H.E. Mr. Koichi Haraguchi
At the Public Meeting of the Security Council on the Situation
Concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo
18 July 2003
The present state of affairs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the most critical situations that the international community has to address. Japan therefore welcomes this opportunity for non-Members of the Security Council to express their opinions on this very important subject.
The agreement forged as the result of long negotiations among the government of the DRC and other Congolese Parties for the formation of the new Government of National Unity and Transition, followed by the announcement of President Joseph Kabila on 30 June designating the ministers of the new Government and the swearing-in of 4 vice-presidents on yesterday, is a very important step in the peace process for the DRC. The government of Japan welcomes such progress and commends the efforts made by the facilitator in this regard. It is our fervent hope that all the Congolese parties concerned will cooperate fully in order to allow the government to begin functioning as soon as possible, in accordance with the transitional constitution. The Japanese Government, for its part, is prepared to cooperate closely with the new government and is considering in this connection the possibility of extending assistance in the area of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the ex-combatants.
My government is convinced that it is a matter of great urgency to take measures to stabilize the situation and thereby avoid a humanitarian crisis in the eastern part of the DRC. We very much appreciate the activities undertaken by MONUC and by the Interim Emergency Multinational Force dispatched under the leadership of the European Union under extremely difficult conditions. As the situation following the withdrawal of IEMF this coming September is difficult to predict, it is important for the Security Council to adopt promptly a resolution to authorize the deployment of troops with an appropriate mandate in the Ituri Region and thus ensure a smooth transition from IEMF to the MONUC contingent. This will demonstrate to the parties concerned the strong resolve of the Council to advance the peace process. I would like to raise three issues that should be considered in addressing this matter.
First, given the seriousness of the situation in the area of Bunia, and in order to advance the Ituri pacification process, we recognize that the contingent of MONUC deployed in the region requires a sufficiently robust enforcement mandate and support the granting of such mandate. At the same time, Mr. President, we believe that it is necessary to exercise caution. A strong enforcement mandate for activities such as providing security under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter will, under circumstance in which certain parties are not participating in the ceasefire agreement or peace accord, risk changing the current practices of the peacekeeping operations and plunging the troops into very complicated situations, in which they may be required to engage in combat as if they were parties to the conflict. We should not, therefore, easily confer such robust powers on other peacekeeping operations. Such a mandate should be given to peacekeepers only in the exceptional case in which the urgency of the situation makes it necessary and in which there are countries willing to contribute troops as well as the clear prospect that the troops dispatched with such a mandate will contribute to the improvement of the situation. I would also like to stress that it is inappropriate to formulate such enforcement mandate in an ambiguous manner. It should be clearly defined by the Council resolution to show under what conditions and in which geographical areas it will be exercised, and the rules of engagement enabling the exercise of the mandate should be established accordingly.
Second, as for the size of MONUC, the Government of Japan recognizes the necessity for strengthening MONUC in order to address adequately the additional urgent needs which have emerged in the eastern part of the country and to prevent the spreading of the crisis to other parts of the DRC. We consider it unrealistic, however, to take the same approach as is being applied in the Ituri region to the entire territory. Peace cannot be consolidated by force through the foreign military presence of MONUC in as vast a country as the DRC. We must stress that all parties concerned need to cooperate of their own volition in promoting the peace process.
Third, as to the arms embargo proposed by the Secretary-General, Japan believes that it is important to ensure its effectiveness once imposed. From that point of view, we hope that the Security Council will consider carefully the introduction of the necessary measures, particularly the issue of how to monitor its implementation. In relation to the problem of small arms and light weapons, it was indicated during the Biennial Meeting on Small Arms last week that, based on the Programme of Action initiated in 2001, national focal points for this issue have been established in the Great Lakes region. Close cooperation with these national contact points in the implementation of an arms embargo is essential. I also wish to take this opportunity to stress that the Council should consider taking effective measures to deal with the problem of the illicit exploitation of natural resources as well.
Under the leadership of Ambassador Swing, the newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Japan hopes that MONUC will continue to function effectively. If we fail in the DRC, the credibility of the United Nations peacekeeping operations will be seriously compromised. The international community must remain committed to devoting its utmost efforts to assisting in the solution of the problem.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.