Kishida’s U.N. Speech: Japan Should Present Concrete Proposals for Security Council Reform

The United Nations must not be left in a state of functional paralysis in response to acts that destroy the international order. Japan should lead the discussion by presenting concrete proposals for U.N. reform.

The U.N. Security Council has failed to take effective measures to deal with the unprecedented situation in which a permanent member of the Security Council is trampling on the U.N. Charter and invading a sovereign nation.

In his speech at the U.N. General Assembly session, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida criticized Russia as “infringing upon international law and the rule of law” by continuing its invasion of Ukraine.

Kishida also mentioned the importance of restraining the use of veto power in light of the fact that Russia has repeatedly vetoed resolutions against itself.

The idea of imposing certain restrictions on veto power has already been expressed by U.S. President Joe Biden and others at last year’s U.N. General Assembly meeting. It is vital to increase support for such an argument and work out reform proposals.

Japan has long contributed to the United Nations not only financially but also in such areas as peacekeeping and assistance to developing countries. It can be said that Japan is well-qualified to lead the discussion on U.N. reform.

In addition, as a nonpermanent member of the Security Council, Japan is in a position to participate in Security Council discussions for a two-year period that began in January this year. Tokyo must not miss this opportunity.

Momentum for U.N. reform has been growing since Russia invaded Ukraine.

At the U.N. General Assembly meeting last year, a resolution was adopted that called for permanent members to explain in a General Assembly meeting their reasons if they exercised their veto power. This has forced both China and Russia to explain their reasoning for vetoing the resolutions to strengthen sanctions against North Korea.

Although General Assembly resolutions have no binding power, this probably showed that China and Russia could not resist the unified demands of the international community. The United Nations is by no means powerless. It is essential to strengthen the functions of the General Assembly.

One concrete method of U.N. reform would be to place restrictions on the exercise of veto power through such measures as resolutions adopted at General Assembly special sessions, when a permanent member of the Security Council commits an act of genocide.

Resolutions to impose sanctions against not only Russia for its invasion of Ukraine but also North Korea for its missile launches, among other acts, continue to be buried by China and Russia using their veto power. Regarding this, rules should also be amended so sanctions resolutions that fall through as a result of their vetoes can be overturned by a General Assembly special session.

In the first place, the structure of the Security Council does not reflect changes in the international community.

When the United Nations was founded in 1945, it had 51 member states. Today, there are 193 members, but the number of permanent members remains at five, and the number of nonpermanent members increased by only four in 1965. Further expansion of the Security Council members is also an important task.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 21, 2023)