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Statement by Ambassador Yukio Takasu
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations

At the General Assembly Thematic Debate on Human Security
New York, 22 May 2008

Mr. President,

Thank you for your initiative in convening the General Assembly thematic debate on human security. I would also like to extend warmest appreciation to the inspiring statement by His Royal Highness Prince El-Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan.

(Concept of Human Security)

In the outcome document of the World Summit in 2005, our political leaders committed themselves "to discussing and defining the notion of human security in the General Assembly." By meeting here today, we are honoring our commitment and availing ourselves of an important opportunity to initiate that discussion. The outcome document agreed that this notion is to be defined based on a common understanding that "all individuals, in particular vulnerable people, are entitled to freedom from fear and freedom from want, with an equal opportunity to enjoy all their rights and fully develop their human potential."

In order to follow up that agreement, Japan, together with Mexico as co-chairs, has organized an open ended, informal forum called Friends of Human Security (FHS) every six months since October 2006 to explore collaborative efforts for mainstreaming human security in United Nations activities. Under the umbrella of the framework of FHS, countries interested in specific issues will collectively promote cooperation efforts in the UN activities. The report A/62/695 contains a list of related activities of FHS. I am very grateful to the representatives of more than 86 countries and 18 international organizations who attended the fourth meeting of FHS a week ago. FHS has come to the recognition that, rather than focusing on elaborating a legal definition of the concept, we should pursue concrete collaboration on the basis of a common understanding of the broad concept contained in the outcome document. This common understanding is in line with the working definition provided by the Commission on Human Security; "to protect the vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedom and human fulfillment." The absence of a legally defined definition will not deter concrete collaboration. We should focus our efforts and resources on specific activities to extend support for the life, livelihood and dignity of vulnerable people and communities which are placed under various threats and insecurities.

From time to time, we have heard it asked, how is this concept different from other concepts such as the responsibility to protect? Our response is that human security is a human centered approach to global issues. It is consistent with the letter and spirit of the Charter of the United Nations, and promoted in full respect of national sovereignty. Human security is complimentary to state security. It is a concept which underlines the need to provide the environment under which individuals can develop fully their potential to enjoy a healthy and happy life, and communities become more resilient against sudden downfall. And it embraces a culture of empowerment and prevention to avoid the outbreak of humanitarian crisis.

(Essence of Human Security)

Human security is, in essence, the belief that a human being, irrespective of where he or she is born, is entitled to live a healthy, dignified, fulfilling life, and should be allowed to develop his or her ability to the maximum extent possible. And it is a concern of not only states, but also the international community as a whole.

We believe there are three key points.

First, it is a human-centered approach in tackling global issues, putting the livelihood and dignity of individuals and communities at the center of our focus.

Second, it requires us to take not a piecemeal approach but an integrated, holistic and multi-sectoral approach, comprising of physical security, development and human rights. It will be possible to respond to a wide range of threats such as conflict and violence, poverty, underdevelopment, infectious disease, human rights violations and natural disasters.

Third, the strategy we should follow is to protect and empower individuals and their communities. Protective strategies shield people from harm. Empowerment strategies help people to increase their resilience so that they can survive downturns and difficult conditions. In other words, human security puts the emphasis on prevention through empowerment of individuals and communities.

(Added Value)

Such a human centered, integrated approach provides additional invaluable dimension to address global challenges.

First, by putting human needs in the security context, it helps raising higher political attention and support to these global issues.

Second, the human security approach is not content with a general approach of aggregating of country or people as a whole, but it insists on improvement in the livelihood and dignity of individuals and the communities. The human security approach is therefore essential to achieve the MDGs, because achievement of MDGs must be measured by to what extent the livelihood of individuals have improved in achieving the target in reduction of poverty, access to health services and education, clean water and sanitation.

Third, progress and results should be evaluated not by input of how much has been spent, but output of what has been achieved?real impact in people's lives.

Fourth, rising food prices, climate change and natural disasters are clear reminders that they affect most severely vulnerable people and a human centered approach is of vital importance to mitigate negative impact.

(Way Forward)

Members of FHS agreed to work together to take the lead in mainstreaming human security in the following areas of UN activities: climate change, MDGs, rising food prices, peacebuilding, human rights education, gender-based violence and protection of children under conflict. We need to work together and collectively address these issues at the forthcoming high-level event on the MDGs in September, the Peacebuilding Commission, Human Rights Council, and other appropriate fora.

(Japan's Role)

Japan has taken various initiatives in promoting the broad concept of human security over the last ten years. To support the efforts of UN organizations to implement human security related projects on the ground, Japan has contributed 314 million US dollars to the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, which is ably managed by the Human Security Unit of OCHA and which financed more than 175 projects in approximately 70 countries. In TICAD-IV in Yokohama next week, human security is one of the principal topics of discussion in achieving MDGs and consolidation of peace. The outcome will be reflected in the discussion on development issues at the G8 Summit in July.

Japan intends to cooperate though FHS and with interested delegations to advance the mainstreaming of this valuable perspective in global challenges the UN is tackling with.

Thank you very much.

Related Information (Human Security)
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations Official Web Site other site

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