Statement by H.E. Mr. Yukio Takasu
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At the 20th informal meeting of the plenary on the intergovernmental negotiations
on the question of equitable representation on
and increase in the membership of the Security Council
and other matters related to the Council:
The Second Round: Exchange II
11 June 2009, New York
Thank you for holding today's meeting. We are very grateful for your commitment and dedication to achieving decisive progress towards the reform of the Security Council on the basis of GA decision 62/557. We will work according to your proposed timetable to complete the second round of negotiations in June. Japan pledges its full support to you.
I will address today's agenda as provided in your letter of 8 June 2009, namely, the issues of size, categories of membership and regional representation. I will address other issues which are mainly related to the Council's working methods in the next meeting.
There is no dispute that the current composition of the Security Council, which has been revised only once more than 44 years ago, no longer reflects the realities of the international community in the 21st century. The status quo is no longer acceptable. We need to make every possible effort to achieve the objective of reform to make the Council more broadly representative and enhance its effectiveness and the legitimacy and implementation of its decisions.
The international community is currently facing a considerable number of new and emerging challenges to international peace and security that were not anticipated 60 years ago. The mandates of peacekeeping operations have also been enlarged and become multi-faceted and more complex, from the traditional role of monitoring ceasefires to include promoting democratic governance, protection of civilians and post-conflict stabilization.
For the Security Council to be effective in fulfilling its primary responsibility with full legitimacy, it must be reformed in order to change the status quo and to be fully equipped to address these emerging threats to international peace and security and to take necessary actions promptly and effectively.
Therefore I have to reaffirm Japan's basic position that expansion of both categories is essential for reforming the Council in order to reflect the realities of today's world. In our view, only by expanding the permanent membership to include those Member States that have demonstrated the readiness, capacity and resources to shoulder the major responsibility of carrying through the implementation of the Council's decisions, can the Council be genuinely reformed and regain full legitimacy.
Furthermore, only in this way would a revised Council be able to ensure that all Member States continue to accept the responsibility to carry out the decisions of the Security Council as stipulated in Article 25 of the Charter. I believe that this is the main reason why in the first round the overwhelming majority of Member States, including representatives of African states, supported the option of expanding both categories. On the other hand, only a handful of delegates supported the option of expanding only the non-permanent membership. I would therefore suggest that from this point this last option be discarded from the list of viable options for reform which are likely to receive the broadest possible support.
The concept of "regional representation" has not been clearly defined. We take no issue with it so long as it means that seats of the Security Council are distributed in a geographically equitable manner, as having members in the Council which are elected by the General Assembly from different regions enables the Council to reflect diverse views. When addressing a conflict, those members from the particular region in which the conflict has emerged will have a valuable perspective on and insight into local situations, thus contributing to facilitating the most appropriate response by the Council.
However, I wish to stress that the members of the Security Council, once elected by the General Assembly, do not serve as representatives of their respective regions but are accountable globally and obligated to act on behalf of the entire Membership under the Charter (Article 24, paragraph 1). We believe that this principle of the indivisible nature of international peace and security should be upheld even in a reformed Council.
I also wish to stress that the primary consideration in the selection of Council members is contribution to international peace and security. Article 23, paragraph 1 of the Charter stipulates that the contribution of Member States to the maintenance of international peace and security and to other purposes of the UN is the overriding qualification for non-permanent membership. "Equitable geographical distribution" is then mentioned in the same paragraph as an additional factor to be considered. We believe that this order of priority should be fully reflected in enlarging the Council.
In the first round a proposal was put forward to create regional rotational seats, seats with a term of three to five years without the possibility of immediate re-election, or a term of two years with the possibility of up to two immediate re-elections, and also to create non-permanent seats for small and medium-sized states. Details of this proposal have not necessarily been well defined, but the thrust of the proposal is clear: it aims to obstruct the creation of new permanent seats.
Japan has strong concerns about this proposal. We do not see it as a viable reform option which we can build upon to gain the broadest possible political acceptance among Member States.
In the first place, we are concerned about the rationale for formally creating a new category of longer-term seats on a rotational basis, for the following reasons.
i) The membership of the United Nations consists of individual sovereign state members. (With the exception of permanent members,) the seats of the Security Council are distributed among Member States in the regional groups, but each member of the Security Council is individually elected through a vote by the General Assembly on the basis of its qualifications and merit. We appreciate the practice in some groups, such as the African Group, to coordinate candidates for non-permanent seats among sub-regions. It is also natural that each Council member consults closely with other Member States, particularly in the region, in carrying out its responsibility. However, we should maintain the principle that each Council member is elected individually, and once elected, each member is not to represent the region it comes from but to be accountable to the entire membership.
ii) We should also maintain the principle that members of the Council are to be elected with due regard, in the first instance, to the contributions of Member States to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the Organization, and considering equitable geographical distribution as an additional factor. The concept of rotating seats in the region should not undermine in any way the primary criteria in selecting Security Council members, namely, their contributions to international peace and security and the other purposes of the Organization.
Second, regarding the so-called intermediary solution to create seats with a term of three to five years, with or without the possibility of immediate re-election, or a term of two years with the possibility of up to two immediate re-elections, any such proposal to limit new Security Council members to a limited duration would produce no fundamental change in the status quo and current dynamics of the Council. Such a proposal would exclude permanent seats for those Member States, which have demonstrated well the readiness, capacity and resources to shoulder the major responsibility of carrying through the implementation of the Council's decisions.
Consequently, this proposal would prevent us from achieving the objective of genuine reform, namely, enhancing the Council's effectiveness and legitimacy and the implementation of its decisions by changing the status quo. Such a proposal would have in essence not much more impact than the expansion of the non-permanent category which took place 44 years ago. Thus, such a proposal is not acceptable to my delegation and also, I am sure, to many delegations, including those in the African Group. We see little prospect that the broadest possible support could emerge around such proposal.
Third, regarding the creation of non-permanent seats in the Council for small and medium-sized states, we appreciate the rationale behind such a proposal, namely, to improve the representation by and access to the work of the Council for those states. At the same time, we recognize the merit of the current system, in which each Member State belongs to only one category, namely a geographical group, from which it seeks to be elected as a non-permanent member. Creation of different categories of states other than the geographical groups for the non-permanent Council seats may create confusion.
We could take into consideration and address the issue of improving representation of small and medium-sized countries, and under-representation particularly for the African and Asian Groups, most profitably when we negotiate the allocation of new seats. We also believe that improving the working methods and transparency of the Council will contribute to better access of small and medium-sized states to the work of the Council.
Finally, as to the size of the Security Council, it is Japan's view that the Council should be large enough to be adequately representative but relatively modest as a decision-making body in order to be able to act promptly and effectively (as stipulated in Article 24, paragraph 1 of the Charter). This is the fundamental requirement on which we cannot compromise for any enlargement of the Council. We should seek to strike a balance between representativeness and effectiveness. We have noted in past meetings that this view is supported by the overwhelming majority of Member States.
Japan will spare no effort to work constructively with other delegations in accordance with the schedule you have outlined to complete this round by the end of June.
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