OSAKA — The U.N. Security Council is not adequately dealing with global problems, according to former German President Richard von Weizsaecker, and the entry of Japan and Germany into the body as permanent members should only take place after major U.N. reforms.
“The majority of the worldwide population does not suffer in a sense which can be solved militarily,” Weizsaecker said.
“The U.N. has to undergo a rather strong reform and, in my view, the main task both for Japan and Germany is not to step into the SC as it is at the present time, but the main task is that both countries should press on with a general reform of the U.N.,” he said.
“That is even more important than to become permanent members of the SC.” Weizsaecker said participation in peacekeeping operations should not be a condition for a permanent UNSC seat.
“Whether a new permanent member of the Security Council is ready and willing to participate in military actions is up to the country,” he said.
“It’s not a condition and it’s up to Japan to decide whether they are able and willing, whether their constitutional situations allow participation or not. But that is not a condition to be put on Japan before entry.”
“It is up to Japan and it is up to Germany to decide if and to what extent they would be willing to participate in peacekeeping actions. It is not a condition for entry.” On the veto power of an enlarged UNSC, Weizsaecker said he does not believe the General Assembly will increase the number of nations with veto powers by only two from the current five.
But he said that if, for instance, five more vetoes are added, the result would be a deadlock on most questions.
“That would in the end lead to a weakening of the SC instead of it really being the great center of preventing violence against human rights, minorities and all these sorts of things,” he said.
As to the different ways Japan and Germany deal with the past, Weizsaecker said there is a need to look at the difference in their geopolitical situations.
“Germany is a very continental country surrounded directly by nine neighbors. Japan is a very large island, and large islands usually keep a certain distance from their continental neighbors. That is not easily compared.”
Weizsaecker also said it is not easy to compare Japan and Germany with regard to participation in peacekeeping operations.
Referring to Germany’s participation in peacekeeping actions in Kosovo — whose mandate was given not by the United Nations but by NATO, Weizsaecker said Germany participated because peace in the Balkans is very important to Germany’s own security.
Weizsaecker also said the global community is “moving ahead to a slow but steady change of international law.”
“International law must develop further over what we have at the present time, namely, the protection of every nation with its international affairs even if those national affairs include the most terrible crimes against humanity,” he said. “Our example on the Balkans, and especially on Kosovo, is proof.”
Weizsaecker said Japan and Germany share “the basic principles of living together in a globalized world.”
“We want to enlarge our notion of the rule of law, of democracy, of safeguarding human rights, of respect for minorities and of tolerance in diversity, in culture and religion and color and so on,” he said.
“This is what we share. National interest is nothing but a contribution to the enlargement of those principles which we share.”
Weizsaecker served as German president from July 1984 to June 1994. He was visiting Japan to attend an international forum.
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