Statement by H.E. Mr. Yukio Takasu
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At the Joint Debate of the General Assembly
On the "Report of the Security Council" (Item 9) and the "Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters" (Item 111)
18 November 2008, New York
At the outset, I would like to thank you for convening today's plenary meeting to discuss the report of the Security Council and Security Council reform. I would also like to extend my appreciation to Ambassador Jorge Urbina of Costa Rica for introducing the report in his capacity as President of the Council.
Security Council Reform
Let me start with Security Council reform. In order to enhance the functioning, effectiveness and credibility of the Security Council, we must reform urgently its composition to reflect today's world and to address effectively the needs of the 21st century. For that goal, it is essential that those countries which have major responsibilities in implementing the decisions of the Security Council for international peace and security occupy seats permanently. I would like to stress that the Security Council must be reformed through the expansion of both the permanent and non-permanent categories. Only through such reform will the Council become more representative, effective and credible.
The genuine desire of all Member States to realize meaningful reform of the Security Council was manifested in the unanimous adoption of decision 62/557 by the General Assembly on 15 September. I welcome this important and historic decision to advance the reform process from the stage of consultations that had continued for 15 years in the Open-ended Working Group to the stage of intergovernmental negotiations at the informal plenary of the General Assembly. The decision has clearly determined by what course of action the negotiations will be launched and organized. In line with this decision, we should speedily proceed to the intergovernmental negotiations. Japan will work actively and constructively toward achieving at the earliest possible date meaningful reform which will garner the widest possible political acceptance.
Report of the Security Council
The functioning of the Council also should be improved through enhancement of its transparency and accountability. The quality of the report of the Security Council is vitally important in that regard. The work of the Council during the reporting period has been predominantly occupied by the African agenda. The introduction of the report provides us a comprehensive overview of the work of the Council. The report contains descriptions of Council meetings with the core message of each briefing and reaction of the members. With more detailed information in the introduction, we appreciate the effort to present a fair reflection of the work of the Council and to strike a balance between analysis and information. The report is also candid about what the Council was not able to achieve. It is important that the Council effectively address emerging risks and threats to international peace and security and speak in one voice in such situations.
One of the new features during the reporting period is the interaction between the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission. As the Commission began its substantive work, the relationship evolved and practices have been established such as regular communication between the President of the Council and the Chair of the Commission and the participation of the Chairs of the country-specific configurations in the relevant Council meetings. Japan welcomes the further development of the relationship with the Peacebuilding Commission into a more concrete and substantial collaboration to support the work of the Council.
Another noteworthy effort was the organization of the informal meeting for the draft report of the Council before the report was finalized. It was particularly useful for the Member States to reflect on matters of interest in the process of the preparation of the report. I understand that this kind of consultation with the wider membership took place for the first time in the past decade. We are grateful to Ambassador Minh of Viet Nam for proactively addressing the concerns earlier expressed by Member States in the annual debate of the General Assembly. For further progress, I would like to suggest that the overview part of the introduction elaborate briefly on the changing trends and significant events in the work of the Council, any improvement in the working methods, and discussions on cross-cutting operational and strategic issues in the Council.
Improving the working methods of the Council continues to be a priority concern for both the Council and the General Assembly. The adoption of the Note by the President (S/2006/507), which my delegation had the honour to prepare, helped to make Council members aware of the responsibility that membership entails. We saw some improvements in this regard. The types of meeting formats have been clarified, and the number of public meetings has been substantially increased, in particular those with the countries directly concerned participating. Other efforts have also contributed to increased accessibility of timely information for non-Council members: the briefings by the Presidency on the monthly programme of work, the formal and informal briefings by the Chairs of the subsidiary bodies, informal briefings at various levels outside the Council and announcements in the Journal, particularly those regarding the subsidiary bodies. The reports of the Secretary-General have become more concise, and we have noted the efforts to indicate clearly observations, recommendations and long-term strategies, as appropriate. For the purpose of substantive discussion in the Council, the timely distribution of the reports is critically important.
While these improvements are welcome, some of the recommendations contained in the Note have not yet been sufficiently implemented. The open debate of the Council on 28 August 2008 illustrated achievements and shortfalls over the years. We wish the Council to make follow-up efforts to further improve its working methods.
In conclusion, Mr. President, Japan will make every effort to enhance accountability and transparency of the Security Council as a new member in the Council shortly and also through the process of Security Council reform.
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