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STATEMENT by H.E. Mr. Jackeo Relang Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the United Nations at the Fifty-Fifth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

September 21, 2000

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General


Distinguished Delegates,

I would like first of all to congratulate you, Mr. President, on your assumption of the office of President of the fifty-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly. I wish you every success in this difficult and inspiring task. I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to your predecessor, His Excellency Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab, for his exceptional leadership during the fifty-fourth session. Allow me to include in this tribute the Secretary-General of the United Nations for his efforts and crucial role in maintaining and promoting the role of this organization, and his inspiration to strengthen its effectiveness and credibility towards peace, security, justice and development in the World.

I wish to add a few comments to the statement made earlier by the Distinguished Representative of the Federated States of Micronesia on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum countries.

Mr. President,

Let us pause at this moment to recognize the contribution of the founding fathers and framers of the United Nations and its Charter. They produced a document which, in large measure, has contributed to an ever-increasing consciousness of the pre-requisites necessary for world peace. Today, we ought to celebrate the existence of the United Nations and its accomplishments, both of which offer us the opportunity to reflect over how collectively we may better chart our path and articulate our goals more clearly for the next millennium. In His Excellency President Kassel Note's address to the Millennium Summit, the adherence and commitment of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the principles enshrined in the Charter for the collective good of all people was reaffirmed.

I take great pleasure to reiterate Marshall Islands' warm welcome to the Government and peoples of Tuvalu as the 189th member of this organization. Indeed, the admission of new Member States adds to the legitimacy of the United Nations. On the other hand, the denial of membership in this organization of the twenty-three million people whom have significant and meaningful contribution to international development is not only contrary to the true spirit of the United Nations Charter, but also its principle of universality and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In our efforts toward strengthening the vital role of the organization to achieve the goals of conflict prevention, maintenance of peace, regional stability, to promote fundamental human rights, development of democracy and international progress, and the aspiration to self-determination and engagement, the United Nations is the only organization that can bring the shinning light to the twenty-three million people of the Republic of China on Taiwan. Furthermore, the United Nations is the only forum for Member States to build mutual trust and to resolve issues through peaceful dialogue. The guiding 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 must continue to underpin our collective aspirations and require our concerted action in this new millennium.

Mr. President,

The Republic of the Marshall Islands applauds and commends the unprecedented efforts made by the leaders of the People's Democratic Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea by engaging in dialogue that may chart the course toward lasting peace in that peninsula. Also, I wish to convey the encouragement of the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the leaders of Israel and Palestine to seize the historic opportunity, within reach, to peacefully conclude a framework agreement toward lasting peace in the Middle East. I wish to commend the efforts of the United States of America in this regard.

Mr. President,

The immutable law of change necessitates the need for the United Nations to continue to critically examine its performances and structures in search of practical solutions to the needs of time. This it must certainly do. The current political landscape is vastly different from fifty years ago. It is characterized by more than a threefold increased in the number of nations with membership in the United Nations, and an increase in the generous desire of the civil society and corporations to become more active players in the change process. It is imperative, therefore, that those elements and structures which are antiquated, those which have ceased to promote the welfare of nations, and those which no longer minister to the needs of a continually changing humanity, should be swept away and relegated to the currents of history. A more comprehensive review and restructuring of the Security Council in line with the spirit of achieving a broader base for decision making through consensus and confidence building is clearly long over due. Other critical issues in the reformative process deserve further examination toward restoring its dignity and legitimacy, and to strengthen the confidence and trust of the international community. Regarding its enlargement, both categories of permanent and non-permanent seats, with an equitable geographical distribution, seems to be the way forward. The Republic of the Marshall Islands remains committed to support the efforts by the Secretary-General and others to reform and streamline the mandates and activities of the United Nations and its other organizations and agencies. While the peace keeping and general fund scales seems-to be outdated, the process of reformation must take into serious account the small island developing states', like the Marshall Islands, limited responsibility and capacity to sustain their obligation in both categories. Also, now that this organization stands at 189 member states, 14 of them from the Pacific Region, the reconfiguration of our electoral grouping should be an additional matter to be placed on the table. It may be a complex one, however, through our collective inspiration it can be an achievable goal to be considered without further delay.

Mr. President,

The Republic of the Marshall Islands is keen to further develop its ongoing active role and co-operation with the United Nations Specialized Agencies and Programs. In the view of the Marshall Islands, the efforts to make their operational activities more effective and responsive to the special needs of Small Island Developing States will undoubtedly play a key role as we enter the new millennium. The expansion of the resident coordinator's program closer to home, where it belongs, is a point in view.

Mr. President,

In acknowledging the human rights achievements over the fifty years since the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there is a sense that much remains to be done before the world can truly claim that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has become the common standard of achievement. The Millennium Summit is a significant acknowledgement of the need for all States to work together in a spirit of unity and cooperation to ensure the fruits of global development are shared and made more equitable and just for the benefit of humanity at large. Within the mandate of its Charter to promote economic, social, peace and security, sustainable development and prosperity, the United Nations is the only fully representative organization capable of harmonizing our collective aspirations for a peaceful, stable and prosperous global village. The Republic of the Marshall Islands embraces Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Report, "We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century."

Mr. President,

At the turn of the century achievements have been realized and should be encouraged. Yet, we are living with threats. Acts of terrorism does not recognize national boundaries, and infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are posed to spread quickly throughout the World. Therefore, our decisive and collective response is more than ever required. In many developing countries, poverty and deprivation of basic human rights, especially by women and children, seems directly links to and escalates crime. We must also strive toward the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons. The universality of NPT-and CTBT is a major concern. In as much as they are a major challenge, traffic in drugs and small arms constitute a major threat to small islands, like the Republic of the Marshall Islands, due to its geographic isolation and its lack of required resources and capability to combat them. Our collective effort toward the creation of effective global response to address all of these threats is urgently required.

Mr. President,

We realize that the global environmental degradation is our own. creation. The issue of "hot air" is a real threat to all, particularly Marshall Islands and all Small Island Developing States. The survival of populations and cultures is undoubtedly at stake. Increasingly, Marshall Islands has already lost meters of usable and habitable land due to climate change and sea level rise. It is a matter of life and death. The implementation of the legally binding commitments agreed in the Kyoto Protocol is the only significant step forward on the path of ensuring effective global action to combat climate change. It would be a terrible tragedy unless there is international cooperation. For whatever reasons, how will displaced populations be able to enjoy and sustain their basic human rights for generations to come? Will their cultures and livelihoods be able to survive for the benefit of future generations?

Mr. President,

Education and health are of paramount importance to every country in the World. Education is the key to the progress of any nation. It must be our collective effort to ensure that an educated population makes up a healthy and prosperous society. I am pleased to report to this august body that the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands has taken some bold steps by allocating the greatest amount of its limited resources toward the improvement of its education and health systems. However, I wish to take this opportunity to appeal for the interest and support of the international community to join us in this endeavor. I am particularly please to convey the deep appreciation of the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the Government of Italy for its generous support to the Marshall Islands efforts as it strives to implement the Barbados Program of Action. The implementation of the first phase of the Marshall Islands solar energy project would not have been realized without its support through the United Nations Trust Fund for New and Renewable Sources of Energy. The interest and support of the international community toward the implementation of the other phases of the project would be highly appreciated.

Mr. President,

The Marshall Islands' National Nutrition and Children's Council has been very active since its inception. In addition to the establishment of Task Forces of Food and Nutrition, Suicide Prevention, Substance and Neglect Abuse and Disability, the Agriculture Food and Nutrition Policy is its other significant contribution as the Marshall Islands strives to meet its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Existing policies, specifically aimed at the rights of the child, are under review toward making the Convention becoming a part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands' legal system. A well-represented Commission on Sustainable Development has been established with the mandate to see to it that the Barbados of Program of Action is implemented in all its aspects. Other legislations to curb-illegal financial transactions will soon be introduced in the Parliament's current session.

Mr. President,

These are some of the Republic of the Marshall Islands' efforts as it strives toward meeting its treaty obligations and enhancing the life of every citizen of the country. We cannot do it alone, and the call for the international community's support is again appealed.

Let's have a United Nations that will meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Thank you very much.

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