The 66th Session of the General Assembly closed on September 17, and the 67th Session started the next day. This document describes the Japanese Permanent Mission’s view on the accomplishments made during the last session in its major policy areas, followed by prospects for the new session.
【Accomplishments of the 66th Session of the General Assembly】
<International Peace and Security>
During the 66th Session, major attention was paid to the situations in Libya and Syria, which can be regarded as part of the so-called “Arab Spring.” Military intervention to protect civilians was taken in Libya as a result of a resolution adopted by the UN Security Council; however, in the case of Syria, the Security Council suffered a dysfunction, showing in a tragic way the difficulty for the international community to support the effort of democratization.
Under these circumstances, the debate within the UN on such themes as the rule of law, human rights, and the responsibility to protect is increasing its importance. A recent example is that an interactive dialogue on the responsibility to protect, was conducted on September 5 by the President of the General Assembly. In this meeting H.E. Ambassador Tsuneo Nishida, Permanent Representative of Japan,stressed the importance for the UN, including the Security Council, to respond and act in a timely manner in order to realize the responsibility to protect. He also pointed out in this context the importance of the International Criminal Court in preventing the mass atrocity of crimes.
With regards to Japan’s peace and security, North Korea launched a missile on April 13 of this year. Following this launch, the Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement strongly condemning the incident. Having worked closely with related countries such as the U.S., the Republic of Korea, China and Russia,we saw a swift adoption of the Statement reflecting the views Japan had been advocating.
This year marks the 20-year anniversary of the enactment of Japan’s International Peace Cooperation Law. In South Sudan, troops of the Japanese Self-Defense Force started their operations,taking part in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), playing an important role in Africa’s peace and stability. In addition to South Sudan, Japan also participates in UN Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor and Haiti. UNMIT (United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste) plans to complete its mission at the end of this year. If this happens, it would become an example of a successful UN Peacekeeping Operation in Asia. Japan has had Self-Defense Force units deployed to MINUSTAH since February 2010, shortly afterthe earthquake struck Haiti.Having received praise for its support of Haiti for its recovery support, Japanese troops are to have fulfilled their duty and plan to withdraw from the Caribbean nation in the next few months.
In the area of disarmament and non-proliferation, the General Assembly adopted in December of last year, a resolution titled, “United Action towards the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons,” with the support of 169 countries. This resolution was promoted by Japan and the number of countries co-sponsoring it, including the United States of America, totaled its largest number of 98.
In December 2011, the General Assembly unanimously adopted another resolution, titled “Concerning Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.” The Program of Action (PoA) on small arms and light weapons conference was held from 27 August and ended on 7 September with the adoption of a result document by consensus. Japan played a pivotal role in making possible the conclusion of the document.
At the UN conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, which took place in July, Japan actively participated as an original co-sponsoring country. Having seen the conference outcome unsuccessful in agreeing on a treaty, Japan will continue to put our efforts into reaching an agreement on a text, along with other co-sponsoring countries.
In September 2011, Mr. Koichiro Gemba, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, participated in the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) Ministerial Meeting that was held in New York.
The Rio+20Conference held in June 2012 was an important opportunity to advance the international promotion of sustainable development, including a transition to a green economy. Former Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba attended this conference and contributed actively to the discussions where he unveiled Japan’s new initiative, named the “Green Future Initiative”.
With former Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba in attendance, Japan co-hosted an MDG-related side event in September 2011 and hence has been engaged in wide-ranging and unofficial discussions where new factors such as growth, employment and equity are discussed, taking advantage of the current strength of the MDGs.Japan has organized and is leading the post-MDGs Contact Group to continue this effort.
In regards to disaster reduction, a thematic debate on disaster risk reduction was held in the General Assembly on 12 April and the outcome of the discussion therein made an important input to “World Ministerial Conference on Disaster Reduction in Tohoku”, which was held on 3 and 4 July.
Regarding human security, the General Assembly Resolution (A/RES/66/290)on human security was adopted on 10 September. Towards the adoption of this epoch-making resolution, in which the Member States manifest a common understanding of the concept of human security, Japan, along with Jordan, played a leading role in discussions to reach a consensus.
The development of the “Arab Spring” highlighted the importance of the protection of human rights. A resolution on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was adopted in the Third Committee with 123 affirmative votes, a vast increase compared to last year. In addition, the resolutions agreed to in the General Assembly, the Third Committee, and the Human Rights Council played important roles regarding the human rights situation in Libya and Syria.
At the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), Japan submitted, and led the Committee to adopt a draft resolution titled “Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in Natural Disasters,” which advocates the importance of the participation of women in disaster prevention and in the process of reconstruction.
Since last year marked the tenth anniversary of the “International Year of Volunteers,” an idea initiated by Japan, Japan submitted a resolution on volunteers, together with 97 co-sponsoring countries, which was adopted by consensus.
<Strengthening the United Nations>
During the 66th General Assembly, there were times when the General Assembly complemented the role of the Security Council when the Council was unable to take adequate action on the issues of Syria and Palestine participation at the UN. This role was characteristic of the 66th General Assembly.
The discussion did not bear satisfactory advances in the area of Security Council reform. It can be noted though that, as a result of the discussions regarding the “short draft resolution,” the momentum has significantly increasedon this issue. Also, some in-depth discussions were held in different UN forums, including at retreat sessions. Japan will continue to strengthen efforts and try to guide progress made during the 66th session towards a substantial discussion in the following session.
The regular budget was decreased by 4% compared to the 2010-11 amended budget for the first time in 14 years, which reflected Japan’s position seeking fiscal discipline strengthening. Japan supports the UN Management Reform as one of the important pillars of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s second term policies.The appointment of H.E. Mr. Yukio Takasu, the former Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations to Under Secretary-General for Management, was also a welcomed event.
<UN Related Elections>
At the 66th Session of the General Assembly, Japan was re-elected as a member of ECOSOC in October. In November, Judge Hisashi Owada was re-elected at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and Professor Shinya Murase was elected at the International Law Commission (ILC). At the election of the members of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) held in June, Professor Tetsuro Urabe was re-elected.
<Recommendation by the Committee on the Limits of the Continental Shelf>
On April 26, Japan received recommendations from the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf about the submissions it had made regarding extension of the continental shelf. Japan made submissions about 7 marine areas and recommendations were made on 6 of them. The extension of the continental shelf of more than 31 million square kilometers (which corresponds to about 80% of Japan’s land area) was approved in areas such as the Shikoku Basin, where Okinotorishima is located.
【Prospects for the 67thSession of the General Assembly】
The 67th Session of the General Assembly started on September 18 and the followings are prospects for this upcoming session.
<Rule of Law / Human Rights>
It is the spirit of the United Nations Charter as well as a shared principle in the international community to settle international disputes in a peaceful manner based on international law. Japan is committed to this principle and determined to protect peace, ensure the safety of its people, and protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity in accordance with international law. Japan reiterates its firm belief that any attempt to realize a certain ideology or claim by the unilateral use of force or threat is inconsistent with the United Nations Charter. In this connection, Japan will continue to work with the United Nations in strengthening the rule of law including through efforts to facilitate the use of international courts and tribunals and also through extending assistance to developing countries for the improvement of their legal systems and the development of human resources.
Furthermore, it is our strong belief that the idea of the rule of law strongly connects with the enhancement of human rights, which is one of three pillars of the United Nations. Japan will continue to actively contribute to efforts to exercise our role in the promotion of human rights. Japan will again submit with the EU a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to address the grave concern of the international community, including on the abductions issue.
<International Peace and Security>
Regarding the maintenance of international peace and security, which is one of the primary tasks of the United Nations, progress has been made by the concerted efforts of the international community in the last 66th session, in particular when looking at the situations concerning Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. Japan, in this regard, is fully committed to contributing to UN efforts by participating in UN PKO missions and extending various assistances to the affected areas. Japan is currently sending an engineering unit of approximately 330 personnel to the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) and operating a Self-Defense Force facility in the Republic of Djibouti, which is actively engaging in counter piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.
Japan welcomes the work undertaken by the UN in the field of peacebuilding through the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund. Japan has allocated an additional 12.5 million to the PBF last November. We believe that stronger emphasis must be placed on the linkages between peacekeeping and development operations. Japan remains committed in ensuring that peacebuilding dividends are felt on the ground through the work of UN Peacebuilding Architecture. In addition, we also welcome the initiative by the Secretary-General to strengthen civilian capacities in post-conflict states, including through the launching of CAPMATCH last month. Japan takes interest in this initiative and its trial.
The adoption of the resolution on human security by the General Assembly last month was a significant step towards addressing widespread and cross-cutting challenges to the survival, livelihood, and dignity of people. Recognizing that the three pillars of the United Nations, namely peace and security, development, and human rights, are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, Japan will continue to further promote human security and find specific ways to implement this principle on the ground. To this end, the Government of Japan has announced a contribution of 10 million US dollars to the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security.
In addition, on the occasion of the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) to be held in Yokohama, Japan in June next year, the Government of Japan will aim to discuss the various measures that could be taken and put into action by the participating African States for their people and communities, with a view to realizing human security.
Human security also applies when coping with natural disaster. To share the lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 and to formulate a framework for the sake of future generations, Japan reiterates its intention to host the 3rd United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2015, and would like to substantiate our preparation for the Conference with the support of the UNGA.
From the perspective of human rights, strengthening capacity building and empowerment of individuals and communities, especially women and young people, is also crucial in the context of human security. Bearing this in mind, Japan will also continue to address the challenges women are faced with through multiple forums including UN Women and the Security Council, in order to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Furthermore, in light of the Resolution on Volunteerism, which was adopted last year, Brazil and Japan submitted a draft resolution during this General Assembly session on mainstreaming and promoting volunteerism for the next decade.
The transition in the Middle East and North Africa has again highlighted the importance of democracy and the rule of law. Japan will continue to support democratization and reform efforts by each country.
The continuous violence and suppression as well as serious violations of human rights in Syria cannot be overlooked from the perspective of the rule of law. Japan strongly condemns such violence in Syria, and fully supports the efforts by Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi the UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative. Japan also has extended humanitarian assistance to the people of Syria.
Furthermore, Japan commends the leadership of the UN with regards to its mediation efforts and electoral support in Libya and the engagement for political transition in Yemen. These are vital steps for these countries to achieve peaceful transitions based on the rule of law.
With regards to the Middle East Peace Process, the UN must also play a proactive role. Japan strongly hopes for the immediate resumption of direct negotiations between the parties. Japan is committed to continuously contributing to the efforts by the international community for the realization of a two-State solution.
<Disarmament and Non-proliferation>
While strengthening the rule of law in both the regional and global context, the United Nations needs to redouble its efforts in suppressing the proliferation of arms that could fuel conflicts around the world. The threat posed by weapons of mass destruction continues to be one of the most imminent issues that the United Nations and its Member States need to tackle. Japan has been playing a leading role in adopting the General Assembly resolutions which call for united actions to achieve a world without nuclear weapon. Furthermore, nuclear and missile programs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) are serious threats for their respective regions as well as for the entire international community. Japan strongly urges the DPRK to fully comply with the relevant Security Council Resolutions and its commitments under the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks in2005. With regard to Iran, Japan continues to cooperate with the Committee established pursuant to the Security Council resolution 1737. Japan strongly believes that the full implementation of the Security Council Resolutions on sanctions is of critical importance as it provides a solid basis for the UN to promote international peace and stability. In order to strengthen the commitment of UN Member States for full implementation of relevant resolutions, Japan has been holding a number of New York based conferences since 2010, and we will continue to do so. We also need to establish the highest common standards to regulate the international trade in conventional arms. Creating a strong Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is one of the highest priorities. As we were not able to conclude our negotiations at the previous session, Japan, being one of the original seven co-authors of the ATT resolution, will do its utmost to finalize our work at the earliest possible timing during this General Assembly session.
<Combating International Terrorism>
Terrorism also remains grave threat and challenge to peace, democracy, and freedom and a continuing and comprehensive effort by the international community is essential. Japan has been extending assistance to Afghanistan and many other countries in order to address the conditions that are conducive to the spread of terrorism. Together with its partners of the international community, Japan remains firmly committed to the eradication of safe havens for terrorists in order to ensure peace and security of the world.
<Promotion of Sustained Economic Growth and Sustainable Development>
Among the multitude of challenges confronting the United Nations as presented in the report of the Secretary-General, foremost is the building of foundations for sustainable development.
In this context, accelerating worldwide efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is a crucial task, and Japan is determined to contribute to this process and also to work toward the formulation of the next development framework. In this regard, my delegation welcomes the establishment of the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda by the Secretary-General, in which former Prime Minister Naoto Kan actively takes part. With a view to substantively contributing to the post-2015 discussions, including the High-level Panel, Japan has been leading an informal forum for discussion, which is called the Post-MDGs Contact Group since last year. As the Chair of the Contact Group, Japan produced the Summary of the Tentative Chair’s Note and the Framing Questions as an input to the Panel.
The issue of sustainable development, in particular, the follow-up to the outcome of the Rio+20 conference, is another major task that the UN has to accomplish. Japan will actively participate in the follow-up process including through discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Japan is also committed to following up the Green Future Initiative which the Government of Japan announced at the Rio+20 conference . In this regard, Japan will hold at international conference on urban planning next year.
The issue of climate change should not be overshadowed. It is necessary that we keep advancing concrete efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses without waiting for the establishment of the future framework. It is also important that such efforts must be made in effective and efficient ways, not only in each country but through international partnerships. In this regard, we proposed “Japan’s Vision and Actions toward Low-Carbon Growth and a Climate-Resilient World” at COP 17 and has actively advanced both regional and bilateral efforts. Japan’s efforts include the East Asia Low Carbon Growth Partnership, formulation of a strategy to promote low-carbon growth and climate resilient development under the framework of TICAD and the new flexible market mechanism Japan proposes.
<Security Council Reform>
Although Japan appreciates the complementary efforts by the General Assembly concerning the grave situation in Syria, it is regrettable that the Security Council has continued to fail to unite and speak in one voice on this. The malfunction of the Security Council reminds us that reform of the Council is long overdue and one of the most urgent tasks which Member States should tackle with priority. Based on this belief, the Foreign Ministers of the G4 Countries met in the margins of the opening of the current session of the General Assembly and reconfirmed their common vision for reform. In this context, Japan appreciates the concrete efforts made by the Chairman of the intergovernmental negotiations, H.E. Ambassador ZahirTanin, during the 66th session and welcomes his recommendations in his letter dated 25 July. Japan calls for the drafting of a concise working document and calls upon other Member States to be actively engaged in genuine text-based negotiations during this session with a view to the holding of a high-level meeting on Security Council reform.
<Administrative and Budget>
Regarding Administration and Budgetary issues, this main session deals with two important items, such as the scale of assessments and human resources management, including the mobility framework. Both items have great impact on the future of this Organization and Japan will be actively and positively involved in the related negotiations. Japan expresses its appreciation for the Secretary-General’s continued strong commitment to better manage the Secretariat and his recent efforts to improve transparency in the area of management. With regards to the regular budget, from the perspective of applying budgetary discipline, Japan will carefully scrutinize potential additional requirements for the current budget. Furthermore, it is imperative for the Secretariat to consider the next biennium budget, not on the basis of simply extending the 2012-2013 budget, but on the basis of a fresh look at the true needs of the Organization.