Chapter VI. Activities at the United Nations and Other International Cooperation
Section 1. Political Issues
1. 41st Session of the United Nations General Assembly
The 41st session of the United Nations General Assembly opened on September 16, 1986, with Humayun Rasheed Choudhury, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, as its president. Foreign Minister Tadashi Kuranari made a general statement on September 23, which underscored Japan's more positive cooperation with the United Nations as it marked the 30th anniversary of its admission to the organization in 1956. He pointed out that the United Nations, faced with a serious financial crisis and the urgent need for strengthening its functions, stands at a major crossroads and made a strong appeal for the strengthening of the functions of the United Nations. Specifically, Foreign Minister Kuranari urged for the adoption of the report worked out by the Group of High-level Intergovernmental Experts and for promotion of administrative and financial reforms at the United Nations through an early implementation of the recommendations contained in the said report. He also called for the strengthening of the United Nations' peace-keeping functions through revitalization of the Security Council, strengthening of the role of the Secretary-General and other measures. In addition, Foreign Minister Kuranari, as a politician from the City of Nagasaki, made a strong appeal for the encouragement of disarmament, as well as the total abolishment of nuclear weapons. His statement drew a high praise from other member States.
The session started with all the member states having a sense of growing crisis at the United Nations. Japan for its part made strenuous efforts toward the adoption of the report by the Group of High-level Intergovernmental Experts with a view to the implementation of administrative and financial reform of the United Nations, for which Japan took the strong initiative. The report was ultimately adopted by consensus in December, just before the end of the 41st session. This was an epoch-making event in the history of the United Nations and also the most important accomplishment of the 41st General Assembly session.
The year 1986 marked the 30th year since Japan's admission to the United Nations. In November, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a ceremony to commemorate the 30th anniversary, where the Japanese Government confirmed its policy to further intensify cooperation with activities of the United Nations in the future.
Furthermore, to contribute more positively to maintaining international peace and security through the United Nations, Japan ran for election to the Security Council and was elected as non-permanent member for the sixth time. This was a great accomplishment for Japan to respond to expectations placed upon it by other countries and also to strengthen Japan's cooperation with the United Nations in the political aspect as well.
Japan was also successful in getting elected to all the seats it stood for, including the International Law Commission (ILC), the Committee on Planning and Coordination (CPC) which considers United Nations budgets, and other important organs, and thus was able to form the groundwork for its further contributions to activities of the United Nations.
2. Major Political Issues at the United Nations
(1) Middle East and Other Problems
(a) U.S.-Libya Conflict
In March 1986, Libyan forces fired missiles at U.S. forces operating in international waters in the Gulf of Sidra, and the United States responded with missile attacks on the Libyan vessels and an air defense facility in Sirte, resulting in an increased tension between the two countries. The Security Council held several meetings from late March through April to discuss the situation. In the meantime, a Trans World Airlines (TWA) jet was exploded in a terrorist attack on April 2, and a bomb explosion occurred at a discotheque bar in West Berlin on April 5. The United States held the Libyan Government responsible for the West Berlin incident and bombarded Libyan military facilities in Tripoli and Benghazi on April 15.
The Security Council met immediately to discuss the incident. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other countries submitted a draft resolution condemning the armed attack by the United States, but the United States, Britain and France vetoed it.
The General Assembly, at its 41st session, took up the issue at the request of Libya in November, and a resolution condemning the U.S. attack against Libya in April was adopted by a vote of 79 to 28, with 33 countries abstaining. Japan voted against the resolution in the belief that it clearly lacked the balance by making no reference to international terrorism.
(b) Middle East Situation
In 1986, the Security Council also discussed the situation in the West Bank, the situation in Lebanon and other issues, and adopted a resolution in December regarding the killing of students of Bir Zeit University in the West Bank by the Israeli occupation forces. The fighting between the Shiite militia group, Amal, and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) intensified over the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon from September 1986 through early 1987. The President of the Security Council on several occasions issued the statements appealing for self-restraint in violence and emergency assistance for refugees. In February 1987, Japan extended an emergency assistance of $300,000 through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
The General Assembly adopted resolutions similar with those adopted in 1985 on the situation in the Middle East, the question of Palestine and other issues. Japan voted for the resolution on the convening of an International Peace Conference in the Middle East since it contained the idea for the establishment of a preparatory committee with the participation of the permanent members of the Security Council and, after the deletion of denunciations of specific countries by name, was also milder as a whole than the resolution adopted in 1985.
(2) Iran-Iraq Conflict
In February 1986, as Iran intensified its offensive on the southern front, the Security Council was convened to discuss the situation at the request of Iraq and other countries. The Security Council adopted resolution 582, which deplored the initial acts that gave rise to the conflict between the two countries as well as the bombing of civilian targets, attacks on neutral shipping or civilian aircraft and the use of chemical weapons, called for a cessation of all hostilities and withdrawal of all troops, and urged a comprehensive exchange of prisoners-of-war.
In the light of rising speculation about Iran's massive land attack in autumn, the Security Council met again in October and adopted resolution 588, which called upon both Iran and Iraq to implement resolution 582. Iran, as in the past, did not participate in these discussions at the Security Council.
As the fighting escalated on the southern front from late 1986 through early 1987, the President of the Security Council on several occasions issued the statements calling for the two parties' self-restraint. The Secretary-General also issued similar statements after holding informal consultations with countries concerned in his effort for a peaceful settlement.
The General Assembly, as it did in the previous year, postponed the discussing of the item concerned.
(3) Afghanistan Issue
In seeking a political settlement of the Afghanistan issue, proximity talks through the intermediation of United Nations Under-Secretary-General Diego Gorovez were held in Geneva between the Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and Afghanistan in three rounds after December 1985-May 1986, July through August 1986 and February through March 1987. Since they had generally agreed on the three issues of non-interference and nonintervention, voluntary repatriation of refugees, and international guarantees, the latest three rounds of talks focused on the time-frame for withdrawal of foreign troops. Though the two countries narrowed their differences over the time-frame to less than one year, they failed to reach an agreement.
The General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops on a vote of 122 to 20 with 11 abstentions, as against the 122-19 vote with 12 abstentions in the previous year.
(4) Southern Africa Issue
Amid mounting international criticism in recent years against the apartheid policy of the South African Government, the "World Conference on Sanctions against Racist South Africa" was held in Paris in June 1986, in accordance with a resolution adopted by the 40th session of the General Assembly to consider specific and effective measures to end apartheid. (Japan participated in the conference as observer.)
The "International Conference for the Immediate Independence of Namibia" was held in Vienna in July under the sponsorship of the United Nations. The conference adopted the "Vienna Declaration" and the "Action Program" calling for international cooperation to expedite the independence of Namibia. (Japan joined the meeting also as observer.)
At the 41st session of the General Assembly, a total of eight resolutions were adopted, including the one calling upon the Security Council urgently to take action under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter with a view to applying comprehensive and mandatory sanctions against South Africa. In view of its consistent policy of strong opposition to apartheid, Japan voted for three of the eight resolutions and abstained from voting on five.
In February 1987, the Security Council held a meeting on the problem of South Africa and discussed a joint draft resolution for sanctions against South Africa submitted by Argentina, Congo and three other countries. The draft resolution, similar in content with the U.S. Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, proposed 19 actions, including the prohibition on the importation of Kruggerrands and South African military materials and the prohibition on loans to the South African regime. But it was rejected as the United States and the United Kingdom exercised their vetoes. (Japan abstained.)
The Security Council also held a meeting on the Namibia problem in April 1987. Argentina, Congo and three other countries jointly submitted a draft resolution seeking comprehensive mandatory sanctions against South Africa under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, but it was vetoed by the United States and the United Kingdom. (Japan abstained.)
(5) Kampuchean Problem
On the problem of Kampuchean representation at the United Nations, the representation by Democratic Kampuchea was maintained without voting at the 41st session of the General Assembly, as a report of the Credentials Committee saying it accepts the credentials of representatives of member states including Democratic Kampuchea was approved at a plenary meeting in October.
Regarding the situation in Kampuchea, the General Assembly at a plenary meeting in October adopted by a vote of 115 to 21 with 13 abstentions (114 to 21 with 16 abstentions in the previous General Assembly session) the exercise of a resolution calling for the withdrawal of all foreign troops and the right of the Kampuchean people to self-determination and requesting the Secretary-General to continue to exercise his good offices. This resolution was submitted by 60 countries, including Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
(6) Central America
In October, the Security Council considered the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the Nicaraguan case and put to a vote a draft resolution calling for immediate and full compliance with the ICJ judgment on Military and Paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua. Immediately after it was rejected by the veto of the United States, Nicaragua asked the General Assembly, in a letter to its president, to consider the issue of the immediate implementation of the ICJ judgment. The 41st General Assembly session, on November 3, adopted a draft resolution calling for full and immediate compliance with the judgment of the ICJ of June 27, 1986, in the case of "Military and Paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua" on a vote of 94 to 3, with 47 abstentions, including Japanese. Also, on November 18, the General Assembly adopted another draft resolution which confirmed the need to observe principles of international law for the global and comprehensive settlement of the conflict in Central America through talks, acknowledging efforts toward that goal by the Contadora Group and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
(a) New Caledonia
In December the South Pacific Forum countries, led by Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, submitted to the 41st session of the General Assembly a resolution seeking the reinscription of New Caledonia on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, claiming that the new French Government's policy toward New Caledonia is a destabilizing factor in the South Pacific region. France asserted that the people of New Caledonia already had extensive self-government and had a full opportunity to determine their own future since a referendum on independence was scheduled for the summer of 1987. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 89 to 24, with 34 abstentions. Japan voted in favor of it, because Japan, belonging to the Asia-Pacific region and supporting the principle of self-determination of peoples, could not oppose, in principle, to the involvement of the United Nations in the problem.
In May 1986, the United Nations Trusteeship Council adopted a resolution urging the United States to quickly terminate the trusteeship agreement with Micronesia, believing that the people of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands freely exercised their right to self-determination. In October, the United States informed the Secretary-General of a shift to a free association or a commonwealth between the Trust Territory, excluding Palau Islands, and the United States. The Soviet Union and some other countries opposed the U.S. action and asserted the termination of the trusteeship agreement would require approval of the Security Council as the Trust Territory is designated as a "strategic area," but they have taken no specific action against it as of April 1987.
(8) Peace-Keeping Operations
The situation between Syria and Israel remained calm and no serious affairs occurred throughout 1986. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) fulfilled its function effectively and its mandate was extended to the end of May 1987.
As for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), various measures were taken to reinforce the security of the Force after a number of attacks on the Force by local militia and other groups in southern Lebanon. Its mandate was extended until July 1987.
The mandate of the United Nations Peace-Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was also extended until June 1987. UNFICYP's operations are financed by voluntary contributions from member states, but insufficient contributions caused an increased deficit in the Force.
(9) United Nations Chatter Review
The Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations has the mission of considering the three issues-(a) maintenance of international peace and security, (b) peaceful settlement of dispute, and (c) rationalization of the existing procedures at the United Nations. The 41st session of the General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution renewing the committee's mandate. The committee met for a 12th session in New York in February 1987, and made substantial progress in its consideration of the "Working Paper on the Prevention of Dispute" (cosponsored by Japan), an early adoption of which was called for by Foreign Minister Kuranari at the 41st session of the General Assembly.
to table of contents