Japan envoy highlights "inclusivity" in post-conflict rebuilding

A Japanese envoy to the United Nations stressed the importance of including a wide spectrum of stakeholders in restoring security in countries torn apart by conflict at a seminar Tuesday.

Kazuyoshi Umemoto, Japan's deputy ambassador, pointed out how his country for two decades has helped other nations, such as Sierra Leone, East Timor and Afghanistan get back on their feet after facing devastating internal strife.

The event was hosted by the Japanese, Slovakian and Tanzanian missions to the United Nations.

Japan, he explained, took a leading role in disarming, demobilizing and reintegration programs, as well as provided financial backing for police forces in Afghanistan.

"Those experiences have led us to fully recognize that inclusivity in establishing the security sector is very crucial," he said in opening remarks. "But we also recognize that it is extremely challenging."

Among the challenges raised by Umemoto and other participants was whether former wartime enemies could be included when a new security sector is created and when they should be excluded.

Questions were also raised about whether quota systems would be helpful to bring ethnic or regional groups together after the conflicts end.

The objective of security sector reform "is to help ensure that people feel safer," a draft concept paper circulated before the seminar said.

The seminar was open to U.N. officials, diplomats, academics and members of civil society with the purpose of sharing lessons learned from current and future international efforts.

"A professional, effective and accountable security sector contributes to the foundations for peace and sustainable development," the paper also said.

Dmitry Titov, Assistant Secretary General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions, pointed out how the security sector has remain fragmented in South Sudan. Conflict broke out last December, greatly exacerbating differences along ethnic lines.

To stem such conflicts, requires incorporating a wide range of civil society--from women, to youth groups and tribal leaders, he said.

Ian Martin, the former special representative of the Secretary General for East Timor, Nepal and Libya, also shared his insights on reforming the security sectors in those countries.

"It is really important that people that are dealing with issues at a headquarter level discuss as deeply as possible this sort of field reality," he said of the exchange ahead of a U.N. Security Council debate next Monday on security sector reform.

Participants, such as Despina Boubalos, from the Greek Mission appreciated the opportunity to hear from officials like Martin who brings his field experiences back to diplomats who are far removed from the post conflict zones.