Statement by H.E. Mr. Jun Yamazaki
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
At the Open Debate of the Security Council
On the impact of transnational organized crime on peace, security and stability in West Africa and the Sahel region
21 February 2012
At the outset, I would like to extend warm congratulations to H.E. Mr. Kodjo Menan, Permanent Representative of Togo to the United Nations, for his Presidency of the Security Council for the month of February and welcome the presence of H.E. Mr. Faure Gnassingbé, the President of Togo. Japan commends Togo’s initiative to continue the discussion on West Africa and the Sahel region, following up last month’s initiative by South Africa. I would also like to express appreciation to the Secretary-General for his decision based on which he sent assessment missions to examine the two emerging threats in the region, namely, piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea and the effect of the Libyan crisis on the countries in the Sahel region.
Countries in West Africa and the Sahel region have suffered greatly over the years from the threat of transnational organized crimes such as terrorism, small arms proliferation and illicit drug trafficking, but have made strenuous efforts to overcome these difficulties. Some notable engagements in this area include efforts by ECOWAS to control small arms proliferation and illicit drug trafficking. The four West African countries on the agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) have also strived to cope with these problems through security sector reform and strengthening of the rule of law. These efforts should be recognized.
However, recent discussions have highlighted emerging challenges facing these regions: One is the issue of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea, and the other is the fallout from the Libyan crisis. The Libyan crisis has generated approximately 420,000 returnees to neighboring Niger, Mali, Chad and Mauritania, adding to populations already facing food shortages, as well as proliferation of weapons. Furthermore, the activities of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have posed a significant threat to the security in the region. Also, Japan is seriously concerned about the recent clashes between the government and the Tuareg rebels in Mali as well as the repeated attacks by the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram. Effective action must be taken in order to prevent the region from retreating from the progress made thus far.
The transnational nature of these problems requires us to take a multi-faceted approach, which supplements existing national efforts while allowing ownership to remain in the hands of the affected countries. With this in mind, Japan has supported efforts to address these threats in the region through national, regional and multilateral frameworks. At the national level, Japan has worked in collaboration with UNDP to manage the proliferation of small arms in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire, as well as providing vehicles necessary for controlling organized crime in Mali bilaterally. At the regional level, we have continuously provided assistance to ECOWAS since 2000. For example, one of the efforts in which Japan has recently participated include capacity-building for counternarcotics efforts in Guinea. Multilaterally, Japan, through the PBC and the Commission’s Working Group on Lessons Learned, has contributed to resource mobilization and expressed political support for security sector reform and strengthening of the rule of law in the countries on its agenda. We encourage the Security Council to utilize the outcomes of the PBC discussions as one of the tools for formulating its policies in this area.
We, the international community, must give serious consideration to what is being discussed here today. Transnational organized crime not only spans across different countries; issues such as trafficking, terrorism and piracy are also closely interlinked. In order to fully utilize our existing resources, we must strengthen our efforts and better coordinate among the relevant regional and international actors. Japan remains committed, in cooperation with the United Nations, regional organizations and the countries in the region, to work to bring about peace and stability in these two critical regions.
Thank you, Mr. President.