Statement by H.E. Mr. Norihiro Okuda
Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan
on human security
at the General Assembly Plenary Meeting
20 May 2010, New York
First of all, I would like to thank the President of General Assembly, His Excellency Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki, for his initiative in organizing this first formal debate on human security in the General Assembly plenary meeting. This important meeting builds up on the thematic debate on human security held in May 2008 to fulfil the commitment by the heads of States and Governments in the 2005 World Summit Outcome on “discussing and defining the notion of human security in the General Assembly.”
Allow me to also express my Government’s deep gratitude to the Secretary-General for his report which presents a useful basis for this debate. The report provides us with a clear and holistic picture of the human security concept by illustrating how the concept has been formulated and defined and by taking stock of the various initiatives undertaken by Governments, regional organizations and the United Nations system that witness the growing acceptance of the concept in recent years. This report is undoubtedly a valuable contribution to our efforts to forge a common understanding of human security among Member States.
I would like to draw your particular attention to the following three points addressed in the Secretary-General’s report.
First, the report extracts essential components that encompass the concept of human security from the existing definitions of the concept. In this respect, my delegation takes note with great interest that the report articulates “human security does not entail the use of force against the sovereignty of States.”
Second, the report makes clear that human security and national sovereignty are not contradicting concepts. On the contrary, according to the report, “human security concept seeks to enhance the sovereignty of States” and “improved capacities of Governments and their institutions are key components in advancing human security”. In the view of my Delegation, this concept is fully consistent with the purposes and the principles of the United Nations enshrined in its Charter. I would like to recall that the preamble of the Charter commences with “We the peoples”. The international community should therefore support the efforts made by Governments, in full respect of the national sovereignty and ownership, to create the enabling environment for all individuals to fully develop their potential and livelihood.
Third, the report makes a clear distinction between human security and the responsibility to protect (R2P) in line with the separate provisions in the World Summit Outcome and analyzes the differences between the two concepts. The purpose of human security as agreed in paragraph 143 of the World Summit Outcome is to enable all individuals, in particular vulnerable people, to be freed from fear and want, and to enjoy all their rights and to fully develop their human potential. On the other hand, the purpose of the R2P as agreed in paragraphs 138-140 of the World Summit Outcome is to protect populations from the four most serious types of human rights violations, namely, genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. As one of the pioneers in promoting human security concept, Japan appreciates the clear distinction made in the Secretary-General’s report between human security and the R2P. My Delegation would like to suggest all Member States to be mindful of the differences with regard to the scope and the means envisioned by the respective concepts in the future intergovernmental processes.
What, then, is the added value of human security? This is a very frequently asked question. The report of Secretary-General articulates with eloquence how the human security concept is applied to different global issues that are priorities of the United Nations. The cases include financial and economic crises, food security, threats to health including infectious diseases, climate change and related natural hazards, peacebuilding and others. Country-level aggregated approach does not suffice for tackling effectively these global issues that are both broad and deeply inter-connected. The human security concept induces policy makers to have closer eye on individuals, households and communities and on their lives, livelihood and dignity. It proposes people-centred, comprehensive, multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder responses that enable the protection and empowerment of people and communities in need. Such a bottom-up perspective in policy formulation is, in our view, the most significant added value of the human security concept.
The human security concept is being applied in the policies and measures at national and regional levels. Indeed, major regional and sub-regional organizations across the globe, including the African Union, ECOWAS, ASEAN, APEC and OAS adopt this concept. Various UN agencies, including UNDP and UNESCO, not only adopt human security in their strategies but also disseminate the concept actively in countries and regions. Japan believes that the General Assembly should encourage these initiatives to further mainstream and operationalize the concept at various levels, and in particular, throughout the activities of the United Nations.
The critical role of the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security cannot be underscored enough for its contribution to produce tangible results on the ground through the operational activities of UN agencies. Since its establishment in 1999, approximately 200 projects have been implemented in countries of all regions with voluntary contributions from Japan, Thailand, Slovenia and Greece. Japan expects that the Trust Fund’s activities be further enhanced through contributions from as many Member States as possible. Japan will continue to be engaged in operationalizing the human security concept through its bilateral development assistance schemes such as the Grant Assistance for Grass-roots Human Security Projects and Grant Aid for Community Empowerment.
To follow up on the agreement in the World Summit Outcome, Japan, together with Mexico as co-chair, has been organizing biannual meetings of the Friends of Human Security. This is an open-ended forum for interested Member States and UN organizations and has seen the participation of more than 140 Member States since the first meeting in October 2006. The main focus of our discussions has been on how to forge a common understanding of human security and how best to mainstream the concept into relevant UN activities. Participants concur in the usefulness of the human security approach in addressing important global issues and pervasive threats that are mentioned in the report of the Secretary-General. They also share the view on the vital importance of securing human security in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The global threats people face change with time. In a sense, human security is an evolving concept because it aims to cope with emerging pervasive threats to people. In our view, the General Assembly, where all Member States can participate and make contribution, is the most appropriate forum for the deliberations of this cross-cutting concept and this first formal debate is truly an important milestone for discussing and defining human security. To carry out our commitment in the World Summit Outcome, my Delegation believes that the discussions on human security should be conducted on a regular basis in the General Assembly plenary, and to this end, requests the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive report on further developments pertaining to human security as an important input for a future debate in the General Assembly.
Finally, my Government expresses its sincere appreciation to all the Delegations participating in this meeting for their engagement and valuable contribution to the debate on human security.
Thank you very much.