Tuesday, 17th September 2002

Mr. President,

On behalf of the Government and people of Solomon Islands, I congratulate you for your election to preside over this 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. I am confident that under your experience and skillful Leadership, we will reach positive results for this Organization and for all peoples of this world.

I also thank H.E. Mr. Han Seung-Soo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea for the distinguished service in presiding over the 56th UNGA Session.

In the same manner, I thank His Excellency Mr. Koff Annan, Secretary-General, his good and untiring efforts and dedication towards realizing the principles and purposes of this United Nations.
And like others who spoke before me, I also wish to congratulate East Timor, our close Pacific neighbour, and Switzerland as new members of the United Nations. Solomon Islands looks forward to developing further relationship with these two countries through bilateral and multilateral means.

Mr. President,

As we journey into this new millennium, challenges facing the international community are more daunting. Human ingenuity and technological advances complicate these challenges. Acts of terrorism and armed conflicts proliferate in many parts of the world. Prospects for progressive economic and social services and security, and improved living standards for the vast majority of the world's population become mere unrealized dreams.

Nonetheless, as an international instrument for the promotion and the betterment of human life, the United Nations has considerable ability and experience in pursuing what is best for the common good of all peoples around the world, including guaranteeing world peace and security though the Security Council.

Mr. President,

Today, I reaffirm Solomon Islands commitment to the principles of the United Nations Charter. I also wish to place on record Solomon Islands appreciation of the worthy assistances from other United Nations system, including the Economic and Social Commission (ECOSOC), UNDP, ILO, WHO UNCESCO and the Human Rights Commission. Solomon Islands also uphold its faith in the Security Council and acknowledge its important role in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security. At the same time, we recognize the changing scene in the international political and security environment. These must be reflected in our Organization as well. The reform of the Security Council must continue, including a review on the relevance of the provisions of veto power accorded to permanent members. Moreover, Solomon Islands support the expansion of the permanent membership of the Council to include Japan and Germany. These two countries have so much influence in the global political and economic arena and therefore better placed to contribute constructively and positively to world peace and security.

For a small island nation like Solomon Islands, the United Nations is the foremost institution to turn to in our time of trouble and need. My predecessor has sounded this out from this podium last year. At that time he elaborated on the circumstances of the conflict that has erupted in Solomon Islands between November 1998 and October 2000.

Mr. President,

Today, we still struggle with the aftermath of that devastating conflict. We have lost much. We have to do much more to reconstruct that destroyed fabric of our country. That is the course my Government has charted in order to maintain our sovereignty with dignity, and to show integrity and respect as a member of the United Nations family.

The mandate to lead the country was clearly given to me through the democratic process when Solomon Islands held its post-conflict general election on 5th December 2001. The polls returned a new parliament of 50 duly elected members charged with a clear working majority of 29 out of the 50 members, the "national coalition government for peace, unity and reconstruction" assumed Office and undertook the challenging task of rebuilding Solomon Islands.

Mr. President,

The foremost strategy that my Government has adopted is to pursue four major policy areas:

1) The restoration of peace and security issues
2) Education
3) Health and medial services and
4) Productive sectors.

We have commenced this important work during the first 100 days of our assuming of Office. We have since consolidated our efforts notwithstanding practical difficulties that emanate from the lack of financial and the absence of other relevant resources.

Our second strategy is the formulation of a national economic recovery plan. This plan focuses on the strengthening of agriculture, fisheries, forestry, mining, manufacturing, tourism and infrastructure development sectors. Besides giving closer attention to the promotion of health and education services, the plan also addresses population growth and ensures promotion of responsible environmental management. I am happy to register here that, presently, we are also working on a "sustainable development plan" for the country.

An integrated financial package for this strategy was submitted to our development partners. Thus far, the responses received, while encouraging, still provoke questions that require serious and genuine consideration in view of our present circumstances. It is here that we do sincerely look forward to the UN for assistance in facilitating closer consultation and constructive engagement with the World Bank, IMF, ABD and the ADB.

Mr. President,

The huge amount of debt that burdens poor countries is real. This continues to afflict most third world countries, including small island states such as Solomon Islands. This is a real challenge that my people and country face as we launch out with our best efforts and endeavors to rebuild our nation and maintain our independence and sovereignty with dignity, integrity and respect during these difficult times as well as in the future. On this important point, the United Nations should consider supporting debt forgiveness for countries that are debt-strapped. Solomon Islands can be included in this category.

Mr. President,

Few days ago, the people of the city of New York and throughout the United States of America and the rest of the world, paid moving tributes to the thousands of innocent lives tragically lost through coward and senseless acts of terrorism on 11th September 2001. Those heroic men and women who perished at that sad time now deserve a special place in our hearts and in the annals of history.

Terrorism in all its forms must be condemned by all civilized nations of this world. Solomon Islands affirm its full cooperation in all efforts, including activities of the United Nations to counter terrorism. To that extent, Solomon Islands have taken measures to enact legislations that would discourage and counter terrorist activities in the country.
My Government is also taking steps to accede to a number of international conventions relating to counter-terrorist activities. We have communicated these important measures to the United Nations. We seek assistance of the United Nations and members of the international community to enhance our efforts.

Mr. President,

The increase in armed conflicts and the illegal trade of small arms are directly linked. Armed conflicts have increased in most parts of the world. They are fueled mainly by the availability of illegal manufacture, official sale and/or supply of small arms, which have resulted in the loss of innocent lives. In the last fifty years, these small weapons and land mines have killed or maimed more people than weapons of mass destruction.

Small arms also found their way into Solomon Islands and they have been used in the three- year conflict, which adversely affected the socio-cultural cohesiveness and good governance in the country. In no uncertain manner, it has crippled the economy. The continuing presence of small arms within the communities has posed a major threat to the peace, security and stability of my nation. Any hope of an economic recovery is constantly threatened by lawlessness. Notwithstanding the government with its limited resources remains committed to retrieving arms and bringing back confidence to our people in the communities. However, we believe that the international community through the United Nations has a pivotal role to play in assisting the country to rid itself of armed threats by taking more ambitious actions to curb the ARMS CULTURE that is taking root in our country.

Mr. President,

Peace of mind and safety from danger are not achieved by a mere absence of war. Rather, they are the product of a nation's ability to achieve sustainable economic prosperity, better education, and health and social services for all its peoples. Peace and security to every human soul are simply about meeting the most BASIC NEEDS.

With the successful outcome of the World Summit for sustainable development, which include promises of economic growth and protection of our environment, Solomon Islands remains skeptical about the practical outcome of the action plans to developing and least developed countries. We have committed ourselves to similar action plans for sustainable development in the past. Agenda 21 of 1992 and the Barbados Program of Action for small islands developing states among others are valid policy blue prints for sustainable development. Unfortunately, we have not lived up to our commitments. We all have failed. That is why world leaders have, again, assembled in South Africa to take stock of our failures and make new commitments. Indeed, new commitments have been made. Now is the time to test the commitments made at Johannesburg. As the Prime Minister of Fiji and Chairman of the Pacific Islands Forum, Honourable Laisenia Qarase, had aptly said in his address at the World Summit, "Let us put our words into deeds".

Solomon Islands can only hope that, this time around, there is a will to lead us eventually to the goals and objectives set at the Johannesburg Summit.

Solomon Islands is very much aware of its vulnerability to natural and man-induced disasters. Like other small island developing countries, we continue to seek recognition from the international community not only to recognize the uniqueness of our vulnerability but also to take concerted actions towards achieving many of our goals and objectives for sustainable development collectively as a group and individually as nation.

The Communique of the recent Pacific Islands Forum Summit held in Suva, Fiji, last August; reflect important political, economic, security and environmental issues to the region. They need our collective resolve as well as the attention and co-operation of the wider international community.

The adverse impact of sea-level rise is a threat to the economies and survival of small and low-lying island countries in particular in the Pacific, the Caribbean and Indian Ocean. Scientific research and reports, including the third assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change issued in 2001, have given us all the more reason to be deeply concerned. Solomon Islands joins other small island states to again, call on the countries that have yet to become parties to the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol to do so and serious commitments to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Least Developed Countries still grapple with the harsh realities of poverty, vulnerability to external economic shocks, debt burden, poor infrastructures, poor and limited access to better education, health, social services and the list goes on. With increasing commitments to globalization, the situation of many least developed countries and nation states have neither improved nor stabled. In many instances, their conditions have worsened.

Solomon Islands believes that the renewed commitment through the Brussels Program of Action for the Least Developed Countries (2001 -2002) under the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries is a timely action by all international organizations to refocus attention and global resources to the most needy and poorest countries. We support the immediate implementation of the Program and note with satisfaction the progress that has been.

Mr. President,

Solomon Islands once again, calls upon the United Nations to respect the expressed wish of the Government and people of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to be re-admitted as a full and equal member of this Organization.

Taiwan has marveled the world through its economic transformation. Within a short span of time, it has not only established a stable and vibrant domestic economy but also, has become among the world's most influential economies in terms of international trade, investment outflows and information technology. As a sovereign country, in full control of its own affairs and with influence in the world economy, it is unjust to deny the people of Taiwan that right to stand tall and be counted among the many nations represented in this august institution.

Taiwan is a willing and able country, ready to shoulder the obligations of the United Nations and other international organization. Taiwan has proved itself in its international economic co-operation in many developing and least developed countries. Solomon Islands is convinced that Taiwan's membership in the United Nations has no legal barriers - only political obstacles. Let us therefore cast aside those political obstacles and take a positive approach by according the Government and people of the Republic of China (Taiwan) the membership they deserve and to fully participate in the affairs of the United Nations under its Charter.

Thank you, Mr. President.