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: "regional representation"

24 March 2009, New York

Mr. Chairman,

Thank you for holding today's meeting. I am confident that the interactive negotiations according to your proposed schedule of work during the first round will facilitate the submission of an overview paper and serve as a good basis for the second round.

Today's agenda is "regional representation". However, the concept of "regional representation" has not been clearly defined.

(Equitable geographical distribution)

The Charter provides some guidance in this regard, as "equitable geographical distribution" is mentioned in paragraph 1 of Article 23 as an element to be considered in the election of non-permanent members. However, it is also important to stress that 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 in the first instance for non-permanent members. By stating that due regard should also be paid to equitable geographical distribution, the Charter treats this as an additional factor to be considered.

However, I hasten to add that this does not downgrade the importance of equitable geographical distribution in the Council. Having members in the Security Council from different regions in an equitable manner enables the Council to reflect diverse views, including, when addressing a conflict, those of the particular region in which the conflict has emerged, and thus to facilitate the most appropriate responses by the Council.

At the same time, we should keep in mind what the role of a non-permanent member of the Council is, not to mention that of a permanent member. Neither a non-permanent nor permanent member should voice its own interests or that of its region. The Security Council and its members should act on behalf of all Member States as stipulated in paragraph 1 of Article 24 of the Charter.

(Current composition)

The composition of the Security Council has not been revised for more than 40 years. The membership of the UN has nearly doubled. In particular, the number of member states from Asia and Africa expanded dramatically during these years. For example, in the Asia group, there were 25 Member States at the time of the last revision of the Security Council, and now there are 53. As a result, the countries in Asia and Africa, in particular, have become heavily under-represented, meaning that the percentage of Council seats allotted to each group is significantly lower than that of its respective UN membership.

In discussing the issue of under-representation in the Security Council, the "regional representation" cluster is inseparable from those of "categories of membership" and "size of an enlarged Council". We need to reform the current composition of the Security Council in such a way that the issue of under-representation would be resolved, taking into account those regions especially under-represented.

In any reform package, such serious inequity must be rectified in the allocation of additional members, both permanent and non-permanent.

(Permanent members)

I have to emphasize again that through reform both the permanent and non-permanent categories should be expanded in order to reflect today's global political reality, change the status quo and increase the legitimacy of the Council's decisions.

In considering new permanent members, the primary qualifications must be exceptional contributions to the maintenance of international peace and security and to other purposes of the UN.

It is also important to take into account equitable geographical balance among permanent members as well.

(Regional seats and other formulations for selection)

Some delegations have proposed "regional seats". The concept is not clearly defined yet. My preliminary comments are as follows.

First, new additional Council members should be elected by the General Assembly on the basis of their qualifications. And once elected by the entire membership, Security Council members should have global accountability and an obligation to act on behalf of the Members States as a whole.

Second, it should be stressed that each regional group has a different set of functions and working procedures.

We also heard other proposals and suggestions relating to representation based on various criteria, including for small and medium-sized states, etc. We appreciate the rationale behind such proposals to improve the representation and access to the work of the Council for those countries as a factor to be taken into account in considering allocation of additional seats and working methods in a reformed Council.

At the same time, we are mindful of the merit of the current system in which each Member State belongs to only one category, namely geographical group, from which it seeks to be elected as a non-permanent member.

The objectives of these proposals and suggestions could be further discussed in the context of categories of membership, size for an enlarged Security Council and the working methods of the Security Council.

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