H.E. Mr. KOICHI HARAGUCHI
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
Agenda item 105(b): Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms; United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education, 1995-2004
Fifty-ninth Session of the General Assembly
10 DECEMBER 2004
It is our shared understanding that each and every state bears a responsibility for taking effective measures to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms. And in order to realize a society in which the human rights of each and every person are respected, it is essential to ensure the understanding of individual members of society that they must respect the human rights of others.
In this regard, we firmly believe that human rights education, in which everyone learns tolerance and respect for others, is of great importance for building a decent society. Of course, in order to be effective, such human rights education needs to be provided on a lifelong basis and with a long-term perspective. In this era of globalization and diversification, human rights education is also important in fostering and promoting understanding among different people and cultures. In the long run, we believe this is the way to advance international peace and cooperation.
Let me share with you, on this occasion, my country's efforts and progress we have made under the Decade for Human Rights Education, which is now about to conclude.
In December 1995, the Government of Japan established a national executive headquarters,
headed by the Prime Minister, to implement and promote the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education. It elaborated and published the national action plan for the Decade in July 1997, third earliest amongst all Member States of the United Nations, which is a clear indication of the seriousness with which my country has addressed the subject. Our national plan was submitted to OHCHR in November of the same year.
Japan's national plan of action is based on the idea that human rights education must be promoted by all means and in all venues available. Guidelines and specific advice are provided for education in school, education in communities, education in businesses and corporations, and for specific vocational training for professions in which special attention to human rights is required. The action plan also addresses the issues that are facing women, children, older persons, and persons with disabilities. It deals with the issues of discrimination and prejudice against minorities, foreigners, persons infected with HIV-AIDS and other contagious diseases, and persons released from prison.
The national headquarters has undertaken periodic reviews and follow-ups since 1998, identifying achievements and further challenges in various areas and at various levels. Local autonomous bodies in Japan have also established head offices to follow the national action plan. Thereby, and through active participation from all levels of society, including the grassroots level, effective and steadfast implementation of the national action plan has been secured.
We are pleased to observe the successful conclusion of the Decade, which has played a significant role in raising awareness of the importance of human rights education and has encouraged national and international efforts in this field. However, as I stated above, human rights education is a long-term process, and there is still much to be done to implement human rights education programmes. We therefore welcome the launching of the World Programme for Human Rights Education as an important follow-up to the Decade that will help maintain and further develop the implementation of human rights education programmes in all sectors. As a matter of fact, Japan has become one of the co-sponsors of the draft resolution on the World Programme. My delegation sincerely hopes that the General Assembly will adopt the resolution by consensus and be able to proclaim the World Programme for Human Rights Education on the occasion of Human Rights Day. In this regard, we highly commend OHCHR and UNESCO for the work they did in preparing the draft plan for the first phase of the World Programme, which focuses on primary and secondary school systems. It is also encouraging to learn that a United Nations inter-agency coordinating committee composed of OHCHR, UNESCO and other institutions will be set up to follow up the Programme. We believe it will further facilitate the international coordination of relevant activities.
Japan would like to reaffirm its determination to continue its efforts at promoting human rights education, in cooperation with the international community, in particular the United Nations and its relevant bodies, with a view to creating a world in which each and every person is fully respected, without discrimination or distinction of any kind.
Thank you very much.