Study group members: Arakaki, Ohira, Kodama, Sakurai, Sato, Nakanishi, and Futamura
Assistant: Yamamoto, Sugimoto, and Hayakawa
I went to Sri Lanka in September to do some research on the status of refugees by, mainly, visiting government officials and NGOs there. One set of data indicates that approximately 0.8 million out of the 19 million population of the country are internally displaced people (IDP).
The UNHCR is supporting returnee refugees in various ways, for example, by furnishing some of their household goods.
But they are facing difficulties with land problems such as waste lands, landmines and ownership, as they do in Cambodia.
Another significant point is that the transfer of the refugees itself has a rather political dimension here. Through voting, they have a huge impact on the political balance in the area where they reside.
During this visit, I was able to discover the differences and similarities between other countries’ problems.
* * *
There were some topics related to this study group. One is that there was an offer from a NGO working to build peace to establish a network between us. The other is that we were asked by the UNHCR of Sri Lanka Office to conduct research on the human rights and needs of the returnee refugees there.
What does this NGO do?
It has not been directly involved in peace negotiations. It mainly is involved in lobbying, data collecting, and they have various small projects.
* * *
We might want to ask for cooperation to an expert on Sri Lanka, since we don’t have one in our study group.
I think we must deal with the refugee problem in Sri Lanka, considering the scale and the historical relationship with the UNHCR.
I visited the UNDP Tokyo Office on October 28. I received their reply, saying they will cooperate as an intermediary for us between the local offices. I was asked to provide feedback of the research results.
If we are researching activities of the United Nations, I’d also like to investigate East Timor where the UN has been actively involved.
It is quite easy to make contact there from the UNDP Tokyo Office, because Japan is actively supporting that country.
In the talk with the UNDP Tokyo officials, I was advised to cooperate with the UN University (UNU). It might benefit us to contact with “B” who published books about peace building and early warning.
If we were having a symposium, I would like to hear what the international institutions think about peace building.
Maybe my acquaintance at the UNU can introduce us to an appropriate person.
We can think about holding a symposium that invites representatives from the United Nations.
The main purposes of this visit to East Timor were interviews and on-site inspection of post-war peace building activities.
JICA has been focusing on the improvement of the social economic infrastructure, and so far, has not been involved in activities that directly support peace building. Reviewing its policy, it is actively trying to be involved in peace building assistance from now on.
The activities of Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) does not directly support peace building either. We should not formulate a single method regarding regional conflicts because they each have their own regional characteristics. There was also an opinion expressed saying that the importance of the reintegration of the demobilized soldiers should be emphasized.
The three pillars of the Comissao de Acolhimento, Verdade e Reconciliacao de Timor Leste (CAVR), or the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of East Timor are “acceptance”, “reconciliation” and “truth”. As for their “acceptance” policy, CAVR’s main purpose is to accept refugees and IDPs, but it is not that active on this front now. The total number of the refugees is decreasing, and most of the remaining is not willing to come home. As for “reconciliation”, an ex-militia member confesses his/her crime and the method of penance, which the community has established, would be executed. The East Timor government should accomplish this. And for “truth”, investigations into the past 29 years are in progress, but there are many difficulties. For example, people fearing about having a negative impact on the present situation would not testify about the crimes committed by the present government officials.
My conclusion is that peace building methods depend heavily on each case, and we cannot build peace without deeply understanding the target region. It’s not effective to make a common case model.
This is a fundamental problem. I see common points so I think there might be a common method.
I think their individual characteristics are their key elements.
Of course they are all different. But there must be a common viewpoint, such as checking their histories and resources.
In the case of Rwanda, many important people and officials were tried in a criminal court which was established by the intervention of the international community. But, the local people think they want to bring these people to justice by themselves, and consequently, this has created problems for the future. Maybe there are cases where things would not turn out well due to the intervention of the international community.
But if we leave it to the locals, vengeance might be repeated and they might not be able to break the chain of conflict.
A common standard would be needed in systems such as in the courts. The efficacy of a method would differ indeed in each case. But if we completely change methods for each case, they would be fixed to the individual cases. We might need to group the cases by types.
It’s difficult to manage the grouping completely. We should gradually add common items as well as specific situations.
I’d like to add one thing. If we try to pursue each individual case, sometimes we find common items among them. In East Timor, a TV program about an incident was broadcast with the permission of the parties involved. It made us think about what really the evil was. I think it’s highly important to do research.
East Timor is very interesting as a subject for research.
I was asked from the UNDP to address reconciliation. We should collect as many cases as possible. There is also the data of those in Okinawa.
In the Japanese ODA Charter, peace building would be the main feature. Human resource development should be discussed in detail, including JICA. We are asking the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for cooperation.
At the Japan Society for International Development, Tokai branch, I presented the theory flow of international development, and Mr. Kodama did a presentation from the viewpoint of a NGO activist.
For future meetings, I suggest starting a student-session in order to develop young researchers. I’d like Mr. Yamamoto do take the lead.
I went to Kabul from October 24 to 31 as a short-term expert for JICA. The framework of “reconciliation” includes the aspect of preventing recurrence of conflicts. Distributive justice in development assistance and cooperation is essential in considering long- term reconciliation. I put thought into the future of Japan’s education assistance to Afghanistan from this point of view.
The road reconstruction is progressing, but school restorations are behind schedule. It is necessary to promote reconstruction of the country to solve the problems of the returnee refugees. We must not only address education assistance, but also tackle comprehensively the other problems, including industrial development and disarmament. I was unable to see the vision of JICA as an organization in promoting the reconstruction.
The division of roles for each international institution is not yet defined for education assistance. Although, there are moves being taken to create a program secretariat within the Department of Education which would be responsible for determining the various roles.
I had the same feeling when I studied the case of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia or UNTAC. UNTAC is said to have ended in success, but now there are bribery and drug problems again. A country will be led to that direction when it is economically in poor shape. Although the aid recipient countries seem to recover with the aid, they might be steeped in aid assistance such as the case in the Philippines.
NGO activities transcending national interests would be increasingly important. So, I suggest holding a symposium featuring NGOs on February 9. The main theme would be “NGOs’ roles and challenges in peace building”. It’s concept will be “a conference that would contribute to the consideration of the possible roles of researchers in this study in the future by learning about the experiences, current status of NGOs in building peace and the ties between government institutions and by understanding the challenges in formulating, implementing and evaluating related businesses”. We would have the NGOs talk about their experiences and we would consider how we could respond to that.
|Copyright©2003-2005 Peacebuilding Study Group|