Statement by H.E. Ambassador Yasuhisa Kawamura, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at the Second Thematic Meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly

(As delivered)

Thank you, distinguished Co-Chairs,

          Revitalizing the work of the General Assembly is an issue of profound importance. Indeed, the success of our revitalization work hinges upon our capacity to enhance the Assembly’s fundamental working methods. Japan is confident that we have the potential to make significant progress in this area. With a view to achieving those improvements, please allow me to touch upon several key points.        First, there is a clear and pressing need to streamline the work of the General Assembly through the rationalization of its agendas. This year, there are 177 agenda items before the Assembly. Over the past decade, that number stayed at an average of 170.6; while in just the past five years, it has increased to 173.6 items. We have also seen this 101.7% inflation of the agenda further accompanied by a 102% increase in resolutions. Let us alleviate this strain that has been increasingly placed on the Assembly’s valuable time and resources by reducing agenda items at the outset.     

          Now is the time for action. The ongoing consultations aiming to enhance synergy and reduce overlap in the Assembly’s agenda through alignment with the 2030 Agenda are crucial to the revitalization process. For its part, Japan will actively participate in the consultations co-facilitated by Belgium and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Let us therefore act, pursuant to Resolution 71/323, to reduce agenda overlap and curtail the sharp increase of activities in the General Assembly through the biennialization and triennialization of its agendas. At the same time, we would like to recall our unfulfilled commitment in the Resolution 68/1, quote “The Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly, especially its Second and Third Committees, need to consider and take steps towards the rationalization of their agendas, with a view to eliminating duplication and overlap and promoting complementarity in the consideration and negotiation of similar or related issues”, end quote. With such measures in place, the work of the General Assembly can be undertaken with greater efficiency and effective use of its time and resources.

          Second, I wish to reiterate the need for orderly and disciplined proceedings in the General Assembly. I would like to call upon all delegations to arrive at meeting venues prior to the designated starting time of proceedings to ensure that meetings start on time. In addition, we the Member States should exercise self-restraint concerning the length of the statements, and adhere to our allocated time slot. During the regular session of the General Assembly’s 72nd session, for example switching off the microphone after speaking, speakers exceeded their allocated time was experimented in the Second Committee. Recalling Rules 72 and 114 of the Rules of Procedure, this might be one way to encourage Member States to be mindful of the need to use their time efficiently. Both punctuality and adherence to speaking time limits could serve to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the working methods of the General Assembly.

          Third, we should focus on the issue of timing in the election of the President of the General Assembly. The role and mandated activities of the President have greatly expanded in recent years, and yet the election for this office is usually held in June—only three months before the opening of the session. Given the corresponding expectations placed on the incumbent president, ensuring a smooth and well prepared transition in the General Assembly Presidency is vitally important. That is why we find it worth considering the possibility of moving this election to an earlier date. As a result, the President-elect of the GA will be afforded sufficient time to set up their team and adequately prepare for the office’s growing responsibilities.
          Finally, the issues of contextual accuracy and fairness in the proceedings of the General Assembly need to be discussed. Over the course of several years, our delegation has discussed the need that the speakers list of the high-level week’s general debate should be produced in a manner that more accurately reflects the political context of the individual Member States. The protocol order of head of government of 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 closing, allow me to underscore again that it is only through continual review and refinement of its working methods that the GA can strengthen its capacity to carry out its mandates with the utmost efficiency and effectiveness. I would like to reaffirm that Japan stands ready to work closely with you, co-chairs, and with all Member States to that end.

I thank you, Co-Chairs.