H.E. Mr. Alfred Capelle
57th SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY GENERAL DEBATE
New York, 20 September 2002
Good afternoon to you.
I bring to you warm greetings from His Excellency President Kessai H. Note.
On behalf of the Republic of the Marshall Islands I am honored to congratulate
you on your election to this high office. Let me also take this opportunity
to thank the Secretary-General for the hard work that he and the Secretariat
have undertaken in preparation for this General Assembly.
I am also greatly pleased to extend a warm welcome and congratulations from
the Marshall Islands to the people of both Switzerland and East Timor, as the
newest members of the United Nations.
It is unfortunate that this, the 57th Session of the United Nations General
Assembly, meets under the shadow of the anniversary of the terrorist attacks
that shocked our host country - and the world - on September 11, 2001. Modern
terrorism is an issue of concern for all peoples, regardless of nationality
or religion. It is an issue that no nation can afford to ignore.
Whilst sharing in the horror and sorrow caused by the terrorist attacks in
the United States, the people of the Marshall Islands are hopeful that the member
states of the United Nations will continue to join together in working towards
global peace and security. I urge this body, which collectively represents the
moral force of all member states, to do everything in its power to eliminate
the threat of terrorism.
I am pleased to announce that the Marshall Islands have recently completed
a process of national priority setting and assessment of Government policy.
We have thoroughly reviewed the state of our nation through the holding of a
National Economic and Social Summit, the findings of which have formed the basis
for our long-term sustainable development plan, entitled "Republic of the
Marshall Islands Vision 2018".
This process of review was guided by consultations with all stakeholders and
all sectors of our society. Extensive discussions and interviews were carried
out in order to ensure that all members of the Marshall Islands community would
have the opportunity to contribute to our vision for the future.
The Marshall Islands Government has determined that all development policies and objectives will be guided by the vision generated from the Summit, and we are now in the process of implementing the core ideals of this blueprint for sustainable development.
In developing our national vision, the Marshall Islands Government has also
responded to the international agenda as set by the United Nations. We have
ensured that our policies will reflect the all-important priorities of good
governance, respect for fundamental human rights, protection of the environment,
and conservation of natural resources. We have also taken account of social
development objectives and the need to invest in the areas of health and education.
By linking our national priorities to the international agenda we are confident
that the correct policy decisions will be made.
During the 1990's the Marshall Islands went through a period of structural
adjustment and reform at the demand of the international donor community. We
have faithfully carried out these costly and socially disruptive reforms, with
the hope that some form of reward would be forthcoming. We now have in place
a forward looking and pragmatic set of policies, and we are eager to translate
these policies into action, for the betterment of the lives of our people. Yet
there are few who are willing to assist us in achieving this goal.
I therefore stand here at the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
to advocate for a new international paradigm: one that recognizes both the unique'
challenges facing Small Island Developing States like the Marshall Islands,
as well as the unique resources and gifts that these nations possess - resources
that can only be brought to bear upon the whole of the international community
through substantive and sustained partnerships.
It is time to re-conceptualize the relationships that exist between more-established
and less-established nations, from one of donors and recipients to one of mutual
beneficiaries and collaborators. Only in this way will it be possible to fully
realize the promise of true international cooperation and development.
The Marshall Islands has so much in the way of native intellectual, environmental
and cultural resources to share with the international community. We look forward
to forming new forms of partnerships with entities around the world - partnerships
that will redound to the benefit of the global community and all its residents.
The partnerships that are most meaningful to us are ones of a practical nature.
Our communities, and those of many other nations like the Marshall Islands,
are seeking partnerships of action that offer pragmatic and practical solutions
that are coordinated and targeted for maximum effect.
The Marshall Islands share challenges that are uniquely peculiar to many small
island states: a precariously fragile environment that is highly sensitive to
the threat posed by global warming; a narrow economic base that imposes constraints
on the potential for progressive and sustainable development; and an institutional
milieu that is slowly developing the capability of harnessing the benefits of
science and technology.
In relation to our international partners, the Marshall Islands is particularly
concerned about the following issues.
Firstly, the Environment. The Marshall Islands Government recognizes the need
for a coordinated and comprehensive approach in seeking appropriate solutions
to the challenges posed by environmental degradation and pollution.
We commend the Barbados Program of Action, which, in conjunction with the outcome
forged at the Johannesburg Earth Summit, will provide a guiding framework for
sustainable development for small islands states such as the Marshall Islands.
The wide divergence of views expressed in Johannesburg posed many challenges,
but also produced rich insights into areas where our common strengths lie, and
how these might best be utilized.
Further, it is vital that the international community recognize the great challenge
to life and culture that is posed by global climate change. This threat is felt
most acutely by nations such as the Marshall Islands - nations that face the
very real threat of complete obliteration if our oceans rise by even
On behalf of the Marshall Islands, I commend those States that share our concerns,
and therefore have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol. May I also urge those
remaining States to consider the vital importance and urgency of this issue.
If the international community does not act now, the future will see the disappearance
of many small island nations, which in turn will have immeasurable economic,
environmental, and immigration consequences for the entire global community.
Secondly, an issue that is particularly relevant to the Marshall Islands: Nuclear
cleanup and non-proliferation. The Marshall Islands seeks partnerships with
members of the international community that will help raise to new levels the
dialogue about nuclear weapons and their testing.
The people of the Marshall Islands have suffered greatly at the hands of a
world that is continually preparing for war. We are restrained by the persisting
legacy of toxic nuclear waste, which poses challenges far beyond our financial
and scientific capability to solve. Our food chain continues to be affected,
and our development is thwarted by our inability to use damaged lands.
I am pleased to state that the US Congress is currently reviewing our situation
and we are hopeful that the outcome will contribute towards amelioration of
this problem. Nevertheless, we believe that our hard-learned lessons can help
to inform and instruct the international community in future debates about the
use and testing of nuclear weapons.
And thirdly, another issue that is particularly pertinent for our people: Oceans and Fisheries. As a nation whose entire livelihood depends on the resources of the sea, the Marshall Islands Government pledges its unwavering support for the Law of the Sea Management Regime. In particular, we emphasize the importance of Article 63 (1) of the regime, which speaks of the need for states to agree on measures necessary to coordinate and ensure the conservation and development of shared stocks.
The Marshall Islands is also pursuing the establishment of national fisheries
industries that gradually allow for the replacement of foreign fishing fleets;
the delineation of our own Exclusive Economic Zone; and the establishment of
international guidelines that protect our oceans for generations of future fishermen
and the people who count on the work they do for survival.
I have mentioned only a few of the priorities that my delegation will be seeking
to raise at the appropriate moments in upcoming committee debates, and in our
interactions with United Nations agencies and our development partners.
There are, of course, many other issues of concern to both the Marshall Islands and the international community as a whole - issues that we will all wrestle with over the coming years.
Among the most important challenges faced by this body is the continued exclusion
of the Republic of China (Taiwan) from the United Nations. The Marshall Islands
Government reiterates its concern that the exclusion of a nation of peaceful
and law-abiding citizens is not consistent with the inclusive ideal of the United
Nations. I therefore urge each and every one of us to overcome our biases and
to allow the admission of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the United Nations.
Another important challenge faced by this body is that of the ongoing conflict
in the Middle East. The Marshall Islands considers that urgent diplomatic action
is required in order to work towards a peaceful solution to this threat to international
peace and security.
The Marshall Islands wishes to emphasize its support for the expansion of the
United Nations Security Council. We believe that there should be an increase
in the number of both permanent and non-permanent members of the Council, and
that such expansion should include members from both developed and developing
countries. This would significantly broaden the representation base of the Council,
and thus reinforce its ongoing validity.
Finally, Mr. President,
May I take this opportunity to congratulate the international community on
its support for the newly established International Criminal Court. The Marshall
Islands is hopeful and confident that the Court will prove to be a powerful
mechanism in the administration of justice at the international level. We are,
however, currently considering the making of a Bilateral Agreement under Article
98 of the Rome Statute, and will determine this issue after a careful assessment
of the implications of such an Agreement.
Kindly allow me to conclude this statement with the following prayer:
God, our Father, You guide and govern everything with order and love. Look
upon this assembly of our world leaders and fill them with the spirit of your
divine wisdom. May they always act in accordance with your will and may their
decisions be for the peace and well being of all peoples. We pray in your name.
And finally, I wish to re-affirm the strong commitment in fellowship and solidarity of the Marshall Islands with all the member states of this body.
Long live the United Nations. God bless the United Nations.