SSU Forum/ GraSPP Research Seminar
Mr. Peter van der Vliet and Ambassador Fumio Iwai

Date: Wednesday, February 6 2019, 10:30-12:00
Venue: SMBC Academia Hall, 4F International Academic Research Building,
the University of Tokyo
Subject: "The Future of Peace Cooperation"
Speakers: Mr. Peter van der Vliet, Director for Multilateral Affairs at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ambassador Fumio Iwai,Director-General of the Peace Cooperation Secretariat
Language: English
Hosted by: Security Studies Unit, Policy Alternatives Research Institute, the University of Tokyo
GraSPP Research Seminar, the University of Tokyo
Abstract: Director Van der Vliet and Director-general Iwai will be discussing the future of international peace cooperation by drawing from their own extensive experience. How have peacekeeping missions evolved? What are the challenges of past and ongoing operations? And, more importantly, how can we learn from them? Using examples of recent operations, both speakers will shed their light on the question of how we can boost the effectiveness of international peace cooperation. How can we improve and reform the United Nations system and make multilateral cooperation in this field more sustainable?
Speaker's biography: Peter van der Vliet has been Director for Multilateral Organisations and Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands since 2015. He is also Ambassador for the Sustainable Development Goals. Prior to his current appointment in The Hague, Peter served as the Dutch Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in New York. Before this, he had several postings including as Deputy Head of Mission in Jordan, First Secretary in New Delhi and the Department for Security Policy Affairs. Peter joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1990. He studied political science and international relations at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Peter is married with three children.
Fumio Iwai has been Director General of Secretariat of the International Peace Cooperation Headquarters of the Cabinet Office of Government of Japan since 2018. In prior to his current position in Tokyo, he was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in Iraq. He has served for 34 years in foreign service, holding positions such as Deputy Director-General of Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Consul-General of Japan in New York, and Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission of Embassy in Saudi Arabia. He studied law at Kyoto University. Fumio is married with three children.

The Security Studies Unit of the Policy Alternative Research Institute, in cooperation with the Graduate School of Public Policy (GraSPP) at the University of Tokyo was delighted to host a talk delivered by Mr. Peter Van der Vliet, Director for Multilateral Affairs, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Ambassador Fumio Iwai, Former Ambassador to Iraq, Director-General of Peace Cooperation Secretariat at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the topic of peace cooperation and its future.

The event was chaired by Professor Yee-Kuang Heng, and Professor Chiyuki Aoi acted as discussant. Both are professors of international politics at GraSPP.

After Professor Heng opened the event by briefly introducing the speakers, he invited them to deliver their respective talks.
Ambassador Iwai thanked the host and the numerous public, expressing his satisfaction for having a very distinguished counterpart in Mr. Van der Vliet. Ambassador Iwai stated that such gathering is intended to further contribute to the promotion of peace and stability in the world, and that there is no better time than today to do that. This year 2019 marks for the Japanese the end of the Heisei era, the era which roughly coincides with the beginning and development of Japanese involvement in international peace operations. Ambassador Iwai offered a brief historical overview of such involvement. In 1988, the then Prime Minister Takeshita formulated the “International Cooperation Scheme”, which was composed of three pillars: (1) Cooperation for Peace, (2) Cultural Exchange, and (3) Oversees Development Assistance. In 1989-1991, during the crisis in the Persian Gulf following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Japan was invited by the international community to join the coalition which later liberated Kuwait. At that time however Japan was not yet prepared an operation of such scale, lacking a fully developed legal framework to allow it in the first place. Despite Japan’s very generous financial contribution to that international effort, its role was not highly recognised, generating some kind of backlash. In 1992, after fierce debates both at the National Diet and among the public, Japan adopted the first legal framework for allowing the deployment of military personnel in peacekeeping operations. These were conceived as operations in three areas: peace cooperation, humanitarian intervention, and election monitoring. The first deployment of JSDF’s personnel occurred in the same year in Cambodia. Since then, Japan has deployed, in a large number of missions, some of them ongoing, more than 12,500 personnel. In the meantime, domestic legislation was amended several times to allow more complex and politically ambitious operations, for instance the 2001 amendment allowing the Japanese participation in peacekeeping force missions (PKF). In 2015 a new law was introduced, which allows the country to participate in peace cooperation operations other than those sanctioned by the UN. Despite the numerous and sometimes heated debates surrounding these political initiatives and the operations themselves, surveys show that there is a significant popular support for increasing Japanese involvement. Of course, the question of what results can be attained in the various missions is an important one. In the case of the Japanese mission in Iraq (2004-2006) for instance, Japan’s effort was widely praised by the Iraqis and the international community. However, after the ISIS invasion only part of the infrastructure built is still standing, and the construction of a functioning democratic state in Iraq seems to have failed. Here Ambassador Iwai stressed that the international community is obliged to do what is necessary, namely a sincere effort for the construction of peace in every war-torn country, but eventually peace, stability, development cannot be achieved without a change from within the society. On that point, he remarked that in Iraq he learnt the “supremacy of politics”: if a democratic regime cannot consolidate itself from within, the country can fall prey of aggression (from ISIS in this case) with impressive speed. Finally, Ambassador Iwai mentioned the important effort by Japan in training UN troops. Such troops are for the vast majority sourced by developing countries, which contribute therefore most of the human capital. However, this personnel is often under-equipped and under-trained. The Japanese government, through JSDF and under the UN program RDEC (Rapid Deployment of Engineering Capacity), is providing training to foreign military personnel, particularly in engineering tasks.

Mr. Van der Vliet thanked the hosts and Ambassador Iwai, stressing how much he appreciated the fruitful consultation with his Japanese counterparts about peace cooperation while he is visiting Japan, and hopes this will lead to further collaboration in the future.
Mr. Van der Vliet framed peace cooperation activities within the broader mandate of the UN, which is primarily active in three areas: peace and security, human rights, and sustainable development. In the area of peace and security, peacekeeping operations (PKOs) are certainly the most visible and commonly known UN activity. There are currently 14 active operations with about 100,000 uniformed personnel deployed, not counting police forces and civilians. The UN does not have its own army or equipment, but personnel and equipment is sourced from member states. This is different from development related agencies, where the UN has its own apparatuses and staff. Since the inception of PKOs, much has changed. The early missions were primarily about interposition and supervision of armistice terms between belligerents. Over the years, PKOs have engaged with very different and far more challenging settings, even some were the peace agreement is fragile or failing, and there is therefore hardly any peace to be “kept”, for instance in the recent missions in Mali, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In some of these missions, local governments are not cooperating, or may be even part of the conflict, or there may be no government presence at all. While PKOs have changed considerably, taking up increasing risks, so the number of casualties among UN personnel has dramatically increased in recent number. The recent Cruz Report has highlighted the inadequacy of protection for UN troops, calling for a reform of security practices to save lives.

Mr. Van der Vliet moved then to illustrate the topic of peace cooperation in the context of Netherlands’s political landscape, by pointing out its constitutional roots. Indeed art. 100 of the Dutch Constitution establishes that the Netherlands is committed to the promotion of a rule-of-law, democratic international order. Both in the Parliament and in the broader public there is a strong support, in principle, for PKOs. At the same time however, this support is not unconditional, but it is specific for each mission. The government must make a case for the participation to a designated mission. There are sensitive elements in the construction of consensus, particularly concerning the risk for the troops, therefore in relation to strong security measures and MEDEVAC solutions for the wounded. For the public, the perception that the mission is achieving something, and that it is not an unlimited commitment, appears to be important. PKO missions are not a goal in themselves, there are supposed to be a means towards a political goal, namely peace and development.
During the past year 2018 the Netherlands was a member of the UN Security Council. Even if no new missions were initiated, it was still a busy year on the PKOs front. In March, Secretary General António Guterres launched a new strategy for the improvement for the missions. The key to such improvement seems to lie in the strengthening of international cooperation for a stronger formation of the UN personnel, through training programmes such as the one promoted by Japan and illustrated by Ambassador Iwai. Certain technical abilities, the provision of heavy equipment, of intelligence, of state-of-the-art field hospitals, can only be provided by relatively few countries in the world. Guterres’s plan is focused on this crucial aspect, and the discussion will continue with a ministerial-level UN meeting soon. Finally Mr. Van der Vliet concluded his talk by stressing again that peacekeeping is changing rapidly, and some important issues remain to be tackled, such as the disturbing problem of sexual exploitation by peacekeepers in certain missions, as reported in the press.

Professor Aoi commented on the talk by highlighting the importance of Japanese-Dutch cooperation concerning PKOs. For instance, the Japanese deployment in Iraq occurred in an area where security was provided by the Dutch military, as described in the 2005 book A Gentle Occupation: Dutch Military Operations in Iraq, 2003-2005 by Thijs Brocades Zaalberg and Arthur Ten Cate. Professor Aoi as well stated the PKOs are changing and becoming more challenging. She asked to Ambassador Iwai whether public support in Japan for PKOs, which the government has managed to maintain very high, can remain strong even with increasingly challenging and dangerous missions. Secondly, she also asked whether in reality public support is based on an outdated conception of PKOs themselves, which could mean that this consensus may in reality be quite fragile.
To Mr. Van der Vliet, Professor Aoi asked about the future of Dutch involvement in PKOs. Indeed, the Netherlands has, so to say, specialised in a particular kind of security operations, being often the first to arrive, and the first to leave. However, leaving is become increasingly difficult in certain theatres of operations.

Ambassador Iwai acknowledged in his reply that that Japanese narrative on PKOs tends to rely on outdated concepts. However, if the Japanese public can be convinced that involvement in such mission contributes to the improvement of the international situation and Japan’s good standing, the support will continue. Ambassador Iwai also stated that the public is slowly but steadily maturing with regard to the issue of JSDF’s overseas deployment. On the other hand, in over 25 years of JSDF deployment in various missions, not a single bullet has been fired by a Japanese soldier. If future deployments will take place in more challenging environments, there is a possibility that such threshold will be tested.

Mr Van der Vliet replied to Professor Aoi’s question reiterating that the involvement of Dutch troops in dangerous environments, where Dutch servicemen have tragically lost their lives, poses very serious ethical and political questions. In such instances in the past, public support has declined. But the general sense that Dutch participation is in principle an important part of the country’s contribution to international stability and peace, remains firm. The key point here is for the government to have a clear communication strategy to explain the sense and the importance of each mission to the Parliament as well as the public, without hiding the risks involved. This certainly remains a risky business, and for this reason it is imperative that excellent protection, training, and MEDEVAC procedures are implemented and incessantly improved.