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Statement by Ms. Mikiko Otani
Alternate Representative of Japan
Sixtieth Session of the General Assembly
Items 63: Promotion and protection of the rights of the child
61st Session of the General Assembly
12 October 2006
Japan, believing that children are the hope for the future, places high priority on promoting and protecting the rights of the child. In order to ensure a better future for the children in the world, we reiterate our commitment to working with other Member States and international organizations.
Let me briefly touch upon the issues that are of particular interest to Japan.
Follow-up to the special session of the General Assembly on children
My delegation is grateful to the Secretary-General for his comprehensive reports on the follow-up to the special session of the General Assembly on children. Fully committed to the outcome of the special session, Japan will continue to follow up on the implementation of the Declaration and Plan of Action entitled "A world fit for children".
The year 2007 will mark the 5th year after the special session on children and the review of the follow-up to the special session on children will be conducted at the General Assembly. It is highly important to review what kind of actions have been taken by the Member States, international organizations and civil society in the past five years as well as to analyze the challenges Member States face in order to attain the goals of "A world fit for children." My government believes that the review of the special session will enable us to expedite our efforts to attain these goals. Japan reiterates its strong commitment to achieving these goals based on the people-centered approach of "human security."
The government of Japan has made the promotion of human security an important pillar of its foreign policy, and stresses the importance of using an approach that centers on protecting people from diverse threats including poverty, environmental degradation, conflicts, landmines, refugee problems, illicit drugs and infectious diseases as well as empowering those people to enhance their resilience. Children are vulnerable to global trends including globalization and the growing number of conflicts. We, as adults, have a responsibility to ensure the protection of our children who all have the right to live in an environment free from threats so that their sound growth is ensured.
In line with this concept, last March, my Government, together with the United Nations, has decided to extend assistance totaling 977,874 US dollars, through the Trust Fund for Human Security to the UNESCO and WHO project entitled "Capacity building for integrated psychological, pedagogical and medico-social rehabilitation of school children and educational personnel" that has been implemented in the Russian Federation of Chechnya.
Violence against Children
My government appreciates that Mr. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the Independent Expert responsible for the Secretary-General's in-depth study on violence against children, has submitted his report to the General Assembly. This is the first comprehensive study on this subject and it is significant that children have also participated in the study and provided valuable input based on their own experiences with violence.
The study shows that there are many children, who are vulnerable in nature, and continue to be the victims of violence. For this reason, they are not able to enjoy their rights. Violence against children is multidimensional and occurs in different settings including the family, schools, care and justice institutions, workplaces and communities and it encompasses all forms, including abuse, forced labor, sexual violence and corporal punishment. My government hopes that the data contained in the study shall be shared broadly in the world and, based on this study urgent action will be taken by all the Member States to abolish violence against children. Japan, for its part, has made sincere efforts to tackle child abuse and child prostitution, which have become urgent issues to be addressed by the entire society in recent years. Japan, in 2004, has revised the Child Abuse Prevention Law and the Child Welfare Law. My government, as the host country of the 2nd World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children held in 2001, is strongly determined to further promote international cooperation in the field of child protection.
Children under Armed Conflict
The year 2006 marks the 10th anniversary of the report of Graca Machel, entitled "The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children." In the past 10 years, the global awareness of the issues related to children affected by armed conflicts has been increased. In 1998, the Security Council took up this issue on the international peace and security agenda and since then it has played an important role in this area, including the adoption of resolution 1612 (2005) which was an important step to usher in an "era of application".
My government welcomes the establishment of a monitoring and reporting mechanism on children and armed conflict in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Somalia and Sudan and hopes that the mechanism is duly applied in the concerned countries and provides us with objective and reliable information on the situation of children under armed conflict.
It is also clear that much remains to be done in order to improve the situation of children under armed conflict. Many former child soldiers are often pressed into service once again with armed forces and militant groups. Japan believes it important to give special attention to assisting reintegration programs as part of the process of disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating the child soldiers.
Japan, based on the concept of "human security," has extended assistance for the consolidation of peace, supporting the projects of international organizations such as UNDP and UNICEF principally in African and Asian countries. In February this year, Japan provided assistance through UNDP to a project for rehabilitation of former child soldiers in the Great Lakes region. Japan reaffirms its commitment to continue to work closely with other Member States, international organizations and civil society to improve the situation of children under armed conflict.
Protection of children under Natural Disasters
In recent years, the world has experienced large-scale natural disasters one after another, including the South Asian earthquake in Pakistan and the Indian Ocean tsunami. In 2005, Japan implemented the "Japan's Children Support Plan for Tsunami Victims" focusing on both child protection including anti-human trafficking measures and child survival including measures against infectious diseases, by utilizing about $86 million already contributed to international organizations including UNICEF. However, as the annual report of UNICEF pointed out, there are still many children who are affected by natural disasters and excluded from essential goods and services, including vaccines, micronutrients, schools, health-care facilities, water and sanitation. Japan will make further efforts to contribute in these areas based on our experience.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairperson, the delegation of Japan wishes to reaffirm its strong commitment to working with other Member States, international organizations and civil society to create a better future for the children around the world.
Thank you very much.
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