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Statement by Ambassador Yukio TAKASU
Permanent Representative of Japan
On Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
20 November 2007
Japan welcomes that the Security Council continues to pay highest attention to the plight of civilians in armed conflict. We welcome today's open debate and thank USG Holmes for his introduction of the report of the Secretary-General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
There has been a decline in the number of conflicts being waged around the world. But far too many civilians continue to fall victim to brutality and degrading treatment. While reporting certain encouraging developments, the Report of the Secretary General provides us with stark reality of civilians, particularly the vulnerables, being deliberately targeted for military attack, and sexual violence in many conflict situations. We are deeply concerned about increasing casualties of humanitarian workers from deliberate attack. We need to promote a humanitarian space in armed conflict. Humanitarian organizations, including UN agencies and the ICRC, must be able to discharge their responsibilities to deliver essential services. To that end, it is of vital importance to ensure the security and safety of humanitarian workers. We call upon all parties in armed conflict to comply with the relevant international humanitarian laws and stop attacking humanitarian workers.
I would like to underline three points today.
First, on the recommendations of the report of the Secretary-General, we support the proposal to request reports from United Nations peacekeeping and other relevant missions on the steps that have been taken to ensure the protection of civilians, in response to relevant Security Council resolutions, including 1674. First and foremost, we need to clarify precisely what concrete measures have been taken by each UN operation and how effective they have been. This basic information allows us a lot of opportunities to take effective action in the future. We need to respond and take remedial action on each specific situation based on actual information. In order to make this process effective, in formulating and monitoring the mandate and activities of the peacekeeping and other missions, the Security Council needs to use the "Aides-Memoires For the Consideration of Issues Pertaining to the Protection of Civilians" in its daily deliberations, which are practical checklists relating to the protection of civilians.
Second, I would like to address the issue of impunity. There is no doubt that perpetrators of crime must be held accountable for their actions. But, regrettably in many conflict cases, impunity prevails due to lack of action, and often leads to a cycle of violence. The question is how to strike the proper balance between national reconciliation, on the one hand, and punishing those who have done wrong, on the other. It needs to be carefully considered including its sequence. Yet when we succeed in establishing the rule of law and proper judicial systems, we contribute greatly to a durable peace and to stability. Japan has therefore taken initiatives in the field of international justice. It acceded to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) last month, and Japan is ready to work actively to ensure the Court functions effectively and fulfills its objective. With regard to the Khmer Rouge Trials, the Internal Rules was adopted last June. To meet the costs of the trial, Japan has made voluntary contributions of US$21.6 million, which represents forty percent of the total. It has also provided an international judge to the Supreme Court Chamber. It is our strong hope that the trials will proceed promptly and fairly, and that they will result at long last in bringing to justice those who are guilty of committing atrocious acts.
Third, I would like to underline the importance of controlling conventional arms. Japan is fully aware of the humanitarian problems caused by cluster munitions. In order to respond to them effectively and practically, it is necessary to develop a process in which all major producers and possessors participate, and both humanitarian and security objectives are met. We welcome the consensus achieved at the Meeting of States Parties of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Geneva last week. Also, Japan is of the view that an Arms Trade Treaty is an important initiative, and we greatly need to bring about an end to irresponsible transfers through management of the arms trade.
Japan attaches great importance to the protection of civilians in armed conflict, especially because it is one of the highest priorities for promoting human security globally. In promoting human security, we are working towards a world in which all human beings are protected against threats to their lives, their livelihoods, and their dignity. In the situation of armed conflict more than in any other situation, every effort must be made to better protect the vulnerable in society, such as refugees, IDPs, women and children, and the elderly and disabled. Japan, together with other interested delegations, has been taking initiatives such as providing assistance through the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security and mainstreaming the human security concept in UN activities through "Friends of Human Security."
Next year, Japan will host TICAD-IV in Yokohama. Under the theme "Towards a vibrant Africa," human security will be one of the principal topics of discussion. And following TICAD-IV, this subject will be further taken up at G8 Summit in talks. The international community must do all it can to protect civilians who have the terrible misfortune to find themselves caught in the midst of armed conflict, and Japan will do its part. I am grateful that the Secretary General's report concludes the same notion I have been stressing on many occasions over the years of how to measure the progress of the UN Activities. The progress is not measured by the number of reports, resolutions or guidelines, but by its tangible impact they have on the people suffering from injustice and fear on the ground.
Thank you very much.
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