H.E. Mr. Koichi Takahashi
Ambassador for U.N. Reform in Administrative and Budgetary Affairs
On Item 52, "Strengthening the United Nations"
30 October 2002
The advent of globalization has resulted in unprecedented opportunities for exchanges and greater mutual understanding among people of different cultures. Indeed, globalization has brought benefits to many. At the same time, we recognize that there are many people who have not benefited from globalization and who are leading unfulfilling lives. Under these circumstances, there are many situations in which existing rules governing human activities that cross national borders are inadequate. The Member States of the United Nations must summon the wisdom to revitalize the functions of the Organization and ensure that it is able to respond to the challenges of the present era. The first step toward this goal is to ensure the accountability of the UN itself and to reform it by setting clear agendas. The Government of Japan expresses its appreciation to Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his initiative in promoting UN reform.
Let me begin by offering Japan's views and expectations with respect to the Secretary-General's reform proposal.
First, if a General Assembly resolution is adopted at an early stage to provide guidance and momentum for reform as a whole, as recommended in the report of the Secretary-General, Japan would support such a resolution. Second, Japan encourages the Secretary-General to expeditiously implement those elements of reform that are solely under his authority and in accordance with the relevant resolutions and decisions already adopted. Third, once a reform is introduced, we, the Member States, should follow up the implementation process in an appropriate and timely manner and verify the results.
Now I would like to convey Japan's views on several areas covered in the Secretary-General's report. The Government of Japan attaches particular importance to the following four points:
First, Japan considers it crucial for the United Naitons to realign its programmes according to the new agenda defined through the Millennium Declaration and through major global conferences. This programme review should be reflected in the 2004-2005 UN regular budget. Clear priority setting and the identification of offset savings should be undertaken in reviewing the budgeting and planning process for enhanced flexibility and effectiveness. The explanation on this point by Deputy Secretary-General Frechette last week was encouraging.
We believe it is essential in this regard to allocate resources to high-priority activities by re-deploying resources from low-priority and obsolete activities. The Government of Japan fully expects that the Secretary-General will identify and propose activities that could be discontinued or terminated. This would have further importance in light of the possible increase in the current budget. If these efforts do not succeed and, as a result, the size of the UN budget continues to expand, Japan, which contributes one-fifth of the regular budget, will be in a difficult position in terms of its accountability to its taxpayers.
Let me explain the budgetary process of the Japanese Government. In this process, the director of each section of Japan's ministries plays an important role in setting priorities and specifying activities to be scrapped due to budgetary constraints. Japanese taxpayers certainly expect that a similar course is followed in the budgetary process of the United Nations.
We therefore support the initiative for sunsetting provisions proposed in the report of the Secretary-General.
Second, the Government of Japan wishes to underline the importance of improving the management of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and looks forward to a concrete and effective proposal from the High Commissioner to this end. The OHCHR should make every effort to promote collaboration with other United Nations organs, institutes and specialized agencies, while ensuring consistency in their respective mandates and upholding the fundamental concepts of human rights in the international community.
Third, Japan attaches particular importance to the realization of the principle of equitable geographical distribution with regard to the Secretariat staff. In order to resolve the issue of non-representation or under-representation, Japan expects the Secretary-General to develop a programme and set specific targets for achieving equitable geographical distribution, as requested by resolution 55/258. The report of the Secretary-General on human resources management reform (A/57/293) does not fully address this request, and we look forward to a full report during the 57th session of the General Assembly.
With regard to the proposal for lifting the restrictions on the number of General Service staff eligible for promotion to the professional category, Japan does not think that opportunities for such promotions should be ensured by increasing the ratio of recruitment from the General Service to the professional category. Rather, Japan considers it appropriate to increase opportunities for recruitment to the professional level through national competitive examinations and the General Service to the professional category examinations by changing the top-heavy post structure of the Secretariat to a structure that is more pyramid-shaped, as was mentioned in resolution 51/241 and reaffirmed in resolution 56/253.
Fourth, from the viewpoint of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the United Nations, the Government of Japan expects further co-ordination in the field among the UN system and other players, and the streamlining of reports and conference management.
We welcome the Secretary-General's focus on UN efforts in the field of development. The Government of Japan hopes to deepen the discussion regarding the integrated and co-ordinated follow-up of a series of major international conferences in the field of development, including the International Conference on Financing for Development (ICFD) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), and how to realize the goals of such conferences.
The Government of Japan expects that the deliberations which are taking place under other agenda items will contribute to the reform of the United Nations as a whole.
Last but not least, I would like to comment on the reform of the Security Council. The present report does not cover the necessary changes within intergovernmental organs, such as the reform of the Security Council that a working group has been undertaking. Thsi is, however, a very important task in strengthening the United Nations. As the Secretary-General noted in his report, "No reform is complete without Security Council reform". It is both possible and necessary to enlarge the Security Council without diminishing its effectiveness. Next year, the debate on Security Council reform will enter its tenth year. The Government of Japan believes that, as the first practical step, we should now focus our discussion on such questions as the number of seats on the elarged Security Council. Japan intends to work hard in this regard. We anticipate that the present report will provide further momentum to the discussions, and we look forward to the Secretary-General's active engagement in this matter.
The Government of Japan is confident that our efforts to reform the United Nations will result in a more effective and efficient Organization. Japan is determined to work together with the UN and its member states to realize that goal.