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Japan’s UN envoy calls for UNSC reform, restrictions on veto power

  • 2015-08-28 15:00:00
  • , Nikkei
  • Translation

(Nikkei: August 27, 2015 Evening Edition – p. 3)

 

 By Rina Takahashi in New York

 

 This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (UN). There has been a resurgence of debate on reforming the UN Security Council (UNSC). We interviewed

 Ambassador to the UN Motohide Yoshikawa on this subject.

 

 Q: Seventy years have passed since the end of World War II and the founding of the UN.

 

 Yoshikawa: The “clothing” no longer fits the “body,” politically, economically, or geographically. The UN was formed by the victorious nations of World War II, so they were given very strong powers. There have been insufficient efforts to evolve into an organization that accurately reflects the reality in the international community and to set up a system where the member states can feel that the decisions made are their own.

 

 Q: There is increasing dissatisfaction with the major powers’ exercise of veto power.

 

 Yoshikawa: Unfortunately, Russia, the U.S., and China, in particular, wield their veto power. China and Russia use this for issues of relevance to themselves, while the U.S. mostly uses this to protect Israel’s interest. As a result, the UN has failed to play any role in the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

 

 Although more than half of the items on the UN agenda have to do with Africa, none of the African countries is a permanent member of the UNSC. They resent the fact that decisions are being made without Africa’s participation. While Germany has played an important economic and political role in the postwar world, it does not have a permanent voice. They are all dissatisfied.

 

 Q: What is the solution?

 

 Yoshikawa: The solution is not simply to make Japan a permanent UNSC member. The use of veto power is certainly a specific source of resentment. This is related to the issue of imposing certain restrictions on the use of veto power. We would like to resolve this issue quickly to enable the UNSC to play the role it is expected to. This is a major goal of reform.

 

 Q: It seems that the UNSC has been the cause of the decline in the UN’s status.

 

 Yoshikawa: Unfortunately, the UNSC’s failure has overshadowed the UN’s achievements in other areas. If you think of why the 15 UNSC members often cannot agree even though the 193 member states can seem to reach an agreement, the answer is the UNSC’s structural problem. It is necessary to set certain rules for using the veto power.

 

 Q: How does Japan intend to be involved with reform?

 

 Yoshikawa: Japan is a pioneer that has been advocating reform since the 1990s. We have been working for majority support behind the scenes. We have been communicating and consulting with other countries on a daily basis so that we can win majority support when the time comes for a decision to be made.

 

 Q: Japan will become a non-permanent UNSC member in 2016. What is the game plan?

 

 Yoshikawa: We will spend some time to think about the agenda when Japan becomes the UNSC chair. We also need to watch North Korea’s actions from now on.

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