Republic of Nauru

(Check against Delivery)



His Excellency Rene R. Harris O.J., M.P

President of the Republic of Nauru Minister for Foreign Affairs,

before the

United Nations General Assembly

56th General Debate

United Nations, New York November 12, 2001


Mr. President Excellencies Ladies and Gentlemen

I bid you all welcome from the people of Nauru, the pleasant island.

Let me avail myself of opportunity to extend to you Mr. President, my Government's belated congratulations on your assumption of the Presidency of the 56th session of the General Assembly.

Mr. President

Much of the work of the U.N., since the despicable attacks on the United States of America on September 11 has been focused on counter-terrorism and this is understandable. The Security Councils adoption of resolution 1373, obligating members to implement anti-terrorist measures, should recognize the importance of supporting existing regional initiatives in the fight against terrorism. To this end, we welcome the undertakings by the Security Council Committee on Counter-Terrorism.

The World Bank has predicted that the events of September 11 will exacerbate the already gloomy global economic outlook. Its ripples will be felt across all of the world's regions, particularly in countries dependent on tourism, remittances and foreign investment. It is thus critical that the Security Council allow the competent bodies of the U.N. to assess the costs of extending, expanding or adding new peacekeeping operations before implementation.

Mr. President

Nauru joins the international community in offering our belated but heartfelt congratulations to H. E. Mr. Kofi Annan and the Organization for being the joint recipients of this year's prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.

The former President, Mr. Ham Holkeri, of Finland has to be commended for capitalizing on the momentum generated by the Millennium Declaration.

Mr. President,

My delegation is pleased to endorse your proposed agenda as President of the 56th Session. The work of the GA should be relevant to the tasks at hand, but at the same time address long-standing issues affecting the efficiency and status of this august body. Meaningful cooperation between member states must always be encouraged across the boundaries of religion, ethnicity and culture. The recent World Summit on Racism is a stark reminder of how the work of the U. N. will otherwise continue to be frustrated but the one significant area where the U.N. made little or no progress was on the question of the reform of the Security Council.

We would, therefore, support a proposal to move the process to a higher level and to deal with the complex issues in a step-by-step fashion.

Mr. President

The last meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders was held in my country a few months ago. The Communique of that meeting is now a document of the United Nations and in that Communique the Forum Leaders sought to formalize cooperation arrangements between the United Nations and the Pacific Islands Forum. I would like to take this opportunity to kindly request your support of this resolution.

Mr. President,

The issues of climate change and sea level rise continue to be of major concern to my country, and we have repeatedly voiced our deep concerns on the adverse impact of human-induced climate change, especially on low lying atolls. We stressed the importance of efforts to build appropriate human and institutional capacity.

The Kyoto Protocol represents a significant step forward on the path to taking action to combat climate change, but unless significant action is taken on a practical
compliance regime, then there is little prospect of any financial outcomes being enforceable.

Nauru, therefore, looks forward to participating with the rest of the World in Johannesburg next year to review progress since Rio and, it is our fervent hope that the Kyoto Protocol will have come into force by then.

Mr. President,

There is a special urgency for Nauru. Economic growth in our small country has been negative for more than a decade, and, as reflected in recent revisions on our classification by the U.N. and U.N.D.P., our per capita incomes have fallen by almost 80 percent, since the 1980s. We look forward to the international community, the U.N. and its various agencies to assist us through these difficult times and help secure a safe future for our children.

Mr. President,

Our region, the World's very first Nuclear-Free Zone, has a long history of supporting disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, borne of the region's harsh experience with nuclear testing by colonial powers. The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders have again expressed their desire for the entry into force of the C.T.B.T. Nauru will be depositing its instrument of ratification today, and we call on other states to follow suit.

The trans-shipment of radioactive material and mox fuel, through our EEZs is a continuing concern but we are committed to pursuing our concerns constructively and vigorously at the appropriate political level.

Mr. President,

Nauru's commitment to the international effort to combat money laundering is unwavering. Our Parliament passed anti-money laundering legislation in August of this year to correct the deficiencies in our regulatory and administrative arrangements.

However, Nauru is disappointed not to have graduated out of the special non-cooperating countries despite the fact that the legislation was drafted in close collaboration with FATF regional representatives. We will, nonetheless, continue to work on satisfying the key players in FATF on this issue and, we look forward to working with our regional partners under the Pacific Regional Action Plan being developed.

Mr. President

Nauru, along with 25 other member States again supported the inclusion of a resolution on the admission of the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC) on the agenda of the 56 th Session. While the attempt failed, Nauru will not be discouraged from continuing its efforts to correct this anomaly. We, on Nauru, wholeheartedly believe that the Republic of China on Taiwan has a part to play in this organization and its people should not be denied a voice in this world body. We note with pleasure the recent admission of the Republic of China on Taiwan into the World Trade Organization.

Finally, Mr. President

I wish to end my statement by revisiting the issue of security and terrorism.

It is indeed sad that as we meet here today, there is a war going on in the world - a war against terrorism. Prior to the horrific September 11 attacks on the United States of America, my Government, at the request of the Government of Australia, agreed to the use of Nauru as a refugee-processing center. We made this decision on humanitarian grounds. As a consequence, we now have on Nauru 795 asylum seekers: from Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine along with migration personnel from the U.N., I.O.M., and Australia.

I have taken it upon myself to personally visit the camps from time to time and to mingle with these very unfortunate people and on several occasions have sat down and broke bread with them.

I found that they are like you and me. They are human beings - brave human beings seeking a better life for themselves and their children from the oppression back home.

The resources of the U.N. need to be augmented to cope with this humanitarian tragedy and the international community needs to urgently tackle the problem in a coordinated manner, not only in terms of providing assistance and refuge where possible, but also by addressing the sources and causes of refugees, people smuggling and terrorism. Understanding and responding will not necessarily solve the problem, but it will make it easier for governments to share in the continuing international effort that will be needed.

The good old days, before September 11, are gone forever. The sad part is we inherited a world that was good. Tomorrow, do we hand over to a to our children and our children's children, a better world or not?

Mr. President, we look to you for leadership on these vital issues.

Thank you and God bless the United Nations.