H.E. Ambassador Kenzo Oshima
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
On the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
21 June 2005
I join previous speakers in expressing our appreciation to you for convening today痴 open debate on this important subject. I also thank Under-Secretary-General Jan Egeland for his informative briefing on efforts being made and challenges ahead of us. As a former Emergency Relief Coordinator committed to promoting this cause, I commend USG Egeland and his staff at OCHA and other United Nations humanitarian organizations involved for all their dedicated, tenacious efforts to address this very challenging issue.
Complying with the time limit you have set, I will focus on three areas to which my Government attaches particular importance, especially from the viewpoint of the concept of human security that the Japanese Government is promoting in the international community.
First, on internal displacement. We are deeply concerned over several recent instances in which armed groups deliberately used displacement as a means to exploit civilian populations. Such acts are unacceptable and must be condemned. They are a reminder once again that renewed efforts should be made to call the attention of the international community, and countries concerned in particular, to upholding the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement as the basic norm for the protection of civilian populations. This document clearly states that 兎very human being shall have the right to be protected against being arbitrarily displaced from his or her home or place of habitual residence.・When internal displacement occurs in armed conflict and national authorities are unable or unwilling to protect and assist, the persons displaced should be given protection and assistance by UN and other humanitarian organizations, and where appropriate, by peacekeepers. The cooperation of regional organizations should also be sought.
In such international assistance efforts, questions sometimes arise between peacekeepers with a robust mandate to protect civilians on the one hand, and humanitarian workers who uphold neutrality on the other. Defining their respective roles can be a challenge, often seen in integrated missions. This question should be considered from a practical viewpoint, namely what will best achieve the purpose of protecting and assisting IDPs on the ground. form must follow function・ or the desired function should determine the mission structure, as stated in the report on integrated missions issued last month by an independent study team commissioned by the Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs.
Second, we strongly denounce the widespread sexual exploitation and abuse committed in situations of armed conflict, whether by civilian or military personnel. Special attention should be paid to protecting the vulnerable from exploitation. Victims should receive special care and assistance, and perpetrators must be brought to justice. Particularly regrettable are recent incidents in which United Nations personnel, who, as guardians and protectors of the vulnerable must observe the highest standards, have failed to do so.
We welcome the report of Prince Zeid of Jordan that was presented earlier to the Security Council on this issue and the robust measures agreed upon in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. They need to be implemented and translated into action expeditiously. Earlier this month, the Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping, which I chair, took up this issue, focusing on the case of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), with the participation of troop-contributing countries and major stakeholders, and of the bureau of the Special Committee. We reviewed the state of implementation of recommendations. We took note of active measures that are being taken by the Secretariat and troop contributors, but further progress is needed and we intend to keep the implementation of measures under review.
Third, the problem of small arms and light weapons continues to be alarming. The widespread use of small arms not only results in a large number of casualties but also gives rise to other problems such as the use of child soldiers and the disruption of recovery and development in post-conflict situations. In an effort to help tackle this problem, Japan has been actively contributing to awareness raising and promoting normative discussion by sponsoring resolutions in the General Assembly. My Government has also been active in helping the implementation of projects to collect and destroy surplus small arms and light weapons on the ground. We should redouble our efforts in this area as we approach the United Nations Conference to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action next year.
In conclusion, Mr. President,
As Under-Secretary-General Egeland pointed out, the Security Council must ensure that the thematic discussions we have had on this topic will make a difference on the ground, where vulnerable populations desperately need protection and assistance. For this purpose, we need to incorporate key elements in country-specific resolutions. We fully support your Presidential Statement and look forward to the adoption of a resolution at the earliest possible time that reflects the progress we have made on this subject.
Thank you very much.