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The Millennium Summit of the United Nations

Thursday, 07 September 2000
H.E. Mr. Kessai H. Note
New York

Distinguished Co-Presidents, Mr. Secretary-General, Esteemed Colleagues, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,


I extend warm greetings of “iokwe” from the people of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (Marshall Islands).  It is a great and distinct privilege to address this historic Millennium Summit of the United Nations.


I wish to commend the Secretary-General of our Organization, His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan, for the comprehensive and outstanding report on the Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century.  Directing the course of this Organization to meet the international community’s expectations for many years to come will certainly demand our entire commitment.


I take this opportunity, Mr. President, to recognize the contribution of the founding fathers and framers of the United Nations and its Charter.  The vision, values, and principles espoused in the Charter have guided this Organization for well over half a century.  The principles of democracy, respect for human rights and the right for self-determination of peoples in conformity with the principles of justice and international law should continue to underpin our collective development.  I wish to reaffirm the adherence and commitment of the Marshall Islands to such principles for the collective good of all people.


It is due to these guiding principles that I enthusiastically welcome Tuvalu as the 189th Member State of the United Nations.   As a Pacific Island neighbor, I am proud to be among those congratulating the Government and People of Tuvalu.  While expansion might provide additional challenges, the admission of new Member States adds to the legitimacy of this Organization.


The guiding principles of the United Nations Charter have continued and will continue to be tested over the years.  Exploitations in many forms and varying degrees over people, land, ocean, the atmosphere, and their interactive and interdependent systems continue to pose real and immediate threats to the very existence of small island developing countries like the Marshall Islands.  We need to be empowered so that technology and globalization can help us, but not at the expense of the lives and dignity of people and their countries.  As it is with other small island countries, the Marshall Islands needs to have its feet rooted on land – dry land, that is.  Global warming and sea level rise is threatening our very existence, and we call on the minds, the hearts, and spirits of the individual and full membership of this Organization to strengthen all efforts to help us prevail over these threats.


The new order of globalization of economies is a phenomenon that requires closer consideration and coordination of this Organization, so as to create a positive force for dealing with the many challenges facing each individual country and our common humanity.


Mr. President, in the face of past turbulence and upheaval, this august body has always attempted to fulfill its mission, undaunted and without despair.  The very establishment and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and its ongoing enforcement, albeit with limited means for follow-up, is a monumental accomplishment in itself.  Nurturing the development of peoples, amidst varying degrees of vulnerabilities, so that they become and continue to be self-sufficient, self-sustaining, and equal, participating partners in the advancement of the world may be a tall order for many of us and our Organization, but this is why we are here.


The role that the United Nations has played and continues to play to restore order and normalcy in various parts of the world including the Middle East and East Asia is to be commended.  Its incessant and active support of humanitarian concerns, its dedicated mission against all forms of discrimination relating to religion, race, gender, health, education, income, ability, and poverty indicates the magnitude of the responsibility and the burden that this body carries. Without the full support of all, the sustenance and promotion of these efforts will be difficult.


Mr. President, to fully reflect the original intention of the Charter, the United Nations will need to give itself a closer look - at its own structures and the principles governing the operation of its essential organs.  I am encouraged by discussions on issues relating to the operation of the Security Council on the matter of permanent membership; given the continuous emphasis this body places on the unreserved application of democratic principles.  The conditions under which the International Court of Justice continues to be restrained from exercising the authority to issue binding decisions must be reviewed.  How else can any international system of governance enunciate, promulgate, protect and deliver justice without the necessary force behind its own pronouncement?  The perpetual financial background constraining the work of the United Nations requires some bold steps. To continue to maintain the status quo and to persist in guarding it as sacrosanct in the face of new attitudes, perspectives, experience and knowledge, is to bat against the immutable law of change.


Mr. President, the Republic of the Marshall Islands is encouraged by the growing recognition among leaders and people from all walks of life of the need for a universal framework for international peace.  We aim to defeat the impact of world wars, of colonialization, and of nuclear weapon test fallout.  Despite our vulnerabilities, we want to be an active partner and member of the Organization, its subsidiary bodies and other international agencies, and help to bring about peace and prosperity for all states regardless of size.   We support the promotion of international frameworks such as the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) as we promote the sustainability of our people and our world.


Mr. President, while we recognize the challenge of reducing the proportion of people suffering from hunger and the lack of a steady supply of safe water, rapid spread of HIV/AIDS, the scourge of malaria and other major diseases afflicting humanity, we must not forget that an educated population leads to a healthy and prosperous society.


Mr. President, I am indeed grateful for the United Nations forum.  Without it, where else could nations voice and address freely their individual and universal concerns?  I have enjoyed listening to the rich insights and thoughts expressed by my fellow world leaders, and I am certainly looking forward to group discussions later when leaders will deliberate on specific global issues.  Thank you.