2000 Statement



Representative of Japan

At the Meeting of the Security Council on the Protection of United Nations Personnel, Associated Personnel, and Humanitarian Personnel in Conflict Zones

9 February 2000

Mr. President,

I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for personally presiding over this meeting to consider ways and means of enhancing the security of those personnel who are working in conflict zones. The importance of this issue cannot be overemphasized, as the safety of personnel is a precondition for the success of every UN political and humanitarian operation.

Although the need to improve the safety of UN personnel working in the field has been discussed at length in this Council and also in other fora of the United Nations, it is clear that more needs to be done. As the number of those killed in the line of duty continues to increase, there is no clear sign of improvement in the security situation surrounding those personnel. It is imperative, therefore, that we mobilize our collective political will and start taking concrete and practical steps to protect those personnel and prevent further casualties.

First and foremost, what can the Security Council do to improve the safety of personnel?

The Security Council, as the principal organ for the maintenance of international peace and security, should attach higher priority in its work to the safety of personnel in the field. We expect the Council to continue to monitor closely the situation in the field and, if necessary, adopt specific measures to protect personnel in conflict zones and take a public stand against those who endanger the lives of such personnel. The strong and consistent interest of the Security Council in the safety of personnel engaged in UN operations under dangerous circumstances will demonstrate that the international community will not tolerate a culture of impunity and will hold responsible the organizations and individuals who violate the safety of personnel.

While a wide range of specific measures are called for, today I would like to focus my comments upon two areas which I believe additional efforts are especially needed.

In January 1999 we finally welcomed the entry into force of the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel; as previous speakers suggested only twenty-nine countries have thus far ratified it, however, is a source of great disappointment. Moreover, these twenty-nine countries do not include any of the countries where UN peacekeeping forces are deployed. As the second country to have ratified the Convention, Japan would like to call upon those States which have not yet done so to become parties to it as soon as possible. It is especially important that all members of the Security Council do so, so far only four has done, thereby setting an example to the rest of the membership of this Organization.

In this regard, I would hope that the Security Council will urge those Member States receiving UN operations in their own territories to sign and ratify the Convention, thereby clearly demonstrating their political and legal commitment to uphold their responsibility of protecting the safety of UN and associated personnel who are engaged in their work in their operational area.

It is also necessary to extend the scope of this Convention to include UN and associated personnel who are not covered yet under its umbrella. Accordingly, Japan heartily supports the recommendation made in the Secretary-Generalfs report of 8 September 1999 in which he called upon the Security Council to "invite the General Assembly to urgently pursue the development of a protocol to the 1994 Convention, which would extend the scope of legal protection to all UN and associated personnel". Therefore we welcome General Assembly resolution A/54/192 of December 17, 1999, toward that end. At the same time, it should be recalled that, under the 1994 Convention itself, the Security Council may extend the scope of legal protection on a case by case basis, and perhaps the Security Council may utilize mechanism.

Mr. President,

Another important area is the need for concrete and practical steps to enhance the safety of personnel in the field.

Training in safety and security is particularly important. Since the end of 1998, the Office of the UN Security Coordinator organized a series of training missions and workshops in many regions in the world, including Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Kenya, and we understand additional workshops are scheduled to take place throughout this year, all financed from the Trust Fund for the Security of UN Personnel. We are gratified to learn that quite a few staff members have credited the lessons they had learned in those workshop with saving their lives. I would like to express Japan’s appreciation to the Office of the UN Security Coordinator for its dedicated efforts in carrying out these training activities. The need for security training is growing, and the Trust Fund requires continued support. We find it deeply distressing therefore that to date, only five Member States, including Japan, have contributed to the Fund. My delegation would like to invite the entire membership of the United Nations to support the Trust Fund.

Mr. President,

As a way of encouraging a more positive response from Member States, it might be worthwhile if the UN Secretariat organized regular briefings to apprise them of concrete measures which have been taken so far and discuss with them possible additional measures and support.

In this connection, we hope that the general and comprehensive review of security requirements for peacekeepers which had been planned by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations will be completed as soon as possible. A working group or a seminar on the safety and security of UN personnel with the participation of Member States, which the Special Committee on Peace-keeping Operations proposed last year, would serve as a useful forum to facilitate the review. Japan is ready to extend its support for such a meeting.

In closing, Mr. President, let me emphasize that all of us gathered here today must recommit ourselves to translating words into concrete actions for the improved security of the dedicated men and women who are working for the cause of global peace.

Thank you, Mr. President.