REMARKS BY THE
OF THE FIFTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF
THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
H.E. MR JULIAN R. HUNTE AT
30 MARCH 2004
has been said that today we live in a global village.
I believe this. I also believe that the media continues
to make a distinct contribution to the transformation
from world to village, by breaking down barriers to
knowledge and information - of peoples, of places and
of events. I therefore value the opportunity this press
conference affords me to share some perspectives on
United Nations reform with members of the media, here
at this Foreign Press Centre in Tokyo.
United Nations has undergone dramatic changes in its
nearly sixty-years. It has seen its membership increase
by nearly four hundred percent - from 51 in 1945 to
191 today. The preponderance of countries referred to
as "the North" has given way to the significant
majority of countries referred to as "the South".
Charter organs such as the General Assembly, the Security
Council and the Economic and Social Council, the United
Nations has added new organs, institutions, committees
and commissions, to keep pace with the times and the
broad range of issues which it now addresses.
United Nations has stood in the midst of sweeping changes
taking place in the world - geo-political, economic
and social developments, conflict and war and the technological
revolution - all of which now make the world a different
place from what it was in 1945, or even in 1956 when
Japan joined the institution. So, after sixty years,
does the United Nations need to be reformed and revitalized?
I say yes, it does; I expect that this opinion is widely
for United Nations reform and revitalization, however,
are not new. The General Assembly has discussed its
own revitalization since 1999, when it included an item
on this matter in its agenda. It contemplated reform
of the Security Council in 1979, and since 1993, an
Open-ended Working Group on the "Question of equitable
representation on and increase in the membership of
the Security Council" has annually considered the
are other reform initiatives underway, for example,
in the economic and social fields. And we are all familiar
with the Panel of Eminent Persons that United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan established last year to,
"Examine today's international threats, provide
analysis of future challenges and recommend the changes
necessary to ensure effective joint action". You
might say, then, that the buzz of reform and revitalization
at the United Nations could be moving from a whisper
to a roar.
such intense focus on revitalization and reform of the
United Nations, and why now? I believe we can gain some
insights if we reflect on the progression of the United
Nations and how it is responding to contemporary global
challenges. After six decades of institution building,
most will agree that new institutions were not always
placed in the context of pre-existing structures; rather
they were designed to deal with the issue at hand. Therefore,
the sum of the parts falls short of a coherent, results-oriented
must also be taken into account. Without commenting
on the decision of the coalition to take military action
in Iraq, I can say that at the United Nations, there
was concern that the Security Council had not played
a determining role in events leading up to the military
action. When the Council did not act decisively - to
support or oppose the military action - the General
Assembly was unable to decide to meet to take a position
on the matter.
that stage, there were clear voices questioning the
relevance of the United Nations, which thankfully have
quieted somewhat now. But the disquiet remains about
the implications for international law of concepts such
as preventive or pre-emptive action - a significant
evolution if taken in the context of the Charter and
international law. There are strong undercurrents that
a parallel system of enforcement operating outside the
provisions of the United Nations Charter, should not
there is the approaching sixtieth anniversary of the
United Nations in 2005. There is broad consensus that
the Event foreseen by the Assembly in 2005 to review
the implementation of the Millennium Declaration; the
integrated follow-up to United Nations summits and conferences
in the economic and social fields; and the biennial
review of the Monterrey Consensus, adopted by the High-Level
Conference on Financing for Development in 2002 - should
be at the highest level.
the Assembly should receive from the Secretary-General
recommendations for its consideration about a new architecture
for the United Nations in the areas of peace and security,
which the Panel would have presented to him. Japan,
we know, favours a Summit Meeting to take decisions
regarding the United Nations Millennium Declaration,
including in the areas of peace and security.
With so much at stake, it stands to reason that Member
States would want to look at the health of the United
Nations, and this, I believe is an important factor
giving momentum to reform and revitalization, and for
the progress we have made thus far in the Fifty-eighth
session on these issues.
am a strong supporter of multilateralism, a believer
in a vibrant and relevant United Nations that is indispensable
to international cooperation for economic and social
progress, the promotion and protection of human rights
and for the maintenance of international peace and security.
President of the General Assembly, I am committed to
moving forward the process of reform. The Chair of the
Working Group on Security Council reform falls to me,
and I also provide leadership for the General Assembly
revitalization process. I am pleased to say that Japan
has been an important contributor to my revitalization
cite you General Assembly resolution 58/126, adopted
last December as an important step in our efforts to
address many of the criticisms leveled at the Assembly
over the years. A shorter agenda to better focus debates,
a reduction in documentation, a programme to make the
Assembly's work and decisions more visible and better
appreciated around the world, are significant aspects
of this resolution. So too is the cooperation between
the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Security
Council and with the President of the Economic and Social
Council for which there is now a framework. The resolution
also touches on the important issue of General Assembly
resolutions, a matter that will have to be developed
all these considerations into account, I believe we
are moving towards making the General Assembly function
as it should, as the only universal body addressing
the entire spectrum of global issues, and recognized
by the Millennium Declaration as such.
Council reform, on the other hand, is complex, difficult
and politically sensitive. The differing and well-defined
positions of many Member States and groups of states
have resulted in slow progress, and some would say,
stalemate, in the Working Group. Yet, I sense that the
majority of the membership wants progress on Security
Council reform. I believe it essential, in the circumstances,
to move away from competing packages, proposals and
policies, and engage in a free flow and exchange of
information and ideas, to determine if our common aspirations
for Security Council reform could lead to common goals
on which we might find consensus.
is no doubt in my mind that enlarging the Council from
its present size of 15 is a political imperative, if
it is to continue to command the international respect
essential to operate with maximum effectiveness. I have
discerned a trend in favour of enlarging the Council
between 24-26 seats, but it is a trend, not a consensus.
Some members have yet to pronounce themselves on the
issue, while others may still believe that a Council
of 24-26 is too large. I hope that some movement will
be brought about on this issue in the coming months.
key issues impacting reform of the Security Council
may prove to be more intractable. Should new permanent
seats be created, and if so, who should take those seats?
Should they have the veto extended to them? The question
has also been asked about the status of some of the
present permanent members, in the context of a possible
"European Seat", rather than national seats.
The veto is particularly contentious - many Member States
are unwilling to see this privilege extended further.
No consensus is emerging on these issues.
is no magic formula for Security Council reform, but
I am encouraging the membership to give impetus to the
process, to narrow differences and even establish a
framework for consideration that might contribute to
decisive progress during the Sixtieth Anniversary,
We know of Japan's particular interest in Security Council
reform. Japan is the second economic power in the world.
It is the largest contributor of official development
assistance (ODA). It is the second largest contributor
to both the regular and peacekeeping budgets of the
United Nations. It has dispatched self-defence force
contingents, civilian police officers, cease fire observers
and elections monitors to take part in various peacekeeping
missions under the flag of the United Nations. I have
no doubt that Member States will take these factors
into account in their conclusions on Security Council
wish to make one final point. The United Nations does
not stay reformed once reforms are introduced. Reform
is an ongoing process. The organization needs a strategy;
indeed, a programme for constant review and improvement;
an agenda for the management of change, if you wish,
that would help it to keep up with global challenges.
Member States of the United Nations are themselves agents
of change and, I believe, will rise to the challenge
of ensuring that the organization is able to carry out
its Charter functions.
I thank you.