restoration, and strengthen forestry cooperation in the region.
** Observer in the UN General Assembly : A state or an organization that is granted approval through the adoption of the UNGA resolution to participate in the works of the UN General Assembly.
□ Korea had cooperated with AFoCO’s Secretariat and Member states* since June to help AFoCO obtain Observer status in the UN General Assembly.
* Parties (13) : Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines, ROK, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, Mongolia / Observers (2) : Malaysia, Singapore
ㅇ In particular, the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN actively engaged with UN member states and secured their support for the resolution on granting AFoCO Observer status in the UNGA.
ㅇ The KFS also requested support from AFoCO Member states’ Ambassadors to Korea and relevant international organizations by holding a reception and briefing last July on AFoCO’s mission to obtain the Observer status.
□ The resolution passed unanimously in the UNGA Sixth Committee* on November 19 (Thu) and was consequently adopted in the UNGA Plenary Meeting on December 15 (Tue).
* UN GA Sixth Committee : A primary forum of the UN GA for the consideration of legal questions
ㅇ Not only the Members of AFoCO (15 states) but also 5 other states, including Germany, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Qatar, and Turkey, took part as co-sponsors of the resolution and expressed their active support for granting AFoCO the Observer status.
□ With the newly obtained status, AFoCO will be strengthening its international presence and influence by expanding its contribution to UN’s sustainable development and green growth activities. AFoCO will especially seeks to advance cooperation with forestry-related UN conventions*, including the UNFCCC and UNCCD, to attract the interest and support of the international community for Asia’s forests.
* UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), UNCCD (UN Convention to Combat Desertification), UNCBD (UN Convention on Biological Diversity), UNFF (UN Forest Forum)
□ As all ASEAN countries are Members of AFoCO, the organization’s Observer status in the UNGA could further promote implementation of Korea’s New Southern Policy in the forestry sector.
□ The AFoCO’s Observer status in the UNGA is a stepping stone for AFoCO’s cooperation with not only Asia but also UN organizations. It would also contribute significantly to promoting Korea’s forestry policies around the world. Korea, as a Party of AFoCO, will continue to lead sustainable forest diplomacy in Asia that is centered around the environment and the people.