11 January 2008

The Upper House adopts a DPJ bill proposing to facilitate the establishment of a new UN service.

*Click the title above to read the Japanese version of this release.

by Takahiro Katsumi

(Tokyo, 11 January 2008) The Upper House of the Japanese parliament has adopted on Friday a counter-proposal bill submitted by the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) regarding Japan’s assistance to the war-torn Afghanistan. The bill was submitted to the House of Councillors on 21 December last year and was adopted on Friday at the plenary session of the National Diet, the Japanese Parliament (press release).

As a counter-proposal to the government-submitted bill which aims to reinstate the refueling mission in the Indian Ocean to assist the maritime interdiction component of Operation Enduring Freedom led by the United States, the so called “Terror Elimination Law,” short for the” Special Measures Law for Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan for the Prevention and Elimination of International Terrorism,” included articles specifically addressing the concept of “Responsibility to Protect” and the establishment of a new UN service “capable of immediately taking necessary measures to respond to threats to international peace and security.”

A UN service “capable of immediately taking necessary measures to respond to threats to international peace and security.” refers to none other but UNEPS or UN Emergency Peace Service, a standing civil-military hybrid UN peace service capable of preventing and responding to humanitarian crisis situation which consists of highly trained professionals recruited on basis of free will. But because UNEPS is still a developing concept, it was considered inappropriate to use its name in the legislation. In fact, the word “UNEPS” has already appeared in the outline of the bill that was released to the press (related article).

With the exception of the United States Congress, which has twice in its history submitted such bill, this was the first time the proposal to establish such UN peace service was placed in the parliamentary agenda for deliberation (related information). We believe this action would play an important role to facilitate the engagement of international community in these discussions.

In the actual bill, the two sections that dealt with R2P and a new "UN service” read as follows (unofficial translation with altered formats):

Development of Basic Laws

Article 25

Basic laws governing the acting principles of our nation’s state actions concerning international security as well as our leading role to contribute in the global effort to prevent and eliminate international terrorism shall be established. To that end, basic acting principles shall be established for measures:

  1. taken in response to implement the collective security provisions stipulated under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations;
  2. taken in response in act of self-defense which is in compliance with the provisions of the Constitution; and
  3. taken in response to the decision of the United Nations to act under the principle of Responsibility to Protect adopted at the General Assembly on the date of September 6, 2005 to protect individuals from the crimes of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Consideration for the establishment of a new United Nations service to supplement the efforts to maintain and/or restore international peace and security

Article 26

As part of its effort in reforming the United Nations and to supplement the activities taken under the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in accordance with Section 1 Article 3 of the Law Concerning Cooperation for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (Law No. 79 of 1992) as well as other activities taken to maintain and/or restore international peace and security, the government shall take an active and leadership role in engaging the United Nations and states parties to the United Nations to facilitate the establishment of a new United Nations service capable of immediately taking necessary measure to respond to threats to international peace and security when such threat arises.

The Terror Elimination Law, which included the above provisions that were rejected in the Upper House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense on the day before, was nonetheless adopted at the plenary of the Upper House today by a very close vote of 120 to 118.

As a result of this impressive outcome, the bill will be continually discussed in the Regular Diet session to be convened next week. It is of great significance that a bill concerning the establishment of a new UN service has been discussed in the National Diet. No other parliament in the world except the United States Congress has done it until now.

Japan has become the second country in the world next to the United Sates to have tabled the establishment of a new standing UN peace service on its parliamentary agenda. We believe Japan’s action will prompt and lead the global community to engage in the discussions to establish such standing UN service, known to our friends by the name of UN Emergency Peace Service.