Statement by H.E. Mr. Takahiro Shinyo
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
on the Report of the Human Rights Council (Item 65)

Third Committee
Sixty-second Session of the General Assembly
New York
6 November 2007

Mr. Chairman,

Due to continuing efforts on the part of the international community, there has been a general improvement in the world with regard to the situation of human rights, an improvement that parallels the trend towards democratization and increased respect for the rule of law. The Commission for Human Rights contributed to that progress by establishing norms and addressing human rights violations wherever they occurred. And yet we know that grave violations are still being committed. It is therefore crucial for the international community, through the United Nations and other fora, to remain vigilant and continue to take effective action when necessary.

The establishment of the Human Rights Council was one of the major outcomes of the World Summit in 2005 and took place in the context of the movement to reform the United Nations. It is also a significant step forward in the effort to mainstream human rights in United Nations activities. Japan welcomes and wishes to express its appreciation for the report of the Council before us, including resolution 5/1 on institution building, which lays the foundation for the work the Council will be doing from here on out. It should be endorsed as is by the Third Committee and the General Assembly which are universal bodies. Respect is certainly due for all the diligent work that was done in Geneva, and for the wisdom that emerged from the discussions there.

Mr. Chairman,

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) established by resolution 5/1 is a unique and distinct mechanism that provides us with a means of assessing the human rights situation of all Member States without discrimination or favor. It is expected to enhance respect for human rights worldwide by identifying problems wherever they occur and specifying the assistance that is needed to ameliorate them. In May Next year, Japan will become one of the first countries to be reviewed with this new mechanism. It intends to cooperate fully with the review process, and it urges all Member States to do the same.

Resolution 5/1 retains the Special Procedure, which contributes to the effective functioning of the Human Rights Council. Although we believe that human rights have universal value, in practice we need to take into account the history, tradition, and culture of the country concerned when we are dealing with alleged violations. We believe those experts who were given mandates by the Human Rights Council should give us the benefit of their insight, from the perspective of those mandate, into the measures they think should be taken by the Human Rights Council and the Third Committee.

The HRC is expected to develop into a forum which contributes to strengthening the capacity of states and communities to implement principles, rules, and standards, and thus to make a difference on the ground in the protection and promotion of human rights.

To that end, the international community should support all states that strive to improve their human rights situation by advancing democracy and strengthening the rule of law. Japan believes that when a country has strong democratic institutions, it contributes to peace and prosperity both at home and in the world as a whole. Therefore it will continue to support self-help efforts on the part of any states engaging in them.

We earnestly hope that the Council will find a way to foster a new spirit of international cooperation and establish a set of best practices to be followed in addressing human rights issues, particularly in tackling massive and grave violations of human rights. Success in this endeavor will enable the international community to act decisively, swiftly, and in a manner tailored to each specific situation.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman,

It is the responsibility of the international community, especially members of the Human Rights Council, to ensure that this new body develops into a forum that helps to strengthen the capacity of states to comply with their obligations with regard to human rights. As a member of the Council, Japan is committed to playing an active and constructive role in improving the world human rights situation on the basis of cooperation and genuine dialogue. I assure you that it will therefore continue to do its utmost to support the efforts of the United Nations, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in this vitally important area.

Thank you very much.

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