Ladies & Gentlemen
The Republic of Nauru has just passed its first anniversary as a member of this esteemed organization, with a Permanent Mission in New York that is just 9 months old. The admission of our brother Island from the Pacific, Tuvalu, as the 189th member of the Organization is a most welcome development. On behalf of my Government, I extend to Tuvalu our warm welcome into the brotherhood of nations.
My delegation commends the Secretary-General, His Excellency Kofi Annan and his team at the Secretariat for the craftily written Report, "We the peoples: the role of the United Nations in the 21" century". The report has captured, in one exposure, the agony and ecstasy of the United Nations as it journeyed through its triumphs and failures over the past 55 years of its existence. Our presence in this Parliament of the peoples of the United Nations, is not to bask in the ecstasy of past achievements, but to pledge anew our commitment and determination to face the problems that continues to confront humanity; and with our reassurance, launch the United Nations on a new crusade to engage the tempestuous challenges encapsulated in Chapter 7 of the Secretary-General's Report. In conjunction with this, the Heads of State or Government of member States has mandated the Assembly, by their solemn act of adopting the outcome document, to implement the call for action.
It is further encouraging to hear the Foreign Ministers expound upon and reinforce the commitments of their respective Heads of State or Government made at the Summit. It is now for the doers to deliver the goods, so to speak. It is here that the greatest challenges lie. It is indisputable that the issues before us are not new but are unfinished business, and the most difficult to progress. The problem is in the interaction between member states to deliver agreed instruments that will act as platforms by which member States will be obligated to adopt and implement at the national level.
It is, therefore, my delegation's strong view that our first priority is to revitalise and further strengthen the foundation for collaboration and cooperation (or now coined as multilateralism) amongst member States on the one hand, and between the United Nations and the appropriate IGOs and NGOs on the other. That is, we must resolve not only to provide the United Nations with the allocated resources and processes to perform its tasks effectively, but we must also repair the negative undercurrents and detrimental practises that inhibit the achievement of desired outcomes.
In this regard, Nauru considers the following actions to be necessary steps towards this goal:
First, we must revitalize the work and restore the authority of the General Assembly as the only universally representative body of the United Nations.
Secondly, there is a need to address the ongoing marginalisation of the smaller and less affluent member states.
Third, we must expedite the reform of the Security Council. Nauru believes that an expansion in both the number and category of Security Council membership is the politically correct action to take, and we urge participants and facilitators alike to expedite the work of the Working Group.
Fourth, the preference of unanimity as the means to disposing issues or questions under consideration is, in our view, a major factor behind the delay in reaching agreed solutions, and has on more than one occasion resulted in the dilution of outcomes. Setting such a high standard, when the principle organs of the United Nations come to decisions on a two-thirds majority basis, is self-defeating. Nauru takes the view that a unanimous outcome should be a target only, and not a rule.
Fifth, financial resources need to be shored up. The timely and unconditional payment of assessed contributions will enable the UN to discharge its responsibilities on a timely manner. Voluntary contributions are also a very essential source of funds to support the work of the subsidiary bodies and agencies through trust funds established under the United Nations. Nauru commends those member States who contribute to such Trust Funds over and above their assessed contributions, and we also recognise and praise the important contribution that private trust funds such as the Ted Turner Foundation make to the work of the UN, and its main agencies.
Sixth, a number of covenants remain dormant due either to the lack of signatories to bring them into force, or to the lack of ratification by States that have signed. We thus call for all states to make a commitment to bringing outstanding international agreements into force.
Seventh, the Secretary-General's reform initiatives of 1997 must be brought to bear in the shortest time possible so that the limited resources of the United Nations are put to work more on the programs of action and less on running the administrative machineries. We urge that the Secretariat continues to review its operations on a timely basis as it strives to do more with less.
Mr President, the President of the Republic of Nauru, in his intervention in the Roundtable discussion, expressed his disappointment that the core responsibilities of the United Nations regarding the rights of peoples to self-determination and freedom from alien domination did not rank as importantly as the other issues currently before us. The fact that there are still 17 countries listed in the Decolonisation Committee coupled with the non-settlement of long- standing disputes between States over their borders, and of stateless people, may be indicative of the priority that these issues receive within the UN.
For Nauru, the UN's continued rejection to deal with the plight of the millions of Chinese on the island of Taiwan is tantamount to absconding from its core responsibilities. No stretch of the imagination will convince us that the Republic of China on Taiwan is a province of China. Nauru has no doubt that the condition that unification should be done through "peaceful" means adopted by the United States and its allies as part of their "one china" policy has maintained relative calm in the region. It is encumbered upon the UN, under the appropriate Articles of the Charter, and the international community to find a lasting solution to the problem. The UN cannot rightly claim to be a truly universally representative world body as long as the people of Taiwan continue to be excluded from this organisation.
East Timor is a classic case of the UN not paying attention to the concerns of the Pacific region. Undoubtedly, had the UN, through the Security Council, acted at the time it was prompted by the Governments of the region, the human carnage and immeasurable damage to property would ave been ar ess, and pe aps even avoided altogether.
It is in this vein that Nauru is raising the matter of West Papua. Our Head of State has stated Nauru's position on the issue in his intervention at the Millennium Summit and I will not therefore repeat it here. However, the Nauru Mission at the United Nations has been instructed to take the necessary steps towards putting together a resolution on West Papua's call for a new and democratically run referendum on the question of independence from Indonesia in the spirit of the 1962 Agreement between the Netherlands and Indonesia. We look forward to your support in due course.Mr. President,
Flowing on from these issues of security and peace is the safety and survival of humankind from weapons of mass destruction, illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and the pandemic of the HIV/AIDS virus.
Despite the establishment of several initiatives by the UN in its effort to progress and expedite the question of disarmament, it is sad to note that progress is at a snail's pace due mainly to resistance by most Nuclear Weapons States to disarm. In the Pacific region, which has been declared a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone by the Raratonga Treaty, the trans-boundary shipment of nuclear fuel and other radioactive material in the waters of State parties to the Waigani Convention are banned. Our efforts through the NPT process and bilateral and multilateral initiatives to protect our ecosystem and seas against accidents from these shipments in the high seas of our region have been met with strong opposition by shipping States who, unlike us, are not dependent on the sea and its ecosystem for their livelihoods
In this regard, Nauru supports the call by the Secretary General to convene a special session of the General Assembly to address the nuclear weapons disarmament issue, as we are not satisfied with the pace of progress in the other fora.
On the other end of the scale, small arms and fight weapons obtained through illicit trade accounts for much of the political, ethnic and criminal killings and human suffering that has occurred in the less affluent countries of the world. The tranquil South Pacific has not been spared from this deadly trade. The United Nations will be convening the First Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Weapons next year and it is our hope that member States will not put national political interests ahead of the desires of the international community to eradicate this illegal and offensive activity.
International efforts to contain the HIV/AIDS epidemic from spreading have not been successful in the least developed and developing countries, particularly in Africa. The prohibitive cost of treatment and social attitudes am the major constraints these countries face in combating the pandemic. We am satisfied with the efforts of the UN to combat the epidemic, largely though the WHO and UNAIDS. However, it is obvious that the UN needs the help of affluent countries to provide medicine and medical experts to support its efforts. In this regard, Nauru has joined in the sponsorship of a resolution for the GA to take up the issue and deal with it under its authority.
Mr. President, the SOPAC regional statement we heard this morning from the representative of Palau covered very concisely the many socio-economic issues facing Small Island Developing States, and Nauru fully associates itself with that commentary. I would just touch upon some of the more important issues here.
Poverty continues to be the major concern for the developing world. The fact that the number of least developed countries is stagnant at 48, with the possibility of another 3 countries being added to the list, is testimony to the fact that current programs are not working. The Secretary General's Report "We the Peoples" lists some ambitious initiatives to accomplish freedom from want for humanity, and we strongly endorse the call for setting time-bound goals in making resolute commitments to the worlds poorest and most vulnerable. The Conferences on Least Developed Countries and Financing for Development next year will be our first tests, following the Millennium Summit, of our sincerity to move from rhetoric to action on this important issue of poverty alleviation.
The Pacific is a region that demands special attention. ESCAP projections estimate growth of only about 2% in the next 3 years for the Pacific, compared to around 6% for the rest of Asia. My own country is expected to experience several more years of negative growth as our single resource and industry, phosphate, comes to the end of its natural life. Small Island Development States and the Pacific Islands in particular face special difficulties in making the globalization transition and will need time to adjust to changes in the external trade regime, and to sequence changes in their economies. Our particular vulnerabilities should be recognized as justifying special consideration to deal with such issues as the global process of trade liberalization, and removal of special protective regimes, continues.
The South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) has been developing an environmental vulnerability index, with input from both the UN and the Commonwealth Secretariat Nauru, along with the other SIDS in the Pacific is gratified by the support from several developed countries to finance the project to its fruition and we urge that this work be incorporated in the work of the UN, especially the Committee on Development Policy (CDP), as well as the Bretton Woods institutions.
Mr. President, for all of us in the Pacific, the ocean is our major resource. it Provides us with food, income from the sale of fish-stock caught in our respective zones, and, through the natural cycle of evaporation and condensation, it is also a vital source of our freshwater. It may also prove to be the source of the demise of many low-lying Pacific Islands from global warming and the resultant rise in sea levels. The Rio Conference in 1992 provided the foundations for international action, and the Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting substances is an important step forward. But these responses are too few, too little and too late for many small islands. We urge the community of nations to implement the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Nations and the private sector must incorporate 'Green Accounting' to integrate the environment into economic policy, and suitable regulations and incentives need to be designed into the web of governance.
Agenda 21 and the Barbados Program of Action continue to be the guiding principles for the sustainable development of our region and the protection of our environments. My delegation is pleased to note that the World Bank has adopted much of the relevant vernacular in its programs, but it and the rest of the developed countries need to commit to maintain and where possible, expand overall levels of support for small states development, in terms of both advocacy and the provision of technical assistance.
Fishing offers the best hope of future sustenance of the smaller island countries that have no mineral resources and/or tourism to contribute to the national treasury. Nauru therefore reaffirms the importance of sustainable integrated management and conservation of living marine resources in the world's oceans and the obligations of States to cooperate to that end. We again call for an end to unsustainable and damaging practices such as drift-net fishing, offshore dumping and high-seas pollution. Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a threat to the economic development of coastal states in the Pacific, Caribbean and Latin American regions whose national incomes are heavily dependent on the export of fish. The efforts by the UN in convening the first Open-Ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (UNICPOLOS) has enabled States to address these issues with a view to reporting its deliberations to the General Assembly for its consideration and further action.
Another area where some small states, including our own, have been successful in generating income for the national treasury is in the provision of onshore and offshore financial services. However, pressure has been applied by FATF and the OECD through the blacklisting of countries that do not meet the anti-money laundering standards of these international bodies. We understand and accept the need to have an anti-money laundering regime, and many small island states have gone a long way in implementing these requirements. For Nauru, the Government has recently issued a letter of commitment to the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNODCCP) to undertake the UN Minimum Performance Standards on anti-money laundering initiatives. Regrettably, the compliance level has been raised unilaterally by the OEDC to include Harmful Tax Competition which has nothing to do with money laundering and other financial crime. This is wrong in international law and violates both the letter and spirit of many UN resolutions regarding the intervention of international organizations in the domestic jurisdiction of states. Such unilateral action is not acceptable to Nauru.
Mr. President, for the Pacific region, the question of equitable representation of the 11 Pacific Island countries in the organs and Commissions of the United Nations is of vital important to us. Up until twenty years ago, it may have been reasonable to have Australia and New Zealand in WEOG, and the handful of Pacific Islands in the Asian Group. However, with the increase in membership since that time, and the addition of a number of Pacific Island nations in recent times, it is encumbered upon the United Nations to review the groupings. Oceania is a distinct and internationally recognised region of the world. The Asian group presently constitutes member countries from the Middle-East, Central Asia, China, Japan, the two Koreas, the ASEAN member countries and the Pacific Island countries. The 11 Pacific Island countries are drowning in the Asian Group, whilst Australia and New Zealand of the Pacific Island countries are marooned in WEOG.
The Parliaments of the ASEAN member countries, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Pacific Island Count-des are members of a regional body called the Asian Pacific Parliamentary Union (APPU). It is a well-recognised body in the various regional and international parliamentary fora. This model could be used as the basis of a new regional group within the United Nations, with the inclusion of Australia and New Zealand. In our view, this new grouping would provide the best opportunity for these member States to be equitably represented in the work of the UN.
In concluding Mr. President, Nauru wants to reiterate the importance of member States making concerted efforts to strengthen the fundamentals of multilateralism. At the same time, the United Nations must assert its leadership role through the coordination of all the actors in the keeping of peace, in the fight against poverty and trans-boundary crimes, in humanitarian initiatives and the protection of human rights, and in the fight against inequity and inequality. Only through such collaborative efforts can we move the United Nations in the direction that our Leaders have agreed it must go.I Thank you