Second Commemorative Event of the Diplomatic and International Public Service (DIPS) Event Convened

Update: April 30, 2021

The second anniversary of the launch of the ICU Graduate School's Diplomatic and International Public Service (DIPS) Program in 2019 was celebrated with two-parts events on two Saturdays of 10th and 17th of April 2021. The events were attended by the total of over 200 participants, which demonstrated the strong interest in our DIPS Program.


Part I: April 10
Panel on "Aspiring to become Diplomat from ICU"; Sharing Lessons learned from the UN Seminar @ ICU held in March and Panel on "What it means to work at International Organizations"

Part I was held on an hybrid mode with both online and in-person participation. The Panel discussion on "Aspiring to become diplomats from ICU" were held in the morning among three diplomats who are all ICU graduates. Moderated by the Distinguished Professor Motohide Yoshikawa (former UN Ambassador and an ICU graduate), the Panel consisted of Mr. Makoto Honda, Mr. Takushi Sasada, Ms. Akina Kondo.

The afternoon Panel on "What it means to work at International Organizations" was composed of three panelists: Ms. Naoe Yakiya, the WFP Representative in Japan (ICU graduate), Ms. Chika Kondo of UNDP and Mr. Ryuseke Tanaka of ILO, moderated by DIPS Advisor Hiroko Morita (former UN official and ICU graduate). Additionally, four students who participated in the UN Seminar held on campus in March shared the knowledge gained as well as their own impressions.


The participants of the Part I event included many freshmen who just joined the ICU community only a few days before. They asked varying questions including how they can link their studies to future career, how best to spend time as college students, work-life balance including balancing career and child care, for example. Also raised were ways to find rewarding experiences among career challenges. Both in-person and online participating students (including those from other universities and ICU high school) actively posed pertinent questions to the panelists.


Part II: April 17
Special Lecture by Mr. Yasushi Akashi, former UN Under-Secretary-General

The legendary Mr. Yasushi Akashi, who served as a UN Under-Secretary-General as well as Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Cambodia and former Yugoslavia, was invited as a special guest of the ICU for the DIPS commemorative occasion to deliver an online lecture in English. Mr. Akashi's historical lecture was attended by more than 100 participants who were composed of ICU students and faculty, as well as those from the Tokyo Foreign Language University, Akita International University and Sophia University. Distinguished Professor Motohide Yoshikawa served as the moderator.


At the outset, ICU President Professor Shoichiro Iwakiri provided welcoming remarks and made reference to Mr. Akashi's association with ICU as a TA during the ICU's founding period.

Mr. Akashi's special one-hour lecture entitled "A few thoughts on the United Nations" focused on his own insights based on his rich experiences on UN's achievements and setbacks with continuous efforts towards peace, prosperity and cooperation to benefit the world community. He also responded carefully and sincerely to numerous questions raised online.

Summary of Mr. Akashi's lecture is provided below:

  • After graduating from the University of Tokyo, he studied in USA on Fulbright Scholarship. He attended an International Student Seminar in the summer of 1956 where he was asked to speak on east Asian politics. A senior official from the UN secretariat who was there invited Mr. Akashi to join the UN Secretariat a few months later, after Japan became a member of the United Nations
  • At the UN Secretariat, his career started at the Department of the Political Affairs, followed by several positions including serving as the President of the Staff Union. He later spent five years at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN and rejoined the UN Secretariat in 1979, promoted as the UN Under-Secretary-General for Public Information and then for Disarmament. From 1992 to 1995, He served as the Special Representative of the Secretary General in Cambodia, followed by former Yugoslavia, a challenging region of conflict.
  • Mr. Akashi emphasized that the UN is more than mere power politics and it is wrong to simplify the organization as such. The international civil servants who work at the UN are human being with aspirations and feelings. One also needs stamina and the commonness of minds to be able to work in all kinds of situations. He spoke highly of Dag Hammershold for his dedication and hard-work who improvised emergency operations when faced with crises in 1956.
  • Mr. Akashi outlined three types of UN peace keeping operations (PKO):1) classical type such as the successful intervention in the Suez Canal crisis in the Middle East of Pakistan-India border crisis; 2) acting like a pseudo government of large-scale and complex PKO such as in Cambodia, Kosovo, East Timor or Mozambique, where rather successful tasks included helping to organize elections; or 3) robust peace keeping which are more dangerous and thus cannot afford to have too many - so far limited only in Africa such as for Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo or South Sudan.
  • With regards to challenges faced in former Yugoslavia, Mr. Akashi confronted the task of coordinating the strategy of NATO air strikes and the UN's implementation guidelines for the use of force. He shared an anecdote of exploring some opportunities for negotiating compromise late into evening with President Mirosevic with the view to avoid the possible air strike to Gorazde.
  • In the view of Mr. Akashi, UN needs to be understood not as a static entity but as a continuously evolving organization ready to adapt to the changing global environment. For example, a PKO, is set up as needed, without having a provision in the UN Charter, and the substance of its operation has been greatly transformed to correspond to the developing international environment.
  • The same can be said of the UN organs. The UN Security Council has fulfilled the expected role when the General Assembly fell short, and the GA Emergency Session was convened at the time when the Security Council could not function due to veto powers. In cases where neither the General Assembly nor the Security Council could function effectively, the UN Secretary General used his intellectual moral weight of influence.
  • The role of media in conflicts is important but as the former US Secretary of State Christopher has once pointed out, any excessively emotional reporting by the media led to premature intervention and precipitous withdrawal of PKO. The mass media can be useful and education up to a point but can become counter-productive if it threatens UN to maintain being predictable, stable and progressive operations.
  • We need to remind ourselves that the countries in the world are mutually dependent and Japan alone cannot enjoy the so-called "isolated peace". If Japan wishes to be recognized as a peaceful sate, there is no doubt that Japan should fully participate in all UN peacekeeping operations.
  • Mr. Akashi also mentioned of the latest trends at the UN with global guidelines where more NGOs, academia, municipalities and other stakeholders are involved. SDGs, is a typical example and represents an extended steady work of three years. SDG 16 on peace, in his view, is a work too complex and has rather been ambiguous but he is pleased to see more and more NGOs are assisting the UN in this area.
  • Finally, Mr. Akashi cautioned that the UN operations can succeed or fail and will continue to experience ups and downs but he recommends that the UN should be judged from long-term and historical perspectives for working towards noble causes, rather than any one segment.
  • In responding to students' questions, Mr. Akashi urged Japanese to become more proficient in multilingual environment. It is sometimes useful to be not too conscious of being Japanese and to go beyond language skills to realize that the world is inter-linked. In his experiences, negotiation is an art, combining skills and culture - one needs the sense of humor and wits at times with the aim of identifying common grounds through dialogues and communication.


* The recording of the above events has been made public on ICU-TV, available internally to the ICU community.

Page top