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Arthur C. Helton Memorial Lecture: A Conversation with Sadako Ogata

Speaker: Sadako Ogata, president, Japan International Cooperation Agency; former United Nations high commissioner for refugees [UNHCR]
Presider: Princeton N. Lyman, Ralph Bunche senior fellow, Africa policy studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Introductory Speaker: Richard N. Haass, president, Council on Foreign Relations
March 14, 2005
Council on Foreign Relations

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New York, N.Y.


RICHARD HAASS: Well, good evening. I’m Richard Haass. I am fortunate enough to be president of the Council. And again, welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations. Tonight, as everyone in this room knows, is the occasion of the first annual Arthur C. Helton Lecture. And this series is dedicated not simply to Arthur, but also to the work and to the field of work that essentially informed his career: questions of human rights and questions of humanitarian concerns across the board.

It was made possible by the generosity of nearly a hundred people who have contributed to the fund. So this is the first annual of the series, which suggests— and indeed, we are committed to making this an annual event. And I believe the fact that so many individuals have gotten involved in this is a real testament both to Arthur’s person and also to his professionalism. So many times, chairs and buildings are because of the efforts of one person, and as the president of an organization, let me say there’s nothing wrong with that. But what I love about this and what I think in some ways makes this special is this is a real grassroots effort that comes from so many people— in some cases, more than once.

I want to make a special welcome tonight to Jackie Gilbert— Jackie, it’s wonderful to see you back here at the Council— and also to so many other members of Arthur’s family, his friends and colleagues.

We’re going to have a program, obviously, with Princeton Lyman, who heads up the Africa project here at the Council on Foreign Relations and is a former colleague of mine from the State Department, and also Sadako Ogata, who, as you see on your program, is the president of Japan’s International Cooperation Agency. She’s the former U.N. high commissioner for refugees. And most important— and I don’t know how this was left off her program— she’s a member of the Council’s International Advisory Board.

And I’m going to hand it over to them in a second, but let me just say, personally and professionally, that Arthur’s work made a difference and he himself as a person made a real difference. It’s— what I love about both the man and the work is the consistency between the two; that you had someone who cared about people in his everyday relations and in his intellectual work did so much for them. And that’s where— I’m happy to have one or the other, a decent person or someone who does wonderful intellectual work. But someone who’s able to do both and there’s a real consistency between the two, shall we say, is more than special. And so I think I’m speaking for everyone here at the Council— is that he is someone who is missed as a colleague but also as a friend.

But the purpose of this lecture series, then, is twofold. The first is to make sure that we continue to think about this person who made a difference in all of our lives and perhaps— I don’t compare the importance, just simply say— but also to continue to pay attention to the issues that he gave his life to. So with that, let me again welcome you all here tonight, turn to Princeton Lyman, who will preside over this evening’s meeting.

PRINCETON LYMAN: Thank you, Richard. Thanks so much. First, let me do some housekeeping matters, and please follow my example and turn off your phones, pagers, beepers, BlackBerrys, and all such wonderful technological innovations. Second, to say that tonight’s program is on the record. Usually, Council events are off the record, but tonight we’re very pleased that it’s on the record.

And I’ll say a moment— say a word, following what Richard said, about Arthur Helton. He was a good friend of mine and a colleague. And what Richard said about him being such a decent person— he had also a wonderful sense of humor, quiet sense of humor. And I think it was that that made him such an effective advocate, because he never offended anyone, and yet he was a persistent, dedicated advocate on behalf of people whose lives had been torn apart by war, by destitution, et cetera. And that genuineness of him came across and made doors open to him and made people listen to him as perhaps few people could do.

I know everybody knows his book— and we’ll talk about it in a minute— The Price of Indifference. I’m going to take just a second to talk about another book of his that I particularly enjoyed, which he wrote with [consultant for the Open Society Institute] Natalia Voronina, called Forced Displacement and Human Security in the Soviet Union. And I would tell you, if any one of you wants to understand the politics and the ethnicity and related matters in that part of the world, I recommend that book. It’s another example of his tremendous intellectual breadth.

But tonight we’re very honored to have Mrs. Ogata with us. As you know, she is one of the most distinguished international figures in the field of refugee assistance, international assistance, U.N. reform, and other things. You too knew Arthur well, and you associated with him over many years.

SADAKO OGATA: Well, let me thank you for this occasion, to be at the first memorial lecture of Arthur Helton. And I’m very glad that, Jacqueline Gilbert, you are here. It’s a great honor. And also I’d like to first congratulate the Council on having a program on refugees— Arthur Helton but also [inaudible]. The refugee issue as a question, as a policy issue, is what the Council really started and carried through. And this is an enormously encouraging direction that the Council always held.

And Arthur I remember very well. He had really walked through the refugee camps, all the countries, in various places, very close colleague of all my office. And also, he also— what distinguished him, to my mind, was he wanted to have policy to overcome refugee problems. And while he was writing The Price of Indifference, yes, I was at the Ford Foundation, working on a book that I was doing, and we had a lot of discussions over this. And a lot of things we agreed, but on the policy tools and what kind of institutional set-up to do in order to overcome this— we had rather big differences, because Arthur was trying to set up what he called SHARE [Strategic Humanitarian Action and Research], I think it was, strategic thinking place for practitioners and scholars, so that you can prepare much better scenarios to overcome.

And I was telling Arthur that if I were not high commissioner, having been exposed to the field, I probably would have agreed to you. But my knowledge base has changed. I had to run around the field, and trying— and to me, what was really real was what happened on the ground.

And so we had some big debates over those things. And he was running in the New York Marathon in those days and had proudly come back to tell me that he finished the final line. And so we were going to carry on further this conversation when I went back to Japan, he went to Baghdad, and as he was visiting Sergio Vieira de Mello, a very close colleague of mind, this whole devastating event took place. So this is a very wonderful occasion, not only to think about Arthur, but what he stood for and the issues that are still very relevant.

LYMAN: Thank you. Mrs. Ogata, you’ve just published a book called The Turbulent Decade: Confronting the Refugee Crisis of the 1990s. And in that, you point to significant changes that have taken place in the whole area of humanitarian assistance, particularly in the context of conflict— civil conflict and the issues of protection that arise, not just with the people in need, but even for the humanitarian agencies themselves, and the larger political context that created. And I wonder if you could start today by giving us that sense that you come out of the ‘90s and which formed the basis of your book.

OGATA: Looking back, I was trying to analyze what the ‘90s really meant [not only] to UNHCR, but to the world. And it was really— the conflict has changed from being interstate primarily, and all U.N. Charter-included mechanisms are geared for interstate wars, whereas what we faced was really internal wars. And what does that mean to a refugee agency who— the mandate was to give international legal protection to refugees, which meant you crossed the international border and then we would give protection to these victims? But what we’ve in fact faced were internal conflicts in which people were the targets of various conflicts. Ethnic cleansing in the Balkans was a very good example. And what do you do?

And the— several things happened. First of all, in northern Iraq, with the Kurdish crisis, would-be refugees crossing over to Turkey was brought down, back to northern Iraq, because there was no way to really cross, and there were a lot of other political problems that I can refer to. But anyway, they were brought back to northern Iraq by the coalition forces and the governments. And what would UNHCR do? And there was a lot of discussion. We should not do anything in order to keep the asylum intact. But in fact we had to protect these people back in a place from which they tried to flee. And so there was the protection part that was carried out by the military, but also the refugee agency had to be there in order to show— give some sense of security to the refugees, give them relief and so on. So it’s a very new experience.

But two things happened. What does “safe areas” mean? Does that give enough safety to people who would have fled? Another thing: What does “relief” mean? Does it just mean giving goods? And this is something that I tried very much to argue. Relief is not just giving goods, it’s being present where the people, the victims are, in order to give them signs, concrete signs that we are protecting them, being with them. So I’ve always said, work with the refugees, not for the refugees. And this was another thing. It was very much hands-on physical protection of people in conflict situations. And this was a very new experience.

LYMAN: That opened up the whole area of what are called “internally displaced persons,” and the whole question of who’s responsible, and what agency of the United Nations is responsible. And I recall in a conversation about this up in New York, when you were asked about this, and you were then still head of the— you were still high commissioner for refugees, you said for an agency to take on that responsibility, there has to be a political and a security framework to go into another country and take care of people in their own country. Now, in northern Iraq there was the coalition forces. But when you faced that situation in other countries, did that pose an issue, a problem?

OGATA: Well, in fact, what’s happened with the Balkans, the displacements started in Croatia, first of all, and it was internal— it was ethnic cleansing that started in Croatia. And it was the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the government, still before the Federal Republic was broken, that came to ask us— ask UNHCR to assist— give some assistance to the displaced in Croatia. And this was quite an issue because we knew— I sent some missions out to feel out— feel how it was going to go. It was going to be big, that we knew. The internal borders of the Federal Republic will turn into international borders, eventually. And if you go in a bit earlier, would that not have some preventive effect?

So I consulted the secretary general, the EU [European Union], ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross], and the idea was, come in. And this was the first beginning of a huge internal displacement, refugee outflow, affected civilians involving some 4 million people all together. And the [U.N.] secretary general at that time, Perez de Cuellar, gave us the lead agency role. And so there was no problem, are you internally— you know, I think borders are important, and I thought a lot about borders at that point. Are you going to be entitled to protection just because you cross a border? Why not move the border, even, if that’s the situation? [Laughter] You know, that’s what some of my colleagues— just borderline. No, it’s too artificial.

But the whole world order was based on sovereign states being sovereign and doing whatever is allowed to them inside, or we move in and try to really help people who could be on that side or the other side, if the cause were the same. That was the reasoning that most of the time I followed. If the same cause pushed some people across the border, but did not quite help— also there were people who were within but also displaced, we should really cover both. And that was more or less what happened.

LYMAN: Let me turn to another situation that created, I think, dilemmas for the humanitarian community, and that was the situation in the Congo following the genocide in Rwanda. When people who fled from Rwanda after the genocide had been stopped, many of these people, some of whom had been involved in the genocide, others were refugees— but refugees are often politically motivated people, so they’re not neutral. Camps were set up in Eastern Congo, but those camps were controlled by people who had participated, if not led the genocide.

Now, as I recall, that posed a particular issue for the humanitarian community, your access to these people, as well as the question of should [they] be helping in a camp, or how can you help in a camp that’s being controlled by pretty bad people.

OGATA: Bad people I’m used to. [Laughter] That is not a problem [laughter], because if you were in the refugee business, they were either chased out by bad regimes or received reluctantly by bad regimes. That was not the issue.

But the real problem is there was a civil war going on, and the civil war result was really genocide. And most of the international agencies were not able to function within that country at certain periods of time. And some— more than a million people crossed the border, went into Zaire. And at that point we had to set up camps in Eastern Zaire. The Goma camps were huge— a million people. What we tried to do, of course, together with the Zairian government, was to disarm them as they crossed. But there were many, many mountain crossings, so we knew that those things were happening. And then there was a cholera epidemic at that time. So anyway, there were dead bodies all over. That was the real situation. What do you do for the solution? As soon as the cholera situation subsided a bit, I went there about two weeks after this whole thing happened. But my colleagues knew that there were genociders there, militias, the former— the Rwandese military people. And we knew that they were not going to let these people go back; there was some intimidation not allowing them to go back. And then we knew that the country going back was also a very insecure place. So it was you were damned if you stay and you were damned when you go back.

This was the context in which the whole refugee camp security had to be established. We wanted very much to have some help. I asked the secretary general, the secretary general asked member states if there was any way of bringing either police or military observers within the camps to bring some security and order. And I have to say— and it was nothing, no response. He asked about 40 countries, and only one responded. That’s the reality of the kind of international mechanisms available to us. So dilemmas, dilemmas, that is all the [inaudible] dilemma.

LYMAN: And in the end, the Rwandan government invaded those camps.

OGATA: That they did, together with some of the rebel forces that came out.

LYMAN: Right. Now, there is, though, this growing relationship operating in insecure situations, conflict situations, an issue that comes up for the international community— the humanitarian community, both the U.N. but also for the NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], is to what extent do they operate side by side with, and accept protection from, a military force, whether it’s a coalition force like in Iraq, or elsewhere. Many of the NGOs, you know, for a long time did not want that association. And an independent organization like the International Committee for the Red Cross often argued that they never wanted military escorts. But the world changed and nobody is protected anymore because they’re from an NGO or an international agency. So how do you see this? Does the humanitarian effort get compromised when it goes side by side with the military? Or is that something that we just now have to accept as part of it?

OGATA: I think it depends on the circumstances in which the military came. And then also, the modalities of the military operation. In the Great Lakes Region of Africa, they never came. Only about three or four months towards the end, after all the camps were attacked and there was total disorder in Eastern Zaire, the military— there was some kind of a military to do humanitarian assistance came for three or four months, but really never helped, because— but, when it gets to the Balkans, yes, there was peacekeeping forces that came really to help assist the humanitarian work. That was their mandate. And, of course, my colleagues did not want military escorts. There was a serious uneasiness in the beginning. But as the situation became more and more difficult going through the conflict zones— I mean, there were three ethnic groups fighting each other and requiring assistance— that was our mandated job. We had to have some escort to make clear that the roads were safe, there were no mines, there were no bridges broken when the military— when the convoys went. And there was a need for an airlift. The capital was sieged by the Serbs and there was a big, big— it was the longest airlift in history that took place.

So, of course, the military were under my command, in a very strange way, it was under command, and they were experts in— they were considered to be experts. But it was a military airlift that took place. These things happen, but, you see, it was— you can look at it some way, the final solution had to be political. But in order to get to that long, long period of trying to reach political solution, the humanitarian on the one hand tried to keep people alive, and the military on the other hand tried to help the humanitarian function through security. That is the picture. And of course the— what we tried to do with the NGOs was to make sure that they were also under this security coverage. But there was a big problem in the Goma camps when some of the NGOs felt that we were compromising too much in the camps by allowing the genociders and the various political elements to be around, and they left— some left. Some others stayed.

LYMAN: That brings to me a question as we look ahead, and based on all your experience— and you’ve just been on the high-level panel examining the U.N.’s ability to respond to threats and challenges— very often when we face crises like this, major crises, the first impulse is to turn to humanitarian agencies, often almost perhaps as a substitute for other action. Given what you’ve seen over this decade, what you’ve just looked at in the U.N., how do you see the future? Is the international community better structured now to respond? And if not, what are the things that we need to do?

OGATA: I don’t know whether it’s better or worse, but they’re not structured, that’s true. [Laughter] I don’t know whether it’s any better or worse. Let’s just say the humanitarians are always there. You don’t have to be asked. If there is a refugee outflow, I don’t have to be asked, it’s our mandated responsibility; UNICEF [United Nations Children Fund] is there if there is a crisis with children. We don’t have to be asked, because the mandate comes from the General Assembly that established these organizations. So we’re there always. But there are lots of others that have come in because there was so much humanitarian work in the ‘90s, and maybe the humanitarian space got a bit crowded. That, I think, is maybe a fact. But so, what I faced very much was, during crisis, humanitarian crisis, there are very many motivated organizations, a lot of support financially, and so on. But when it moves into much more of a direction towards peace, then a lot of complication starts because then the money doesn’t come and the development assistance doesn’t appear on the ground.

LYMAN: In that respect, what was your experience working with the Security Council? Did you find that in these situations the Security Council understood the issues that you were facing, was providing the necessary political framework or peacekeeping framework? Was there a good connection?

OGATA: The very first time I went to the Security Council was ‘93, with [British politician] David Owen and [former U.S. Secretary of State] Cy Vance, who were asked to report on the operations in Yugoslavia. Until then, we were real purists; we didn’t want to touch the political very much. [Laughter] And I wondered whether I should go or not. But just— I felt that the Security Council is structured to do international peace and security and not really a— what shall I say? It was not really— didn’t have the means to deal with internal conflicts because this fell within the sovereign rights of the people, and what happens with the sovereign states are the cause of this whole disruption. They were rather weak. And more and more after I started going to the Security Council, they came to ask— I went mostly for Africa and Yugoslavia, and it was trying to— and they turned to UNHCR and the humanitarians to know what was going on within these states.

And in that sense I think— there’s no place else to go in the U.N. system, another thing is. Where else would you go if there is a security-related humanitarian crisis? So I went. If you’re asking if I was satisfied, they listened, but the responsibility that I would like to have seen from them didn’t really come through very much.

LYMAN: Well, I’m going to open it up to questions. Mrs. Ogata, thank you. You and I could sit and talk about this for a long time, but I want to open it up to questions. Please identify yourself. We have microphones. And when you’re called upon, identify yourself and your affiliation, and make your questions fairly pointed questions so we can get around to as many people as possible. Who would like to ask a question? Yes, the gentleman right there.

QUESTIONER: Bill Butler, International Commission of Jurists. Welcome, Mrs. Ogata, one of our favorites. I wanted to ask you about Darfur because, as you know, there is running through the United Nations now a move by the French to have the Darfur situation referred to the Security Council and then to the International Criminal Court [ICC]. I’d like to ask you how you feel about that and whether you think that is a move in the right direction.

OGATA: Well, of course, I’ve watched, following this as an outsider through the press right now, and of course it concerns me a great deal, because there’s talk of a second genocide and all of that. But what I do know is that the African Union has really tried very hard to send some kind of a monitoring mission, but they are very much short of any logistical support. They don’t even have a helicopter or anything like that. And there I would hope very much that there will be much more support, logistics, and so on, to the African Union’s efforts.

Now is that going to be— I think it’s a long ways, but I don’t see the United Nations having the capacity to send peacekeeping forces all over Africa everywhere. Even with— currently in the Congo they don’t have enough. And will they have the capacity? Are the coalition forces going to come to Darfur? It doesn’t seem like that. And so this is something, again, maybe a gap in the national interests of various advanced countries, the African interests; a terrible tribal/economic/legal crisis there going on. The crisis took place quite a long time ago, and the response did not appear until rather recently, last year. And I would hope that there will be more support to the Africans trying to do things on their own, but I don’t know whether it’s sufficient or not. But I’m an outsider on Darfur.

LYMAN: Well, what about this question of referring those who have been committing, let’s say, crimes against humanity in this situation, in Darfur, to the International Criminal Court, which is something the U.S. administration is not in support of?

OGATA: Well, I don’t think Japan has signed up for the ICC yet. But you do need a much more permanent legal institution than these ad hoc Security Council-established war crimes tribunals, I think. That is what I think. At UNHCR we were very pleased to have the ICC set up because none of the war crimes tribunals functioned quickly enough in response to all the problems I had. And in any case, the juridical bodies have a different time frame. That I learned. What do you do with a very long-term judicial process that should deal with the question of justice? That is important, but in fact what we face on the ground are a lot of injustices, a lot of— and the question of impunity is a very serious one. But what do you do if you’re not helped by the judicial process during the time of crisis? This is a very serious issue that I faced, and it’s better if you have a quicker judicial body that is not linked to any particular situation. In this sense, ICC is something that I would look to.

LYMAN: I think we had a question, the gentleman right here.

QUESTIONER: [Inaudible] development manager. Mrs. Ogata, you’ve spoken in retrospect about the problem of genocide in Rwanda, for which President Clinton expressed shame. What about the current debate over how to reshape the capacity of the United Nations and the various elements of the international community to more effectively and promptly address that kind of major issue? In your own experience, and looking backward now, what would you suggest to the people who are trying to better reshape the U.N. to deal with that kind of crisis?

OGATA: The Rwanda refugee crisis had a history of 30 years before the civil war started. The RPF [Rwandan Patriotic Front] started to come fight inside Rwanda in 1990. So it’s a long history. Now how do you make— the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, was aware, we were trying to help the refugees in the neighboring countries, but it was not quite sufficient. And this is the background of the Rwanda genocide, in a way. And so how do you make governments help these small U.N. agencies perform those functions much more effectively, is one thing I would say. But at the same time, genocide— UNHCR, just to make clear, we had a refugee crisis outflow, about 300,000 people, from the Burundi crisis at that time, and [inaudible] the refugees inside Rwanda. And in this situation is when the Rwandese civil war really broke out and the genocide took place. So it was a very complex situation. The United States had withdrawn from peacekeeping after the Somali incident, so they were not really in a mood to advance any forces.

Now the dilemma today is: What do you do when there is possibility of genocide going on? Do you have to wait till a million people are killed in a genocidal war before you advance troops and take military action? I don’t think that’s the way we should move. At the same time, do you take military action right away? That’s not the solution, either. And so there should be a whole series of what you might call intervention or involvement when these situations are developing. I think a much stronger U.N.-member states interfering in the kind of internal developments that was taking place in Rwanda, through international humanitarian action, Human Rights Watch, some kind of police action, these things have to proceed in order to prevent the worst from happening. And I think only after that— I am not against military intervention as such. I’ve seen it in Bosnia, and without the final air action by the NATO forces, I don’t think that war would have finished. In that sense, there may be need for military intervention at the end, but there are so many other effective steps that should be worked out in order not to get to that situation. And that’s the way I’m looking at it.

LYMAN: The woman right here.

QUESTIONER: Susan Woodward at the Graduate Center of CUNY. I’d like to ask about what we euphemistically call “lessons learned,” in two ways. One, because you then became very involved in the Afghan case, can you give us a sense of what you think we did and did not learn from other cases in the Afghan one? How did we apply what we brought there and what we did not apply in our lessons learned?

OGATA: Did you say “African” or “Afghan”?

QUESTIONER: Afghan. In the Afghanistan case, where there was a lot of discussion. We certainly had learned a lot, but once you get on the field and on the ground, it’s not clear what we were able to do and what we weren’t. And the second part has to do with— I’ve completely lost my train of thought. [Laughter] Let’s ask about the Afghanistan case.

OGATA: Well, Afghanistan was virtually a forgotten country, an abandoned country, I would say, after the Russians withdrew [in 1989] and after the U.S. sort of proportionately withdrew, too, its interest. And when I became high commissioner, there were 6 million Afghan refugees in the neighboring countries. And I remember going to Afghanistan in 2000 [in] September, dealing a little with the Taliban, trying to see what kind of assurance they can give to some of the refugees who wanted to go back anyway because the assistance in the Pakistan camps were really going down. And I really could not even raise a million dollars. This was the situation. It’s really the September 11th and also the al Qaeda presence known that has change the whole, what shall I say, policy and involvement in Afghanistan.

And there I think there was enough long-term experience in Afghanistan. The military, the Northern Alliance people, were able to support the coalition forces, with mostly air action, and together they were able to bring certain parts of Afghanistan under control. But also what was rather remarkable is the Bonn process, I think, trying to get the political institutions set up. And this is a good lesson, I think, for future involvement of that sort, trying to from an early period get some kind of political institution-building, political-institution building plus the coalition forces security coverage, plus a determination by a lot of countries— and NGOs were the ones there. Humanitarian NGOs were the ones who were there— to really bring the social structures back. No girls could go to school, no health, nothing. I mean, Afghanistan was really at the bottom of all social indicators.

And there was considerable— the first meeting over Afghanistan was in Washington in November— late November, 21st or 22nd, 2001, and at this time there were two things. The Bonn process had not finished yet, but at least there was a signal that if the political process goes well, there will be reconstruction efforts. And I think this was a very good combination. I went to Afghanistan— I’ve gone there [inaudible] times during the last three years. I think the country has come a long ways. It will still have a lot to go, but still has come a long ways.

LYMAN: The woman right here. Wait till you get the microphone. Thanks.

QUESTIONER: My question to you who have so much experience is—

LYMAN: Please identify yourself.

QUESTIONER: Hello. My question to you is— I’m Gaetana Enders, and I have done a lot of refugee work in my life. My question is, what is finally, you think, the destiny of the refugees in Palestine? And what are we going to do to put some order so that they can go somewhere or get back or what? What is your opinion about those refugees, please?

OGATA: Well, Palestine is a permanently refugee situation [inaudible] that is the way you’re looking at it. There is the right to return of the refugees, which I think is something that, in principle, everybody supports, but there will be a lot of compensation questions. A lot of them are already— a million already in Jordan who are, have been given citizenship. There are a lot in Lebanon who have not been taken care of. So there are a variety of refugee problems that have to be settled with regard to the Palestinians. It’s probably the longest and the most complicated refugee situation.

LYMAN: I would call your attention, in case you hadn’t seen it when you came in, to an article that Arthur Helton did as part of a project at the Council on “The End of Exile: Practical Solutions to the Palestinian Refugee Question.” I think there are copies downstairs when you came in. Richard, did you have—

QUESTIONER: Yes. [Inaudible], Morgan Stanley. I’m afraid my question has been asked before, but perhaps I could push you a little further on the Palestinian question. How do you personally see— and you’ve had a lot of experience, and getting beyond the jurisdictional question— how do you see a possible solution of that?

OGATA: I don’t think I can dare to say that I see any solution in sight. I had responsibility globally over refugees except the Palestinians, although I did go there. And I do realize it’s the most complicated. At some point, maybe for the compensation and so on, UNHCR may have to get involved. But beyond that, there has to be a statehood settlement of how Israel and Palestinian are going to coexist as two states. That is a political-security issue that has to be addressed before the problem of the refugees are really going to be finally settled, I think.

LYMAN: Yes, the gentleman back there.

QUESTIONER: Ms. Ogata, Bob McClure, Business Executives for National Security. Regarding the Balkans again, you and I worked on a Task Force, as you recall, on the Balkans, and you said earlier you were the first person to address the Security Council from the humanitarian point of view. And you were frustrated at how the political process did not go forward. What do you do with a stillborn political process as you have in Kosovo right now? And how can perhaps the humanitarian community push that a bit further to come to a resolution that will allow some kind of outcome, because we have a stillborn process right now in Kosovo, where there is nothing happening left or right until something else, some other political decision.

OGATA: A colleague of mine, who was assistant high commissioner and a very close colleague, is now the special representative of the secretary general in Kosovo. And I think the question of autonomy is a very complicated one that has to be addressed before too long. And then the question of the Serbs as the Kosovo crisis— moving toward solution, solution for the Albanians, there is real, new crisis over the Serbs. And UNHCR was able to address this, but could not really protect them. And I think there has to be some kind of an agreement over what you do with the Serbs in Kosovo, too. I think Serbs have a right to be there, but in what kind of circumstances and what are the— and the Romas, too, are quite sizable. So I think Kosovo autonomy— but would that be a viable state? I mean, this is another thing. And I’ve also noticed— I’ve noted that this question of secession, kind of minority— what you call—

LYMAN: Self-determination.

OGATA: --self-determination, which was a very big issue after World War I, is hardly addressed today. And I tried to look at some materials about self-determination in the 21st century. There’s very little. Do you have any views on that?

LYMAN: What— actually, what you see is that that, as a doctrine, as a kind of a central driving doctrine, has almost disappeared. And it’s disappeared, I think, in part because the ethnic conflicts and civil conflicts that have occurred have become more of a problem for the international community and considered to be damaging. And rather than giving in to self-determination for every group, it began to look like it was a more destabilizing than stabilizing effort. And the attention has turned more to multicultural solutions, et cetera. If you look at Kofi Annan’s Millennium 2000 report, when he said, "What are the issues," you will not find—

OGATA: Anything on—

LYMAN: --the term “self-determination” in there. And I think that’s a significant indication of how the emphasis has shifted away from that as the defining principle for how you deal with these situations. Now, of course, we still do do it that way. We have East Timor. We have—

OGATA: Chechnya.

LYMAN: We have the issue of Chechnya. I don’t think the Russians would go along with—

OGATA: No, no, but—

LYMAN: But the issues are out there. In some cases, clearly, it’s going to move in that direction. In other cases, it— well, for example, take the Congo. Would you want to see the Congo broken up into a whole series of new states that could be more destabilizing than stabilizing? So I think the concept is not as central as it once was.

OGATA: But you have to find some solutions for inclusive states, huh?

LYMAN: Right. And the whole— there are two— it seems to me there are two ways in which this is now being responded to. One is to emphasize the multicultural and minority rights, et cetera. The other is to turn people’s attention to larger associations; like in the Balkans, the enticement is solve these problems and become part of the European Union, be part of a larger context in which the development of things take place, rather than focus on the more micro-level issues. And I think there is a degree of that, see some of that in West Africa, with the emphasis on ] ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States and trying to deal with some of those migration and— issues in that context. Yes. Yes, Patricia.

QUESTIONER: Patricia Rosenfield, Carnegie Corporation. You’ve raised so many important issues in this talk today, and I wanted to draw you back to the spectrum that one faces following conflict with refugees and then reconstruction and then development. And you mentioned how difficult it is to get the development assistance to flow following at the end of that spectrum. And I’m wondering if you could discuss that a little bit more, because [that] seems to me the stumbling block to real conflict prevention.

And I’m wondering if you could address, in that context, the kind of institutional arrangements that might make it possible to bring some of the development assistance agencies in earlier than perhaps not at the end of the day, so that they become part of the— and work more closely with those who are dealing with a conflict-resolution situation. I’m wondering where, how is that possible, and is there a role in the international arena for that? Should that be through NGOs more or through the Internet, through the U.N. system, the international governmental organizations? Where is the best place, and how can that take place?

LYMAN: And that brings you to your current responsibilities [laughter] with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.

QUESTIONER: Well, I didn’t want to say that. I was trying to be polite about putting Mrs. Ogata on the spot. [Laughter]

OGATA: Well, you see, there’s a lot of talk about peace-building, which is something that I noted. In the two concepts that have come in— out much more strongly in the last 10 years, prevention and— owe a lot to the Carnegie efforts, prevention— and then peace-building.

Now on peace-building, especially over Afghanistan, there was a cry for seamless transition from relief to development. That was wonderful. If you ask me whether it has taken place, maybe more, better than in many other situations.

But at one point towards the end of the ‘90s, I was so frustrated by the slowness, because we were trying to— about— oh, I don’t know— 800,000 Rwandans went back home, and there was nobody who would help them with their shelter, their schools, their jobs, and so on. So UNHCR willy-nilly goes in. And the president kept on saying if a quarter of your population are returning, UNHCR has to do it. Then I turn to the donors and say, “You’re overstepping. You should not do development.” So there was a lot of that frustration. And I talked about the gaps so much that there was a gap issue now that was recognized. And I think that was now translated into the seamless transition.

The difficulty is that development agencies work through states. Humanitarian agencies can work through people and NGOs. So there is that difference in how you work.

But on the whole, there is an effort— World Bank trying very much to come in earlier, and various regional development banks, and also the bilateral agencies are trying to come in much more quickly, which is a good sign. But I have— including in my agency— I’m responsible for the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and before I joined the agency, I realized that they had on one of their principal duties peace-building. I said, “My God, what on earth are they talking?” I’d never seen Japan International Cooperation Agency staff on the ground while I was working for UNHCR, never saw— maybe they— and then I really tried to see— they’re very serious.

But I think there is a— they do not have the necessary operational modality for fast-track action, and that’s what I’m trying to bring in now. And you— development agencies will go assess, go back, go and assess, go back and assess. [Laughter] That’s the modality. In order to get a perfect development planning and trying to get— that would be accepted by their boards.

So this is the real [inaudible]. But I think it’s happening, because unless they go move much faster, they don’t have a role, and development has to start much, much more quickly, an earlier phase. So I have some hope.

LYMAN: I want to pose a very difficult moral question.

OGATA: Oh, dear.

LYMAN: There are times when there is a long-standing conflict going on, particularly a civil war, in which the international community provides humanitarian assistance to the people displaced during the conflict. And after a while, there is some feeling that the international community is, in effect, paying for the war; that it keeps it going, because it relieves the government of taking care of the people who are displaced, it relieves the rebels of that responsibility. I think of the decades-long war in Angola, in which hundreds of millions of dollars were put into the humanitarian situation inside the country while the two sides were fighting.

Is there any time at which the international community should say, “You know, we’re not going to do this; we’re going to pull back because we’re not going to subsidize this war”? Now I realize that that is not what humanitarian agencies normally do. But do you ever foresee that?

OGATA: No, this was something I was told several times in— especially in the course of the Great Lakes region of Africa war. And it is true. At the same time, what is the [inaudible]? You have to realize at the camps in Goma were a million people. If you have a million people off any kind of assistance, it’s real [inaudible]. It may be more dangerous than anything. So even if the donors said that, I don’t think that was a real alternative. But the pressure for political solutions— and no, now, going back, I can understand why there were no readiness on the part of— whether it’s the United States or France or the various other states that were more involved— to want to go into a ground war. You were ready to do bombing, but air action was— but not to have ground forces, even in the Kosovo time, too, because you don’t want to get involved in these very difficult ethnic/tribal wars on the ground. There I have a bit more sympathy, now that I’ve reviewed the situation. But there must be some kind of better stand-by arrangements. And I think the most-needed thing is standby international police arrangements, much, much more than even maybe the military, because they can make a difference. But to say no more assistance because you’re not— if there was a government, there won’t be wars like this, you see.

LYMAN: If it was a good government.

OGATA: It has to be a good government. If there were— and one of the reasons why I focused a bit on human security rather than state security is in this age of globalization and interdependence, the cause of the wars are not so much the states, but the states not performing their duties, rather than the people. And so it comes to the states— you cannot trust on security on states, you have to focus more on the people, and then maybe there will be a change in the whole equation.

LYMAN: Ted. Here’s the microphone.

QUESTIONER: Mrs. Ogata, many times tragic refugee flows are caused by aggression. Sometimes they’re caused by sanctions against aggressors, economic sanctions which penalize not the government but the population. I wonder whether during your years as high commissioner you had reason to change your mind about the use of sanctions?

OGATA: My mind about sanctions is that usually targeted the wrong people. [Laughter] Under the sanctions— the Yugoslav regime was under sanctions, especially Mr. Milosevic’s regime was sanctioned in many ways. We had to go through very complicated procedures to even get the basic things for the refugees, and so on. But under a sanctions regime, the ones— and also in Northern Iraq, and so on— the ones who suffer are the people. And a black economy usually develops under sanctions, and who benefits from black economy? Usually the mafias and the powerful people.

LYMAN: We’re seeing this very much in Haiti.

OGATA: That way too.

LYMAN: The woman right back there.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Mrs. Ogata, I have a question that you may not have an answer to, but maybe you can shed some light on. Your concern about the lack of aid after peace begins to develop; I’m curious, having been in Gaza in 1961, and thinking where it is now, what can be done to build a more sensitive global world to dealing with the problems of refugee camps, I mean the lack of water, the lack of health security? Is there any PR [public relations] that can be begun to be developed to really help address some of the concerns, the humanitarian concerns of the people living in camps?

OGATA: I don’t think you can solve these problems just on charity basis, to be very blunt. Charity can go on for a long time, and it’s important, but it doesn’t lead to solutions.

LYMAN: Richard?

OGATA: You have the final word, Richard! [Laughter]

HAASS: It’s so rare that I get the final word. And I’ll resist the temptation to [inaudible].

LYMAN: [Laughter] I thought you were going to do that!

HAASS: One of the many frustrations of my job. Thank you, Sadako, for setting such a high standard, for raising so many of the issues that are central to this field. This is an exciting field right now. I actually think we’re living at a time where some of the basic concepts of sovereignty are under challenge, and the whole question of state obligation, not just state rights, has moved to the forefront of the field. And then the question of what happens when states are unwilling or unable to fulfill their responsibilities, do they forfeit sovereignty? What responsibilities does the international community then gain in those situations? Questions of humanitarian intervention. This field is as dynamic as— or this subset of the field of international relations is as much in flux and is as dynamic as really any other part of the field.

We didn’t answer all the questions tonight, but we raised a lot of them. And I can’t think of a better way of having the first in this series. We’ve actually in some ways articulated a fairly large and ambitious agenda, and in future years we will do our best to tackle it and to live up to the reputation of the man who inspired these events. With that, let me thank Princeton for his normally deft handling— actually, Princeton is very relieved. One of the last times he presided over an event I said now, we really want to— this speaker has a certain penchant for giving long talks, and I said we’re going to try to have the conversational format to preclude him from filibustering. Princeton said yes, he agreed with me. He asked the question, and the answer took 45 minutes. [Laughter] So we’re making major progress under his tutelage.

And I want to thank Mrs. Ogata for two things: One, for being here tonight, but more important, for all she’s done over the years and decades. She is one of the people who really, I think, is the epitome of what an international civil servant is, and she’s done so much for the world. So it’s really our way to say thank you. Again, thanks to you all of you to coming this evening, showing interest in this subject, and to honor Arthur. And if you step outside, we will also have a reception tonight to continue this evening. But again, thank you very much. [Applause]

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