Statement by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at the Open Debate of the United Nations Security Council, Under the Agenda Item “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Upholding International Law within the Context of the Maintenance of International Peace and Security”

(As delivered)

Thank you, Mr. President, especially for convening this open debate.
I would also like to thank Ms. Viotti, Judge Owada, and President Meron, for their insightful and comprehensive briefings. Today, I will focus my statement on two points included in the concept note: the peaceful settlement of disputes and accountability.
First, on the peaceful settlement of disputes, the Security Council and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) are the only two principal United Nations (UN) organs capable of making legally binding decisions. They have different mandates, but they can work complementarily and in a mutually reinforcing manner. However, each faces challenges.
For the Security Council, the primary challenge is implementation. Member States are legally obligated to carry out Council decisions in accordance with the UN Charter, but it is not always easy for non-Council members to follow their contents closely. Without dedicated implementation, the actual effects of even the best-crafted Council resolutions will be limited. It is thus incumbent upon Council members to explain the contents of resolutions to the wider membership through such efforts as briefings by the Sanctions Committees Chairs. This will help promote implementation of resolutions by the Member States, thereby enhancing their effectiveness.
By contrast, ICJ judgments, which are binding between the parties, have seen relatively good implementation, though not without challenges. For the ICJ, the more fundamental issue is jurisdiction. Japan attaches great importance to the rule of law and has accepted the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction since 1958. We encourage others to do so as well. To this end, it is imperative that the ICJ continues to produce solid judgements and advisory opinions which enjoy the confidence of States.
Now turning to the issue of accountability, the Security Council cannot do everything by itself. It can benefit from coordinating with and making full use of the resources of other institutions or mechanisms. For example, the Council has referred situations to the International Criminal Court (ICC) twice, in Darfur and Libya. The Council should at least follow up on non-compliance in such referrals, as the ICC lacks its own enforcement mechanism. Even if the situation does not allow for a referral to the ICC, the need for accountability for the most serious crimes remains. In the case of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, for example, an accountability mechanism to identify those responsible is strongly called for.
Before concluding, I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to Judge Owada for his service and dedication to upholding international law as a Judge of the ICJ over the last fifteen years.
Let me conclude, Mr. President, by expressing Japan’s continued commitment to upholding the rule of law and the peaceful settlement of disputes.
Thank you, Mr. President.