Section 4. Cooperation with United Nations Activities


1.   The United Nations Past Forty

(1)  The United Nations is the most universal organization existing today for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international cooperation aimed at economic, social, cultural and humanitarian development for all nations.

  Founded in 1945, the United Nations marked its 40th anniversary in 1985. During the period, its membership has increased from the initial 51 countries at its inception to 159 countries (Chart 1). Its activities have, as international political and economic climates change, developed to cover an extremely wide range of fields so that today, the United Nations has grown in both scale and function to deserve the credit of a universal organization.

  In October, the United Nations held a session in commemoration of the40th anniversary of its foundation. Prime Minister Nakasone represented Japan and delivered a commemorative speech.

(2)  On the other hand, it is also true that there is persistent criticism that the present situation is far from the ideal expressed in the United Nations Charter.

  First, with regard to the maintenance of international peace and security, it is pointed out that the collective security system, centering around the Security Council as envisaged by the drafter of the United Nations Charter, is not functioning against the background of the cold war between East and West.

  Secondly, the concept of "New International Economic Order" was introduced in the 1970s following developing countries' calls for reform of the international economic order centered on the industrialized countries, and this has resulted in debate divorced from economic realities on account of the numerical strength of the developing countries.

  Thirdly, as seen in the recent furor over the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the problems inherent in the organization's politicization and unnecessary expansion are coming increasingly to the fore. Now that the member nations face harsh financial conditions, peoples' trust in the United Nations has begun to shake.

(3)  In response to these criticisms, the United Nations continues to search for realistic ways to solve its problems. There is a gradual but growing awareness that the problems facing the United Nations are nothing but problems of the member States themselves. It can be said that neither excessive pessimism nor the argument that the United Nations is useless is justifiable, just as groundless optimism cannot be accepted.

  For instance, with regard to the maintenance of international peace and security, the initial scheme of collective security system was taken over by the scheme of "peace-keeping operations (PKO)" which is intended, with the consent of the parties to the dispute, to interpose in an area of dispute, oversee ceasefires, and prevent resumption of hostilities. The scheme has played an important role in preventing the recurrence and escalation of disputes, mainly in the Middle East, and has gained wide international acceptance. In addition, the General Assembly and the Secretary-General of the United Nations are now playing increasingly important roles in settling disputes.

  As for economic problems, the developing countries have come to be more aware that the adoption of resolution by the pressure of majority is meaningless by itself and the consensus among all concerned nations, including the industrialized countries, is necessary for the solution of problems. This is well reflected in that the resort to "consensus method" in adopting resolutions has increased in recent years.

  Furthermore, with regard to the problems inherent in the organization, there is a growing tendency to tighten the finances and to revitalize the machinery through mutual cooperation between the secretariat and member States. At the 40th Session of the General Assembly in 1985, a series of specific proposals were made by various parties.

(4)  Now that there have been many problems which cannot be solved unless dealt with internationally, it can be said that the existence of the United Nations itself as a universal organization constitutes the common interest of the international community. It will be necessary to further promote efforts by the United Nations and the member States from a long-term perspective, in order to strengthen the functions of the United Nations and respond to the expectations of the people and the needs of present days.


Chart 1. UN Membership by Region


Chart 2. Major Contributions to UN Regular Budget


Chart 3. Financial Contributions to UN Organizations (*1)


Chart 4. Financial Contributions to UN Organizations

(based upon 1983 to 1984 disbursements)


2.   Japan and the United Nations

(1)  Japan has consistently attached importance to international cooperation through the United Nations ever since its admission in 1956. With what is now the second-largest financial contributor following the United States (Chart 2), Japan assumes a great responsibility for revitalizing the United Nations.

(2)  One of the issues requiring Japan's urgent attention is that of administrative and fiscal reform of the United Nations. At the 40th General Assembly, Foreign Minister Abe suggested the establishment of "a group of eminent persons to increase the efficiency of the United Nations" from the standpoint that it is urgent that efforts be made so that limited resources would be efficiently used, the organizational efficiency of the United Nations would be increased, and it would respond to the expectation of the people.

  A draft resolution on the matter was adopted by consensus in December1985 and "the Group of High-level Intergovernmental Experts" was inaugurated at its first meeting in February 1986. (The group consists of 18 members. Mr. Saito, former ambassador to the United Nations, representing Japan, took part in the group.)

  This group plans to discuss ways to improve efficiency, budget and financing, and measures to implement them. It plans to submit are commendation to the General Assembly by the opening of its 41st session. Now that attention is focused on the administrative and financial problems of the United Nations which is facing an unprecedented financial crisis, the member States hold the strong expectation that the Group would achieve tangible results.

(3)  On the other hand, there is a need to press the United Nations harder to have a larger number of Japanese employed by the U.N. organizations so that Japan will be able to extend more cooperation for various U.N. activities. (As of the end of 1985, Japanese nationals employed in the U.N. Secretariat totaled122. This was far smaller than a desirable number of 171 to 232 sets on the basis of the percentage of Japan's contribution to the regular budget of the United Nations among other factors.)


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