Statement by the Representative of Japan
Agenda Item 39:
Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Sixtieth Session of the General Assembly
9 November 2005
We welcome the positive signs we continue to see with regard to the flow of refugees back to their homelands. At the same time, as the High Commissioner for Refugees pointed out in his report, we face both old and new challenges to our efforts to protect refugees, to find durable solutions to protracted refugee situations, and to address the issue of internally displaced persons (IDPs). In each of these areas, the international community must renew its commitment to fulfilling its responsibilities.
The first issue, the protection of refugees, is not a new one. The legal framework was established clearly in the 1951 Refugees Convention and its 1967 protocol. One of the challenges, however, is the difficulty of determining whether a specific applicant is entitled to be granted refugee status. In this regard, we welcome the adoption of the Conclusion on International Protection by the Executive Committee of UNHCR last month as a demonstration of the strong commitment of the international community to safeguarding the principle of refugee protection. For its part, Japan has put into effect an amended Immigration Control Law and established a new system whereby applicants for refugee status are tentatively granted permission to stay in the country under certain conditions, in order to provide them with a more stable legal base.
In addition, large flows of refugees cause strains on the host community that are both in economic and social. We therefore welcome the inclusion of reference to international solidarity and burden sharing in the September Summit's Outcome Document. In this spirit, Japan is determined to continue to assist those countries that accept a large number of refugees, especially in Africa. We also welcome the creation of the post of Assistant High Commissioner for protection, and we strongly hope it will enable the UNHCR to better respond to the protection needs of refugees.
In the second area, as a significant number of refugees are returning to their homelands, efforts to achieve durable solutions have become all the more important. Japan has advocated the concept of human security, a perspective from which refugees and returnees are seen as potential contributors to the general welfare. Human security emphasizes empowerment of refugees and returnees to be self-reliant and, eventually, indispensable partners for development. In practical terms, the concept of human security stresses the importance of a coherent approach by all the relevant actors of the United Nations to overcome the gap between emergency relief and development. The Human Security Trust Fund has assisted the implementation of projects to bridge that gap around the world in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, with particular emphasis on collaboration among UN funds, programmes and agencies. Japan is committed to continuing to provide support with a view to consolidating positive developments toward durable solutions.
In the third area, IDPs constitute a continuing challenge to the United Nations both at the normative and practical levels. Japan is pleased that the September Summit outcome document recognizes the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement as an important international framework for addressing this issue. The Guiding Principles clearly indicate that States have the primary responsibility for preventing the occurrence of IDPs and for protecting and assisting them. National authorities may sometimes be overwhelmed by situations leading to massive IDPs. In such cases, the international community should offer assistance and the States concerned should accept it in good faith. We believe that this idea should serve as a normative basis for addressing the question of IDPs. At the practical level, Japan is following with great interest the ongoing discussion of the cluster leads in response to the recommendation of the Humanitarian Response Review. We also welcome the willingness of the UNHCR to explore the possibility of assuming a role of the cluster lead in the protection and camp-management of IDPs resulting from conflict, keeping consultations with Member States of the Executive Committee. We hope that further details will be provided to the Executive Committee and explained to all Member States, especially in terms of the impact that the cluster lead will have on the UNHCR's core activities of refugee protection and assistance as well as the relationship between the existing practice of collaborative approach and a new cluster-lead arrangement.
Lastly, Mr. Chairman, we welcome Jordan and Portugal to the Executive Committee of the UNHCR, which our Permanent Representative in Geneva has the privilege of chairing at present. We hope that each and every member of the EXCOM will commit itself to the principles of the Refugee Convention and contribute actively to guiding UNHCR activities with a view to helping fulfill its mandate. Japan is determined to facilitate efforts to this end.
Let me conclude by expressing our full support for the High Commissioner for Refugees. He has already demonstrated his skill in handling the complex issue of refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR as well as his commitment to reforming his office to meet the high expectations of the international community. Our humanitarian team is ready to work with the UNHCR more closely than ever and Japanese NGOs are willing to participate actively as implementing and operational partners. We hope that we are able to make an even greater contribution to achieving our common goal of responding to the plight of refugees and ensuring durable solutions to refugee situations.
Thank you very much.
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