HSP/SSJ seminar on Syria Crisis and International Law

HSP_SSJ Int'l-Seminar-Syria Flyer (EN) final-1

21 March 2018, 16:00-20:30 at the University of Tokyo

We, the Graduate Progam on Human Security at the Unversity of Tokyo, will be hosting a seminar on the Syria crisis and international law, jointly with Stand with Syria. We are inviting a former member of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria on the methodology and findings of the CoI. I will be speaking on what the CoI findings mean in international law, and the prospect of prosecution. This seminar is co-hosted by Human Rights Watch. I hope we can contribute to the awareness raising in Japan on the Syria Crisis.


8 March HSP Seminar with UN ASG Fabrizio Hochschild

HSP Seminar UN ASG Fabrizio Hochschild

Graduate Program on Human Security, the University of Tokyo, will be hosting a seminar by UN Assistant Secretary-General (Strategic Coordination) Mr. Fabrizio Hochschild on 8 March 2018. He was my boss at the UN-OHCHR, and it will be a good opportunity to hear his view on the prospect of considering human security and the UN in the struggling world, given his broad background in human rights, humanitarian work and peacekeeping/peacebuilding.

13:00-14:20, 8 March 2018 at Komaba campus, the University of Tokyo

Open to public. The seminar is in English. We look forward to seeing you there.

Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner-General

Time flies and it has already been a few weeks ago, but I attended a seminar by Mr. Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner-General on 25 January 2018. UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) works for 5.6 million Palestinian refugees.

His undeterred passion for what he works for was inspiring. Three points that I took home from what he said.

First, he stated that he refuses, and we should refuse for that matter, anominity of suffering. Suffering is deeply personal and individual.  Removing anonimity is a step to understand what wars do to people.

Second, he called for robustly defending norms and values inherited from World War II. That is the UN Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Geneva Conventions and Refugee Convention. Human rights is under assault not only in the conflict but also in discourse.

Third, he stated that skepticism is the least sophisticated form of surrender. If something is difficult, that is not a reason to stop, but that is the reason that we try.

Thank you very much for inviting me to attend further discussion over reception after the seminar.



Rwanda: To what extent has reconciliation and peacebuilding be achieved?

Rwanda seminar 2 smaller

The University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Sustainable Peace and Global Peacebuilding Association of Japan have organized a seminar on Rwanda, with a focus on its current status on reconciliation. Dr. Kazuyuki Sasaki, PIASS University spoke as the main speaker, Prof. Mitsugi Endo of the University of Tokyo was the commentator, Prof. Sukehiro Hasegawa, former Special Representative for the UN Secretary-General, was the moderator of discussion, and I served as the master of ceremony.

Dr. Kazuyuki Sasaki of PIASS University, Rwanda, has discussed the two different levels of reconciliation: reconciliation with a focus on national unity, and that between victims and perpetrators (on the individual level and between communities). What I found interesting was the pace of reconciliation that Rwanda as a country is chasing. Having been involved with the reconciliation process in Timor-Leste, and having read the book written by the former Force Commander of the UN Mission in Rwanda ‘Shake Hands with the Devil’, I am convinced that reconciliation takes a lot of time, probably two generations. In all the initiatives, I hope that victims’ voices are heard.

My article on the summary content of the seminar is available here.


GPAJ/ACUNS Symposium on Peacebuilding


Global Peacebuilding Association of Japan had its first symposium today (2 December 2017) at the University of Tokyo. We had Mr. Yasushi Akashi, former UN SRSG in Cambodia and Ambassador Yosihumi Okamura (International Peace and Cooperation/TICAD/Human Rights/UN Security Council Reform) in the plenary meeting. The official web article will be published soon at the GPAJ site, but for me Ambassador Okamura’s assessment of the limit of the UN for using a military personnel gathered from Member States was very insightful.

Four panels on different topics of peacebuilding were also very interesting. The mixture of senior practitioners and academics with a few junior researchers, and that of people from headquarters and field, were very successful. What a precious opportunity where we could exchange views with various types of people, all from different background!

I was the organizer and general master of ceremony for this event. Great to have been able to invite so many interesting speakers. Special thanks goes to our organizing committee. Most of them are from the University of Tokyo, and they took complete ownership so quickly. This was the day that could not have happend without their help. Thanks all.

Presentation on the militarization of the UN Police and protection of civilians mandates

The annual conference of the 7th Japan Association for Human Security Studies was held at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan from 4 to 6 November 2017. I participated in the panel discussion on the issue of ‘human security in conflict and post-conflict’ with three presenters. Other presenters were Prof. Yuji Uesugi of Waseda University and Ms. Ako Muto of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The Panel was chaired by Prof. Naoki Ishihara of Ritsumeikan University, and attended also by Prof. Miwa Hirono of Ritsumeikan University as a discussant. In my presentation, I questioned whether the rapid militarization of the UN Police, who serve in UN Peace Operations, and the rise of protection of civilians mandates are related. She introduced the evolution of the UN Police, and provided analysis of their mandates, tasks and types of personnel. She pointed out that the UN Police has been rapidly militarized after their emergence only in 1999. Their largest identified strength in the 1990s was their proximity to the community they serve for. Militarizing them is undermining the top strength they could offer. She then questioned whether this was related to the rise of protection of civilians (POC) mandates. In the process of mandate formation, it does not appear to be a strategic decision to increase POC mandates, and it also does not seem that the UN Police is militarized to respond to increasingly demanding POC mandates. It may rather be the volatile situation into which recent UN Peace missions are deployed that is determining the need for militarized personnel. She discussed the possibility that the budget and the ease of deployment process of militarized police may be contributing to the growth of militarized police units called Formed Police Units (FPUs).

In the same panel, Prof. Uesugi discussed the legitimacy of UN Transitional Administration in Timor-Leste, and introduced his view that local people were not systematically involved in the running of UN transitional administration. Ms. Ako Muto presented on her findings on the resilience approach to the conflict affected community with a case study on Syria.

The plenary of this two-day conference had Mr. Yukio Takasu, Special Adviser on Human Security to the UN Secretary-General, as the keynote speaker. He explored human security approach and alerted the audience that situations in Japan need to be analyzed with human security perspective. He introduced his upcoming project at Human Security Forum, a non-governmental organization attached to the University of Tokyo, to verify the level of human security achieved in each province in Japan.

Two plenary sessions followed his keynote speech. One was on Human Security and R2P from Regional Perspectives, with three distinguished speakers: Prof. Mely Caballero-Anthony of Rajaratham School of International Studies, Prof. Chiharu Takenaka of Rikkyo University, and Prof. Mitsugi Engo of the University of Tokyo. They spoke about regional perspectives on human security, in South East Asia, South Asia and Africa, respectively. The other plenary session was on the responsibility to protect and POC from security providers’ perspectives. Three speakers, Prof. Nanako Shimizu of Utsunomiya University, Prof. Yukie Osa of Rikkyo University and Prof. Rachel Julian of Leeds Beckett University, made presentations. Prof. Shimizu discussed on the limit of the UN as a world political organ. Prof. Osa spoke about the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and questioned whether ICTY has in fact divided the community by confirming a divided memory. Prof. Julian spoke about unarmed civilian peacekeeping, and argued that unarmed civilian peacekeepers can contribute significantly to keeping peace.

During the two-day conference, 10 thematic sessions were held on human security related issues.

Speech at the International Conference on Women, Peace and Security in the 21st Century


SEA panelI was invited to speak in two panels at the International Conference on Women, Peace and Security in the 21st Century – An East Asian Perspective, held in Seoul on 22-23 September, 2017, co-organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, International Journal on Peacekeeping and Korean Women’s Development Institute.


Six sessions of the conference addressed the foundation of the UN and women, peace and security, Advances made on women in conflict situations and in peacekeeping/building, sexual violence in conflict, the way forward on sexual abuse of women, means to enhance gender equity in peace and security, national plans of action, and civil society involvement.


Session I laid out the foundation on the conference theme. After the general foundation on gender and peace was explained by Prof. Lee Jeoung Oh of Daigu Catholic University,  my speech was on the legal development related to sexual violence during the conflict. She explained that since the 1990s, various forms of sexual violence have been recognized, codified and prosecuted as international crimes, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The contribution of international tribunals has been analyzed, including the development of the definition of rape. She addressed that there has been a significant progress in the prosecution of sexual violence, but challenges remain. In addition, she introduced human rights obligations on States in relation to sexual crimes domestically, touching upon prevention, investigation and prosecution, and emphasized that these obligations remain during the conflict. Ms. Gaelle Demolis of UN Women then explained relevant UN resolutions, including Security Council 1325 and its implementation.


Session II had Prof. Park Soon-hyang at the PKO Center, Korea National Defence University, and Dr. Roisin Burke, University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Following Prof. Park’s presentation on UN’s actions on sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by peacekeepers, Dr. Burke spoke about African Union’s framework on sexual exploitation and abuse. She introduced her research, which faced difficulty to find information on AU’s policies on prevention and actions against SEA.


Session III was focused on prevention and actions related to sexual violence in conflict and in UN Peace Operations. Prof. Oh Joon of Kyoung Hee University discussed the role of conflict prevention, sharing his experience as Ambassador engaging at the UN Security Council. Dr. Roisin Burke explained the current framework and shortcomings related to prevention and prosecution of sexual crimes committed by UN military contingents. My presentation provided recommendations on how to better prevent further SEA by UN personnel, based on her five-year research on how to improve criminal accountability of UN police personnel. Her specific recommendations were around five areas: getting the right people on the ground, ensuring that all information reaches an appropriate investigative body, law and internal policies, investigation, and ensuring prosecution. Throughout her detailed recommendations, she emphasized that transparency would be the key.


Session IV addressed means to enhance gender equity in peace and security. Lieutenant Colonel Nyamsuren Chultem of the Ministry of Defence, Mongolia, introduced her experience with UN missions. In her speech, she touched upon pre-deployment training, expectations, daily tasks in the mission, benefit of having female officers and various mandates. Prof. Choi Yunmi of Sookmyoung Women’s University analyzed how gender equity has been incorporated in peace and security agenda in South Korea. She cautioned that securing a number of women involvement in peace and security does not necessarily contribute to women’s perspective being incorporated in the agenda.


Session V was on Japan and Korea’s national plans of action (NAPs) related to Security Council resolution 1325. Ms. Hisako Motoyama of Civil Society Working Group for Japan and Ms. Lee Hyun Sook, Women’s Forum for Peace and Diplomacy, South Korea, explained the process of formulating respective NAPs and their status of implementation. It was found that, although Japan and South Korea had different models of engagement with the civil society in the process, their outcomes had similarities. While some civil society recommendations were heard by the two governments, a significant part was lost.


Session VI, on civil society organizations engagement on women, peace and security issues, had two speakers. Ms. Cho Young-sook of Korean Women’s Association United explained the roles the civil society can play. Dr. Kim Jeoung Soo, Director of Korean Women’s Institute for Peace Studies, introduced active women’s participation and their unique roles in peace dialogue between two Koreas.


A large portion of the conference is scheduled to be published in the due course.