Talking Points of Ambassador Yukio Takasu
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At the informal plenary of the General Assembly
on Security Council reform: "the question of the veto"

16 March 2009, New York

Mr. Chairman,

Thank you for convening today's meeting to discuss the second cluster of issues for reform: the question of the veto. We are also grateful to you for your helpful letter of 13 March. I am confident that as we continue to work on the five clusters in accordance with the agreed work plan, we will be able to achieve a good basis for the second stage of negotiations starting in May.

It is quite understandable that many Member States, having experienced and witnessed how the substantive decisions of the Security Council were affected in the past by the positions of the five permanent members, have expressed doubts with regard to the veto power itself as well as to the way in which the right of the veto is exercised.

Generally speaking, the exercise of the right of the veto and the implicit veto should be self-restrained to the maximum extent possible. The use of the veto merely to advance national interests should be strongly discouraged. It must avoid hindering the ability of the Security Council to perform its responsibility under the Charter to ensure prompt and effective action by the UN.

In past discussions, several suggestions have been made to restrict the use of the veto by the P5. Some Member States proposed formulating rules for the use of the veto. At the same time, however, we should be realistic before considering a legally binding restriction on the use of the veto, in view of the ratification requirement by all of the P5.

It would constitute great progress if the P5 countries could carry out appropriate measures to enhance accountability and transparency, such as providing an explanation in cases in which they exercise the veto or making a pledge to exercise this right with restraint.

Mr. Chairman,

As I stated in the plenary on the last cluster of issues, Japan strongly supports the expansion of both the permanent and non-permanent categories of membership. The expansion of the permanent membership is essential to reform the status quo of the Security Council and to reflect the reality of the world in which we live. Regarding the veto for new permanent members, not a few Member States, including the 53 African countries, take the position that new permanent members should be accorded the same right as the current permanent members as a matter of principle. We fully appreciate such a principled position.

Equally, we recognize and share the view that no Member State wishes to see an enlarged Council that may not function properly or act promptly due to the veto power of the existing and new permanent members.

Therefore, we believe that the position that the veto should be extended to the new permanent members, but accompanied by their commitment not to use it pending the future review, is the most realistic way forward as a compromise solution.

The question of the veto is a very delicate and divisive issue. However, we have committed ourselves to follow the decision 62/557. Therefore, we must seek a solution for meaningful reform that does not divide us but unites us and which can garner the widest possible agreement among Member States. Then, the only possible way forward may be a solution such as the one we propose within the context of total reform, bridging diverse positions on this sensitive issue. The question of the veto should not derail or delay the process of Security Council reform.

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