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Statement by Ambassador Yukio Takasu
Permanent Representative of Japan
On Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Security Council
26 June 2009

Mr. President,

I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. I am also grateful to USG John Holmes for his briefing.

(Review of the work the Council has done on protection of civilians)

Substantial progress has been made on the protection of civilians in armed conflict since the first debate of the Council ten years ago. The Council produced a number of well-established normative frameworks, including one that was laid out in resolution 1674. As a result, awareness has been raised among Member States and the Council has adopted a growing number of decisions to advance the cause in country-specific deliberations.

We welcome the recent practice to convene a meeting of the SC Expert Group to receive a briefing from the Secretariat on up-to-date and detailed information on the protection of civilians, prior to consultations on the mandates of specific PKO missions. All Council members should take full advantage of these briefings.

What is the most important now is to put those established normative frameworks into practice. Despite progress to date, we have grave concern about continuous civilian casualties all over the world, being it civilians, journalists or humanitarian workers. We can neither accept child soldiers, sexual violence, or any other violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws that are taking place every day. We have to redouble our efforts. I wish to make three points today.

(Compliance by States and non-State armed groups)

First of all, we should emphasize that it is the States which have a primary responsibility to enhance compliance with the international laws and protect civilians. At the same time, we need to address the serious impact that non-State groups are having. We were appalled by the use of civilians as human shields by the LTTE and deliberate attacks on civilians by the LRA. Non-state armed groups often deliberately use civilians to attain their political and military ends, and fighting inevitably produces civilian casualties.

It is essential to realize the compliance with IHL by non-State actors as well. We believe that the protection of civilians should be a priority in any conflict situation, be it a civil war or an anti-terrorism operation. At the same time, we recognize the legitimate right of sovereign governments to combat illegal armed groups and terrorist organizations.

It is not always easy to attain the two objectives together, to fight against rebel group or terrorist organization and to protect civilians and minimize casualties. But both objectives must be pursued simultaneously to the fullest extent. The international community needs to discuss in depth about how to achieve both objectives and particularly how to ensure humanitarian access and compliance with IHL by the non-State armed groups.

(Mandate of PKO)

Protecting civilians is an effective way to contribute to social stability and prevent recurrence of a conflict. The Council has therefore mandated many peacekeeping missions to protect civilians.

However, as the SG report makes clear, a substantial gap exists between the high expectations placed on the mission to carry out the mandate and actual implementation on the ground. The Council needs to address this discrepancy from all aspects; mandate formation, mission planning, human and financial resources, necessary equipment, and SOP and ROE.

The Working Group on PKO under Japanese chairmanship has engaged to address these issues through discussions with TCCs, police-contributing countries, major financial contributing countries and other major stakeholders. The Working Group will make every effort to formulate concrete measures that will facilitate to improving the operational capacity of implementing complex mandate. I urge full cooperation of the members to complete its task in time.

The independent study on protection of civilians commissioned by the DPKO and OCHA will also attempt to address these issues, and we look forward to its findings.

(Human security)

I would like to emphasize how important it is for the protection of civilians that we work to empower individuals and communities in preventing the recurrence of a conflict. Empowerment is vitally important if the vulnerable such as refugees and IDPs are to be able to stand on their feet again and begin to rebuild their lives.

Empowerment is at the very core of human security which the Friends of Human Security under co-chairs of Japan and Mexico have been promoting. Appropriate assistance for the empowerment such as income generating activities and education and health service are key components in protecting civilians and realizing human security.

Through Friends of Human Security, we will continue to make every effort to operationalize human security approach in the activities of the United Nations. We believe that doing so will provide added value that civilians are properly protected irrespective of their legal status when they find themselves caught amidst conflict.

Mr. President,

(Future work)

Japan supports the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary-General. We attach the importance to the briefing to the Expert Group, and to applying the revised Aide-Memoire to review mission mandates.

It is my conviction that we should measure the progress in meeting our common challenge not by the number of documents or analyses that we prepare but the number of lives we save and the people we protect on the ground.

The Security Council is responsible for considering specific action based on the information and recommendations presented to us. The Council must monitor closely and ensure the implementation of whatever decisions it has taken. To that end, Japan is ready to consult with other Member States and the Secretariat.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Related Information (United Nations)
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