2003 Statement



Permanent Representative of Japan

At the Meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group

on the Question of Equitable Representation on

and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council

and Other Matters Related to the Security Council

10 February 2003

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, I would like to congratulate you for assuming the chair and presiding over the Open-ended Working Group on Security Council reform this year. Japan will spare no effort to realize progress in our work under your able leadership. I would also like to congratulate Ambassador Ingolfsson of Iceland on his reappointment as vice-chairman and Ambassador Kasemsarn of Thailand on his assumption of the same post.

Mr. Chairman,

Established in January 1994, this Open-ended Working Group is entering its 10th year of discussions. At the Working Group last year, Japan focused its efforts on further improving the paper prepared by President Holkeri the previous year. Unfortunately, we were unable to achieve any progress. Indeed, the discussions on Security Council reform have made little significant progress throughout the past decade. It may therefore be worthwhile, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of this Group, to reflect upon this issue by returning to the starting point of our efforts, in the hope that the participants in this session’s discussions may bring fresh perspectives and different ideas from those of their predecessors.

Mr. Chairman,

The structure of the Security Council has remained unchanged since 1965, when the number of its non-permanent seats were expanded. Since then, however, as many as 73 countries have joined the United Nations, making its total membership to 191 states. This situation has led us to doubt if the membership of the Security Council is sufficiently representative of the expanded UN membership. This is an increasingly serious issue, because it has much to do with the members’ perception of the Security Council’s legitimacy. It is also essential to recognize the fact that the nature of international relations has been undergoing tremendous changes. With the end of the cold war, on one hand we could look forward to a harmonious new world order, free from the East-West ideological confrontation and huge stockpiles of weapons, while on the other we have witnessed disruptions of ethnic and religious conflicts which had been held in check by that East-West rivalry. It was against the background of this increased membership of the United Nations and these changes in the international relations that the Security Council reform effort was initiated.

Mr. Chairman,

The Security Council must be reformed, in accordance with changes in the international community if it is to discharge its mission more effectively. Indeed, the international community has continued to undergo rapid changes ever since the discussions in the Working Group began. As a consequence, there have been increasing number of cases where the Security Council has to address non-military problems such as HIV/AIDS, the status of women, and food issues, in addition to political and security issues, in its efforts to secure international peace and stability. Thus the Council is required to have knowledge and expertise in an ever wider range of fields. In dealing with counter-terrorism, for example, the Council must address not only international security issues, but also public order issues within a country, and economic issues such as international financing. Likewise, in order to secure effective implementation of its resolutions, it is essential for the Security Council to have the cooperation not only of its members but also other UN Member States in a broad range of areas. Whether the current Council, in terms of its size and composition, is adequate to gain such cooperation is an open question.

As a result of the Council’s not having been reformed, some of the countries that are making important contributions in the area of peace and security in this rapidly changing world have been deprived of opportunities for the past ten years to fully participate in the Council’s decision-making process. Japan, for example, pays 19.6 percent of the United Nations regular as well as PKO budget; this is more than the combined contributions of all permanent members of the Security Council other than the United States. While I do not intend to suggest that financial contributions are the overriding consideration, the importance of such contributions is undeniable. Countries must be able to participate in the Council’s decision-making process in a manner that is commensurate with the level of their contributions. This current situation is neither helpful in strengthening the effectiveness of the Council nor, I shall say, fair.

Mr. Chairman,

In the Millennium Declaration in 2000, heads of states and governments committed themselves to comprehensive reform of the Security Council. It is incumbent upon us to continue our efforts to realize that commitment. Many countries stressed the importance of Security Council reform when we discussed this issue at the General Assembly last October. And many among them supported an expansion of both the permanent and non-permanent seats. Clearly, the necessary elements to reach general agreement on Security Council reform are already on the table. It is thus all the more regrettable that this Working Group, which has been given the mandate by the General Assembly to advance the goal, has not achieved significant progress.

Engaging in a repetition of our discussion thus far will surely result in "discussion-fatigue", as it were, among members of the Working Group. What is needed is fresh momentum and the political will to realize comprehensive reform. The paper in front of us, which was also the basis for discussion in last year’s Working Group, covers all the elements of this issue. I would like to suggest that we base our efforts on this paper and begin to work toward preparing a realistic reform package step by step. But if it becomes clear that progress cannot be expected in this Working Group, where decisions are made by consensus, we may have to consider further measures.

Japan looks forward to strong leadership from you on this issue, Mr. Chairman. I would like to conclude my remarks by reiterating our readiness to support you in every possible way.

Thank you very much.