Statement by the Delegation of Japan
General Debate of the Economic and Social Council
Humanitarian Affairs Segment
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN
July 20, 2012
Japan greatly appreciates the report of the Secretary-General on strengthening the coordination of humanitarian assistance by the United Nations, as well as the discussion of this topic in ECOSOC. We also commend the efforts being made by USG Valerie Amos, and by the staffs of OCHA and other humanitarian agencies in this field.
Japan especially supports the discussion on the so-called “Transformative Agenda” led by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, which is an ongoing policy-response to lessons learned from a number of recent natural disasters of unprecedented scales in such locations as Haiti and Pakistan.
The themes of this year’s humanitarian affairs segment, as well as those addressed in the SG report, are both timely and important. As was rightly pointed out in the SG report, an accurate understanding of the real needs of people affected by any particular humanitarian crisis is critical if we are to implement effective and efficient humanitarian assistance. Japan itself learned many lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake last year; including how to accurately and rapidly assess the needs of affected people and how to find appropriate matches between those needs and assistance resources.
In this regard, we would like once again to express our deep appreciation for the efforts of the UNDAC team dispatched to Japan immediately after the earthquake to send timely and accurate information on the needs of the victims of the disaster to the world.
Based on my country’s experiences from the earthquake last year, while I fully agree that technical infrastructure is indeed important for the collection and analysis of data for the purpose of accurately understanding needs, I would also like to point out the importance of strengthening community- and local-level disaster preparedness, which do not solely rely on technical infrastructure.
After all, we have to wonder just how “resilient” such a technical infrastructure itself could be when it is reliant on the resilience of more basic infrastructures such as transportation and communications networks. Therefore in countries where basic infrastructure is being established or improved, we should consider, as a next step, measures to promote multi-layered and redundant systems to protect critical components of basic infrastructure, including transportation and communications networks.
Japan fully agrees with the importance of building partnerships for more effective delivery of humanitarian assistance, which is the second theme of this segment, and also supports the efforts to strengthen partnerships at all levels, as addressed in the SG report.
Japan is making efforts to build various partnerships in the area of disaster risk reduction in the Asia-Pacific region, and is actively contributing in this field. For example, in order to strengthen the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Center), Japan is providing communication equipment, dispatching ICT experts, and supporting the creation of emergency reserve stocks against natural disasters. Also we plan to develop cooperative partnerships between the AHA Center and the various government authorities charged with disaster reduction in the ASEAN countries. Japan will also make various efforts toward the establishment of the “Disaster Management Network for the ASEAN Region.”
The strengthening and widening of partnerships is not only important for effective implementation of humanitarian assistance and disaster preparedness; it is also conducive to improving the accountability and legitimacy of humanitarian assistance. In this context and for this sake, enlargement of the donor base is of great importance. Japan will continue to make efforts to build broader partnerships in cooperation with OCHA.
Also, maintaining the perspective of gender and taking measures to address the needs of women are important as we develop and expand partnerships in response to natural disasters. I expect OCHA to continue to take measures in this direction in close coordination with other agencies such as UNWomen. Furthermore, we should not forget the role of volunteers in disaster response, and in this context Japan welcomes the inclusion of a paragraph regarding volunteerism in the draft resolution on “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nation.”
Japan welcomes the constructive discussion at the joint event of the Operational Activities and Humanitarian Affairs Segments of ECOSOC on “Humanitarian needs in the Sahel and the importance of building resilience”. Last February, Japan provided humanitarian assistance totaling approximately 23 million USD to the Sahel region.
Japan fully understands the importance of appropriate coordination between mid- and long-term assistance and emergency assistance. It is less efficient to allocate the same type of emergency humanitarian assistance year after year to respond to recurrent disasters, than it is to find longer term solutions to predictable, recurrent or cyclical problems. We therefore believe a smooth transition from emergency assistance in the wake of a humanitarian crisis to assistance for early reconstruction and then to development assistance for social stability and development over the mid- to long-term is of essential importance.
In this regard, Japan takes note of the request in the SG report that Member States “establish financing instruments that are sufficiently fast and flexible to meet needs during the transition from relief to recovery.” I would like to ask OCHA what kind of financial mechanisms are supposed here, and would also like to request OCHA to fully consult with donor countries in this regard.
Japan is gravely concerned by several current humanitarian crises. Japan is alarmed by the humanitarian situation in Syria, and therefore we have already dispatched emergency grant aid totaling 8 million US dollars so far. Japan also strongly urges all concerned parties in Syria to ensure rapid and unimpeded access to humanitarian assistance.
Japan is also very concerned by the humanitarian situations of some regions of Sudan and South Sudan. Last February, we provided humanitarian assistance totaling approximately 50 million USD to Sudan, mainly in Darfur, and approximately 27 million USD to South Sudan. Furthermore, Japan just decided to contribute 2 million USD in emergency grant aid through UNHCR in order to support Sudanese refugees that fled to South Sudan.
In the context of all the issues I have mentioned so far, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce some of the points that were raised in the discussions at the “World Ministerial Conference on Disaster Reduction in Tohoku,” which was held in Japan on the 3rd and 4th of this month.
At this conference, the participants stressed the importance of giving due consideration to vulnerable individuals such as the poor, the elderly, the sick and wounded, children, persons with disabilities and pregnant women in disaster reduction efforts. They further underscored that building resilient communities requires proper recognition of women’s role in disaster reduction, and confirmed, with regard to planning for disaster reduction or reconstruction, the importance of hearing opinions from various segments of the society.
The participants of the conference further affirmed the critical importance of operational coordination in response to disasters through broad-based partnerships among various stakeholders that transcend sectoral differences. Such partnerships includes, inter alia: assistance to local governments, whose administrative functions have been damaged due to disasters, from other local governments; strong links of coordination between local and national governments; support from the business community which supplements the public sector; coordination among non-governmental organizations (NGOs); coordination between governments and NGOs; and cooperation between governments and media in the collection and dissemination of information. These discussions show how the two themes of this year’s Humanitarian Affairs Segment closely interrelate with each other.
Also at this conference, Prime Minister Noda expressed Japan’s determination to lead international efforts toward disaster risk reduction as well as its commitment to provide 3 billion dollars for three years starting in 2013 to that end. He also expressed that Japan would work proactively toward the third UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2015, which Japan is willing to host.
In concluding my statement, I would like to reiterate the importance of the concept of “human security”, which means protection and capacity building at the individual and community levels, in the course of implementing humanitarian assistance.
I again sincerely commend the work of humanitarian organizations to realize more effective assistance as well as the tireless efforts of aid workers on the ground despite the world’s numerous humanitarian crises.
Thank you for your kind attention.