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Statement by H.E. Mr. Kenzo Ohshima
Permanent Representative of Japan
26 May 2005
My delegation is very grateful that you have organized this open debate in the Security Council on post-conflict peacebuilding. The timing is excellent. The attention of the international community is focused on this important subject because of the High-level Panel report and the Secretary-General's report, "In Larger Freedom".
One of the priority issues in my country's international assistance policy is its support for "consolidation of peace and nation-building" in countries emerging from conflict. Japan has long stressed the need for seamless assistance in the comprehensive settlement of conflicts. In particular, my government believes in the importance of peacebuilding from the earliest stage of conflict settlement. As a result, Japan has supported peacebuilding activities in Timor-Lest, Afghanistan, Iraq and various conflict areas in Africa.
Speaking from Japan's experience, one challenge we face in peacebuilding efforts is that there is no general template for handling all conflicts. The same is true regarding the role of the UN. For example, the UN had administrative control of Timor-Leste during a brief transitional period before independence. During that period, the UN was directly in charge of all peacebuilding activities on the island. The UN's policy in Afghanistan is called the "light footprint approach". There, the UN has encouraged local leaders to take charge, while respecting the initiatives of other international participants. In Africa, the UN's approach to DDR issues has differed considerably from one conflict to another, taking into account the nature of each particular conflict as well as the local situation. The UN's role in peacebuilding should be flexibly defined by the specific conflict situation and the roles played by other peacebuilding participants.
You raised a number of important issues in your discussion paper for this open debate. My delegation would like to talk about the three issues we feel are the most important: (1) local ownership, (2) a comprehensive strategy and integrated approach and (3) the issue of financing.
As you suggested in your discussion paper, Mr. President, ownership among local actors must be encouraged and strengthened as much as possible. Most of us would agree that self-help efforts by the local population are essential for the success of any peace agreement and should be respected. In a similar vein, the success of post-conflict peacebuilding depends on having the locals in the driver's seat. The role of international assistance should be to provide support as necessary. There often arise situations, however, where the national government is either in a state of collapse or not functioning at all, In such a case, it is imperative for the international community to take the lead in peacebuilding until a new government starts to perform its role effectively. However, we need to be aware of the risk of making the local aid recipients over-dependent on international assistance. Projects aimed at local empowerment and capacity-building would help to prevent that from happening. In addition, peacebuilding projects should make the best possible use of local human resources and local ownership.
National governments are not the only local partners for us. Even in conflict situations, traditional entities, communities and civil groups can sometimes play critical roles. I would like to recall the debate on the role of civil society in post-conflict peacebuilding that was held last June, when the Security Council praised the important role played by civil society. We should acknowledge the contribution these groups can make and look for ways to cooperate with them. They are important partners in our peacebuilding activities. This is all the more true when a national government is not functioning. Communication and dialogue with local people at all levels is essential. We need to listen to the voices of the victims of conflicts: women, minorities, and other victims. They must all be engaged in the post-conflict process if it is to be successful.
You also raised the need to develop a comprehensive strategy and to integrate the activities of all the relevant actors. Cooperation and coordination among international participants in the peacebuilding process is indispensable to achieve these objectives. And we need to note that there are different levels of cooperation depending on who the actors in question are, especially as the concept of "integrated missions" is being discussed actively at the UN of late.
- Firstly, inside complex peacekeeping operations and peacebuilding missions, the activities of their different components must be adequately integrated under the leadership of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for the fulfillment of the mission's mandate. Mutual cooperation and support is necessary, for example, among (1) the military component that provides security, (2) the police unit that deals with the maintenance of law and (3) civilians in charge of institution-building, humanitarian assistance and human rights protection.
- Secondly, outside of the UN missions, cooperation with UN funds, programmes and specialized agencies is also critically important. The SRSG should be given the authority to coordinate with these UN bodies. In undertaking such coordination, the SRSG should seek to attain the best division of labor, taking into account the areas of responsibility, advantages and degree of achievement on the ground of each of the UN bodies concerned.
- Thirdly, outside the UN and its related organizations, the World Bank and other international financial institutions play an indispensable role in peacebuilding. For example, the World Bank worked with the UNDP in a crucial role in the transitional administration in Timor-Leste and in providing assistance for the north-south peace agreement in Sudan. Together they conducted joint assessments to identify the needs and estimate costs for reconstruction and development. We hope the World Bank, UNDP and other UN agencies, programs and funds will continue this kind of cooperation through the implementation of peacebuilding activities. International NGOs and the ICRC also play very important roles in peacebuilding. These organizations often begin activities when a conflict is in its early stages. Therefore, they gain deep knowledge and broad experience in dealing with the conflict. The SRSG should have respect for the contributions these organizations can make and seek to work with them whenever possible.
This work should be at both the field and headquarters levels. It should cover all stages of peacebuilding, from planning to implementation and review. It is particularly important for the SRSG to develop an effective system for cooperation among all the different players when a new mission is established. When a mission is withdrawn, the SRSG must hand over mission activities to the national government and other actors, with a view to ensuring a smooth transition to reconstruction and development.
We agree with you that stable funding is important for peacebuilding. The comprehensive settlement of a conflict is bound to depend on peacebuilding activities continuing for a certain period of time. It will also require financial resources. Peacekeeping is financed through assessed contributions and enjoys funding stability. But peacebuilding is mostly financed through the voluntary contributions which depend on the goodwill of donors. Simply turning to assessed contributions, however, is not a solution. If we financed all peacebuilding activities through assessed contributions, it would hinder not only the optimum allocation of financial resources but also local ownership in peacebuilding. It may also risk expanding and prolonging the UN's engagement beyond what is actually necessary. Therefore, we should discuss which types of peacebuilding activities should be financed through assessed contributions and which through voluntary contributions. This needs to be done on a case-by-case basis, based on the existing division of scopes between the two, while taking into account the nature of individual conflicts and the situation on the ground. We should also consider mobilizing the private sector in the financing of peacebuilding efforts.
Before closing, let me raise the issue of the relationship between peacebuilding and "human security". Japan launched the idea of "human security", which deals with threats not only from the point of view of "state security" but also from the human perspective. Its objective is to protect people from critical and pervasive threats to human life, livelihood and dignity and thus to enhance human fulfillment. "Human security" thus understood provides an important perspective for peacebuilding. As stated in the report of the Commission on Human Security, which takes up the transition from conflict to peace as a priority issue, the response from the international community should take into full account the needs of the people on the ground and the local community. The success of peacebuilding and the transition from conflict to peace and development hinges on whether the concept of "human security" can be translated into reality so that people are protected and empowered to stand on their own feet.
Finally, let me mention the idea of a Peacebuilding Commission proposed by the Secretary-General. Japan strongly supports the creation of this body. My government has made a number of proposals in recent discussions in the General Assembly on how such a body might be set up and what its functions should be to ensure its effectiveness. We will spare no effort in our work with other interested countries so that a Peacebuilding Commission will be established and can begin its work soon. That is the best way to address the important issue we are discussing today in concrete terms.
Thank you, Mr. President.