(As delivered)

Statement by H.E. Mr. Norihiro Okuda
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan
on Human rights situations (Item 69(c))

Third Committee
Sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
New York
27 October 2009

Mr. Chairman,

As a result of the prolonged global economic and financial crisis, there continue to be numerous obstacles to economic prosperity. Under the circumstances, it is vitally important to promote and protect human rights around the world. In particular, we must attend to the needs of vulnerable groups, including women and children.

Although the primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights lies with individual governments, the international community can and should express concern when it is warranted. For this reason, through an approach based on dialogue and cooperation, Japan continues to support the efforts of countries to enhance respect for human rights, always taking into account the history, tradition, and culture of the country concerned.

Mr. Chairman,

We are encouraged by the efforts and progress being made by the Government and people of Cambodia in the area of human rights and democratization, especially considering that Cambodia is a country coming to terms with a tragic past. We welcome in particular the developments that have taken place with respect to enhancing the rule of law, including the democratic general elections held last year, the commencement of the Khmer Rouge trials, and the adoption of the Criminal Code and the National Disability Law by the National Assembly.

Japan strongly supports the Khmer Rouge trials, as they will go a long way towards strengthening the rule of law and rendering justice where serious crimes have been committed. Japan has been extending support to the trials in the form of financial and human resources, and it hopes that they will be carried out expeditiously.

We also welcome the recent consensus adoption by the Human Rights Council of the resolution on technical assistance and capacity-building in Cambodia, which also extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. We are pleased that the process by which this result was achieved was based on dialogue and cooperation.

In Sri Lanka, the resettlement of a number of internal displaced persons (IDPs) must be addressed urgently as a matter of the highest priority. We encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to continue to work closely with international organizations and donors in doing so. It is also important to publicize more widely the efforts of Sri Lanka with respect to human rights and humanitarian issues. Japan for its part will cooperate fully with other actors concerned to bring about an improvement in this area.

It is also Japan's view that bilateral efforts such as dialogue on human rights issues and development assistance can effectively complement and create synergies with the work being done in multilateral fora including the United Nations. To this end, Japan has undertaken human rights dialogues with more than ten countries, particularly in Asia.

In this context, we welcome the recent inauguration of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). The establishment of this new commission is an important step toward strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights in the region. Japan also welcomes the trend taking place within ASEAN toward the expansion of cooperation in democratization, including the Bali Democracy Forum to be hosted by Indonesia in December this year. Japan will cooperate with ASEAN in both of these areas.

Mr. Chairman,

Special procedures relating to the country-specific mandates that have been established by the international community do not compete with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) conducted by the Human Rights Council; rather, they complement it. Special procedures facilitate dialogue between the countries in question and the international community. Especially where there are continued systematic and serious human rights violations, special procedures should play the maximum role possible in effecting improvements.

We are deeply concerned about the serious human rights situation in the DPRK reported by the Special Rapporteur, Professor Muntarbhorn. Despite repeated calls by the international community, there continue to be systematic and serious violations of these rights. We are especially concerned about infringement of the right to food, particularly of children, severe punishment of citizens expelled or returned from abroad, and the abduction issue. On this last matter of abductions, despite the agreement concluded by Japan and the DPRK in August last year and commitments by the representative of the DPRK before this Committee in November last year, there simply have been no developments. As Prime Minister Hatoyama affirmed in the General Assembly last month, constructive action by the DPRK, including swift commencement of a full investigation as agreed last year, would provide an avenue towards progress in Japan-DPRK relations. If the DPRK were to take such action in good faith, Japan would respond positively. Unfortunately, we continue to await constructive action by the DPRK.

On Myanmar, Japan deeply regrets that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to imprisonment in August. On the other hand, we welcome the release of over a hundred political prisoners and resumption of dialogue between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the Government last month as positive steps. Japan urges the Government of Myanmar to release all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and take further positive steps to promote a fully inclusive democratization process before the general elections scheduled to take place in 2010.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman,

Japan is pleased that within the short span of only three months the Security Council has adopted three resolutions under the agendas "Children and armed conflict" and "Women and peace and security" that enhance the international community's response to the need to protect and empower women and children affected by armed conflict.

And I wish to reaffirm the commitment of my Government, as a current member of the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, to continue to contribute to international efforts to further improve the situation of human rights, promote democracy, and strengthen the rule of law everywhere in the world.

Thank you very much.

Related Information (Human Rights)
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