STATEMENT By Hon. Maautamate B. Sope, MP

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 Hon. Maautamate B. Sope, MP Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu

United Nations Millennium Summit

New York September 8, 2000

Co-Presidents, Distinguished Delegates

The People of the Republic of Vanuatu, whom I am honored to represent here today, are proud to be part of this Millennium Summit on " The Role of the United Nations in the Twenty -First Century."

When the Republic of Vanuatu was formally admitted as a full member of the United Nations in 1981, the fundamental ideals and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter became part of the framework for our nation-building strategy and a source of inspiration in our common endeavors to create a better world for our future generations.

For the United Nations to uphold a credibility in its central role of promoting a just and peaceful world in the Twenty -First Century, it will be important and necessary that its structures, its decision -making processes, its plans of actions, its focus and its directions must relate to the daily interests and concerns of the majority of ordinary people of this planet, including children, the disabled, women and the unemployed youth, and not just the interests and concerns of the richer and the more powerful members of our Organization.

The Millennium Report of he Secretary-General, which we commend, provides this Summit a good background as well as clear options for us to redirect and refocus the United Nations in its primary functions of assisting Member States in raising the standards of living of their respective populations.

From our small island perspective, we feel it is also important to further stress the crucial place of a number of issues, including the following: greater and easier access to education for our growing populations. At the current rate of population growth in developing countries, including Vanuatu, this will become the greatest challenge for us all in this millennium; improved health services to the poorest and most remote parts of our nations; greater gender equity at all levels of societies; a better cooperation and rationalization of resource use between the United Nations and other multilateral bodies, such as L'Agence de la Francophonie and the Commonwealth; brighter economic opportunities for the most vulnerable nations through more responsive Official Development Assistance programs and genuine foreign direct investments to support their development initiatives such as in renewable energy and new information technology; a more equitable sharing of benefits from the ever complex globalization regime, including the international trading system; an immediate ratification by the industrialized countries of international treaties on the protection and sustainable management of our natural environment and resources which are so vital to the very survival of millions of citizens of small island states; a global village fully committed to peace, justice, law and order, mutual respect, and tolerance; and a recognition and respect of the fundamental rights to self -determination.

Over the past fifty years or so, much progress has been achieved in terms of economic and social advancement globally, and the role of the United Nations, other multilateral agencies and bilateral partners in this regard deserves our full recognition and continuing support.

Much more, however, remains to be done. And it must be a priority for the United Nations to fully address the issues raised at this Summit.

The Pacific region and its development needs deserve due consideration in the new millennium. It covers the largest area of ocean, huge marine resources, dynamic and diverse cultural and traditional values and, a young and growing population. An earlier proposal for a separate Pacific Grouping within the UN warrants serious consideration.

The recent admission of Tuvalu, as the 189th member, is greatly welcomed by the People and the Government of Vanuatu. And it is our prayer that this new millennium will see a further increase in the Pacific Island membership.

We would also like to suggest that the UN and related institutions based in the Pacific region, their decision -making processes in relation to development programs for our islands, should be fully reviewed in the context of priorities established by the Pacific Island Member Countries.

We are concerned that some powerful countries are using regional institutions and programs to promote their own interests in our region. We must not allow this trend to continue.

Co -Presidents,

Despite our meager resources, the Republic of Vanuatu is proud to be able to participate for the first time in a UN Peace-keeping Mission, in East Timor and Bosnia, in addition to our small contribution to Pacific regional peace -monitoring missions.

The recent tragic killing of 3 UN personnel in West Timor by militant groups must be condemned by this Summit. And we urge the Indonesian Government to take appropriate steps to positively and effectively address the situation.

Co -Presidents,

As World leaders, we have time and time again, expressed serious concerns and dissatisfaction that certain decisions and actions by the United Nations or its organs were not consistent with the purposes and intentions of the Charter. However, nothing is done to right the wrong.

At this Summit, we must recognize that, when such errors are identified, it becomes our joint responsibility and it is in the best interest of this, our international family of nations and peoples, to make sure that the most appropriate actions are taken - and to take them now - to rectify such errors, so that we can embark on the new millennium with a clear conscience.

In this context, Co -Presidents, as Chairman and an active member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group which is committed to promoting and safeguarding the Melanesian identity, values, traditions and rights, the Republic of Vanuatu calls on the United Nations to review the political and legal basis of its own undertakings in the 50s and 60s in relation to the fundamental rights and the fate of Melanesian brothers and sisters in the Asia -Pacific region, in particular, in West Papua.

The continuing disputes and. concerns raised on the legality of UN -endorsed instruments which have been concluded during those years, such as the New York Agreement of 1962, to govern the UN administration of the so -called Act of Free Choice in West Papua is a clear example challenging the integrity and validity of the UN resolutions at that time.

This simply is a mockery to the fundamental principles on human rights and self -determination clearly enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

The United Nations cannot and must not, in this new millennium, continue to turn a blind eye on its own past failures which has led to three long agonizing decades of injustice, tragedy and guerilla warfare in West Papua. It is morally, politically and legally wrong to do so.

The United Nations has competent agencies and institutions, such as the Committee of 24 or the International Court of Justice, which should be tasked to look into this or give an advisory opinion.

The Netherlands which was the former colonial authority, in particular, should recognize that they some responsibility in helping to resolve the unfortunate situation of West Papua in a peaceful and transparent manner.

Co -Presidents,

The resolutions we will be adopting and the new directions we are setting for the United Nations for the new millennium can have significant impacts on the future of our global relations and the lives of the world's people, particularly, in the small and poor countries.

It is a challenging responsibility.

We do not want to fail this time around.

Thank You.

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