Statement by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly

Thank you, Co-chairs,

          Before I go any further, I would like to join others in extending my heartfelt condolences to the people and the Mission of Malawi for the passing away of Ambassador, Mr. Necton Mhura.
          I would like to certainly thank you, Permanent Representative of Croatia for his ongoing leadership and continuous engagement as co-chair of this Ad Hoc Working Group and I’d certainly like to welcome the Permanent Representative of Colombia as the new chair.
          My delegation remains committed to lending our full support and cooperation to María Emma and Vladimir throughout this session.
          I would like to take up a few points that were suggested by the co-chairs. Allow me to first comment on the selection process of the Secretary-General. 
          For this Working Group and for the General Assembly as a whole, there is no doubt that improving the selection process of the Secretary-General is of critical importance. The progress made in achieving greater transparency in the last SG selection process was noteworthy. Through the establishment of such new mechanisms as informal dialogues and joint letters for candidature, we continue to lay a foundation for transparency and best practices. That is why I, in my personal capacity, issued a note on the last selection process of the SG, which was distributed as a UN document A/71/774-S/2017/93.  We will discuss this at the thematic debate on this issue, so I will not go any further today.
          Along with transparency, the term of the Secretary-General is another facet of the selection process deserving our due consideration. A single non-renewable term is often mentioned as a case-in-point for discussion in support of a Secretary-General’s independence. The basis for that independence, however, in my view, rests not on the nature of the term itself, but in its underlying process. While the renewal of that term ought not to be taken for granted, neither should the term automatically preclude the possibility of reappointment.
The decision-making process on the selection in the General Assembly also needs to be considered. The SG should be endowed with the unified support of all Member States at the end of the process.
          In addition to the selection process of the SG, we must also redouble our engagement and discussions on improving the working methods of the GA. In this connection, I would like to highlight several key issues.
          First, the timing of the election of the PGA is ripe for reform. We need look no further than the office of the SG to see the benefits of a recently improved leadership transition process. So, too, should such improvements benefit the OPGA. We may consider moving up the PGA election earlier than June, thereby affording the President-elect sufficient time to assemble a team and adequately prepare for handover.  All Member States stand to benefit from improvements contributing to the smooth and well prepared transition of leadership in the Assembly.
          Second, I would like to underscore the urgent need to streamline the work of the GA. As the PGA noted in his priorities for 2018, we must be careful to avoid the prioritization of quantity over quality in carrying out our work. Bearing this in mind, let us aim to reduce the number of agenda items and invest more energy on the agendas before us. Indeed, rationalization of the work of the GA through, as already mentioned, by biennialization and triennialization of agendas is also an issue of urgent importance. Enacting such measures will serve to sharpen our ability to address challenges with increased efficiency and effectiveness.
          Thirdly, the speakers’ list for the high-level week general debate should be produced in a manner that more accurately reflects the political context of individual Member States. Countries like Japan, where the head of state performs a ceremonial or symbolic role and the head of government holds the highest political office, should be considered accordingly.
          As the most broadly representative main body of the United Nations comprised of all 193 Member States, a General Assembly with improved effectiveness and efficiency impacts, and indeed benefits all of its members.
          With recent progress as new precedent to guide us, let us continue the forward momentum of our shared revitalization efforts. For its part, Japan is ready and willing to actively participate in discussions together with Member States and relevant stakeholders.
I thank you, Co-chairs.