2004 Statement



14 DECEMBER 2004

Mr. President,

Let me express my appreciation to you for convening an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, one of the important thematic issues the Security Council has been addressing. We also welcome the presentation by Mr. Egeland, who has made a strong commitment to achieving progress in this area.

The report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change points out an alarming trend. Despite the decrease in inter-State warfare, internal armed conflicts are breaking out with greater frequency, and more and more civilians are suffering. As civil war caused by ethnic or religious differences almost invariably intensifies hatred between the parties, civilians are often subjected to relentless attack by combatants, and the number of victims grows in large number. Based on the principle that States have the obligation to ensure the well-being of their populations, the report devotes one chapter to the protection of civilians, pointing out that humanitarian aid is a vital tool for helping Governments fulfill this responsibility, its core purpose being to protect civilian victims, minimize their suffering, and keep them alive during the conflict so that when war ends, there will still be basis and will on the part of the people to promptly rebuild their shattered lives. We should take duly into consideration the protection of civilians as we move forward with reform of the United Nations so as to effectively respond to the new realities and challenges. It is the sincere hope of my Government that the Security Council will further strengthen the legitimacy and effectiveness of its actions, including their efforts to protect civilians in armed conflict.

In order to decide what actions is appropriate, it is extremely important that the Security Council be timely and accurately informed about a situation that is causing concerns over the protection of civilians. In this context, Japan would welcome opportunities to have the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr. Egeland, brief the Security Council on an ad-hoc basis whenever the situation requires. Of course, it is also indispensable for the Security Council to listen to governments concerned about the protection of civilians, and to learn what their analysis and what steps they have taken. The Security Council may also wish to consider utilization of the "Arria formula meetings," where appropriate, taking into account the report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on UN-Civil Society Relations, in order to have a broader understanding of a situation.

On the other hand, it is true that, even in the case of the genocide in Rwanda, when the Security Council failed to take effective action, information was available that massive killings were being under way. The Security Council has the responsibility to respond to situations which pose threats to international peace and security by applying international norms. While recognizing that it cannot solve all humanitarian crises, the Council should give them its full attention and discuss how to respond. Each member of the Security Council should contribute to the international response in one way or another, while bearing in mind the special responsibility it bears.

Mr. President,

The ten-point platform of action that Mr. Egeland introduced provides a highly suggestive base for our discussion of the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Due to time constraints, I will limit myself to making three points to which Japan attaches particular importance.

First, on strengthening cooperation with regional organizations: Regional organizations can play an enormously important role in addressing the protection and assistance need of civilians, for example, by helping to improve security conditions and ensure the safety of humanitarian personnel. In Darfur, for example, we are encouraged to hear that the African Union is engaging in efforts to ameliorate the situation. We believe the United Nations should promote cooperation with regional organizations so that they may fulfill their respective mandates, and we strongly support the Secretary-General's recommendation regarding the establishment of a framework within which the United Nations could engage with regional organizations more systematically on humanitarian issues, including eventually, the legal matters, as appropriate. Japan fully supports the activities conducted by regional organizations to provide assistance and protection to civilians caught amidst conflict. With regard to Darfur, in addition to the contribution of US$22 million we have already disbursed to international organizations for humanitarian assistance, we are further considering cooperating with the AU mission.

Second, it is vitally important that the security and safety of humanitarian personnel be ensured so that they can respond effectively to the protection and assistance needs of civilians. Japan appreciates the Secretary-General's proposal to reform and strengthen the UN security management system and supports steps being taken to implement it to that end. At the same time, we consider it important to the success of this reform that a system be established in which the analysis and views of relevant humanitarian organizations on the ground will be fully taken into account, as the UN system must make difficult decisions in which the protection and assistance needs of civilians must be balanced against the risk to the security of humanitarian personnel. Japan therefore believes in cost-sharing based on the principle of shared responsibility.

Third, special attention should be paid to the protection of the vulnerable, namely women and children. The United Nations should set a good example and urge the parties to armed conflict to follow it. In this context, we deeply regret the reported cases of sexual violence by MONUC personnel, which we understand are now under investigation by the DPKO. The result of the investigation must be presented to the Security Council for discussion. Also, Japan believes it is important in any case of sexual violence that those UN personnel involved including PKO staff, be identified and punished appropriately, and that thorough measures be taken to prevent the recurrence of such incidents. UN personnel must respect and observe the guidelines contained in the bulletin of the Secretary-General on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. We expect that the Secretary-General will consult with PKO-troop-contributing countries with a view to formulating similar guidelines for PKO personnel and having troop-contributing countries train their troops on that basis.

Mr. President,

Despite the steps taken by the Security Council based on the aide-memoire and Under-Secretary-General Mr. Egeland's efforts based on the ten-point platform of action, it remains a huge challenge to protect civilians in armed conflict. While attention to this issue has increased in New York since the Council began addressing it, on the ground it continues to be a deeply serious problem. For its part, Japan believes further coordination is required among relevant actors on the ground including the United Nations, regional organizations, and NGOs, with the close cooperation of the government concerned.

The whole point of humanitarian protection and assistance is alleviating the suffering of civilians in armed conflict. Despite our best efforts, however, after armed conflict breaks out, there is a limit to what we can do. We cannot remove the source of the threat to civilians. Thus Japan believes that the most effective way to protect civilians in armed conflict is to prevent armed conflict in the first place and consolidate peace in post-conflict situations so that conflict would not resurface. It is for this reason that Japan has been advocating the importance of promoting human security, which is the basis of an environment where vulnerable people become important partners in national rebirth and development by being protected and empowered as members of a community and overcoming the difficult conditions of a post-conflict period. Japan expects that this idea of human security will be further mainstreamed and the United Nations will be able to act more effectively to prevent armed conflict and ensure and maintain peace.

Thank you very much.