Mr. Shigeyuki Shimamori
On Item 112, "Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees"
4 November 2003
Let me start by congratulating Mr. Ruud Lubbers on his re-election to the post of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. On the basis of the remarkable work he has done for the past three years, we are confident that he will make further contributions to our joint efforts to address refugee issues all over the world. Also, our deepest respect goes to his dedicated staff, who are making admirable efforts to deal with refugee situations, both those that exist already and those that are imminent. As we know, these situations are all complex and many are fraught with danger.
The UNHCR Executive Committee has taken a significant step towards determining the nature of future activities of UNHCR by adopting the conclusion on proposals arising from the UNHCR 2004 process. Japan welcomes the directions set forth in the 2004 process.
Among the key issues in this process, the High Commissioner highlighted growing understanding of the interconnections between peace and security, humanitarian action and development policies. To better reflect these interconnections, it is necessary to renew or create effective partnerships, not just within, but also outside the United Nations, as well as to consolidate efforts by relevant international actors. Through such an approach, we will be able to attain durable solutions rooted in refugee communities under the ownership of refugee-hosting governments.
For the international community to address refugee issues under such a new and effective partnership, we firmly believe that human security should serve as the guiding principle throughout the process of implementing concrete projects. The notion of human security was explained well in the report submitted to the Secretary-General last May by the Commission on Human Security co-chaired by Madame Sadako Ogata, former High Commissioner for Refugees.
One of the key concepts articulated in that report relates to the protection and empowerment of refugees. It is an approach in which refugees are considered as important assets with considerable potential for contributing to the reconstruction and development of a conflict-torn country. An end to military confrontation does not necessarily mean an end to the plight of refugees. With a view to making consolidation of peace sustainable, special importance should be attached to assisting returnees in reintegrating in a revitalized local community, and gaining a fair chance to participate in the reconstruction of his or her country. A durable solution can only be obtained through the consolidation of peace, something that requires the active participation of empowered refugees in the process of nation-building and regional development.
We intend to play an active role in pursuing the "Convention Plus" strategies along with the UNHCR and other international actors. The "Convention Plus" strategies include, among other areas, effective coordination between efforts to protect refugees and provide development assistance in regions experiencing refugee outflows. This approach is consistent with another important element in the report of the Commission on Human Security, namely, filling in any gap between humanitarian assistance and reconstruction. When such a gap exists, repatriated refugees have nowhere to settle and begin their new lives, and thus the situation can degenerate into a vicious circle of conflict and more refugees.
Taking an approach in which development is integral into the overall effort to assist refugees is only possible when there is close collaboration among humanitarian and development agencies. Japan welcomes the admission of UNHCR to the United Nations Development Group and expects that the active discussions it engages in will contribute to the further development of cooperative relations between UNHCR and other U.N. agencies. It is also our expectation that the role of UNHCR will become even clearer when it is considered in the context of the whole spectrum of assistance from humanitarian to development aid. Such collaboration among various agencies could exemplify the conceptual framework of the "4Rs"—namely, repatriation, reintegration, rehabilitation, and reconstruction—as well as "DAR," or development assistance for refugees and "DLI"—development through local integration—depending upon each specific refugee situation.
I would like to mention that the idea of effective coordination is in line with the focus of the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development or TICAD V, which we recently hosted and which UNHCR and a number of States and other organizations participating here attended. At the conference, Japan announced the three pillars that comprise its initiative for its assistance to Africa. They are: human-centered development, poverty reduction through economic growth, and consolidation of peace. These pillars all have as their aim empowering people, including refugees, building up the capacity of local communities, and achieving development in a country under the ownership of its people, through an integrated approach.
Finally, but foremost, Mr. Chairman, it is our sincere hope that the activities of the UNHCR will receive even broader and stronger support from the international community, enabling it to strengthen its efforts to enhance its visibility and increase the number of its partners. Enhanced visibility, coupled with outreach activities, can help UNHCR to widen its financial base as it attracts new donors. Increasing the number of working partners in turn will enhance the sense of ownership. For our part, our humanitarian team is ready to work with UNHCR even more closely, and we expect greater opportunities for Japanese staff and NGOs to make a contribution. Let me conclude my remarks by expressing our support for the extension of the term of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees until the refugee problem is solved. At the same time, we would like to stress in particular that UNHCR will be strongly expected to demonstrate heightened quality and focused priorities of its activities, and enhanced visibility and accountability on the management of the funds it receives from donors. We hope that this will place the UNHCR in a position to take the lead in ensuring human security more effectively in its reinforced capacity.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.