H. E. Mr. Resio S. MOSES
Secretary of External Affairs of the
Federated States of Micronesia
at the 47th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
New York, 7 October 1992
Check Against Delivery
It is my high honor to address the Assembly at the commencement of its
47th Session, and in so doing, to mark my country's first full year of membership
in the United Nations. For a people who have long been ruled by others,
the privilege of having at last an equal voice in the community of nations
is uniquely fulfilling. With that voice I now express our gratitude for
the openness and generosity that we encountered among the Members and within
the Secretariat, as we undertook our initial participation in the work of
this great Body.
Mr. President, we join the other Members in extending our heartiest congratulations
to you upon your election to the Presidency of the 47th General Assembly.
We wish also to thank your distinguished predecessor, His Excellency, Mr.
Samir S. SHIHABI, for his truly outstanding service as President of the
46th Session of the General Assembly. It is fortunate indeed for ourselves
and future generations that in the most challenging of times, this Body
is availed of leadership by individuals possessing the highest skills, energy,
dedication and integrity.
In speaking of such leadership, I must also, of course, mention with
respect and appreciation our distinguished Secretary-General, His Excellency,
Dr. Boutros BOUTROS-GHALI. Dr. BOUTROS-GHALI has already shown himself to
be more than equal to the tremendous tasks associated with his high office.
He is assured of our prayers and our continued support.
Last year, the Federated States of Micronesia was privileged to be one
of seven Nations admitted to Membership in the early days of the 46th General
Assembly. Subsequently within the 46th General Assembly, history of a very
special kind was written when 13 other Nations were admitted to Membership,
and so, I now gladly extend the warm congratulations of my Government and
people to the Republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Croatia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, San Marine, Slovenia,
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on their admission to the United
Nations. We are confident that in sharing with them this unique moment in
History we will maintain a common bond that transcends geographic differences
and gives added meaning to the concept of the Brotherhood of Nations.
The extensive and comprehensive agenda to be addressed by this Assembly
is testimony to the ever-increasing interconnectiveness of the World's nations
and their peoples. While we were a non-self-governing people, we of the
Federated States of Micronesia strived long and hard to achieve Independence,
only to find once we had it, that full self-sufficiency, is neither possible
nor desirable in today's world.
I had the honor, recently, to accompany my President, His Excellency
Mr. Bailey Olter to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. That historic meeting
served, among other things, to deepen our understanding of the possibilities
for global international cooperation on a basis of common, but differentiated
responsibilities. Among many memorable statements made at Rio by Heads of
State, I was struck by a most appropriate quotation from Sir Francis Bacon
offered by the distinguished President of Iceland, Her Excellency, Madame
Vigis Finnbogadottir. Bacon said, "No one makes a greater mistake than
he who decides to do nothing, because he can do so little." The President's
suggestion of that thought in the context of the Earth Summit was truly
inspired, but if I may be permitted, it also gives guidance to my country
over the entire spectrum of multilateral cooperation.
We now realize that the Charter is meant to challenge every Member, large
and small, developed and developing, to play its part in the implementation
of collective decisions - to approach the question, "What can I do?,"
not as a basis for inaction, but rather as a springboard for action within
our means, however modest. Only by doing our rightful part do we earn the
right to hope that the world community will deal effectively with such universal
problems as the environment, poverty and war. Only by doing our rightful
part do we earn the right to expect the direct assistance of the world community
in dealing with those problems of social and economic development at home
that are beyond our means to solve alone.
Thus, Mr. President, my Government wishes once again to thank all those
in this Body and throughout the United Nations community for our kind reception
here, and to renew, now with broader understanding, our commitment to the
Charter and our obligations thereunder.
To the modest extent that the Federated States of Micronesia has made
its presence known within the past year, it has been mostly in the context
of the environment, and particularly in the Intergovernmental Negotiating
Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change. Since we are a country
whose land area is comprised of low-lying, small islands, our entire nation
finds itself in the frontline along with others similarly situated who will
be the first to suffer devastating consequences of unchecked global warming.
Rising sea levels would ultimately cover our islands, but long before that,
our protective coral reefs would bleach and fall victim to increasing storm
surges, our agricultural crops would be ruined and our freshwater sources
rendered unfit. We are facing nothing less than the end of island civilizations
that have endured for thousands of years.
We participated actively throughout all the sessions of the Intergovernmental
Negotiating Committee, and we had no hesitation in signing the Framework
Convention in Rio, because the final text of the Convention goes far to
recognize the particular vulnerability of the low-lying island states to
the consequences of human-induced climate change. The real effectiveness
of the Convention, however, will be measured by its protocols yet to be
negotiated, and in the operation of its Conference of the Parties and other
That statement is particularly applicable in the case of the Framework
Convention because, as we stressed to the I.N.C., the IPCC scientific evidence
shows a need for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Even
the modest emissions cuts to which the industrialized countries found themselves
unwilling to commit at Rio, must immediately be replaced by more stringent
goals set by the dictates of science - not politics.
It is ironic that the peoples of small island countries, in seemingly
idyllic settings, distanced from the stresses of industrial societies, should
be the peoples with the greatest sense of urgency to get on with the business
of protecting the planet. It is, nevertheless, island people who are beginning
to suffer the effects of global warming - island people who are witnessing
the swift and disastrous alteration of ancient weather patterns - island
people whose homelands will be the first victims of rising sea levels.
But, this sad reality does not mean that the rest of the world can afford
simply to wait and see, for, unlike the case of the canary taken in a cage
through a nineteenth-century mine shaft whose death revealed the presence
of deadly gases, by the time the World witnesses the effects of global warming
on the islands it will be too late for the rest of the World then to take
steps to save itself.
Thus, Mr. President, we are encouraged by the adoption of the Framework
Convention on Climate Change, but we look anxiously toward its prompt implementation
and pray that its operation will quickly lead to actions and restraints
by the industrialized nations on the scale necessary in order to reach the
Convention's objective. That objective is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations
in our atmosphere at levels which do not adversely affect the climate.
Stabilization at such a level cannot be achieved by halfhearted effort.
As United States Senator Al Gore recently wrote in his book, Earth in the
Balance, "The tide of this battle will turn only when the majority
of people in the world become sufficiently aroused by a shared sense of
urgent danger to join an all-out effort. " Let us earnestly hope, Mr.
President, that the signing of the Framework Convention by one hundred fifty-five
countries at the Earth Summit evidenced such a shared sense, and signaled
the beginning of that all-out effort.
The President of the Federated States of Micronesia also joined most
of the other Heads of State at Rio in signing the Convention on Biological
Diversity. We accept our State responsibility for conserving the biodiversity
of our islands and waters, and for using those resources in a sustainable
manner. We welcome the reference in the Convention to the precautionary
principle with regard to applying measures to avoid or minimize threats
to our biodiversity. We are reassured by the specific recognition in the
Convention that small island states will need new and additional financial
resources and appropriate access to relevant technologies in meeting their
obligations. We look forward to an early convening of the Conference of
Agenda 21, in both letter and spirit, brings into focus at long last
the concerns of the developed and the developing world for securing an environmentally
sustainable future. T believe that in a world no longer preoccupied with
the fear of superpower conflict, Agenda 21 will come to be seen as the single
most important social instrument ever negotiated. Of course, in legal effect
it is only a guide, and despite its length it is still only a framework.
But its future impact on the domestic and foreign policies of every nation
is certain to be pervasive.
The establishment of the Commission on Sustainable Development is a landmark
achievement of the UNCED, and with it, we see realistic hopes for turning
Agenda 21 into concrete actions. We do strongly urge that the Commission
be situated in New York. Developing countries must participate significantly
in the work of the Commission, and in our case, being a small government
with limited financial resources, we are far better able to attend activities
here at UN Headquarters than anywhere else.
As a Pacific island country, we ascribe particular importance to Chapter
17 of Agenda 21, which addresses Protection of the Oceans. This is a subject
many would have put aside, feeling that the oceans are so vast and our knowledge
of them so limited that we are better off to concentrate on perfecting land-based
sciences. But it appears Mankind is slowly realizing that human activities
on the planet can significantly affect our oceans, and bring about disastrous
consequences on our food supplies - even our weather. Thus we strongly support
the calls in Agenda 21 for conferences to exchange experience on coastal
zone management, and on sustainable development of small island States,
and hope that these will take place on schedule.
Chapter 17 also addresses constructively the need for intergovernmental
cooperation to control indiscriminate and harmful practices in harvesting
the resources of the seas. While we welcome the approaching total ban on
drift nets, which have been accurately called, the "curtain of death,"
much needs yet to be done with reference to the high seas, and straddling
fish stocks and highly migratory species of fish, to reverse already notable
trends toward disappearance of species that were once thought inexhaustible.
We support the call for a conference on those topics.
Chapter 18 of Agenda 21 recognizes the pressing need for improved climate
forecasting, in the context of freshwater resources for human survival.
The Federated States of Micronesia, along with many other island states
in the middle of great oceans, has suffered repeatedly within recent years
from droughts brought on by little-understood climate mechanisms. In addition,
Pacific island states are already suffering widespread damage caused by
tropical storms of increasing frequency, range and intensity, which we have
little or no capacity to predict. This fact was stressed by the South Pacific
Forum countries to the 46th General Assembly, which responded by adopting
Resolution A/46/L.69, calling for relief measures that include improved
forecasting capabilities. We would like to reiterate our deep gratitude
to the many co-sponsors of that Resolution, and to the Assembly as a whole
for its adoption. Our deep concern for the oceans and their resources also
causes us to focus very closely on the provisions of Chapters 19 through
22 of Agenda 21, which deal with Management of Toxic Chemicals, Hazardous
Wastes, Solid Wastes and Sewage, and Radioactive Wastes. In his address
to the Rio Conference, President Olter expressed the hope of overcoming
the attitude of many developed countries "that the Pacific Island Region
is a great, unpopulated void" offering opportunities "for convenient
disposal of toxic, radioactive or otherwise harmful wastes, and for the
conduct of any dangerous or obnoxious activity that cannot for reasons of
public safety be carried out on home territory." We do maintain high
expectations that what President Olter called the "world's emerging
sense of environmental ethics" will prevail over past attitudes that
have brought so much grief and suffering to our Region.
There are already some good signs, notable among which is the decision
by France recently to suspend nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific
Region. We applaud France for taking this initiative, and pray that the
ugly history of nuclear experimentation in the Pacific Region has reached
a permanent end. But realistically, the end cannot be assured so long as
nations continue to manufacture, stockpile and threaten to use, weapons
of mass destruction. Thus, even our small islands have a large stake in
the continued progress of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons disarmament,
and we look forward to supporting the implementation and extension of comprehensive
treaties on these subjects.
The Federated States of Micronesia especially welcomes the recent conclusion
of negotiations on the Chemical Weapons Convention, and is pleased to be
one of the original co-sponsors of the resolution to be considered by the
47th General Assembly endorsing the Convention. My government wants to express
its gratitude and congratulations to those esteemed nations who successfully
negotiated this long-awaited convention, and calls on this Assembly to adopt
the resolution. I wish to recognize with appreciation the active role that
Australia, from our Region, took in the negotiation of the Chemical Weapons
Convention and for its outstanding contribution to the global movement toward
arms control and disarmament.
Unfortunately, the forsaking of nuclear, chemical and biological weaponry
serves to intensify the already serious problems associated with movement
and disposal of wastes. Large stocks of chemical weapons must soon be eliminated,
but uncertainties surrounding the technology for their disposal result in
pressures on the less powerful and more remote peoples, such as Pacific
islanders, to bear the associated risks. Frightening quantities of weapons-grade
plutonium must either be safely stored or utilized in questionable enterprises
that involve hazardous and secretive shipments through the waters of the
Up to this point the efforts of the world's nations to grapple with these
problems have produced a patchwork of conventions, some implemented, some
not, most of which are of limited effectiveness due to technicalities and
political self-interests. Worthwhile instruments such as the London Dumping
Convention need to be strengthened on an accelerated basis. Vital arrangements
such as the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of
Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal need to be implemented. The role of
the International Atomic Energy Agency with regard to safeguards must be
brought up to the pace of current events. But even if all these things are
done, dangers and risks will continue to be imposed upon the poorer, less
powerful and more remote peoples of the world unless the following principle
is universally respected:
The nation originating the material bears the complete responsibility
for the cost and safety of its storage, shipment or disposal. That nation
shall adequately inform other nations potentially affected, and shall not
utilize the global common in any action related thereto over their objection.
I am well aware of the implications of that statement both politically
and in terms of international law, but unless the spirit it expresses can
enter our international conscience and influence the behavior of nations,
I fear that the passing threat of wartime holocaust will be replaced by
an even less restrained, and in some ways equally horrifying danger.
The roads toward so many of the worthy goals to be sought by this Assembly,
whether related to economics, the environment, development, human rights
or international security, are haunted by the specter of poverty. Poverty
causes much environmental degradation. Poverty makes human rights irrelevant
to many people of our planet, and tempts others to exploitation. Poverty
contributes to destabilization of democratic institutions and endangers
No matter how dedicated are the efforts by governments toward sustainable
development and lasting international peace, and no matter how massively
those efforts might be funded, I fear that a single factor fueling the engine
of poverty could render all the expenditures of resources ineffective -
I refer to exploding and uncontrolled population growth. We are all familiar
with the statistics, past, present and projected. They are particularly
disturbing in that the greatest rate of growth occurs in the most poverty-
stricken segments of the population. Clearly, this is one of the most sensitive
and difficult problems to deal with in a multilateral setting, and I respect
the diversity of views on the subject. For that reason I respect its treatment
in Agenda 21, knowing that many preferred strong and direct statements.
Nevertheless, we hope that the mechanisms of Agenda 21 will help to influence
increases in population-related funding by the developed countries. We also
look forward to the International Conference on Population and Development
to be held in Cairo in 1994.
With regard to the protection of human rights, the Federated States of
Micronesia is pleased to associate itself with the exemplary efforts by
the United States of America and other like-minded nations for the implementation
of the standards for the protection of human rights as set forth in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In doing so, the Federated States
of Micronesia joins in the condemnation of all abuses of human rights by
members of the international community. They insult our sense of decency
and the values we attach to human life - the very values governments are
established to protect.
Mr. President: Hardly a speaker in this debate has failed to voice support
for the historic efforts of the entire United Nations organization to reorganize
and reorient itself to cope with its emerging roles in advancing the cause
of Mankind. We are no exception, and in our judgment the distinguished Secretary-General
has provided wise leadership thus far along a most difficult path.
One of the most challenging current problems is to determine the fairest
and most effective means of meeting the costs associated with the UN's expanded
role in the maintenance of international peace and security. We are all
aware that these costs have virtually skyrocketed over the past several
years, and the question of their proper allocation, we would suggest, is
more complex than the simple application of formulae that served the purpose
in former times. It is a question, naturally, involving the limits of the
resources of small countries, but in our case I can say it also involves
predictability. We are determined to meet all our obligations under the
Charter, financial and otherwise, but the necessity that we budget strictly
for developmental and other immediate requirements leaves us little flexibility
to meet unforeseen demands of substantial proportions.
We look forward during this Session to participating in the exploration
of ways and means to devise the fairest and most effective system for financing
the role of this Body in the New World Order. We also look forward, Mr.
President, with confidence that this role will grow stronger as the age
of multilateral cooperation truly dawns, and the interdependence of all
peoples of the world is seen to be the overshadowing practical reality of
Thank you, Mr. President.