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15 MAY 2006

Promotion of Human Rights

Mr. Co-Chair,

Human rights are acknowledged in the World Summit Outcome as one of the important pillars on which the United Nations system rests. The General Assembly, ECOSOC and the Commission on Human Rights and its subsidiary bodies have created many mandates over the last sixty years. Special procedures have been established by the Commission on Human Rights and the standing treaty bodies play important roles in promoting human rights.

Japan believes that a review of the mandates in the area of human rights would lead to strengthening of the efficacy of the United Nations in advancement of human rights around the world. The General Assembly has adopted a resolution to request the newly established Human Rights Council, after assuming the mandates and institutions of the Commission of the Human Rights, to conduct a review of the mechanisms, functions and responsibilities of the Commission within one year after holding its first session. The General Assembly has also decided that the Human Rights Council should improve and rationalize all its mandates in accordance with resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006. Japan, as a member of the Human Rights Council, intends to participate actively in this exercise with the aim of creating effective mechanisms that will form a coherent human rights machinery, by sorting overlaps among various mandates. Japan believes that the areas mentioned in the SG's report for the review of overlapping reports, such as racism, indigenous issues and the special procedures, would deserve special attention in the review process within the Human Rights Council as well.

Japan fully endorses the general recommendation of the SG on the simplification of reporting and on the consolidation of reporting obligations. For example, the SG and the High Commissioner for Human Rights are requested to submit their reports on the same subject respectively to the GA and to the Commission of the Human Rights. Japan believes that much can be accomplished by consolidating and eliminating duplication of reporting requirements. It therefore requests the Secretariat to formulate concrete and detailed proposals on this matter so that we can achieve tangible and immediate results.

On the simplification of reporting, the reporting obligations for the Member States under the various Human Rights treaties also need to be addressed. Although this matter is not within the purview of the review of the mandates originating from resolutions of the GA, it is clear that we do have problems that can be fixed. Discussions on treaty body reform should be pursued with a view to realize effective protection and promotion of human rights, taking into account the reporting burdens of States parties.

Effective coordination of humanitarian assistance efforts

Mr. Co-Chair,

Japan also supports the recommendation of the SG that humanitarian agenda items should be consolidated in the GA plenary and that reporting requirements should be rationalized. Currently, humanitarian agenda items are dispersed among the GA plenary and the Second and Third Committees. This has resulted in duplication of efforts. We would submit that both country-specific humanitarian assistance resolutions in the Second Committee and the resolution on UNHCR in the Third Committee be consolidated under a single humanitarian umbrella agenda item in the GA plenary.

Although the SG's report only identified the humanitarian mandates of the GA, the mandates of ECOSOC in the humanitarian affairs segment should also be reviewed and rationalized. Especially, the division of labor between the GA and ECOSOC should be developed to avoid repeating the same discussions twice a year. Last year, we actually achieved such a division of labor with ECOSOC focusing on specific operational issues and the GA on broader, normative issues. It would be appropriate to consolidate this positive trend. In other words, ECOSOC would give specific policy guidance to operational architectures of the United Nations humanitarian assistance, while the GA would focus on the normative discussions on humanitarian assistance.

Japan fully supports the SG's recommendation that country-specific reports be limited to the first year following a humanitarian crisis, and that such situations simply be highlighted thereafter in more thematic reports. Currently, there are many instances where the GA continues to request country-specific reports even several years after the crisis where the focus has already moved on to reconstruction. Japan believes that the Secretariat, Member States and the United Nations humanitarian system would benefit from improving reporting procedures and making reports more focused and targeted, as this would make it possible to provide humanitarian assistance more effectively.

With regard to assistance and protection of internally displaced persons, no single institution has a clear mandate. Relevant mandates have been given to the Emergency Relief Coordinator, the Representative of the SG on the human rights of IDPs, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The net result is seen as gaps in implementation. Japan thinks it would be useful to implement the recently introduced cluster approach in this regard and concurs with the SG that Member States should examine in the future to make a clear decision on where responsibility for assistance resides.

In the area of responding to natural disasters, OCHA, ISDR, UNDP and other institutions have been playing important roles. There is, however, not enough coordination of institutional response within the UN systems, and this is one of the reasons why disaster reduction in its all aspects has not been given enough attention. Japan believes that mainstreaming of this area is needed, taking into account the recommendations of the high-level panel on system-wide coherence, which is expected to come out in September. Furthermore, Japan considers it essential that coordination among humanitarian institutions be further strengthened on the ground.

Thank you, Mr. Co-Chair.

Related Information (Human Rights)
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