January 29, 2005
by Kevin Caruso
Delegates from 57 nations met in Phuket, Thailand, to discuss an Indian Ocean tsunami warning system.
The two-day meeting became contentious when officials could not agree on which country should run the system. Thailand wanted the center to be based in Bangkok, but Indonesia and India also wanted to run the center.
After much debate, the delegates decided to implement a decentralized network and work within the framework of the United Nations for all aspects of their cooperative effort.
"It would not be entirely effective to have a single center do so many things," said Margareta Wahlstrom, special envoy of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. “There are a number of institutions around the Indian Ocean that could serve as smaller regional centers.
“We agree that the role of the United Nations is the most important in ensuring that all aspects in building an early warning are coordinated effective and timely," said Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai.
The delegates also agreed on establishing a voluntary trust fund, which would be administered by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok.