Statement by H.E. Mr. Yukio Takasu
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations

At the 24th informal meeting of the plenary on the intergovernmental negotiations
on the question of equitable representation on
and increase in the membership of the Security Council
and other matters related to the Council:

The Second Round: Exchange III
22 June 2009, New York

Mr. Chairman,

Thank you for convening today's meeting. I am confident that, as we complete the second round with today's meeting, we will be able to achieve a good basis for determining the most viable reform options in the third round. We continue to pledge our full support to your work.

I will address today's agenda, namely, the issues of the veto, working methods and the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly. I will also briefly touch upon how we should proceed in the next stage.

In the course of the second round of negotiations, it has become clear once again that an overwhelming number of countries believe, like Japan, that expansion of both categories of membership, permanent and non-permanent, is essential in order to make the Council more representative and legitimate, and to reflect the realities of today's world. Among those representatives of Member States who supported the expansion of both categories, many, including those of African countries, CARICOM States and Pacific Small Island and Developing States, affirmed their position that, so long as the veto has not been abolished, it should be granted to all new permanent members.

Japan fully appreciates such a position as a matter of principle. At the same time, we recognize that not a few Member States strongly believe that the use of the veto should be discouraged and therefore oppose extending the right of veto to new permanent members. It is also important to bear in mind the stringent requirement of ratification of amendments to the Charter by all of the P5. Therefore, in order to achieve viable reform, we need to seek a solution aimed at discouraging the use of the veto rather than expanding it.

For that reason, we believe that the solution that the veto should be given to new permanent members, but accompanied by their commitment not to use it pending a future review, is the most realistic way forward. Once all other parts of a reform package that is likely to garner the broadest possible political agreement emerge, the issue of the veto should not be allowed to stop the process of Security Council reform.

For the sake of equity between the P5 and new permanent members that commit to not exercising the veto by this formula, it would represent substantial progress if the P5 countries could implement measures to enhance accountability and transparency in respect of the use of the veto, such as providing an explanation when they exercise the veto or making a pledge to exercise this right with restraint. We consider that the issue of the use of the veto should be considered through improvement in the Council's working methods as well.

Mr. Chairman,

Whatever the scope of enlargement of the reformed Council may ultimately be, the Council membership will still constitute only a fraction of the entire UN membership. It is therefore essential that the Council continue to make its decision-making process transparent and accountable to all Member States in order to gain their support and understanding. The 2005 World Summit Outcome document (A/RES/60/1) stipulated this as one of the main objectives of Council reform.

It is also essential to provide assurances to all Member States that the Security Council is deliberating and acting on behalf of all of them. Only in this way will the entire membership be convinced that decisions of the Council are outcomes that fully reflect the diverse positions, perspectives and concerns of the entire membership, and thus that they should continue to accept its decisions as carrying full legitimacy, in accordance with Article 25 of the Charter.

Japan's work and contributions in this area are well known. The Security Council approved in 2006 a Note by the President (S/2006/507) concerning the improvement of the working methods of the Security Council, which was prepared under Japan's chairmanship of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions. As the current Chair of the same Working Group in the Security Council, Japan continues to make utmost efforts to improve the Council's working methods and the transparency of its work, by increasing the involvement of Member States not members of the Council in its work, as appropriate, and enhancing its accountability.

We are confident that, through these and other additional measures and also mutual respect for the two bodies' distinct responsibilities as defined in the Charter, the relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council will be further strengthened.

Mr. Chairman,

With today's meeting, we complete the second round. I would like to thank you for your personal efforts and commitment to mobilize us all in this negotiation process. We shall continue and intensify this momentum towards an early reform of the Security Council.

Here we should remind ourselves what the objective of intergovernmental negotiations is. As agreed in GA decision 62/557, the purpose of intergovernmental negotiations for Security Council reform is, drawing upon the consultations lasting over 15 years, to seek a solution for a Council reform package which would garner the widest possible support among Member States. It is not to go back to the original point and start consultations again, but to move forward to negotiations to seek a solution and agreement.

During the last meeting, many delegations suggested that narrowing down the options would be the best way forward for negotiations. We agree with this approach. With that in mind, we wish you to prepare a paper before the start of the third around, containing a limited number of options, narrowed down from those specified in the Overview of 18 May. Such a paper could reflect the views expressed on the viable options during the second round.

For example, the overwhelming majority of Member States expressed their support for the expansion of both categories in the meetings on 11 and 12 June. During these meetings, only 11 countries expressed their opposition to the expansion of both categories.

A proposal was made by some colleagues in the last meeting to hold a special session on an intermediary approach. Many speakers including myself already explained in the last meeting that the intermediary proposal to create a new category of non-permanent seats, with terms of, for instance, 3-5 years, is not acceptable as a viable reform because it will not change the status quo of the Council nor reflect current world realities. We therefore do not see any compelling reason to give special status to an intermediary approach in our forthcoming negotiations, because the purpose is to seek a solution which would garner the widest possible support.

Japan would prefer instead to focus on viable options such as the expansion of both categories, which received overwhelming support during the first and second rounds of negotiations. The most practical approach in the third round would be to build upon the outcome of the first and second rounds and conduct focused negotiations on a limited number of options emanating from the first and the second rounds. We could leave aside options such as the expansion of only the non-permanent category, which, under any circumstances, is unlikely to achieve the widest possible political acceptance. This is the way in which we believe that we can move forward the process of negotiations by narrowing differences and seek a reform package which is acceptable to the greatest number of Member States.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Related Information (United Nations Reform)
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