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Report Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Represented by Doreen Meier and Jonathan Ries

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was established in 1989 in Australia. Japan was a founding member. The APEC currently has 21 Member Economies, most of them with a coastline on the Pacific Ocean. This multilateral forum represents about 56% of the world GDP and almost 50% of world trade. The aim of the cooperation is to reduce trade barriers, increase investments throughout the region, foster interdependence and prosperity. But no Member State is required to enter into any binding obligations with the other Member States since commitment is voluntary and decisions are supposed to be made by consensus to achieve open and free trade. Dialogue and respect among its members for the view of all participants play an important role. APEC Members take individual and collective actions to open their markets and promote economic growth.

The provisional agenda of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation at the NMUN 2008 Conference included the following topics:

1. Development of Agriculture and Bio-Technology;
2. The Fight against Corruption;
3. Linking Tourism and Sustainable Growth in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Before walking into our conference room we were slightly nervous but also excited about the coming days. Compared to other committees in which Japan was represented, our committee was rather small with only about 40 people being there. Entering the room some people had already arrived and were getting to know each other. From this moment on, we were Japanese delegates – something we have been working towards for a whole semester – and immediately started talking to the other delegates and trying to find out their positions.  The first official meeting of our committee was about the agenda setting. But first, our chair briefly explained the rules of procedure and how a report has to be structured before we went into formal session. Once the speakers’ list was opened every country was eager to deliver a speech – so was Japan. After listening to some speeches about the preferred agenda we quickly moved into informal caucus. There it became obvious that the APEC was almost split in half about the choice for the first agenda item. After several more informal caucuses comprising already some coalition building and a lot of convincing, as well as some more formal speeches, Japan happily welcomed the following agenda: (3), (2), (1). The third topic was what we had wished for. After a successful first day of holding speeches and negotiating we were looking forward to the second day, when the work on the reports was about to start.

With the work on the draft reports the committee split up in smaller groups of coalitions that were to be expected and each group worked on a different aspect of Sustainable Tourism. Japan and the United States quickly assembled all JU.S.CANZ countries (Japan, U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand) to work on a joint proposal. We were joined by countries such as Peru, Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines. This draft was mainly focusing on the economic aspects of Sustainable Tourism and the use and advancement of public private partnerships in the region. Together with the U.S., we were the key initiators of this draft. Since all decisions in APEC are to be made by consensus we were, from the beginning, in constant consultations and negotiations with the other countries, especially with Russia and China. After some modifications in wording we could secure their support for our proposal. Additionally, we were working with the other groups on proposals concerning educational and environmental aspects. Apart from the aforementioned topics, Russia and China worked intensely on a draft involving the possibility of tourism furthering the development of rural areas. A fifth proposal evolved around eco-tourism. At the end of the second day the first drafts were handed in to the chair for review. Some revisions had to be made before they were accepted as draft report segments the next day, because we were all not so familiar with writing a report. Over the course of the third day, all five drafts were to become draft report segments. It was a pleasant experience that everyone in our committee was keen on giving every draft the chance to become officially acknowledged as such to be able to be voted on. Over the whole drafting process as well as the amendment process Japan succeeded in introducing the concept of human security - a human-centered approach to further the well-being, the security, the dignity, and the empowerment of individuals – which is a cornerstone of our foreign policy. After explaining and discussing the importance of this approach for the Asia-Pacific region we were very confident and pleased to see human security included in every draft report. At the end of the third day, Japan sponsored the draft report segment on economic development and public private partnerships. We also co-sponsored the drafts on education and on the environment. After some negoti-ations and changes we gladly became signatories to the remaining two drafts on rural development and on ecotourism.

The whole committee was eager to work effectively to move on to the second topic of fighting corruption. Therefore the voting procedure started in the early morning on the fourth day but it nevertheless took more time than we expected because of the amendments that we had to vote on. In the end the drafts on rural development and education were accepted by a vote by acclamation. Our draft and the one about eco-tourism were also successful with only a few abstentions. The draft involving environmental measures failed with one vote against it. Interesting in this case was that the initiators – Japan, Peru, Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia – were able to secure the support of the U.S., Russia, and China, at least in a way that they would not vote against it. It became apparent that one should not forget about the smaller countries. This last draft was vetoed by Brunei Darussalam! 

After having been rather successful on the first topic with four draft report segments accepted and only three more hours left, all countries fully committed themselves to the second topic on the agenda: Fighting Corruption. Although there was not much time left, our committee was able to hand in two drafts to the chair for review. We were highly involved in both because this is an important and sensitive topic for Japan. There was no voting procedure on these two drafts because we were running out of time and therefore the meeting was to be adjourned.

Our committee was very devoted to produce reports with a substantial outcome. The aspect/motto of APEC of dialogue and respect among its members for the view of all participants was present at all times during negotiations and discussions.