UN Under-Secretary-General Atul Khare spoke at the Press Center and an international peace cooperation symposium organized by the Cabinet Office and expressed his appreciation of Japan`s support to UN peacekeeping and special political mission, which together with AU mission number as many as thirty five. Please see below for full text of his speech.
The 7th International Peace Cooperation Symposium was held at the UN University in Tokyo on 22 January 2015. It was opened by Mr. Jota Yamamoto, Director General, Secretariat of the International Peace Cooperation Headquarters, Cabinet Office and introductory remarks was made by Mr. Yasushi Akashi, Former Under-Secretary—General of the United Nations and Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Cambodia.
Following USG Khare’s keynote speech, “Working with the UN – challenges, difficulties and joy, and messages to the people of Japan,” three presentations were made by programme advisors, Michihiro Tanabe, Yuichiro Sakai, and Hiroshige Fujii, and commented by Professors Yasuhiro Ueki, Akiko Fukushima and Daisaku Higashi in a discussion session moderated by Professor Yuji Uesugi. Mr. Ken Inoue of JICA also provided his comments along with other participants including Professor Sukehiro Hasegawa, former Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste.
United Nations Under-Secretary-General Atul Khare
7th International Peace Cooperation Symposium
January 22, 2016
Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
Let me begin by congratulating you on the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the
System of International Peace Cooperation Program Advisors. I am aware that many talented former program advisors are now contributing to international peace as UN staff, diplomats and academics. I very much look forward to the presentations by the three program advisors on topics relevant to peace operations.
I am honoured to speak on behalf of the United Nations at this international symposium organized by the International Peace Cooperation Headquarters. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to its Chief, His Excellency Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for inviting me to be with you today.
It is also a great pleasure for me to be speaking after one of my great “sensei” of
peacekeeping, Mr. Yasushi Akashi who as some of you know was the first Japanese to join the Organization. [He may not know this, but I have read many of his reports and speeches over the years and they have guided me as I took on my several assignments with the United Nations. Of course, my other “sensei” in peacekeeping, in Timor-Leste, was Mr. Sukehiro Hasegawa who served as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General there before me.
I have been asked to speak on the challenges, difficulties and joy of working with the United Nations, and messages to the people of Japan. I would like to first speak briefly on this topic from the perspective of my current role as the head of the Department of Field Support, and then focus on my role as former Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste. Timor-Leste is where I worked closely with many talented Japanese in different capacities. In fact, I believe most, if not all, the professors who will be speaking today have either worked in, visited, or at least written about Timor-Leste and peacekeeping.
Department of Field Support
The Department of Field Support, or DFS, currently supports over 35 UN peacekeeping and special political missions as well as the African Union Mission in Somalia. We help manage an annual global budget of more than $9 billion and support approximately 175,000 peacekeepers. And we support and enable peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities throughout the world. Close to 30 Japanese colleagues are serving in UN peace operations. Their posts range from that of Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the UN Mission in Afghanistan, to principal political officer in the Central African Republic, to logistics officer in Somalia, to nurse in Liberia, to senior gender affairs officer in South Sudan. There are also a few Japanese colleagues working in my Department, including two in my front office who also worked with me in Timor-Leste along with many other Japanese colleauges. (Together with Hervé – head of DPKO, I have just selected a very capable Chief of Staff who also happens to be Japanese, Ayaka Suzuki. I think I am the first USG in the history of the United Nations to be supported by a Japanese Chief of Staff, a Japanese Special Assistant and a Japanese Personal Assistant. I seem to get along very well with people from Japan.) I hope to see some of you here today join the United Nations and work with us. DFS is also working closely with the Japanese Government in a triangular partnership project designed to address a critical shortfall of engineering capabilities in our missions.
While most Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) can deploy troops without major obstacles, many TCCs do not have, or are unable to deploy, skilled engineering units that can build camps, repair roads and make a peacekeeping mission operational in a timely manner. Under this partnership, with Japan’s generous contribution of some 40 million US dollars, highly skilled Japanese Self Defense Force (SDF) personnel have trained military personnel from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda in the operation and maintenance of heavy engineering equipment. This programme and the overall partnership will be significantly expanded in the next few years as I have been assured by the leaders of Japan during my visit.
Timor-Leste- Japanese contributions
As I mentioned earlier, I spent six years of my career in Timor-Leste, first as Chief of Staff and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General with the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) and, later, as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste and Head of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).
In Timor-Leste I had the privilege of working closely with many Japanese and witnessed the wide-ranging impact of Japanese contributions to peace in that country.
It was Japan that hosted the first donor conference in 1999 when East Timor urgently needed international assistance following the violence that erupted throughout the country after voters chose independence from Indonesia. Prime Minister Koizumi was the first G8 leader to visit Timor-Leste in 2002, showing strong support for its independence. From 2002 to 2004, Japanese Self Defence Force (SDF) engineers built roads and bridges that are still called “Japanese bridge” and “Japanese roads” by the local people. I also worked with SDF retirees who established an NGO, Japan Demining and Reconstruction Assistance Center, and taught Timorese how to clear roads all over Timor-Leste. When Timor-Leste spiralled into violence and chaos in 2006 and over 30,000 people were forced out of their homes to live in IDP camps in the capital, Dili, it was again Japan, as the leader of the group of friends of Timor-Leste at the time, that led the Security Council in adopting the resolution establishing UNMIT, with a comprehensive mandate and sending me back to Timor-Leste as SRSG.
Check against delivery As the SRSG and head of UNMIT, I worked closely with Kitahara-san, Ambassador of Japan and his predecessor Shimizu-san, on many initiatives.
After the tragic death of Haruyuki Takada, a Japanese police officer in UNTAC, in Cambodia, the Japanese Government was hesitant to send police to UN missions, but we convinced Tokyo to send four Japanese police officers to UNMIT, who taught Japanese “Koban” style community policing and drafted textbooks for the local police that are still in use today. We later also succeeded in getting Japan’s first female military liaison officer assigned to UNMIT, who worked on community outreach in Baucau. And Japanese election observers deployed throughout the country in the Presidential and Parliamentary elections. It was a true joy for me to work with the many distinguished Japanese professionals I have mentioned – in particular, Suki Hasegawa, who I mentioned earlier, and the late Takahisa Kawakami, who was personally recommended by me to the Secretary-General to lead UNMIT’s efforts in the area of security and rule of law as Deputy SRSG.
Timor-Leste- 11 February 2008
Timor-Leste is also where I experienced my greatest professional challenge, following the armed attack on 11 February 2008 against then-President Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Gusmão that left the President seriously wounded and the Prime Minister’s convoy riddled with bullets. After these attacks, the Timorese State institutions, supported by UNMIT and the international community, responded in a manner that showed their growing resilience and ability to manage crises. This was in stark contrast to 2006, when a demonstration ultimately triggered widespread violence and the downfall of the government. I highlight this point because I think that one of the ultimate goals of UN peace operations is to build the capacity of national institutions and processes so that they can eventually deal with crisis on their own and prevent them. I will explain what UNMIT did to support the Timorese State in this time of crisis and the approach I took. All of my actions were based on a holistic understanding of the state’s history, socio-economic conditions, and political dynamics and benefitted from the network of personal relationships I had cultivated with national interlocutors.
There were five key elements which allowed UNMIT to ably support the Timorese State during this crisis.
First, we had established routine mechanisms which gave leaders a stable framework from which to address the challenge and brought everybody together to work in a systematic and rational manner. We worked hard to establish formal coordination mechanisms, such as the High Level Coordination Committee, which brought together the President, President of the National Parliament, the Prime Minister, other high-level Timorese State leaders and me. I also met weekly with the Prime Minister and President. After the 2007 elections, I started weekly meetings with the Secretary-General of Fretilin, the largest party in opposition and a very important political player. I also initiated monthly meetings with representatives of all political parties, including those without parliamentary representation. These meetings provided the parties with the only forum in which they could sit together and discuss issues of national importance. The working relationships established through these meetings were essential to the signing of a Political Party Accord, in which all parties renounced violence. There was also the Trilateral Coordination Forum, chaired by the Prime Minister, which brought together the government, UNMIT and the international security force (an independent but Security-Council-authorized force consisting of troops from Australia and New Zealand) to coordinate and set policy on security issues. Both the High Level Coordination Committee and the Trilateral Coordination Forum were crucial for providing overall guidance to the 2007 electoral processes.
Second, we had established “early warning systems” to prevent a crisis.
Part of the solution to dealing with the disturbances which had affected Dili in February and March of 2007 had simply been getting enough police on the ground. However, another aspect of the solution was to better understand the dynamics at all levels, from the national to the local. UNMIT staff built on the institutional knowledge already existing to understand the behaviour of those responsible for committing crimes. Unarmed military liaison officers, including a few from the JSD Force, who went into the field for community outreach and for information gathering, contributed to these efforts. This led to increasingly informed police responses to disturbances. The police were better able to predict which neighbourhoods would be affected and when violence might erupt. They were thus able to be proactive rather than reactive. The number of security incidents in the country averaged about sixty per week when UNMIT was established, but it quickly went down to almost half by August 2007. In fact, the security situation remained calm across the country even in the aftermath of the 11 February attacks. This situational understanding was particularly important during the elections that were held in 2007, which I can highlight as another major challenge we were able to overcome. In early 2007, many experts told me that it would be impossible to hold the elections given the potential for instability. But we were confident that the mechanisms that the Timorese and the UN had put into place were adequate to ensure the safe conduct of the elections. UNMIT’s understanding of local conditions, through various mapping and analytical exercises, was essential for taking measures to deal with potentially troublesome regions of the country. Despite doubts, the elections took place in a reasonably peaceful environment and were widely recognised as free and fair.
Third, we practiced crisis management – i.e. using already established frameworks to deal with the crisis. I strongly believe that there is a “Golden Hour” when we must ensure that the response is as professional and as effective as the crisis is debilitating or potentially devastating. This view stems from my training as a medical doctor. In dealing with traumatic injury, the survival rate of a patient increases significantly if we are able to provide emergency medical services to the patient in the first hour following injury. According to this method, the response to the 11 February attacks was reasonably successful and points to the increasing resiliency of the state of Timor-Leste. All of the investments made during 2007 – the efforts to build relationships, to instill a sense of the importance of routine mechanisms for dealing with challenges in a systematic matter, to strengthen institutions, UNMIT’s understanding of the country and relationships with political leaders -demonstrated a real return in the response to the 11 February attacks. Supported by UNMIT, the State did not sink into the infighting and lack of coordination which had characterised the 2006 crisis. Every effort was made to respect Constitutional and legal norms. Those efforts were ultimately successful, the country maintained its stability, and the remaining fugitives responsible for the shootings surrendered peacefully.
Fourth, we maintained regular and frequent communication with relevant stakeholders to share and exchange information. None should doubt the critical importance of communication during the crisis – within the mission, between the mission and HQ, and between the mission and the international stakeholders. Apart from the already mentioned mechanisms, I also held frequent townhall meetings before the crisis, during the crisis and immediately thereafter, to interact directly with all staff.
Fifth, I changed the Mission’s leadership model to best suit the situation
While different models of leadership exist, I have found the situational leadership model of Hersey and Blanchard particularly useful. The model categorizes leadership behaviour into four types. First, directing/telling leaders who make and announce their decisions, whose followers generally lack the specific skills to do a job, but are eager to learn and willing to take direction. Second, coaching/selling leaders, who still define the roles and tasks, but seek ideas and suggestions from their followers who have some relevant skills but won’t be able to perform without help as the situation may be new to them. Third, supporting/participating leaders who facilitate and take part in decisions, but the control is with the followers, who have a high degree of competence but may not have sufficient motivation to do the task well. Fourth, delegating leaders, who are still involved with problem solving, but the control is fully with the followers, who decide when and how the leader would be actually involved. Normally, in peacekeeping, we function at the fourth level, however, during a major challenge or crisis, the followers find themselves in a changed, fluid environment and revert to the first or second levels. This implies that the leader should change his or her style as well in order to succeed. A crisis requires an immediate change of leadership style – from delegation to direction. At the same time, as the crisis unfolds, one has to gradually change one’s leadership style again from the directorial one through the coaching or selling one to supporting and participating roles, so that at the earliest opportunity the original framework of delegating leadership can be restored. I believe this is of crucial importance since if one does not become directorial, or “take charge”, if you like, during the handling of the acute crisis period, the team members would actually exacerbate the challenges, instead of becoming part of the solution. On the other hand, if in the post-crisis period we continue with the directorial style, the work would probably continue to get done, but the followers would resent the leaders for treating them like school-children. I feel that the changes I made in my leadership style during the 2008 crisis ensured that we never had any fatality or even serious injury to a staff member and that staff morale remained high while staff continued to contribute in their respective areas of responsibility.
I have shared with you the five aspects of my approach to dealing with a major challenge: 1) the establishment of routine mechanisms; 2) maintaining “early warning systems”; 3) crisis management; 4) regular and frequent communication with relevant stakeholders; and 5) changing the leadership model to best suit the situation. I have also shared with you how much I enjoyed working with many exceptional Japanese professionals in the pursuit of peace in Timor-Leste.
As my concluding remarks and as my message to the Japanese people, I would like to say “Arigato.” Arigato for all the contributions you have made and will continue to make in order to make the world a safer and better place for all of us. Arigato for all the talented people you have sent to work with the Timorese people and with the United Nations in Timor-Leste. Arigato especially to the younger audience here today, for considering joining the United Nations and contributing to sustainable peace, especially in our field operations.And Arigato for giving me the opportunity to address you today.