2004 Statement


Mr. Koichi Haraguchi



6 October 2004

Mr. President,

My government appreciates the Secretary-General’s report, which appropriately brings together issues that require further consideration by Member States on today’s subject, “Justice and the Rule of Law.” I also would like to express my appreciation to the United Kingdom for its efforts in leading the discussion on this subject, together with Finland and other countries that have been conducting seminars and related activities on this subject since last year.

Mr. President,

In many regions and states, we continue to encounter cases which compel us to think about the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict societies. My government places importance on the consolidation of peace in unstable post-conflict societies. Efforts to realize justice and the rule of law during the transitional period until peace is consolidated are of the utmost importance. However, we must not forget that societies in the transitional period are extremely fragile. It is therefore necessary to search for the best way to achieve justice and the rule of law while maintaining the ownership of the people. In the long run, capacity building will be the most important issue. For the short term, various elements need to be taken into consideration. On occasion there may be cases in which things would go wrong if they are not undertaken with a high level of flexibility.

Mr. President,

From such a perspective, Japan wishes to focus on three points to which we attach importance with reference to the Secretary-General’s report.

First, it is important for the Member States to exert efforts in establishing justice and the rule of law within their own borders, in parallel with assistance extended by the United Nations in order to realize justice and establish the rule of law in societies in conflict and post-conflict societies. Since the United Nations is the world forum enjoying the most universal membership, a framework achieved through extensive discussions within the UN gives us every right to expect the full cooperation of the international community as a whole in its implementation. This process is of critical importance. Efforts to achieve justice and establish the rule of law in peacetime provide a base for preventing conflicts from recurring. Furthermore, at times when the United Nations is conducting its operations in failed states and other problem areas or when the UN becomes responsible for administration on a temporary basis during the transitional period, its activities sometimes play a direct role in the establishment of the rule of law. These cases, however, should be regarded as exceptional, and the United Nations should make all possible efforts to transfer primary responsibility to the administrative organization in the region concerned at the earliest possible opportunity.

Second, as I mentioned at the outset, when the United Nations implements assistance to aid in the establishment of justice and the rule of law, it is essential that it conduct its work giving due respect to the support and participation of the people of the recipient states. For example, in Timor-Leste, while the serious crimes of the past are being prosecuted by the courts through the legal process, the activities of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, whose aim is to realize reconciliation through earnest reflection on past conduct, are proving to be effective. The work to establish the rule of law serves not only to punish the criminals but also to discourage the commission of such crimes in the future and thereby to prevent conflict from occurring. If we want the results of such work to take root in the region, it is indispensable for the people of the region in question to have a sense of ownership regarding the significance of the rule of law. For that reason, we should not overlook the importance of publicity and educational activities.

My third point concerns the issue of ad hoc tribunals conducted prior to the establishment of a fully operational, permanent international criminal court. The significance of the recent establishment and operation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) should not be underestimated in any degree. However, it should be borne in mind that the ICC is not a panacea for all the humanitarian tragedies that we have witnessed in the past. In particular, the atrocities that occurred prior to the establishment of the ICC in 2002 still need to be addressed, either at a national level, or through international cooperation. In this connection, when societies and states have been incapable of reacting appropriately in the immediate aftermath of conflict, the international community has worked to establish tribunals such as the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. These courts fulfill multiple purposes: bringing to justice persons allegedly responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law, establishing the foundation for post-conflict public order and realizing universal justice. In Cambodia work is continuing towards the establishment of extraordinary chambers within the existing national court in cooperation with the United Nations, for the prosecution of Khmer Rouge leaders. One of the lessons we have learned from the management of ICTY and ICTR is that the administrative organizations of tribunals financed through assessed contributions can grow to be far bigger than is necessary. The international community is under the pressure of necessity to elucidate the structure for international tribunals that will yield maximum efficiency and effectiveness. My government will continue to closely monitor the activities of ICTY and ICTR to help ensure that the intended objectives of the two tribunals will be achieved efficiently and effectively through the implementation of the completion strategies endorsed by the Security Council. Japan also has been working on the early establishment of the Khmer Rouge Trials extraordinary chambers with assistance from the international community, and welcomes that the Cambodian National Assembly approved the agreement between the Government of Cambodia and the United Nations. Japan expects that further steps will be taken toward prompt ratification of the agreement by Cambodia. The establishment of these chambers is an important step for the realization of justice and establishment of the rule of law in Cambodia, and for that reason, Japan strongly requests Member States to cooperate according to their ability for the success of these trials.

Mr. President,

In order to establish justice and the rule of law in post-conflict societies, it is crucial that the assistance of the international community be implemented in a way that takes in comprehensively the indispensable elements for consolidation of peace, such as security, education, reconstruction and reconciliation. In January of this year, at the open debate on post-conflict national reconciliation, I proposed that the United Nations study past success stories in consolidating peace in unstable post-conflict societies, and identify the problems encountered and the lessons learned. I take note of the Secretary-General’s indication in his report of the necessity of compiling a collection of best practices with regards to justice and the rule of law, and I would like to see his recommendation implemented. The Secretary-General also has instructed the Executive Committee on Peace and Security to propose concrete actions necessary for the strengthening of United Nations support for transitional justice and the rule of law in conflict and post-conflict societies, and my government looks forward to the outcome of the committee’s work.

Thank you very much.