1. United Nations Efforts in Human Rights, Social Affairs and Humanitarian Assistance
(1) Human Rights and Social Affairs
Article 1 of the UN Charter stipulates “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights” as one of the purposes of the United Nations. Since its establishment, the United Nations has dealt with human rights issues in the world and with the protection and promotion of human rights in the international framework.
In the Third Committee under the General Assembly, we have discussed human rights and humanitarian and social affairs. Resolutions based on the discussions in the Third Committee are adopted by the General Assembly. In this way, we present discussions at the UN to the international community.
Some issues are discussed directly in the General Assembly. The Human Rights Council was established as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly in Geneva in 2006, as a consequence of the UN’s institutional reform. The General Assembly conducted a review of the Council in 2011.
Issues such as the protection of civilians, women and children are discussed in the Security Council from the perspective of international peace and security.
The three core themes of social development, namely, poverty eradication, full and productive employment and decent work for all, and social integration including persons with disabilities, youth and older persons, are discussed in the Commission for Social Development, a functional commission of the ECOSOC. The Commission on the Status of Women is also a subsidiary body (functional commission) of the ECOSOC and is dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women. This Commission discusses issues such as the human rights of women as well as the empowerment of women.
The promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women is one of the Secretary-General’s top priorities. UN Women, a new entity established by merging four existing UN bodies related to gender issues with the additional role of coordinating the UN systembecame operational in 2011. UN Women’s six priority areas are (1) advancing women’s political participation and leadership, (2) improving women’s economic empowerment, (3) ending violence against women and girls, (4) expanding the role of women in peace talks, peace-building, and recovery, (5) making budgets and plans benefit women and men equally, and (6) increasing coordination and accountability across the UN system for gender equality.
(2) Humanitarian Assistance
Humanitarian assistance is given to provide aid, goods, or services in order to save lives, maintain human dignity, and secure the safety of those who have suffered from man-made crises and natural disasters. It not only includes emergency responses to these crises or disasters, but is also comprised of disaster prevention and/or assistance for recovery and reconstruction. Many UN agencies, including UNICEF, WFP, and UNHCR, participate in humanitarian assistance.
In particular, based on General Assembly Resolution 46/182 of 1991, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) plays a central role as the coordinator for the wide-range of humanitarian assistances provided by both various UN agencies and NGOs.
2. Japan ’s Efforts in Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs
(1) Human Rights and Social Affairs
Japan’s policies are based on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms as universal values. Japan also places importance on the establishment of the rule of law. Japan has expressed concerns about grave violations of human rights, including abductions in the form of enforced disappearance, and has been appropriately engaged in these issues by cooperating with the international community. Japan has also been making efforts for the improvement of human rights situations in various countries through dialogue and cooperation.
Approximately 60 draft resolutions are submitted to the Third Committee every year. Japan participates actively in the discussions to reflect our thoughts in the resolutions and to make appropriate resolutions for the international community as messages of the UN.
Japan has taken the following initiatives in the human rights forums of the UN.
▪ General Assembly resolution “Situations of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (The final version of the resolution will be uploaded later)
▪ General Assembly resolution "Integrating volunteering in the next decade" (67th Session)
▪ General Assembly resolution "Tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers" (66th Session)
▪ Resolution of the Commission on the Status of Women “Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in Natural Disasters”
▪ General Assembly resolution “Elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members” (65th session)
As the government places an importance on the activities of the Human Rights Council, Japan was a member of Council from its establishment in 2006 until 2011. Japan was elected as a member of the Council for therm 2013 to 2015 at the election held in 2012. We will fufill our responsibilities as a member.
▪ Japan's Human Rights Commitments and Pledges (Candidature for HRC membership 2013-2015)
Japan also places importance on the strengthening of UN Women’s activities on the ground, Japan, as an initial member of the Executive Board, has contributed to the adoption of UN Women’s principal documents, such as the Financial Regulations and Rules, the Strategic Plan for 2011-2013, and the Institutional Budget for 2012-2013. Japan has also financially supported UN Women’s project on ending violence against women in Afghanistan
(2) Humanitarian Assistance
Japan is actively cooperating with the humanitarian activities of UN agencies both financially and in terms of human resources. Such cooperation includes active contribution in areas like providing assistance towards refugees and internally displaced peoples, aiding in a smooth transition from humanitarian relief to recovery and response in natural disasters, as well as active support for the efforts by the UN agencies towards better security for aid workers and strengthening civil-military cooperation. Japan is also actively participating in the international discussions towards more effective and efficient implementation of the humanitarian assistance.
▪ General Assembly
▪ Third Committee
▪ Fourth Committee
▪ Security Council
▪ Economic and Social Council
▪ Commission of the Status of Women
▪ Commission of Social Development
▪ UN Women
3. Useful Resources
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Convention on the Rights of the Child
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Toward a World without Mines-Japan's Initiatives-(Pamphlet)
Humanitarian Assistance/ Emergency Assistance
4. Related Links
UN Human Rights
General Assembly of the UN: Social, Humanitarian & Cultural - Third Committee
Human Rights Council
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Commission on the Status of Women
Humanitarian Organizations (in alphabetical order)
Central Emergency Response Fund(CERF)
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
International Organization for Migration (IOM)
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR)
UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS)
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA)
UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)
World Food Programme (WFP)