SOLOMON ISLANDS

STATEMENT
BY
THE HONOURABLE LAURIE CHAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AT THE
FIFTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Wednesday 1st October 2003


Mr. President,

Please accept the warm wishes of the Government and people of Solomon Islands on your election as President of the 58 `h Session of the United Nations General Assembly. I also offer gratitude to your predecessor for presiding over the last Session.

And to the Secretary General, we salute you for your bold leadership of our Organization. Through you, Solomon Islands wishes to pay tribute to the members of the UN Staff and others who lost their lives during the senseless attack on the UN Office in Baghdad last August and the recent incident few days ago.

Mr. President,

Fifty-eight years ago, the United Nations was founded, among others, to guarantee freedom, peace and security and to promote economic and social advancement to all peoples. Over the years, many threats to international peace and security have been receded or resolved. The cold war has ended. Security and arms control regimes were in place. Institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF and others were established to address the economic and social dimensions of humankind's needs.

In spite of these significant achievements. peace and security and our quest for sustained economic and social developments remain the main challenges of our time. New and complex threats to international peace and security have emerged at alarming and global scales during the past decades.

Mr. President,

International terrorism continues unabated in different parts of the world, targeting and killing mainly innocent and vulnerable civilian population. There can be no other options but for the international community to redouble efforts to fight this evil menace at all fronts. Solomon Islands remains committed to its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001). Steps are being taken to enact relevant legislations and to accede to international conventions to counter terrorist activities.

Solomon Islands believes that lasting settlement of the crises in the Middle East will have positive effects on global peace and security. We therefore support the efforts to bring lasting peace and stability to the region, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the situation in Iraq. The United Nations must play a crucial role in the Middle East peace process.

Mr. President,

The primary responsibility of addressing the daunting challenges we face today lie with individual countries. However, history proves that much more could be effectively achieved. through multilateralism. We all agree that this era of globalization brings new global challenges. And global challenges require co-operative global solutions. The United Nations as the leading and legitimate multilateral institution must take equal responsibility to address the global challenges we now face. The United Nations therefore must be strengthened.

That is why Solomon Islands supports the Secretary General's ongoing reform of the United Nations system as a process - not an event. Yes, the reform process has achieved positive results and greater transparency. But we need to do more if our Organization were to remain effective and relevant to the changing political environment. A reformed and restructured Security Council is also necessary. Japan, Germany and others deserve permanent membership in the Council. They are equally capable of contributing constructively to achieving and maintaining international peace and security. The use of "veto power" by the permanent members should be restricted to the provisions of Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

Mr. President,

Restoring law and order, economic recovery and simply, bringing normalcy to Solomon Islands have been extremely difficult challenges that my Government faced when we took Office in December of 2001. But having made the commitment to address these challenges through the Government's Strategic Plan and Priorities, we engaged ourselves in a series of dialogues and consultations with our development partners. Our intentions were clear. We want outside assistance to restore law and order and economic recovery.

Last July, with unanimous bi-partisan support, the National Parliament of Solomon Islands adopted an enabling legislation that authorizes outside assistance to restore law and to recover the economy. Following an explicit invitation by the Government, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) led by Australia, was assembled and deployed under the auspices of the Pacific Islands Forum's Biketawa Declaration and within the terms of the United Nations Charter.

I am pleased to inform that the immediate impacts of RAMSI have been significant and positive. Security in terms of law and order has been re-established and the Government's finances are beginning to stabilize. The course of action through RAMSI is the best option we took. It is a unique regional co-operative and partnership arrangement that is not merely limited to reestablishing and maintaining peace and security. It accords Solomon Islanders the best real opportunity to rebuild the Country and address the deep rooted problems we have for years, including fighting corruption, restoring the principles of democracy, good governance, respect for fundamental human values and rejuvenating the social cohesiveness of our people.

RAMSI's work ahead will be challenging. But we assure RAMSI of every support and cooperation. The Government and the people of Solomon Islands are equally committed to achieving this common objective.

We deeply appreciate the overwhelming support of the Pacific Forum Islands countries, expressed through the Forum Declaration on Solomon Islands, the Forum Foreign Affairs Ministerial Statement and for actively contributing as Participating Countries in the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands. These countries are committed in their resolve to help a neighbor recover and rebuild. For this, I say 'Tagio tumas for "helpem fren " blong iufala'.

We also appreciate the support RAMSI has received from the wider international community - the Commonwealth, the United Nations, the European Union and our individual bilateral donor partners. We look forward to more active support to complement the important work RAMSI is doing in addressing the immediate and long-term objectives and plans.

The Government's National Economic Recovery and Development Plan 2003 -2005 will be formally presented to our development partners, in November. Our immediate objectives are to:

i. Restore and maintain law and order
ii. Bring about macroeconomic stability and income growth
iii. Restore full services in health and education
iv. Re-establish the foundation for sustained economic growth and human development.

While the immediate security and economic situation of the Country are being addressed by RAMSI, the planned November Meeting will provide the opportunity for the rest of our development partners to define their respective roles and assistance towards achieving these key objectives.

Mr. President,

As a least developed and island state, our economic, social and environmental vulnerabilities are major constraints to achieving sustainable economic growth and livelihoods. But we put our hope on greater international support and partnership to address these constraints in order to meaningfully and successfully implement our national development plans and such key policy outcomes as the 2000 Millennium Development Goals. the WSSD Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and other programs within the development agenda of the United Nations

Implementation of the 2000 Millennium Development Goals has been slow, however, we have now incorporated its objectives into the Government's Economic Recovery and Development Plan 2003 - 2005, as priorities for national implementation.

Solomon Islands looks forward to participate fully in the review process of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. We envisaged the outcome of the 2004 international meeting in Mauritius to be one that will focus on real commitments and practical implementations of the Program at the national and regional levels.

The Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries provides yet another opportunity and dimension to addressing the pressing problems facing poor countries. Yes, implementations of this Program at the national level have been slow. But real commitments from the international community to address our constraints, including capacity and indebtedness, have not been forthcoming as well. We commend the work of the High Representative of the Office of the LDCs in seeking international support and commitment to implement the Program. We further call on the international community to seriously consider more resolute measures such as cancellation of debts to assist highly indebted poor countries.

As member of WTO, Solomon Islands is equally concerned that the Cancun Meeting failed to yield positive results. Like other least developed countries, we have a key interest in the development dimension of the Doha Round. And we wish to re-echo what we stated in Cancun that a new, equitable and fair trading system must take into account issues such as difference in income, economic size, technological development and private sector capacities of countries among others.

Mr. President,

Solomon Islands attaches great importance to regional co-operation. The Communiqué of the Leaders of Pacific Islands Forum last August, which has been availed as an official document of the 58`h session of the UN General Assembly, reflects the range of issues that directly concern us in the Pacific region. Climate change and sea-level rise, fisheries and protection of our marine environment, trade, sustainable development and security related issues are among them. As small states with inherent geographical and structural disadvantages, our strength lies in pooling our resources to collectively address these issues. We call upon the UN to take more active support in our regional initiatives.

Mr. President,

Allow me at this juncture to express once more, Solomon Islands strong support for Taiwan to be admitted as a full member of the United Nations. It is undeniable fact that under international law, Taiwan is a sovereign state. It has a transparent and democratic political system, a vibrant and progressive economy and a highly efficient social system - all of which are completely independent and with no control whatsoever, from the Peoples Republic of China.

Taiwan is a willing and able partner to meet its international obligations under the Charter. Its contribution to the international community and the global economy are well known. Yet only a fortnight ago, this august body once again, denied the wishes of the people of Taiwan to be considered for membership in the United Nations. Over the years, the international community has discriminated against its 23 million people. The delayed WHO assistance to Taiwan during the outbreak of SARS early this year is an example, and of how reasons of power politics prevail over timely humanitarian assistance.

Mr. President,

I alluded earlier, that the United Nations must remain relevant to the changing political environment. It must live up to its fundamental values and principles enshrined in the Charter. It must remain a universal and all-inclusive Organization, capable of serving all its members, however big or small, however powerful or weak and whatever creed, religious and political belief or principle a member has. Every country must be treated with equal respect and attention. The United Nations must equally live up to its principle of equality of all nations, in this new millennium

Thank you.