On April 16, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada chaired a United Nations Security Council debate on peace building in post-conflict countries. The council adopted a presidential statement calling for long-term and comprehensive support for such countries.
Japan this month holds the rotating presidency of the UNSC, and it was Mr. Okada who volunteered to chair the one-day session. Participants included representatives of 47 countries, including the 15 UNSC member states, and three international bodies. Mr. Okada deserves praise for his active role. He is the first Japanese foreign minister to chair a UNSC meeting.
The experiences of war-torn countries such as Sudan, Somalia, East Timor and Afghanistan show that inadequate security and weak governance make it extremely difficult to ensure lasting peace. Efforts must be made over an extended period of time to prevent post-conflict countries from sinking back into strife.
The presidential statement “recognizes that sustainable peace building requires an integrated approach, which strengthens coherence between political, security, development, human rights and rule-of-law activities.” The UNSC members agreed that a “high-level of youth employment can be a major challenge to sustainable peace-building” and called for enhanced coordination among bilateral and multilateral donors “to ensure predictable and timely financial support for post-conflict peace building.”
As Mr. Okada stated, Japan should be more actively involved in peace building in post-conflict countries. Toward this end, the government should train personnel to help facilitate reconciliation efforts, provide support for democratic elections, improve the public-security capabilities of the police and armed forces, and provide vocational training for former soldiers. Then it must send these people where they are needed most.
Before the Haiti earthquake in January, only 39 Japanese were taking part in U.N. peacekeeping operations. Japan should identify PKO activities in which it can make greater contributions under the spirit of its war-renouncing Constitution.
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