Section 4. Roles of the United Nations and Other International Organizations, and Japan's Cooperation


1. United Nations Activities


(1) Overview


Since its establishment in 1945, the United Nations has been active in extensive areas including peace-keeping, arms control, the North-South problem, social and human rights issues. Following the progress made in East-West dialogue and other recent changes in the international situation, it has stepped up its activities while its roles and responsibilities are being expanded. In the area of peace-keeping, in particular, the United Nations has played an important role in Namibia achieving independence. - the last colony in Africa - and in the general elections held in Nicaragua in February 1990. The peace-keeping operations of the United Nations, traditionally geared to truce supervision activities, has expanded into more comprehensive activities including observation of elections, as occasioned by its operations in Namibia. In August 1990, the U.N. Security Council decided on comprehensive and mandatory sanctions, for the first time in the past 22 years against Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. At the same time, international cooperation extended through the United Nations and its organizations has become progressively important in dealing with global issues such as drugs and the environment.

The Soviet Union, which had previously not been active in U.N. activities, has shifted its position toward attaching importance to them under the Gorbachev Administration. Similarly, the United States under the Bush Administration, has proved its cooperative attitude with the U.N., indicating that it will pay up its arrears to the U.N. In this connection, at the 44th session of the General Assembly in 1989, the United States and the Soviet Union co-sponsored a resolution which called for the reinforcement of the roles of the United Nations in international peace, security, and international cooperation. This was the first joint proposal ever made by the two countries in U.N. history.

At the same time the United Nations still has its problems including financial difficulties and organizational reform in economic fields. Tackling these problems will be very important for the U.N. in winning the confidence of the international community in the future. Also the new trend in the world away from confrontation toward dialogue makes necessary a review of the systems and functions of the United Nations.

Since joining the world body in 1956, Japan has all along positioned cooperation with the United Nations as a major pillar of its diplomacy. It has cooperated in U.N. activities in a wide range of areas, making the second largest financial contributions among the member States next only to the United States. For instance, Japan has been actively supporting the United Nations University (UNU) (Note 1) and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) (Note 2), helping them set up their head offices in Japan.

As Japan's roles in the international community increase year by year, Japan's contribution to the United Nations is entering a new phase, as clearly seen in the dispatching of election observers for the recent U.N. peace-keeping operations. In September 1989, Foreign Minister Nakayama expressed at the 44th session of the U.N. General Assembly Japan's firm commitment to meeting global challenges, including permanent settlement of regional conflicts, advancement of arms control, continuation of economic prosperity, and preservation of the global environment, through support for the United Nations, and to contributing, through these efforts to world peace, stability and prosperity. And it was highly appreciated by many countries.


(2) Political Activities (For regional conflicts, see Section 1, Item 3 of this chapter)


(a) Namibia

In January 1989, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution to implement in April the resolution to establish the U.N. Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) and called for material and personnel support from member countries. In November, a constitutional assembly election was held under observation of the UNTAG. As a result, Namibia became independent in March 1990 and joined the United Nations in April.

Japan provided a $46 million special contribution to the UN-TAG as well as a $13,550,000 voluntary contribution as startup costs to purchase automobiles and other equipment. Also, Japan dispatched 27 election observers and a supporting staff. Japan's supply of personnel was highly rated by the international community as representing the country's initiation of its full-scale assistance in the U.N. peacekeeping operations.


(b) Central America

Conflicts in Central America made major progress toward a peaceful settlement thanks to an active role played by the United Nations. A general election was held on February 25, 1990. And, the Committee on International Assistance and Verification (CIAV), which was established by the United Nations and the Organization of-American States (OAS) in September 1989 in response to a request by Central American countries, started its activity to ensure the dissolution and repatriation of the anti-government guerrillas "Contras." Furthermore, the United Nations Observation Mission for Central America (ONUCA), established as a security verification mechanism at the U.N. Security Council in September 1989, disarmed the Contras under an agreement in May 1990 and is keeping watch on border areas.

Under these circumstances, the U.N. General Assembly held in October 1989 adopted by consensus a resolution appreciating peace-making efforts of the Central American countries and the United Nations and calling for the U.N. Secretary-General to sustain the U.N. contribution to the peace efforts in the region.

Japan sent six election observers to the United Nations Observation Mission for the Verification of the Elections in Nicaragua (ONUVEN), in addition to financial assistance, thereby contributing to the holding of free and fair Nicaraguan general elections.


(c) Cambodia

The U.N. General Assembly again adopted, by an overwhelming majority of 124 to 17 votes, a resolution initiated by ASEAN countries (Japan cosponsored the proposal) calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops, the establishment of an interim government, and promotion of national reconciliation under the leadership of Prince Sihanouk. While 1989 witnessed major developments related to the problem - the International Conference in Paris and the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops - Vietnam failed to break the unity of the ASEAN countries during the deliberations at the 44th session of the General Assembly. The resolution retained the part that said there must be no return to "the universally condemned policies and practices of a recent past," demonstrating deep rooted distrust and antipathy held by the international community toward the Khmer Rouge. Five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council held a series of private meetings in an effort to reach a comprehensive political settlement. A breakthrough for early peace came at their 6th meeting in August 1990, when the 5 agreed on comprehensive basic documents on a transitional administration which had been the key factor in guiding Cambodia to peace.

In the peace process, the right to represent Cambodia has become a major issue at the 45th U.N. General Assembly.


(d) The Middle East

The situation in the occupied territories, which worsened, became a major focus of the Middle East discussions at the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council. The 44th session of the General Assembly in 1989 passed, by a majority vote, an "intifada" (uprising) resolution denouncing Israel's policy on the occupied territories, an action which attested to a high degree of concern among countries about this issue. In a related development, the Security Council resolved again, as it did in July and August of 1989, that Israel's expulsion of Palestinians from 'the occupied territories violated the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

Regarding the emigration of the Jews from the Soviet Union which became a major issue in 1990, the U.N. Security Council held a session at the request of the Soviet Union between March through May 1990. But no resolution has been adopted.

Also, regarding the treatment of a resolution by the Security Council on the killings of Palestinian laborers by a retired soldier of the Israeli National Defense Forces on May 20, 1990, differences prevailed among parties concerned.

Another development was a proposal made to improve the PLO's status in the United Nations and help it obtain memberships in specialized agencies. Japan, which does not recognize the PLO as a state, takes a stand basically that such a proposal will not favor the peace process in the Middle East.


(e) Iran-Iraq

After the cease-fire in August 1988, the U.N. Secretary-General has hosted four Iran-Iraqi Foreign Ministers meetings in 1988 and 1989, but no significant progress has been made.

During the peace negotiations, over which the U.N. Secretary-General presided, practically no debate took place on the issue at the General Assembly and Security Council. In February 1990, however, the Chairman of the Security Council issued a statement in support of the peace efforts by the Secretary-General.


(f) South Africa

At its 44th session of the U.N. General Assembly in 1989, 12 resolutions related to apartheid were submitted to a vote and were adopted by an overwhelming majority as they had been in the previous years. A resolution seeking comprehensive sanctions, which censured the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) by name, was adopted over Japan's and other countries' opposition. The General Assembly's special session on apartheid held in December 1989, adopted unanimously a declaration, which was both constructive and harmonious. In his address to this session, then Parliamentary Vice Minister Tanaka of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated Japan's strong opposition to apartheid. He said Japan welcomed the policies of the de Klerk Government but would continue sanctions against the country so long as no substantial improvement was made.


(g) Western Sahara

Regarding a conflict between Morocco which claims territorial rights over the Western Sahara and the Polisario Front which demands secession from Morocco, the U.N. Secretary-General has been making mediation efforts since August 1988. In June 1990, on the basis of a peace proposal by the Secretary-General calling for direct talks for implementing a cease-fire and the holding of a U.N.-supervised referendum on the fate of the area, a meeting to ascertain the voters' register for the referendum was held. Also, a report was submitted to the U.N. Security Council seeking the establishment of the United Nations Observers for the Verification of Referendum on the Western Sahara (MINURSO) which would carry out the referendum, as well as an approval of a definite schedule of the peace process.


(3) Economic Activities


(a) Special Session of the General Assembly

The "18th Session of the General Assembly devoted to international economic cooperation, in particular the revitalization of economic growth and development of the developing countries" was held in April 1990. With representatives including more than 60 prime ministers and cabinet ministers in attendance, the session passed, a declaration with consensus. The first special session held on economic problems in 10 years since 1980 served to charter a direction of the North-South dialogue at the United Nations during the 1900s.


(b) International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction

Regarding the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, in which Japan plays a central role, the 44th U.N. General Assembly adopted, by consensus, a resolution on International Framework of Action. The resolution cosponsored by as many as 155 out of a total of 159 member countries declared the start of the decade as of January 1990, provided for the establishment of a special high-level council, a scientific and technological committee, a secretariat, and a trust fund, etc.


(c) Drift-Net Fishing Problem

Recently, indiscriminate catching of marine resources by large-scale drift-net fishing of cuttlefish in the Northern Pacific and albacore in the Southern Pacific has become an international issue. At the 44th U.N. General Assembly, draft resolutions were proposed by the United States and Japan: the U.S. resolution called for suspension of drift-net fishing after the lapse of a certain period of time, and Japanese resolution offered to take such measures if needed on the basis of scientific evidence. Following coordination efforts between Japan and the U.S., the General Assembly passed by consensus a resolution recommending all members of the international community to agree to moratoria on drift-net fishing by June 1992 with the understanding that such a measure will not be imposed, should effective conservation and management measures be taken.


(4) Human Rights Activities


Japan, maintaining a basic position that human rights possess a universal value of mankind and that they form the basis of the world's peace and stability, has actively taken part in U.N. activities related to human rights for the protection and promotion of human rights in the world. In May 1990, Japan was re-elected as a member of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

At the U.N. General Assembly in 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by consensus. At the same time, the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty was adopted. A large number of countries including Japan voted against or abstained because the protocol mandates the abolishment of capital punishment while there has been no international consensus on the issue.

On the other hand, changes in East-West relations have led to a marked decrease in the deliberations on human rights issues in Eastern countries, while attention has been drawn to developing countries. For instance, the human rights situation in Myanmar was taken up at the U.N. General Assembly in 1989 and the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Heated discussions ensued over a resolution related to human rights issues in China following the Tiananmen Square Incident.


Japanese Staff in International Organizations


As of January 1990, there were 932 Japanese nationals working for the United Nations, its specialized agencies, OECD and other international organizations. Of the number approximately 10% were executives, 53% professionals, and 37% general staff.

Although the number of Japanese nationals working for international organizations  has been increasing each it is still far below "the desirable range of the number of staff in posts subject to geographical distribution" established on the basis of factors; contribution, population, etc. The reasons for this situation are differences in working conditions, employment customs, schooling for children, and difficulty of finding employment after returning to Japan, etc.

According to a survey conducted in June 1989, the number of Japanese staff working for the United Nations was only 91, compared with the desirable range of 152-206.

The Recruitment Center for International Organizations was established in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in fiscal 1974 and has promoted the participation of Japanese staff at international organizations.


(5) Administrative and Financial Problems


(a) Administrative and financial reforms

The administrative and financial reforms recommended in a report of the Group of High-level Inter-governmental Experts, which was established under Japan's initiative, were carried out over a period of three years and a final report was submitted to the 44th General Assembly in 1989. The report noted that, over the three-year period, some progress had been made in some areas, such as introduction of a consensus formula in the budget deciding process, and a 12.1% reduction of the U.N. staff. At the same time, the report said little progress had been made in the reorganization and integration of the inter-governmental structures for economic and social operations. Now that the three year reform programs have been completed in 1989, it is necessary for Japan to sustain its efforts toward more efficient management of the United Nations with an aim to promoting its sound operation and revitalization.


(b) Financial crisis

The United Nations is in chronic financial difficulties. As of the end of 1989, the total amount of assessed contributions in arrears was approximately $46,116,000, which accounted for nearly 40% of the U.N. general budget. The Soviet Union, which had accumulated a large amount of contributions in arrears, has gradually changed its policy and has begun paying off the arrears in stages. In contrast, the default by the United States continued and accounted for about 80% of the total amount of the contributions in arrears to the U.N.

However, partly in view of the progress made in the administrative and financial reforms of the United Nations, the U.S. Government has since decided to pay up its share excepting the part which the U.S. has been refusing to pay for political reasons. According to its budget message for fiscal 1991, the U.S. Government budgeted the full amount of its assessed contributions to all the international organizations it is party to for the year 1990, and plans to pay off the outstanding arrears to international organizations and to the U.N. peace-keeping operations over the next five years. When these payments are completed, the financial position of the U.N. system will improve significantly.


(c) U.N. General Budget for Fiscal 1990/91

The 44th General Assembly in 1989 decided the U.N. general budget for fiscal 1990/91 (Note) amounting to $1974,630,000, a 10.4% increase over the previous fiscal year. With its contribution rate of 11.38% (the second largest share next to the United States), Japan's assessed contribution in 1990 amounted to around $90 million.


2. Other International Organizations


(1) The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

The OECD is an organization providing a forum for developed countries which share fundamental values and principles of politics and economy to freely discuss a broad range of topics other than politics and military affairs. Serving as the world opinion leader, the OECD has been searching for ways to ensure sustainable development of the world by identifying and analyzing potential problems which may confront the international community in the future. For instance, the OECD became concerned with the global environmental problem long before the problem came to attract attention worldwide as seen today. Accordingly, it has studied the problem from all angles by giving full play to its expertise in economic analysis. Also, the OECD has recently established the Center for Cooperation in Changing European Economies and is about to play a leading role in integrating East European countries into the world economy by providing these rapidly changing countries with knowledge and know-how on the market economy of OECD member countries.

Japan, highly appreciating such roles by the OECD, has actively taken part in all discussions at the OECD and extended financial contributions comparable to those of the United States. Thus, Japan has played a leading role matching its international presence.


(2) International Monetary Fund (IMF)

The IMF has been serving as the central pillar of the international financial system and playing an important part in promoting policy coordination among developed countries and dealing with the accumulated debt problem. In the future, it is expected to play an active role in assisting in reforms in Eastern Europe and promoting the "New Debt Strategy. "

At its Interim Committee held in May 1990, a need to further strengthen the IMF's financial position and measures for delinquent countries was emphasized. The committee then agreed on the 9th quota increase as well as the third amendment of its articles. As a result, by the end of 1991, IMF's capital resources will have been increased by 50% and the amendments of articles allowing the IMF to suspend the voting right of delinquent countries will have taken effect.

In connection with the 9th quota increase, Japan shared second place with West Germany in terms of quotas which form the basis of rights and duties related to the IMF. (For the World Bank and other international development financial institutions, see Section 2, Item 6 of this chapter.)


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   Note 1:  An international organization established to conduct research on urgent and worldwide problems related to survival, development, and well-being of all mankind and contribute to solution of the problems. In 1974, the headquarters was established in Tokyo and Japan provided various aid including a $100 million contribution to the University Fund.

   Note 2:  The ITTO is not a U.N. organization but established under assistance of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

   Note  :  Since 1974, the United Nations' one accounting period lasts two years.