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Statement by Mr. Kenzo Oshima
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations

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 117)
at the Plenary of the 60th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

11 November 2005

Mr. President,

We condemn terrorism in all its forms, whenever and wherever it occurs. Please allow me at the outset to express Japan's sympathy and deep condolences to the families of victims, and to the people and Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan over the tragedy caused by these heinous terrorist attacks.

As we intensify our efforts on some critical issues in the implementation of the 2005 World Summit Outcome, such as the Peacebuilding Commission, the Human Rights Council, and management reform under your strong and able leadership, my delegation looks forward to seeing you demonstrate the same leadership in guiding us on another major issue, that of reform of the Security Council, further building on what has been achieved under your distinguished predecessor, Foreign Minister Jean Ping of Gabon during the last session.

My delegation also wishes also to acknowledge with thanks the tireless efforts and important contributions made by Ambassadors Paulette Bethel of the Bahamas and Christian Wenaweser of Liechtenstein, as Co-vice-chairs of the Open-ended Working Group.

My delegation attaches great importance to this joint debate on the two items, the annual report on the activities of the Security Council and reform of the Security Council, as it provides a timely and useful opportunity to reflect on the way forward on the key issues involved here, namely the Security Council's structural reform and improvement of its working methods.

Mr. President,

First, I wish to touch upon briefly the annual report that was presented by Ambassador Andrey Denisov of the Russian Federation, the President of the Council, for whom I wish to express our appreciation. Japan welcomes the report, as a serving member on the Council for this year and next. The report covers the full range of the Council's activities, which have beome increasingly diverse and complex, reflecting the new challenges today's world faces in the area of peace and security.

Since Japan has the honor to serve as the Chair of the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations established within the Council, I wish to add a few words to supplement the section dealing with peacekeeping operations. As the report succinctly states, the PKO Working Group has been trying to bring more pro-activism to its work in order to ensure a more focused debate and closer attention on key issues through, (a) more frequent meetings with troop-contributing countries, major financial contributors and other stakeholders to improve cooperation and understanding among key actors, (b) timely and focused debate on some thematic issues of important concern, such as sexual exploitation and abuse in the context of the specific UN peacekeeping missions, and (c) improved information sharing and coordination of work between the Council's Working Group and the General Assembly's Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations to achieve the complementary relationship that should exist between the two bodies. This is very much work in progress, and I intend to follow it through with the cooperation of all those actively involved in the work of peacekeeping operations.

I might mention in this connection that I have just concluded a field mission, in my capacity as Chair of the Working Group and with the backing of the Council, to Ethiopia and Eritrea. I met with the representatives of the mission deployed there (UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE)) and the troop contributing countries, as well as military commanders in order to be apprised first-hand of the worrying situation that is developing along the border. I am reporting back my findings to the Council and its Working Group.

Mr. President,

Reform of the Security Council in terms of its membership expansion and improving its working methods is long overdue. World leaders recognized this in their Millennium Declaration five years ago and they have done so again this year in a clearer and more definitive way in the Outcome Document.

As we are repeatedly reminded, the challenges facing the United Nations as a whole and the Security Council in particular are vastly different today from those of 1945. The basic structure and composition of the Security Council, however, essentially continues to reflect the world as it was sixty years ago. To be effective, it must be changed to better reflect the realities of today's world. In recognition of this, our leaders affirmed at the World Summit in September that early reform of the Security Council is an essential element of our overall efforts to reform the United Nations. The primordial task for Member States now is to act and deliver on this conviction in the form of concrete solutions.

First, we have advocated that the Security Council must be expanded to reflect the realities of the 21st century, with an inclusion, on a permanent basis, of Member States that have the manifest will and real capacity to take on a major role in the maintenance of international peace and security. This position has come to be shared by a large number of Member States. This must happen if the Security Council is to remain effective and relevant. Few disagree with the logic and rationale for it. In 1946, for example, approximately 70 percent of the budget resources the Organization needed was borne by the Permanent 5 members and thus they provided a solid power base for making decisions and ensuring that those decisions would be implemented effectively. In 2005, by contrast, this percentage has declined to only about 37 percent of today's UN regular budget and about 45 percent of its peacekeeping operations budget. This significant shift in the power and resource balance, among other factors, calls for and justifies an expansion of the Council membership that will enhance the real effectiveness of its collective action. The expansion will also have to be done in ways that will maintain the efficiency of its work.

Second, and no less importantly, improvement in the working methods of the Security Council has been an important concern for all Member States, small and large, and this also must be addressed. We acknowledge and welcome certain progress made in recent years in the Security Council, but more needs to be done. To that end, we believe that three things must go together: first, the General Assembly has a legitimate role to seek improvement of the Council's working methods, as it has indeed tried to do over more than a decade through the OEWG established by it in resolution 48/26. Unfortunately, these deliberations have so far failed to produce tangible, agreed results. The time has come, however, to exert real effort to harvest what can be harvested on this now, while at the same time as we must realize the changes in the composition of the Council, demonstrating our collective pragmatism and flexibility in the pursuit of our common commitment.

Another key factor in achieving improvement in the working methods of the Security Council is the direct responsibility of the Council itself. As master of its own rules and procedures, as the Charter provides, the Council is responsible for any decision in this regard. That being recognized, we believe the Council is expected to act and to do more, in response to concerns held by a large portion of the membership in the General Assembly. In this regard, reactivation of the Council's Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, which is referred to in the Report of the Security Council, should be considered, among other measures, as a step toward achieving improvement in its working methods. All members of the Council must be engaged on this, but we expect greater responsiveness and activism from the P5 because of their special role and responsibility incumbent upon them by dint of their permanency and privileges and influence associated with it.

As a third point, I wish to point out that the expansion of its membership, particularly in the permanent category, is also a relevant, important, albeit indirect, factor in bringing about changes and improvement in the Council's working methods because we believe that its impact would no doubt be felt, including through breathing a new life into its modes operandi.

Mr. President,

With regard to the change in the structure and composition of the Security Council, we believe we have achieved quite significant progress during the 59th session of the General Assembly, as reflected in part in the 2005 World Summit Outcome. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that, for the first time in the Organization's history, several draft resolutions were tabled in the General Assembly, all calling for significant changes in the composition of the Security Council.

The Group of Four countries, Brazil, Germany, India and Japan, supported by many co-sponsors, submitted a draft resolution on Security Council reform that includes expansion in the permanent and non-permanent categories. This effort, together with other subsequent actions, including, notably, by the African states, has created a momentum in the General Assembly in New York and in world capitals, for a fundamental structural reform of the Security Council on a scale unprecedented in the recent history of the UN.

The efforts made by the G-4 and its cosponsors enjoyed broad support of Member States, and we would like to take this opportunity to express once again Japan's heartfelt appreciation to those who have supported our efforts. I wish in particular to express on behalf of my government our sincere thanks to all those countries that have expressed their support for Japan's permanent seat.

Mr. President,

The momentum thus created has not gone away, it has sustained itself and now demands a concrete outcome, and this is going to be our next task in the new stage of the process in which we find ourselves now, after the World Summit. In this second stage, building on the momentum created in the 59th session of the General Assembly, we need to look beyond the fact that none of the draft resolutions submitted in the last session was put to a vote, and seek a solution that can command a broader support than has been possible up to now.

There are those who want to conclude that Security Council reform is over. They are mistaken. Reform is a process that moves in a continuum, step-by-step. This is particularly true with regard to such a sensitive, challenging endeavor as reform of the Council that tries to address fundamental changes in its composition, and no effort should be spared to move through this arduous process.

Japan is determined to continue to work on the basis of the building blocks laid down and in cooperation with all interested states, to move the process forward and arrive at a solution that is broadly acceptable to the membership. For the first time in UN history there is a real prospect that a bold action can result in a concrete solution during this session of the General Assembly, along with agreement on other larger UN reform issues. This will no doubt require on the part of all individual states and from groups of states interested in the matter, greater activism, realism, innovation and imagination. We call upon all Member States to take an early decision on Security Council reform within the current session of the General Assembly.

As Prime Minister Koizumi stated at the 2005 World Summit, "Let us unite in an endeavor to make this session of the General Assembly the session for action - action to achieve the comprehensive renewal of the United Nations".

In closing, Mr. President, we would like to reiterate that Japan will spare no effort to achieve the goals of overall United Nations reform. We look forward to working hard toward this goal under your strong leadership during this historic session of the General Assembly.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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

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