Statement of H.E. Mr. Kenzo Oshima
Permanent Representative of Japan
At the General Assembly Debate on the
Item No. 9: "Report of the Security Council" and
Item No. 111: "Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Related Matters"

New York
11 December 2006

Madam President,

Thank you for convening today's plenary meeting to discuss matters to which many delegations attach great importance: the annual report on the work of the Council and Security Council reform. Earlier on, following the General Debate in September, you identified, Madam President, Security Council reform as one of the tasks that needed to be translated into action during the sixty-first session. Indeed, in that General Debate leaders of a good two-thirds of the entire United Nations membership recognized Security Council reform as the key unfinished task in the institutional reform agreed in the Outcome Document one year earlier. Many leaders made reference to the Secretary-General's oft-repeated statement that "no reform of the United Nations would be complete without Security Council reform". We therefore welcome today's debate and hope that it will add new impetus to our discussion and prepare the ground for concrete action in the coming months.

Madam President,

I wish, first, to touch briefly upon the report of the Security Council, while thanking Ambassador Al-Nasser of Qatar, the Council President in December, for presenting it to the General Assembly. The report gives a summary of the activities of the Council over the past year, during which it addressed a number of increasingly diverse and ever more complex problems and challenges confronting the international community today. Japan has had the privilege to serve on the Council during the past two years and participated in its work actively and, hopefully, constructively.

As a member on the Council, Japan has sought to play an active role in two areas in particular, serving as chair of two of its subsidiary bodies: the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations and the Informal Working Group dealing with the working methods. Uppermost in our mind was to contribute to improving the transparency and broader participation of non-members, as well as increasing the efficiency and effectiveness in the work of the Council.

First, with regard to peacekeeping operations, the recent expansion of United Nations peacekeeping operations has been remarkable both in terms of the number of personnel and the variety of tasks entrusted to those operations. As of September 2006, there are 77,000 military and police personnel from 110 countries deployed in 18 missions, the costs for which exceeded US $5 billion in 2005. Operations of this magnitude cannot be sustained without the strong commitments of member states in the form of personnel and financial contributions as well as their political support. Some serious issues have also come to light, such as sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and misconduct in procurement. All this poses major, new challenges in the overall management of UN PKOs, which will require closer attention and a timely response by Member States. In the Security Council, the Working Group on PKOs can serve as an effective tool for the promotion of understanding among member states, by engaging in close, interactive dialogue with troop-contributing countries and other stakeholders.

It is with this in mind that we felt the need to rejuvenate this Working Group, and I believe this has been achieved to some extent during the past two years. In the process, efforts were made to ensure the broader participation of non-members, encompassing troop-contributing countries, major financial contributing countries and other important stakeholders. An attempt was also made to bring about a better interaction between this Working Group and the Bureau of the Special Committee on PKO in the General Assembly, the Committee of 34. A report on the work of the PKO Working Group will be issued separately soon, which gives an account of these activities. It is our hope that further efforts will be made to make good use of this working group, in order to enhance cooperation and coordination, particularly with the major stakeholders mentioned above. This would also contribute to greater transparency in the work of the Council in the important area of PKOs.

Second, regarding the issue of improving the working methods, Japan has led the effort as chair of the Council's Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions since February. As I reported in the plenary debate held in July, the Security Council adopted a certain number of specific measures formulated by the Working Group that would enhance the efficiency and transparency in the Council's work as well as its interaction and dialogue with non-Council members. These are compiled in the Note by the President of the Security Council, in document S/2006/507. Members of the Council are committed to implementing these measures set out in the Note. Admittedly, those measures agreed now represent a rather modest accomplishment compared with expectations - I am the first to admit that - but we believe it is a meaningful first step which should be built on with further measures. It is our strong hope that the Security Council will continue to actively pursue its endeavor to improve its working methods through this Working Group, for greater efficiency and transparency and larger non-member participation in its work. At the same time, I wish to acknowledge the important contributions made by the S5 countries in submitting a draft resolution during the sixtieth session. My delegation looks forward to their continued active engagement on this important issue.

Madam President,

On Security Council reform, the need for a change in the Council's composition and structure is now widely accepted by almost all Member States. Many delegations, including my own, have repeatedly stressed this point, citing many reasons. Most important is the plain fact that the challenges which the United Nations and the Security Council face today differ significantly from those confronted at the time of its foundation.

In the view of the many, the Security Council in its present form is no longer legitimate, nor is it as effective as it could be. The leader of one of the permanent members, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, was candid enough to admit as much in a speech delivered in the United States earlier this year. Everybody knows this to be true. In a joint communiqué issued this summer, two of the P5, France and the United Kingdom, expressed their continued support for Brazil, Germany, India and Japan as future permanent members, as well as permanent seats for Africa.

The Security Council must represent the political realities of the 21st century. A reformed Security Council must let major stakeholders, on which the implementation of Security Council decisions depends, participate in its decision-making; it must ensure developing countries an adequate say in Security Council matters; and it must commit to a meaningful reform of its working methods. All this can be achieved only through an expansion of the Council to better reflect the realities of today's world.

In Japan, a new government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made it clear that Japan intends to continue to pursue permanent membership in the Security Council as a matter of highest priority in seeking overall UN reform. Prime Minister Abe recently discussed this matter with the leaders of a number of countries, including the United States, China and Russia. My government intends to take further initiatives to this end. Japan is grateful to all the governments which have kindly expressed their support for Japan's aspired position.

However, discussion on the expansion of the Council has stalemated since the end of the fifty-ninth session. At the debate in July, many Member States stressed the need to start thinking outside the box and get real dialogue and negotiation started, instead of simply repeating the original positions taken by the various regional and other groups. In the same vein, there were also calls for all parties to be more open-minded in their approach.

On its part, Japan has been conducting informal but intensive discussions with all interested Member States, including those which publicly opposed the G4 draft resolution, while maintaining the cooperation framework of the G4.

Madam President,

I would like to reiterate here what we said in September at the General Debate: We need a new proposal, one that is both creative and persuasive, with a view to reaching a decision within the sixty-first session. Japan continues to believe that the Security Council must be reformed through expansion of both the permanent and non-permanent categories, to make it more representative, more efficient and more transparent, with enhanced effectiveness and legitimacy. This we believe is the view shared by an overwhelming majority of Member States, including many African countries.

Building on the past joint efforts of the G4, its co-sponsors and other Member States, we are now actively considering concrete ideas that might provide a basis for further discussion, and we hope to be able to present them for wider consultation with all interested groups and individual countries in due course. We also encourage other groups and interested countries to come up with new ideas and proposals that could generate broader support among the membership. We hope that the next stage in the process of consultations will be one that is open, flexible and creative on all sides.

We should bring the fifteen-year discussion of Security Council debate to a conclusion. The time is ripe for it. In this year that marks the fiftieth anniversary of Japan's membership in the United Nations, the Japanese delegation intends to spare no effort to ensure that the Security Council reform efforts will achieve concrete results during the current session. To this end, we look forward to working closely with all interested Member States and groups.

Thank you.

Related Information (United Nations Reform)
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