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New York, Sunday, 11 November 2001

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Mr President,

Samoa is very pleased that we are meeting under your presidency, and on behalf of my Government I extend warm congratulations, and express to you our full confidence and co-operation.

Allow me also a moment to pay tribute to your predecessor, President Harri Holkeri, for his outstanding service and leadership during the 55th General Assembly, and for the significant achievements of that Assembly session.

Mr President,

We are delighted with the award of the Nobel Peace prize to our distinguished Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, and to our Organisation. I want in particular to congratulate the Secretary General, and to wish him every success in his new term of office. His Excellency's personal qualities and extraordinary leadership gives shape to the modern face of the United Nations, and in ways that give force and credibility to the Organisation and its performance.

Mr. President,

The terrorist attacks of 11 September marked a turning-point in the history of our era. These terrible events give special significance to this session of the Assembly. And we need to send out from this house an unambiguous message.

The clear view of my Government is that there is no room for moral equivocation. The deliberate taking of innocent civilian life, regardless of cause or grievance, is without justification in law, and is morally unacceptable. My Government has declared its strong condemnation of the attacks in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania, and I want today to underscore that condemnation in unequivocal terms.

On behalf of my country and its citizens, I want to renew to the Government and people of the United States our profound feelings of sorrow and sympathy, and our committed solidarity and support. I want also to say that the leadership, and magnificent example and courage shown by the United States demonstrate beyond doubt the extraordinary strengths of this great democracy and the indomitable spirit of its people.

Mr. President,

This was a most monstrous crime, evil in premeditation and merciless in execution. Thousands of innocent lives were taken, murdered without warning. To their families and friends - and citizens of many other countries represented in this hall were also lost - we extend our warm and heartfelt condolences.

Terrorism is an offence against the core values of the United Nations. It is a direct and most serious threat to democracy, to the free exercise of human rights and to economic and social development. It has no respect for social order or for human life and property.

This has never been clearer than in the aftermath of these terrible attacks against the United States. Furthermore, these horrific events have served to highlight not only the need for a concerted and an effective international response, but has also drawn attention to the inadequacy of the traditional forms of judicial and law enforcement in combating it.

There cannot be any question as to the need for an effective response from the international community. Indeed, the Security Council's unanimous and momentous Resolution 1373, together with Resolution 1368, give the clearest signal of the international community's determination to take concrete action against the financing, training and movement of terrorists, and the need for all States to co-operate in any campaign against them. We believe they provide the necessary basis to secure the broadest possible international support and co-operation for the global campaign against terrorism, in particular through the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee.

Mr. President,

I am pleased to announce that as part of its own response in this collective effort, Samoa is taking steps to adhere to additional United Nations conventions on international terrorism.

We believe, however, that we need to bear in mind that fighting terrorism cannot be separated from the task of preventing organized crime, the spread of small arms and other weapons, and of containing and ending conflict. We need also to ensure that the conditions of poverty and despair that breed ignorance, hatred, violence and extremism are properly and effectively addressed.

We need, above all, to remain resolute in upholding the rule of law, and the principles that underpin the rule of law. The clear affirmation of these principles and of humanitarian and international law norms will help deny to the perpetrators of these crimes whatever they seek to gain from violence.

Mr. President,

We consider it essential to renew efforts to promote the rapid entry into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. A functioning international criminal Court for the prosecution of terrorist acts amounting to crimes against humanity, as we regard the attacks on the United States to be, would provide a vital component in the international armoury against terrorism.

Mr. President,

This 56th session of the Assembly is the first to follow the Millennium Summit of last year. It will be the ideal occasion to take up the critical issues and strategies for implementing the Millennium Declaration. May I say in this connection that we warmly welcome and find most useful the "Road map" report from the Secretary General setting out in some detail how the Summit commitments could be fulfilled.

We note that most of the targets set by the Millennium Declaration are not really new. They are the determined results of global conferences of the 1990s, or derived from the body of international norms and laws that had been codified over the past 50 years. It follows that the plans of action needed for reaching the targets have, for the most part, already been developed and formally adopted by member States.

What is needed, therefore, is not more technical or feasibility studies. Rather, as the Secretary General's report points out, States need to demonstrate the political will to carry out commitments already given and to implement strategies already worked out. In other words, as we move from an era of commitment to an era of implementation, the international community must mobilize the will and the resources needed to fulfill the promises made.

Mr. President,

Samoa was honoured recently to host a Pacific regional meeting as part of the preparatory work for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg next September. It is important to seek further progress in these preparations especially in the completion of national assessment reports. We believe the Summit would be a unique opportunity to re-establish international commitment to sustainable development. Our own view is that there is need to accelerate the comprehensive and targeted implementation of Agenda 21. Efforts to this end should aim to minimize and remove obstacles that impede the implementation of Rio commitments, especially in capacity building needs and in the provision of adequate financial and technological support.

We place particular importance on the international conference on Financing for Development. The agenda of the conference allows for a full range of substantive issues to be addressed. It would be important to forge broad-based consensus on all these issues, and more so on the reform of the international financial and trade architecture that would be supportive of the long-term development of developing countries. There should be enhanced opportunities for the representation and participation of developing countries, including small island States, in the major decision-making institutions on global financing, monetary and trade issues.

Mr. President,

It is impossible today to visualize progress and development without access to modern information systems. The remarkable growth of information and communication technologies (ICT) is opening up boundless new possibilities for accelerated economic and social development. But the ability to translate the full potential of ICT differ from country to country. I know Samoa needs to develop its own capacity to do so. Yet we know that for a developing country like my own there is no real option but to take full advantage of the digital revolution. We will therefore be supporting every global effort to call attention to the need for bridging the digital divide.

Mr. President,

The turn of the millennium has brought new challenges, and with it changes to the character and complexity of the United Nation's role in maintaining international peace and security. Samoa is proud to have been able to contribute to the Civilian Police operations in East Timor. From this experience it is clear to us that if the United Nations is to do its job of maintaining international peace and security, it needs to be given the necessary tools and resources.

We have learnt a great deal from the report of the Panel on UN Peace Operations, and we know that the United Nations needs to improve its capacity to respond to conflicts more effectively. And we need to move forward with the peacekeeping reform process.

The recognition in the Nobel Peace award means that more than ever, we need to modernize and strengthen our Organization. We fully support the current efforts to review and revitalize the work-methods of the General Assembly.

Mr. President,

We commend most highly the work of the Open Ended Working Group on Reform of the Security Council and its Bureau. Difficult and critical issues remain. But we need to maintain the political momentum provided in the Millennium Summit for comprehensive reform of the Security Council. Membership of the Council, both permanent and nonpermanent, need to be enlarged to reflect the realities of the present time and to enhance its role and effectiveness.

Finally, Mr. President, let me refer to the twenty-second Special Session of the General Assembly in 1999 that reviewed the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. Since that time, a number of global events, such as the 1 & UN Conference on Trade and Development and the 3rd UN Conference on Least Developed Countries have recalled the fragility of small island States in the globalising economy. We, of course, are grateful for this acknowledgement. However, I believe I reflect the aspiration of all small island States in saying that we need to do much more in terms of concrete actions - actions that will only be meaningful if we are assured the committed support of the whole international community.

Overcoming the well-recognized vulnerability of small island States like my own, and the exposure of island communities to the effects of global climate change, natural disasters, environmental damage and global economic shocks will be an essential element of sustainable development in all small island regions.

May I say in this connection that Samoa very much welcomes the successful conclusion yesterday in Marrakech of the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Climate Change. The completion of the operational details of the Kyoto Protocol will, we hope, open the way to widespread ratification by Governments, and the Protocol's early entry into force, perhaps by the time of the Johannesburg World Summit next year.

The struggle against climate change is not just an environmental issue. It is also a matter of fundamental development. It is so because the adverse impacts of climate change endangers economic and social progress. This is most certainly the case for small island States, which are widely acknowledged to be amongst the most vulnerable and the least able to adapt. The world community's response to climate change therefore requires significant, long-term changes in economic and social behaviour. In this task as well the United Nations has an urgent and vital responsibility.

Thank you, Mr. President