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Statement by Ambassador Takahiro Shinyo
Chargé d'affaires, Permanent Mission of Japan
On Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
27 May 2008
Japan applauds the Security Council for continuing to accord the highest priority to the plight of civilians in armed conflict. We thank Under-Secretary-General Holmes for his report on this issue, and commend OCHA for its advocacy activities. I wish to address the Council in order to make four points about its work on this issue, and to briefly explain why we regard it as so important from the point of view of human security.
First, Mr. President, I would like to express Japan's support for the idea of the Secretariat's giving the Security Council a timely, appropriate briefing on the subject of the protection of civilians in armed conflict. In the open debate in November last year, a few countries expressed concerns about the proposal to establish a Council's working group on the protection of civilians. We share the view that it is necessary to avoid duplicating the work of the Council and creating an additional bureaucratic mechanism. It is essential, however, that the Council receives the most accurate information and the best analysis if it is to make wise decisions regarding the establishment or extension of mission mandates. There is no question, then, that it would be beneficial for the expert group to receive a timely, appropriate briefing on this subject.
Second, we request that the Security Council brief all stakeholders, including countries that contribute troops or financing, in a timely and appropriate manner on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Without effective implementation of mandates, decisions taken in the Council can not have the desired impact in the field. Briefing stakeholders would contribute greatly to rendering the Council more accountable and implementation of the mandates of PKOs and other missions more effective.
Third, Japan continues to regard the "Aide Memoire for the consideration of issues pertaining to the protection of civilians" as a useful tool to the Council in its consultations on mission mandates because it serves as a checklist of references to relevant areas and the mandates of past operations. We are therefore pleased that OCHA intends to revise it this year, and we would like to provide support for that work, including through financial assistance.
Finally, we are looking forward to seeing the next report of the Secretary-General. As the last mandate by SC Resolution 1674 to issue a report has been discharged, a new request is needed from the Council. And we would expect that it will be accompanied by the analysis on humanitarian access which Under-Secretary-General Holmes proposed in the last open debate.
I would like to say a few words about the meaning of human security in the context of protection of civilians. For one thing, human security is a concept which complements State security, and seeks protection and empowerment of individuals, putting the livelihood and dignity of individuals at the center of our focus. It is consistent with the letter and spirit of the Charter of the United Nations, and promoted in full respect of national sovereignty. It does not in any way suggest military intervention, even as a last resort, and thus differs from the notion of the responsibility to protect.
It is a concept which at its core is about the protection of the right of individuals to live their lives with dignity. It is a useful approach which emphasizes a culture of prevention in order to realize freedom from fear and freedom from want. It asserts the need to protect and empower individuals, including internally displaced persons, in armed conflict and early on in the post-conflict period. It was to enhance human security that in December last year, for instance, Japan decided to make a financial contribution for the work of the Police tchadienne pour la protection humanitaire (PTPH) supported by the United Nations Mission in Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT).
The concept of human security is related to the activities of the Peacebuilding Commission, with whose work the protection of civilians in armed conflict is closely linked. The previous discussion on internally displaced persons in the Working Group on Lessens Learned in March this year demonstrated that the Commission has a keen interest in the issues related to the protection of civilians. The vital role the Commission has to play is providing a comprehensive strategy for peacebuilding so as to prevent a recurrence of conflict and to support related activities on the ground through promoting the mobilization of the resources of the international community. It can continue to play a role in protecting civilians through activities ranging from the immediate post-conflict period to the period of reconstruction and sustainable development.
In order to mainstream human security in UN activities, Japan and Mexico, together with the Human Security Unit of OCHA, organized a fourth meeting of Friends of Human Security (FHS) on the 15th of this month at which we discussed issues such as gender-based violence and protection of children in armed conflict. And on the 22nd of this month, the General Assembly had its first thematic debate on human security. In that debate, protection of the vulnerable people, including women and children in conflicts were also underlined.
Outside the United Nations, beginning tomorrow, Japan will host TICAD-IV in Yokohama, with many African heads of state and government participating. The theme will be "Towards a vibrant Africa," and again human security will be one of the principal topics of discussion. The outcome of that discussion will then be reflected when the G8 Summit is held in Toyako, Japan.
In concluding my statement, Mr. President, I would like to commend every official of the United Nations and other organization, including humanitarian personnel, engaged in trying to provide civilians caught amidst conflicts with protection, often under extremely difficult conditions. We are very interested in the work that the Independent Panel on Safety and Security of UN Personnel and Premises headed by Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi is doing, and expect that it will make concrete recommendations on ways to ensure the safety and security of the personnel.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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