Statement by H.E. Mr. Jiro Kodera
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
At the General Debate of the Second Committee
Sixty-First Session of the United Nations General Assembly
2 October 2006
Allow me to join the other speakers in congratulating you on your appointment as Chair of the Second Committee. Please be assured that you will have my delegation's full cooperation as you guide our deliberations.
At the first meeting on 19 September, you pointed out that the Second Committee used only 77 percent of its allotted meeting time last year and proposed enforcing strict punctuality. Japan wholeheartedly supports this proposal.
Indeed, with an agenda full of weighty issues before us, we cannot afford to waste time. A year has already passed since the adoption of the World Summit Outcome, and many of the commitments made at that time have yet to be carried through. We must dedicate ourselves to completing this unfinished business, particularly with regard to the MDGs and United Nations system reform. With the report of the Secretary-General's High Level Panel on United Nations System-wide Coherence expected to be released soon, the Second Committee, for its part, should accelerate its discussion on these two outstanding challenges.
Human security is one of the concepts that holds a key to reforming the UN system so that it can better respond to the actual needs of people in developing countries. The essence of human security is the "people-centered" approach. Human security aims at protecting individuals from various threats and strengthening their capacity to cope with adversity by themselves. But it does not stop there. Increased capacity is meaningless unless individuals have an enabling environment where they can demonstrate it. This is exactly where the Second Committee can play a role. My delegation would be happy to discuss with interested Member States the implications of human security for the agenda items before us.
Allow me to briefly discuss two areas in which my delegation will be active in the coming months.
The first is water and sanitation. The international community has pledged to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015. Although limited success has been made in water, progress in sanitation is sadly faltering. A recent WHO/UNICEF report warned that 2.6 billion people do not have access to sanitation, and 1.6 million children die annually as a result of drinking sewage-contaminated water. Clearly, the current level of effort does not match the importance of this issue.
Water and sanitation is not merely about environmental sustainability. It is a fundamental issue that underpins poverty reduction, child survival, disease control, education, and gender equality-in other words, virtually all of the MDGs. For example, in developing countries, the availability of clean, functioning lavatories in schools has been shown to boost attendance, particularly among girls. The provision of sanitation, therefore, can be a good starting point for socioeconomic development.
As you are all aware, the Secretary-General established the Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation in 2004 to explore synergies in water-related activities of UN bodies. One of the recommendations made by the Board in the Hashimoto Action Plan released earlier this year was that the UN declare an "International Year of Sanitation" to help raise awareness and mobilize human and financial resources. Japan, together with interested Member States, intends to table a draft resolution on this proposal during the current session.
The second area of attention for Japan is the United Nations University (UNU). As mandated by the resolution 59/253, we will discuss UNU in this session under agenda item 59. In the thirty years since its establishment, the UNU has made major intellectual contributions to the United Nations system. That being said, Japan believes that the time is ripe for a review of the UNU's role and an external evaluation of its output and contributions to the international community. To enhance its function and status, the UNU must have a clear grasp of what other UN bodies expect of it. It must also strive to engage in more practical and timely research, better utilize the outcomes of that research, and improve its public relations activities. Japan hopes that UNU will seize the opportunity presented by this year's resolution to renew itself.
My delegation will express its views on the other agenda items as they come up for discussion. Let me close by reiterating my congratulations to you and expressing my hope for a productive session.
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