Statement by Ambassador Yukio Takasu
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At the General Debate of the Second Committee of the 62nd General Assembly
8 October 2007
Let me begin by joining the previous speakers in congratulating Ambassador Lintonen on assuming the Chair of the Second Committee. I assure you of my delegation's support as you lead our deliberations.
First, I would like to discuss the usefulness of human security approach on the work of the Second Committee, because we believe that the human security approach offers useful guidance as we seek solutions to the challenges posed by global development issues.
The concept of human security is based on the belief that every human being is entitled to live a healthy, dignified and fulfilling life, regardless of where he or she is born. As economic activities have expanded and globalization has intensified, threats to people's lives, livelihoods and dignity, such as conflict, poverty, infectious diseases, environmental degradation and global warming, have multiplied. All people should be protected from fear and insecurity and be empowered and allowed to develop their abilities to the fullest extent possible. Such human-centered development in a secure environment is the essence of this concept. The benefits of this approach are manifest in the equitable development of many countries in the world, including Japan and Southeast Asian countries after serious Asian financial crisis of 1997-98.
1. MDGs and Development Assistance
We are approaching the midpoint between the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the 2015 deadline. At this critical juncture, progress towards the goals must be monitored closely, and the remaining challenges must be identified and remedial actions taken.
Japan is encouraged that the 2007 report on the MDGs indicates that progress is being made in several areas. In particular, remarkable progress has been made in elimination of poverty in many parts of Asia. The proportion of people living in extreme poverty fell from nearly one-third to less than one-fifth between 1990 and 2004. Enrolment in primary education grew from 80 percent in 1991 to 88 percent in 2005. According to UNICEF, the number of deaths of children under five fell below ten million for the first time since record keeping began. This is a real milestone.
The report also indicates that much remains to be done. Almost one billion people still live in extreme poverty. Over half a million of women still die each year from treatable and preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Nearly 1.6 billion people still lack access to improved sanitation.
It is clear that the international community must redouble its efforts to achieve the MDGs. When it comes to development assistance, actions speak louder than words. As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states in the foreword of the report, "The world wants no new promises." Indeed, meeting commitments, not making them, is what is important now. Japan, for its part, is striving to meet its commitment to increase its ODA volume by $10 billion in aggregate between 2005 and 2009.
The quality of assistance is just as important as the quantity, and it depends largely on how effectively assistance is delivered to people and communities in need. In other words, to be of quality, assistance must contribute to meeting human security needs. And progress must be measured in terms of real change in the field.
To improve aid effectiveness, developing countries must play a part by exercising ownership and endeavoring to strengthen fiscal discipline and governance. Meeting the basic needs of human security is the core responsibility of governments. It is also necessary that development actors, including traditional and emerging donors, vertical funds and private foundations, work in a transparent manner and create synergies by coordinating their assistance based on the Paris Declaration, so as to maximize aid effectiveness.
Under the leadership of the President of the General Assembly, a review of the Monterey Consensus on Financing for Development is now underway. Japan supports this process and will participate actively in the discussions at the high-level dialogue later this month and the follow-up international conference in Doha next year.
2. African Development
We cannot achieve the MDGs without realizing African development. Africa as a whole is now undergoing positive change. Many countries are growing robustly. At the same time, however, many are struggling with threats to human security, including poverty, hunger, conflict and infectious diseases, and lagging behind in progress towards the goals.
For Africa to become a more vibrant continent, progress must be made in three areas. First, economic growth must be enhanced and sustained. Second, human security needs to be ensured through the achievement of the MDGs, the consolidation of peace and democratization. Finally, environmental issues and climate change must be addressed.
Japan is advancing steadily to fulfill its commitment to doubling its ODA to Africa by the end of this year. At the same time, Japan's assistance is yielding tangible benefits for people and communities. For example, to prevent malaria, Japan is distributing ten million long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets in Africa. And I must tell you that this mosquito net is of different quality and long-lasting because of special treatment. As of May this year, 8.4 million nets have been distributed -- enough to prevent the death of 160,000 African children. The UN Trust Fund for Human Security has also financed many worthwhile projects aimed at helping people lead dignified lives.
Next May, Japan, together with the UN, the UNDP, and the World Bank, will host the fourth meeting of Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV). The TICAD preparatory process, which is open to all stakeholders, emphasizes national ownership and true partnership between Africa and the international community. We hope that TICAD IV will mobilize the knowledge and resources of the international community for African development.
The Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review (TCPR) is critically important to ensure the effectiveness of the operational activities of the entire UN system. The 2007 TCPR should reflect the recommendations of the High-level Panel on System-wide Coherence and the relevant discussions at the General Assembly in order to enhance coherence of the UN system. In particular, the results of the eight pilot programs must be carefully analyzed and evaluated. With regard to the One UN at the country level, the UNDP's dual role needs to be clearly delineated to improve the function of the resident coordinator system.
Allow me to make one point here. Negotiations on development strategies have as of late become more protracted and difficult. The relationship between human rights and development, in particular, has become a polarizing issue. Let us keep in mind that peace, development and human rights are part of a nexus and must be addressed together in order to have long-lasting sustainable development, and that is stipulated in the 2005 World Summit Outcome. Sustainable human-centered development cannot be achieved without pursuing this nexus in an integrated manner.
4. Climate Change
Climate change has major implications for human security, since the brunt of the effects of climate change -- famine, environmental degradation and natural disasters hit the most vulnerable people. The Secretary-General convened a high-level meeting on 24 September, which mustered the political will of world leaders to tackle climate change through concerted action. The President of the General Assembly has also chosen climate change as one of his priority issues. Japan welcomes these initiatives.
Japan proposed the target of reducing global emissions of greenhouse gases to half of current levels by 2050. Japan also proposed three principles for establishing an effective post-2012 framework for action on climate change. First, all major emitters must participate in the framework; second, the framework must be flexible, inclusive and diverse; and third, compatibility between environmental protection and economic growth must be primarily achieved through the development of environmental technologies. We also proposed creating a new financial mechanism to support countries with high aspirations that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve economic growth in a compatible way. I hope that the deliberations at the Second Committee will contribute to successful negotiations in Bali. Japan, for its part, will work for a major step towards an international agreement on a new framework at next year's G-8 Hokkaido-Toyako Summit and will feed the results back into the UN process.
I believe that the human security approach and community-based development will contribute greatly to the solution of the many threats facing vulnerable people. Japan is committed to the consolidation of peace and effective cooperation and is prepared to contribute to the promotion of healthy, dignified and fulfilling lives for people around the world.
Thank you very much.
Back to Index