18 June 2007

The Upper House ODA Committee Adopts the Recommendation to Create a Human Security Centre

(From the left: Mme. OGATA, Prime Minister ABE, and Foreign Minister ASO)

(Tokyo - 13 June 2007) The Upper House Special Committee on Official Development Assistance and Related Matters on Wednesday adopted an interim report on the status of the Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA), which included a recommendation to the Cabinet to establish a Human Security Centre (tentative name) for capacity building of individual peace workers and establishing job security (a career path) for all personnel working overseas on government mission.

The Committee, led by Deputy Chief Director of the Cabinet Office MASAAKI YAMAZAKI (LDP) and also where Senator TADASHI INUZUKA (DPJ) plays a leading role as Head Director, have unanimously adopted the recommendation included in the interim report entitled, "Towards New Forms of International Assistance". With the presence of Mme. SADAKO OGATA, the President of JICA or Japan International Cooperation Agency, Prime Minister SHINZO ABE said he would consider the recommendation for adoption in the Cabinet.

Below is an excerpt from the section on Human Security Centre (unofficial translation).

(1) Establishment of a Human Security Centre (tentative name)   
Development of personnel capacity is of utmost significance to our Committee when considering the future of development assistance. We must expand our assistance budget in this area of development assistance. In particular, we are in pressing need of individuals who can strategically facilitate innovation and discovery of new items as well as those who can commit themselves in peace building efforts.

For example, for the development of peace-building personnel, formulation of an integrated and comprehensive training program which incorporates a variety of fields such as emergency humanitarian relief, development assistance, governance support, and peace-keeping operations would be necessary to increase the number of assistance experts. 
Personnel development and training has already been discussed in the report submitted in 2002 by the Advisory Group on International Cooperation for Peace and further refurbished by the proposal from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in developing a "School to build peace builders". Studies are also underway at the new Ministry of Defense to setup a training center for international peace operations.  

Although these efforts are to be commended, the training framework to be set up by the government, JICA, and others must not delve into the pitfall of bureaucratic sectionalism. Instead, practical division of labor, communication and coordination must be set in place to enable efficient execution of development assistance, peace-building, and peace-keeping operations.  

With all of these past achievements well accounted for, we recommend to put into perspective the establishment of a Human Security Centre (tentative name) where experienced field personnel and researchers from within Japan and from abroad can participate in a robust and comprehensive training program to facilitate the development of a central hub training center in Asia.

The meeting was followed by a press conference and the news was covered in all of the major newspapers in Japan such as the Nikkei, the Yomiuri, and Sankei (none available in English).

The possibility of the current administration to consider this proposal could open up the path to establishing a standing group of peace-operators composed of willing individuals, constructing the basis of a new form of contribution in Japan's future international peace operations.