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

Thank you, Co-Chairs,
          Taking stock of the progress made on this cluster in recent years, we can see that the latest process of selecting and appointing the Secretary-General in 2016 was by all accounts a milestone achievement. Through its adoption of Resolution 69/321, the General Assembly formalized its decision to implement notable improvements to the process, particularly with regard to its transparency and inclusivity.
          My delegation welcomes those improvements, which were in part first collated and laid out in writing by a note issued in Ambassador Bessho’s personal capacity and later produced as a document, A/71/774-S/2017/93.
          It is clear that our Working Group’s ambition to enact past measures by consensus generated valuable momentum. With a view toward channeling that momentum in our discussions today, I would like to highlight two salient points in the context of the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly.

First, the topic of transparency.
          In 2016, our assembly cemented new strides in transparency in the selection process with appointment resolution 71/4, implementing informal dialogues with SG candidates and letters jointly issued by the GA and Security Council. Last year, we agreed that the dialogues in particular had become an integral part of the selection and appointment process.
          As cited in our Working Group’s latest report, 72/896, the innovative steps adopted by the GA in appointing the Secretary-General in 2016 continue to enjoy the overwhelming support of Member States. This convergence of political will must not be overlooked; it must galvanize our efforts to further improve transparency. 
Second, the issues of independence.
          Some have proposed that a single, non-renewable term limit of seven years for the post of Secretary-General would serve to bolster an appointee’s independence. Such independence is derived not from the length of an appointee’s term, however, but from the degree of transparency inherent in the selection and appointment process itself. Greater transparency in the process would reinforce an appointee’s legitimacy, independence and overall effectiveness.
          Moreover, while the renewal of that term ought not to be taken for granted, neither should the term automatically preclude the possibility of reappointment. My delegation continues to believe that seven years is too long, and insufficiently addresses the need for a sitting Secretary-General to accurately reflect global trends.  
Co-Chairs and distinguished delegates,

          Hallmark achievements in the selection process of the Secretary-General must not only define our recent past; they must also characterize our future. It is imperative that we continue to lay the groundwork, collectively and with purpose, to further revitalize the selection and appointment process for the betterment of the entire Organization.

          For our part, Japan remains committed to discussion and engagement with relevant stakeholders, both within and beyond the Ad Hoc Working Group, toward the realization of that goal.
I thank you, Co-Chairs.