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Statement by Ambassador Yukio TAKASU,
Permanent Representative of Japan
On Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
11 November 2009
I thank you for organizing this important debate. I would also like to congratulate Austria for the leadership in promoting the cause of protection of civilians. We are also grateful to the Secretary-General, USG John Holmes and the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights for their valuable presentation.
(Review of the Council's work on the protection of civilians)
The Security Council has developed a number of normative standards and frameworks on the protection of civilians since it adopted resolution 1265. They include among others the revised Aide-Memoire for reviewing the mission mandates earlier this year and the resolution 1894 adopted today.
At the same time, we should acknowledge that enormous wide-ranging challenges still remain in many parts of the world for the protection of civilians; sexual violence, child soldiers, deliberate attacks on humanitarian personnel and other violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The most pressing task for us now is to determine how we can put the normative frameworks and instruments into practice.
(Rule of law and compliance)
First and foremost, international humanitarian and human rights laws must be acceded by all States. Regrettably, many of the States involved in armed conflict have not yet acceded to key instruments such as the Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Convention and the ICC Rome Statute. We urge all States to become parties to these instruments.
Once ratified, these instruments must be complied with and implemented. States have the primary responsibility to protect their citizens. However, States in armed conflict often lack the necessary capacity and institutions to implement. It is essential that these States strengthen law-enforcement institutions, promote SSR and establish the rule of law. The international community should support the effort of these countries in their capacity building. Japan will extend assistance as much as possible in this regard.
We must also address the equally serious violation by non-State groups, which often operate outside of the effective rule of the government, and deliberately make use of civilians to attain their goals.
The Council needs to address serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights whenever they occur, and to make its position known and urge parties to take steps to ameliorate the situation. If found necessary, the Council should take measures to verify facts and establish accountability, and, if necessary, also targeted sanctions to ensure the compliance of State and non-State groups to international law.
(Better implementation of the UN PKO mandates)
The UN takes the direct responsibility for protecting civilians where a UN PKO is deployed and it is tasked to do so. Of course, this is easier said than done. Out of the fifteen PKO missions currently deployed, eight missions are tasked for protection mandates. Many missions face difficulties in the implementation of these complicated mandates with limited human and material resources. The area for deployment is generally wide, and in many cases the mission personnel do not necessarily have a clear understanding of how the mandate should be translated into its operational activities on the ground.
In order for a mandate to be successfully implemented, they must be realistic and feasible. In other words, the Council must fully take into account the local security and other situations and also available resource and field support. This is important for the credibility of the Council and also the United Nations as a whole. From the perspective of securing credibility, we request the Secretary-General to ensure this by communicating clearly to the government and people of the host country the specific role the mission is expected to perform.
Some missions have started to take innovative approaches to translate the will of the Council into an operational plan. Unfortunately, many have not. To overcome this situation, we request the Secretariat to formulate and develop an operational concept and guideline on the protection of civilians, which is most appropriately tailored to meet the mission-specific requirements and situation on the ground.
At the same time, I wish to emphasize that protection does not simply mean protection from imminent military threat. A protection mandate needs to be implemented not only by a military component, but also a civilian component to deal with issues such as human rights and civil-military coordination. Each mission with a protection mandate needs to develop a comprehensive strategy.
In this regard, I wish to underline that empowering vulnerable people such as children, refugees and IDPs also contributes to protecting civilians and preventing the recurrence of conflict. Empowerment is a core notion of human security, and we believe that it provides added value to an operational plan and strategy for protection of civilians.
In addition to improved guideline and strategy, it is essential to ensure an appropriate level of human and financial resources, training, necessary information, asset and equipment including transportation and communications for implementing the mandates. It is therefore indispensable to consult closely with the TCC, police-contributing country, major FCC and host country in the early stages of mandate formulation. In particular we need to strengthen pre-deployment training because the skills necessary for protection mandate differ significantly from other operations.
I wish the outcome of exercise such as the new horizon study, OCHA-DPKO joint study and the PKO Working Group will be fully reflected to strengthen partnership with all stakeholders including TCC, police-contributing countries and major FCCs and to enhance the implementation of protection mandates.
(Feedback to the Council)
For the Council to take appropriate action, it must receive timely and accurate information on the ground. UN missions with protection mandates should provide the Council with more detailed information of the protection of civilian on the grounds. We value the meetings of the SC Expert Group to receive briefings from the Secretariat on the latest information, prior to consultations on the mandates of specific PKO mission.
The Council should continue to improve its work both in formulating and implementing decisions. The new SC resolution adopted today is an important contribution in setting the course that the Council should follow. We should closely monitor the progress against the yardsticks contained in this resolution. I would like to conclude by reiterating Japan's strong commitment to enhancing human security of the vulnerable people caught in conflict.
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