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Statement by Mr. Yasushi Takase
Delegation of Japan
On Agenda Item 67(a): Implementation of human rights instruments
Sixty-first Session of the General Assembly
17 October 2006
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.
The government of Japan believes that full implementation of human rights instruments is essential for the universal promotion and protection of human rights. Today, my delegation would like to focus our statement on the issue of the human rights treaty bodies reform, as a very important matter we must continue to address.
Let me begin by referring with great satisfaction to two recent advances in the area of human rights treaties. First is the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance by the Human Rights Council in its first session in June. Japan participated actively in the working group that elaborated this convention, in the belief that it could become a powerful tool to combat and eventually eradicate this terrible crime worldwide.
Secondly, two months ago, here in New York, the Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly reached a consensus on the text of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its optional protocol. The Ad Hoc Committee showed us an unique case that NGOs participated actively in the process of negotiation. The Japanese delegation itself received insightful input from NGOs, which contributed in many ways to improve the draft text of the convention.
The Government of Japan strongly supports an early adoption of these two new conventions by the General Assembly this year.
We welcome these developments towards the enhancement of the United Nations human rights treaty system. However, the creation of the eighth and ninth human rights treaties, may impose on States parties increased obligations to submit reports, worsening the current situation of overdue or non-submission of reports, which impairs the ability of treaty bodies to function properly. Duplication of the work done by treaty bodies would increase. The current 115 members of treaty bodies will rise to 137 after the entry into force of the two new conventions, and the total session time will be substantially longer than the current 57 weeks per year. Finally, in light of the further increases of financial burden for the maintenance of treaty system, we should pay more attention to enhancing the efficiency of this system.
In our current situation, Madame Louise Arbour, High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented a concept paper for the establishment of a unified treaty body. With careful examination, we found that several subjects need to be discussed in greater detail, such as new working methods, qualification of experts members, and its cost performance. My delegation hopes to have opportunities to discuss these concerns among States parties.
At the same time, Japan believes it is an urgent task for States parties to make efforts to streamline state reports. Japan participated in the discussion on the harmonized guidelines on reporting under the international human rights treaties, however, we are not fully satisfied with the outcome. Some parts of the guidelines still need to be clarified and supplemented, especially those that relate to classification of the common core documents and the treaty-specific documents. Therefore, it would be practical if each Member State continues its endeavors in increasing precision and efficiency in reporting, while referring to harmonized guidelines as an useful reference. It is also important for States parties to share views and information on good practices related to reporting. The existing treaty bodies for their part should strive to make the work of States parties easier, especially through the unification of working methods.
My delegation believes that the United Nations human rights treaty system, with the intensive monitoring bodies composed of independent and highly qualified experts, plays a pivotal role in protecting and promoting human rights. Reform initiatives must benefit all encompassing stakeholders. Our delegation would like to reiterate the firm intention of continuous contribution to discussions aimed at making the human rights treaty system more effective and efficient.
Thank you very much.
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