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|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":
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 rightly views all of this activity as part of a single, integrated effort to ensure human security in the broadest sense.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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