Statement by H.E. Mr. Yukio Takasu
Permanent Representative of Japan
Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict
29 April 2009
I would like to express my deep appreciation to Your Excellency for personally presiding over this important debate. Our appreciation goes to the former and current Chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict for bringing this issue to the forefront of international agenda. Japan is committed to extending its utmost support to the valuable work of the Working Group.
I would also like to express gratitude to the Secretary-General, Special Representative Ms. Coomaraswami, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and the UNICEF Executive Director for their vital contributions to the protection of children and valuable briefings. We particularly value Ms. Grace Akallo for sharing us with her inspiring life experience and advocacy activities
(Recruitment and use of children)
In recent years, we witnessed a marked improvement in the condition of child soldiers as many conflicts come to an end. We are encouraged that noticeable progress has been made through action plans to release child soldiers in several countries, including Burundi, the Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.
At the same time, many other parties to conflict have still not implemented action plans. Indeed, 19 parties have been listed for the past four consecutive years in the annexes to the Secretary-General's report. Japan is deeply concerned about those vulnerable children, particularly in Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Sri Lanka.
We appreciate the contribution by the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, but it should focus more on following-up and implementing its conclusions effectively. The Security Council should mobilize all available vehicles to combat violations against children and to send a strong political message: peacekeeping operations, special political missions, integrated missions, the Peacebuilding Commission, and the Sanctions Committees.
(Sexual violence against children)
The Security Council should also respond to other grave violations against children in armed conflict such as sexual violence.
Systematic rape as a tactic of war is impermissible. The Council should react firmly and forcefully against any sexual violence in conflict. It should strengthen monitoring and reporting mechanisms. Japan supports the recommendation of the Secretary-General to include parties that commit rape and other grave sexual violence against children in the annexes of his report. We believe that expansion of the criteria could enhance the capacity of agencies such as UNICEF to carry out monitoring and reporting on the ground.
(Landmines and UXOs)
Another serious threat posed to many children is landmines, unexploded ordinance and cluster munitions. Some 5,500 people were killed or maimed by landmines and unexploded ordinance in 2007 and children account for more than one third of all victims. We welcome the steady progress of the Ottawa Convention, which marked the 10th anniversary of its entry into force this year. The recent Signing Conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions is also welcome. It is imperative to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians and to provide support to landmine victims. For this reason Japan has contributed, over the past 10 years, more than US$ 300 million and will continue to contribute in countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Sudan, Afghanistan and Lebanon.
Small arms and light weapons most seriously influence the situation of child soldiers and violence against children, including recruitment and abuse of child soldiers. Since small arms and light weapons often circulate through illicit trade, we should encourage every country to strengthen the implementation of the UN Program of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (UNPoA).
Japan has been actively supporting projects related to the control of small arms in conflict, such as the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) in Afghanistan and the Small Arms Control Program in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
However, a more fundamental solution would be to restrict the exportation of weapons to countries under armed conflict or with a likelihood of armed conflict. Japan's long-standing national policy of prohibiting the export of weapons imposes strict criteria for the transfer of arms to any country. Based on this policy, Japan supports the establishment of a common international standard to realize responsible transfer of conventional weapons and participates actively in relevant discussions within the United Nations.
In many conflict situations, children are the most vulnerable. Japan is a strong advocate of the concept of human security. We work with interested partners to achieve the goals of protecting and empowering vulnerable people on a regional and local level, including through the UN Trust Fund for Human Security. By preventing and alleviating the deleterious impacts of conflict, we endeavor to enable children around the world to have a brighter future.
Back to Index