(Check against delivery)
Statement by H.E. Mr. Jun Yamazaki
Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
The Plenary for Brainstorming
On the Internal Working Methods of the Fifth Committee
10 February 2012
At the outset, let me express my deep appreciation for being given this opportunity to discuss how to improve the working methods of the Fifth Committee. While I assume everyone agrees that the delegates of this Committee have for years undertaken admirable, sometimes superhuman, efforts to analyze and discuss thousands of pages of documents over innumerable days and nights, I think it fair to say that much can be done to improve the way the Fifth Committee works. We should not repeat last year’s experience when 1 July 2011 was already coming to an end in East Timor as we in NY finally agreed upon the mission budget for East Timor that was to begin on 1 July.
Before we embark on brainstorming on ways to improve the Committee’s working methods, let me point out the goal of this exercise, because methods can be discussed only in the context of goals to be achieved. In our case, the goal should be to find ways to achieve timely and well-informed agreements based on consensus in the Fifth Committee. In this regard, let me reiterate the fact that General Assembly resolution 41/213 gives us clear guidance to reach our final agreement by consensus - it talks about making “all possible efforts with a view to establishing the broadest possible agreement.”
First, let me touch upon the requirement of timeliness. I am convinced that it is the shared responsibility of the Member States to permit the Secretariat and mission staff to concentrate on their tasks without having to worry about the possibility that no budget will exist for days or weeks. For that reason, I would like to emphasize that a culture of mutual trust should be promoted within this Committee, so that those countries which make the difficult decision to show flexibility at an early stage, long before the last minute, are rewarded rather than punished for their decision. I know that the Fifth Committee is known for strong personal relationships among its delegates, especially after so many sleepless nights. I am confident that those relationships can be the basis for moving toward enhanced mutual trust during negotiations. In this respect, I would like to suggest, as a small first step toward this big goal, to rearrange seats during the informal meetings. We should replace the current practice of seating, which might not promote cooperation and compromise, to one in which G77 members, Japan and other countries may sit side-by-side, allowing them to cooperate to find common solutions.
Second, let me talk about the information necessary for Member States to make reasonable and responsible decisions. Without sufficient information, decisions made by the Fifth Committee might become altogether arbitrary. It might be useful for us to consider how to make submission of information from the Secretariat more efficient, without reducing the volume or value of information provided to the Member States. For example, submission of written questions before meetings has been encouraged for years. It might be worthwhile to consistently implement this practice starting from the next session of the Fifth Committee. It should also be pointed out that further efforts by the Secretariat to make budget documents more transparent and straightforward are required in addition to the above-mentioned efforts made by the Member States.
Let me assure you once again that Japan will engage in this important issue in a constructive manner.
Thank you, Mr. President.