THE HONOURABLE MANASSEH
PRIME MINISTER OF SOLOMON ISLANDS
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
10 November 2001,
New York NY
Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, let me express my sincere felicitations and those of my Government and the people of the Solomon Islands, on your election as President of the fifty-sixth session of the General Assembly. As you know, the Republic of Korea and Solomon Islands enjoy very warm and cordial relations. My delegation is therefore delighted to see you preside over this august Assembly. Our gratitude also goes to your predecessor, H.E. Mr. Harri Holkerri for the efficient manner in which he conducted the last session. I also congratulate the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan on his well-deserved reappointment for another term in Office, and on his and the United Nations' award of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.
The horrendous terrorist attack on
the United States on I 1 September, was an attack against humanity. What
we witnessed on that day was unimaginable. It brought pain and loss on
an inconceivable scale. There can be no justification for it. This morning,
I visited ground zero to pay my respects to the thousands of innocent lives
buried there and to reaffirm Solomon Islands solidarity with the Government
and people of the United States of America.
The evil of terrorism is a phenomenon, which must be eradicated. Individuals and organizations perpetrating such evil must be brought to justice. Similarly, states that harbor or provide safe haven for terrorist activities must play their full part in eradicating this menace.
The war against international terrorism must have far reaching solutions rather than being reactionary. Effective international cooperation is critical to the global implementation of anti-terrorism measures - to deny terrorists of any weak spots they could exploit to launch their criminal operations. Solomon Islands is taking steps towards the ratification of the various international conventions against terrorism. Countries such as mine need technical support in law enforcement, surveillance and information sharing to effectively implement these instruments. In this regard, I welcome President Bush's offer to help countries that need assistance in strengthening and implementing anti-terrorism strategies.
While the war against terrorism is
a matter of urgency, the United Nations should not underestimate the continuing
need to address other global issues that also threaten human security.
Persistent poverty and under-development; environmental degradation; internal
conflicts and wars; the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as
well as small arms and light weapons; trade in illicit drugs; the deadly
spread of HIV/AIDS; and violations of human rights; are complex global
problems that continue to demand concerted global responses.
With limited resources and capacity, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Solomon Islands, are unable to cope with the magnitude of these problems. Post Cold War security now rightly embraces human, environmental, economic and political dimensions.
The inter-ethnic crisis Solomon Islands
experienced between 1998 and 2000 and its devastating impact on the country
is a sobering reminder that peace and development are intrinsically linked.
One cannot be achieved if the other fails. In most situations, including
our case, peace takes precedence, as no rebuilding is possible without
security and stability. My government has worked resolutely to bring the
warring factions to the table. Our efforts culminated in the signing of
the Townsville Peace Agreement in October 2000 and the Marau Peace Agreement,
earlier this year.
The Townsville Agreement led to a cessation of the conflict. However, progress in the implementation of the Agreement's disarmament provisions has been slow. With a considerable amount of high-powered weapons still to be handed in, the peace process remains fragile. A review of the Agreement was carried out recently but was temporarily suspended. We are confident that the review process will soon resume in order to positively consolidate and engender the on-going peace process.
At this juncture, I wish to acknowledge the contributions of our development partners towards the peace process, in particular the Governments of Republic of China on Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, and, the European Union. My government is also grateful to the civil society, including the churches and non-governmental organizations for their efforts, especially at the height of the crisis.
The challenge is far from over. With a shattered economy and a delicate peace process, the task of rebuilding the country and ensuring lasting peace is fornlidable. It requires the patience, cooperation, and commitment of all Solomon Islanders. My government has adopted a National Peace Plan and Programme of Action aimed at addressing the root causes of the conflict through meaningful dialogue and discussion and by encouraging a more participatory approach in the country's socio-economic and political development. The recent ruling by our judiciary- affirming the constitutional legitimacy of my government has given us additional resolve to implement this Plan and Programme of Action. In this connection the understanding and support of the international community in particular our development partners is important.
Development co-operation should strive to reduce the vulnerability of societies to violent conflicts. Aid should go beyond immediate humanitarian needs. It has to be linked to peace building initiatives in order to make peace sustainable. Development assistance therefore could be a means of conflict prevention and an instrument for peace building.
There is a clear imperative to address the poverty and inequality, which exist among our countries. But there is also an irrefutable common interest in doing so, for many of today's problems especially in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are rooted in under-development and poverty.
The timely implementation of the outcomes of the third United Nations Conference on the LDCs is therefore imperative. We are fully aware that primary responsibility to put in place the necessary reforms for poverty reduction and economic growth lies with the LDCs. Education, infrastructure development, and improving basic health services remain priority issues for Solomon Islands.
Undoubtedly, investment of Overseas
Development Assistance resources to support our efforts can accelerate
development. Donor countries and agencies must be more inclined to ensure
that they do not give with one band, only to take away with the other.
In a globalizing world, donor partners' policies on virtually every sector
including trade and investment, financial systems, and the environment
must help promote development for the poorest. In the absence of this,
the goal of attaining sustainable development and managing globalization
- in a way that maximizes its benefits for all - will be difficult to realize.
In the same spirit, I call on the development partners to consider more practical and realistic measures to deal with the huge amount of debt burdens that poor countries continue to shoulder. Development partners must continue to positively consider measures such as writing off debts. For even the HIPC and Paris Club initiatives to address the problems of highly indebted and poor developing countries have been cumbersome and slow.
The International Conference on Financing for Development to be held in Mexico next March offers a unique opportunity for achieving consensus on how to mobilize new and additional resources for development. Solomon Islands looks forward to participating actively at the Conference.
Agenda 21 remains a valid blue print for the management of the earth's environment and the sustainable development of its resources. The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg next year, ten years after Rio, should reach consensus on ways and means to ensure wider and effective implementation of Agenda 21 and subsequent international programmes, including the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.
The ocean and its bounty continue to be a principal resource for Solomon Islands. Our priorities concerning oceans include sustainable fisheries management, habitat protection and avoidance of marine pollution. For us, the success of national development planning depends significantly on the continued health of the marine environment.
The unique circumstances of SIDS
must be fully understood by the international community as we strive to
address the serious threats of natural disasters, climate change and sea
level rise. The Kyoto Protocol remains a significant first step on the
path to ensuring effective global action to combat climate change. The
international community must now build on the outcomes of the Seventh Conference
of the Parties and further work towards the resolution of all outstanding
We must recall the vision which the United Nations was created to serve, vis avis that each and every human being deserves to live in dignity, be well nourished, be educated, to have access to decent health care and decent work, be respected and consulted, and be able to develop their talents and creativity. Our challenge is to strengthen the United Nations and other international institutions to strive more effectively towards that vision. Solomon Islands remains committed to the reform initiatives of the Secretary-General.
This session should also continue with efforts to make the work of the General Assembly more efficient and effective. Furthermore, discussions on the reform of the Security Council have gone on for too long without substantial progress. Greater flexibility is required in order for this process to be completed. The goal is to have a more democratic, transparent, and effective Security Council.
In what is surely one of the bitter ironies of our times, free and democratic Taiwan, home to 23 million people, and a peace-loving country has been excluded not only from the United Nations and all its specialized agencies but also from nearly every other inter-governmental organization in the world. Although the Republic of China on Taiwan willingly abides by international norms, standards, and obligations, it is not able to enjoy the same normal standard privileges and treatment accorded to others. This is simply unfair and unjust.
The time has come to reconsider the exclusion of the Republic of China from the United Nations. The Republic of China on Taiwan was a founding member of this Organization. It is a model of economic success and democratic politics. Taiwan has continued to share its development experiences with the wider international community when given the opportunity. Its continuing assistance during humanitarian crises also deserves full commendation.
Solomon Islands appeal for Taiwan's representation and participation in the United Nations system is premised on the principles of justice, dignity and the right of the people of Taiwan to be heard and represented in the international arena and for them to be able to enjoy the same benefits that the rest of us enjoy.
My government firmly believes that Taiwan's membership in the United Nations will effectively serve to facilitate peaceful dialogue between the two Chinas and provide a solid basis for a lasting reconciliation between them. Dialogue is the only means to resolve differences and parity and mutual respect must be the foundation upon which both sides can build trust and confidence. The United Nations is the best forum to nurture this trust and confidence. The issue of Taiwan's membership is consistent with the United Nations principle of universality. But above all, it must be acknowledged that the Republic of China on Taiwan is fully committed to fulfilling the obligations of the United Nations Charter.
Finally, Mr. President, next month my country is going to the polls to elect a new Parliament and thereafter a new government will be formed. This election manifests our continuing commitment to constitutional and parliamentary democracy. It is a critical election as it will confer a new mandate for the next government to continue with the ever-important responsibilities of ensuring the rule of law, rebuilding the economy, and further consolidating the current peace process.
These are difficult tasks, but we are determined to write a new page in our young history. A new page that should provide for: ethnic harmony and co-existence; comprehensive and lasting peace; economic prosperity; and above all, engender and nurture a better future and hope for our children and future generations.
I thank you,