TICAD Conference on Consolidation of Peace
Opening Remarks by Mr. Yasuhisa SHIOZAKI
Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan
February 16, 2006
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Your Excellencies, Honorable Ministers, and Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning. Although some of the expected participants are yet to arrive, I would like to start the Conference now. On behalf of the Government of Japan and the TICAD co-organizers, the United Nations, the Global Coalition for Africa, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Bank, I would like to extend our heartfelt welcome to all of you. It is my great pleasure to meet Your Excellencies and distinguished ladies and gentlemen under the blue sky of Africa, where the very first hominoid took breath three million years ago. I also personally have the great pleasure of taking my very first step in Africa as the chair of this important Conference, attended by 71 countries, 28 organizations, and 18 civil society/non-governmental organizations.
This Conference is part of Japan's ongoing efforts to follow up on the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD III, which took place in November 2003. Our Prime Minister KOIZUMI and Foreign Minister ASO, who were unable to be here today because of the ongoing session in the Japanese Diet, asked me to convey their messages in wishing for the success of this Conference.
After so many years of hearing the grief and moans of the people, we have begun to witness a positive trend towards achieving sustainable peace in many of the regions and countries of the African Continent. This is the fruit of Africa's own efforts, or African ownership, as well as of corresponding partnership extended by the international community. Mozambique, Angola, and Rwanda have steadily consolidated peace over the last decade and, while yet not sufficient, the Great Lakes Region and West Africa have stepped forward toward stabilizing the region. In this context, as a recent development, I would like to congratulate the inauguration of the new President of the Republic of Liberia, Her Excellency Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who is the first elected female president in Africa.
The focus of this conference is to discuss how to achieve sustainable peace, which is a prerequisite for the reconstruction and development of post-conflict countries, by drawing on African as well as Asian experiences and lessons. We all know that the peace consolidation process is a complex endeavor requiring a multi-faceted approach.
For the past few days, I have a privilege to visit some local sites of UNICEF in Southern Sudan, where I observed the actual cases of refugees and IDPs homecoming, full of hopes with great aspiration for upcoming new days ahead, under nicely coordinated effort by all the UN and non-UN organizations as well as many NGOs from all around the world. They are, thus, gradually creating a robust local civil society, which, I believe will surely contribute to peace consolidation.
Needless to say, as is the case in Southern Sudan, we are all aware of the importance of country-specific approach, which must take into account the unique requirements in each region and country.
I thus earnestly hope that all participants will share their own experiences and expertise with us so that we may make recommendations in the following three main areas related to peace consolidation, namely; (a) security, (b) political governance and transition, and (c) reconstruction and socio-economic development.
(Japan's Policy on Peace Consolidation)
Now I would like to briefly touch upon Japan's policy for assisting peace consolidation in Africa. In the context of Japan's commitment to African development through the TICAD process, the "consolidation of peace" is one of three main pillars, along with "human-centered development" and "poverty reduction through economic growth." In pursuing the realization of these three priorities, Japan has been putting special emphasis on the concept of "Human Security." As a part of our commitment to strengthen support to Africa, which includes the doubling of our ODA to Africa by the year 2007 announced by Prime Minister KOIZUMI last year, the Japanese government will take concrete actions for peace consolidation in Africa.
Since the year 2003, the Government of Japan has disbursed more than US$350 million in assistance for peace consolidation in Africa, including emergency humanitarian assistance, DDR---which is the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of ex-combatants---, community rehabilitation, and election support. Also, on the multilateral front, as Japan bears some 20% of the total cost of global UN peacekeeping operations, we financially bear the same proportion in Africa.
(Japan's New Initiative)
Having observed the encouraging signs of the sustainable peace process in Africa, I would like to take this opportunity to announce Japan's new initiative.
Through this new initiative, Japanese assistance efforts will be carried out in the following three areas of peace consolidation:
First, in the area of Security, we will enhance our support to improve the security environment so as to provide foundation for further development measures. Our support for DDR as well as for the control and reduction of small arms and light weapons (SALWs), for example, through "Arms for Development" programs, are priority areas.
Secondly, in the area of Political Governance and Transition, we will work together in the process of democratic elections, capacity building of judicial and administrative institutions, as well as reconciliation.
In the area of Community Reconstruction and Socio-economic Development, we will continue to promote our African Village Initiative (AVI) to support self-sustained community livelihood.
As an immediate action under this initiative, we will provide approximately US$60 million in assistance by the end of next month, March 2006. Our support will be focused on the regions and countries where the peace consolidation process is at a critical stage.
I should not miss this opportunity to welcome the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission of the UN and reaffirm our commitments to play a comprehensive and active role in the activities of the Commission, based on our experiences in the area of peace-building.
Furthermore, the Japanese Government is prepared to work together with you to promote South-South cooperation with a view to sharing Asian experiences in peace consolidation. For example, we plan to hold seminars to provide our experiences in Cambodia regarding the control and reduction of SALWs as well as de-mining.
As we always stressed, "There will be no stability and prosperity in the world in the 21st century unless the issues in Africa are resolved." Japan is firmly committed to African development, with peace consolidation being one of the fundamental bases.
Our commitment shall be carried out with empowered Africa's ownership and partnership extended by the international community and civil society. In this context, we strongly support the concept and the actions taken under the NEPAD, which is nothing but Africa's ownership.
Our common endeavor in the TICAD process, I am sure, will also facilitate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
I sincerely hope that this Conference will contribute to the ongoing African efforts as well as international efforts and lead us toward TICAD IV, which is to be held in the year 2008.
Thank you very much for your attention.
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