Statement by Ambassador Kazuo Kodama
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan
On Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
22 November 2010
I thank Under-Secretary-General Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General Le Roy, High Commissioner for Human Rights Pillay, and the ICRC Director-General Daccord for their update. It is clear that throughout the world, civilians in great numbers--women, children and refugees--become victims when conflicts erupt. It is therefore important for us to achieve concrete improvements on the ground by means of today’s debate.
To that end, we support the proposal by the Secretary-General to promote three approaches: a comprehensive approach, a consistent approach and an accountable approach, in order to overcome the five challenges raised in his previous report.
The first of three, the comprehensive approach, can be achieved when the actors involved are proactive and engage in greater cooperation with each other.
First, it is the responsibility of the government and the army of a country in which a conflict occurs to protect its own people. To that end, the rule of law should be established by promoting security sector reform (SSR) and strengthening the judicial system and law enforcement.
Second, with the enhancement of the response capacity of UN peacekeeping operations, we are pleased to see UN missions in Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan have developed strategies for the protection of civilians, and training modules will be completed shortly for all peacekeeping personnel, covering such protection as well as other matters. Still more comprehensive strategies are required to fill the gap between existing capacities and the standards to which we aspire.
Third, control of weapons, including such explosive weapons as land mines, cluster bombs and IED, should be strengthened, especially through promotion of regional cooperation and the creation of a legal framework. As for small arms, last June the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States considered the Programme of Action, which should be implemented without delay to prevent and eradicate the illegal trade in small arms. Also, the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions was held in Laos in early November and the Vientiane Declaration and Vientiane Action Plan were adopted there. Japan would like to see the international community engage in the cooperation necessary to make this treaty universal and fulfill its provisions.
Fourth, the protection of women and children is a priority, since it is they who are the major victims of conflicts. Japan accordingly appreciates the active discussions at the Ministerial open debate on women and peace and security last month and supports the utilization by the UN and Member States of a set of indicators in implementing resolution 1325. Japan is also concerned over the intentional use of sexual violence by armed groups, and it therefore supports the active efforts being made in this area by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ms. Wallstrom. We expect UN Women to play a significant role in coordinating the work being done in this field, and we reaffirm the need to strengthen targeted sanctions against persistent perpetrators of violence against children, in accordance with the resolution 1882.
Turning now to the consistent approach, Japan welcomes the recent development of the operational concept by the DPKO and DFS with a view to promoting consistency. Cooperation between the military and civilians should be strengthened to further ensure humanitarian access. And it is also a priority to protect humanitarian aid workers in order to prevent them from becoming the target of attacks. In this regard, the establishment of a nationwide network of inter-agency protection working groups under the lead of UNMIS is a good example of the kind of measures that should be taken.
Second, in light of the need to share best practices and lessons from the past, in accordance with resolution 1894, we must definitely learn from the mass rapes that were committed in the eastern part of the DRC earlier this year, which provided us with many lessons, namely, that the early warning system needs to be strengthened; that communication between local people and peacekeeping missions needs to be developed and that troop-contributing countries need to receive training; that there needs to be smooth and close communication between the Council and DPKO. An example of the kind of success we need in this area was the establishment in Timor-Leste of a hotline between the UN mission and civilians and local authorities. The updated aide-memoire also should be utilized proactively to this end. And the experience of drawing down and then withdrawing MINURCAT should be shared, with a view to utilizing benchmarks for the protection of civilians.
Third, the Council should obtain the most accurate and objective information and then make use of it on the ground in a timely manner, so that the establishment or renewal of a mandate related to the protection of civilians may be considered. For this reason, we should start to communicate with troop- and police-contributing countries at an early stage of UN involvement. The Council should utilize informal mechanisms such as interactive dialogue, and the discussions in the Security Council should better reflect those taking place in informal expert groups.
Last but not least, Mr. President, I stress the importance of the accountable approach: maintaining accountability and fighting against impunity. To these ends, first, the affected country should build its own capacity to establish the rule of law as a means of strengthening the protection of civilians. And cooperation between the affected country and the UN should be pursued in order to spread the rule of law to more countries. I might mention in this connection that in July the first conviction was handed down by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, to which Japan has given its support. Further efforts should be made to strengthen the rule of law at both the international and national levels, based on a careful analysis of the situation in each country.
In addition, the Council should engage in efforts to strengthen accountability, and enhance cooperation with UN organizations including the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. We should be aware that measures are being taken such as the establishment of the Committee of Investigation at the Human Rights Council. As mentioned in the latest SG report, strengthened monitoring on the ground through the involvement of many UN and other actors will contribute to promoting and enhancing the protection of civilians.
In closing, Mr. President, I would like to emphasize again the relevance of the human security approach, which can serve as a conceptual basis for protecting and empowering those in a society who are its most vulnerable members. Empowerment of vulnerable people such as children, IDPs and refugees, through education and training at the individual and community levels, is also an essential means of preventing conflicts from recurring once they have been resolved. It is for this reason that Japan has been providing support for such efforts, for example, through the UN Trust Fund for Human Security.
Thank you, Mr. President.