Statement by H.E. Ambassador Yasuhisa Kawamura, Chargé d'affaires, a.i. of Japan to the United Nations, at the General Debate of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly

(As delivered)
 
Thank you, Co-chairs,
 
Allow me to begin by commending the Permanent Representatives of Croatia and Colombia for their work as co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group during the 72nd session. Under their leadership, the GA went about its work with remarkable transparency and led to the successful adoption of Resolution 72/313.
 
I would also like to welcome the Permanent Representatives of Jordan and Slovakia as our newly appointed co-chairs. We look forward to your fresh perspectives and leadership in guiding our revitalization efforts in the 73rd session. We are confident you will steer the Assembly on a course toward concrete action in the months ahead.
 
            You can count on Japan’s full support and cooperation in this endeavor.  
 
(WORKING METHODS)
 
Co-chairs,
 
            Her Excellency Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd session of the General Assembly, chose “Revitalization of the United Nations” as one of the seven key priorities of her presidency. Our reform and revitalization of the General Assembly, the UN’s most representative and multilateral legislative body, is therefore noteworthy in its importance. The success of our efforts to revitalize the GA has the potential to make a positive impact on all seven priority areas.
            Bearing this in mind, I would like to touch on several topics we ought to consider to revitalize the working methods of the GA.
 
First, the agenda.
 
We must continue to pursue sensible streamlining of the GA’s agenda and consider reducing the total number of agenda items. As the PGA echoed in her remarks on revitalization during the Assembly’s 35th plenary session, a streamlined GA agenda both enhances its efficiency and allows us to address topics of concern more effectively. That is why we should examine how best to rationalize the work of the GA through biennialization or triennialization of items on the agenda, thus strengthening the Assembly’s capacity to act.  
 
Second, the list of speakers during the high-level week general debate.
 
The list of speakers should be created using a process 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. In this way, aligning the work of the GA with the realities of the world it represents offers a simple and direct way to fulfill our commitment to the theme of the 73rd session: “Making the United Nations Relevant to All.”
 
Third, the timing of the election of the PGA and the calendar cycle of GA session.
 
The importance of providing a newly elected PGA with sufficient time for preparation in the run-up to their presidency is a point often raised by GA members and leaders alike.
Indeed, President Espinosa underscored this need most recently at the Informal meeting with former Presidents of the General Assembly on the theme: “Revitalization of the United Nations in favour of a strengthened multilateral rules-based system.” Clearly, this issue must be addressed.
 
We ought to consider holding the election of the PGA at an earlier date. Earlier elections would provide more time for a President-elect to assemble their team, arrange for handover, and more effectively fulfill their mandate for the upcoming session. Just as the Security Council and ECOSOC have benefitted greatly from shifting their election dates, so, too, should the General Assembly.
 
(GA regular session)
 
Finally, it is worth seriously considering alternative dates for the beginning of the regular session of the GA. In my view, to bring the high-level week to the very end of each GA regular session would also allow the serving PGA to exercise full leadership in preparation for the high-level week in which they themselves preside.
 
 
(SG SELECTION & TRANSPARENCY)
 
Co-chairs,
 
            Our efforts to revitalize the work of the General Assembly must also encompass the process of selecting the Secretary-General. As noted in Resolution 72/313 and echoed by President Espinosa at the GA’s 35th Plenary Meeting, we must preserve and build upon achievements made to enhancing the transparency, accountability, and inclusivity of the selection process of the Secretary-General.
 
(BESSHO PAPER/TRANSPARENCY)
 
            Two noteworthy milestones we have reached include the holding of informal dialogues between SG candidates and the General Assembly, as well as letters for candidature jointly issued by the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council. Member States gained unprecedented access to each SG candidate’s vision for the organization through these dialogues, and through joint candidature letters, each new candidate was announced in unison by the GA and Security Council. Drawing on the momentum generated by a note issued in Ambassador Bessho’s personal capacity on these and other dimensions of the selection process, which was distributed as UN document A/71/774-S/2017/93, our adoption of these practices has ensured that the UN system is more transparent and accountable than ever in appointing its chief executive.
 
We need to look no further than this very room for proof of the ongoing impact of these achievements. Our sitting President is notably the very first to have engaged in a selection process involving informal interactive dialogues between PGA candidates and the GA. My delegation welcomes this practice as a continuation of the steps taken to appoint the Secretary-General in 2016.
 
(TERM OF THE SG)
 
The term of the Secretary-General is also a fundamental aspect of the SG selection process we ought to discuss. Some have suggested that a single non-renewable term contributes to a Secretary-General’s independence. In my view, however, a Secretary-General derives their independence and legitimacy not from the nature of a term itself, but from the transparency and accountability of the process through which they are appointed.
 
(GA DECISION-MAKING PROCESS)
 
My delegation is also of the view that it will be imperative for the GA’s decision-making process to ultimately endow the SG-elect with the unified support of all Member States at the end of the selection process.
 
Co-chairs,
 
Let us seize upon this moment of renewed focus on revitalization efforts in the 73rd session. Our success in this regard will be vital to shaping a GA that is more effective and more relevant to all, and to the broader goal of making the United Nations more efficient, more effective, and fit for purpose.
 
Japan stands ready to actively engage in discussions, and looks forward to working together with Member States and relevant stakeholders to make substantive progress.
 
I thank you, Co-chairs.