Reform of the United Nations Security Council should be based on the principles of equitable regional representation and contribution to U.N. activities, a senior U.N. official visiting Japan argues.

Didier Opertti Badan, 61, president of the 53rd U.N. General Assembly and foreign minister of Uruguay, arrived in Tokyo on Monday for a six-day visit at the invitation of the Foreign Ministry.

The 53rd General Assembly’s regular session was held between September and December. As its chairman, Opertti concluded the session by adopting 250 resolutions and some 60 decisions.

“Security Council reforms are on top of the agenda for subsequent assembly sessions and subcommittee discussions,” Opertti said in a recent interview. “Some sort of conclusion may be reached through working-level discussions by September.”

The issue has been under intensive deliberation by the Open-Ended Working Group on Security Council Reforms in New York. Opertti also chairs the working group.

The 15-seat Security Council consists of five permanent members and 10 rotating nonpermanent members. A fundamental review has been urged of the fixed permanent member roster and its collective “right to veto” — a byproduct of the council’s voting system for adopting resolutions that requires unanimous adoption by permanent members.

“Regarding Security Council reforms, there are both pros and cons among U.N. members that add to 185 now,” Opertti said. “Although calls for expanding the number of seats at the council are dominant, some differ on specific numbers, like 21, 24 and 26, while others are fundamentally against such reforms.”

There is yet another proposal to increase seats for nonpermanent members first, leaving the complex matter of permanent members for later discussions. Proponents of this idea see more significance in keeping reform efforts intact. Japan opposes this idea.

Opertti urges caution when considering arguments that focus solely on the number of seats: “Arguments for expanding the Security Council must be accompanied with discussions on what the council should be like for better U.N. governance.”

If the ideal shape of the Security Council, as well as that of the U.N. as a whole, is conceived, the seat-number question should resolve itself naturally, he added.

Coronavirus banner