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Jul 8, 2012 - GPPAC Northeast Asia 2012 Regional Steering Group Meeting Outcome Document
Outcome Document
GPPAC Northeast Asia Regional Steering Group Meeting

July 2012, Vladivostok

The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) Northeast Asia Regional Steering Group gathered in Vladivostok, Russia for its 9th Annual meeting from July 6-8, 2012. The meeting was jointly held by GPPAC NEA's Regional Secretariat Peace Boat and the Vladivostok Focal Point, Maritime State University.

20 representatives from focal points in Beijing, Hong Kong, Kyoto, Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, Tokyo, Ulaanbaatar and Vladivostok; from GPPAC's partner organisation in Pyongyang, and from the GPPAC Global and NEA Regional Secretariats participated in this meeting. It comprised of a one-day international scientific conference on territorial and border issues in the Asia Pacific, followed by two days of closed meetings for the GPPAC Northeast Asia Regional Steering Group and observers.

On July 6, the international scientific conference on "Non-governmental dialogue on territorial disputes in Asia-Pacific Region" took place, organised by the Maritime State University and GPPAC with support of the Slavic Research Centre (Hokkaido University, Japan) and the Russian Pugwash Committee.

It was highly symbolic that the conference was held in Vladivostok, a city in the crossroads of the region which was closed during the former Soviet Union era, and is now undergoing a process of rapid change in preparation for the APEC Summit in September 2012. The conference was particularly timely given Russian Prime Minister Medveyev's visit to Vladivostok and also to the Kuril Islands/Northern Territories earlier in the week; as well as raising of the Senkaku/Diaoyu/Daiaoyutai issue by the Japanese government; both developments which highlight the need for civil society dialogue and mutual understanding on this issue.

This Scientific Conference provided a rare opportunity for frank and active discussion going beyond nationalist or governmental positions, focused on issues including "Territorial Disputes in the Asia Pacific – A Combination of History, Policy and Law"; "Kuril Islands/Northern Territories – A Controversial Issue for Decades?" and "Will the Situation Change in the 21st Century?" Participants included representatives of each GPPAC Northeast Asia focal point and scholars from various fields including history, geography and law; representatives of various Northeast Asian Embassies in Vladivostok and local and international media were also present.

For GPPAC Northeast Asia, these issues have been a key focus since the launch of the network. As outlined in the Regional Action Agenda, adopted in 2005, "The cases of political stalemate in Northeast Asia, including numerous disputes over territories, pose grave dangers to the whole region. We reaffirm our universal belief in and respect for the peaceful resolution of disputes, and we should prevent the escalation of tension which could lead to armed conflict, and ease the political stalemates through the active promotion of peaceful resolution through regional cooperative efforts."

Following the scientific conference, the GPPAC NEA Regional Steering Group meeting was held also at the Maritime State University on July 7-8, 2012. As well as updates from each of the regional focal points and attending organisations, particular attention was given to follow up from the scientific conference the previous day, especially consideration of the role of civil society in such projects as furthering dialogue and grassroots exchange between people of countries involved in territorial disputes.

Participants agreed to continue exchange of information and discussion on these issues within GPPAC Northeast Asia, particularly in regards to the Senkaku/Diaoyu/Diaoyutai dispute. Members agreed to be ready to share timely information regarding developments in each country regarding this issue, and also to prepare position papers which could be utilised for outreach to the media and the public in case of future incidents. Participants also acknowledged that military exercises heighten tensions and the threat of conflict, and that military exercises in or near disputed territories should be ceased.

Further to the territorial issue, the 2012 GPPAC NEA RSG meeting also reexamined the achievements and challenges of GPPAC Northeast Asia since the last gathering in March 2011. These include the successful launch of the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuidling Institute (NARPI) in August 2011, the Northeast Asia Women's Peace Conference, the development of a GPPAC NEA Community on the online Peace Portal, a youth model APEC between Vladivostok and Tokyo GPPAC members, further exchange of experience in the field of peace education, and the introduction of the concepts of conflict prevention and perspectives of GPPAC members in the media.

Discussion was also held to confirm GPPAC Northeast Asia activities for the coming year, including the continuation of the annual RSG meeting, NARPI and NEA Women's Peace Conference; support for the International Conference on the NEA Nuclear Weapons Free Zone to be held in Ulaanbaatar in October/November 2012 by the Mongolian NGO Blue Banner; and active participation in the new GPPAC campaign "Breaking the Nuclear Chain." GPPAC NEA also confirmed to endorse the statement in regards to international solidarity against the construction of the naval base on Jeju Island as a threat to both the peace, stability and sustainability of Northeast Asia. Furthermore, GPPAC NEA expresses its concern that founding member Jung Gyunglan of Women Making Peace (Seoul) was not granted permission by the ROK Government to attend the meeting, and agreed to announce a statement in regards to this issue.

GPPAC Northeast Asia was pleased to again welcome delegates of the Korean National Peace Committee, joining this GPPAC meeting for the second time. We look forward to further cooperation, including the planned international delegation to Pyongyang later in 2012. Discussion of how civil society can contribute to the peace and stability in Northeast Asia was also developed during the meeting, including exchange of opinions on confidence building measures and how to create an environment which would allow resumption of dialogue including the Six Party Talks.

GPPAC Northeast Asia reaffirms the importance of gathering and meeting in person, to develop personal connections and partnership, to continue to carry out exchange of information and joint activities and collaboration, and to strengthen the network to make a contribution from civil society towards the common goal of a peaceful and sustainable future for Northeast Asia.
Documents for download
GPPAC Northeast Asia 2012 Regional Steering Group Meeting Outcome Document