Chapter I.
General Overview

D. Global efforts and the role of Japan- the United Nations

During the Cold War era, the confrontation between East and West was reflected in the United Nations, and as a result, the United Nations was not always able to fully achieve its most important purpose-maintaining international peace and security. However, with the end of the Cold War, the situation became such that the United Nations could fulfill its original purpose, opening the way for UN efforts even on development issues, with these based on a true partnership beyond the North-South confrontation of the Cold War.

The end of the Cold War lowered the probability of the occurrence of a global-scale conflict, but regional conflicts are breaking out with great frequency, and not only conflict management but also the strengthening of measures for conflict prevention and the restoration of peace after conflicts have become urgent tasks. Further, at the root of conflict lie poverty and other economic and social issues, and no true conflict resolution will be achieved without dealing with these issues. Bearing in mind that peace and development issues are very closely linked under such circumstances, comprehensive policies which embrace both these perspectives need to be developed at the United Nations and other such fora. Moreover, given issues threatening human security such as destruction of the environment, transnational organized crime, narcotics and infectious diseases, all of which are of global scale and increasing severity, there is a growing need for consolidated efforts by the international community, spearheaded by the United Nations. Thus, expectations of the United Nations are growing.

Since Japan's admission to the United Nations in 1956, Japan has faithfully upheld the purposes and principles of the United Nations, and has always actively contributed to the whole spectrum of UN activities, defining commitment to the United Nations as one of the main pillars of its foreign policy. As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Japan continued to participate actively in Security Council deliberations in 1998 on the various regional situations and other issues, demonstrating particular initiatives in consolidating the views of the Security Council on Iraq's refusal to allow UN inspections, the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan and the missile launch by North Korea.

a) Need for stronger global efforts and UN reform

With the major changes of the international environment and growing expectations for the United Nations, the United Nations can no longer avoid enhancing its functions so that it may respond adequately to challenges toward the 21st century. Discussion on UN reforms has been underway in the various working groups established under the General Assembly. Japan has been claiming that, given the close connection between peace and development, reforms in three areas-Security Council reform, development-related reform, and financial reform which underpins the former two-should be carried forward in a balanced and comprehensive manner. With these UN reforms in mind, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed in his address at the September General Assembly that the role and mechanisms of the United Nations in the 21st century should be reviewed at a Millennium Assembly to be held in the year 2000. Japan will continue to contribute actively to discussion on this matter.

b) Security Council reform

In the post-Cold War period, the Security Council has become an important actor, not just in the traditional area of security, but also in areas such as humanitarian activities and human rights, which contribute to conflict prevention and stabilization of post-conflict situations. As this would suggest, Security Council members now need to be able to make a wide-ranging contribution, not just in political and security areas, but also in economic and social areas. Security Council reform must therefore address the addition of new members able to make a global contribution in various fields and the improvement of methods of Security Council operation, etc. Intensive discussion has been underway in the Open-ended Working Group on Security Council Reform and other fora since January 1994. Through discussions to date, most of the Member States agree that the number of permanent and non-permanent seats in the Security Council needs to be increased to improve the Council's effectiveness and legitimacy, and progress is also being made in discussion on improvement of methods of operation and ways to boost transparency. Wide support has also been acquired for the admission of Japan and Germany as new permanent members. However, discussion is still underway, primarily on issues such as the scale of the expanded Security Council (currently comprising 15 members), the merits and demerits of granting the veto to new permanent members and of current permanent members retaining this right, and the means of selecting new permanent members from developing countries (there is strong resistance, particularly among the developing countries, to Japan and Germany alone becoming new permanent members). Japan is participating actively in the development of discussion, arguing that: (1) Security Council functions should be strengthened through the addition of a limited number of countries with the capability and the willingness to assume global responsibilities as permanent members; (2) the representativeness of the Security Council should be improved through an appropriate increase in the number of non-permanent seats on the Council; and also that (3) Member States need to demonstrate political decision on these issues, which have already been discussed for five years. In his address at the September UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Obuchi appealed to Member States to act decisively toward the early formation of a comprehensive agreement in line with the interests of the international community as a whole so that the United Nations can move effectively in response to the various challenges presented. He also reiterated Japan's readiness to discharge its responsibilities as a permanent member of the Security Council, with the endorsement of many countries, in accordance with its basic philosophy of not resorting to the use of force prohibited by its Constitution.

c) Development reform

Recognizing the need to engage effectively in development issues through the new post-Cold War approach based on a global partnership among developed and developing countries, Japan has been advocating a "New Development Strategy (NDS)," Note 5 and has stressed the need for reform to facilitate coordination among the various UN institutions. To entrench this strategy in the United Nations, Japan held an international symposium on development cooperation in June, as well as the Tokyo Meeting on the New Development Strategy. At TICAD II in October, hosted jointly by Japan and the United Nations, etc., methods for this strategy to address the development problems facing African countries were explored (Chapter I, B.5).

d) Financial reform

The United Nations continues to struggle with a severe financial situation, primarily due to delayed payments from the United States and a number of other members. Japan's scale of assessments will be 19.984% in 1999, rising to 20.573% in 2000. As the second largest contributor, Member States have high expectations of Japan's role in the United Nations, having Japan's candidate elected with heavy support in the UN ACABQ (Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions) elections. Annulment of payments in arrears and balancing out payments remain important issues, and given the importance of ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of UN activities, Japan will continue to promote reform in this area.

e) Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court is a permanent international criminal court for the indictment and punishment under international law of individuals who have engaged in those crimes which the international community regards as most serious (mass murders, crimes against humanity, war crimes, etc.). The establishment of this court was a major agenda of the international community this century. Considerations were undertaken among various countries on the drafting of a statute for the establishment of a court within the United Nations. Finally, a court establishment convention was adopted by a majority vote at a diplomatic conference held in Rome over June and July 1998. Japan will continue to engage actively in the creation of rules on filing procedures and other related work which need to be undertaken toward the early establishment of the International Criminal Court in order to maintain the peace and security of the international community, looking to prevent crimes which the international community regards as the most grave.

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