H.E. Mr. Kalkot Matas Kelekele, President
26 September 2008
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Recalling his country’s “difficult progress towards independence”, KALKOT MATAS KELEKELE, President of Vanuatu, expressed gratitude to the United Nations for its “active concern and assistance” through the “Committee of 24” on Decolonization, to make Vanuatu a Member State 27 years ago.
Speaking on behalf of other Pacific countries as well, he said more concerted action by the international community was needed to address climate change as a security issue, and “the increasing vulnerability of today’s global environment where nature respects no boundaries”. Without this, some Pacific nations “will be submerged”, and the United Nations and its Members would have failed in their first and most basic duty: to uphold the principles of the Charter.
On the subject of the graduation from the list of least developed countries, he urged reform of existing criteria, to prevent those countries from being “forcibly reclassified” and losing much-needed concessionary support. A country should be graduated from the list through first-hand assessments, by way of in-country visits, not on the basis of statistical indicators showing achievement of two of the three criteria, in this case: higher national income; significant progress in human assets or human capital; and economically less vulnerable conditions.
He went on to draw attention to the “island paradox” -- when relative prosperity of a country overshadows high vulnerability -- explaining that the sustainability of higher income was “constantly challenged” by the high vulnerability of island economies to the destructive impact of natural phenomena such as hurricanes, cyclones, volcanic eruption and sea level rise.
The achievement outlook for Millennium Development Goals was found to be “poor to fair” in Vanuatu’s first report of its Millennium Development Goal National Committee. That was due to poor linkages in Government priorities and inadequate allocation of resources. But, with the assistance of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Vanuatu was trying to accelerate progress in the pursuit of Millennium Development Goals by better identifying key challenges and improved ways to address them, he said.
Among other issues, he requested extending submissions on the Extension of Continental Shelf beyond May 2009, and noted Vanuatu’s dispute with France over the matter. On the subject of United Nations reform, he called for the Security Council to become more representative of its membership by granting permanent seats to Japan and India.