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    UNIS/SG/2440
    12 November 1999
    Secretary-General Salutes Japan's Contributions to Multilateralism;
    Urges Greater Involvement in Peacekeeping, Regional Initiatives

    NEW YORK, 10 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of an address, delivered by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the United Nations University on 11 November, entitled, "Japan's World Role in the Twenty-first Century":
     
     
     It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you at the University.  This is my third visit to the UNU as Secretary-General.  But, of course, I do not need to come to Tokyo to feel the presence of the UNU.  Your work travels, too.  Just last month, with a major UNU study in hand, I spoke at length to the World Bank staff about the causes of violent conflict and humanitarian emergencies, and the links between development and peace.  That study shows the UNU at its best, fulfilling one of its key roles as a think-tank for the United Nations system.  I am also pleased to know of the emphasis you place on reaching out to young people.  I think it is important that we do reach out to the young people. After all, they are the leaders of the twenty-first century. I can assure you that your efforts -- on peace and security, development, governance, the environment and other global issues -- are providing your colleagues and policy-makers around the world with excellent food for thought as we enter a new millennium.

     The millennium may be no more than an accident of calendar to some cultures.  But it does provide all of us with a timely opportunity to reflect on the gains and setbacks of the past century.
     
     At the UNU two months ago, people from the Asia-Pacific region had their chance to put forth a vision for a more secure and hopeful future as part of the process leading up to next year's Millennium Summit and Assembly.

     That meeting, and others like it in recent months, have identified a wealth of themes and proposals.  But one thing is clear:  a new chapter of human history is beginning, and we have some crucial choices to make.
     
     We must choose, for example, between "business as usual", which means continuing to degrade the environment, or taking the steps agreed in Kyoto two years ago to combat climate change.

     We must choose between passivity in the face of glaring inequality among States and within States, and a concentrated effort to create a fairer global economy.

     And in the face of humanitarian emergencies, we must choose whether to make do with palliatives or to address root causes, which lie in the realm of politics, economics and even culture.
     
     Japan, too, is at something of a crossroads.  The choices made in the next few years by the Japanese people -- about their global and regional profile, security policy, and presence in the United Nations -- will affect other people throughout the world.

     It is hard to imagine a nation that does more, across the breadth of the international agenda, than Japan.  Japan is unquestionably one of the world's leading economic Powers, and its performance remains crucial to the recovery of all the Asian economies.  It is also a leading investor in the developing world.
     
     Japan continues to have the largest programme of official development assistance in the world, with support reaching a remarkable 160 countries -- I repeat, 160 countries.

     And I need hardly remind you that Japan is the second largest contributor to the United Nations regular budget.  Indeed, it is, at present, the first in terms of actual payments.

     Moreover, its very generous voluntary contributions are helping our operations in Kosovo and East Timor, and we are now getting off the ground, thanks to the major contributions made by Japan.
     
     But Japan's contributions are far from being only financial.  Japan is strongly committed to multilateralism and has made the United Nations a central pillar of its foreign policy.

     In particular, it has organized two remarkable meetings on African development, and has been the driving force behind a very fruitful African-Asian dialogue.
     
     Japan eagerly shares its technical expertise with the developing world. Japan strongly supports the establishment of the International Criminal Court. It also promotes democratization and debt relief.  And, of course, Japan's is a key voice in the cause of nuclear non-proliferation and global disarmament.

     Japan rightly views all of this activity as part of a single, integrated effort to ensure human security in the broadest sense.
     
     I know there are some who worry that the word "security" suggests a military mind-set.  But as my friend Yukio Satoh, Japan's Ambassador to the United Nations, has said, "defining the term is less important than drawing increased international attention to issues endangering the life and dignity of human beings".  Moreover, security, like peace, must be fought for, protected and defended.

     Prime Minister Obuchi himself has shown an extraordinary commitment to the idea, and has established a Human Security Fund.  If there were such a thing as a "human security council", I believe Japan would undoubtedly have a lifetime seat.
     
     For all these reasons, there is a widespread sense in the international community that Japan would be a worthy member or a worthy permanent member, if you wish, of a reformed United Nations Security Council.

     I know that Japanese policy-makers and public alike feel growing frustration that the prospects for the Council reform seem to be elusive.  The discussions are indeed moving too slowly, especially given that this is a crucial question for the entire future of the United Nations.
     

     I think everyone would agree that the Council, as it is today, represents the geopolitical realities of 1945, and should be transformed into a more representative, democratic and effective body.  Such a reform would have to take into account today's realities, including the leading role played by Japan in international politics.

     This is, of course, a matter for the Member States to decide, and I hope they will address it without further delay.
     
     Some people in Japan, I know, would like to use the country's economic power as leverage, by scaling back its official development assistance or its voluntary contributions to the United Nations.

     I believe this would be counter-productive, and unworthy of Japan's high standing in the world, not to mention its people's generosity of heart.  I would counsel patience instead.
     
     I would also urge Japan to contribute even more to the political work of the United Nations -- the peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building efforts that are the main business of the Security Council.  The world needs Japan to take on a political role commensurate with its global economic presence.

     This is not to say that Japan is absent from the world political scene even now.  Far from it.

     Japanese have served as electoral observers in many countries.  Japanese police provided crucial help to the United Nations' refugee agency in the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda.
     
     Japanese personnel have served with peacekeeping operations in Angola, Cambodia, Mozambique and Tajikistan, and on the Golan Heights.  Japan is involved in the Middle East peace process.  And Japan has served as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.

     Still, there is room for Japan to do more, on its own and through the United Nations.

     I know that there are constitutional provisions and historical inhibitions that affect Japan's decision-making on certain types of international involvement.
     
     Nonetheless, I would like to think that Japan could participate more fully in peacekeeping.  Japan's active role in East Timor is a significant step in the right direction.  With generous resources and its decision to dispatch an airlift to transport food and medical supplies to refugees in West Timor, Japan showed important new resolve.

     But the political work of the United Nations is often as much a matter of intellectual inventiveness as it is of troop strengths and deployments.  When we start talking of military action, it is, in many respects, a sign of the failure of diplomacy and failure of prevention.

     But, as I believe the Japanese well understand, diplomacy is, by no means, the only or even the most effective means of conflict prevention.  Even more important are policies for healthy and balanced development.

     Democracy, too, is a key element, provided it is introduced in the right way, enabling all groups in a community to feel they have a say, rather than making minorities feel they are at the majority's mercy.  We 

    should not be the winner-take-all variety.  Japan could, I believe, make greater use of its influence to promote the same democratic principles that it follows here in its domestic affairs.
     

     I would also encourage Japan and its neighbours to make more use of multilateral approaches to issues of regional peace and security.  Other  parts of the world have found consensus-building, joint action and shared institutions to be effective ways of sharing burdens, promoting shared values and trouble-shooting economic or political situations, particulary when they turn sour.

     Finally, I would like to make a plea for Japanese men and women, and young people in particular, to bring their ideas and energies to the United Nations -- not only its political work, but the entire spectrum of our concerns.
     
     I know the Japanese Government is frustrated by the low representation of its nationals among United Nations staff.  We are making progress in this area.  But to do even better, we need candidates:  Japanese men and women who share the ideals of the United Nations Charter, who are the best in their professions, and who are willing to make the choice of international public service and to live outside Japan.

     Eighty-one years ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent across Europe.  The so-called "war to end all wars" was over.  Since then, however, violence has continued to take a terrible toll on our world, as have poverty and intolerance.  But it is also possible to see signs of progress in the human condition over the past century.  Year by year, generation by generation, we do move forward.
     
     Japan has brought to the United Nations tremendous resources and great determination to that effort.  I salute the Japanese people for so strongly embracing the multilateral vision.  That vision is one of the good things the twentieth century has brought us.  Turning it into reality will be the crucial test of the twenty-first century.  We need a world that is equitable and inclusive.  The world's people expect a great deal of the partnership between Japan, a global leader, and the United Nations, the global institution.  Let us not disappoint them.  Thank you very much.

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