For the first time, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) will hold its annual high-level meeting – which will be attended by over 400 delegates, including heads of Government and ministers from the organization’s 62 members – in Central Asia.
The meeting, which is set to take place from 17 to 23 May in Kazakhstan’s capital, Almaty, will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Commission’s creation.
Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev will deliver the opening address at the Ministerial Meeting on 21 May, which will be preceded by two days of meetings among senior officials.
Following established practice, the Foreign Minister of the host Government, Marat Tazhin, is expected to be elected as the session’s Chairperson.
The Commission, meeting in its 63rd session, will include a panel discussion on “Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the Asian and Pacific Region.” Participants will confer on a regional road map for achieving the goals to slash social ills, including extreme poverty and hunger, by 2015.
UNESCAP’s Special Body on Least Developed and Landlocked Developing Countries will gather just ahead of the high-level meeting from 15 to 16 May, while the Asia-Pacific Business Forum, which brings together the area’s business leaders, will take place from 18 to 19 May.
In another development, UNESCAP is organizing a two-day meeting to examine how regional policies to reduce violence against women can be strengthened.
To be held from 26 to 27 April at the UN Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand, the meeting for the first time will focus on addressing harmful traditional and cultural practices.
In his 2006 report “In-depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women,” the Secretary-General wrote that half a million girls have gone missing yearly for the past two decades due to prenatal sex selection and infanticide in India. According to one study, half of all ethnic Kyrgyz marriages in Kyrgyzstan were the result of kidnappings, of which as many as two-thirds were non-consensual. Meanwhile in Pakistan, 4,000 men and women – with women outnumbering men two to one – were the victims of honour killings between 1998 and 2003.
Experts at the meeting – including include UN representatives, academics, human rights organizations and Government officials – will determine how to implement the Secretary-General’s recommendations, and will examine how to address the socio-cultural root causes of violence against women in the Asian-Pacific context. They will scrutinize practices violating women’s rights including sex-selective abortions, female infanticide, dowry deaths, honour killings, forced marriages and sex slavery.