Reminiscences of the United Nations and Japan’s Asia Strategy

By Prof. Makoto Taniguchi*

TOKYO (IDN) – When the United States was bashing the United Nations as an ‘Useless presence’ in the 1980s, young bureaucrats of the rank of Minister-Counsellors, who were dispatched as government representatives to the UN in New York, were using a deprecating term – a “zombie” group -to describe the situation in which they found themselves.

Counsellor Mr. Sergey Lavrov of the Soviet Union, who was like a leader among his peers, was convinced that something needs to be done about the world body. Otherwise he and others will not be respected back home. So he was inspiring the group that was otherwise beginning to lose sight of a vision to strengthen the United Nations. SPANISH | GERMAN | HINDI | JAPANESE

Thai Youth Learn to Develop a ‘Mindful’ Economic Behaviour

This article is the fourth in a series of joint productions of Lotus News Features and IDN-InDepthNews, flagship of the International Press Syndicate.

CHIANG MAI (IDN | Lotus News Features*) – The Mindfulness fad sweeping across the West today may be the new money-spinner for those “gurus” who charge hundreds of dollars for each session to teach its applications, often to improve one’s ability to navigate the global capitalist system to make more money for yourself. But, for the Thais it’s a 2500-year old philosophy taught by Gautama the Buddha to encourage moderation, self-reliance and contentment in your daily life.

Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol introduced mindful economic philosophy known as Sufficiency Economics to his subjects in 1997 when Thailand faced a severe economic crisis that led to many people committing suicide. In 1999 this concept became the guiding principles of Thailand’s national development policies. It has also been introduced to the national education curriculum both at primary and secondary level eight years ago.

Buddhist Revival in China Fuels Animal Welfare Movement

By Kalinga Seneviratne*

This article is the first in a series of joint productions of Lotus News Feature and IDN-InDepthNews, flagship of the International Press Syndicate.

SINGAPORE (IDN | Lotus News Features) – A Buddhist revival in China is fuelling a growing animal welfare movement across the country with the Chinese government poised to revise the decades-old animal welfare act. In January, the National People’s Congress (NPC) started soliciting public comments on four draft laws. One is the revision of the Wildlife Protection Law, which came into effect in 1989.

This law created a system of wild animal breeding permits, issued by what is now called the State Forestry Administration. The belief was that the best way to protect threatened wildlife was by developing a wild animal breeding and training sector. China’s success at breeding captive pandas is the global poster child for the success in this sort of conservation.

Iran’s Chabahar Port – New Gateway for India and Afghanistan

TEHRAN – Mistreatment of Afghan businesspeople by Pakistanis has made them complain.This story has been covered by Afghan media time and time again, but they have no choice. Afghanistan is a landlocked country with no access to free waters and Karachi port in Pakistan is the sole route for Afghans through which they can engage in trade with the rest of the world.

Therefore, Afghan officials have reached the conclusion that in cooperation with India, they must go for Iran’s south-eastern Chabahar port, which can offer a good substitute for Karachi port. This issue was one of the main reasons behind a three-day trip to Iran early January by Afghanistan’s chief executive officer, Abdullah Abdullah.

A Practical Way Out of Chronic Poverty

TOKYO (IDN) – Poverty alleviation has been on the agenda of development cooperation since the early 1970s: Robert McNamara declared in 1973 that the World Bank’s mission is to eradicate poverty by 2000, and three years later the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), comprising world’s major donors, adopted the Basic Needs Approach. But the major challenge for the development community has been to find an effective method to provide substantial relief to the poor and deprived.

For some time, this issue was considered ideological, of a choice between growth and distribution. The last attempt at establishing a policy framework from an ideological perspective was the DAC’s policy declaration of 1996: Shaping the 21st Century; the Contribution of Development Cooperation. SPANISH | GERMAN | HINDI | JAPANESE

FORUM ASIA Celebrates 25th Anniversary

By Marte Hellema*

This year the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) celebrates its 25th anniversary: 25 years of promoting and protecting human rights. This is both a reason for celebration and reflection. To reflect on what we have done, what lessons we have learnt, and what we see as priorities for the future.

To commemorate this milestone FORUM-ASIA launched an anniversary campaign during an event on January 8, 2016 at the Pridi Banomyong Institute in Bangkok, Thailand. As part of the campaign a new publication was composed, ‘Our Struggle for Human Rights – 25 Years of FORUM-ASIA’. An online version of this publication can be found on

Kazakhstan Keen on Building a Joint Future for Asia and Europe

By Erlan IDRISSOV, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan*

From its first days as an independent country, Kazakhstan has been guided by the principle of “economy first and then politics”. Thanks to this principle and the leadership of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, our country has developed its economy very rapidly.

We are now determined to build on this success and, with the adoption of the “Kazakhstan – 2050” strategy, have set a goal of joining the list of the world’s 30 most developed countries. With this strategy and by strengthening cooperation and dialogue with our international partners, we intend to develop our domestic industries, gain modern experience, attract innovations, exchange technologies and develop investment cooperation.

Renewable Energy Can Sustain Growth in ‘Emerging Asia’

KUALA LUMPUR (IDN) – The need for sustainable development, aligning multiple economic and environmental priorities, stressed by the leaders of the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies, in their Manila declaration on November 19, has been reiterated in a new report that forecasts a robust growth for ‘Emerging Asia’ in 2015 and in the next five years. SPANISH | GERMANHINDI | JAPANESE

Mapping India-China Cultural Links Crucial For Asia’s Emergence

NEW DELHI (IDN) – When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived on May 14 in the historic city of Xian, at the start of his three-day visit to China, he was almost immediately taken by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Wild Goose Pagoda that symbolise the two countries’ umbilical cultural ties, thus setting the tone for the important visit. Xian is where the ancient Silk Route began.

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