ISS/TfP participates in the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) International Symposium on Security Affairs
16 Dec 2014
The National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS), at the Japanese Ministry of Defense, organised the 17th Annual International Symposium on Security Affairs, in Tokyo Japan. This symposium was one of the major international activities organised by NIDS, and aimed at exchanging presentations of views in a public forum on deepening the understanding of security matters. Roughly 200 participants attended. The topic of the symposium was New Trends in Peacekeeping: In Search for a New Direction. Discussion focused on the current changes in peacekeeping processes, and its increasing multidimensionality. Discussions also highlighted some key academic and policy developments in peacekeeping, including national and regional responses. ISS was the only African institution represented, and Gustavo de Carvalho, Senior Researcher CMPB, presented on the role of South Africa and peacekeeping. NIDS have shown appreciation for the engagement with ISS and the visit from ISS Executive Director, Dr. Jakkie Cilliers earlier in 2014 certainly made a positive impact at their institution. In the meeting, panelists were invited to comment on Japanese policies towards peacekeeping operations, particularly in line with the proposed changes on article 9 of Japanese Constitution (concerning the use of force) and Japanese law on the participation in peacekeeping operations. Click on the read more link to read more about the various presentations at the symposium. Read more: NIDS International Symposium Agenda There were several presentations focusing on regional and national approaches on peacekeeping, particularly on the cases of the UK, Germany, Japan and South East Asia. Those presentations were interesting to show a different environment from what we currently see in Africa, particularly due to the difficulties of deployment, with the clear exception of South East Asia. It showed that most of these countries face difficulties not only in terms of political will to deploy in UN peacekeeping operations, but also face legal constraints of deployment. That marks a clear difference to the South African example, which faces more challenges in terms of capabilities and political will, rather than legal constraints. Gustavo’s presentation aimed at showing that South Africa has a variety of legal tools that enable peacekeeping to be deployed, and that South Africa is placed as one of the global top TCCs to UN operations (despite being behind several African TCCs). It also showed that SA has a similar deployment level to other emerging countries of similar stature and that financially contributes to UN peacekeeping more than any other African country. However, it also presented that SA possess several challenges in ensuring that its overall peacekeeping policies are effective implemented, particularly in terms of funding allocation and overall capabilities of SANDF. The audience was composed of a variety of participants, from Japan and overseas. The understanding was the the organisers wanted to educate the Japanese audience for peacekeeping discussions, preparing key players for an intense discussion that will follow concerning the changes in Japanese legislation towards peacekeeping operations. In that regard, the meeting was successful, and managed to show the changing nature and trends in peacekeeping, and during the Q&A several questions were asked to all panellists (including ISS) on how these trends presented are important to Japan. On the second day of the Symposium, panelists were invited for a closed session between them and representatives from Japanese Ministry of Defense, peacekeeping training center and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The closed session provided the opportunity for the government of Japan to explain in detail the processes taken in Japan to deploy in peacekeeping operations. It showed the law for participation on peacekeeping operations, a quite restrictive and highly bureaucratic tool. Several processes have to be taken under this law, and it provides a detailed list of where Japan can participate in peacekeeping operations. That list of tasks, limits considerably Japan’s capacities to deploy in peacekeeping environments, restricting them to a few particular specialised functions, including engineering. The presentation was followed by an intense Q&A amongst Japanese government and panellist, which focused on issues including the use of force, the areas in which Japan can contribute, understanding of neutrality/impartiality, role of civilian and police components, amongst others. The question and answers session provided important input for Japanese officials on areas to focus on the discussions for changing of legislation, as well as providing some tacit confirmation that the law in Japan towards participation in peacekeeping operations is somehow outdated.