Statement by The
Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tuvalu
at the 58th United Nations General Assembly
Wednesday 24th September 2003
(Check Against Delivery)
Distinguished Heads of State and Government
Secretary General of the United Nations
Ladies and Gentlemen
The people of Tuvalu, on whose behalf I have the honor to
speak, wish me first of all to convey their
warmest greetings to the Fifty-Eighth Session of the United Nations
General Assembly (UNGA). We extend congratulations to you, Mr. President,
on your election. Coming from a small island country as well, we hold
your election in high regard, and wish you success in your presidency.
We also commend the outgoing President, H.E. Mr. Jan Kavan,
for his excellent leadership in the General Assembly this past year.
Mr. President, a year ago we reflected on the events of September 11th, 2001. On the eve of this session, we were horrified yet again by brutal terrorist attacks on the
UN in Iraq,
which killed some of the UN's finest, including its Special Envoy, His
Excellency Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello. Tuvalu strongly condemns these acts, and has joined in the accolade of
condolences to the Secretary General, to his staff, and to the families
of the victims.
The recent wave of terror attacks and the havoc they have created worldwide
have instilled a sense of fear and uncertainty. They have not only proven
the existence of forces bent on destroying the very foundation of the
UN. They have also underscored the urgency with which we must collectively
combat these forces. As a small island developing country, Tuvalu's biggest fear in
the advent of these all is the resolve of developed countries to
also address developmental and environmental issues, so fundamental
to lasting world peace and security.
Mr. President, in Tuvalu
and the Pacific islands generally, our isolation and fragmentation and
our lack of infrastructure and manpower leave
us vulnerable to terrorism. This threatens our security, especially
the security of our traditional and cultural practices upon which our
very existence depends. Likewise it also threatens
that of the world. We are therefore grateful for the UN's work on anti-terrorism
in collaboration with the Pacific Islands Forum, and directly with national
For our part, I am happy to say that Tuvalu is committed to acceding
to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and Terrorism
and its three protocols and the other UN anti terrorism related conventions
including, the UN Convention on the Safety of the UN and Associated
Personnel. In line with this spirit, we are also committed to regional
security arrangements, as set out by the Pacific Islands Forum.
But to fulfill our international obligations on anti-terrorism,
we need technical and financial assistance. More importantly, to strengthen
resilience against our vulnerabilities, capacity building through appropriate
education and human development is essentially imperative, for which
we seek the kind support of the international community.
Mr President, conflict prevention is vital to national,
regional and world peace. Tuvalu
shares the view that conflicts are best resolved through dialogue, and
mutual understanding of the root causes. The UN must continue to address
the underlying causes of conflicts, and be the common forum where nations
resolve their differences. Attempts to resolve conflicts by unilateral
means outside the UN inevitably result in ongoing mistrust and instability.
The stakes are too high to allow this to happen. We must continue to
engage in constructive dialogue.
Let me speak on a related matter briefly. Each year highly radioactive
and toxic material passes by ship through the Pacific on its way to
and from north Asia and Europe. It is
known that some of the materials are weapons grade. We are concerned
about these shipments because of the massive threat they pose to the
Pacific Ocean - a vital source of our livelihoods
and economic development. We would like these shipments to cease, for
the sake of lives in the islands and stability of the broader Pacific
We believe the UN has a very important peace keeping role to play, and
are therefore grateful for the progress made by the UN in restoring
peace in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. We hope the UN will continue
its support there, to ensure meaningful opportunities and peace for
the people of Bougainville.
10. Tuvalu noted, however, the manner in which the
UN has handled the conflict in the Solomon Islands. As a small island and a Least
Developing Country (LDC) similarly vulnerable to instability, we strongly
feel that the UN must better respond to member States' concerns, irrespective
of political affiliations. The United Nations is a body for all nations,
and all nations should be afforded the assistance
required of it.
In the same spirit Mr President, Tuvalu
places significant importance on the need to treat everybody equally,
as enshrined in the UN Charter. Accordingly
Tuvalu feels that the active and responsible
participation of the 23 million people in the Republic of China on Taiwan in world affairs
especially in trade, commerce, and international development without
representation in the UN is unjust and morally wrong. Their significant
contributions to technology, and their own
need to access world support to combat challenges of terrorism and health
epidemics such as HIV/AIDS and SARS cannot be continually ignored.
In our view the UN that prides itself on the protection of fundamental
human rights including the rights to self-determination, dignity and
worth of the human being cannot continue to turn a blind eye and ignore
the obvious realities of the situation. As much as the people of Taiwan
have so responsibly contributed to international development, they also
need the support of the international community. Their continuing isolation
is potential cause for serious conflicts.
13. Tuvalu therefore would like to call on this august
body to seriously consider the issue of membership
of the Republic of China on Taiwan in the UN, and its other agencies as a matter of urgency.
Mr President, on October 1st Tuvalu
will mark its 25th anniversary of independence. On reflection,
we are grateful for the support of the international community, particularly
traditional development partners, and from regional co-operations over
the past quarter century. Guided by the UN principles of good governance,
mutual respect for the rule of law and for human rights, democracy and
self-determination, to which we are deeply committed, it
is this support that has helped Tuvalu
prosper, and enjoy a peaceful and equal co-existence with the rest of
the world. Our future survival as a nation is founded on these
basic UN values.
Despite this relative stability, Mr President, we live in constant fear of the adverse impacts of climate change. For a coral atoll nation, sea level
rise and more severe weather events loom as a growing threat to our
entire population. The threat is real and serious, and is of no difference
to a slow and insidious form of terrorism against us.
16. In this respect,
participates actively in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
and the Kyoto Protocol and we are extremely grateful to all the nations
that join us in resolving this threat. Nevertheless, we are deeply dismayed
that key industrialized nations do not share our concern. All nations
are being affected by climate change.
17. Mr President, this is not just a problem for small island
states like our own. We believe all nations must take positive steps
to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions, but in saying this
we also believe the industrialized world must act first. It
is their historical emissions that are creating the problems
of today. Steps must be taken to account for
and redress the emissions of the past. We implore all nations to ratify
the Kyoto Protocol, as this is the only appropriate process that will bring about effective
collective action to resolve this growing threat.
18. As Tuvalu moves into
the 21st century, we are also challenged
by the many changes that are taking place in the world, especially through
globalization. Never before have we faced such complex challenges. Yet,
for Tuvalu and others like us,
while we witness everyday the forces of trade, communications and travel
creating a single global community, the problems of poverty, marginalization,
and environmental decline continue to plague many parts of the world.
19. The recent
breakdown in discussions on international trade in Cancun, Mexico
clearly shows that we live in a very complex world. If nothing else the Cancun meeting was a significant
step forward for the voice of the developing world. No longer are the
developing nations willing to accept the rhetoric of those who want
to impose a trade regime that tends to favor the wealthy and marginalize
20. Tuvalu and many small island
states are in a particularly weak position to take advantage of the
opportunities presented by globalization. There is a genuine need to
better recognize the special case of small island developing
states and their need to participate in a more equitable globalize world.
development, particularly for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable
States, especially for small island LDC's
is crucial. Of course we recognize that the primary responsibility for sustainable
development rests with each country, on its own terms. However, as a
poorly resourced small island LDC, even the
best efforts to escape the cycle of poverty and marginalization are
doomed without the support of the international community, civil society,
and the private sector. Tuvalu
and those like us are encouraged by the commitment of the international
community towards addressing poverty and development challenges as contained
in the Millennium Summit Declaration Goals, and other various UN development
frameworks. But these will remain mere rhetorics unless they translate into real development that
can make a difference on the ground.
22. In this regard,
proper and effective implementation of the Barbados Program of Action
for the sustainable development of small island
States is crucial for the development of countries like Tuvalu. To this end, the
conducting of a full and comprehensive review of the implementation
of the Barbados Program of Action in the lead up to the International
Meeting in Mauritius next year, imperative. We kindly request the UN
Secretariat to undertake this analysis as a matter of high priority
so that we can learn from the past and move forward in a more positive way.
23. This said, however, the overall
decline in Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) in real terms Mr
President, is cause for serious concern. Despite pledges at the Monterrey
Conference, major industrialized nations are not fulfilling the minimum
target of 0.7% of their Gross National Product (GNP). For small island
states, this reluctance translates into lower economic growth as well
as into further widening the gap between LDC's and industrialized nations. Tuvalu therefore appeals
to the donor countries to make serious efforts to meet the UN minimum
ODA target to enable LDC's attain a better
quality of life for all its peoples.
24. In conclusion Mr. President, for Atoll Island states like Tuvalu,
efforts aimed at sustainable development, peace and security will be
meaningless unless the issue of climate change is addressed with urgency.
As, has been warned by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change
in its Third Assessment Report, the threat of global warning and rising
sea levels is serious business. Addressing these threats requires a
global effort by both industrialized and developing countries, consistent
with the objectives of, and the commitments made in, the Framework Convention
on Climate Change.
Again, Tuvalu's interest
in enforcing Kyoto is not self-serving.
The consequences of not urgently enforcing Kyoto will be felt everywhere around the world.
appeals to the countries that can make the difference to ratify the
Kyoto Protocol as a matter of urgency. As we in Tuvalu celebrate our
Silver Jubilee anniversary, and as we look forward into the future,
it is our hope that out of this Great Hall there will emerge better
understanding and goodwill - to further solidify the foundation upon
which the long lasting security and survival of Tuvalu and many others
is built, and for peace in the world.
God Bless the
TUVALU MO TE ATUA.