H. E. MR. RESIO S. MOSES
SECRETARY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS OF THE
FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA
IN THE GENERAL DEBATE
THE FORTY-NINTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
New York, 29 September 1994
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates:
I am honored to address member states once again at the Forty-Ninth Session of the United Nations General Assembly. First, I would like to congratulate you Mr. President on your election to the Presidency of this world body. Your experience makes you an excellent choice to provide the leadership that will enable this body to meet the serious challenges that we face. I take this opportunity on behalf of my Government to thank the outgoing President of the 48th Session of the General Assembly His Excellency Mr. Samuel Insanally for the tremendous contribution he has made over the course of a productive and historic year. wish also to thank the distinguished Secretary-General, H.E. Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali for his strong and effective work, which has been so instrumental in the success of this organization.
Mr. President, we note with great sympathy the terrible volcanic eruption that recently occurred in Papua New Guinea. We express the hope that this organization and its members will take all possible measures to help alleviate the suffering and destruction caused by this disaster.
Mr. President, we join the other members of this Assembly in warmly welcoming the new South Africa to this Assembly. The struggle to eliminate apartheid was long, arduous, and painful. The people and government of the Federated States of Micronesia share the joy of the government and people of South Africa in having achieved this noble objective.
My government welcomes the historic steps toward peace in the Middle East and expresses its support for the ongoing bilateral negotiations between the parties in the region. In light of these positive developments in the peace process, the Forty-Ninth Session of the United Nations General Assembly should reflect this new reality in the course of this session and provide an environment which will promote further dialogue between the parties.
Mr. President, we gather at a time in world history where new grounds of cooperation are woven into ever greater dimensions of solidarity. This is quite fortunate, because we also face even bigger and more urgent challenges to the future of our shared planet. From the point of view of a Small Island Developing State, we come to this Assembly with immediate concerns on such issues as climate change, sustainable development, nuclear waste, and natural disasters.
Linked with all these concerns is another issue of equal and immediate concern to all, human rights. The road from Vienna where the world community met only a few hundred miles from the “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia, and spoke of improvements in the field of human rights has been marked with new sign posts leading us in the right general direction, namely the establishment of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the election of Ambassador Jose Ayala Lasso to that important post. However, the scenery along this path is not much different from that of years before. Today, the atrocities and violations of human rights which continue in Bosnia even seem overshadowed by newer outbreaks of human rights violations such as in Rwanda, Haiti and other parts of the world. This Assembly must continue to devote its attention and resources to the field of human rights.
Mr. President, several weeks ago at Brisbane, Australia, the Heads of Governments of 15 Pacific countries including the Federated States of Micronesia held the annual meeting of the South Pacific Forum. As is their practice each year, the Heads discussed matters of common concern within our Region, and expressed consensus views in a Communiqué which has already been presented and included in the records of this Assembly. The Federated States of Micronesia fully subscribes to the views expressed in the Forum Communiqué, and in fact will be guided by it in many of our actions taken here during the coming months.
The South Pacific Forum also decided at its recent meeting in Brisbane to seek observer status at the United Nations during this Forty-Ninth Session. In attaining observer status with the United Nations, the South Pacific Forum will address the increasing importance placed on the role of regional organizations and the contributions which they can make towards the objectives of the United Nations. We believe that the Forum as observer, can increase the effectiveness of our region’s work on such critical issues as climate change, conservation of biodiversity and effective implementation of the outcomes of the Global Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island developing States.
One of the long-standing major concerns of the Federated States of Micronesia which is shared by Forum Members, is over the testing of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction within our Region. We have been much relieved at the continued moratorium on nuclear testing by France and the United States, but we remain deeply concerned by possible consequences flowing from China’s unfortunate insistence on proceeding with its testing program. We will not breathe easy until a moratorium on all testing is made permanent, and to that end we hope for rapid progress toward conclusion of a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Despite that we have outspokenly expressed our concerns in numerous international venues during recent years, the Pacific Region’s vastness and seeming emptiness still makes it an attractive location for environmentally dangerous activities. Too often, when we have attempted, individually and collectively as island countries, to halt movements through our waters of toxic, radioactive and otherwise hazardous materials, our voices have not been heard. As if the dangers of such transport were not bad enough, today we confront an even more repugnant prospect, that of our Region becoming a permanent dumping ground for the world’s nuclear wastes. wish to emphasize here that the Federated States of Micronesia is and will remain unalterably opposed to that use of our region by countries who are not willing to store their wastes within their own borders. As a part of our dedication to finding more effective means of preventing these outrages, the Federated States of Micronesia has the honor to chair the ongoing negotiations within our Forum group toward a regional treaty banning transboundary movement of all hazardous wastes.
Through these and other appropriate actions, we are determined to see that the Pacific Region is treated by the rest of the world with the same degree of concern for the long- term health and welfare of our citizens and our environment that is applied regarding their own.
Mr. President, we welcome the Secretary-General’s new Report on Agenda for Development. My government fully supports the call for a reevaluation of the role of the United Nations in development. As the United Nations approaches its Fiftieth Anniversary, its global agenda must be redefined to be more comprehensive and focused than it has been. The present lack of coordination between the Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations must be corrected to synchronize the setting of global policy on development.
The end of the Cold War has presented the United Nations with a long-overdue opportunity to turn its attention to development. Yet, the cost associated with newly expanded peace-keeping operations around the globe is diverting scarce resources at a time when the role of the United Nations in development is increasingly prominent to many states in the post-Cold War era. This is a trend that the United Nations must examine very carefully in order to find the proper balance among all its responsibilities under the Charter.
Mr. President, the recently concluded International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo is a testimony to the global problems associated with our rapid population growth. The United Nations and the International Community faces a massive sense of urgency and obligation to radically reform and redirect its role and resources to address population growth and sustainable resource use. The world’s population is growing faster than ever before with an estimated number of 95 million people added each year. This unprecedented growth in human population will have profound effect on our physical environment. The Action Plan for population and sustainable development has clear implications for climate change. I wish to draw a distinction that although the rate of population growth in the industrialized countries is slower, these countries still add a disproportionate cost to the environment because residents in industrialized countries add about four times as much carbon to the atmosphere each year as do their counterparts in the developing countries. The Federated States of Micronesia strongly supports the Program of Action on Population Control and Development endorsed at the Cairo Conference and is earnestly looking forward to meeting the goals and objectives contained therein.
As an archipelagic state, my government welcomes the significant breakthrough and the universal acceptance of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea and its imminent entry into force on 16 November 1994. This has been a culmination of long and arduous negotiations between developed and developing countries for over a decade in shaping what I would term a near perfect management and conservation regime for the high seas and the deep seabed which is the “common heritage of mankind”. The Federated States of Micronesia is a party to the Convention and I am happy to inform this august Assembly that my country was among the many countries which have signed Part XI of the agreement on the deep seabed mining after it was opened for signature here in New York in July 1994. We look forward to close cooperation with the international community in the sound management and conservation of the high seas as well as our individual territorial waters.
As a developing island nation whose economy is dependent upon these resources, the Federated States of Micronesia is committed to promotion of responsible fishing practices – not only within our Exclusive Economic Zone and the zones of our neighbors in the region, but in the contiguous high seas areas adjacent to the zones. Mr. President, the Federated States of Micronesia has actively participated in all of the substantive sessions of the United Nations Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. In the Federated States of Micronesia, we are fortunate that our island state is located in those latitudes of the Pacific Ocean in which 50 percent of the world’s highest grade tuna resources are caught. While we appreciate having this resource, we remain ever mindful of the fact that the continued viability of our economy depends upon the rational utilization of the marine resources present within our territorial waters and beyond. This principle of rational utilization of resources forms the foundation for the concept of sustainable development.
It is not only the coastal states like my own, which must be dedicated to rational utilization and responsible fishing practices. Distant water fishing nations must also recognize and protect the fragile balance of nature that exists in the oceans of the world to ensure the sustainability of the resources.
During the last session of the Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, my government’s delegation joined the fifteen other member States of the Forum Fisheries Agency in supporting a binding legal document as the form of outcome for the Conference. Even so, the Federated States of Micronesia does not support any outcome which would compromise the sovereign rights of coastal states over the living marine resources occurring within their own EEZs. We do not support any derogation from the provisions of UNCLOS that recognize the sovereign rights of coastal states.
Mr. President, I would now like to direct my comments to the recently concluded Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States in Barbados which has been a great success in many ways. For the first time in the history of the United Nations, we have been able to put forward an agenda for world attention concerning the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States. The Program of Action that emerged from the Global Conference is the first post-Rio effort to amplify the principles of Agenda 21 in a specific context pointing toward tangible measures for implementation. While this is a milestone, it will remain as little more than a planning document without the genuine commitment of the developed countries. We welcome the recent Report of the Secretary General on actions taken by the Organization and Bodies of the United Nations system to implement the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. We cannot help a certain impatience to see actions taken that are accompanied by necessary funding, but nevertheless, my government applauds steps being taken to ensure that the outcomes of the Barbados Conference are effectively integrated into the work program of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). Strong partnership in this regard should not be seen on a developed versus developing country line but rather as a shared goal and investment for the benefit of the entire family of nations. A notable example of such shared effort, which we welcome wholeheartedly is the upcoming initiative by the United States to work with all countries toward the revitalization of our essential coral reefs, which are currently deteriorating all over the world at an alarming rate.
Mr. President, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) is one of the sources of funding from which Small Island Developing States could access financial assistance for the implementation of the Program of Action and other related environmental endeavors. The Programme of Action which emanated out of the Barbados Conference specifically requested that since, global environmental problems particularly with respect to climate change, biological diversity and international waters are of great significance and concern to Small Island Developing States, the restructured GEF should be seen as an important channel of assistance in these areas through the provision of new and additional resources. At the meeting of our Heads of State of the South Pacific Forum which recently concluded in Brisbane Australia, the Forum welcomed the restructuring and replenishment of the GEF and its intention to assist in the implementation of the outcomes of the Barbados Conference.
We therefore encourage all member states during this 49th Session of the General Assembly to give meaning to the concept of sustainable development by supporting the overall outcome of the Barbados Conference including all the enabling resolutions which will give the specialized UN agencies and organizations the mandate to start implementing the substance of the Program of Action.
Mr. President, in the Framework Convention on the Climate Change Convention, we appeal for a more positive approach by the international community to look seriously at further commitments towards the reduction of Green House Gases (GHG) as called for by the proposed protocol to the CI i mate Change Convention distributed this week to the parties by the Alliance of Small Island States. Recent scientific reports have confirmed with certainty that global warming is occurring. More importantly, it is also now clear that greater cutbacks in emissions by the industrialized countries than were originally envisioned will be essential if there is to be any hope of avoiding the disastrous consequences to much of the world that cynics were scoffing at only a few years ago. We welcomed with hope the coming into effect of the Climate Change Convention this past March, and call upon all members of the United Nations to be present as parties when the Conference of the parties convenes in Berlin.
In keeping with its concern for the protection and sustainable use of the environment, the Federated States of Micronesia acceded in June to the Convention on Biological Diversity and is looking forward to the first Conference of the Parties this November in the Bahamas. In this connection, Mr. President, my Government wishes to add its support to the call made at the last Session of the Intergovernmental Committee in Nairobi that immediate work on a Protocol on Biosafety should begin. The question of ownership and access to ex-situ genetic resources presently not covered by the Convention must also be addressed as a matter of priority.
The concept of giving the environment and development equal priority is widely accepted now, but remains in many ways difficult to implement. It will remain so, for many years to come, even though all our best thinking is to be devoted to it. Sadly, even as we speak, as a result of past and current practices the quality and stocks of our planet’s natural resources are deteriorating at an accelerated pace. If we are to succeed in confronting this challenge, the integrated efforts of the entire international community must call upon the assets that all countries, large and small, developed and developing, can bring to bear. For example, sustainable living, which has been the way of island peoples for centuries, involves practices and techniques that are quite relevant to sustainable development in much of today’s world. The canoes sailing across our crystal blue lagoons bring to mind a host of traditions of our people which involve clean use of the environment and highly effective resource management practices. We must approach sustainable development in a way that respects and builds on the age-old concept of sustainable living, and which takes full account of the wisdom that can be gleaned from indigenous cultures worldwide.
Mr. President, in other words, my country believes that not only is it important to have a common vision to combat climate change and promote sustainable development, but it is now definitely incumbent upon our family of nations to seriously rethink our roles and how we can all play a vital part in restoring our over-stressed environment. Speaking as a front line country in terms of vulnerability, we cannot retract into positions of treating the global environmental issues based only on what we think we are conveniently capable of without giving due consideration to the urgency and magnitude of the issue. It requires much more additional resources and commitment to address this man made liability especially on the part of the developed countries.
Our views on these issues are clear and simple: We are convinced that all our efforts are mounting up to a long term investment for the survival and viability of our planet’s ecosystem – the common heritage of mankind. Mr. President, in assessing what has transpired so far in all the related activities towards this common objective, I cannot but to say how fascinated I am with the enormous effort that has gone into these processes. The activities range from the negotiations on the Climate Change Convention, Biodiversity Convention, Desertification Convention, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks Meeting, Barbados Conference, Cairo Conference on Population and Development, Commission on Sustainable Development, and the Global Environmental Facility. I cannot but believe that positive progress will emanate from this massive human energy and commitment and that our future as a race will be secured with this common vision.
After all Mr. President, we are not only inhabitants on this plant, but custodians of resources for future generations. I hope that the greed of mankind will not in the end triumph over the responsibility inherent in ourselves to leave for future generations an environment which is as habitable as we have been endowed with today. There will come a day when it will be realized that utilizing our natural resources in a sustainable way may be the greatest gift which our present civilization can contribute.