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Statement by H.E. Mr. Norihiro Okuda
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan
on Human rights situations (Item 64 (c))
Sixty-third session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
29 October 2008
This year we celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration was adopted at a time when the world had been devastated by the Second World War and the problems of racial discrimination, restricted speech, and inequality were rampant. It was a low tide in human events, and people began to long for a world in which there was no discrimination against anyone, regardless of their race, color, belief, or social status. The Declaration was written and adopted in order to promote the protection of these basic freedoms, and it is now one of the most universally accepted human rights instruments. As a result of the efforts that have been made in the last sixty years to realize its principles, far more people around the world today live in societies where their basic rights are protected.
In 2006, the Commission on Human Rights, which drafted such instruments as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and promoted the mainstreaming of human rights in the UN system, was replaced by the Human Rights Council. It is expected that this new body will be guided by the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, and that it will be devoted to dialogue and cooperation, focusing on the implementation of measures to improve human rights situations on the ground.
In 2008, the Human Rights Council began to conduct the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), and Japan was reviewed in May of this year. In order to ensure that the UPR continues to be an effective mechanism, it is vital that Member States participate actively and then implement measures recommended at the UPR. As a member of the Council, Japan hopes the review will be successful in improving the situation with regard to human rights situation all around the world.
I would just add that Japan supports the efforts of the OHCHR to increase its presence as a means of providing appropriate assistance to every country based on its needs on the ground.
Japan believes that dialogue and cooperation are the best means of promoting human rights.
One of the approaches that Japan takes in order to enhance understanding and promote consideration of the possibility of cooperation in effecting improvements is to engage in bilateral dialogue. Recently, for example, Japan participated in a dialogue with Cambodia. This was an exchange that helped Japan afterwards to promote understanding of the initiatives Cambodia had taken to address its situation and the agenda it had drawn up for further efforts. But it also provided our two countries with an opportunity to discuss areas of potential bilateral cooperation. Examples of such cooperation are the assistance the Government of Japan has been providing the Government of Cambodia in the drafting of a civil code and a civil procedure act, and also in moving the Khmer Rouge Trials forward. We will continue to utilize dialogue as a means of achieving mutual understanding and discovering areas in which we can possibly be of assistance.
Japan further welcomes the initiative the Government of Sri Lanka has taken in drafting a National Action Plan on human rights. The proactive efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka in this area are indispensable, and we intend to continue to provide it with capacity-building assistance for those endeavors. We understand the importance of maintaining stability. However, we expect Sri Lanka to work to protect internally displaced persons and promote and protect human rights.
In general, the world human rights situation is improving. Unfortunately, however, violations continue to be committed. The United Nations must act quickly to stop such injustices from being done and send the message that the international community is truly committed to safeguarding the rights of people everywhere.
The Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur have made it clear in their reports that systematic human rights violations are still widespread in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The DPRK should provide a concrete response to these charges.
The DPRK has not yet implemented its commitment to commence an investigation into the abduction issue. The Government of Japan remains committed to pursuing its basic policy of normalizing its relationship with the DPRK, in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, by comprehensively resolving the outstanding issues of concern, including the abductions and the nuclear and the missile issues, and by settling the "unfortunate past". We urge the DPRK for its part to implement its commitment to establish an investigation committee and commence the investigation without delay.
Japan appreciates the Government of Myanmar's decision to receive the visit of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Quintana. We sincerely hope that it will extend its cooperation to the United Nations and the Special Adviser, Mr. Gambari, and their endeavor to use their good offices to promote progress, by engaging in dialogue and concrete actions that can be expected to lead to democratization and improvement of the human rights situation. We further hope it will do so in a form that will make it possible for all parties concerned to participate.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman,
Every country must work tirelessly to promote and protect human rights. This goes for Japan as well, and my Government is working with determination to improve its legal system and resolve any lingering human rights problems. Japan also will continue to contribute to international efforts, especially within the United Nations, to further improve human rights situations in other parts of the world.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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