2004 Statement


H.E. Mr. Toshiro Ozawa

Ambassador of Japan to the United Nations

Agenda item 134: Administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations

4 May, 2004

Fifth Committee
Fifty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly
4 May 2004
New York
Mr. Chairman,

Quotation: "The United Nations was founded, in the words of its Charter, in order to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. Meeting this challenge is the most important function of the Organization.... Over the last decade, the United Nations has repeatedly failed to meet the challenge, and it can do no better today."

This striking passage is an excerpt from the Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations ("Brahimi report" of 2000). Building upon this report, the United Nations has engaged in serious discussions on many ideas for effecting reform, and translated numerous initiatives into action. For its part, Japan has engaged actively in these reform efforts. Such efforts are beginning to bear fruit. The revival of peacekeeping operations is of benefit to the entire world, and we welcome this phenomenon.

Ironically, however, the continuing creation and deployment of peacekeeping operations on an unprecedented scale is beginning to cast a grim shadow over this revival. In his press conference on 2 April, the President of the Security Council said that there is a possibility that the total budget for peacekeeping operations this year could rise to 4.5 billion dollars, an amount unprecedented in history. Under such circumstances, Japan would be expected to shoulder approximately 900 million dollars of this burden. This is an enormous figure, surpassing Japan's current annual bilateral Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the African countries. It may be true that there is no price-tag on peace, but it is also true that Member States' resources are not unlimited. Should not Member States face up to the fact that increased budgets for peacekeeping do consume resources that might otherwise flow into such areas as development and poverty alleviation? Should not Member States ask whether it makes sense for peacekeeping operations to carry out such tasks as development and human rights, tasks which other international organizations are better equipped to undertake? Japan is of the view that we Member States must give more serious thoughts on whether continuation of current practices is truly beneficial for the international community as a whole.

Mr. Chairman,

We cannot just sit back and watch the peacekeeping operations fail again. It is from this perspective that Japan attaches importance to the following four points.

First, the Security Council, when it decides to establish a peacekeeping mission, should also formulate an exit strategy. The need to formulate exit strategies does not mean that arbitrary deadlines for concluding missions should be imposed. Rather, exit strategies should set concrete benchmarks to measure how much progress has been made in the execution of the mandates; then, review that progress periodically; then, downsize operations in proportion to the progress made; and finnally, liquidate missions when it is judged that their mandates have been fully fulfilled. Without appropriate exit strategies, it is probably impossible to rationalize peacekeeping budgets. From this standpoint, my delegation appreciates the work of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, which argues in its report this year that "when a new mission is being planned, full account must be taken of the exit strategy."

Second, as we expect that large-scale missions will be established in Burundi and Sudan, following those in Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire and very recently in Haiti, the lessons learned from the rapid deployment of peacekeeping operations should be compiled and analyzed thoroughly. We should fully utilize the knowledge gained, and reflect this in the formulation of our future policies. To name a few of the measures that have already been introduced from the financing side, Member States have set up the strategic deployment stocks, the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund, and also granted pre-mandate commitment authority to the Secretary-General. If we revise these measures in haste without thorough consideration of their possible long term impacts in order simply to accommodate current needs, this may result in lingering, negative effect of a systemic nature. We believe that the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and the Board of Auditors should play significant roles in assessing the lessons learned concerning rapid deployment. We also think that the Peacekeeping Best Practice Unit, which has been reinforced with resources, also has an important function in this regard.

Third, we should continue to press forward vigorously with the reform of the Secretariat which plays an essential role in the establishment and deployment of peacekeeping missions. For this purpose, the OIOS report on the impact of the recent restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (A/58/746) is very useful, and my Government takes particular note of the observation that the linkage between the budget process and the Security Council reporting process should be strengthened (paragraph 65). We must also point out that the staff composition of DPKO does not reflect equitable geographical representation, and that this remains as a serious problem. My Government intends to study carefully the report of the Secretary General requested in paragraph 10 of last year's General Assembly resolution concerning the support account (Res/57/318), and to pursue this matter in the discussions on human resources management which will take place at the fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly.

Lastly, we should consider rationalizing the reimbursements of peacekeeping expenses. This is necessary if we are to avoid a situation in which rapidly-growing peacekeeping budgets become unaffordable for Member States and begin to consume resources that could otherwise be used for other purposes, including development. This reimbursement issue has been discussed recently in the COE Working Group. The deliberations by experts have revealed that they were unable to address structural problems, such as the inclusion in the troop costs methodology of the basic salary and allowances of the troops, a cost item that should be paid by the troop-contributing country. We must begin serious discussions on these subjects. Moreover, the activities subject to reimbursement should also be strictly verified. As a troop-contributing country, Japan is ready to discuss the issue of rationalization of reimbursements. As we face an unprecedented situation, we should bring to the table bold ideas, and no topic should be taboo in our discussions.

Mr. Chairman,

The Brahimi report asserts, "Member States must recognize that the United Nations is the sum of its parts and accept that the primary responsibility for reform lies with them." This is still true. It is undeniable that peacekeeping budgets are about to rise to a historic level, and that this will surpass the level which Member States can afford. We cannot pretend that this problem does not exist. At the same time, it is also true that the primary responsibility for resolving the problem lies with Member States.

Thank you.