PALAU

STATEMENT BY
HER EXCELLENCY SANDRA SUMANG PIERANTOZZI
VICE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF PALAU
AT THE 57TH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS
NEW YORK, 20 SEPTEMBER 2002


Mr. Secretary General,
Mr. President,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset I wish to congratulate you, Mr. President, on your successful election to the leadership post of this assembly and offer my country's welcome to East Timor and Switzerland for their recent admission into our family of nations.

We gather slightly more than one year after the appalling, unconscionable events of September 11, 2001. The world still strives to come to grips with the full implications of the inhumane savagery of the attacks here in New York and in Arlington, Virginia. Given the great number of areas in which the various members of this organization have differing, and often competing, interests, we can all derive hope and pride from the fact that the solidarity so evident at last year's General Assembly is still largely intact today. Governments around the world continue to cooperate in efforts to identify, locate, and shut down terrorist organizations and those who would give comfort and aid to such organizations.

Palau, in spite of the inherent limitations imposed by its size, remoteness, capacity constraints and economic vulnerability, has fully committed itself to working with the community of nations to defeat terrorists and their sympathizers. We have aggressively pursued revisions in our laws which make it easier to gather information on suspicious persons and activities, to share information with other jurisdictions, to block suspect financial transactions, to establish domestic criminal penalties for transnational crimes, to specifically recognize acts of tenor as crimes under our domestic legal system, and to streamline our procedures for asset seizure and extradition in order to better cooperate with our comrades in this war on terrorism. However, the limitations noted above are hampering our efforts to fully implement these laws no matter how much we wish to support the global war on terrorism, Palau, like many other developing nations, will not be able to meaningfully participate in this vital campaign without the assistance of the developed nations. Therefore, to those leading the combat against terrorism, Palau says, "Please, give us the tools we need to make a substantial contribution to this fight and render practical support for your efforts."

While the great majority of nations remain united in their desire to see terrorism defeated, and that is a cause for hope, there are also grounds for concern. Some nations appear to be wavering in their resolve to take concrete actions to prevent terrorist attacks, while some others seem not to fully appreciate the new dynamic of the post-September 1 l world. Those who supported or condone the events of September 11 take heart when they hear members of this body speak of waiting for a consensus before acting to remove credible threats to national and international stability. Terrorists and their sympathizers likewise are comforted when they hear leaders continue to talk in the old language of how to react to terrorism, rather than speaking of how to preempt the next attack. Nothing pleases the forces of global terror more than hearing members of the world coalition against terrorism speaking of measured and agreed-upon responses to the next atrocity.

The bottom line is this: the potential for catastrophic harm is so great that we cannot wait for the next attack. In this regard, Palau fully supports the United States in its resolve to preempt further attacks and loss of life. The very laudable ideal of multilateral, consensus-driven action is good but it cannot justify and will not excuse the loss of human lives and the degradation of human life which will result from giving those who rely
on or sponsor terror the opportunity to strike first, either directly or by proxy. Palau therefore calls upon the members of the U.N. to once come together in their commitment to forestall future tragedies.

As noted earlier, we can derive some satisfaction that the sense of goodwill and unity of purpose which prevailed immediately after last-year's subhuman attacks continue to exist in large part. However, Palau also notes that the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development revealed a dismal lack of commitment to addressing the development needs of the great majority of nations. The failure of key nations to recommit to the goals of the Rio Earth Summit is equally disappointing. Taken together, these developments demonstrate that such goodwill and solidarity apparently is confined to those matters which most concern the developed world. The lack of progress on sustainable development also strongly suggests that the developed world still sees developing nations such as Palau as merely token members of the international community, rather than as viable partners.

The current view the developed nations seem to have of the developing world is unacceptable and can only lead to greater unrest and instability in the future. It is time for the unity of purpose which characterizes the global war on terror to be brought to bear in an equally global campaign for sustainable development. It is time to take affirmative action to counteract the effects of globalization and correct the technological imbalances which are widening the gap between developed and developing nations. It is time to take concrete action to give developing nations the tools they need to manage and speed their own development in ways which will lead to the replacement of dependence on foreign aid with dependence on domestic industry. It is time to implement measures to end the marginalization of developing countries in the new global economy. In this regard, Palau welcomes and applauds the Koizumi Initiative as one of the saddening few positive outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and calls upon all developed members of the United Nations to adopt similar initiatives.

The position of certain members of this body on fundamental environmental issues also suggest that global solidarity is limited to those areas which concern the major powers of the developed world. Those members of the U.N. who have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the highest standards of living have done so and continue to do so at the expense of the environmental integrity of our planet. These major emitters are threatening the lives of small island states such as Palau, placing their mere comfort at a premium over our very existence, at the very same time they seek our support for their goals and initiatives. This, too, is unacceptable. Fortunately, most of the developed world, including the governments of the major industrialized economies of Japan and the EU, has recognized its responsibility and has endorsed the only viable response to the existing and worsening adverse impacts of climate change, the Kyoto Protocol, and the "no regrets" philosophy it embodies. It is time for those developed nations which have shirked their responsibilities and shunned the Kyoto Protocol to end their callous disregard for the fate of those nations most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, to admit that the Kyoto Protocol remains the only meaningful first step towards comprehensively addressing climate change, and to join the great body of nations which have pledged to work together through the Kyoto Protocol and beyond to combat the effects of climate change. It is time to take the lessons we have learned from the war on terror, lessons regarding the fundamental importance of working together to respond to a common threat, lessons regarding the very real interdependence of all nations, and lessons regarding the need for, and ability of, nations to balance genuine global concerns against perceived self-interests, and apply them to the threats posed by climate change and sea-level rise.

Throughout my remarks today, I have emphasized Palau's strong support, in some cases, demands, for global action to address the major threats to stability and progress in this new global order. This is because it has become apparent as never before that the widest possible participation in responding to those threats must be encouraged if real and lasting solutions are to be found. In light of this fact, Palau must once again note the folly of excluding any potential partner from the efforts of the U.N. to meet the challenges we face now and to prepare against the challenges yet to come. Such exclusion is particularly shortsighted in those efforts of the international community which go beyond politics and address fundamental human concerns, such as health and education. For this reason, Palau must again call upon the members of the U.N. to welcome the Republic of China (Taiwan) into this organization. At the very least, the membership at this meeting should endorse the participation of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the World Health Organization, UNESCO, UNDP, and similar bodies dedicated to the improvement of the human condition: mere politics should not be allowed to compromise or prevent the development of a truly global effort to alleviate human suffering and better mankind.

In the area of health, I have appeared before this august body in the past where I discussed the ill effects of tobacco use and our responsibility to protect our youth from the threat of tobacco addiction. I appear before you today again to ask for your complete support on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in order to combat tobacco-related illnesses and complications.

Also throughout these remarks, I have repeatedly returned to the idea of security. Primarily, that is because we all feel less secure in the aftermath of the monstrous attacks of September 11, 2001. The very idea of "security" has taken on new meaning. Our collective understanding of the kind of cooperation and integration which is necessary to provide effective security has changed radically. Yet, one of the foremost bodies for dealing with security, the U.N. Security Council has remained unchanged. This can hardly be right. In this new environment, it is time to re-examine the composition and powers of the U.N. Security Council, to consider how it may be made both more accessible and more accountable, and to find ways to increase its ability to respond in a prompt, flexible, and effective manner to the threats to peace which are sure to arise in the future.

In closing, let me again confirm Palau's dedication to, and determination to take part in, the global efforts to meet the challenges facing us all. Palau will continue to do all it can to support universal responses to threats to peace and stability, especially mid- and long-term threats such as climate change and sea-level rise and the widening gaps between developed and developing nations. On behalf of the people and government of the Republic of Palau, I call upon all members of this great organization to do likewise.

Thank you.