Statement by Dr. Nobuko Kurosaki
Alternate Representative of Japan
On Implementation of human rights instruments (Item 70(a))
and Celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Item 70(f))
62nd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
23 October 2007
On 10 December 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted as "a common standard of achievement for all persons and all nations" in the area of human rights and fundamental freedom.
Next year will mark the sixtieth year since the adoption of the Declaration. While we have witnessed significant progress, we have to admit that grave human rights violations continue to take place in many parts of the world. The fact is, fundamental human rights are not acquired as a matter of course, but promoted only through determined and tireless efforts by individuals, civil society and states.
The Government of Japan firmly believes that human rights are universal values, and thus, must be promoted and protected in every part of the world. In this regard, we highly appreciate the role that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Office are playing and we intend to continue to cooperate and coordinate activities with the OHCHR. We also support the activities of the Human Rights Council so that it will carry out its mandate and perform its role in accordance with the expectations of the international community.
Japan has ratified the six principal human rights instruments and has been implementing them earnestly. In addition, Japan observes the week ending 10 December, which is the day the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted, as "Human Rights Week." This is an annual and nationwide observance for dissemination and promotion of the idea of respect for human rights, which has been initiated since the year after the adoption of the Declaration. This year, when we observe the fifty-ninth Human Rights Week, we are going to emphasize respect for the human rights of women, children, aged persons, persons with disabilities, foreigners and persons with HIV/AIDS or leprosy, among others. Today human rights are being violated in ways not envisioned at the time of the Declaration. Thus, during the Human Rights Week, we will also address the violation of human rights through abuse of the Internet.
Japan attaches great importance to the role of the United Nations in establishing universal standards and norms in the field of human rights.
This February, it signed the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and in September, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As we believe that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will help greatly to promote the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities, and we are considering to ratify it at as early a date as possible.
Recently, it was pointed out that there are serious problems with the reporting system of the principal human rights treaties as presently constituted. State parties tend to delay or sometimes fail to submit their reports due to the excessive burden of preparation imposed on them. The committees, for their part, are unable to keep up with the volume of important works before them and backlogs of reports have been accumulated. Another problem is that as the number of human rights treaties increases, so do the work of the treaty bodies, the membership of the committees, the number of sessions they must hold, and the financial burden that must be shouldered. As we have experienced the problems that have arisen, we would like to see government reports more streamlined.
Duplication of information in the reports is another issue of concern. Furthermore, it is also often pointed out that there is a persistent gap between actual implementation of treaties by contracting parties at the national level and the views that treaty bodies may have about deficiencies in such implementation that we have to tackle. All of these problems are causing serious damages to the very reliability of the system.
On the other hand, the idea of building a unified treaty body, which was presented by the High Commissioner for Human Rights as a solution to these problems, has several problems in itself, including its working methods, securing of qualified experts, and the expense involved in managing the new body.
We will continue to participate actively in the discussions on the reform of treaty bodies so that the system will function more effectively and efficiently, and we note with appreciation the efforts of the High Commissioner, her Office and treaty bodies in this regard.
Based on its own experience, Japan believes it is important for all of us to recognize anew that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is indispensable to realize peace and prosperity. For its part, Japan will make every effort, in close cooperation with the United Nations and the international community, to make our common goals in this area a reality.
We hope that our views are shared by many other countries, and that in this sixtieth year since the adoption of the Universal Declaration, we make progress towards ending serious violations of human rights such as those that unfortunately continue to come to the attention of the United Nations and the international community.
Thank you very much.
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