Section 2.  The United Nations at Forty and Japan in the United Nations


1.  The United Nations at Forty

Founded on October 24, 1945, by "the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind," the United Nations will be forty years old this October. With the passage of these two score years, the United Nations has undergone numerous changes which were not foreseen by its founders.


UN Membership by Region


A.  The number of United Nations member countries has grown from 51 at the time of its founding to 159 today (Brunei becoming the 159th member when it was admitted at the 39th General Assembly), and the geographical distribution of member countries has shifted radically. As the United Nations has grown into a truly universal organization encompassing virtually all members of the international community, its scope of activity has also been considerably broadened, as illustrated in the growing number of United Nations Resolutions, their changing nature, and the growth in the budget required by the United Nations Secretariat.


Increases in UN Regular Budget Over Past Forty Years


B.  There have also been major changes over the past forty years in the purpose stated in Article 1 of the United Nations Charter of preserving international peace and stability. The founders of the United Nations envisioned the Security Council as the primary instrument for establishing and maintaining international peace and security. Envisioning a stable international order of peace and stability maintained through cooperation among the five great powers, they appointed the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, China, and France as permanent members of the Security Council and gave each of them a veto over some categories of Security Council's determinations. However, this dream was shattered as the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union surfaced and East-West relations deteriorated, and the exercise of this veto made it impossible to' achieve agreement among the permanent members of the Security Council and hence made it impossible for the United Nations to deal effectively with conflicts. (Until the mid-1960s, the Soviet Union exercised its veto primarily on membership issues, and after the mid-1960s the United States exercised its veto primarily on questions having to do with the Middle East. As of the end of 1984, the Soviet Union had exercised its veto 120 times and the United States 38 times.)

The United Nations has thus created so-called peace-keeping operations (PKO) to deal with this situation. With no intent of engaging in fighting, these peace-keeping operations are intended, with the consent of the parties to the dispute, to interpose in an area of dispute, attempt to oversee a ceasefire, prevent the resumption of hostilities, and otherwise restore and maintain the peace. With the stalemate between the United States and the Soviet Union, such United Nations peace-keeping operations have gained wide international acceptance. Playing an important role in preventing the recurrence of fighting, peace-keeping operations are exemplified by the United Nations Interim Force in Southern Lebanon dividing Lebanon and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force separating Israel and Syria.


C.  As it has become clear that the United Nations can play only a limited role in preserving international peace and stability, the United Nations has turned its attentions increasingly to the economic and social issues which are the primary concerns of many younger countries, most of them developing countries. With the designation of the United Nations Development Decade for the 1960s at the suggestion of President Kennedy, a number of new specialized agencies were created within the United Nations, including the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations Development Programme, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

Responding to the developing countries' calls for reform of the international economic order centered on the industrialized countries, the United Nations held a special session on raw materials and development in 1974 at which the New International Economic Order (NIEO) concept was adopted, and the NIEO has since been a major ideological underpinning for economic debates within the United Nations. In recent years, however, as the developing countries have clung to this NIEO concept even as it becomes increasingly divorced from economic realities, the lack of progress in substantive debate has led to increasing disappointment in the United Nations approach and multilateral approaches in general.

At the same time, strong expectations continue to be expressed for the initiatives taken by the Secretary General and the entire United Nations system in assistance for Africa as well as the down-to-earth practical cooperation offered by the United Nations specialized agencies in the social and economic fields, and it is hoped that the actual functioning of the United Nations can be strengthened in these areas.


UN Peace- keeping Operations


D.  With the developing countries' majority in the United Nations banded together in the Group of 77 and other interest-groups, it frequently happened that the sheer weight of their numbers resulted in the adoption of resolutions which were unacceptable to the industrialized countries. However, as the developing countries have come to realize that these resolutions are in themselves meaningless without unanimous support and that the agreement of all the countries concerned is essential if their problems are to be solved, they have moved more toward ironing out differences and seeking agreement before a resolution is put to a vote.


E.  While the United Nations has made determined efforts to respond to the changing international situation as outlined above, the situation is still such that serious review of the organization's functioning is needed at this fortieth anniversary of the United Nations' founding. For example, while the peace-keeping operations are proving somewhat effective, they are still far from what was envisioned when the United Nations was founded; and the United Nations has yet to be able to mount a vigorous effort to solve the North-South problem. In addition, as seen in the recent furor over the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, the problems inherent in the organization's politicization and bloating are also coming increasingly to the fore. With the many problems which cannot be solved except with international cooperation -- including the drought in Africa, desertification, environmental issues, and population problems -- it is now more important than ever before that we revitalize the United Nations as a truly universal organization for international cooperation.


2.  Japan in the United Nations


A.  Japan has consistently strengthened its cooperation within the United Nations ever since its admission in 1956. With what is now the second-largest financial contributor among the member states, Japan has become one of the most important countries both in supporting United Nations activities and in the United Nations' revitalization. One of the issues requiring Japan's urgent attention is that of administrative and fiscal reform of the United Nations organization. If the United Nations is to use its finite resources efficiently and improve the effectiveness of the organization, it is essential that the United Nations do away with low-priority programs, and this in turn requires that immediate efforts be made to hold down staffing and budgeting so as to create a leaner and more effective organization.


B.  At the same time, it is imperative that greater efforts be made to recruit more Japanese for the United Nations and its specialized agencies so as to facilitate even greater Japanese cooperation with United Nations activities. (Although there were 113 Japanese employed by the United Nations Secretariat as of the end of June 1984, this is far fewer than the desirable range of 172-233 as calculated on the basis of Japan's assessment for the United Nations regular budget and other factors.


Major Contributors' Contributions to UN Regular Budget


Financial Contributions to UN Organizations (*1)


C.  Aware of its responsibilities toward the United Nations, Japan has been active in United Nations foreign policy efforts in 1984.


a.  The 39th Session of the United Nations General Assembly designated the critical economic situation in Africa as the top-priority issue of discussion. With the ardent appeal for support for Africa which Foreign Minister Abe made in his address to the General Assembly, Japan provided strong momentum for the discussion of this issue and helped to concentrate the international community's energies on this problem. Because the African countries themselves adopted a pragmatic line with the priority on emergency assistance, the Declaration on the Critical Economic Situation in Africa was adopted unanimously by the General Assembly. At the request of the President of the General Assembly, backed by the unanimous request of the African caucus, Japan accepted a coordinator's role on this issue. Japan pressed strongly for Secretariat action, and the idea of total mobilization of the United Nations organization for assistance to Africa as proposed by Foreign Minister Abe was given form by the establishment of a special task force under the Officer for Emergency Operations in Africa.


b.  Japan is also playing a leading role on the issue of administrative and fiscal reform for the United Nations organization, and it was Japan which proposed the compromise in the difficult negotiations on remunerations for international civil servants that was ultimately adopted in this session without a vote after vigorous efforts for coordination.


c.  With the increasing international recognition of Japan's role, Japan has been elected to the International Court of Justice, the Economic and Social Council, and a number of other important posts.


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