By Lee Kyoung Mi and Lee Jihae
The government has launched an intergovernmental cooperative group led by Korea to boost international cooperation and respond to acts of hatred and discrimination that violate human rights amid the global spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 26 announced that it hosted a videoconference on the launch of the Group of Friends for Solidarity and Inclusion with Global Citizenship Education.
The government led the formation of the group centered on UNESCO representatives to lead discussions on major issues in global society such as hatred and discrimination, based on international praise for Korea's exemplary response to COVID-19.
Comprising 11 countries including the chair Korea, Armenia, Austria, Bangladesh and Colombia, the group will be run as an open cooperative body so that other UNESCO member states can also participate.
About 110 officials including Minister Kang, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO diplomatic corps and secretariat officials took part in the videoconference for the group's launch.
The group adopted a joint statement saying that under a mindset of solidarity and tolerance, the international community will oppose hatred and discrimination, and through boosted educational activities for people worldwide, it will also strengthen global cooperation in the post-COVID-19 era.
"Prejudice, discrimination, stigmatization and xenophobia due to COVID-19 not only violates the fundamentals of human rights but also hinders quarantine," Minister Kang said in a congratulatory message.
She emphasized the importance of education for the world to respond to these issues, saying, "I hope the group becomes an action-oriented platform so that various discussions lead to practical policy proposals."
Director-General Azoulay thanked the minister and Korean representatives for forming the group, adding that she actively welcomes the establishment of a group for solidarity and tolerance led by Korea at a time when the importance of solidarity has grown.