Remarks by H.E. Mr. Kenzo Oshima
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At 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

New York
3 May 2007

Madam President,

I would like to begin by thanking you for convening this informal meeting to discuss the Facilitators' report on reform of the Security Council and to exchange views on the way forward.

First of all, let me express our appreciation to you, Madam President, for the initiative to launch the Facilitators' process under your authority. It is, in the present circumstances, the only viable process that is under way on this important question. The process has brought renewed momentum to the efforts for Security Council reform. And we strongly hope not only that the current momentum will be maintained but also that we will move forward and make tangible progress under your leadership and guidance.

Japan also commends the five distinguished Facilitators for preparing the report to the President. They spared no effort in undertaking broad-based consultations and holding hearings with different groups and individual Member States. And they have done their work conscientiously and professionally, for which they deserve our high appreciation.

Madam President,

Allow me to make a few remarks on the report.

First, we wish to reaffirm the point of central importance that United Nations reform would be incomplete without a meaningful Security Council reform and that allowing the status quo is not acceptable to a very large number of Member States. To achieve this objective at the earliest, we need to keep up the momentum generated over the past two years, and at the same time we need to demonstrate, as the report emphasizes, flexibility on all sides.

Second, it must be recognized that serious effort was made by the Facilitators to provide a report that was as balanced as possible so that it could provide a basis for Member States to consider the most appropriate way to prepare for the next steps in the negotiation process. However, some of the suggestions that the Facilitators have presented will require careful and cautious consideration by Member States. In this context, we take note of what appears to be the main intended thrust of the report, which is the suggestion to explore new and emerging ideas concerning a "transitional approach". While no option or suggestion should be ruled out in the search for a solution that can command the requisite majority, we are not convinced that a transitional approach or any similar proposal could in fact provide a viable basis for a solution, because we don't know yet what that means in concrete terms.

Third, it seems to us, unfortunately, that in their desire perhaps to promote the "transitional approach", the Facilitators have downplayed the position of Member States that favors expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories. It is a fact that this position continues to be supported by a significant number of countries including African States, and in our view this was not reflected clearly enough in the report. We find this failure somewhat disturbing, since the foregoing is a critically important point, which should have found a more appropriate expression in a report of this kind.

Fourth, the report makes mention of the need for "the widest possible political acceptance by the membership", and in this context comments: "well above the required majority in the General Assembly..." We do not question the political consideration which must have evoked such a statement. However it should be clear that such consideration in no ways raises the threshold regarding the requisite majority for a decision in the General Assembly on this matter, which is clearly defined in the relevant General Assembly resolution and the provisions of the Charter.

Madam President,

We would like to register once again our continuing belief that the Security Council must be reformed through expansion of both permanent and non-permanent categories, with the inclusion of developing and developed countries in both, so as to make the Council more representative, more efficient and more transparent, while enhancing its effectiveness and legitimacy. It will be remiss of me, if I were not to take the opportunity to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to those delegations, including the US whom we just heard, which have supported Japan in this regard

I wish also to state that Japan attaches great importance to improving working methods of the Council as another important pillar in Security Council reform. And we expect the Security Council's Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions will make further progress, under Slovakia's chairmanship, building on what has already been achieved. Parallel with this, we would also like to see meaningful progress being made at the General Assembly.

Madam President,

The stage for general discussion on Security Council reform is over, and it is time now to move forward and to begin the process of intergovernmental negotiation in earnest which has eluded us for quite some time.

As we discuss the way forward, my delegation believes that the next steps should continue to be made under your authority and able leadership, Madam President.

We have supported the Facilitators process, and it has produced, on balance, positive results, despite some of what we consider shortcomings in the report, as I mentioned. My delegation would like to encourage you, Madam President, to build on the momentum and to take a leadership role to move the process forward and assist Member States in getting down to negotiations in the most appropriate way. From this point of view, you may wish to consider, for example, designating a small number of new facilitators to prepare the negotiation process in the next stage.

As I have stated on previous occasions, Japan has been striving to find ideas and proposals capable of garnering broad support among the general membership through consultations with all interested States. In the next stage, we stand ready to engage in consultations and negotiations in a flexible manner, with all those interested in meaningful Security Council reform, which should be achieved at the earliest time.

Thank you, Madam President.

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