2004 Statement


H.E. Mr. Koichi Haraguchi

Permanent Representative of Japan

At the Security Council Meeting on the Recommendations of the Security Council Mission to West Africa

23 January 2004

Mr. President,

Japan welcomes the recent positive developments towards the resolution of the conflicts in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, and Guinea-Bissau. These developments owe much to the efforts of the international community and the parties concerned in those countries. I would also like to point out that in West Africa, conflicts in one country are often affected by conflicts in another country and vice versa. Because of this situation, it is very important that the countries in the region act in solidarity to try to solve conflicts with a sense of common regional ownership, as it were. In this connection, Japan highly appreciates the contributions made by ECOWAS, and believes that the international community should encourage such regional initiatives and support the organization to enhance its capabilities to conduct peace activities. Japan provided assistance to the ECOWAS round-table meeting in Accra in June 2003, and would like to continue to support the efforts made by ECOWAS.

At the same time, I am also informed that almost twenty thousand troops are currently deployed in UNAMSIL in Sierra Leone and UNMIL in Liberia, and a United Nations office is operating in Guinea-Bissau. Furthermore the Secretary-General just released a report recommending the establishment of a peacekeeping operation in Cote d'Ivoire. It goes without saying that the international community should support the efforts to resolve these conflicts. But frankly speaking, it is necessary to recognize that there is a limit to the resources which the United Nations can deploy for these purposes. Having said that, the resources of the United Nations for these purposes come not only from Council members, but also from non-members of the Council, and thus, we, the Member States, must always give consideration to how we can underwrite operations. As Japan is automatically required to share almost twenty percent of the budget of each peacekeeping operation established by the Security Council without substantial participation in Council debate, we are naturally much interested in the magnitude of the financial requirements of each peacekeeping operation, and wish to request the Council to seriously discuss how to achieve the objectives of maintaining peace and security in the most effective and efficient way. We also wish to emphasize how important it is for the Council to discuss a definitive exit strategy when it decides to establish any peacekeeping operation.

Mr. President,

The situation in Cote d'Ivoire is at a very critical stage, and it is important for the Security Council to make efforts to maintain the momentum it has generated in implementing the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement of January 2003. I understand that the members of the Council are currently discussing the possible establishment of a peacekeeping operation in Cote d'Ivoire, following the recommendations of the Secretary-General in his report of 6 January 2004. Japan considers it important that the concrete conditions mentioned in the report should be met for the establishment of such an operation. Furthermore we are of the view that before the Council makes a decision, the Secretariat of the United Nations should explain to non-members of the Council as well why it considers appropriate the number of troops that have been proposed to fulfill the mandates of the possible operation. I would also like to make the same request with respect to the number of civilian police personnel which will be suggested later.

As for Liberia, Japan welcomes the ongoing efforts to prepare for the International Reconstruction Conference on Liberia in February 2004. Japan also welcomes the progress of the peace process, including the beginning of disarmament and demobilization and the efforts to constitute the National Transitional Government of Liberia. We hope that Liberia will become a good example in West Africa of how to restore human security in a post-conflict area. On the other hand, Japan is concerned about the violent incidents that took place last December in the implementation process of the disarmament programme. In order to prevent the recurrence of such incidents, it is important that the soldiers to be disarmed understand the content and procedures of the programme through enhanced public information activities.

Japan believes, as mentioned earlier, that all peacekeeping operations should have clear exit strategies at their launching. In this connection, it is important that UNAMSIL in Sierra Leone be completed by the end of 2004, as planned in the related reports of the Secretary-General. Japan accordingly has much interest in the recommendations of the Secretary-General which may be submitted by March 2004 on the basis of the findings of an assessment mission concerning the withdrawal of UNAMSIL. There are ongoing efforts to strengthen the Sierra Leone army and police and to establish the effective authority of the Government of Sierra Leone, for example, in the areas where diamond mining activities are under way. Japan believes that these efforts will help achieve the consolidation of peace in Sierra Leone. The international community and the Government of Sierra Leone need to promote such efforts further in order to create the conditions in which UNAMSIL would be able to complete its mandate.

Mr. President,

As mentioned at the outset, a conflict in a West African country often has regional dimensions. Therefore it is very important to deal with such issues as border controls, mercenaries, small arms and light weapons, and refugees from a regional perspective. We hope that the recommendations of the Secretary-General on cross-border issues in West Africa will be submitted soon. I am sure that they will be quite useful in enabling the Council and the countries concerned as well as regional organizations in West Africa to address these issues more effectively.

Thank you, Mr. President.