Statement by His Excellency Ambassador Vinci N. Clodumar before the United Nations General Assembly, 58th General Debate at the United Nations in New York in behalf of H.E. President Rene Harris of the Republic of Nauru. (video)
Distinguished Heads Of Delegations,
Ladies & Gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to deliver this statement on behalf of H.E. President Rene Harris, President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Nauru who had to cancel his trip to New York at the last minute due to pressing matters at home. President Harris has asked that I convey to you, Mr. President, his warmest congratulations on your assumption of the stewardship of this august Assembly and as a small island developing state, Nauru is extremely proud to be associated with the Caribbean Community on this marvelous achievement. This gives us hope that we, in the Pacific will also have the opportunity to preside over this assembly.
Through you Mr. President my delegation would like to commend your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Jan Kavan, President of the 57th General Assembly for his excellent leadership and grand effort, particularly in tackling the difficult issues that has plagued the revitalization of the General Assembly as the premier organ of the United Nations. You have pledged to continue the good work that has been done in these areas. You can count on Nauru's full cooperation.
Peace and Security
Mr. President peace and security, or more correctly the lack of it, still holds the main focus of the United Nations 58 years since its inception. In the last 24 months we have seen the internationalization of terrorism, manifested out of a cocktail of hatred, desperation and fanaticism that has spread its tentacles from the Middle East into the international arena. It is unconventional, clandestine, and indiscriminate with respect to its victims. To exacerbate the situation, we are also seeing movements in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction after a period of relative calm.
The sum of these two nightmarish threats is a cause for concern. States that feel uniquely vulnerable to terrorist acts see the real possibility of terrorists gaining access to weapons of mass destruction. This scenario has forced these States to develop an antidote of unilateral action primed with a "pre-emptive" strike policy.
We saw it in action in Afghanistan and six months ago in Iraq just as President Bush said he would if the Security Council fails to walk-the-talk of resolution 1441 of 2002 that called for the disarmament of Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. Nauru is disappointed that President Bush did not mention in his statement last week of the status of the coalition's search of stock of these weapons and we are puzzled as to why it is hard to find them when intelligence indicated that the Iraqis could arm and unleash them to hit the United Kingdom within 45 minutes!
The antidote refer to above could be the catalyst in the new wave of proliferation in nuclear weapons, and it is not a coincident that the countries singled out as part of the "axis-of-evil" are being accused of developing nuclear weapons. Nauru joins the call on the concern countries to observe their obligations under the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and to allow the IAEA to inspect and verify that indeed nuclear weapons are not being developed.
Mr. President, in all of this, we are certain of one thing and that is that the major casualty out of the current state of affairs has been the innocence of the United Nations, which was mortally wounded in Baghdad and took with it, the lives of 22 of our dedicated UN servants including the revered Sergio de Mello and over 100 injured.
The people of Nauru join the United Nations family in mourning the victims of this tragedy and our heartfelt condolence goes to the bereaved families. This despicable act of terror has cast a shadow on the safety and security of UN personnel anywhere. Its emblem that stood for tolerance, hope and impartiality, and has acted as a shield against attacks may have been blurred by the subservient role it plays to the Administrating force in Iraq.
In the light of facts before us, Nauru fully agrees with the assessment made by the Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, in his bold and gutsy statement when he said that the Organization has "come to a fork in the road" and that we are in a moment of time that is "no less decisive than 1945 itself, when the United Nations was founded".
Nauru fully supports the proposal to establish a high-level panel of eminent personalities to review the threats to peace and security and other global challenges in so far as these may influence or connect with those threats. Nauru strongly believes in multilateralism as a key tool in resolving contemporary problems and in all of their complexities.
The Security Council should be at the center of our collective efforts in maintaining peace and resolving conflicts. At the same time, the Council must have the means of evaluation and collective action at its disposal, and most importantly, the will to act quickly and decisively not only to threats to peace and security but to genocide and other massive violations of human rights.
Nauru is pleased to see the rapid! Progression towards making the International Criminal Court operational since the Statute came into force in July 2001. We believe that the objectives of the Court makes it a useful addition to the international tool kit for the preservation of peace as perpetrators of atrocious acts in armed conflicts have been put on notice that they will be held accountable for their acts or omissions.
Small Island Developing States
Mr. President, as a small island developing states in the Pacific ocean, Nauru align itself with the interventions made by the Leaders of the Pacific nations who have spoken before me on the concerns and challenges that we, the small island big ocean developing states are facing now and in the future. Nauru bears all the unique characteristics of a small island states derived from our smallness both in land area and population, remoteness and vulnerability to exogenous forces, be it man-made or natural.
In 1994 the world community agreed that Small Island Developing States warrants special consideration in their economic and social development because of the unique set of characteristics that is inherent in each island country, and to address these unique problems the Barbados Plan of Action (BPoA) was created.
As His Royal Highness, the Prime Minister of Tonga stated in his intervention, the road to sustainable development for SIDS is posted with signs of undertakings as we marched from Barbados in 1994, to New York in 1999 for the 5-year review, then onto Monterrey in 2002 for the International Conference on Financing for Development where more signs were posted saying that internal self-help, good governance and trade are key to poverty alleviation, and subscription to these cures would provide the way for developed countries to come in and help. Most, if not all of the SIDS have been taking this medicine for a long time, and we are, yet, to see the doctor! In Johannesburg a whole chapter was devoted to SIDS cause. In April of this year, the Commission of Sustainable Development paved the way for an International Meeting to be held in Mauritius in 2004.
Yet, Mr. President, despite all these signs of good intentions, the reality is that when Small Island Developing States try to reflect these decisions or undertakings in other international fora our proposals in most cases are either rejected or rendered impotent after intense and difficult negotiations. The Cancun meeting is a good example as well as the recent meeting of Convention bodies such as the UNFCCC COP8 in New Delhi in 2002 and the UNCCD COP6 held in Havana. This undesirable situation needs to be addressed if SIDSs are to benefit from the positive outcomes of international meetings or review conferences.
Mr. President, as we march to Mauritius, SIDS will have to endure due process in the Second Committee and CSD-12 to establish administrative and financial norms for the International Meeting. My delegation suspect that there will be many bumps and detours on the way, but our hope is that, at the end of the road, we will come up with an outcome that will focus on what needs to be done to overcome impediments in the implementation of the Plan, by whom, and when.
It is not adequate to rely solely on the Barbados Plan of Action to address all the developmental problems of SIDS. To this end, Nauru sees the Millennium Development Goals and the targets build therein as supplementing the Action Plan by adding human development dimension to the scope of issues that should be addressed and offering partnership to drive the process.
However, for small island states like Nauru, the complex reporting requirement of the MDGs is adding to the burden of reports that we are required to do, and therefore it is the considered view of my delegation that UNDP should tailor the questionnaire to suit a group of client rather than a "one size fits all" approach. Assistance should also be provided to countries like Nauru to collect and process the raw data required for the report.
Nauru like the other low-lying small island states sees the Kyoto Protocol as our salvation from sea level rise and climate change that would devastate our already fragile ecological system which is essential to our livelihood and culture. My delegation understands that the Russian Federation now stands between the Kyoto Protocol coming into force or continue to linger in the wilderness. If it is the case, then Nauru calls on the Russian Federation to do what is universally right and just by ratifying the protocol before COP9 of the UNFCCC in Italy in December this year.
A healthy Pacific Ocean and the sustainable use of its natural resources including the highly migratory fish stocks are also critical to our livelihood. We in the Pacific have walked-the-talk on these issues by the development of an Ocean Policy to guide us in the management of our part of the Pacific Ocean and to form the framework for future Regional Ocean related initiatives.
Secondly we have adopted a Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stock in the Western and Central Pacific which provides a comprehensive regime for the management of the region's highly migratory fish stock both in our EEZ and in the high seas.
The transshipment of nuclear waste through our waters is of great concern to many of the Island countries because of the inherent damages it could cause.
Mr. President, my delegation has stated in its previous debates that it agrees fully with the reform of the Security Council so that it could be brought into tune with reality of the world order, as we know it today. We are disappointed that after 10 years of debate, there is no convergence of views between the two camps on how to progress forward.
To try to address the expansion with the question of the veto would be like riding a dead horse - we will not go anywhere, which is exactly the situation we are in.
Furthermore, my delegation believes that we have done all we can do at the representative level, and the only way we can make progress is to take it to higher level for our political leaders to review what we have done and for them to make a decision on how to move forward.
On the question of reforms to operational policies and administrative structures including budgetary aspect of the United Nations, Mr. President, my delegation fully supports the actions that have been taken by the Secretary General in this regard but it appears that much more has to be done and the areas of review has to be enlarged and intensified if indeed the prediction that the regular budget is going to break through the $3 billion mark is correct!
Finally on the point of reform, my delegation fully support the view expressed by Australia that the group system needs modernization. Most of the Pacific small island countries are buried in the Asian group that extends from the Pacific Ocean to the Suez Canal while our big brothers, Australia and New Zealand are "Others" in the Western European group. Outside the UN system, the Pacific is usually grouped with East Asia both in economic and geopolitical zoning. We see no reason why this cannot be the case at the UN considering that the divide of East and West Europe will become meaningless as the two converge.
Mr. President, Nauru - thanks to the biased and incorrect media reports over the last 5 years - now carries a stigma as a haven for money laundering operated through offshore banks registered in Nauru-, that our Citizen Investment Program, by acquiring Nauruan passports, is aiding and abetting the free movements of criminals and terrorists.
The reluctance of foreign authorities to provide proof of allegations of criminal activities by banks registered in Nauru disabled the Government from initiating the mechanism provided in our legislation to release information on offshore banks to the foreign authorities. This put us on a collision course.
Nauru was not surprised when in 2000 the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) of the OECD listed it along with others as a no cooperating country.
The following year Nauru's status was further downgraded and was put on the list for "countermeasures" by members of FATF, not because our laws were insufficient, but the "goal-posts" were shifted and our failure was to do with the lack of capacity and capability to supervise the offshore banks registered in Nauru.
In December 2002, the United States Government, in taking up the call of FATF to apply countermeasures against Nauru, announced that Nauru would be designated a "money-laundering" concern country under the provisions of the Patriotic Act. The highest level of sanction would be applied which would prohibit all commercial and financial transaction between any financial institutions registered under Nauru and the United States. In May 2003 Nauru was given notice accordingly and was given 30 days to show cause as to why the sanction should not be applied.
Nauru has submitted its comments, passed new laws in March of this year repealing the registration of offshore banks and included a sunset clause that would come into effect 30 to 180 days, as the case maybe, from the date when the law came into force (27 March 2003) whereby the licenses are terminated. The Government also suspended the Citizen Investment Program while it reviews the law to address the concerns that the United States Department of State had expressed.
New anti-money laundering law was passed in March and work is in progress on an omnibus legislation that would address the financing of terrorism, transnational organized crimes and money laundering and yes, Nauru did sign an Article 98 agreement with the United States.
In the process, Nauru has lost revenue close to US$2 million if not more, which is a drop in the ocean to OECD members but real money to us considering that it is equivalent to 5% of the Government's annual budget.
We are now awaiting judgment of our fate with the United States and with FATF as the two are interlinked.
To conclude, Mr. President, small as we are, Nauru believes that power consists in a nation's capacity to link her will with the purpose of others, to lead by reason and a gift of cooperation.