JAPAN CALLS FOR STRONGER VOICE IN UN FOR ASIA-PACIFIC REGION AS ESCAP REGIONAL HEARING OPENS IN TOKYO
TOKYO, 9 September (UN Information Centre) -- The presence and influence of the Asia-Pacific region in the United Nations does not necessarily match the economic and political weight it enjoys in the world, said Nobutaka Machimura, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Japan, as he delivered the keynote speech at the opening of a two-day regional hearing on "The United Nations in the Twenty-first Century: Issues, Challenges and Responses".
Mr. Machimura said "this is seen in the fact that in the Security Council only two non-permanent seats are allotted to the Asian Group consisting of 49 countries".
Mr. Machimura also underlined the importance of civil society in shaping a new and vibrant United Nations in the new millennium. This was why, he said, the hearing was of great interest for the Government of Japan and the region, and very important for strengthening the United Nations.
The hearing is being organized by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) at the United Nations University in Tokyo. Adrianus Mooy, Executive Secretary of ESCAP, emphasized that the United Nations of the twenty-first century must "reflect the common aspiration of promoting development and peace".
The impact of globalization has accentuated the differences in the levels of prosperity between countries and peoples focusing new attention on concerns such as peace and security, human rights and development, Mr. Mooy said.
The Tokyo hearing, which is hosted and sponsored by the Government of Japan, is being attended by representatives of civil society and of member States of the ESCAP region.
These meetings have been organized at the initiative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan and in full cooperation with the Executive Secretaries of the regional commissions. The Secretary-General will draw upon the outcome of the hearings in the preparation of his report on the Assembly, to be issued by March 2000 and discussed at the fifty-fifth General Assembly session and Millennium Summit, explained Miles Stoby, the Coordinator of Preparations for the Millennium Assembly. This is the fifth regional hearing to be held so far, following others in Western Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean. A sixth will take place this fall for the North America region.
The first session of the hearing discussed "The United Nations role in peace and security in the coming century". The elimination of nuclear weapons, disarmament, veto rights on the Security Council and transnational criminal activities ranging from terrorism to drug trafficking were some of the areas needing scrutiny at the Millennium Summit, panellists agreed. They also agreed that the key issue was how the United Nations was going to set about reforming itself by incorporating new ideas and initiatives.
"The United Nations should introduce international public order in much broader areas, in which national interest must yield to international public interest", said one panellist. Another way that the United Nations could be strengthened was by allowing the General Assembly to play the important role it was meant to as a representative of all people.