Japan must play significant role in reconstructing international order

Amid turbulence in the international community, it has been pointed out that the United Nations is unable to respond appropriately to emerging threats. However, the cause of this lies entirely with China and Russia. Japan has a significant role to play in restoring the function of the United Nations.

Japan was elected as a nonpermanent member of the Security Council at a U.N. General Assembly meeting. This is the 12th time Japan has been elected, the most among U.N. member countries. Its two-year term of office will start from January next year. Japan must make use of this opportunity to take the initiative in resolving disputes and reforming the Security Council.

In February, a Security Council resolution calling on Russia to immediately withdraw from Ukraine was rejected because Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, used its veto.

Permanent members of the Security Council bear a heavy responsibility for world peace and stability. Russia is one of these countries, but has itself committed an act of aggression, an extraordinary situation that the U.N. Charter did not anticipate.

In May, China, which is also a permanent member, vetoed a resolution along with Russia to tighten sanctions against North Korea for its repeated missile launches. It is obvious that the two countries have made the Security Council dysfunctional.

The five permanent members, who are the victors of World War II and can exercise veto power, have great authority. However, the 10 nonpermanent members also have a significant say. For example, they are allowed to take part in drafting resolutions.

Japan needs to engage in close dialogue with other countries and work tenaciously to rebuild the international order. It is essential to urge China and Russia to respond responsibly.

At a General Assembly meeting in April, member nations adopted a resolution, with a majority of votes, requiring permanent members to explain their reasons for exercising their veto power. Based on this resolution, China and Russia said that “dialogue and consultations are the only way to resolve the issue” as a reason for opposing the resolution against North Korea at a different General Assembly meeting.

Some say that the General Assembly has become a forum for China and Russia to openly express their opinions. However, if they claim the issue can be resolved through dialogue, they should persuade North Korea themselves, and they ought to be asked again at the General Assembly about their intention to do so and the actions they are taking.

In order for this not to end up as one-sided propaganda, it is advisable to provide Beijing and Moscow with opportunities for repeated explanations. It is vital to arouse international sentiment to prevent abuse of the veto power.

Organizational reform of the Security Council is another challenge. In 2005, Japan, along with Germany, Brazil and India, submitted a resolution to increase the number of permanent members to 11. But it failed to get widespread support among other member nations. Learning from this failure, it is important to gather positive forces for reform.

In recent years, the percentage of Chinese executives in international organizations such as the United Nations has been expanding. Although the number of Japanese employees is increasing, it is the lowest among the Group of Seven advanced nations. There are also few Japanese in executive posts.

The Japanese government should promote the development of personnel with expertise in specialized fields and actively dispatch them to international organizations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 11, 2022)