2004 Statement


H.E. Mr. Toshiro Ozawa

Ambassador of Japan to the United Nations

The Fifth Committee
Fifty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly

3 June 2004

Mr. Chairman.

The projection that the next peacekeeping operations budget may rise to $4.5 billion is slowly becoming a reality. If so, this will mean a precipitous increase of more than 60 percent over the last budget to a level unprecedented in history.

About a month ago, on May 4th, here in this Committee, my delegation stated: "It may be true that there is no price-tag on peace, but it is also true that Member States' resources are not unlimited". The question we now pose to you is this: "Are we the Member States represented here in the Fifth Committee fully and sincerely committed to bearing our individual financial responsibilities as we collectively embark on giving approval to the budget proposals that we have deliberated?" To be very frank, my delegation questions whether the capacity to pay of us the Member States can actually accommodate this precipitous increase in the PKO budget.

Speaking of Japan, we must point out that the Government of Japan is not blessed with a budgetary mechanism that can easily absorb a more than 60 percent increase of a major budget item. We must also point out that there is criticism within Japan for providing money to PKOs for the benefit of those parties who may or may not be willing to settle their conflicts. This criticism is reinforced by the fact that Japan, not being a Permanent Member of the Security Council, has often no say in the decisions of the Security Council concerning the long term policies of individual PKOs, despite Japan's obligation to shoulder about one fifth of the related costs. Needless to say, such criticism arises out of Japan's strong commitment to peace on the one hand, and on the other, the frustration regarding the obligations incurred from assessed contributions for peacekeeping budgets. It would be intolerable for the Government of Japan to be left out of discussions especially if those discussions are held without due consideration for facing "the moment of truth" for cases where there is a perceived lack of will to pursue peace. To avoid misunderstanding, we wish to point out that this remark is based on the well known fact that nation-building cannot take place in the absence of peace and security.

Mr. Chairman,

In reality, the very steep increase in the peacekeeping budget will consume resources that could have been allocated for humanitarian assistance or poverty reduction. Japan's share of the burden is expected to reach $900 million. This would be an amount almost equal to the total Japanese annual voluntary contributions to all the United Nations funds and programmes such as UNICEF, and to specialized agencies such as the WHO. This being the case, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the next assessments for peacekeeping may impact Japan's support to emergency and humanitarian assistance through international organizations in a devastating manner.

We have mentioned before that $900 million is equivalent to about one tenth of Japan's total ODA, and is slightly more than Japan's current annual bilateral assistance to the African countries. We beg you to think about it. With $900 million, every child in the world suffering dehydration from diarrhea could be provided with oral rehydration salt, 50 million children could be vaccinated against tuberculosis and measles, or 400 million children could be provided with schooling stationery for education.

Mr. Chairman,

Despite my previous remarks, we should not spare resources for the noble cause of consolidating peace. However, if there are cases where PKOs continue to exist because the parties concerned profess a desire for a consolidation of peace without a real interest to pursue peace -- (and, we confess that we do not know whether such cases exist or not since we do not participate in the Security Council deliberations), -- then, my delegation would like to pose another question which we think should be seriously considered by all the members here. Our resources are not unlimited. This is a reality whether we like it or not. If we consume those limited resources in the name of peace, there may be little left for helping those who are in extreme poverty and are unable to live in dignity even though they live in peace. We hope that all of you here would give serious thought to this another unintended reality. And, we urge the Security Council to give more serious thoughts to the exit and completion strategies of the ongoing PKOs. So, the question is: "Is it truly the consensus of the international community that resources be diverted from efforts to help children suffering from poverty and diseases?" My government and the people of Japan wish to terminate the vicious cycle of conflict and poverty and to extend a helping hand to those people courageous enough to abandon their weapons and fight poverty. That is Japan's philosophy and its sincere wish.

Mr. Chairman,

Recently, my Government reaffirmed its solidality with NEPAD on the occasion of TICAD III. The TICAD process and the spirit of NEPAD both emphasize mutual respect, ownership, and the ordinary people's hope. Japan has and will continue to advocate equal partnership based on these three elements. We are encouraged by the fact that the esteemed leaders of Africa are in complete agreement with the Japanese leaders on these points. My delegation firmly believes that equal partnership means solidarity.

Having said that, we wish to mention some points, in a friendly way, as a country that rebuilt itself from ruin 59 years ago, as a peace-loving nation. We note that today, almost seventy percent of peacekeeping operations activities are taking place in Africa. However, is it not true that the African countries, after having borne historical hardships over the centuries, and then experiencing further suffering as one of the East-West fronts during the Cold War, are now, finally, beginning to assert their ownership and endeavoring to take-off? Today, about half of the sub-Saharan African countries are achieving 4 to 5 percent economic growth, and even more countries have set up multi-party electoral systems, and in these countries, the ordinary people's hope for a better tomorrow is beginning to be realized. This is truly a matter for joy, and the Government of Japan will continue to strongly support such developments through the TICAD process. At the same time, the fact that almost seventy percent of peacekeeping operations are being carried out in Africa should be taken seriously. We have already mentioned the importance of exit and completion strategies for peacekeeping operations. This is because we suspect that peacekeeping operations without exit/completion strategies seem synonymous to a situation where there is lack of will to pursue peace. Could it be that peacekeeping missions are being sought after almost perpetually because peace based on ownership is not being pursued? Needless to say, the parties to the conflict must play the key roles for peace. But, in the African context, we note that the African Union is expressing a proactive attitude to tackle these matters on a regional basis. We welcome the establishment of the Peace and Security Council in the African Union, and wish to work together in the coming years.

Regarding the complacency with the status-quo that sets in with long-term PKOs, we note that this problem persists around the world. My government wishes to scrutinize these missions, so that unintended dependencies can be rooted out. Resources for such missions cannot be justified, and are detrimental for the country as well, even without referring to the unintended diversion effect.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.