57TH UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Secretary-General, Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates.
On behalf of the People and Government of Papua New Guinea, I join previous speakers in congratulating you on your election as President of the 57th United Nations General Assembly.
Your election to the helm of this august assembly shows the highest esteem in which the international community holds you and your country, the Czech Republic.
I take this opportunity to express my Delegation's sincere appreciation to your predecessor, Dr. Han Seung-Soo of South Korea, for his outstanding stewardship of the work of the 56th General Assembly.
I also wish to place on record, my Government's deep appreciation to the SecretaryGeneral, Mr Kofi Annan, for his continuing strong leadership and immense diplomatic skills in dealing with many pressing international issues, which confront us today.
Papua New Guinea welcomes and congratulates the two newest Member States of the United Nations - Switzerland and the Democratic Republic of East Timor.
Papua New Guinea acknowledges the political will and wisdom shown by all parties - the Republic of Indonesia, Australia, Portugal, and the United Nations in respect of East Timor. We also praise the people of Switzerland for their collective decision to formally join the United Nations.
With the election of a new government in Papua New Guinea, our Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Sir Michael Somare, recently made a nationwide address detailing some of the challenges facing our economy and what is required to put it back on the path to recovery. He identified specific areas and sectors where remedial measures are needed.
Domestically, our capacity to meet these worthy goals is lacking. They are further exacerbated and undermined by poor governance, incompetent economic management, rise in corruption, diminished public confidence in political leadership and in the fundamentals of representative government.
The new Government of Papua New Guinea is determined to chart a new course by addressing these problems.
There have been specific initiatives taken to enhance trade, investment, and economic prospects. The Pacific ACP countries, together with African and Caribbean member countries, are now in the process of pursuing negotiations with the European Union for possible Economic Partnership Agreements.
Recently, I announced the direction of our government's foreign policy focus. I stated that the policy must be underlined by the development and strengthening of core relations in the Asia-Pacific Region.
We intend to consolidate relations with our close neighbours, give more emphasis to promotion of trade and economic cooperation, investment, and education and training. As a small island developing country, and as an affected member of the global village, my country fully endorses the Declarations and Plan of Actions adopted at the recent World Conferences.
We believe that international conferences such as the Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg Summits and their Plans of Action are blueprints to resolve many of the pressing global challenges and needs, including poverty eradication, sustainable development, environment degradation and climatic changes, social ills including HIV/Aids and other preventable diseases. They also echo the voices of the majority of the world's population living in poverty, and struggling to overcome the biggest challenge of all - the need for survival.
These Declarations and the Plan of Actions are a further amplification of the historic Millennium Declaration and its Development Goals signed by all our Heads of States and Governments in September 2000.
The challenge is to forge a new global partnership for change - partnerships where both developed and developing countries join together to address the issues that the global community will face in this new millennium. These partnerships also include international financial institutions, other inter-governmental organizations, private sector, the non-governmental organizations, and civil society.
These partnerships will be necessary if the shared hopes of humanity for peace and security, sustainable development and a better way of life for all, are to progress.
Papua New Guinea has been faced with an internal conflict in our province of Bougainville for the last decade. Like all previous governments, the current government will continue to place the continuing peaceful resolution of this conflict as a matter of high priority.
Papua New Guinea would like to take this opportunity to express its appreciation to the United Nations for its role in resolving this crisis. The conflict has, in fact, involved substantial commitments of personnel and funds by the United Nations, neighbouring countries and governments, as well as our own government.
I would also like to place on record our appreciation to the Governments of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Vanuatu for contributing financial and. manpower resources to the Regional Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) to restore peace and security for the people on the island.
In addition, on the recommendations of the Secretary-General, and in close cooperation between the Papua New Guinea Government, and the Bougainville parties, the Security Council approved the expansion of the role of the UNPOB Office to monitor and assist in the arms collection, storage and disposal, under the new Bougainville Agreement.
I am happy to report that the first and second stages of the arms disposal programme are progressing well, but more remains to be done.
Our partners from Australia, New Zealand, the European Union, Japan, and the United Nations Development Programme, continue to provide resources for restoration and development work. A number of Non-Governmental Organizations, including churches and the Red Cross have also been active.
Changing the world from a system of relations between imperial powers, to a partnership between sovereign states - through decolonization - is among the greatest achievements of the United Nation in the last century.
The process will not be completed, as it must be, until the remaining sixteen (16) non self-governing territories have exercised their inalienable right to self-determination.
Our organization should continue to monitor developments in New Caledonia, Tokelau and the other fourteen Non Self-Governing Territories on the United Nations Decolonization List on a case by case basis. Neither small size, remoteness nor population density should be allowed to qualify or limit the exercise of this inalienable right. The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting held last month, once again reaffirmed its support for this principle.
The Pacific Islands Forum Group, with the exception of Australia and New Zealand, comprises of small island countries that are custodians of the largest ocean space. This ocean is rich in natural marine resources.
The countries of the Region however, have limited human, financial and technological capacities to control, manage, and secure these resources for the benefit of our current and future generations.
The recent Pacific Islands Forum adopted the "Pacific Islands Regional Oceans Policy" which aims to ensure the future sustainable use of our oceans and its resources by our island communities and external partners.
The Pacific Islands peoples have not received their equitable share in the tapping of natural resources within their vast ocean space. For example, statistics showed in the Year 2000 that the value of fishery in the Central and Western Pacific was in excess of $2.5 billion per annum, but the Pacific countries earned a meagre $66 million in licensing fees. This situation needs to be reviewed.
More than eighty per cent of Papua New Guineans live in rural villages, where they depend directly on the land, rivers, lakes, and the sea for their livelihood.
Our National Constitution commits the Nation to conserve, use, and develop the rich variety of the country's natural resources for the common good and benefit of future generations.
Papua New Guinea has, therefore, spoken out strongly, and worked actively on a wide range of environmental issues.
Like other members of the Pacific Islands Forum, Papua New Guinea is firmly committed to the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island States. We strongly urge its full implementation.
Papua New Guinea, together with other small island developing states, continues to reiterate deep concerns about the adverse impacts of climate change, climate variability and sea level rise, particularly the small low lying islands that are already experiencing extreme hardships. We will therefore continue to stress the urgency for developed countries to take a strong lead in the reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. Consistent with this, Papua New Guinea has signed and ratified both the United Nations Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.
We believe that the Kyoto Protocol paves the way forward for Annex One countries to fulfil their commitments under the Climate Change Convention. We urge those Parties to translate their legally binding targets into concrete actions for the reduction of their gas emissions.
We welcome the support for the Kyoto Protocol by Japan, the European Union and more recently, China and Russia. We urge the United States and Australia to join the global efforts towards addressing this issue, including ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Forum Islands Leaders also reiterated continuing serious concerns over the shipment of radioactive materials through the region. They called on those states engaging in these activities to accept full responsibility and liability for compensation for any damage that may result directly or indirectly from the transport of radioactive material through the region.
Global warming has brought increased cases of diseases like malaria in the higher altitude regions of our country. This is still a major threat to Papua New Guinea, especially in the most populous region - the Highlands.
Papua New Guinea is not immune to the HIV/Aids epidemic, and tuberculosis is again on the rise, so there is an urgent need to find preventative measures for these diseases. In this regard, we welcome announcements by the Governments of Japan, United States, amongst others to set aside substantial financial resources for eradication programmes in developing countries.
Papua New Guinea concurs with the recent calls by the international community to reform and restructure the charters and mandates of the two Bretton Woods institutions, the World Bank, and the IMF. These two institutions must realign their policies and focus more on development and poverty eradication, rather than reconstruction of economies.
Their lending policies should be made more lenient and flexible in assisting the developing countries, including small islands, landlocked and the least developed countries. The ultimate goal must be to transfer resources into the hands of the needy, the marginalised and the ostracised of society, so that they can take pride in the ownership of the outcomes of new initiatives in their countries.
The way forward was agreed to under the Barbados Plan of Action and Agenda 21 and in the recent Conferences on Landlocked Developing Countries and the Third Conference of the Least Developed countries in Brussels.
I must, however, underline that to date, we have observed a lack of effective implementation of both the Barbados Plan of Action and Agenda 21. There has also been little or no increase in retaining much of the value of International Aid and Development Assistance given to the developing countries to build necessary infrastructure, human resource capacities, and other basic needs.
This, in our humble view, has to change if the developing countries, especially the small island developing states, landlocked and the least developed countries are to attain sustainable growth and development.
There is an urgent need to reform and restructure the United Nations General Assembly, its subsidiary bodies and agencies including the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council to reflect the recent dynamics and changes.
The Security Council should be reformed and expanded in both categories, permanent and non-permanent. It must take into account the interests of both the developed and developing countries.
Although we are encouraged by general positive signs of progress towards resolving conflicts and securing peace in several regions of the world, Papua New Guinea remains concerned at the continuing conflict in the Middle East. Violence will not resolve the conflict. We call on both Israel and the Palestinian leadership to come to the negotiating table to discuss outstanding issues with the view to resolving the conflict peacefully.
It would be remiss of me if I did not make mention of the fact that September 11th marked the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the United States of America.
The Government and people of Papua New Guinea express to the Government and people of the United States, and the families of the victims drawn from many countries, our sympathy on the tragedy and suffering just a year ago when terrorism struck this great city of New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania.
Though distant from this tragic event, we share in the deep sorrow felt right around the world, and in admiration of the extraordinary bravery and sacrifice of so many engaged in the rescue efforts. Our thoughts with those who continue to mourn.
Papua New Guinea joins with all the freedom-loving nations and peoples of the world in condemning terrorism in all its evil forms. Terrorist attacks can never be justified. Terrorism, in which the lives of the most innocent and vulnerable are so senselessly taken, must be especially condemned.
Papua New Guinea fully endorses and supports all efforts towards the effective implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373.
You concluded in your opening address to this Assembly by appealing for Member nations to focus on what we have in common - and especially our desire to live in a peaceful and secure world where the values and principles expressed in the United Nations Charter are honoured.
Papua New Guinea shares your aspirations and the confidence which underpin your address.
If the nations of the world - with our great diversity - focus on what we share in common, we will build and secure a better world, one in which the benefits of economic development are shared, and one in which the marvels of modern science and technology, including medicine, are harnessed for the common good of humanity.
But none of these things can be achieved without a genuine and lasting peace.
In conclusion, I want to re-affirm Papua New Guinea's firm commitments to what I have outlined and reiterate that Global, Regional and Local Partnerships in promoting sustainable development, is the key to addressing the challenges that confront the world today.
I thank you.