U.S. Supports Japan as Permanent Member of U.N. Security Council

By Stephen Kaufman
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - The United States strongly supports the addition of Japan as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and believes its inclusion would increase the council’s effectiveness in addressing threats to peace and security around the world.

In a September 13 USINFO webchat with questioners from around the world, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Kristen Silverberg said Japan is the second-largest donor to the United Nations and “has been an important and active supporter of U.N. activities.”

She also told the Washington File in a September 12 interview that Japan would be “an enormously positive addition” to the council, given the country’s active involvement “across the board,” in U.N. activities, including humanitarian, peacekeeping and development issues.  (See related article.)

“They’re a responsible player in the international community and in committees. They share our values in promoting democracy and protecting human rights,” she said.

Silverberg said the United States is generally open to expanding the Security Council with a broad consensus in the General Assembly, but believes expansion should be modest.

“The council has so much to do and we’ve seen how relevant the council is in the past year dealing with North Korea and Darfur and now we’re asking it deal with Burma, with Iran and Lebanon and a full range of issues.  And so we don’t want the council to be unmanageable.  We need it to stay the size where it can take effective action,” she said.

In a webchat that previewed the 61st General Debate of the U.N. General Assembly, Silverberg said President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plan to discuss “the full range of foreign policy challenges,” with their counterparts from around the world.  She specifically mentioned the human rights crisis in Burma, U.N. management reform, challenges in the Middle East, and ways in which the international community “can work together to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.”

In light of Iran’s continued refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities, Silverberg said the Security Council “should now proceed to adopt a sanctions resolution.”

She expressed the Bush administration’s desire for the council to act “as soon as possible” on the issue, and said formal discussions between the five permanent members and Germany on a possible resolution began September 7 in Berlin.

Silverberg also welcomed the international response to President Bush’s 2004 proposal for a U.N. Democracy Fund that would support emerging democracies through technical assistance.

“[T]he United States has been glad to see so many countries rally behind President Bush's proposal,” she said, adding that the fund was launched in 2005 along with an advisory board that includes the United States.

According to the assistant secretary, the advisory board has received more than 1,300 grant proposals from more than 100 countries so far, and has selected 125 projects that will receive the first set of grants in 2006.

“The United States is pleased with this progress and will continue to work hard to strengthen U.N. democracy efforts,” she said.

The transcript of Assistant Secretary Silverberg’s comments will be made available on USINFO's Webchat Station.

For additional information, see The U.S. and the U.N.