2010 Statement

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Shigeki Sumi
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations

Agenda item 69: Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance

Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations
15 December 2010
New York


Mr. President,


My delegation is grateful for the report of the Secretary-General on strengthening the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations.  Because of the priority it attaches to human security, Japan has a special interest in the protection and empowerment of vulnerable people desperately in need of such assistance.  We therefore commend Under-Secretary-General Valerie Amos and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the work they and their humanitarian partners have done in this important field.


Japan also would like to offer its congratulations to Ms. Amos on her appointment as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.  We hope that she will address the challenges that arise in this area in an effective manner, and we wish to assure her that Japan will extend her all possible support.


(Response to natural disasters)
This year again, the world experienced a series of natural disasters, including the earthquake in Haiti and the flood in Pakistan.  For its part, the Government of Japan, in addition to providing emergency assistance that included dispatching a disaster relief team, pledged 500 million USD in financial assistance in response to the flood in Pakistan in the middle of November, of which 267 million USD will be disbursed through international organizations that contribute to the revised Appeal.  It also made a new contribution of 30 million USD to the Haiti Reconstruction Fund later that month.


Japan also wishes to commend CERF highly for the role it is playing in allocating funding to countries in need of emergency assistance when natural disasters strike, and I would like to note that my government has doubled its contribution to the Fund this year.

Importance must be attached to disaster risk reduction and preparedness, as well as to how we respond when a disaster actually occurs.  To the extent that it is possible to do so, we should bring to our response the lessons we have learned from previous disasters.  As Japan is among those countries most frequently affected by natural disasters, it has expertise on preparedness in many different fields. This extends from knowing how to make buildings earthquake-proof to raising popular awareness about the importance of disaster reduction, and we would like to continue to engage in cooperation with the international community in this area, contributing that expertise and experience.


We should bear in mind that the Hyogo Framework for Action provides us with an international strategy for disaster reduction, and it should be fully utilized.  For its part, Japan values the work of the ISDR, which contributes to our efforts through worldwide advocacy, and we continue to support it.  We also would like to commend USG Amos for stressing the importance of response preparedness, and express the hope that she will further develop the relationship between OCHA and the ISDR.


In this regard, my delegation would like to mention that the Government of Japan co-sponsored with OCHA the First Global Meeting of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) in Kobe in September.  More than two hundred experts participated in the meeting and discussed the search and rescue activities that are carried out in urban areas in the aftermath of disasters, and they also discussed cooperation related to strengthening the capacity of developing countries, cooperation in the process extending from search-and-rescue to early recovery, cooperation with humanitarian organizations, and promotion of cooperation at the regional and global levels.  At the end of the meeting, we adopted the INSARAG Hyogo Declaration as the outcome document.  We expect the Declaration to serve as a set of guidelines for the implementation of cooperation in this field, and we hope it will enable us to engage in search-and-rescue in a more effective manner.  


 (Response to complex emergencies)
As always, my delegation would like to express its great respect and gratitude for the invaluable work that humanitarian workers have been doing over the past year, almost always in high-risk environments.


And I would like to note that we are extremely concerned about the attacks that continue to be made against those personnel around the world.  It is of paramount importance that there be strict compliance with all international humanitarian, human rights, and refugee law, and every country is responsible for ensuring security within its own borders.


In order to guarantee humanitarian access, humanitarian activities should be governed by the principles of neutrality, impartiality, and independence.  Long-term efforts to build confidence among the relevant local population are also necessary.


Especially in conflict situations, it is essential to maintain accountability and take action against impunity.  Every country in which a conflict occurs must therefore have the capacity to establish and preserve the rule of law.  And in the effort to spread the culture of the rule of law, the UN can play an important role.


I would like to take this opportunity to mention that the Government of Japan co-organized with the ICRC a symposium entitled “Challenges to Humanitarian Space” at the beginning of November, which we hope will contribute to finding a way to secure humanitarian space and extend humanitarian assistance in a safe and effective manner.


Japan has been calling for efficient and effective humanitarian assistance.  To this end, we are gratified that the cluster approach is working effectively.  On the other hand, some have said that coordination with the existing domestic mechanism for coordination in the affected country is not what it should be.  Continuing reform of the system for humanitarian assistance is accordingly essential.


The ultimate goal of humanitarian assistance is to enable affected people to stand on their own feet once again, to be independent, and no longer in need of assistance.  The concept of human security, which attaches great importance to responding to the needs of the individual, can be very useful in this regard.  Also, Japan believes that a seamless transition from emergency humanitarian aid to reconstruction and development assistance is crucial if the results of humanitarian assistance are not to be lost.  We should implement protection and empowerment at the individual and community levels in malti-sectoral fields.  It is for this reason that Japan has been providing support for the vulnerable of the world, including through the UN Trust Fund for Human Security, which contributes to promoting the concept of human security, and it is committed to continuing to do so.


Thank you for your attention.