H.E. MR. ASTERIO R. TAKESY
SECRETARY (MINISTER) OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
OF THE FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA
IN THE GENERAL DEBATE
THE FIFTIETH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
New York, 3 October 1995
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies, and Distinguished Guests,
I am honored to address the fiftieth session of the General Assembly in my capacity as the Secretary of External Affairs for the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia.
At the outset, I wish to extend to you, Mr. President, my government’s congratulations on your election to the Presidency of this august body. We are pleased that the stewardship of this anniversary session is entrusted to a distinguished and seasoned diplomat. I wish to express my confidence in your capable leadership and assure you of the cooperation of my government in the discharge of the mandate of your office as President of this Assembly.
In this regard, I wish to thank your distinguished predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Amara Essy of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, for his dedication and excellent guidance of the work of this Assembly during its Forty-ninth session. I wish also to convey my government’s gratitude to the Secretary-General, Dr. Boutros- Ghali, for his tireless efforts in the search for peaceful solutions to the many volatile situations and humanitarian and development issues around the world that are challenging this organization’s attention.
My government takes this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to the Republic of Palau, the newest member of the United Nations.
In a few weeks from today, Member States of the United Nations will join together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this Organization, taking note of its accomplishments and its share of failures with a view to chart an effective role for its future.
The new global map before us today presents this organization with a unique opportunity as the primary global institution. The challenge of leadership is before us, however, this opportunity will be missed without financial resources as well as political will of its member states.
In this connection, we wish to support the expression by the Chair of the Group of 77 and China last week with respect to the Report of the Progress of the Work of the High-Level Open-ended Working Group on the Financial Situation of the United Nations.
I also wish to express my government’s strong support for the ongoing program of reforms within the organization. We support institutional reforms which eliminate duplication of work, waste, fraud and thereby enhance the effectiveness of this organization.
One of the most obvious organizational questions at this time is the future role, if any, of one of the main UN Organs, the Trusteeship Council. With the termination of the last Trusteeship component, the Council this year reached a historic milestone. What now?
In line with the emerging discussion on this subject, my Government recognizes that the overall concept of Trusteeship may provide a vehicle through which the United Nations might play a useful role in new and innovative ways such as, perhaps, dealing with the Global Commons. Any such new role for the Council, however, must be very carefully crafted and distinguished from the past.
With reference to the Scale of Assessments, my Government finds merit in the argument that the principle of capacity to pay seems to have fallen by the wayside in the determination of assessments. My Government wishes to thank the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom and other Missions for their analytical studies of the scale of assessments carried out recently. These studies point out disturbing disparities in the existing scale as compared with individual member countries’ share of the global economy. Naturally, it is the smallest member states that are being penalized by such disparities. My Government associates itself with the Report of the 50th Session of the Committee on Contributions held in June of this year, which called for a lowering of the floor. Mr. President,
The issue of human rights, implicit in the U.N. Charter, has been the topic of many debates and international conferences in the context of the work of the United Nations. It occupied center stage at the Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen, and recently at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China last month. We welcome the programs of action generated by these meetings, and hope that the international community will find the determination to allocate the necessary resources for their implementation.
The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia joined in the consensus of the Parties for the unconditional extension of the Nuclear Non-proliferation (NPT) Treaty five months ago. With regard to the ongoing negotiations with respect to a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, my government welcomes the commitment by the United States for a zero yield threshold, and we urge similar assurances by the other nuclear weapon states.
Similarly, Mr. President, during the past few months, we have been deeply troubled by the occurrence of nuclear test explosions in China and in the South Pacific. These events can only be seen as detrimental to the principles of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and endangering the prospects for success in negotiating a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. As long as these nuclear powers disregard the strong wishes of the international community and break testing moratoria at will, we can take little comfort in their spoken assurance of willingness to sign and abide by a comprehensive nuclear test ban. The best evidence of their good faith in this regard would be a cessation of all testing at once.
In the important area of development, my Government fully supports the ongoing work on an Agenda for Development and the call for new approaches that would elevate development and economic policy to their deserved place on par with world peace and security.
In the Secretary-General’s recommendations of 11 November 1994, he stated, “[t]he United Nations cannot be a strong force for peace unless it is also a strong force for development. ” My Government fully associates itself with the G77 Foreign Ministers’ declaration calling for restoration of the issue of development to the heart of the U.N. agenda, the centrality of the U.N. in promoting international cooperation for development, and the creation of a balance between U.N. activities for development and its other activities.
My government welcomes the coming into effect of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in November of last year, as well as the establishment of the International Seabed Authority. While there is much more work ahead in months to come with respect to the Seabed Authority and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, we are confident that the spirit of compromise that brought us to where we are today will continue to prevail and guide our efforts.
In this connection, my government is very pleased with the successful outcome of the negotiations on the Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks this past July. The economic development of the Federated States of Micronesia, as a small island developing state, depends to a large extent on its marine resources within its one million square miles of exclusive economic zone. Conservation and management of marine resources is a tradition in the Federated States of Micronesia. We therefore embrace the international efforts within these past few years to institute a regime for the management of fish stocks on the high seas as a natural extension of our traditional practice. My government looks forward to the signing of the Agreement in December of this year. At this juncture allow me, Mr. President, to express my government’s appreciation to Ambassador Satya Nandan of Fiji for his excellent leadership as Chairman of the Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks Conference. As Pacific Islanders, we take pride in the immense contributions of one of our own sons to an area so critical to the economic development of the Pacific region and the world.
The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia is firmly committed to environmentally sustainable development. We were a founding member of the Alliance of Small Island States, and continue to associate ourselves actively with the advancement of the interests shared by small island developing states, within the context of the overall work of the Group of 77. We urge all members to follow closely the crucial work of the Commission on Sustainable Development this year, and to support the important work of Under-Secretary-General Nitin Desai and the Secretariat in this difficult, but essential endeavor. In this connection, we continue to place great importance on the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.
The South Pacific Forum at its meeting last month adopted the Convention to Ban Importation Into the Forum Island Countries of Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes and to Control Transboundary Movement and Managements of Hazardous Wastes within the South Pacific Region, also referred to as the Waigani Convention. It is an important arrangement that strengthens and supplements the effect of the Basel and London Conventions within our region.
The subject of climate change, and global warming, as influenced by mankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, remains a deep concern to the people of the Federated States of Micronesia. Unfortunately, though, it seems that much of the World does not at present share our feeling of urgency in the continuing debate over this problem.
The developments during the past year relating to the Framework Convention have been to some extent encouraging, but the process still suffers greatly from the strong political and economic influences that obscure the Convention’s clearly stated objective – that is, the stabilization of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at safe levels. Everyone agrees that this objective can be reached only through difficult adjustments within industrialized countries and assistance to the developing world in acquiring environmentally clean technologies. It is also understood that this must be done in stages over some period of time. But the first steps must be initiated at once. The First Conference of the Parties in Berlin earlier this year made the very crucial determination that the initial undertakings by industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are inadequate. Regrettably, the Conference did not see fit to adopt as a next step the Protocol formally submitted by the Alliance of Small Island States, which would apply a reductions formula endorsed by scientists as reasonable and necessary back in 1988.
Instead, the best the Conference could do was mandate a working group to develop a protocol or other legal instrument during the next two years requiring specific future reductions. At the first meeting of this working group recently in Geneva, it was clear that powerful forces remain dedicated to defeating this process by whatever means they can apply.
Opponents of the Framework Convention have been very ingenious in casting doubts over scientific knowledge relating to climate change, but we hope that the upcoming Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will establish once and for all the clear legitimacy of this concern and the need for action. The Panel has found, among other things, a likelihood of continuing sea level rise amounting to more than eighteen inches, or half a meter, by the year 2100 if nothing is done. Besides the obvious disastrous effects upon islands and their populations, many heavily populated river deltas and their cities would be made uninhabitable. Tens of millions including not just islanders, but also inhabitants of Egypt, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China, France, the Netherlands, Italy and the Mississippi Delta of the United States, to name only some, would become environmental refugees. Even more would be exposed for the first time to flooding due to storm surges.
The eminent Director of the University of Maryland’s Laboratory for Coastal Research recently described the measurement of sea level rise as the “dipstick of climate change.” I would respectfully suggest that while sea level rise is certainly the indicator, it is our islands and low-lying coastal areas that are the dipstick – but we are helplessly fixed and immovable.
I therefore call on this body at this Session, Mr. President, to take due notice of the accumulating knowledge relating to climate change and to reaffirm the need and the urgency for meaningful greenhouse gas emissions-reduction measures within the context of the Framework Convention.
I am pleased to inform this Assembly, in particular, our good friends from Africa, Australia and elsewhere, whose homelands are devastated by the effects of land degradation and drought, that the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia has recently ratified the Convention on Desertification, and the government will deposit its Instrument of Ratification in due time.
The FSM sees an inter-relationship between the three environment conventions, namely Biodiversity, Climate Change and the Convention on Desertification, and only through a collective approach and support can we have a chance to restore, protect and sustain our global environment. My government joins in solidarity with all affected members, to work towards solutions through global cooperation. Mr. President,
France’s implacable determination to complete a series of underground test explosions in the South Pacific, which it is continuing in the face of unprecedented international outrage, is a sad circumstance for many reasons, but I focus here on the particular danger these tests pose to the environment of our Pacific Region.
The history of nuclear testing in the Pacific, both North and South, is an ugly chronicle of willingness to gamble with the lives and homelands of millions of island inhabitants. In the region of Micronesia, and in particular the Marshall Islands, despite broad assurances that testing was safe, we are learning only now, years later, that the disastrous effects on the health of island peoples have been far worse than science at the time could have predicted. Even today, nuclear testing affects human health and the environment in ways that science is still struggling to identify and evaluate. It is a highly complex business, involving many scientific disciplines in an attempt to address effects that emerge over hundreds of years.
An established principle of international law prescribes that a State must ensure that its actions within its jurisdiction or control do not cause damage within other States or within areas beyond the limits of its national jurisdiction. That principle is embodied in Article 4 of the Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region, otherwise known as the Noumea Convention. Together with nine Pacific countries and the United States, France is a party to that Convention. It is also an expressed principle in the Convention on the Biological Diversity, to which France is also a State party.
The Noumea and Biodiversity Conventions also contain clear requirements for advance, transparent environmental impact assessments of project which might have harmful impacts on the environment. No in-depth, comprehensive environmental impact assessment of France’s underground nuclear testing program in the South Pacific has ever been carried out.
France has sought to reassure the World by saying that the test area will be open to any assessment desired, as soon as its present tests are over. Without question, France will bear a heavy responsibility to ensure against future leakage, the probability of which is very high. Picture the shattered substratum of a small atoll which has undergone over 120 nuclear explosions – one of which caused a tidal wave. Surely, each succeeding explosion increases the likelihood of leakage from the accumulation of radioactive materials concentrated below. In the view of my government, that proposition deserves assessment before further tests proceed, especially since France’s obligation under both of the treaties I have mentioned include observance of the Precautionary Principle.
We hope that the collective voice of this body at this Session will finally convince France that it must respect the interests of the Pacific Region and the World by ending the nuclear degradation of Polynesian atolls and taking necessary actions to prevent future radioactive leakage from them.
A common thread throughout these remarks has been one of hope – because at its fiftieth anniversary this organization, more than ever, is the greatest hope for a future in which nations, in cooperation with one another, can address the bewildering array of problems whose implications, while local in their effects, far transcend national boundaries.
Our small, relatively young nation, remote and underdeveloped, joins with many others in similar circumstances to feel blessed that, at this juncture in history there is a sense of universality within the community of Nations. At a time when the previous “doomsday mentality” no longer lies at the foundation of international relations, it gives us hope that the passing of that phase now makes room for more serious contemplation of the future of the planet we all must share.
It is good that we celebrate this important milestone in human history, this fiftieth anniversary of our forum for the world’s nations. But if it is to be more than just a forum we must all keep a vision of why we come here each year – why we expend so much effort throughout the year at conferences and at home to exchange our respective views.
In the end we must find ways to transcend the traditional assumptions about each other and determine to create a level of real mutual cooperation which multiplies the effectiveness of our individual efforts. That is why this United Nations today is more important than ever – indeed, why it is crucial. It is through this organization, and through no other, that the breakthrough to which I refer can be achieved.
And so, Mr. President, I close as I opened, with reference to the opportunity that makes this organization our strongest basis for confidence and our hope for the future. We know that we are not alone in these views, and look forward to working very hard during this, the fiftieth General Assembly, to do our part in making it not only a well-deserved celebration, but a springboard to a bountiful future from which our descendants will look back and say, “They did not let us down.”
Thank you, Mr. President.