Statement by H.E. Ambassador Kenzo Oshima
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
On the Informal Thematic Consultation of Cluster III
19 April, 2005
Issues under Cluster III - the rule of law, human rights and democracy - were treated with the importance they deserve by the Secretary-General in his report as one of the core activities of the United Nations, along with development and peace and security, and we agree with this emphasis. While much has been achieved over the years and credit must be given where it is due, it remains a fact that the current UN system confronts enormous challenges in dealing, for example, with human rights violations in many parts of the world. My delegation therefore renders its support for attaining tangible, positive results at the September summit on issues dealt with under this Cluster, as part of our concerted efforts towards revitalization and reform of the UN. And to that end Japan will spare no effort to work with the President, Facilitators and member states.
In my remarks, I would first like to underscore the importance of the concept of "human security" to our consideration of freedom to live in dignity, and then briefly discuss the rule of law, human rights and democracy.
Let me start with "human security". We are in complete agreement with the Secretary-General when he states that development and peace and security are closely inter-related and that neither will be achieved without respect for human dignity. Unlike in the past when the states monopolized the rights and means to protect their citizens, a globalized, more complex world of today requires a fresh approach that gives greater attention to the human security aspects of individual women and men and their freedom to live in dignity. Attaining welfare, dignity and self-respect in the conditions of security at the individual level is, after all, the ultimate goal of human development. This idea was articulated in the report submitted to the Secretary-General in 2003 by the Commission on Human Security, from which I quote:
Human security complements state security, enhances human rights and strengthens human development. It seeks to protect people against a broad range of threats to individuals and communities and, further, to empower them to act on their own behalf.... Human security thus brings together the human elements of security, of rights, of development.
Understood as such, the concept of "human security" was mentioned in the High-level Panel report as an important concept. Although the Secretary-General's report did not have a specific reference to this key concept, we propose that "human security" be given the place it deserves in the outcome document of the September summit.
In fact, the Charter of the United Nations states, in its preamble, that we the peoples "reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person." This is the very idea of "human security."
Rather, member states' attention was driven to the concept of "responsibility to protect". While embracing this notion, we do wish to reemphasize the importance of attacking the problems at their root, first and foremost, through normal, non-military and preventive means, and thereby reducing the chances of those problems escalating into full-blown hostilities inviting interventions using force.
In this connection, let me add one point regarding humanitarian assistance. One of the UN's core activities and one that the international community highly appreciates is humanitarian relief and assistance. And we are witnessing daily the increase at alarming rates in dire humanitarian situations arising from complex emergencies and natural disasters. This clearly shows the need for the international community to be more generous and quick in response. We therefore support the Secretary-General's call that UN humanitarian response system, though it is treated under Cluster IV, needs to be strengthened so that the organization can fulfill its core activities effectively.
One issue in the discussion of the rule of law, putting an end to impunity, is extensively debated as an important goal. We fully share that freedom to live in dignity is bolstered by the fight to end the culture of impunity. In the recent months, much has been reported and discussed about the human tragedy and accountability in many conflict situations, including the Darfur region of the Sudan. Khmer Rouge in Cambodia is another salient case where we are making efforts to bring those responsible for crimes against humanity to justice. Japan has worked closely with the UN Secretariat and interested Member States towards the realization of Khmer Rouge trials in a way that respects and secures a sense of ownership of the process by the Cambodian people. The Khmer Rouge trials are in the last stages of preparation, and in light of the strong commitment by Member States demonstrated during the recent pledging conference, it is important to commence immediately the process of setting up the Extraordinary Chambers.
We highly appreciate the Secretary-General's initiative to hold the important treaty event, focusing on thirty one treaties relating to the protection of civilians. Among these treaties, the Japanese Diet is currently deliberating on the"Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons" and the "Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants."
In providing protection and assistance to the vulnerable populations, the plight of internally displaced persons have drawn much deserved attention because of growing number and difficulties arising from legal as well as practical dimensions. The Secretary-General urges member states to accept the "Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement", developed by former RSG Francis Deng, as the basic international norm, and to adopt the principles through national legislation. Although this particular aspect may belong to Cluster IV, the IDP issue is very relevant to our discussion today. The IDP issue "falls into the cracks between different humanitarian bodies", as the Secretary-General states, and we support that the upcoming summit will endorse an appropriate action that will improve the fate of many tens of millions of IDPs in line with the Secretary-General's recommendation.
Japan agrees with the Secretary-General on the need to strengthen the work of the International Court of Justice. The ICJ's role in settling international disputes is very important, and the Court should be empowered to serve as the core of an international legal system that can deal with the new situations facing today's ever-changing world.
We welcome the Secretary-General's stress on the importance of human rights, and support his efforts to reform the United Nations human rights machinery. Rules and norms certainly are important, and the two covenants and other relevant UN conventions continue to serve as a beacon for promoting human rights. They need to be implemented, however, and we therefore should focus more on making agreed norms realities.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has the huge potential to improve human rights situations through its technical assistance for capacity building. We support the strengthening of the office and have high expectations for the plan of action that it is now preparing. We also support a more active role for the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the deliberations of the Security Council and a future Peace Building Commission, whose establishment we support, in order to ensure that sufficient attention is paid to human rights.
Sometimes reporting to treaty bodies imposes too much paperwork on Member States and deprives them of time and resources that would otherwise be devoted to implementation. In this regard, we support the harmonization of the guidelines on reporting to all treaty bodies as well as the reform of those bodies with a view to enabling them to discharge their important review functions more effectively and efficiently.
As an effort to strengthen our ability to improve human rights situations, we support in principle the establishment of a Human Rights Council. We are now giving careful consideration to the details provided in the Secretary-General's non-paper and are looking forward to further discussion, including options as to whether it should be placed under the General Assembly as its subsidiary body or become a principal organ of the United Nations.
Promoting democracy is another important role of the United Nations, and its capacity to do so should be enhanced, in particular to better assist those countries in transition to democracy. To that end, the idea of establishing a Democracy Fund deserves support. At the same time, close coordination must be ensured among the many bodies within the United Nations system which are involved in activities related to the promotion of democracy, including the UNDP and the Department of Political Affairs. Further discussion is also needed concerning the specific nature of the fund to be established so that contributions will be used efficiently and effectively.
In our discussion on recommendations under Cluster III, we should not allow ourselves to become bogged down in details at the expense of important principles that need to be upheld. There are cases such as a Human Rights Council where we could first agree on important principles and then discuss details within a reasonable timeframe. We should fully utilize the historic opportunity of the reform of the United Nations to produce tangible results in Cluster III issues along with other Clusters. We stand ready to contribute actively to that end.
Thank you very much.
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