H.E. Mr. Koichi Haraguchi
Permanent Representative of Japan
At the Security Council Meeting on the Cross-Border Issues in West Africa
25 March 2004
I welcome the practical recommendations offered in SG's report on ways to combat subregional and cross-border problems in West Africa. As pointed out in the report, we too think it important that Governments in West Africa strengthen their governance and exercise their ownership in the peace-building process. It is particularly noteworthy that the Secretary-General is emphasizing that the primary responsibility for improving governance lies with each national Government in West Africa. Japan shares this view. Since the inception of TICAD, the Tokyo International Conference for African Development, in 1993, a collaboration achieved through ownership of African countries and partnership of the international community, has been the cornerstone of Japan's policy vis-?-vis Africa. It is also the basis of our efforts toward promoting consolidation of peace in Africa. It is our intention to continue to assist actively, in cooperation with the international community, those countries as well as organizations active in West Africa that are taking a leadership role in resolving conflicts in the region. Japan also considers that, in the process of peace-building, an approach that focuses on the protection and empowerment of individual people is extremely important. This is the "human security" approach. I sincerely hope that the international community will take concrete action in order to ensure "human security" in the West African region. Japan has promoted the idea of human security in Sierra Leone by supporting a reintegration of ex-combatants through the Trust Fund for Human Security.
The need for peacekeeping operations is increasing in many parts of the world. It is important to recognize, however, that there is inevitably a limit to the resources available to respond to such needs. Therefore, we believe that it is a good practical suggestion, which deserves our serious consideration, that the resources which will be saved by downsizing UNAMSIL be reallocated to the PKOs in Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire. Japan is of the view that further efforts should be pursued to increase synergy among the missions in the region, including the possibility of the regionalization of PKO in the longer perspective. It would be also useful to agree on a division of labor between a UN PKO and a multinational force, as has taken place in Cote d'Ivoire.
As mentioned in the SG's report, the idea of implementing development projects for a designated community in order to facilitate the collection of small arms and light weapons deserves serious consideration. Japan actually implemented this idea in Cambodia under the "Weapons for Development" project, and it has been producing a big success.
It is important to recognize that the reintegration of ex-combatants as well as the reconstruction and development of communities in the post-conflict phase are essential in order to prevent the recurrence of conflicts, as was emphasized in the SG's report. Under this recognition, Japan has provided assistance of some 6.5 million US dollars in total for DDR projects in Sierra Leone. However, in West Africa it is difficult to implement DDR activities in one country effectively without paying attention to the regional dimension, because combatants from that country and neighboring countries can easily cross the borders. For that reason, it is essential that DDR activities be also implemented in such neighboring countries as Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire. I am pleased to announce, in this connection, that Japan decided on March 19 to extend emergency grant assistance of some 3.6 million US dollars to UNICEF for the DDRR programme for child soldiers in Liberia. Japan has also decided to provide non-project grant aid counterpart fund of approximately 2.3 million dollars in total for DDR projects in Cote d'Ivoire. Japan recognizes the gravity of the problem of child and women soldiers in West Africa who are both social victims and a factor in the escalation of conflicts, and, as was recommended in the Secretary-General's report, would like to appeal to the Member States to adopt policies against the recruitment and use of them for military purposes.
It is the promotion of development that is most needed in the countries in West Africa. And there should be no place in their national agenda to engage in conflicts that consume valuable resources and bring nothing but misery to the people. Even if there is a serious difference of positions between groups, it is critically important to have dialogue so as to build confidence, and eventually to try to solve problems peacefully. We have already seen cases where ownership is exercised by West African countries in the field of peacekeeping under the auspices of ECOWAS. We do hope that the same strong sense of ownership will be demonstrated in the areas of promotion of governance and peace-building as well. Japan intends to continue to provide assistance, together with the international community, for such efforts.
Thank you, Mr. President.