The first meeting of the interim Steering Committee of the Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination in Asia and the Pacific was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 5 - 6 June 2007, with a view to increasing the number of the member municipalities and activating the Coalition. The Coalition was founded in August 2006 on the initiative of the UNESCO. In addition to the municipalities and their associations that had joined the Coalition, by way of signing the State of Intent, the meeting was attended by other municipalities, NGOs and experts that have shown understanding of the purposes of the initiative.
Ten months after the establishment of the Coalition, eleven cities and their associations have joined the Coalition: Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Bangkok (Thailand), Suva (Fiji), Makati (the Philippines), Kurunegala and Matale (Sri Lanka), Incheon (South Korea) as well as the United Cities and Local Governments Asia-Pacific Regional Section (UCLG-ASPAC), the All India Institute of Local Self Government, the National Municipal League of Thailand and the League of Municipalities of the Philippines.
The participants acknowledged the difficulties faced in the expansion of the Coalition, partly because the notion of "racism" is not recognized in many cases among those who are involved in the governance of the countries and municipalities in the Asia-Pacific region. Many of them tend to believe that "racism" does not exist in their states or municipalities. Also, many participants proposed to change the name of the Coalition to more positive one, since the present name may have negative implications.
As a result of the discussion, the participants agreed to change the Coalition's name to "Towards an Inclusive Society: Coalition of Cities against Discrimination in Asia and the Pacific". In Europe, where the European Coalition of Cities against Racism was founded in December 2004 and joined by sixty-seven cities, resistance to the term "racism" has never been expressed, according to the UNESCO.
At the meeting, the participants confirmed their intention to take every opportunity available to invite more cities to join the Asia-Pacific Coalition, including the second World Congress of the UCLG, which will be held in Jeju, South Korea, from 28 to 31 October 2007. The UCLG-ASPAC would make plans to inform the members about the Asia-Pacific Coalition in cooperation with the UNESCO and the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province.
The meeting was attended by participants from Japan as well, two from Sakai City's Human Rights Department and one from Hurights Osaka, as was the case when the inauguration ceremony of the Coalition was held in 2006. While Sakai City is yet to join the Coalition, the representative reported about its measures to promote human rights, including those of women and foreigners. Expectations are gradually growing that the Coalition be joined by Japanese municipalities as well.
· UNESCO "Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination in Asia and the Pacific" Launched in Bangkok: Report of the Founding Conference (Nobuki Fujimoto, Kokusai Jinken Hiroba [International Human Rights Forum], Vol.69) [Japanese]
- "Coalition of Asia and the Pacific Cities Against Racism and Discrimination" [English]
· UNESCO Establishes "Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination in Asia" (Hurights Osaka News in Brief, August 2006) [English]