International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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Report on the Seoul NGOs Conference
by Dr.Sungho Park, Korea, October 1999
(NGO = Non-Governmental Organisation affiliated to the United Nations)

Under the theme of "The Role of NGOs in the 21st Century: Inspire, Empower, Act!", the 1999 Seoul International Conference of NGOs was held in Seoul, Korea from October 11th to October 15th with some 5,000 delegates of more than 1,000 NGOs from every corner of the world. They have gathered to build upon the work begun at the United Nations world conferences of the 1990s, to forge a common vision for the 21th century, and to channel our collective energy and experience to make this vision a reality.

Thus, the Seoul NGOs conference offered many opportunities for NGOs to seek new ways of developing peace, co-prosperity, and equality in the 21th century through 10 plenaries and 180 group sessions. Also it provided an occasion to establish a global network of NGOs, the creative of which would greatly facilitate the cooperative efforts put forth by various organizations.

When the International Council of IVU proposed that I attend there as a delegate of International Vegetarian Union, I thought it would be a good chance to introduce IVU and the benefits of vegetarianism to the UN leaders and the delegates of NGOs. To do it efficiently, I decided not only to produce flyers but also to run an exhibition booth. As I myself could not do that all, I explained my plan to several vegetarian groups and vegetarian restaurants to ask their support and help . Hearing my suggestion, they expressed great interest and promised to help me. Together we decorated the booth, displayed marerials. Members of Hitel Vegetarian Society presented me with posters, samplebooks and leaflets. Some volunteers have distributed flyers to the participants at the venue and some were kept at the booth to explain the benefits of vegetarianism and to play the video tape.

Especially, the chef of SM vegetarian restaurant, most famous vegetarian one in Korea almost daily cooked vegetarian hams and gluten meat for the people to taste at booth. Their response was amazing! Most of them were surprised at the taste, saying "I've thought vegetarians eat only vegetables and fruits like rabbits. With these delicious meal, there will be no difficulties in becoming a vegetarian". Reporters from the NGO Daily Newsletter visited our booth for an interview and praised the IVU booth as the most attractive and successful one among 120 booths.

While the volunteers were working, I tried my best to contact delegates of NGOs and UN leaders to distribute flyers, and to get information for the IVU to be NGO recognized officially by the UN. Fortunately, I got some necessary information from one of the UN leaders who explained two ways to be NGOs recognized officially by UN - one of them is DPI/UN (Department of Public Information), the other is ECOSOC/UN (Economic and Social Council) and kindly gave me application sheets. I am convinced that IVU will become a recognized NGO by UN in the near future.

Lastly, I would like to express my gratitude to VSUK, Dr.Mitsuru Kakimoto from JVS, Sigrid De Leo from EVU, Katharina Bless, from Silver Dove Club, and Prof. Mahinda Palihawadana from Sri Langka who sent me a precious materials such as CD, posters, brochures, and leaflets.

Click on the picture to see the full-size version:

Dr Park is explaining something to volunteers.

A view of group sessions.

A view of Olympic Park where the event was held.

A view of exhibition booths.

Culture event is performed at exhibition booths.

A complete view of exhibition booths.

One of volunteers is ready to distribute flyers.

Many students are visiting the venue.

Dr Park's family.

A volunteer is explaining the vegetarian food.

A volunteer is explaining the benefit of vegetarianism.

Same as above.

A vegetarian lady from Bulgaria is delighted to find a vegetarian booth.

A delegate of NGOs is tasting vegetarian meat with curiosity.