Statement of Ambassador Yukio Takasu
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations

At the informal plenary of the General Assembly
on Security Council reform: All the five key issues

1 September 2009, New York


Thank you for convening today's meeting of the informal plenary. We are grateful to you for your commitment and dedication to advance reform negotiations.

You proposed to address consecutively "all the five key issues", "an expansion in both current categories" and "the intermediate model". I hope that the outcome of these three meetings will serve as a good basis for making decisive progress towards realizing an early, meaningful reform of the Security Council.

I will address "all the five key issues", as you set for today's agenda. The five key issues are closely interrelated and should be negotiated in a comprehensive manner.

(Categories)

There is no dispute that the current composition of the Security Council, revised only once more than 40 years ago, no longer reflects the political realities of the international community in the 21st century. The reform is long overdue and the prolongation of the current composition is no longer acceptable.

There is also an agreement on the objective of reform, as defined in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, that is, to make the Council more broadly representative and enhance its effectiveness and the legitimacy and implementation of its decisions.

I must emphasize that any reform plan which does not reflect today's global political reality and substantially change the status quo of the Council will not meet the objective set by the 2005 world summit. In our view, only by expanding both categories can the Council enhance its effectiveness and the legitimacy and implementation of its decisions.

As you correctly pointed out in you letter of 16 July 2009, "Expansion in both current categories" has commanded the most support from delegations in the first and second rounds. The forthcoming negotiations should be focused on this option. I will elaborate more on this at the next meeting.

(Size of an enlarged Security Council)

The size of the reformed Security Council needs to strike a balance between representativeness and effectiveness. The Council should be large enough to be adequately representative, taking into account the major transformation in the nature of the membership over the years. But it must also be relatively modest in size, in order to allow it to act promptly and effectively as a decision-making body for maintaining international peace and security. We do not wish to weaken the effectiveness of the Council to deal with crises promptly and effectively. The capacity for prompt and effective action is the fundamental requirement for any enlargement of the Council.

(Veto)

In earlier rounds, many representatives, including African countries, stated that, so long as the veto has not been abolished, it should be granted to all new permanent members.

At the same time, we recognize that not a few Member States also expressed the view that the use of the veto should be discouraged, and therefore opposed extending the right of veto to new permanent members. It is also important to bear in mind the political reality of the positions of P5 and the requirement of ratification of amendments to the Charter by all of the P5

As it is, the question of the veto is a delicate and divisive issue. The insistence on principled positions by all Member States will not lead us towards any agreement. The issue of the veto should not be allowed to delay or halt the reform process. We believe that the proposal that the veto should be extended to the new permanent members, but accompanied by their commitment not to use it pending future review, is the most viable way forward. This position could serve as the one that takes into account the reality of diverse views and bridges the division on this sensitive issue.

(Regional representation)

We do not take issue with regional representation so long as it means the geographically equitable distribution of Security Council seats. Election of Council members from different regions enables the Council to reflect diverse views.

However, I wish to stress the importance of the principle that each Council member is elected individually and, once elected, is not to represent the region it comes from but is to act on behalf of the entire membership. The concept of rotating seats in a given region should not undermine the primary criteria in selecting Security Council members, namely, the contributions to international peace and security and the other purposes of the Organization.

(Working methods of the Security Council)

It is essential that the Council continue to make its decision-making process more transparent and accountable to all the Member States. They need to be constantly assured that decisions of the Council are outcomes that fully reflect the diverse positions, perspectives and concerns of the entire membership.

Japan has been making the utmost efforts in the Council to improve its working methods by increasing the involvement of states that are not members of the Council in its work, enhancing its accountability to the membership and increasing the transparency of its work.

(The relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly)

The international community is facing a large number of new challenges to international peace and security. The mandates of peacekeeping operations have been enlarged. A number of issues are now considered in both the General Assembly and the Security Council as well as other organs of the UN. The Security Council and the General Assembly must respect each other's distinct roles in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and secure the effective functioning of the Organization as a whole.

(Review)

When the General Assembly makes a decision to reform the Security Council by expanding both categories, it is appropriate also to agree to conduct a comprehensive review of the functioning and composition of the Council after a certain period. The review should cover comprehensively all of the issues relating to the situation created as a result of the reform.

I hope that these positions of ours will be duly reflected in a final reform package which will receive the broadest possible political agreement among Member States.

Thank you.

Related Information (United Nations Reform)
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations Official Web Site other site


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