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Statement by Ambassador Norihiro Okuda
Chargé d'affaires, Permanent Mission of Japan
On Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Security Council
14 January 2009

Mr. President,

We thank Under-Secretary-General Holmes for his report, and commend OCHA for its advocacy on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Japan emphasizes the protection and empowerment of civilians in armed conflict from the perspective of human security, and we hope that the Council will continue to receive periodic briefings on this issue from the Emergency Relief Coordinator.

We welcome the adoption of the text of the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the conference in Dublin in May last year as well as the participation of ninety-four countries, including Japan, in the Signing Conference of the Convention held last month in Oslo. The Convention on Cluster Munitions is a significant means for advancing a normative framework conducive to the protection of civilians. Japan has been actively contributing to the clearance of unexploded ordinance in countries affected by cluster munitions remnants, landmines and others, in addition to providing assistance to victims of unexploded ordinance. My government will continue to work cooperatively and generously to further strengthen the international community's ability to address cluster munitions.

Mr. President,

Japan anticipates that 2009 may well become a landmark year for the United Nations in realizing the protection of civilians in armed conflict. We expect that the revision of the Aide-Memoire and an independent study by OCHA and DPKO on the implementation of Security Council mandates on the protection of civilians will help the Council further deepen its consideration of this issue.

We welcome the completion of the revised Aide-Memoire, and are pleased to see the PRST which adopts it today. We repeatedly requested the revision of this document in order to increase its practical applicability as a checklist for the Council's consideration of establishing or extending PKO mandates.

Regarding the independent study, we believe that it is extremely useful to clarify how mandates on the protection of civilians granted by the Council are implemented in reality and what problems must be solved for the enhancement of on-the-ground activities. We hope that the outcome of the study will contain concrete recommendations for those responsible for implementing the mandate of the Security Council in the field.

In addition, in order to improve the Council's working methods, we wish to express our support for the Secretariat's delivery of a timely, appropriate and informal briefing on the situation of the protection of civilians in specific conflict and post-conflict situations to the Council's experts group. There is no question that it would be beneficial for the Council to receive such a briefing, if it is to make wise decisions regarding the establishment or extension of mission mandates.

Mr. President,

We are gravely concerned about the dire situation of vulnerable civilians in armed conflict worldwide, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur, DRC, Somalia and Sri Lanka. We can not accept deliberate attacks against civilians, journalists and humanitarian workers; recruitment of child soldiers in refugee and IDP camps; restriction of humanitarian access; sexual violence; and any other violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws.

In this context, Japan continues to be seriously concerned about the situation in and around Gaza. Japan fully supports Security Council resolution 1860 which was adopted with the broadest possible political support. We would like to emphasize the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians and emphasize that the Palestinian and Israeli civilian population must be protected. Japan condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism. The people in Gaza require immediate humanitarian assistance, and Japan will provide 10 million US dollars in aid, of which three million dollars will be provided through UNRWA immediately. Japan also renews the call for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. We fully support and appreciate the diplomatic efforts made by various countries, especially those of Egypt, to realize a ceasefire.

Mr. President,

As we mentioned last week on the occasion of the briefing by the UNHCR, humanitarian assistance and deployment of PKO missions cannot provide lasting peace and durable protection, and conflict prevention is the most effective and efficient means to protect civilians. We must address the root causes of conflict and invest more into addressing these causes. We therefore believe that, from the perspective of transferring the concept of human security into practical solutions, reconstruction, job creation and reintegration of displaced persons must be given a higher priority in peace-building strategies, and they must be implemented in all post-conflict situations, realizing a seamless transition from relief to development.

Lastly, we commend humanitarian personnel for carrying out their heavy responsibilities under conditions that are often extremely dangerous and difficult, and we are deeply concerned about the deterioration in ensuring their safety and security. It is vital to ensure a humanitarian space in which humanitarian workers can safely perform their essential duties. We welcome the recent adoption of a resolution by the General Assembly, designating 19 August as World Humanitarian Day, in order to raise public awareness about humanitarian activities worldwide. For our part, Japan calls upon all relevant parties concerned to take appropriate action to secure humanitarian space, fully respecting the neutrality and impartiality of humanitarian assistance.

Thank you, Mr. President, for your attention.

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