U.N. University chief urges Japan not to squander Security Council chance

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

A high-ranking U.N. official on Monday welcomed the recent election of Japan as one of the five nonpermanent Security Council members, expressing hopes that Tokyo will make contributions to global human security as well as specific issues such as Syria.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, David M. Malone, rector of United Nations University and an undersecretary-general of the world body, urged Japan not to squander its two-year term on the council, which starts in January.

“Every elected member to the Security Council should have a program of action,” Malone said. “They should have a clear idea of what they want to achieve. Most do not. They spend so much time getting elected, they forget about what they will do when they are elected.”

Malone said that while Japan’s proposed human security agenda had been very helpful in running for the seat, it should be more specific with its goals once it joins the council.

“The human security umbrella is very broad and covers many things,” he noted. “So for Japan, the issue is what specifically will it promote from the human security agenda when it is on the council.”

The U.N. General Assembly last month elected Japan, Egypt, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay to serve as nonpermanent members on the council.

Malone also called on Tokyo to play a more active role in resolving the Syrian refugee crisis but stopped short of directly calling on Japan to accept more of those fleeing that country’s civil war.

Tokyo has faced mounting criticism for being slow to open its doors to asylum seekers, having only recognized 11 refugees out of 5,000 applications last year.

“Japan is fortunate to be located a long way away from” major conflicts such as Syria, Malone said. “But if it has ideas on how the Syria conundrum can be resolved, it’s credibility means that those ideas will be listened to with interest.”

Malone said Japan’s status as a major financial contributor to humanitarian activities in a number of conflicts worldwide provides Tokyo with “credibility.”

A former president of Canada’s International Development Research Centre, Malone assumed the top post at the Tokyo-based United Nations University in 2013. The university celebrated its 40th anniversary this year.