In order to play a more active role in maintaining international peace by contributing personnel in addition to funds and materials, Japan took a significant step in June 1992 by enacting the Law Concerning Cooperation for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and Other Operations (the "International Peace Cooperation Law"), thereby instituting a framework for dispatching personnel overseas to participate in international peace and relief efforts.
This law establishes the two main pillars of Japan's international peace efforts: participating in UN peacekeeping operations and contributing to international humanitarian relief operations. It also stipulates that Japan's peacekeeping operations be carried out according to the five principles:
The law provides that the dispatch of a contingent for activities normally carried out by infantry battalions - monitoring of cease-fire observance, stationing and patrol in buffer zones, and collection of abandoned weapons - is "frozen" until such time as new legislation is adopted.
1. UN Peacekeeping
UN peacekeeping operations are activities undertaken by the UN to ensure international peace and security. The UN's success in resolving conflicts in various areas of the world is now widely recognized. To date, more than 100 countries have participated in UN peacekeeping missions.
Peacekeeping operations have traditionally included two types of operations: the monitoring of cease-fires by unarmed military personnel; and the monitoring of cease-fires by international peacekeeping forces. More recently, peacekeeping operations have expanded to include other activities such as electoral and human rights monitoring. These missions are carried out by civilians acting as electoral observers and civilian police officers.
UN peacekeeping operations are traditionally carried out according to the following conditions:
(1) the existence of a cease-fire agreement among all parties to a conflict;
(2) the consent of the conflicting parties to UN peacekeeping operations;
(3) the impartiality of the peacekeeping operations; and
(4) restriction on the use of arms to self-defense only.
UN peacekeeping has been hailed throughout the world. In 1988, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the UN in recognition of its contributions to the maintenance of international peace and security.
2. International Humanitarian Relief Operations
International humanitarian relief operations include all possible efforts to provide assistance to refugees and other victims of conflicts. These activities are usually carried out by various international organizations, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
As defined in the International Peace Cooperation Law, international humanitarian relief operations encompass the following:
(1) assisting in the relief and repatriation of those affected by conflicts;
(2) providing food, clothing, medicine, and medical care to victims of conflicts;
(3) reconstructing facilities and areas of the natural environment that have been damaged due to conflicts.
- Global Trends in the Refugee Population
- Chronology of UN Peacekeeping Operations (as of September 1st, 1997)
Back to Index