Statement by H.E. Mr. Kenzo Oshima
Permanent Representative of Japan at the Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on the Report of the Secretary-General
Ambassador Oshima on UN Security Council Reform: "The Time is Ripe for Action"
7 April 2005
My delegation appreciates the thoughtful plan of work and the consultation mechanism you have shown us for the preparation of the September summit, following the report of the Secretary-General, “In larger freedom". Sixty-years on from the inception of our Organization, in September, the member states will be asked to take important decisions for its rejuvenation, change, new commitments and empowerment that will make our Organization more effective and better equipped to deal with the problems of the 21st century. In this task of historic importance, my delegation fully supports the Secretary-General, and will work in close cooperation with you and your Facilitators.
My government commends the effort of the Secretary-General to present us with bold, concrete proposals that aim to strengthen the roles and function of the Organization around its core missions and objectives, namely development, peace and security, the rule of law and the protection of the vulnerable. We also commend his effort to present us with a matching set of concrete proposals and ideas on institutional reform, in particular that of the Security Council and other key organs. It is now up to the member states to move, in collective action, with boldness and speed on these recommendations laid before us as a broad integrated package. Out of deep commitment to the United Nations, and working under your wise guidance, Japan will spare no effort towards finding agreement that will prove beneficial to all member states.
We strongly support the central thrust of the SG report that development, security and human rights are closely interlinked and must be advanced all together. This corresponds exactly to the spirit and concept we have been advancing, that of “human security”, that only through protection and empowerment of individuals can freedom to live in dignity be achieved.
Today I would like to limit my remarks to a few general points that my government considers of particular importance, and I look forward to detailed discussions later in the month in the cluster-by-cluster meetings.
First, on development, clustered under "freedom from want", no issue is more serious and deserves closer attention than the hardship faced by many hundreds of millions living in extreme poverty, in many developing parts of the world, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. The agenda of international development is broader than the MDGs, but the MDGs must figure as the most pressing priority, and Japan is strongly committed to contributing to their realization, working with other bilateral and multilateral donors and development partners, within the United Nations and outside it.
In our approach to the MDGs, we will be guided by, in addition to the SG’s recommendations, the discussions held and agreements reached on this issue at numerous international conferences, including the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. In terms of priority sectors geared towards achieving the MDGs, Japan has played a leading donor role in the areas of education, water, public health and the environment, and will continue its effort with special focus on these areas.
Furthermore, under the belief that nation building begins with capacity building, Japan attaches importance to assistance to capacity building in the areas of education and training. Advancing capacity building is essential in order to promote a sound sense of “ownership”, which is indispensable for achieving the MDGs and sustainable development.
On the important question of financing for development, we have argued that resource mobilization, to be effective and sustainable, must cover not only ODA but also all other available sources, such as those available through trade and investment, and those from domestic financial resources in the recipient countries. East Asia's development experience offers an interesting example in that a happy combination of development financing that consisted of ODA, trade and private investment produced an environment in which a healthy economic growth and sustainable development were made possible that in turn helped reduce the population in poverty by more than 200 million over a decade.
Japan's strong commitment to development aid and cooperation through its ODA remains unchanged. Backed by this commitment, Japan has contributed about one fifth of the worldwide volume of ODA over the last ten years. From humanitarian relief such as that provided in the wake of the recent tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean, to MDGs-related undertakings and to international development beyond the MDGs, Japan will continue its efforts to be the world’s major donor. We will strive for increasing the level of ODA for the purpose of achieving the MDGs, taking proposals by the Secretary-General seriously into consideration.
For international development and promotion of the MDGs, cooperation with non-UN actors such as the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO is also important. The G-8 summit will focus this year on Africa, and we will be working closely with our partners in the G8, including on development financing and debt relief. I wish to note also that later this month, the Asia-Africa summit will be held in Indonesia, marking the 50th anniversary of the historic Bandung Conference of 1955. Japan will announce its position with regard to strengthening Asia-Africa cooperation, including South-South cooperation in the development area.
Concerning the threats posed to humanity by natural disasters, we commend the Secretary-General for stressing in his report the importance of measures for disaster reduction and early warnings. We believe that the international community, through the United Nations, needs to address effectively this problem of huge concern to a number of countries, particularly in the developing world.
Secondly, on the issue of peace and security clustered under “freedom from fear”, we welcome the concrete proposals by the Secretary-General to strengthen multilateral frameworks for disarmament and non-proliferation. Japan has taken a number of initiatives, in close cooperation with other members of the international community, in this area. We support the universalization of the disarmament and non-proliferation regimes as well as instruments for the suppression of terrorism, strengthening their effectiveness and ensuring their full implementation. We welcome the adoption last week of the draft International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, the early agreement on which was no doubt facilitated by the Secretary-General’s report.
On nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, an NPT Review Conference will be held next month to review its implementation - a very important conference as the NPT regime faces serious challenges. Through this conference and other international fora, we will continue to take active initiative in the promotion of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation out of a desire to contribute towards improving the security environment in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
We support the idea of a Peacebuilding Commission, and hope that it will be one of the important outcomes of the September summit. Japan is keenly mindful of the importance of peacebuilding, as seen in its efforts to advocate “the consolidation of peace” and “human security”. We support the thrust of the Secretary-General’s suggestion concerning the Commission’s composition and its functions, including drawing an equal number of members from both the Security Council and ECOSOC to participate in the Peacebuilding Commission. We look forward to a detailed note from the SG, including on a Peacebuilding Support Office.
Thirdly, concerning "freedom to live in dignity", or the protection of the vulnerable and the rule of law, we commend the Secretary-General for raising the rule of law, human rights and democracy as one of the important pillars for the United Nations, along with development and peace and security. Japan embraces the assessment in the SG’s report that, in light of the experience gained in the post-Cold War period, the time is now upon us to look into the issue of “responsibility to protect”. However, even if military intervention as a last resort cannot be completely excluded, we are of the view that there are many instances where measures other than military means can and should be exhausted by the international community to deal with a given situation, and this will have to be further explored. We need to reemphasize here our concept of human security, to which I alluded before, that puts primary emphasis on the protection and empowerment of individuals as a basic guiding principle to realize prevention and consolidation of peace in post-conflict situations.
We agree with the emphasis that the SG’s report places on human rights, making more robust the UN activities aimed at improving human rights situations all over the world, and we look forward to active discussions in this regard. Concerning the proposal for a Human Rights Council, we share the key concerns that lie behind this proposal, and at the same time, further discussions on the details are clearly needed.
Regarding institutional reform, the Secretary-General has put forward a number of important proposals and suggestions which all deserve our careful, sympathetic study, and they include the General Assembly, ECOSOC, the Security Council and the Secretariat. We welcome these concrete and bold proposals.
Reform of the Security Council has been discussed for more than a decade now, and the time is ripe for action. The Secretary-General reiterates his firm belief that "no reform of the United Nations would be complete without reform of the Security Council", and urges member states to agree to take a decision before the summit in September. He also states that, although consensus would be preferable, if we are unable to reach consensus, "this must not become an excuse for postponing action". We fully support these views. History tells us that important progresses are rarely made through consensus but through bold decisions. It should be recalled that the decision to expand the membership in the non-permanent category in 1963 was made by vote.
We have argued for the expansion of the Security Council in both the permanent and non-permanent categories in order to make the Security Council more representative and capable of addressing current and future challenges more effectively. This position enjoys support from a large number of member states, as their statements in the General Assembly have shown. This approach is reflected in Model A. We also believe that developing countries should be represented better in an expanded Security Council, including with permanent seats. We welcome that the African Union recently agreed on its position based on the expansion in both categories, and we support the addition of two African states as new permanent members. Against this backdrop, Japan, together with other like-minded countries, will move the process forward, by putting forth a framework resolution by this summer, with necessary action that follows, in order to take a decision on expansion of the Security Council. In this process, we naturally intend to work in close synchronization with you, Mr. President, and your Facilitators, so that a solution that will command the widest possible agreement can be arrived at on this long-overdue problem.
In expanding the Security Council, we should also address another important concern of member states that has been debated for a longtime and is ready for some harvesting, which is improving the working methods of the Security Council. We hope to move on this issue as well, in close consultation with all interested member states.
Concerning the reform of ECOSOC, we believe the reform effort should be guided by the concern to make this important body more responsive to focused discussions on issues that are of high urgency and priority. Such reform if achieved should enable ECOSOC to better develop useful and meaningful guidelines for UN activities in the economic and social areas.
Turning to reform of the Secretariat, we welcome the many ideas for reform of the Secretariat, in particular the proposals that would contribute to the reallocation of existing resources. Reallocation of existing resources should be respected as a guide in any review within the Secretariat, so as to make the best use of limited resources in meeting new tasks and responsibilities. The proposed review of old mandates is welcome.
On the question of staffing, the need to "refresh and realign the staff to meet current needs" is well warranted, and we would like to continue consultations with the Secretariat on how best such reallocation can be implemented, in principle within existing resources.
Furthermore, we support the strengthening of the authority of the Secretary-General for implementing reform, and welcome efforts to improve the transparency and accountability of the Secretariat. We look forward to further constructive discussions in this regard.
Today’s plenary meeting marks the beginning of an earnest preparatory process for the September summit. To conclude my statement, let me quote Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi from his remarks at the general debate last September:
The time has come to make a historic decision to reform the United Nations, and the Security Council, in particular. Time is limited. Our future, the future of the United Nations, is at stake. I would like to call upon the distinguished delegates of this body to work together and take a bold step towards the creation of "A New United Nations for the New Era”.
Japan will thus spare no effort in working with other member states to achieve that end.