H.E. MR. ASTERIO R. TAKESY
SECRETARY (MINISTER) OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
OF THE FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA
IN THE GENERAL DEBATE
THE FIFTIETH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
New York, 3 October 1995
Check Against Delivery
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies, and Distinguished Guests,
I am honored to address the fiftieth session of the General Assembly
in my capacity as the Secretary of External Affairs for the Government of
the Federated States of Micronesia.
At the outset, I wish to extend to you, Mr. President, my government's
congratulations on your election to the Presidency of this august body.
We are pleased that the stewardship of this anniversary session is entrusted
to a distinguished and seasoned diplomat. I wish to express my confidence
in your capable leadership and assure you of the cooperation of my government
in the discharge of the mandate of your office as President of this Assembly.
In this regard, I wish to thank your distinguished predecessor, His Excellency
Mr. Amara Essy of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, for his dedication and
excellent guidance of the work of this Assembly during its Forty-ninth session.
I wish also to convey my government's gratitude to the Secretary-General,
Dr. Boutros- Ghali, for his tireless efforts in the search for peaceful
solutions to the many volatile situations and humanitarian and development
issues around the world that are challenging this organization's attention.
My government takes this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to the
Republic of Palau, the newest member of the United Nations.
In a few weeks from today, Member States of the United Nations will join
together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this Organization, taking
note of its accomplishments and its share of failures with a view to chart
an effective role for its future.
The new global map before us today presents this organization with a
unique opportunity as the primary global institution. The challenge of leadership
is before us, however, this opportunity will be missed without financial
resources as well as political will of its member states.
In this connection, we wish to support the expression by the Chair of
the Group of 77 and China last week with respect to the Report of the Progress
of the Work of the High-Level Open-ended Working Group on the Financial
Situation of the United Nations.
I also wish to express my government's strong support for the ongoing
program of reforms within the organization. We support institutional reforms
which eliminate duplication of work, waste, fraud and thereby enhance the
effectiveness of this organization.
One of the most obvious organizational questions at this time is the
future role, if any, of one of the main UN Organs, the Trusteeship Council.
With the termination of the last Trusteeship component, the Council this
year reached a historic milestone. What now?
In line with the emerging discussion on this subject, my Government recognizes
that the overall concept of Trusteeship may provide a vehicle through which
the United Nations might play a useful role in new and innovative ways such
as, perhaps, dealing with the Global Commons. Any such new role for the
Council, however, must be very carefully crafted and distinguished from
With reference to the Scale of Assessments, my Government finds merit
in the argument that the principle of capacity to pay seems to have fallen
by the wayside in the determination of assessments. My Government wishes
to thank the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom and other Missions
for their analytical studies of the scale of assessments carried out recently.
These studies point out disturbing disparities in the existing scale as
compared with individual member countries' share of the global economy.
Naturally, it is the smallest member states that are being penalized by
such disparities. My Government associates itself with the Report of the
50th Session of the Committee on Contributions held in June of this year,
which called for a lowering of the floor. Mr. President,
The issue of human rights, implicit in the U.N. Charter, has been the
topic of many debates and international conferences in the context of the
work of the United Nations. It occupied center stage at the Summit for Social
Development in Copenhagen, and recently at the Fourth World Conference on
Women in Beijing, China last month. We welcome the programs of action generated
by these meetings, and hope that the international community will find the
determination to allocate the necessary resources for their implementation.
The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia joined in the consensus
of the Parties for the unconditional extension of the Nuclear Non-proliferation
(NPT) Treaty five months ago. With regard to the ongoing negotiations with
respect to a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, my government welcomes the commitment
by the United States for a zero yield threshold, and we urge similar assurances
by the other nuclear weapon states.
Similarly, Mr. President, during the past few months, we have been deeply
troubled by the occurrence of nuclear test explosions in China and in the
South Pacific. These events can only be seen as detrimental to the principles
of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and endangering the prospects for
success in negotiating a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. As long
as these nuclear powers disregard the strong wishes of the international
community and break testing moratoria at will, we can take little comfort
in their spoken assurance of willingness to sign and abide by a comprehensive
nuclear test ban. The best evidence of their good faith in this regard would
be a cessation of all testing at once.
In the important area of development, my Government fully supports the
ongoing work on an Agenda for Development and the call for new approaches
that would elevate development and economic policy to their deserved place
on par with world peace and security.
In the Secretary-General's recommendations of 11 November 1994, he stated,
"[t]he United Nations cannot be a strong force for peace unless it
is also a strong force for development. " My Government fully associates
itself with the G77 Foreign Ministers' declaration calling for restoration
of the issue of development to the heart of the U.N. agenda, the centrality
of the U.N. in promoting international cooperation for development, and
the creation of a balance between U.N. activities for development and its
My government welcomes the coming into effect of the United Nations Convention
on the Law of the Sea in November of last year, as well as the establishment
of the International Seabed Authority. While there is much more work ahead
in months to come with respect to the Seabed Authority and the International
Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, we are confident that the spirit of compromise
that brought us to where we are today will continue to prevail and guide
In this connection, my government is very pleased with the successful
outcome of the negotiations on the Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory
Fish Stocks this past July. The economic development of the Federated States
of Micronesia, as a small island developing state, depends to a large extent
on its marine resources within its one million square miles of exclusive
economic zone. Conservation and management of marine resources is a tradition
in the Federated States of Micronesia. We therefore embrace the international
efforts within these past few years to institute a regime for the management
of fish stocks on the high seas as a natural extension of our traditional
practice. My government looks forward to the signing of the Agreement in
December of this year. At this juncture allow me, Mr. President, to express
my government's appreciation to Ambassador Satya Nandan of Fiji for his
excellent leadership as Chairman of the Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly
Migratory Fish Stocks Conference. As Pacific Islanders, we take pride in
the immense contributions of one of our own sons to an area so critical
to the economic development of the Pacific region and the world.
The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia is firmly committed
to environmentally sustainable development. We were a founding member of
the Alliance of Small Island States, and continue to associate ourselves
actively with the advancement of the interests shared by small island developing
states, within the context of the overall work of the Group of 77. We urge
all members to follow closely the crucial work of the Commission on Sustainable
Development this year, and to support the important work of Under-Secretary-General
Nitin Desai and the Secretariat in this difficult, but essential endeavor.
In this connection, we continue to place great importance on the implementation
of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island
The South Pacific Forum at its meeting last month adopted the Convention
to Ban Importation Into the Forum Island Countries of Hazardous and Radioactive
Wastes and to Control Transboundary Movement and Managements of Hazardous
Wastes within the South Pacific Region, also referred to as the Waigani
Convention. It is an important arrangement that strengthens and supplements
the effect of the Basel and London Conventions within our region.
The subject of climate change, and global warming, as influenced by mankind's
emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, remains a deep concern
to the people of the Federated States of Micronesia. Unfortunately, though,
it seems that much of the World does not at present share our feeling of
urgency in the continuing debate over this problem.
The developments during the past year relating to the Framework Convention
have been to some extent encouraging, but the process still suffers greatly
from the strong political and economic influences that obscure the Convention's
clearly stated objective - that is, the stabilization of greenhouse gases
in the atmosphere at safe levels. Everyone agrees that this objective can
be reached only through difficult adjustments within industrialized countries
and assistance to the developing world in acquiring environmentally clean
technologies. It is also understood that this must be done in stages over
some period of time. But the first steps must be initiated at once. The
First Conference of the Parties in Berlin earlier this year made the very
crucial determination that the initial undertakings by industrialized countries
to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are inadequate. Regrettably, the Conference
did not see fit to adopt as a next step the Protocol formally submitted
by the Alliance of Small Island States, which would apply a reductions formula
endorsed by scientists as reasonable and necessary back in 1988.
Instead, the best the Conference could do was mandate a working group
to develop a protocol or other legal instrument during the next two years
requiring specific future reductions. At the first meeting of this working
group recently in Geneva, it was clear that powerful forces remain dedicated
to defeating this process by whatever means they can apply.
Opponents of the Framework Convention have been very ingenious in casting
doubts over scientific knowledge relating to climate change, but we hope
that the upcoming Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change will establish once and for all the clear legitimacy of
this concern and the need for action. The Panel has found, among other things,
a likelihood of continuing sea level rise amounting to more than eighteen
inches, or half a meter, by the year 2100 if nothing is done. Besides the
obvious disastrous effects upon islands and their populations, many heavily
populated river deltas and their cities would be made uninhabitable. Tens
of millions including not just islanders, but also inhabitants of Egypt,
Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China, France, the Netherlands, Italy
and the Mississippi Delta of the United States, to name only some, would
become environmental refugees. Even more would be exposed for the first
time to flooding due to storm surges.
The eminent Director of the University of Maryland's Laboratory for Coastal
Research recently described the measurement of sea level rise as the "dipstick
of climate change." I would respectfully suggest that while sea level
rise is certainly the indicator, it is our islands and low-lying coastal
areas that are the dipstick - but we are helplessly fixed and immovable.
I therefore call on this body at this Session, Mr. President, to take
due notice of the accumulating knowledge relating to climate change and
to reaffirm the need and the urgency for meaningful greenhouse gas emissions-reduction
measures within the context of the Framework Convention.
I am pleased to inform this Assembly, in particular, our good friends
from Africa, Australia and elsewhere, whose homelands are devastated by
the effects of land degradation and drought, that the Government of the
Federated States of Micronesia has recently ratified the Convention on Desertification,
and the government will deposit its Instrument of Ratification in due time.
The FSM sees an inter-relationship between the three environment conventions,
namely Biodiversity, Climate Change and the Convention on Desertification,
and only through a collective approach and support can we have a chance
to restore, protect and sustain our global environment. My government joins
in solidarity with all affected members, to work towards solutions through
global cooperation. Mr. President,
France's implacable determination to complete a series of underground
test explosions in the South Pacific, which it is continuing in the face
of unprecedented international outrage, is a sad circumstance for many reasons,
but I focus here on the particular danger these tests pose to the environment
of our Pacific Region.
The history of nuclear testing in the Pacific, both North and South,
is an ugly chronicle of willingness to gamble with the lives and homelands
of millions of island inhabitants. In the region of Micronesia, and in particular
the Marshall Islands, despite broad assurances that testing was safe, we
are learning only now, years later, that the disastrous effects on the health
of island peoples have been far worse than science at the time could have
predicted. Even today, nuclear testing affects human health and the environment
in ways that science is still struggling to identify and evaluate. It is
a highly complex business, involving many scientific disciplines in an attempt
to address effects that emerge over hundreds of years.
An established principle of international law prescribes that a State
must ensure that its actions within its jurisdiction or control do not cause
damage within other States or within areas beyond the limits of its national
jurisdiction. That principle is embodied in Article 4 of the Convention
for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South
Pacific Region, otherwise known as the Noumea Convention. Together with
nine Pacific countries and the United States, France is a party to that
Convention. It is also an expressed principle in the Convention on the Biological
Diversity, to which France is also a State party.
The Noumea and Biodiversity Conventions also contain clear requirements
for advance, transparent environmental impact assessments of project which
might have harmful impacts on the environment. No in-depth, comprehensive
environmental impact assessment of France's underground nuclear testing
program in the South Pacific has ever been carried out.
France has sought to reassure the World by saying that the test area
will be open to any assessment desired, as soon as its present tests are
over. Without question, France will bear a heavy responsibility to ensure
against future leakage, the probability of which is very high. Picture the
shattered substratum of a small atoll which has undergone over 120 nuclear
explosions - one of which caused a tidal wave. Surely, each succeeding explosion
increases the likelihood of leakage from the accumulation of radioactive
materials concentrated below. In the view of my government, that proposition
deserves assessment before further tests proceed, especially since France's
obligation under both of the treaties I have mentioned include observance
of the Precautionary Principle.
We hope that the collective voice of this body at this Session will finally
convince France that it must respect the interests of the Pacific Region
and the World by ending the nuclear degradation of Polynesian atolls and
taking necessary actions to prevent future radioactive leakage from them.
A common thread throughout these remarks has been one of hope - because
at its fiftieth anniversary this organization, more than ever, is the greatest
hope for a future in which nations, in cooperation with one another, can
address the bewildering array of problems whose implications, while local
in their effects, far transcend national boundaries.
Our small, relatively young nation, remote and underdeveloped, joins
with many others in similar circumstances to feel blessed that, at this
juncture in history there is a sense of universality within the community
of Nations. At a time when the previous "doomsday mentality" no
longer lies at the foundation of international relations, it gives us hope
that the passing of that phase now makes room for more serious contemplation
of the future of the planet we all must share.
It is good that we celebrate this important milestone in human history,
this fiftieth anniversary of our forum for the world's nations. But if it
is to be more than just a forum we must all keep a vision of why we come
here each year - why we expend so much effort throughout the year at conferences
and at home to exchange our respective views.
In the end we must find ways to transcend the traditional assumptions
about each other and determine to create a level of real mutual cooperation
which multiplies the effectiveness of our individual efforts. That is why
this United Nations today is more important than ever - indeed, why it is
crucial. It is through this organization, and through no other, that the
breakthrough to which I refer can be achieved.
And so, Mr. President, I close as I opened, with reference to the opportunity
that makes this organization our strongest basis for confidence and our
hope for the future. We know that we are not alone in these views, and look
forward to working very hard during this, the fiftieth General Assembly,
to do our part in making it not only a well-deserved celebration, but a
springboard to a bountiful future from which our descendants will look back
and say, "They did not let us down."
Thank you, Mr. President.