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Statement by Ms. Azusa Shinohara
Alternate Representative of Japan
on Item 65: Promotion and protection of the rights of children
64th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
15 October 2009
In the year 1989, when the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the General Assembly, the international community renewed its commitment to progress in this area and made major strides toward reassuring all children of their rights regardless of where they live, including the right to survival, care and development. In this year marking the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the CRC, it is promising that a large number of States parties have been endeavoring to implement the rights set forth in the Convention, including the two optional protocols. We should nevertheless bear in mind how much more there is to be done. In recognition of its general principles and with particular reference to non-discrimination (Article 2), the best interests of the child (Article 3), the right to life (Article 6) and the right to be heard (Article 12), the Government of Japan would like to commit every effort possible to advocate this Convention towards not only children themselves but all other individuals in society. Moreover, we would like to make it possible for every child to be able to grow up in a healthy social environment, and we can assure you that we shall work actively to that end, in cooperation with the international community.
Concerning the resolution on the rights of the child (A/RES/63/241) adopted by the General Assembly at its sixty-third session, we have expressed great concern over the fact that approximately 220 million children in the world today are involved in child labor. More than half of them are involved in its very worst forms, such as sexual exploitation, trafficking, or forced labor, including the use of children in armed conflicts resulting from forced or compulsory recruitment. All do harm seriously to children, and to their mental, physical and moral development. The report that the Secretary-General has presented this year (A/64/172) in accordance with the resolution just mentioned touches upon the role of education as one of the key strategies to combat the problem of child labor. We welcome the report and regard it as quite useful.
By providing children with educational opportunities, we are making it possible for them to acquire basic knowledge and skills that will enable them to participate in the activities of their society. With such knowledge and skills, they will gain a broader array of choices with regards to their future lives, and the way for them to escape poverty will have been paved. This idea is entirely consistent with the concept of human security, which the Government of Japan has been actively promoting. Human security is the concept which focuses on individuals and aims to secure people's lives, livelihoods and dignity through protection from critical and pervasive threats and empowerment. To implement this concept through projects in the field, Japan supports a variety of projects through the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security. For instance, in Senegal, it has supported the "Inter-agency Programme for Improving the Situation of Children at Risk," implemented by ILO and UNICEF in cooperation with the Government of Senegal. The goal of this project is to liberate children from labor and provide them with education, vocational training and health care.
It is through capacity-building that people acquire their rights, including the right to participate in the decision-making processes of society, and these are the means by which they can take direct action to overcome inequality. To this end, ensuring education for every child is clearly a critical step in the right direction.
In addition to the international call to combat the challenges we are facing with child labor, there has been remarkable movement internationally on the issue of the sexual exploitation of children. The Third World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents took place last November in Rio de Janeiro, seven years after the Second World Congress held in Yokohama. We were pleased that there were over 3,000 participants from all over the world at the Rio Congress, and that it was possible to hold discussions that reflected the different perspectives and input of the stakeholders who are dealing with this issue. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the Government of Brazil, UNICEF, ECPAT International and the CRC NGO Group for all the work that went into hosting this meeting.
The rapid development and widespread use of information technology and the Internet have focused increased attention on the issue of child pornography, putting it on the global agenda and making it clear that action is urgently required. The Government of Japan would like to express its commitment to strengthening efforts in this area in cooperation with the international community on the basis of the Rio Declaration, as part of the broader efforts to combat sexual exploitation of all kinds.
There have also been some major developments regarding sexual violence against children in the context of children and armed conflict. Japan welcomes the Security Council resolution 1882, adopted unanimously in August, which expands listing criteria in the annexes of the annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict to rape and other sexual violence as well as killing and maiming. We believe it is important to continue to address this issue and send a strong political message to those who have committed grave violations of the rights of children. Furthermore, we are of the view that it is important for the entire international community to continue assistance and monitor the implementation of this new resolution.
We also welcome the fact that the issue of children and armed conflict has been mainstreamed within the framework of the United Nations Human Rights Forum. This is of vital importance, although understanding how productively and effectively the existing tools we have can be utilized remains a challenge.
Children are our hope for the future. I would like to conclude my statement by reiterating that the Government of Japan is willing to engage and cooperate actively with actors including Member States, international organizations, NGOs and civil society so that the entire international community will unite behind one guiding principle, respect the rights of the child, and create a better society for children everywhere.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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