14 December 2011

A Fruitful Trip to Seoul for UNFPA Executive Director

SEOUL — Strengthening the partnership with the Republic of Korea at all levels — with parliamentarians, civil society, media and young people – is a top mission for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, the Fund’s Executive Director, said during his visit to the country earlier this month.

“I consider this visit first of many,” Dr. Osotimehin said. “My relationship with the Republic of Korea is one of the most important priorities to accomplish during my term.”

Dr. Osotimehin travelled to Seoul after attending the International Family Planning Conference in Dakar, Senegal, in late November. He shared with top Korean officials outcomes of the event, which was attended by more than 80 countries and 2,200 delegates, as he also congratulated Korea’s leadership on the recent high-level United Nations meeting in Busan on aid effectiveness.

Dr. Osotimehin’s busy schedule in Korea involved discussions with a government minister, politicians and Korea International Cooperation Agency officials, all aimed at fostering relationships between South Korea and UNFPA.

During the visit, Dr. Osotimehin stressed that UNFPA is the only UN agency to work on achieving MDG 5, focusing on reproductive health, among other issues, and emphasized UNFPA's close partnership with the UN Secretary-General's "every women, every child" initiative on maternal health. In addition, Dr. Osotimehin shared news from the Senegal conference that the United Kingdom, the United States and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made strong commitments to family planning.

The Korean officials said there may be potential for their government to join the effort, too.

In Dr. Osotimehin’s meeting with Mr. Bong-hyun Kim, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, he reiterated UNFPA’s goal to strengthen its partnership with Korea, particularly regarding UNFPA’s role in MDG5. The Deputy Minister, in turn, said he was working hard to garner more public support for increasing Korean development aid and that Korean President Lee is committed to increasing the country’s official development assistance by 2015. Deputy Minister Kim said he would also try to find ways to offer further support to UNFPA.

A final meeting with Ms. Sook Mee Son, a member of the Korean National Assembly, led to Ms. Son saying that she would help create a parliamentarian group to work on MDG5.

“I will set up the forum dedicated to supporting MDG5, inviting not only the women parliamentarians, but also other women leaders,” she added.