INTRODUCING PROPOSED RESOLUTION A/46/L,69 ON RECONSTRUCTION AND REHABILITATION OF CYCLONE-AFFECTED SOUTH PACIFIC COUNTRIES
Mr. James T. Stovall, III
Deputy Permanent Representative,
Charge d’ Affaires a. i.
UNGA 46, 13 April 1992
The Delegation of the Federated States of Micronesia has the high honor to address this body today in its capacity as Chair of the fifteen-member coalition of Pacific Island countries known as the South Pacific Forum. Most particularly I speak here in support of those of our number that are Members of the United Nations and have recently experienced devastation caused by a weather phenomenon increasingly prevalent in our Region, namely cyclones, or, “typhoons. ” The countries affected, named in the proposed Resolution, are the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, The Solomon Islands aid the Republic of Vanuatu.
I wish to introduce and commend to your favorable attention proposed Resolution A/46/L.69, which pertains to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of these storm-ravaged islands. The text of the proposed Resolution notes with appreciation the truly sympathetic response and effective assistance already extended to the victims of these recent disasters by this Body, by the United Nations Development Programme, by other organs of the United Nations system, as well as by individual governments and non-governmental organizations. I wish, Mr. President, to lay particular emphasis on that expression of appreciation.
We also extend heartfelt thanks to each of the many Members who have joined as cosponsors of the proposed Resolution. Natural disasters and their accompanying destruction and loss of life are unfortunately a frequent subject of response by this Body. The response is driven in part by a realization of our common exposure to the many uncontrollable, and often unpredictable mechanisms of the planet. As human beings, the impulse to help one another deal with adverse consequences that are beyond our control lies close to the bedrock upon which the principle of multilateral cooperation, and hence, this organization, is founded.
So, Mr. President, I am not in unfamiliar territory in speaking here today, to propose a resolution which calls for continuing attention to the serious plight of these Pacific Island countries brought on by some of the most destructive storms ever recorded.
Recent experience has shown us that the weather, to put it plainly, is getting worse. In former times, serious cyclones were occasional but relatively infrequent occurrences throughout most of the Pacific islands. Now, even in the opening years of this decade, we have seen Samoa, damaged by cyclone “Ofa” in 1990 and still struggling to recover, hammered for four long days and nights by an even stronger storm in 1991 which went on to cause havoc also in Niue, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Wallis and Futuna. I will not here reiterate details of that tragic experience, which are already a matter of record.
Another case in point is the Republic of the Marshall Islands, lying just north of the Equator and subject to different trade winds, and so far East as, until recently, to have been thought invulnerable to typhoons. Nevertheless, these low-lying atolls were washed over by a sudden typhoon in 1990, and no sooner had a very expensive reconstruction gotten underway with significant assistance from the United States than came another storm which took away the reconstruction and deepened the problems even further. I could also describe similar and equally serious cyclonic events which recently have occurred in the other countries that are main sponsors of the proposed Resolution.
Mr. President, Preparedness and Mitigation, as referred to in the draft, are not easily achieved by remote island countries whose people cannot watch television every night to review their weather for the next week. Both early warning capabilities and resources for effective protection against damage are woefully inadequate. And if livable weather patterns that have supported Island life for centuries are already giving way to a climatological “new world order” which spells environmental catastrophe for islanders in terms of intensified storm activity, sea level rise and other destructive consequences, then immediate actions must be taken to relieve the inadequacies in weather prediction and protection.
Thus, Mr. President, we humbly approach this Body with full awareness of the historic challenges faced today by all Members of the United Nations on many, costly fronts. We ask, nevertheless, that the assistance envisioned by the proposed Resolution be targeted to achieve more than simple repair. The expressed goals of Preparedness and Mitigation are aimed in this case at the survival of a group of Pacific Island nations, but the same goals are also central to the ability of the entire World to cope with the longer term adverse effects of human-induced climate change. We, then, along with small Island States and low-lying coastal regions everywhere are harbingers of the all-encompassing problem – frontline countries, if you will, against an onslaught of apocalyptic proportions. In that sense the proposed Resolution is a timely one, and its adoption by this body would be not only an act deeply appreciated as a humanitarian gesture, but also an encouraging sign of the broader resolve of this Body and its Members.
For these reasons, Mr. President, my delegation calls for the adoption of proposed Resolution A/46/L.69, and if it is your will, we ask that the Assembly do so by acclamation, without a vote.