Opening Remarks by Mr. Yasutoshi Nishimura
Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs
At United Nations University
24 March 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by expressing my sincere gratitude for your participation in our seminar today.
The Pilot Program for Human Resource Development in Asia for Peacebuilding, which began in 2007, has achieved much in the short period of two years: it has trained 60 peacebuilders, and many of its graduates have already been working in the fields of peacebuilding around the world. Taking into account the 2 years' experience of the pilot program and the opinions of those concerned, this program will be expanded this April. At this critical juncture, we have decided to hold this seminar in order to have a frank exchange of views on how to develop human resources for peacebuilding. Let me thank you again for being here today, and ask for your honest opinions.
(Challenges for peacekeeping and peacebuilding)
In recent years, characteristics of international conflicts have been changing as shown by frequent internal conflicts with ethnic or religious causes and terrorist attacks. In light of this development, the number of UN peacekeeping operations has increased and the activities of these operations have been transformed from small-scale operations with limited functions to large-scale operations with multi-functions.
This transformation can be seen in figures. The total number of uniformed personnel serving in UN peacekeeping missions worldwide has increased over the past eight years by a factor of 2.3, numbering 90,000 by the end of last year. The UN PKO budget also has increased over threefold during the same period, to 7.6 billion dollars, reaching a scale of four times the size of the regular budget of the UN, which is 1.9 billion dollars. Japan's assessed contribution to the UN PKO budget amounted to 137 billion yen, 1.2 billion dollars last year. This amount represents approximately 20 percent of the regular budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is 670 billion yen, 5.9 billion dollars.
At the same time, non-UN activities are also on the rise. The United States and other countries have sent or are planning to send more troops to Afghanistan. In Bosnia and Kosovo, NATO and EU missions are playing important roles. In the Asia-Pacific region, multinational missions are serving in Solomon Islands.
With these rapid increases of UN and non-UN activities, international peace cooperation activities are coming close to their limits. Both in Darfur in Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, UN troops' strength is insufficient.
Further, some developed countries are giving higher priority to NATO and EU missions and reducing their personnel contributions to UN PKOs.
In this light, many argue for the necessity of a comprehensive review of United Nations peacekeeping missions. The issue was discussed in January at the Security Council, and the international debate has begun. At the UN Secretariat, this issue is being addressed under the supervision of Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu-Lennartsson, Director of the Policy, Evaluation and Training Division of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, who will be one of our speakers today.
(Role of civilians)
It is not only military and police personnel that are in short supply. In recent years there has been a renewed recognition of the importance of the role of civilians. There were only 600 civilians serving in UN missions immediately after the Cold War. In the ensuing decades, however, as mandates of PKOs have diversified and begun to encompass nation-building, the number of civilian personnel has seen a nine-fold increase, to approximately 5700. The experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown the world that security and reconstruction must be pursued in tandem. They are like two wheels of a cart. The international community once again has acknowledged the importance of an integrated approach involving not only the military but also police and civilian personnel.
Based on that understanding, provincial reconstruction teams, or PRTs, are currently working in the provinces in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the military maintains peace and security, civilians are engaged in humanitarian and reconstruction activities. The United States and other countries have begun preparing civilian experts and developing a system for their training and dispatch.
In recognition of this trend in international society, Japan has set peacebuilding as one of its priority tasks. As then chair of the G8, Japan made peacebuilding one of the main topics at last year's G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, and the G8 agreed to enhance peacebuilding capability in the areas of military, police and civilians. Today I will talk about our efforts in four areas: efforts at the Security Council; contributions to United Nations PKOs and multinational missions; strengthening of peacekeeping abilities in Africa; and training and dispatch of civilians in the field of peacebuilding.
(Efforts at the Security Council)
Japan began a new two-year term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in January of this year, and in that capacity has a special responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Japan also serves currently as chair of the PKO Working Group under the Security Council. As chair, it is Japan's intention to lead the Working Group in a review of UN peacekeeping missions and consideration of ways to achieve rapid deployment of sufficient number of UN peacekeepers to areas where they are needed. We also continue to be actively involved in the activities of the Peacebuilding Commission, an advisory panel to the Security Council, in which Japan served as chair through December of last year.
(Contributions to United Nations PKOs and multinational missions)
Secondly, it is important that Japan further expand the number of personnel it contributes to UN PKOs. At this moment, Japan has a total of 53 personnel deployed to United Nations missions in the Golan Heights, Nepal and Sudan. This places us 81st in the world in the number of uniformed personnel contributed to peacekeeping missions. If we consider that western countries are sending troops to participate not only in UN PKOs but also in NATO and EU missions, it is clear that Japan ought to increase its personnel contribution to United Nations PKOs and multinational efforts and fulfill its duty as a responsible member of the international community. Last October we sent two Self-Defense Force personnel to Africa for the first time in 13 years. With regard to the expectation on the part of East Timor of Japan's further contribution to peace and stability in the country, including the dispatch of personnel to UNMIT, we will consider what kind of contribution might be possible. The Government of Japan is also considering possible participation in the UN Standby Arrangements System, in which each country provides advance notification of the type and number of troops that it is able to provide to UN PKOs. By exploring these and other possibilities, Japan hopes to expand its participation in United Nations PKOs.
(Strengthening peacekeeping abilities in Africa)
Our third area of enhanced efforts consists in initiatives to help strengthen African peacekeeping abilities for the sake of assuring peace and stability in Africa, which was also a focus at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. Last year, Japan provided assistance to PKO training centers in five African countries: Ghana, Mali, Kenya, Egypt and Rwanda. Last November, two personnel from the Central Readiness Force of the Ground Self-Defense Force and Dr. Hideaki Shinoda, Director of the Hiroshima Peacebuilders Center, who is here with us today, were sent as instructors to the PKO training center in Egypt, and were highly praised for their efforts. Next year we plan to provide support for PKO training centers in Nigeria, Benin and South Africa. Japan will continue to support Africa in strengthening its peacekeeping abilities through such efforts.
(Training and dispatch of civilians)
The fourth pillar of Japan's efforts is development of civilian experts. The Hiroshima Peacebuilders Center, which was established in 2007 with Hiroshima University Associate Professor Hideaki Shinoda as its director, has trained about 60 civilian specialists over the past two years. The first group of graduates of the program, who finished their training last March, are now engaged in peacebuilding activities around the world, including in Sudan and Sierra Leone. The second group also worked in the field offices of international organizations and NGOs in such places as Kosovo and Lebanon, where they performed their duties excellently, and have now returned to Japan.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my deep appreciation to Director Shinoda and others at Hiroshima University, Peacebuilders and UNV, who have guided this project thus far; those in and outside of Japan whose cooperation we have received for this program; and Dr. Akiko Yamanaka, Mr. Masayoshi Hamada and others who have supported this program.
To those who have undergone training in Hiroshima, a place where many gather to pray for world peace, and have served in the field in locations all over the world where peace is being forged, I wish that you may one day become outstanding peacebuilders from Asia.
Taking into account the achievements of the Pilot Program, the budget for this project will be nearly doubled, to 320 million yen next fiscal year. We will use the expanded budget to enhance our program in the following ways.
First, we will extend the overseas attachment period from the current six months to one year, allowing trainees to become more deeply involved in the work and build networks in the field.
Second, we will start a senior specialist course. This is a new course for seniors who would like to engage in peacebuilding efforts and have the knowledge and experience needed in peacebuilding, regardless of whether they are from the public or private sector, including civil servants such as former Self-Defense Force personnel and people who have worked in private logistics companies.
In the third place, we will enhance cooperation with NGOs, who are important partners to promote peacebuilding efforts. In this regard, a new short course will be started for those who might be interested in being involved in the peacebuilding efforts, including those working in NGOs. This course aims at promoting basic understanding on peacebuilding, regardless of whether the trainees are from the public or private sector.
Fourthly, we will build a database for peacebuilders, so that people who have graduated from this program will have ample opportunities to work in the peacebuilding field in the future.
Finally, it is also important to develop a mechanism for the dispatch of trained civilians. In recent years, Japan has dispatched civilians to several multinational missions. Since 2006 we have had a development expert deployed to the International Monitoring Group (IMO) in Mindanao in the Republic of the Philippines, and last year we sent another expert. We are also planning on dispatching civilians to one of the PRTs in Afghanistan in the near future. This is particularly to enhance our development assistance efforts in the rural areas in Afghanistan.
Japan has supported peacebuilding in various areas such as in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance. From now on, Japan needs to engage more actively in conflict resolution as we have done in Cambodia. We believe that it is our responsibility to train personnel who would lead the international community in the field of peacebuilding including peace negotiations and its implementation. In order to do so, our Human Resource Development Program in Peacebuilding, which is still a small seed, must be nurtured into a towering tree. For that purpose, it will be important to listen carefully to the honest opinions and criticisms from various people who are involved or have an interest in this program, and to make a sincere effort to incorporate their advice. I will end my remarks by expressing my hope for a lively and candid discussion among all of you in this seminar today.
Thank you for your attention.
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