REPUBLIC OF NAURU
HIS EXCELLENCE RENE R. HARRIS, M.P
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF NAURU
& MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
57 TH GENERAL DEBATE
12 SEPTEMBER 2002, NEW YORK
Distinguished Heads of Delegations Ladies and Gentlemen,
I bid you all warm Greetings from the people of Nauru, who join me in congratulating you, Mr. President, on your assumption of the Presidency of the 57th session of the General Assembly, and in commending the outgoing President for his strong leadership and guidance over a tumultuous year gone by. My delegation takes this opportunity to congratulate Switzerland on becoming a full member of the United Nations, making it the 190th state in this brotherhood of nations.
Yesterday America remembered 9-11-01 with solemn events across the nation. It was an honor for me to join Mayor Bloomberg and the families of those who perished on 9/11, along with dignitaries of foreign missions in New York City, last night at the commemorative service marking the 1St anniversary of the despicable attack on America that cost the lives of close to 3000 souls. Through you Mr. President, I would like to convey to the Government and the people of the United States of America, especially the families of those who lost loved ones, the condolences of my Government and the people of Nauru.
Mr. President, much of the work of the UN since the last General Assembly is reflective of the state of the world. The events of 9/11, and the ongoing conflicts around the world have focused the work of this body on security issues, and this is understandable. The Security Council's adoption of resolution 1373 obligating member States to implement anti-terrorism measures has the full support of the Pacific Island Forum countries.
At the international level, my Government is pleased with the outcome of the First Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court, which concluded only a few days ago. The Assembly has put into effect the operational aspects of the Court, and we join with others in wishing the International Criminal Court the very best as it pursues its worthwhile objectives. We also share our concerns against those who promote bilateralism to devalue the universality of the rule of international law.
We commend with admiration the UN operation in East Timor for successfully nursing an occupied territory and its people from despair to nationhood, with the proclamation of an independent Democratic Republic of East Timor on 20 May this year. My colleagues and I in the Pacific Island Forum accepted East Timor as an Observer member at our annual leaders meeting last month, and I am pleased to note that the country will be admitted to the UN as the 191" member on 27 September. Our congratulations and best wishes go out to the Government and the people of East Timor.
Mr. President, the Communique of the 33`d Meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum held in Fiji last month sets out wide-ranging concerns that impact the livelihood and welfare of the peoples of the Pacific. I have the honor of being the first speaker from the Pacific at this plenary, and so have the unique opportunity to preface some of the issues facing us in the Pacific, which my colleague and dear friend, the distinguished Prime Minister of Fiji, as the Chair of the Forum, and other Forum Leaders will expound upon throughout the course of this debate.
The Communique has been incorporated as a UN document, reference number: A/57/331.
First and foremost is the environment. The continued degradation of the earth's environment cannot be ignored in the light of the natural disasters that are occurring in different parts of the world - flooding, earthquakes, droughts to name but a few. There is enough scientific evidence to show that the changes in the earth's environment and climate are human induced, and the World Summit held recently in Johannesburg was an earnest attempt by us to remedy the situation.
All of us in the Pacific were disappointed by the lack of meaningful targets in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. However, we believe that the commitments for significant new resources and partnerships reached at the Summit will go a long way in helping to accelerate implementation of sustainable development. Obviously, the test of the Johannesburg Plan is whether governments, along with civil society and the private sector, can pursue the commitments that are in the document, and take actions that achieve measurable results.
Nauru is, however, very pleased by the assured entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, thanks to the commitments made by India, Canada, Russia, and China to ratify the instrument. But this is only the first step in what has to be a universal campaign to address climate change, and we would therefore join the call for the United States and Australia to see their way clear in the nottoo-distant future to ratify the protocol.
Another issue of special importance to Nauru is the health of our ocean. As custodians of the largest ocean, rich in natural marine resources and minerals, the ocean also frames our cultures and is the source of our future well being. This is particularly true in the case of Nauru who has a land area of only 10 square miles and an ocean area of at least 120,000 square miles. We use the ocean to provide desalinated water, and earn a substantial amount of our income from fishing license fees.
For the sake of our future, the international users of our ocean space must work with us to conserve the ocean's natural resources against unsustainable use; protect its biodiversity from pollution, including the shipment of toxic materials, and ensure that the island countries benefit equitably from the trade of the ocean's natural resources, living or non-living.
The answer that the Pacific people have been advocating is through the adoption of a common ocean policy that will provide uniform actions amongst the concerned countries on the kinds of measures to adopt in the protection and conservation of the ocean and its resources. I am particularly pleased to note that the Leaders of the Pacific have "walked the talk" by the adoption of the Pacific Islands Regional Ocean Policy at the Pacific Forum meeting in Fiji recently. This policy should work with the recently established Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fisheries Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific, and the proposed WSSD South Pacific Marine Park Initiative announced in Johannesburg, to ensure sustainable fishing of our ocean, address declining fish-stocks, and promote a greater economic share of the resources for Pacific states.
Just as Pacific Islands are economically and environmentally vulnerable to external forces, so is the security of our peoples and governments. 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.
I joined other Pacific Leaders last month in expressing concern on the transshipment of nuclear waste through our waters. My delegation welcomes the initiative by Mongolia to institutionalize its territory as a nuclear weapon-free zone and will support UN action towards the realization of this goal.
Mr. President, on the domestic front, the potential fallout on our economy of the OECD Initiative on Harmful Tax Competition is worrisome to say the least. While my Government reaffirms the sovereign right of nations to establish domestic tax regimes of our own design and choosing, we have expressed our strong commitment to developing a cooperative framework within which countries can work together to address transparency, capacity building and information exchange in relation to tax matters. I would reiterate here our strong objection to the creation of any "black lists" by the OECD. No meaningful headway can be achieved unless and until all concerned parties are fully engaged in the process, and are consulted before major decisions affecting our national security and sovereignty are made unilaterally.
Nauru's commitment to the international effort to combat money laundering is unwavering. Our Parliament passed Anti-Money Laundering legislation in August of last year, and in response to demands from FATF, passed further amendments to the Act earlier this year. We remain of the view that the only place where money laundering can be controlled effectively is from the source. While Nauru has done all it can to date to ensure that its legal and administrative system is sufficient to prevent such activities, we appear to remain the subject of adverse criticism from FATF.
We believe that Nauru's only practical means of contributing to the control of the criminal movement of money is to provide access to the information we have of the persons involved in corporations registered on Nauru and who are reasonably suspected of criminal activity in other places. This we have done. Nauru was disappointed not to have graduated out of the special non-cooperating countries list. We will, nonetheless, continue to work on satisfying the key players in FATF on this issue.
The outcome of the processing of the asylum seekers on Nauru was far from the expectation of my Government, as only a very small number met the UNHCR criteria for refugee status, and have departed our shores for a new life in new countries. We are aware that the campsites and the facilities on Nauru are not ideal for long stay, and we had envisaged this in our agreements with Australia. However, despite our best efforts, the reality is that repatriation of those who do not qualify as refugees will be protracted. The use of Nauru as a processing center will be extended. My Government is grateful to the UN High Commission on Refugees, the International Organisation for Migration and others for the dedication of their personnel under difficult conditions.
Mr. President, two most pressing issues facing my Government in a "post-phosphate" future are energy and the supply of fresh water - as both have direct impacts on the standard of living of the community. Nauru is dependent on the import of fossil fuel for its entire energy requirement - including for the desalination of seawater to compliment catchments of rainwater.
About one-third of Nauru's GNP per capita is spent on energy and freshwater supply, which is clearly unsustainable in the light if Nauru's declining economy. To this end Nauru looks to renewable energy as the means of reducing its dependency on imported fuel, and we are hopeful that the partnership initiatives developed by the WSSD process, in both the energy and freshwater sectors, would provide us the opportunity to engage partners either through bilateral arrangements or through regional organisations to undertake these important projects.
Before I conclude, Mr. President, I wish to reiterate Nauru's support for the reform of the UN Security Council, and support calls for this issue to continue to receive top priority. In terms of the United Nations itself, the ongoing administrative and budgetary reforms by the Secretary General are welcome, but much more certainly needs to be done.
Nauru is disappointed to see that contributions to the Global Health Fund are only trickling-in, contrary to our enthusiastic undertaking at the Special Session last year. Consequently HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis continue unabated in their destruction of communities and the manpower of affected nations. Nauru had pledged to contribute $1 per head of its population to the Fund, and I am pleased to announce that this pledge has been honoured. I again call on all member states, rich and poor to do likewise.
As a Small Island Developing State, Nauru welcomes the 10-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action in 2004 that has been agreed to at the Johannesburg Summit. The issues confronting SIDS remain critical, and there continues to be a special urgency for Nauru. Economic growth in our small country continues to fall, and we look to the international community, the UN and its various agencies to assist us through these difficult times.
Finally Mr. President, in the past 2 years, the Millennium Summit, the Monterrey and Johannesburg Summits have illustrated the UN's increasing role as a forum for building , consensus. Indeed, the last twelve months have been trying times, both in our in our efforts to build consensus on development as well as maintain international peace and security. While a compelling case for further action in the Middle East and in Iraq in particular has been made, we nevertheless believe that for any action to be successful it must be done through and by the Security Council, and with multilateral support.
The challenge facing us in this new era is not so much one of building consensus, because we all know what needs to be done, but rather one of implementation. Achieving our lofty goals requires action and cooperation at all levels--from local to global, and Mr. President, we look to you for leadership in this decisive period, and offer our steadfast support.
I thank you.