* Nobuki Fujimoto is a staff of HURIGHTS OSAKA.
The coalition of cities in Asia and the Pacific against discrimination has changed its name in order to attract more cities to become members. In the first meeting of the Interim Steering Committee of the Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination in Asia and the Pacific (Coalition), held in Phnom Penh on 5-6 June 2007, the representatives of cities that signed the Statement of Intent to become members of the Coalition, in addition to representatives from other local governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and experts, agreed by consensus to change the name of the Coalition from "Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination in Asia and the Pacific" to "Towards an Inclusive Society: Coalition of Cities against Discrimination in Asia and the Pacific."
They noted that the word "racism" was not well understood and in some cases local and national governments officials in several parts of Asia and the Pacific denied the existence of racism. They believed that one of the major reasons why many cities in the region have not yet joined the Coalition is the negative image of the Coalition with the word "racism" in its name.
The Coalition retains its original ten-point Commitment for Asia and the Pacific.
The participants agreed to expand the membership of the Coalition by taking advantage of various opportunities, especially the Second World Congress of United Cities and Local Governments (2nd UCLG World Congress), to be held in Jeju, South Korea in October 2007, where more than two thousand local leaders from one hundred-fifty countries will participate. They will debate on many issues related to local government. The Coalition will be officially launched on this occasion in close cooperation with UCLG-Asia-Pacific Regional Section (UCLG-ASPAC).
The participants discussed several possibilities for thematic work that could be jointly carried out within the framework of the Coalition. They agreed to share experiences in, and ideas for, creating inclusive urban society.
Mr. Josefa Gavidi, Deputy Mayor of Suva, Mr. Takashi Hashimoto from Sakai City (Japan) and Mr. Trac Thai Sieng, Vice Governor of Phnom Penh, presented the respective experiences and programs of their cities as part of the experience-sharing exercise.
Mr. Gavidi presented a report on the program of the City of Suva against racial discrimination. He explained that Fiji has 51% Fijians and 43% Indian-descent Fijians. In terms of labor force, Fijians constitute 53%, while Indian-Fijians comprise 40%. The City of Suva faces several challenges regarding housing, discrimination, employment; and involving immigrants, faith minorities, sexual minorities, and people with disabilities. The City of Suva adopted an approach to diversity affecting five key categories: civic leader/policy maker, employer, provider of services, purchaser of goods, grant-giving agency. It adopted a policy requiring City and town divisions to integrate access, equity and diversity in their respective policies, services and programs. For the political leadership, it adopted several policies regarding recipients of City services, human rights and harassment, employment equity, community access, immigration and settlement, accessibility and racial profiling. He also explained how the City government implements its commitment to provide equal opportunity.
The Human Rights Promotion Division of Sakai City presented a report on the human rights measures of the city. The measures included the 2004 "The Sakai City Human Rights Promotion Basic Policy," the 2005 "Human Rights Promotion Plan" and the 2006 city ordinance entitled "City Development with Respect for Peace and Human Rights." The city ordinance aims
to clarify the responsibilities of the city and the roles of the citizens for the actualization of a city which promotes peace and human rights. This ordinance explicitly states that it is necessary for the city administration and citizens to work together with global perspectives for the realization of human security with regard to the international issues of peace and human rights. In addition, this ordinance requires the city to establish as an external body, a Human Rights Promotion Committee convening researchers to investigate and discuss the human rights policies of the city.
In 2002, Sakai City adopted the "Ordinance for the Promotion of a Gender Equal Society" which resulted in the creation of the Gender Equal Promotion Committee, and the adoption of the Sakai Gender Equal Participation Plan.
Sakai City has approximately 12,000 registered foreign residents with Koreans comprising roughly half of the foreign population. Chinese and Brazilians are the other major groups among them.
The city provides concrete support (such as livelihood, education, welfare projects), awareness (television program and printed materials) and protection (consultation) measures to address human rights problems.
The Phnom Penh meeting was the first one held by the Interim Steering Committee of the Coalition, ten months after the creation of the Coalition in August 2006 with Bangkok as the Lead City. UNESCO and the City of Phnom Penh organized the meeting. It was opened by H.E. Kep Chuk Tema, Governor of the City of Phnom Penh.
UNESCO, through its Social and Human Sciences Division, has been pursuing the establishment of an International Coalition of Cities against Racism as a global platform for a common struggle against racism since 2004. The Asia-Pacific Coalition is the fourth regional structure (in addition to European, African, and Latin American and the Caribbean coalitions, the Arab region is under preparation and one national coalition in Canada [Canadian Coalition of Municipalities]) that will comprise the International Coalition in 2008 during the 3rd World Forum on Human Rights to be held in Nantes, France (July 2008).
For more information, please visit UNESCO webpage at http://portal.unesco.org/shs/en/ev.php-URL_ID=1376 URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTIoN=201.html
1. The following cities and organizations are signatories to the Statement of Intent: Bangkok (Thailand), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Suva (Fiji), Makati (Philippines), Matale and Kurunegala (Sri Lanka), Incheon (Korea), United Cities and Local Governments - Asia Pacific Regional Section (UCLG-ASPAC), League of Municipalities of the Philippines, and All India Association of Local Bodies.
2. See this webpage for the full powerpoint presentation of Mr. Gavidi http://portal.unesco.org/s hs/en/file_down-load.php/48e5c900e8fd854abc376725f0965b14Presentation+on+the+City+of+Suva+Fiji+Islands.pdf
3. See this webpage for the full presentation on Sakai City program at http://portal.unesco.org /s hs/en/file_down-load.php/14ad3d5dd1e1d87a4fd5c8a3389d63cSakai+City+Presentation_EN.pdf
4. See Nobuki Fujimoto,
"Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination in Asia and the Pacific," in FOCUS Asia-Pacific 45:2006 for a report on the Bangkok meeting of the Coalition.