Japan’s Contribution to UN Peacekeeping Operations: Domestic and International Legal Perspective

- Saifuddin Ahmed and Md. Harun or-Rashid


Published On - January 4, 2017 [Vol. 6, Jan - Jun, 2017]


It has to be acknowledged that Post world war peace building is not a simple process. Obviously, there are significant limitations and complications that need to be addressed, including social, political and economical issues. Moreover, resource constraints and peace building mechanism in post world war confliction societies is a multi -dimensional procedure. Yet, priority should be given on finding stable political solutions within the Framework of nation states. The United Nations, individual states and international non- government organizations have become increasingly involved in trying to rebuild peaceful societies in the aftermath of violent conflict. Post world war peace building encompasses the full range of non-military commitments undertaken by the international community to assist countries to achieve self- sustaining peace and socio- economic development.

Keywords Peace Building, Conflict Resolutions, Post world war development and Transformation.

 1. Introduction

Andreski commented that “Since the beginning of human history, warfare has been an omnipresent social process”. [1] Japan’s position in world politics is an interesting one. It has huge economic muscle but it is politically weak. Since the Second World War the cold war and especially after the Gulf War there has been a fierce debate regarding Japan’s role in the world politics. Japan is a peace monger nation. ‘May peace prevails on earth is their slogan’. In the post World era, an increasing number of countries have experienced civil wars and regional conflicts. Prolonged conflicts prevailing among the state lead many of them to turn into so-called “Failed states”.[2] This conflict has become a major element of serious concern or the international community and encourages the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Myriad of efforts have been made to address the challenges of peace building in the international community, the number of peace keeping operation has grown up and scope of their mandates has been expanded. Embracing these trends in the international community, Japan has been devoting conducive efforts to peace building in collaboration with UN. Japan’s peace and security are interlinked with the international peace and stability. It is therefore the interest of Japan’s own peace and security to actively support peace building activities in coordination with international community.

While supporting peace building Japan is acting as a responsible member of the international community. It also creates an opportunity for Japan to make good use of its post world war experiences and accomplishments as a “nation of peace” thereby further enhancing its international standing. In my article I would like to use a triangular research design, a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. The aim of this article is to explore the core functions of Japan’s contribution to United Nations Peace Building operations. The first part of this article deals with the definitional Terms of peace, peacemaking and peace keeping, The Second part explore Japan’s peace building mechanism with United Nations. While the third part examines elements of peace building and interventions by external actors to help war-torn societies not only to avoid a relapse into conflict but also to establish the conditions for sustainable peace. The fourth part analyses Japan’s financial contributions compared to those of others countries. The fifth part deals with Japan’s peace building strengths and limitations. The sixth part deals with conclusions and recommendations.

 2. Conceptual Framework Peace, Peace building, Peacemaking and Peace Keeping

The term peace building came into popular use after the then United Nations Secretary General, Boutros Ghali announced his agenda for peace in 1992 “Action to identify and supports structure which tend to strengthen and solidify peace to avoid a relapse into conflict”[3].  Since then, Peace Building has become a iconic concept, encompassing multiple perspective and agenda. The United Nations distinguishes between several different kinds of intervention to bring about peace. In addition to humanitarian aid, or emergency assistance designed to provide the immediate means of survival for population at risk. However, it is a crucial to get a basic understanding of peace, peacemaking, peace building, and peacekeeping.

Peace: Peace and security are two ardent desires of human life, but simultaneously it is obvious that conflict and violence are integral parts of human society. To attain peace, we have to find out a way both to put a halt to actual hostilities and to institutionalize a peaceful system. Peace means freedom from war and worry enjoyed by each and every person. Free of anxiety about being bombarded and having capabilities of physical and mental possibilities damaged due to arms and violence. This also applies on the order of systematic violence and the effort therefore must include problems such as- poverty, unequal opportunities for education, food shortages and wrongful discrimination, As Johan Galtung describes “peace is absence of violence.”[4] But I think peace is not only absence of violence but also absence of  true justice.

Peace Making: It implies intervention designed to end hostilities and bring about an agreement using diplomatic, political and military means as necessary. The focus lines in the diplomatic efforts to end the violence between the conflicting parties, to move them towards non violent dialogue and eventually reach a peace agreement.

Peace keeping: It means enforcing and monitoring an agreement even by using force if necessary. Peace keeping operations not only provide security, but also facilitate other non- military activities. It may include

a)Assisting parties to exit from violent conflict.

b)Examining whether agreements are being upheld.

c)Supervising confidence- building activities.

d)Managing through third party intervention. As Jacov Barcovitch defines in his Book Mediation theory and practice “the more the third party intervention in a settlement of dispute (mediation, arbitration, conciliation, adjudication voting), the more the rate of outcome”.[5]

Peace Building: It is a programme designed to address the root causes of conflict, the grievances of the past and to promote long term stability and justice and remind “Greed is the source of conflict”- Somalia.

It is often understood as the phase of the peace process that takes place after peacemaking and peace keeping. On the other hand “peace building is an umbrella concept” that encompasses not only long- term transformative efforts, but also peacemaking and peace keeping. Boutros Ghali[6],“in my view, peace building includes early warnings and response efforts, violence prevention, advocacy work.” As Licklider defines peace as “The ending of overt violence via a peace agreement does not mean the achievement of peace, and also finds civil wars that ended through victory 15% of the time.”[7]

Theoretical Foundation: The Globalization of economic activities, media and electronic communication has been weakening the autonomy of the nation-state .In the wake of globalization, people have become increasingly concerned on the global scale of security threats including transnational terrorism, organized crime and threats to environmental security. The globalization of crime, capital and power makes every national institution equally vulnerable and this global condition of security promote “structural multilateral interdependence”.[8]

The Gulf War, the first common threat to the global community in the post-Cold War period, revealed the growing tendency toward globalization of security. In this new security system, nation-states, including the most powerful nations, are no longer able to control their security decisions purely based on their own interests. Nation-states have to conform to an ever-changing output of interests and negotiations among states or to the growing global norms in the international community, so called “global culture”.[9] Once the Cold War blocs were dissolved, major international organizations actively support liberal democracy as a new standard of legitimate nationhood and take actions to promote it.

3. Japan’s peace building mechanisms-After the Second World War two nations, namely Germany and Japan, never stretched their military activities beyond their territories due to their constitutional restriction. However once peace keeping became institutionalized as a common strategy to maintain the peace and security, burden sharing among UN Member nations through not only financial contributions but also military contributions became a normative rule in the international communities. Since then Japan has been sending troops to the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia. In 1992 enactment of new law allowed the SDF to send troops to peacekeeping missions overseas. The increasing participation of different types of unconventional actors in contemporary peacekeeping missions sheds light on cognitive and normative powers of institutions and on the way in which peacekeeping missions are conceptualized and carried out in different socio-cultural contexts. Analyzing the new trend Yuko Kurashina opines “Japan peace building mechanism conceptualized following the three phases”[10].

(a) The emergence of the Japan Self Defense Forces for the renewal of the USA-Japan

Security Treaty (1945-1960)

(b) The aftermath of the renewal of the USA-Japan security treaty to the end of Cold

War (1961-1989)

(c) The Development of Japanese peace keeping participation in the post cold war period(1990 to present).

Besides there are other mechanisms that Japan applied from time to time –

Consolidation of peace and nation- building

 Peace building is a multidimensional assignment that requires a comprehensive and coherent approach. Japan has been promoting the approach of “consolidation of peace” and nation- building. Since May 2002, when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi first proposed this idea in a policy speech delivered in Sydney, Australia.

On April 2005 Japan announced that it would provide 100 million U.S. dollars for the Sudan, one of its target regions, and its aid to the region has now exceeded that amount. Japan has cooperated with the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), which was established in March 2005 after the conclusion of the comprehensive peace agreement, by dispatching a political affairs officer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, and providing African troops with supplies under the International Peace Cooperation Law. Grant aid in the amount of 7.14 million U.S. dollars as provided to the Interim Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Programme for Sudan (IDDRP) in November 2005 to promote the DDR of children and female fighters. Japan has been active with regard to the Darfur issue. Japan supporting the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS), has dispatched the Ambassador in charge of Conflict and Refugee-Related Issues in Africa to the Sudan to provide assistance in improving the situation in Darfur, and has had talk at the foreign ministerial level to encourage the government of the Sudan to accept a UN PKO mission in Darfur and to cooperate with the international community.

Respect for local communities and their ownership

Japan always believes Mutual settlement of international disputes, no interference of others internal affairs, Respect for others Integrity, Solidarity and Sovereignty. The notable achievement of Japan self defense forces deployed to Iraq and East Timor were the result of their relentless effort to build trust with the local population.

Emphasis on the representative of Human Security Human Security: or the security of individuals is a part of the state’s responsibility, otherwise referred to as “national security ”in its broader meaning. It comprises, first of all the protection of territories and citizen from external threats, the maintenance of internal public order and assurance of individual’s safety in daily life, and more recently, protection against economic misery and difficulties by ensuring social welfare and promoting economic prosperity. Simply put, Security means the protection and prevention of minimum core values of a nation but the dimension of security concept has been changed. New types of security concept has emerged as Talukdar Moniruzzaman(1990) says “Human security means right to live, food, cloth, education and treatment”.[11]

In highlighting this aspect, the then Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi stated in New Delhi in 2003 that-

“Japan attaches special importance to the concept of Human Security; people have to be protected from various threats like-poverty, environmental degradation conflict, landmines, refugee problem, illicit drugs, infected diseases, and the ravage of sudden economic crises in order to enable them to lead their lives with dignity. Japan has taken up Human Security as one of the pillars as its foreign policy and established a Trust Fund for Human Security in the United Nations”.[12]

4. Japan’s contribution to UN peace keeping operations

Japan joined in the UN in 1956.Since then it has adopted a UN centered policy as a main pillar of its foreign policy. Japan’s contribution to UN Peacekeeping is relatively recent. Its first deployment of troops occurred in 1992 when some 600 military engineers of the Japan’s self defense forces were dispatched to the UN transitional authority in Cambodia. In 1945 Japan became a country that “was defeated, liberated and occupied all at once”, as Carol Gluck[13] comments on Japan.  In 1945 it was indeed a shattered nation. The bitter memory of aggressive foreign policy in the ugly past, the humiliating defeat and the dreadful experience of nuclear bomb contributed to create a pervasive withdrawal syndrome in the collective social and political psyche in the immediate past world war. As a defeated power, Japan had only limited options. It had to accept the demeaning position and was forced into an international environment which was uncompromising and had no choice. All the pre-war and post war relations which had been developed in a particular context with the rest of Asia now disappeared and Japan was cut off from rest of Asia.

There are five policy developments in Japan that have helped set the foundation for international peace operations. These five policies are-

(i)The enactment of the so-called PKO law.

(ii)The new policy guideline for ODA.

(iii)The human security campaign.

(iv)The diplomatic initiatives for consolidation of peace.

(v)The recommendations of the Akashi commission and it ensuring human resources development initiatives.

The San Francisco peace treaty ended American occupation, but Japan was compelled to enter into a security arrangement with the United States. Since then, Japanese special defense relationship with the United States as well as United Nation has become a key element of Japan’s security policy. Japan has been trying to establish their image as peace loving nation in collaboration with UN peace building operation. Japan’s contribution to UN peace keeping operation can be categorized into different sectors. There are –

Japanese boot on the ground

In an era of “long wars” in 21th Century, the role of the military and police in the peace building process stands at a critical juncture ”After the  second world war, cold war, and with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the war on terror, led by multinational forces has come into spotlight. The efforts to stabilize region are also called the fight against terrorism.

Financial contribution

According to Article 17 of the U.N. Charter specifies that the U.N. General Assembly will determine the basis for payment of the expenses of the organization and the Assembly has decided that these expenses will be assessed “broadly according to capacity to pay.” An 18-member expert Committee on Contributions meets annually to review the scale of assessments. Every third year, the committee reevaluates the scale in preparation for a General Assembly decision approving the scale for the following three-year period. On December 24, 2009, the 64th session of the General Assembly adopted a revised scale for the years 2010-2012. While the U.S. assessment remained at 22%, the assessment levels increased or decreased for at least 138 countries.

To determine the amount of contribution for UN assessments, the Committee on Contributions uses some factors like- each member state’s Gross National product (GNP) and a number of adjustments, including data for external debt and for low per capita incomes. The General Assembly has directed that percentage shares range from a minimum of 0.001% to a maximum of 22%, and a maximum of 0.01% for those nations designated as “least developed countries.” According to the United Nations, the 22% ceiling for the largest contributor benefits the United States, “whose share of total membership GNP is approximately 27 percent.”[14]

The United States is the single largest contributor to the United Nations (U.N) regular budget. As such, members of the 113th Congress will likely continue to demonstrate an interest in the United States assessment level, the cost of the US contribution to the regular budget compared to those of other countries and how assessment level changed over time which funds core activities for UN organ such as – General Assembly, Security Council, Staffing and Administrational. This report provides the assessment level, actual payment and total outstanding contributions for the United States and other selected UN member states from 2013 to 2015. In 2013 to 2015, the United States was assessed to pay 28.38% of the regular budget. The next largest contributor is Japan (10.83%).

Since the late 1980s, Japan has provided comprehensive peace-building support in Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, comprised of a series of programs ranging from peace process support to nation-building. It was the first full-scale peace-building assistance program undertaken by Japan.

 Diplomatic efforts toward a peace agreement

Japan has made active diplomatic efforts for a political solution of the Cambodian conflict, such as providing the venue for dialogue for the parties by hosting the Tokyo meeting on Cambodia in June 1990, which laid the groundwork for the conclusion of the Paris Peace Agreements in October 1991.

Dispatch of personnel to the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC)

Japan contributed a total of 1,300 personnel, including Self-Defense Forces personnel, civilian police officers and election monitors to the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), which was established by the Paris Peace Agreements. It was the first full-scale PKO deployment for Japan under the International Peace Cooperation Law enacted in June 1992. The Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) in UNTAC was Yasushi Akashi, who was also the first Japanese national to hold the post of SRSG.

Cooperation in social and economic reconstruction

The Ministerial Conference on the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Cambodia, convened in June 1992 and chaired jointly by Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), led to an agreement to establish the International committee on the Reconstruction of Cambodia (ICORC) as a mechanism for coordinating mid- and long-term reconstruction assistance. Japan remains the largest aid donor to Cambodia to date.

Election process assistance and efforts to promote the rule of law

When an armed crush broke out in July 1997 prior to the 1998 general election, Japan engaged in diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation and then helped ensure that the elections would be held in a free and fair manner, by dispatching election monitors and providing financial assistance Strengthening the rule of law is another area in which Japan has made a significant contribution. Since 1999, Japan has been assisting in the judicial reform efforts in Cambodia including drafting of the Civil Code and the Code of Civil Procedure while supporting the establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for Khmer Rouge tribunal through diplomatic efforts and financial assistance.

Japan’s policy on mine action

At the signing ceremony of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Ottawa Treaty) in 1998, Japan advocated the Zero Victim Program and has been actively engaged in providing support for mine action, including mine clearance. At the First Ottawa Treaty Review Conference held in December 2004, Japan announced its intention to continue its support for mine action projects in accordance with three principles:

(a) Contribution to peace building,

(b) Valuing the perspective of human security,

(c) Close cooperation among the government, NGOs, the private sector, and academia for research and development of advanced technologies for mine detection and clearance. The total amount of assistance Japan has provided to mine-affected countries since 1998 has been more than 23 billion yen.

5. Japan s Future Efforts to Peace Building: – Peace building is a buzzword and it has become a topic of increased discussion by the international community in recent era. Japan is trying to resolve the dispute with utmost diplomatic skills. That is why, Japan wants to make expertise in this field.

6. Strengths and limitations of Japans’ peace building operations Japan’s peace building operations has some strengths and limitations. These are:

(i) Japan believes consolidation of peace and nation building. Japan’s believes peace is possible as we work together. Since May 2002,when prime minister Junichiro Koizumi first proposed this idea in a policy speech delivered in Sydney, Australia. Peace building begins with the efforts to “consolidate peace,” namely, to push forward process of peace, bring in humanitarian aid such as assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), restore domestic security, and realize justice and reconciliation.

(ii) Self Defense Force (SDF) as its primary mission. Japan joined in the UN in 1956.In recent years they have been engaged in international peacekeeping operations. In June 1992, the National Diet passed a UN peacekeeping operation Law which permitted the SDF to participate in UN medical, refugee repatriation, logistical support, infrastructural reconstruction, election-monitoring and policing operation under strictly limited conditions.

(iii)The Accumulation of peace building experience and institutional memories especially by MOFA, SDF, JICA.

(iv) Japan’s practice as strong democracy. Japan believes in strong democracy where people has the right to casting vote, freedom of choice and expression .A democracy is a rule of the people .Mutual settlement of internal political disputes among the political parties.

(v) Active Civil societies and NGOS Although not numerous, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and volunteer members of civil society have been an integral part, from the very beginning, of Japan’s overall peace-building strategy for newly independent nations. In fact, they acted with such courage and enthusiasm that they played a substantial role in emergency humanitarian relief operations. However, four years after the peak of emergency operations. For instance, there are many initiatives involving development of agricultural skills, community empowerment and partnership, supply of limited medical services and health counseling, and support of micro-credit financing. Those dedicated Japanese have persevered in the field, but all have confronted serious financial problems because some of the requirements for government funding approval are unrealistic and inflexible in light of applicants’ needs and the complexities of local communities.

7. Limitations

Tokyo’s consolidation of peace is very much a “work in progress”. Despite its achievements, there are also limitations. These are-

(a) The numbers of personnel deployed to peace keeping operation is small even though Tokyo contribute 16.6%of the total budget. Former foreign minister Komura noted that “interims of deployment of troops and police in 2008, Japan only sent 36% personnel or 0.04% according to UN statistics”.

(b) “Permanent law” for the dispatch of troops beyond UNPKO and humanitarian disaster relief is low.

(c) The talent pool of Japanese peace builders is small.

Sustainable Peace Building in Doubt

Japan in collaboration with UN and INGOS has had a steady success in achieving sustainable peace after the Second World War. In February 2004, Haities conflict back into chaos and despair turned ten years of international and Haitian state building efforts into a fiasco.

Liberia is in its second round of international intervention since returning to conflict in 2004 following UN supervised election in 1997.

Afghanistan and Kosovo, remains under UN administration with an uncertain future and ongoing waves of conflict. It has become undoubtedly clear that the international community’s peace building remains unsustainable peace in war torn societies. International efforts have often lacked the necessary capacity, co-ordination and flexibility to effectively manage the difficult transition from war to peace

8. Conclusion and Recommendation

Japan needs to put together a comprehensive UN policy (including its goal of becoming a permanent member of the Security Council) and in doing so to ensure that it does not reflect only the values of the United States, but also gives due kindness to the diverse values of the UN member states, including Japan itself. Such a policy also needs to create an environment in which other member states would welcome Japan as a permanent member of the Security Council. That in itself constitutes a contribution to the international community. Japan has a responsibility to create a foundation for multilateral diplomacy that simultaneously protects Japan’s national interests and befriends other countries. It is to be sincerely hoped that, as a result, Japan will be able to attain a responsible position within the international community.

Japan’s activities in peacekeeping operation have been highly appreciated by the international communities. It is necessary for Japan to continue to participate in such missions to contribute to international community which is essentially different from assistance to U.S Troops.

Japan wants to show its willingness and capacity to contribute to international peace. Its financial contribution to the UN is seen as a reflection of Japan’s economic weight and public attitude towards UN. To effectively participate in various peace operations in the future, Japan addresses the new plans and agendas-reestablishing basic principal, building a more effective SDF, increased deployment of police, enhancing dispatch of nongovernmental experts.

It is my opinion that the main motto of Japan’s contribution to UN Peace keeping operations are Japan’s ambition to be a permanent member of Security Council and wants to establish a stable position in worlds politics. The main rationale for Japan’s commitment to UN peacekeeping operations is political. Japan’s sees peacekeeping operations as a way of enhancing its international prestige identifying itself as a benign civilian power and supporting its diplomacy, especially in relation to the promotion of human security. A further political rationale relates to Japan’s pursuit of a permanent seat on a reformed UN Security Council and the government belief that being a consistent contributor to UN peacekeeping operations would positively influence its chances of success. An additional rationale is related to security. Japan’s geopolitical position is a significant factor in shaping Japan’s attitudes towards the UN. The political difficulties related to North Korea, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, China, Taiwan, and the territorial disputes in the South China Sea and East china.

Today Japan is adapting to new domestic, regional and global challenges, particularly in security related issues like the rising Chinese military budget and the Senkaku dispute or the North Korean threat and cross strait issue, along with the US-Asia pivot. While the world is turning its attention to Asia, Japan has an opportunity to reaffirm itself as a global player. Effectively providing for global public goods like international peace and security, while holding a unique set of peace related values and principals in its foreign policy, reinforces Japan’s influence and reputation within the international community.


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[1] ANDRESKI,S, Military Organization and Society. Second Edition Berkely,CA:University of

   California press (1968).

[2] That the failed state concept emphasizes the value of order over others like justice can be seen in The Fund for Peace’s Failed State Index (FSI). FSI proposes as the solution for all failed states the strengthening of five ‘‘core’’ institutions, three of which—the military, the police, and the justice system—directly reflect a concern for order and stability

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      Peace Press,pp.125-154

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[8] Castell, S, (2004)

[9] Paris, et.al. (2003)


[11] Moniruzzaman, Talukdar,Security in Small States (1990)

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[13] CAROL, G, The past in the Present Japan as a history. Berkeley: University of California press, (1993),p.66.

[14] United Nations System Funding: Congressional Issues, by Marjorie Ann Brown

About The Writer

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Saifuddin Ahmed and Md. Harun or-Rashid

Saifuddin Ahmed - Assistant Professor,Department of Peace & Conflict Studies, Dhaka University.

And Md. Harun-Or-Rashid - Independent Researcher.


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