Statement by H. E. Mr. Kazuo Kodama
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
and Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
Agenda Item 27 (b): Meetings devoted to follow-up to the International Year of
Volunteers and the commemoration of its tenth anniversary
Sixty-sixth Session of the General Assembly
5 December 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to address the General Assembly on the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers. We have received significant input from the two UN Volunteers at this commemorative meeting. The first world volunteerism report, which sums up past volunteer activities, was launched today. A volunteer from Japan participated in today’s side event and experiences from around the world were shared for all. It is our earnest hope that volunteering will be further promoted through these meetings.
The UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, visited Japan this August. During his stay, the Secretary-General also visited Fukushima, one of the areas devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and his meeting with these volunteers was a great encouragement for them and contributed to the enhancement of a sense of cooperation between the UN and volunteers.
We appreciate the efforts by the United Nations Volunteers as the focal point for the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers. We also appreciate the recent visit of Ms. Flavia Pansieri, Executive Coordinator of UNV, to Japan, including her visit to the areas devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and her participation in the national volunteer festival held in Tokyo. Japan strongly supports the work of the UNV and hope the UNV will continue to play a coordinating role, including through the promotion of volunteer activities, the mobilization of volunteers, and the development of networking.
Brazil and Japan submitted a draft resolution titled “Tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers” to the Third Committee last month. We are very pleased that today in the General Assembly the draft resolution was adopted by consensus with the support of 97 co-sponsors. I take this opportunity to express Japan’s appreciation for the unanimous support given by all Member States.
While celebrating the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers, Japan would like to stress the following four points.
First, the International Year of Volunteers was initiated by Japan in 2001, thanks to an idea of Mr. Takehito Nakata, who served as UNV Honorary Ambassador for 15 years. He took up the position after the tragic death of his son, Atsuhito. Atsuhito was killed during his work as a United Nations Volunteer in Cambodia as a District Election Supervisor with the UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia) in 1993. We would like to recall the volunteerism of the young man who sacrificed his life as a volunteer for the sake of the peace of Cambodia and the international community.
Second, many volunteers have contributed to recovery and reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake ravaged Japan this March. We would like to extend our gratitude to the volunteers who supported those who suffered from the disaster and responded to their needs. The warm spirit of the national and international volunteers who supported the troubled areas lifted our spirits greatly, and we have learned the importance of people-to-people relations. It is our hope that the discussion on the role of volunteers in the field of disaster prevention and management will be further deepened based on these experiences.
Third, the “IYV+10 Promotion Committee” was launched in June in Japan by civil society, the private sector and the Government of Japan to ensure the success of the tenth anniversary. The Committee is entrusted to raise awareness of volunteering, to provide opportunities to participate in volunteering, and to promote networking among various stakeholders in Japan. We believe it important for such activities to be connected all over the world through global networking.
Fourth, Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) was launched by our Government about half a century ago, and since then 30,000 volunteers have been dispatched to more than 80 countries in the world, to help developing counties to be the masters of their destiny by empowering their people through human resource development assisted by volunteers. We have reviewed and revamped its program and created a new policy for overseas volunteering called “Better Collaboration and the Bonds of Friendship”, bearing in mind the need to further strengthen the bonds of volunteers in Japan and the world.
Volunteerism embodies one of the loftiest expressions of compassion and transcends borders and nationalities. We are confident that this spirit of volunteerism has steadily been growing all over the world.
In Japan, volunteering is encouraged, especially for youth and older people, since it could play a catalytic role in the promotion of integration in society.
In conclusion, Japan would like to stress the relevance of volunteerism in any discussion on our common challenges of humanity and mutual efforts in the coming decade and beyond. For example, it would be useful to ask where and how volunteering in the fields of peacebuilding and disaster prevention and management could be encouraged.
Furthermore, it is also significant to discuss engagement in volunteering and the leadership of youth in such areas. We hope such perspectives to be discussed and included as recommendations of a report to be submitted by the Secretary-General at the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly.
I thank you, Mr. President.