Statement by H.E. Mr. Toshiro Ozawa
Ambassador of Japan
At the Informal Consultations of the General Assembly
On Analysis and Recommendations to Facilitate the Review of Mandates
in the Areas of Maintenance of International Peace and Security and Disarmament
25 April 2006
My delegation believes that mandate reviews for the peace and security cluster is as important as the mandate review for the other clusters. If we conduct our mandate review properly, the UN will be able to better address the growing diversification and complexity of conflicts and better deal with the increased interdependency between security and development issues. We note that the Secretary-General's report makes a number of recommendations on reporting requirements and also touches on the possible impact of the soon-to-be established Peacebuilding Commission. Japan regards many of these recommendations to be useful and deserving of comprehensive and careful consideration.
Having said that, we wish to make two comments, one regarding the so-called overlap of mandates across organs and the other regarding mandates of the Security Council which is entrusted with primary responsibility in this area.
First, because of the historical circumstances and the multifaceted nature of the issues in the area of maintenance of international peace and security, there are some cases where the same issue is addressed by two or more organs of the Security Council, the General Assembly and the ECOSOC, with concomitant duplication of work.
Issues may be viewed from different angles and, as such, the purposes and content of the mandates by different organs may vary accordingly. If this is the case, duplication of mandates should not be described as being totally negative. In practice, however, it is often the case that these overlapping mandates do result in duplication of work, especially for the reporting requirements. The Secretary-General's report cites the cases of Western Sahara, the Committee on Information and the Special Committee on Decolonization as examples of such duplication. We believe that the Member States should consider these concrete recommendations seriously. We have a shared interest in reorganizing these areas of duplication and further examining the ways to utilize our limited resources more effectively. In this connection, Japan welcomes also the recommendation by the Secretary-General for the Member States to initiate immediately a review of operational mandates issued by the principal organs for those countries to be considered by the Peacebuilding Commission before its startup. Such a review will help us understand where the duplication of mandates will appear and contribute in identifying measures to deal with those problems.
Secondly, with regard to Security Council mandates, we wish to note the progress being achieved in the discussion in the Council.
Amongst the activities mandated by the Security Council, we note that there are certain activities which have been continuing for a long time without much discussion within the Council. Some activities continue with little prospect of resolution owing to the stagnation of the political situation. There are also other activities that continue despite the loss of substantive meaning of their original goals. Japan believes that it is most appropriate for the Council to review such mandates. Some mandates should be examined from the perspectives of their relationship with the Peacebuilding Commission, of the appropriateness of the scale of missions in relation to the status of the implementation of their mandates, and of the suitability of the activities of the special political missions and their mandate deadlines. We are happy to mention that the Security Council has already established an ad hoc working group on mandate review to be co-chaired by the US and Slovakia. Japan will participate actively and constructively in the discussions of the ad hoc working group to achieve concrete results.
Now let me turn to the mandate review for the field of disarmament.
We all remember the regret we felt last year for not achieving tangible progress at the NPT Review Conference and for not including a disarmament section in the Summit Outcome Document. This very fact, however, demonstrates the necessity of conducting efficient discussions in this area in a manner that is more relevant to today's requirements.
From this perspective, the number of resolutions submitted to the First Committee could be reduced as indicated in the Secretary-General's report, thus enabling the Committee to hold more in-depth discussions on topics which need to be addressed with urgency. Resolutions should be more action-oriented in nature, and those having less impact can be biennialized or triennialized. My delegation supports a review of the mandated activities, including those suggested in the Secretary-General's report, that have been ongoing for a considerable period of time and yet have yielded no practical results to date.
In the area of disarmament and non-proliferation, as in other areas, many resolutions containing reporting requirements continue to be adopted each year. We think that the disarmament experts of all our mission are all too familiar with the large volume of notes-verbale that they receive from the Department for Disarmament Affairs from the months of January through March. These notes-verbale request information from Member States on various subjects after the adoption of the relevant resolutions. These reporting requirements are not properly followed up by a number of Member States, however, resulting in an extremely low rate of submission of information in some cases. In order to address this problem, Japan would suggest to the Secretariat to propose options for limiting the number of Member States which are required to submit certain reports as well as options on the scope of the required reports.
Japan appreciates the usefulness of some Groups of Governmental Experts. For instance, the series of meetings of the Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms convened during the '90s were meaningful in the sense that they laid the groundwork and set the direction for the ongoing discussions in the international community on the issue of small arms and light weapons. The United Nations Arms Register, which serves as a confidence-building mechanism in the field of conventional weapons, provides another good example. The Register has been expanded in its scope and further improved through the discussions at the Group of Governmental Experts. On the other hand, it is true that some GGEs have been established without any clear vision as to the outcome that they may be able to achieve. For example, after the Group of Governmental Experts on Missiles found itself unable to agree on adoption of a report, the following session of the General Assembly adopted a resolution mandating the establishment of yet another GGE on the same topic, although no substantive change was seen from the previous session. My delegation is of the view that such decisions should be strictly avoided. We feel that Member States should study more carefully the usefulness of employing the Group of Governmental Experts before taking action to mandate them through resolutions.
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