Official Development Assistance (ODA)

Human Security

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Last Updated: November 19, 2007


Japan's Action

Through provision of human security as the concept of international cooperation in the 21st century, Japan has been striving to make this century a "human-centered" century.
In order to promote human security, it is necessary to establish a common understanding of the importance of human security among various stakeholders in the world including governments, international organizations and the civil society. Japan has been working on the dissemination of the concept of “human security” by such activities as holding international symposiums in this regard. Japan continues to support projects, to realize human security in the field, through the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, which was established in the United Nations in 1999, and the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security.

Japan's Official Development Assistance Charter was revised in August 2003 specifies “human security” as one of the basic policies on ODA. Japan also launched the Medium-Term Policy on ODA in February 2005, which stipulates following approaches to reflect the perspective of "Human Security" on ODA:

1. Assistance that puts people at the center of concerns and that effectively reaches the people;
2. Assistance to strengthen local communities;
3. Assistance that emphasizes empowering of people;
4. Assistance that emphasizes benefiting people who are exposed to threats;
5. Assistance that respects cultural diversity;
6. Cross-sectoral assistance that mobilizes a range of professional expertise
States, international institutions and civil society must integrate their efforts, and build and sustain societies that enhance peoples' capabilities. This is the goal of Japan's international cooperation.

Source: The Trust Fund for Human Security
(Japanese (PDF, 1.27MB) / English (PDF, 1.36MB))
Chapter 3-C "Efforts to Tackle Various Global Challenges to Promote Human Security", Diplomatic Bluebook 2006
(Japanese (PDF, 1.91MB) / English (PDF, 168KB))

ODA Policy on Human Security

- The Framework Featured in ODA Charter&Mid-Term Policy (Extracts)

Japan's Official Development Assistance Charter (August, 2003)

I. Philosophy: Objectives, Policies, and Priorities
2. Basic Policies
(2) Perspective of "Human Security"
In order to address direct threats to individuals such as conflicts, disasters, infectious diseases, it is important not only to consider the global, regional, and national perspectives, but also to consider the perspective of human security, which focuses on individuals. Accordingly, Japan will implement ODA to strengthen the capacity of local communities through human resource development. To ensure that human dignity is maintained at all stages, from the conflict stage to the reconstruction and development stages, Japan will extend assistance for the protection and empowerment of individuals.

Japan's Medium-Term Policy on ODA (February 2005)

2. Regarding the Perspective of "Human Security"
(1) Japan's Position on "Human Security"
i. Growing globalization in recent years has resulted in the international community becoming interdependent to an unprecedented degree. At the same time, there has been an increase in humanitarian crises resulting from transnational threats such as terrorism, environmental destruction, the spread of infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, internationally organized crimes, sudden economic crises and civil war. In order to address these threats, the perspective of "human security" that places focus on individual human beings needs to be introduced, in addition to global, regional and national perspectives.

ii. "Human Security" means focusing on individual people and building societies in which everyone can live with dignity by protecting and empowering individuals and communities that are exposed to actual or potential threats. In concrete terms, this means protecting individuals from "fears," such as conflict, terrorism, crime, human rights violation, displacement, disease epidemics, environmental destruction, economic crises and natural disasters; and "wants," such as poverty, hunger and lack of educational and health services, and empowering people so that they can choose and take action against these threats.

iii. Japan will address the four priority issues of "poverty reduction," "sustainable growth," "addressing global issues" and "peace-building" described in the ODA Charter bearing in mind the perspective of "human security," in order to reduce the vulnerabilities faced by people, communities and countries.

(2) Approaches on Assistance to Achieve "Human Security"
The "human security" perspective should be adopted broadly in development assistance. The approaches such as the following are important.

i. Assistance that puts people at the center of concerns and that effectively reaches the people Japan will seek to achieve assistance that effectively reaches the people by accurately identifying the needs of the residents of target areas, and engaging as far as possible in a dialogue with residents and other interested parties throughout the process from policy and project formulation and implementation to monitoring and evaluation. To this end, collaboration and co-ordination with aid-related entities, donor countries, NGOs and others will be pursued.

ii. Assistance to Strengthen Local Communities
In the case that a government is not functioning fully, Japan will support improvements in the administrative capacity of the government. But since, in such a case, there is a risk that assistance through the government may not reach the people directly, assistance to local communities and projects based on a participatory approach shall also be combined. The local community's ability to protect its members from "want" and "fear" will be improved by reinforcing community bonds and strengthening the functions of the local community.

iii. Assistance that Emphasizes Empowering of People
People will be regarded not just as a target of assistance but also as the "promoters of development" in their societies. Importance will therefore be placed on empowering people to become self-reliant. In concrete terms, this means providing vocational training and necessary services such as health and educational services, and improving institutions and policies conducive to realizing the potential of people's ability in order to foster self-help.

iv. Assistance that Emphasizes Benefiting People Who are Exposed to Threats
Assistance based on the "human security" perspective requires addressing, as comprehensively, as possible the threats confronting the people bearing in mind both "freedom from want" such as poverty, and "freedom from fear" such as fear of conflict. When assistance is provided, priority will be given to assisting people whose lives, livelihoods or dignity are currently or are highly likely to be endangered, through identifying the location of such people and their needs.

v. Assistance that Respects Cultural Diversity
Assistance will be provided to build societies in which cultural diversity is respected and people are not discriminated against due to their cultural backgrounds. At the same time, attention to cultural diversity will be paid so that human rights and the dignity of individuals are not threatened in the name of culture.

vi. Cross-Sectoral Assistance that Mobilizes a Range of Professional Expertise
People in countries subject to poverty and conflict face structurally complex problems. In order to address these problems, analyses will be made of their causes and structure, and specialist expertise in various fields will be mobilized as necessary so as to provide cross-sectoral assistance.

* Two concrete examples of projects are presented in the appendix to help understand human security. Examples of the "human security" perspective are not limited to those projects. Japan will make an effort to reflect the perspective in its ODA.

3. Priority Issues
Priority issues will be addressed in line with the following basic principles outlined in the ODA Charter: provision of support for the self-help efforts ("ownership") of developing countries, adoption of the "human security" perspective, ensuring equity (including the perspective of gender and consideration of socially vulnerable people), utilization of Japan's experience and expertise (including ensuring overall policy coherence), and action in concert with the international community (including South-South Cooperation).

- Initiatives & Funding Commitment

"An Intellectual Dialogue on Building Asia's Tomorrow" and "Toward the Creation of a Bright Future for Asia" (December 1998) (Japanese)
    The then Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi announced that human security is the key which "comprehensively covers all the menaces that threaten the survival, daily life, and dignity of human beings and strengthens the efforts to confront those threats" and the 21st century should be a human-centered century. Later in the month, in his policy speech in Hanoi entitled "Toward the Creation of a Bright Future of Asia," he announced that the Trust Fund for Human Security would be established in the United Nations with contributions from Japan.

The speech at the UN Millennium Summit (September 2000) (Japanese / English)
    The then Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori stated in the speech at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations that Japan positioned human security as one of the key perspectives of its diplomacy and that it would establish an international commission on human security to further deepen the concept of the human-centered initiatives.

Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects
(Japanese (PDF, 2.61MB) / English (PDF, 3.35MB) / French (PDF, 3.59MB) / Spanish (PDF, 3.93MB) / Chinese (PDF, 1.13MB))
    The Japanese Government offers a financial assistance scheme for development projects designed to meet the diverse needs of developing countries. This scheme provides non-refundable financial assistance to NGOs, hospitals, primary schools, and other non-profit associations to help implement their development projects. The Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects has acquired an excellent reputation for providing flexible and timely support to development projects at the grassroots level.

Good Practices on Human Security

Helping Individuals Address their Fears, Problems and Risks in Communities affected by the Chernobyl Disaster
(Ukraine/ Executing Agency: UNDP/ Donor: United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security)

The residents in the areas affected by the nuclear accident of Chernobyl in 1986 are in need of psychological care as a result of the damage to their health and stress they suffered from the forced emigration. Moreover, the affected areas are also facing difficulties in economic recovery in the wake of the downfall of the Soviet Union, and the effects of an aging of the population and depopulation. They are also struggling to overcome poverty.

As part of the project supported by the Japanese Government launched in 2004, the Chernobyl-affected communities were encouraged to establish Community Organizations, draw-up its operational regulations and to collect member's fee from its member residents. Each Community Organization developed their own recovery plans including restoration of schools, health facilities and installment of waterworks to meet residents' needs and implement the project by themselves in cooperation with local government and/or private sectors. The project also supports small and medium size enterprises to further stimulate economic recovery in the affected area.

The project was implemented on the basis of:

  • The concept of human security, which aims to ensure development due to the project stands on the concept of human security, which aims to ensure development through the empowerment of individuals and local communities and to protect from various threats.
  • The necessity for the transition of the form of assistance from humanitarian relief and development assistance. To achieve sustainable development development in the affected areas after more than twenty years of the accident.

Thanks to the project, a number of Community Organizations has been established, which actively carry out the projects. Some organizations have implemented a series of projects to improve the living condition of the communities. The UNTFHS project helped people, who were once victims of the accident and despair, in the affected areas to regain dignity as human beings.

In the meantime, it is required to provide careful support to vulnerable community organizations facing difficulties in implementing their community projects paying more attention to the perspective on “protection” in the concept of human security. Considering these situations, a long-term assistance is necessary to implement in the Chernobyl affected areas including this project.

Discussing process of community and youth center renovation (Photo provided by UNDP)

Receiving medical care in newly renovated and equipped health post (Photo provided by UNDP)

Strengthening human security through sustainable human development in Northwestern Tanzania
(Tanzania / Executing Agency: UNDP, WFP, FAO, UNIDO, UNICEF/ Donor: United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security)

The Northwestern Tanzania hosts more than 280,000 refugees from neighbouring countries who have fled from civil wars and are now living with the support of UN agencies. The region is one of the poorest in Tanzania. The long term dwelling of the refugees cause various problems in the host community, such as deforestation, over stretched water resources, decline in the number of wild animals, spread of HIV/AIDS and rising crime levels.

Since 2005 the project has taken a holistic approach to address these concerns and worked to address poverty in the region. For example, the project activities include: collecting small arms, enhancing food productivity, improving access to clean water and sanitation, providing basic education and HIV/AIDS education to out of school youth.

A key feature of this project is the involvement of six (6) UN agencies who are working closely, using their comparative advantages in the implementation of the project. This is regarded by the UN agencies in Tanzania as an outstanding example of interagency cooperation.

Following the achievement of peace in neighbouring countries, refugees are slowly returning home under the support of the United Nations. In implementing this project, it is required to provide well-balanced assistance to refugees and host communities.

Classroom of non-formal education (Photo provided by the Embassy of Japan in Tanzania)

Public Arms Destruction Event in Kigoma, Tanzania (Photo provided by UNDP Tanzania)

- Cooperation with Multilateral Organizations

United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security Pamphlet
(Japanese (PDF, 1.27MB) / English (PDF, 1.36MB))
In his policy speech in Hanoi in December 1998, late Prime Minister Obuchi announced that a Trust Fund for Human Security would be established in the United Nations. The Government of Japan fulfilled this commitment through founding of the Trust Fund for Human Security in March 1999, with an initial contribution of about 500 million yen. By the fiscal year 2006, total contributions amounted to some 33.5 billion yen, making the Trust Fund, one of the largest of its kind established in the United Nations.

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Photo from Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Handbook (MOFA, 2005)