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"Towards Forming Friends of Human Security"
On the Occasion of 8th Ministerial Meeting of
The Human Security Network, Bangkok

H.E. Yukio Takasu
Ambassador of Japan
in charge of Human Security

Mr. Minister Kantathi,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to convey my sincere gratitude to the Government of Thailand for inviting Foreign Minister Aso as a guest to the HSN Ministerial Meeting. I wish also to pay tribute to the contributions made by HSN. As far as I am aware, Japan is the only country that has appointed a full-fledged Ambassador in charge of Human Security. This is another testimony to Japan's strong commitment to promote human security, which is widely known in the world: Japan has taken and is taking many initiatives to promote human security. I feel honored and privileged to represent Japan at this important meeting.

One of the most important developments since last year's Ministerial Meeting of the HSN is the adoption of the World Summit Outcome Document at the UN Summit in September 2005.

Firstly, in the Outcome Document, Member States affirmed the importance of relevance of human security and have agreed to discuss further and define the notion of human security in the UN. Japan has been one of the main advocates of human security since it took major steps to support and assist Asian countries to overcome the financial crisis in 1997-98. It has advocated a broader view of human security, which equally emphasizes aspects of freedom from want, freedom from fear and common values for future generation. Japan has taken many new initiatives to mainstream human security perspectives in the areas of financial and technical assistance by amending the ODA Charter, Environmental Conservation Initiative for Sustainable Development, Water and Sanitation Broad Partnership Initiative, Okinawa infection disease initiative, natural disasters prevention initiatives, human trafficking, small arms, etc. Japan therefore highly appreciates the inclusion of paragraph 143 in the Outcome Document, and calls on other interested countries to seriously consider ways to follow up this paragraph.

Secondly, Member States have also agreed in the Outcome Document that the international community has the responsibility to protect people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. They expressed their readiness to take collective action through the Security Council in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations including Chapter VII. Japan welcomes the qualifications that the use of force should be authorized by the Security Council. This confirmation has a positive impact to build a common international understanding on the responsibility to protect. We also expect that the qualification on the use of force will settle the lingering confusion and suspicions on human security, and enable Member States to seek human security-related cooperation without having reservations on the unauthorized use of force in the name of humanitarian intervention or responsibility to protect or human security.

Since the adoption of the outcome document, we have noticed an increasing number of countries that have recognized the relevance of human security and started to demonstrate strong interest and take concrete initiatives. For instance, Mexico, after actively participating in the APEC human security seminar held in Oct 2005 in Tokyo, offered to organize a workshop to deepen understanding of human security among many countries as a follow up to the Outcome Document. The human security workshop was held in Feb 2006 in Mexico City and co-chaired by Mexico and Japan. In the workshop, the proposal was made to form a framework to broaden and strengthen partnerships towards forming an international forum named "Friends of Human Security". This forum is open to both HSN and non-HSN countries with strong interests in human security, and it aims at seeking partnership (not necessarily asking to become a formal member) with other countries that have not associated with any particular initiatives in the past.

The Friends of Human Security is not intended to compete with or replace the HSN. We expect HSN will continue its activities and extend its members. But Friends of Human Security will be informed, inclusive and complementary with HSN. There are many countries that are interested in some aspects of human security but do not necessarily wish to become members of the HSN.

Here are some of my initial thoughts on the Friends of Human Security forum:

  • We should not rush to seek formal discussions in the UN on the definition of human security; such as holding formal consultations for negotiating over a legal definition.
    • While human security is a value based approach, it is more to do with a policy-oriented concept.
    • While the Outcome Document affirmed the importance of human security at abovementioned qualification on the use of force under the responsibility to protect, some member states still have reservation on human security, particularly over its relationship with humanitarian intervention. Therefore, it will be counter-productive to seek to define at this stage the concept of human security at a formal UN session.
  • It would be sufficient to agree on a general operational definition as a base of collaborative efforts such as:

    e.g. "To protect the vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfillment" ("Human Security Now")

  • We should rather concentrate on achieving cooperation among interested countries, broaden areas of agreement and partnership rather than focusing on different emphasis; practicing the concept, taking concrete actions, implementing joint projects and combining efforts and resources together, to improve the situation of vulnerable people who are under severe threats.
  • We should minimize formality and prefer an informal modality; such as informal discussions among concerned countries at senior official levels with no regular meetings, and informal discussions and exchange of views on specific themes will be held on an ad hoc basis in and around NY at the margins of appropriate UN meetings.

Based on such considerations, Japan has so far consulted and discussed about the proposal of forming Friends of Human Security with many interested countries on the occasions of the following meetings:

Oct 2005 APEC Human Security Seminar (Tokyo)
Feb 2006 Mexico-Japan Human Security Workshop (Mexico City)
Feb 2006 Swedish IPA Seminar (NY)
April 2006 OSCE - Thailand Human Security Seminar (Bangkok)
May 2006 Meeting with UNSG (Tokyo)

During the Japan-EU Summit in April 2006, both sides also agreed to cooperate in spreading the concept of human security as well as promoting concrete actions in the UN and other fora.

Currently, Japan is exploring with Mexico and the UN Secretariat the possibility of organizing an informal Friends of Human Security meeting in NY in the near future.

I would like to request your positive consideration for this initiative. I believe promoting human security would require more extensive and intensive involvement of many governments and non-governmental actors. To realize such initiatives, there should be a more inclusive forum open to all, irrespective of different emphasis on many aspects of human security.

Mr. Minister,

Recently, I have started to advocate that Japan should strive to become a "Human Security Power". In the past, we have learned so much of the rising and declining of military powers, and economic powers in the course of human history. But a Human Security Power will make much greater contributions to realizing a peaceful, prosperous and just world order.

Thank you very much.

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