Statement by H.E. Ambassador Keitaro Sato, Special Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan,
on the Occasion of the Sixth Ministerial Meeting of the Human Security Network, held in Bamako 27- 28 May 2004


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to all of the member countries of the Human Security Network for allowing me to participate in this very important Ministerial Meeting. It is my honour and great pleasure to present the concept of "human security" as we understand it, based on the report submitted to the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan by the Commission on Human Security.

I also would like to thank the Government of Mali and all the staff of the Secretariat who have worked so hard to prepare and organize such an exceptional event. In particular, I would like to thank His Excellency Mr. Moctar Ouane, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mali and of International Cooperation, who has kindly made the necessary arrangements to accept my delegation as an official observer in today's session.

Mr. Chairman,

As you are already aware, Japan is promoting the concept of "human security," and we highly appreciate all the valuable activities conducted by the Human Security Network. Our basic principle of human security is not only to protect but above all to empower each and every individual. Indeed, a majority among the 6.3 billion human beings on earth are still affected by various threats and facing present danger. The question here is not merely how to overcome and survive such a plight but rather how to enhance the resilience of people and thus how to prevent threats from taking concrete shape.

I believe that the concept of the Network and our concept on human security are very close, and I also believe that we share the same goal. I have great respect and appreciation for the activities and achievements of the Network. However, it still seems that one not insignificant point separates the Network and Japan in interpreting this concept. Therefore, today, I take the liberty of explaining my notion of people-centred human security. Furthermore, I would like to elaborate an idea on how we could cooperate with each other by bridging a gap in the human security implementation process.

(What is the Japanese concept of human security ?)

The Commission on Human Security, composed of various eminent individuals representing each region of the world, and co-chaired by Madame Sadako Ogata, former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Professor Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize Laureate in economics, produced its final report entitled "Human security - now, protecting and empowering people", and submitted it to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in May 2003. The Japanese concept on human security is clearly in line with the conclusions of this report. In this context, I would particularly like to appreciate the participation of Madame Sadako Ogata in the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the Human Security Network held in Graz, Austria, in May of last year and the Chair's summary delivered on this occasion, which noted with interest the report by the Commission on Human Security.

The report's call for human security is a response to the challenges of today's world. Human security means protecting vital freedoms. It means protecting people from critical and pervasive threats and situations, building on their strengths and aspirations. It also means creating systems that give people the building blocks of survival, dignity, livelihood and most importantly, HOPE. Human security connects different types of freedoms - freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom to take action on one's own behalf. To do this, it offers two general strategies: protection and empowerment. The Japanese notion of human security is to complement traditional state security by being people-centred and addressing insecurities that have not been considered as state security threats.

The Commission has arrived at policy conclusions in the following areas:

  1. Protecting people in violent conflict
  2. Protecting people from the proliferation of arms
  3. Supporting the security of people on the move
  4. Establishing human security transition funds for post-conflict situations
  5. Encouraging fair trade and markets to benefit the extreme poor
  6. Working to provide minimum living standards everywhere
  7. According higher priority to ensuring universal access to basic health care
  8. Developing an efficient and equitable global system for patent rights
  9. Empowering all people with universal basic education
  10. Clarifying the need for a global human identity while respecting the freedom of individuals to have diverse identities and affiliations.

For each of these policy conclusions, joint efforts and actions are necessary - a network of public, private and civil society actors who can help in the clarification and development of norms, embark on integrated activities and monitor progress and performance. Such efforts and actions could create a horizontal, cross-border source of legitimacy that complements traditional vertical structures. This array of alliances could begin to give voice to a nascent international public opinion. Human security could thus serve as a catalytic concept that links many existing initiatives.

Japan established the Trust Fund for Human Security whthin the United Nations Secretariat in March 1999, with total contributions to date of 25.9 billion yen (approximately US$ 227 million). The Trust Fund has assisted more than 100 projects of UN agencies and funds and programmes that address various threats to human life, livelihood and dignity, from the perspective of human security. We sincerely hope that such UN-Japan joint actions will contribute to the realization of human security around the world.

(What is the difference between the views of the Network and Japan?)

As I stated previously, the concepts of human security promoted by the Network and by Japan are very similar. Our understanding is that "human security" for the Network means freedom from pervasive threats to people's rights, their safety or even their lives. This is exactly what we are working on in the international community. However, the fact remains that countries such as Cuba, Brazil, Mexico and Egypt raise objections to the phrase "human security", because they believe that it means intervention in domestic affairs by foreign powers in the name of humanism.

The Chair's Summary delivered at the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the Network last year stated that the Network will further discuss the recommendations of the report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty entitled "The Responsibility to Protect", and agreed that the Network will consider ways of supporting follow-up efforts described in the report. Japan is also convinced that sovereign states have a primary responsibility to protect their own citizens from avoidable catastrophe. However, having suffered from imperialistic pressure ourselves in the 19th century, we understand that the Network may wish to dissipate rising doubt based on the instinct of the above-mentioned countries.

The notion of the "right of humanitarian intervention", elaborated by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, though interesting as a concept, is raising hopefully unfounded doubt on so-called "double-standard approach". What may be important for both of us is to tell the world that human security has nothing to do with the double-standard approach. Indeed, the more we talk with the above-mentioned skeptical countries, the more worried they become about the double-standard approach. Needless to say, human security is at the opposite extreme of such an approach.

(Human Security and Africa)

Mr. Chairman,

I sincerely hope that the Human Security Network will further elaborate the contents of the report of the Commission on Human Security. Japan has been promoting this concept all over the world through various international fora and concrete projects implemented by the Human Security Trust Fund, and can now attest that no country has presented objections or concerns against our campaign. The report "Human Security - now" has been translated into Spanish, French and Russian, and will be issued shortly in Arabic.

In Africa, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa launched the notion of human security on 21 May 2003 at the National Assembly of South Africa in Capetown. Indeed, President Thabo Mbeki's leadership will diffuse the notion of human security in Africa, continent that sent Mr. Albert Tevoedjre, former Minister for Planning, Economic Rehabilitation and Employment Promotion of the Republic of Benin and Dr. Frene Ginwala, Madame Speaker of the National Assembly of the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, to serve as important and active members of the Commission on Human Security. I am confident that the glory of Tombouctou or Gao of ancient Empire of Mali will return to the banks of the Great River Niger, where the HOPE of the ordinary people will enhance the resilience of each and every individual, thus advancing forward socio-economic conditions for their life and helping to realize sustainable development. Indeed, the time has come to read again very carefully the report of the fourteenth century Muslim traveller Ibn Battuta, which describes a very high level of human security for children, women and men in the Mali Empire, where the rule of law, justice and mutual respect among people were the basis of prosperity and glory.


Mr. Chairman,

I am confident that Human Security will give HOPE to ordinary people, and I would most humbly like to point out that HOPE is what gives us courage to work towards the realizations of a better tomorrow.

I thank you for your kind attention.

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