H.E. MR. RESIO S. MOSES
SECRETARY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
OF THE FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA
IN THE GENERAL DEBATE
THE FORTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
New York, 13 October 1993
I am honored to address the 48th Session of the General Assembly, on behalf of the Federated States of Micronesia. I bring warm greetings from our President, His Excellency Bailey Olter, and from all the people of Micronesia.
Given the many challenges facing this Organization and, indeed, the entire world in the coming year, we are heartened by your election, Mr. President. You have our confidence and our support as you assume the office so ably discharged by your distinguished predecessor, His Excellency, Mr. Stoyen GANEV, who has earned our respect and gratitude.
Special recognition must also be given to the Secretary-General, Dr. BOUTROS-BOUTROS GHALI, under whose leadership the United Nations is taking the difficult steps in a process of redefinition and reorganization necessary if we are to seize the opportunities presented by the New World Order and work together in the interests of all the peoples of the World.
During the past year we have seen the Membership of the United Nations draw ever closer toward the goal of universality. We thus congratulate the Czech and Slovak Republics, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Eritrea, Monaco and Andorra, and extend to each of them the spirit of welcome and cooperation.
Our people are deeply saddened by the loss of life and the suffering caused by the earthquake in India on September 30. No words are adequate to address a disaster of such magnitude, but we wish the Government and people of India to know of our most sincere sympathy and readiness to support any relief measures that this Organization might be called upon to undertake.
Not many years ago, the appropriate role of the “micro-states” within the world community was, to be seen, but seldom heard, and even to be excluded altogether from some fora. We in our own small-island developing country, as the body politic of a classic “Micro-“state, hesitated to assert our views on international affairs, thinking that so small a nation could not hope to impact upon the resolution of global issues.
Today, I draw attention to a significant, but less noticeable feature of the New World Order: Throughout human history, international relations have been conducted on a competitive basis, where size and power determined a nation’s ability to advance its interests – and those interests were perceived in strictly unilateral terms. But in recent times, which I suggest can be placed within the lifetime of this Organization, a change has begun to take place – one that has gathered increased momentum even within the past few years. Nations large and small, in the process of coming together under the Charter, have begun for the first time to focus their attention and direct their efforts along lines of the commonality of interests and problems. I speak not merely of lip service, but of a growing, genuine phenomenon, which is seen partly in the unfolding of events here in New York, but even more clearly in the impressive outcomes of the Rio Conference on Environment and Development and the recent World Conference on Human Rights. Another sign is the keen anticipation of the entire world community for the upcoming conferences on Population and Development and on Social Development.
I do not suggest a disappearance of National interests, but across a wide spectrum of social, developmental and even security issues, the growing recognition of common interests gives strength to new alliances on an inclusive, rather than an exclusive basis. Thus, there is good reason for the continued progress toward self-determination among peoples who can now take confidence that they will not be alone in addressing the great difficulties of starting out – and why, for similar reasons, so many of the micro-states have concluded recently that Membership in this Organization is imperative despite the burdens and uncertainties involved.
As this General Assembly proceeds, we are all aware of the great changes to which this Organization subjects itself, organizationally, administratively and politically. There may be some who doubt that Members have the will or commitment to achieve consensus on these changes and to reestablish the proper financial basis for a UN that can be responsive to the present. I submit, however, that any such doubts must be submerged during the coming months as we work here, because we simply cannot afford to fail. The United Nations is no longer an optional feature for the international community. The common concerns of Mankind involved in the great issues to which I alluded earlier cannot be addressed from behind national fences. And so, Mr. President, I appeal to all Members to commit ourselves without qualification during this Assembly to reach the goal of preparing the United Nations to be the central instrument through which we can work to secure the future well-being of all peoples.
I believe that the direct experience of the Federated States of Micronesia within our brief time as a Member provides unmistakable evidence of the strength of concerted, international action. Only a few years ago, having barely emerged from colonialism, our best hopes for development lay with dependence for an indefinite period on the generosity of a few bilateral donors, chief among them being the United States. Moreover, as inhabitants of small, low-lying islands, we were helpless in the face of the looming threat of sea-level rise and other natural disasters caused by human-induced climate change.
Today, through the work of this body, with our participation, the special development needs and environmental exposures of all small-island developing states are being carefully addressed in a number of settings, including the Conventions on Climate Change and Biodiversity and the followup activities to UNCED. The early work of the Commission on Sustainable development promises attention to our problems, and the basis for that attention is already being established through the upcoming Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small-Island Developing States.
All this is not happening because of an outburst of charitable sympathy by the developed countries, but rather in the context of addressing a complex of issues in which peoples everywhere have a vital stake. Herein lies the real strength and value of the United Nations – to us, and to all.
During the past year my Government has found encouragement in the ways which this Organization as a whole recognizes the difficulties that small states encounter trying to participate fully in the work. We deeply appreciate the opportunities afforded to us through the contribution of Members to voluntary funds that have enabled our participation in vital functions. We also acknowledge the instances where calls by small states for the holding of meetings here in New York to make our presence possible, have been heard. Furthermore, we appreciate that whenever possible, special measures for our benefit such as limiting the number of simultaneous meetings are being taken.
For our own part, small states are now seen more often coming together on common issues to speak with one voice, for greater effectiveness and efficiency. Here, I cite the Alliance of Small Island States as a successful example on the issue of Climate Change and other UNCED-related matters. In a more general sense, the regional groups operate to the benefit of small states, affording opportunities to us for access to electoral positions by virtue of allocations and through the principle of rotation. I am sure others can cite factors favorable to small states that I have failed to mention.
Yet, Mr. President, even with all the above, I must state that we are very hard pressed to participate in the broad range of UN activities, both financially and due to the sheer volume and complexity of those activities. For this reason, and because so many other Members share these disabilities with us, I propose that the United Nations as part of its reorganization efforts, undertake a comprehensive examination of the obstacles that exist to the full participation of small states with a view toward identifying institutional, rather than ad hoc solutions. After all, achieving universality in the U.N. would be a hollow accomplishment so long as significant numbers of Members remain incapable of reaching their effective potential within the Organization. We look forward to addressing this issue during the course of the 48th General Assembly.
Before going further, permit me say that the Federated States of Micronesia is a Member of the South Pacific Forum, an organization of Heads of Governments of Pacific Island countries. Each year, prior to this date, the Forum meets to address matters of concern to our Region, and expresses our joint views on many issues before this Body. I wish to state our complete solidarity with that expression, contained in the Communiqué from our recent meeting in Nauru, which will be presented for incorporation in the records of this Assembly.
The Forum members have been outspoken in opposing the testing of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Our optimism ran high at the recent Nauru meeting, because it seemed that at last the nuclear powers had found the resolve to bring this dangerous chapter in history to an end. Now, with reports of a recent test by one of them, the Federated States of Micronesia is deeply concerned that the great progress made toward a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty could be reversed. We call on all nuclear powers not to treat this recent aberration as an incentive to turn backwards, but rather to restore and hold to their collective discipline.
The issue of fundamental human rights is interwoven into every aspect of the activities undertaken by this Body, and yet, as a self-standing issue, for too long many governments have been content to avoid confronting it directly as a matter of multilateral responsibility. I am glad to say that we sense some improvement in the situation despite continuing occurrences of the most repugnant kinds of violations.
In this decade, we have witnessed unprecedented changes in World conditions, brought about in part by a growing unanimity of the resolve among all peoples to express and exercise their fundamental human rights. Recently, prominent States have been dismantled in order to form States that afford broader opportunities for expression of these rights. Sadly, at the same time, other States continue to go to great lengths to suppress them. The World finds itself at once rejoicing in newly-established freedoms, but also feeling deep revulsion over atrocities and repression of shocking magnitude. If any lesson emerges from this dichotomy, it must be that isolated progress is not enough, and that the fundamental human rights issues can no longer be relegated to the background in a makeup of supposedly higher multilateral priorities. Rather, human rights must be a cornerstone of our work, which must be guided by the principles of the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Accordingly, the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia expresses its support for the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, agreed upon at the Global Conference on Human Rights, held at Vienna, Austria, in June of this year. We support its adoption by the 48th General Assembly.
In keeping with the principles of that Declaration, I wish to affirm my Government’s strong and unconditional support for the Universality of human rights, and for effective multilateral instruments that give meaning and definition to the concept. As an early priority, our new nation has undertaken a close examination of the existing instruments with a view to freely undertaking obligations thereunder, consistent with our Constitution. As a first step, we have acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and we anticipate further action on other instruments at an early date.
One of the very important concerns which is interlinked with all of our Government’s hopes for a better future is the rights of women. We fully support the development of effective new instruments in the cause of women’s rights in order to secure their protection against discrimination and abuse.
As a nation comprised wholly of indigenous people, my Government also expresses its solidarity with all indigenous peoples of the World, and particularly those subjected to deprivation of their fundamental human rights within their own homelands.
In this, the Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, it is important that this Body redoubles its efforts to assure that the peoples of the remaining non-self-governing territories are given every opportunity to exercise their right to self-determination and self- government. While the obstacles to self-determination for the remaining territories are minor compared to those that are being confronted so dramatically in Eastern Europe and in Palestine, it remains our moral responsibility to support the right to self-determination for all peoples under colonial administration. Today, the enlarged membership of the United Nations is itself strong testimony to the success of decolonization; let us harken back to our own earlier struggles and recommit ourselves to the complete elimination of colonialism.
My Government welcomes the establishment of the International Tribunal and the recent election of its members to try perpetrators of war crimes in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Still, we would lend our support to the establishment of a permanent International Human Rights Tribunal. The independent, juridical composition of such a body should place it above concerns regarding political intervention, while denying human rights violators any refuge from defined international responsibility.
The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia places great importance on the issue of fundamental human rights and will continue to participate in the work of this Body toward a World community wherein all peoples live without threat of encroachment upon these rights.
It has been well-established by actions of this Body that the Right to Development is itself a fundamental human right. But, to recognize a right is one thing – to secure the exercise of that right is much more difficult. A great deal is said and done here at the United Nations each year to address the needs of developing countries and peoples, not to mention the considerable resources that are mobilized bilaterally toward that end. Yet, we continue to see wide variations in the degree of effectiveness of that assistance and in the results of efforts by developing countries themselves. This has led an increasing number of us to question whether there might not exist a number of identifiable factors which, to varying degrees in different developing countries, prevent the achievement of success with development efforts. If they could be defined with precision and recognized where they are present, it might well be possible to attain very significant increases in economy and outcomes.
With the welcome suggestion and leadership of Papua New Guinea, and after considerable discussion and exchange of views among eminent leaders in the developing world, this matter has been placed before the Assembly in Agenda Item 151, entitled, “United Nations initiative on opportunity and participation.” Mr. President, we will join others in cosponsoring a resolution to be presented under this item, calling for a comprehensive, systematic and thorough study of the encumbrances to full opportunity and participation in development, with particular reference to the economies of developing countries. Properly supported and carried out, this initiative doubtless will enable significant breakthroughs in the World’s joint effort to secure this important and fundamental human right, with equity and equality among all, according to their needs.
The Federated States of Micronesia pays tribute to the enlightened men and women who gave life to the UNCED process and focused the World’s attention on the necessity to begin replacing wasteful and polluting practices with sustainable development. This movement is especially well-timed for my country, since our development planning is still in its early phases. As a consequence, with the encouragement and support of the World community we now have in place a National Environmental Management Strategy, which provides an essential complement to our development-planning efforts. We intend that our country will become a model of effective partnership with other nations and this Body to demonstrate the application of new, clean technologies to accommodate sustainable development within a small, pristine environment.
Of course, as a nation of distant and widely-dispersed small islands, many of which are low-lying atolls, we experience all the difficulties recognized in Chapter 17 G of Agenda 21 as inhibiting the development of small-island countries. Thus, we are thankful for the opportunity before us now to enhance general understanding of those difficulties through the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island States. As a member of the Alliance of Small Island States, we are participating fully in that process. It was most heartening to note, at the recent Preparatory Conference, the strong participation of developed countries and the solid support as well from our colleagues in the Group of 77. We will fully reciprocate that support in all appropriate settings, because, despite our consciousness of our own problems we know that virtually all developing countries exhibit one or more disabling characteristics that distinguish them from others in some way. While we are part of a relatively large grouping of countries who share similar characteristics and disabilities, all developing countries deserve attention to their particular obstacles to development.
In that light, we perceive the Barbados Conference next year as an important early milestone in the post-Rio process, not only for small-island developing states, but for all nations, developed and developing, who believe as we do in the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21. This Conference is the first real test of Agenda 21. Is it to be a working document? Will it produce action? Or is it just another volume of high-sounding words that will have little real impact on national policies. Many feel that these questions will be answered at Barbados. Let us all pray that the answers confirm the intentions of the Rio participants.
It may seem at times that we of the region of the Pacific Islands are overly Preoccupied with concerns for our environment, and that we take too broad a view of potential impacts resulting from the actions of others. We raise our voices loudly and often on the subject of human-induced climate change and sea-level rise, but many say, “It may not happen.” We speak out against nuclear testing, especially among our islands, but those more powerful say, “It probably is not harmful.” We demand unequivocally that lethal toxic substances such as plutonium and chemical weapons not be transported through or stored within our region, but even some of our closest friends do so regardless, insisting that, “In all likelihood there is no danger.
Are we unduly concerned? Are we naive? We believe we are not. The Pacific region appears to be a vast, thinly-populated ocean area and thus a prime location for the dirty business of the rest of the World, but that region is our home and our responsibility. Not only must we provide for ourselves from its bounty, but we are also stewards of what is coming to be recognized in scientific circles as the last remaining great unspoiled natural resource of the Planet. Our fisheries are still plentiful, but could be threatened if experiences elsewhere in the world are repeated. Our air is still clean, but we now know that we are nevertheless vulnerable to occurrences elsewhere. Our water is still pure, but we have seen other seas contaminated by unsustainable development. We must, and will continue to speak out.
Mr. President, we know that our Region is not simply the victim of a callous disregard by the powerful for consequences visited upon the weak. Rather, we recognize that for centuries, mankind has regarded the vast oceans as being free space, open to all for passage and exploitation. Notwithstanding that Exclusive Economic Zones and multilateral treaties have had major impacts, the fact remains that the Pacific Ocean is today the World’s ultimate “backyard.”
My country’s plea, then, is quite simple and straightforward. We call upon the World community to join with us, in the spirit of Rio, in a true partnership for the sustainable development not just of one or more Pacific island countries, but of our Ocean, and all that is in it. One important focus must, of course, be upon the land and coastal areas within our Region, to accommodate appropriate development without degrading either the land or its surrounding marine areas. But another, broader focus must be on the ocean itself – to respect and build upon growing scientific knowledge of its complex ecological systems, applying the precautionary principle.
It is well-known that the Federated States of Micronesia, along with other low-lying island countries of the World, is literally frightened that its scarce land space may be made unlivable and ultimately disappear if even the moderate predictions of global warming and sea-level rise come to pass. But if this were the only concern surrounding human-induced climate change, loss of biodiversity and unsustainable development, we would be hard put to call upon the World at large to make fundamental alterations in its way of living. Ours, however, is by no means an isolated concern. As the South Pacific Forum Heads of Government have stressed for some years, as President Olter warned from this podium two years ago and again at Rio, and as I stated here last year and now, the fate of the Islands is an advance warning to the rest of the World of the fate that will befall our entire planet if we all do not put into practice the lessons of Rio, in a great, mutual undertaking.
Thanks to the trends that I discussed earlier in respect of the modern realignment of motivations for international cooperation, I have tremendous confidence that we, and our children and grandchildren will succeed, not only in preserving the environment but in maintaining the pace toward the ultimate goals of peace, enjoyment of human rights and social enrichment that are enshrined in the Charter. The Federated States of Micronesia pledges its utmost efforts within this great Organization, during this 48th General Assembly and afterwards, toward the attainment of these ends.