2004 Statement




Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations

At the Plenary Meeting of the 59th General Assembly on Revitalisation of the Work of the General Assembly (Item 52) and Strengthening of the United Nations System (Item 54)

4 OCTOBER 2004

Mr. President,

Today we are here to discuss the critical issues of our time - strengthening of the United Nations system and the revitalisation of the General Assembly. I take it that these issues being put before us immediately following the close of the General Debate indicates the importance you, Mr. President, attach to reform of the United Nations. I would like to pay tribute to your initiative in that regard.

The United Nations, with its universal membership and broad mandate, plays an important and unique role that no other international organisation can fulfil. However, in the face of the new threats and challenges emerging in the international community today, the UN system must be reformed and strengthened in order to maintain its relevance and effectiveness. As Prime Minister Koizumi said in his statement at the General Debate on 21 September, we need a strong and effective United Nations; we must in effect create "A New United Nations for the New Era."

In this connection, the work of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change has been under way. Its report, expected to be completed in this December, will be the product of the collective wisdom of the highly esteemed members of the Panel. We are looking forward to the Panel's insightful analysis of and innovative suggestions of solution to the threats and challenges we are now facing. It is nevertheless the Member States which have the final responsibility to make political decisions on the ways and means to strengthen the UN system. Therefore, it is imperative for us, the Member States, to start seriously considering how best to improve the existing UN system and better adapt it to today's needs.

This is a task in which we cannot afford to fail. Unless we succeed, the United Nations would fall behind the times and would gradually lose its relevance as an effective organisation. It is our responsibility to reform and strengthen the UN so that it can effectively fulfil its objectives in the face of new emerging challenges and threats, such as terrorism, proliferation of WMDs, poverty, environmental degradations, spread of HIV/AIDS and other pandemics and so on.

Mr. President,

Reforms are needed throughout the United Nations system. The Millennium Declaration, in its Chapter VIII, lays out the various areas in which the United Nations needs to be strengthened; the central position of the General Assembly must be reaffirmed; our efforts to achieve comprehensive reform of the Security Council must be intensified; the ECOSOC must be further strengthened; and the Secretariat must be urged to make the best use of its resources, among other requirements. Japan is of the view that the core of all of our efforts must be reform of the Security Council. I will elaborate our view on those individual issues further under respective relevant agenda later on.

Today I would like to touch upon some issues related to the revitalization of the General Assembly, as well as budgetary and administrative affairs.

President Julian Hunte of the 58th session regarded GA revitalisation as one of the priority issues of his term of office. The General Assembly adopted during the previous session two significant resolutions, 58/126 and 58/316. I welcome the adoption of those two resolutions as a useful step towards revitalisation of the General Assembly. What must follow now is faithful implementation of the resolutions by the Member States.

Prior to the opening of the current session, we elected the President and the Vice-Presidents of the GA, the Chairpersons and the full Bureaux of the Main Committees in early June, as is stipulated in the resolution 58/126. The transfer of duties from the outgoing to the incoming Bureaux was carried out in an institutionalised manner. The incoming officials are able to make necessary preparation for their job in advance. In this way, I believe, we have made a good start in this session in securing the continuity of the discussions we are going to have over the sessions and in maintaining momentum for further reforms.

During the consultations for these resolutions, we considered the possibility of rescheduling the work of the Main Committees over two substantive periods during the session. We have learned, however, that it would be very difficult to realise such an arrangement. It was pointed out that, because the conferences, activities and events, both in and outside of New York, are interrelated, reorganising their working schedule would be an immensely complicated task. Some Member States also argued that the work of the Main Committees should not be separated from the General Debate, a point which I believe has merit. In order to reduce the congestion of the working schedule, opening the General Debate in early September is, in our view, an alternative which is worth exploring.

What is most urgent and important, however, is the rationalisation and streamlining of our work agenda. This in fact is the key factor in improving the efficiency of our work. I am convinced that not only small-sized delegations, but all of us would benefit from further rationalisation and streamlining of agenda.

In this connection, we are glad that the two Resolutions are dealing extensively with the issues of agenda. It is my hope that the new agenda organised on the basis of the Resolution will help us to better structure our work and eventually to raise our productivity. In addition, the General Assembly did carry out a review of the agenda, which was long overdue, and the resulting elimination of two agenda items was certainly a good step forward. We need to continue the process of rationalising and streamlining the agenda. Each Main Committee will work on the rationalisation of its agenda during this session. I do hope that they will come up with bold and substantive rationalisation results.

Mr. President,

To realise "A New United Nations for the New Era" and to steadily implement activities as intended, the United Nations needs resource backing. We need firm commitments on the part of the Member States to foot the bill for the projects and activities which are agreed to be vital in enabling the UN to meet the new threats and challenges. However, it is also necessary to recognise the fact that there are limits for the Member States' capacity to pay. Therefore we must ensure that the UN further rationalises its budgets through strict prioritisation of its activities. Reallocating resources from outdated activities to our new priorities is crucial. It is also essential that the Secretariat be accountable to the Member States regarding the resource requirements for each activity and its performance.

It is also important to check whether the burden is fairly distributed among members. In order for the United Nations to remain as an effective system of world governance, the obligations and rights of its Member States need to be balanced. If the UN were to be perceived as losing legitimacy and fairness in this respect, it will become difficult to retain the wholehearted support of the Member States. In this regard we believe that the current scale of assessments needs to be adjusted to be more balanced, taking into account each county's status and level of responsibility in the UN.

Mr. President,

The strengthening of the UN system requires firm commitment and dedication on the part of each and every Member State. Japan is prepared to do its utmost in order to make a significant contribution to this process.

Thank you, Mr. President.