H.E. MR. RESIO S. MOSES
SECRETARY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
OF THE FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA
IN THE GENERAL DEBATE
THE FORTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
New York, 13 October 1993
Check Against Delivery
I am honored to address the 48th Session of the General Assembly, on
behalf of the Federated States of Micronesia. I bring warm greetings from
our President, His Excellency Bailey Olter, and from all the people of Micronesia.
Given the many challenges facing this Organization and, indeed, the entire
world in the coming year, we are heartened by your election, Mr. President.
You have our confidence and our support as you assume the office so ably
discharged by your distinguished predecessor, His Excellency, Mr. Stoyen
GANEV, who has earned our respect and gratitude.
Special recognition must also be given to the Secretary-General, Dr.
BOUTROS-BOUTROS GHALI, under whose leadership the United Nations is taking
the difficult steps in a process of redefinition and reorganization necessary
if we are to seize the opportunities presented by the New World Order and
work together in the interests of all the peoples of the World.
During the past year we have seen the Membership of the United Nations
draw ever closer toward the goal of universality. We thus congratulate the
Czech and Slovak Republics, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Eritrea,
Monaco and Andorra, and extend to each of them the spirit of welcome and
Our people are deeply saddened by the loss of life and the suffering
caused by the earthquake in India on September 30. No words are adequate
to address a disaster of such magnitude, but we wish the Government and
people of India to know of our most sincere sympathy and readiness to support
any relief measures that this Organization might be called upon to undertake.
Not many years ago, the appropriate role of the "micro-states"
within the world community was, to be seen, but seldom heard, and even to
be excluded altogether from some fora. We in our own small-island developing
country, as the body politic of a classic "Micro-"state, hesitated
to assert our views on international affairs, thinking that so small a nation
could not hope to impact upon the resolution of global issues.
Today, I draw attention to a significant, but less noticeable feature
of the New World Order: Throughout human history, international relations
have been conducted on a competitive basis, where size and power determined
a nation's ability to advance its interests - and those interests were perceived
in strictly unilateral terms. But in recent times, which I suggest can be
placed within the lifetime of this Organization, a change has begun to take
place - one that has gathered increased momentum even within the past few
years. Nations large and small, in the process of coming together under
the Charter, have begun for the first time to focus their attention and
direct their efforts along lines of the commonality of interests
and problems. I speak not merely of lip service, but of a growing, genuine
phenomenon, which is seen partly in the unfolding of events here in New
York, but even more clearly in the impressive outcomes of the Rio Conference
on Environment and Development and the recent World Conference on Human
Rights. Another sign is the keen anticipation of the entire world community
for the upcoming conferences on Population and Development and on Social
I do not suggest a disappearance of National interests, but across a
wide spectrum of social, developmental and even security issues, the growing
recognition of common interests gives strength to new alliances on an inclusive,
rather than an exclusive basis. Thus, there is good reason for the continued
progress toward self-determination among peoples who can now take confidence
that they will not be alone in addressing the great difficulties of starting
out - and why, for similar reasons, so many of the micro-states have concluded
recently that Membership in this Organization is imperative despite
the burdens and uncertainties involved.
As this General Assembly proceeds, we are all aware of the great changes
to which this Organization subjects itself, organizationally, administratively
and politically. There may be some who doubt that Members have the will
or commitment to achieve consensus on these changes and to reestablish the
proper financial basis for a UN that can be responsive to the present. I
submit, however, that any such doubts must be submerged during the coming
months as we work here, because we simply cannot afford to fail. The United
Nations is no longer an optional feature for the international community.
The common concerns of Mankind involved in the great issues to which I alluded
earlier cannot be addressed from behind national fences. And so, Mr. President,
I appeal to all Members to commit ourselves without qualification during
this Assembly to reach the goal of preparing the United Nations to be the
central instrument through which we can work to secure the future well-being
of all peoples.
I believe that the direct experience of the Federated States of Micronesia
within our brief time as a Member provides unmistakable evidence of the
strength of concerted, international action. Only a few years ago, having
barely emerged from colonialism, our best hopes for development lay with
dependence for an indefinite period on the generosity of a few bilateral
donors, chief among them being the United States. Moreover, as inhabitants
of small, low-lying islands, we were helpless in the face of the looming
threat of sea-level rise and other natural disasters caused by human-induced
Today, through the work of this body, with our participation,
the special development needs and environmental exposures of all small-island
developing states are being carefully addressed in a number of settings,
including the Conventions on Climate Change and Biodiversity and
the followup activities to UNCED. The early work of the Commission on Sustainable
development promises attention to our problems, and the basis for that attention
is already being established through the upcoming Global Conference on the
Sustainable Development of Small-Island Developing States.
All this is not happening because of an outburst of charitable sympathy
by the developed countries, but rather in the context of addressing a complex
of issues in which peoples everywhere have a vital stake. Herein
lies the real strength and value of the United Nations - to us, and to all.
During the past year my Government has found encouragement in the ways
which this Organization as a whole recognizes the difficulties that small
states encounter trying to participate fully in the work. We deeply appreciate
the opportunities afforded to us through the contribution of Members to
voluntary funds that have enabled our participation in vital functions.
We also acknowledge the instances where calls by small states for the holding
of meetings here in New York to make our presence possible, have been heard.
Furthermore, we appreciate that whenever possible, special measures for
our benefit such as limiting the number of simultaneous meetings are being
For our own part, small states are now seen more often coming together
on common issues to speak with one voice, for greater effectiveness and
efficiency. Here, I cite the Alliance of Small Island States as a successful
example on the issue of Climate Change and other UNCED-related matters.
In a more general sense, the regional groups operate to the benefit of small
states, affording opportunities to us for access to electoral positions
by virtue of allocations and through the principle of rotation. I am sure
others can cite factors favorable to small states that I have failed to
Yet, Mr. President, even with all the above, I must state that we are
very hard pressed to participate in the broad range of UN activities, both
financially and due to the sheer volume and complexity of those activities.
For this reason, and because so many other Members share these disabilities
with us, I propose that the United Nations as part of its reorganization
efforts, undertake a comprehensive examination of the obstacles that exist
to the full participation of small states with a view toward identifying
institutional, rather than ad hoc solutions. After all, achieving universality
in the U.N. would be a hollow accomplishment so long as significant numbers
of Members remain incapable of reaching their effective potential within
the Organization. We look forward to addressing this issue during the course
of the 48th General Assembly.
Before going further, permit me say that the Federated States of Micronesia
is a Member of the South Pacific Forum, an organization of Heads of Governments
of Pacific Island countries. Each year, prior to this date, the Forum meets
to address matters of concern to our Region, and expresses our joint views
on many issues before this Body. I wish to state our complete solidarity
with that expression, contained in the Communiqué from our recent
meeting in Nauru, which will be presented for incorporation in the records
of this Assembly.
The Forum members have been outspoken in opposing the testing of nuclear
weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Our optimism ran high at
the recent Nauru meeting, because it seemed that at last the nuclear powers
had found the resolve to bring this dangerous chapter in history to an end.
Now, with reports of a recent test by one of them, the Federated States
of Micronesia is deeply concerned that the great progress made toward a
comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty could be reversed. We call on all
nuclear powers not to treat this recent aberration as an incentive to turn
backwards, but rather to restore and hold to their collective discipline.
The issue of fundamental human rights is interwoven into every aspect
of the activities undertaken by this Body, and yet, as a self-standing issue,
for too long many governments have been content to avoid confronting it
directly as a matter of multilateral responsibility. I am glad to say that
we sense some improvement in the situation despite continuing occurrences
of the most repugnant kinds of violations.
In this decade, we have witnessed unprecedented changes in World conditions,
brought about in part by a growing unanimity of the resolve among all peoples
to express and exercise their fundamental human rights. Recently, prominent
States have been dismantled in order to form States that afford broader
opportunities for expression of these rights. Sadly, at the same time, other
States continue to go to great lengths to suppress them. The World finds
itself at once rejoicing in newly-established freedoms, but also feeling
deep revulsion over atrocities and repression of shocking magnitude. If
any lesson emerges from this dichotomy, it must be that isolated progress
is not enough, and that the fundamental human rights issues can no longer
be relegated to the background in a makeup of supposedly higher multilateral
priorities. Rather, human rights must be a cornerstone of our work, which
must be guided by the principles of the Charter and the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.
Accordingly, the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia expresses
its support for the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, agreed upon
at the Global Conference on Human Rights, held at Vienna, Austria, in June
of this year. We support its adoption by the 48th General Assembly.
In keeping with the principles of that Declaration, I wish to affirm
my Government's strong and unconditional support for the Universality of
human rights, and for effective multilateral instruments that give meaning
and definition to the concept. As an early priority, our new nation has
undertaken a close examination of the existing instruments with a view to
freely undertaking obligations thereunder, consistent with our Constitution.
As a first step, we have acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child, and we anticipate further action on other instruments at an early
One of the very important concerns which is interlinked with all of our
Government's hopes for a better future is the rights of women. We fully
support the development of effective new instruments in the cause of women's
rights in order to secure their protection against discrimination and abuse.
As a nation comprised wholly of indigenous people, my Government also
expresses its solidarity with all indigenous peoples of the World, and particularly
those subjected to deprivation of their fundamental human rights within
their own homelands.
In this, the Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, it is important
that this Body redoubles its efforts to assure that the peoples of the remaining
non-self-governing territories are given every opportunity to exercise their
right to self-determination and self- government. While the obstacles to
self-determination for the remaining territories are minor compared to those
that are being confronted so dramatically in Eastern Europe and in Palestine,
it remains our moral responsibility to support the right to self-determination
for all peoples under colonial administration. Today, the enlarged
membership of the United Nations is itself strong testimony to the success
of decolonization; let us harken back to our own earlier struggles and recommit
ourselves to the complete elimination of colonialism.
My Government welcomes the establishment of the International Tribunal
and the recent election of its members to try perpetrators of war crimes
in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Still, we would lend our support to
the establishment of a permanent International Human Rights Tribunal. The
independent, juridical composition of such a body should place it above
concerns regarding political intervention, while denying human rights violators
any refuge from defined international responsibility.
The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia places great importance
on the issue of fundamental human rights and will continue to participate
in the work of this Body toward a World community wherein all peoples live
without threat of encroachment upon these rights.
It has been well-established by actions of this Body that the Right to
Development is itself a fundamental human right. But, to recognize a right
is one thing - to secure the exercise of that right is much more difficult.
A great deal is said and done here at the United Nations each year
to address the needs of developing countries and peoples, not to mention
the considerable resources that are mobilized bilaterally toward
that end. Yet, we continue to see wide variations in the degree of effectiveness
of that assistance and in the results of efforts by developing countries
themselves. This has led an increasing number of us to question whether
there might not exist a number of identifiable factors which, to varying
degrees in different developing countries, prevent the achievement of success
with development efforts. If they could be defined with precision and recognized
where they are present, it might well be possible to attain very significant
increases in economy and outcomes.
With the welcome suggestion and leadership of Papua New Guinea, and after
considerable discussion and exchange of views among eminent leaders in the
developing world, this matter has been placed before the Assembly in Agenda
Item 151, entitled, "United Nations initiative on opportunity and participation."
Mr. President, we will join others in cosponsoring a resolution to be presented
under this item, calling for a comprehensive, systematic and thorough study
of the encumbrances to full opportunity and participation in development,
with particular reference to the economies of developing countries. Properly
supported and carried out, this initiative doubtless will enable significant
breakthroughs in the World's joint effort to secure this important and fundamental
human right, with equity and equality among all, according to their needs.
The Federated States of Micronesia pays tribute to the enlightened men
and women who gave life to the UNCED process and focused the World's attention
on the necessity to begin replacing wasteful and polluting practices with
sustainable development. This movement is especially well-timed for my country,
since our development planning is still in its early phases. As a consequence,
with the encouragement and support of the World community we now have in
place a National Environmental Management Strategy, which provides an essential
complement to our development-planning efforts. We intend that our country
will become a model of effective partnership with other nations and this
Body to demonstrate the application of new, clean technologies to accommodate
sustainable development within a small, pristine environment.
Of course, as a nation of distant and widely-dispersed small islands,
many of which are low-lying atolls, we experience all the difficulties recognized
in Chapter 17 G of Agenda 21 as inhibiting the development of small-island
countries. Thus, we are thankful for the opportunity before us now to enhance
general understanding of those difficulties through the Global Conference
on the Sustainable Development of Small Island States. As a member of the
Alliance of Small Island States, we are participating fully in that process.
It was most heartening to note, at the recent Preparatory Conference, the
strong participation of developed countries and the solid support as well
from our colleagues in the Group of 77. We will fully reciprocate that support
in all appropriate settings, because, despite our consciousness of our own
problems we know that virtually all developing countries exhibit one or
more disabling characteristics that distinguish them from others in some
way. While we are part of a relatively large grouping of countries who share
similar characteristics and disabilities, all developing countries
deserve attention to their particular obstacles to development.
In that light, we perceive the Barbados Conference next year as an important
early milestone in the post-Rio process, not only for small-island developing
states, but for all nations, developed and developing, who believe as we
do in the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21. This Conference is the first real
test of Agenda 21. Is it to be a working document? Will it produce action?
Or is it just another volume of high-sounding words that will have little
real impact on national policies. Many feel that these questions will be
answered at Barbados. Let us all pray that the answers confirm the intentions
of the Rio participants.
It may seem at times that we of the region of the Pacific Islands are
overly Preoccupied with concerns for our environment, and that we take too
broad a view of potential impacts resulting from the actions of others.
We raise our voices loudly and often on the subject of human-induced climate
change and sea-level rise, but many say, "It may not happen."
We speak out against nuclear testing, especially among our islands, but
those more powerful say, "It probably is not harmful." We demand
unequivocally that lethal toxic substances such as plutonium and chemical
weapons not be transported through or stored within our region, but even
some of our closest friends do so regardless, insisting that, "In all
likelihood there is no danger.
Are we unduly concerned? Are we naive? We believe we are not. The Pacific
region appears to be a vast, thinly-populated ocean area and thus
a prime location for the dirty business of the rest of the World, but that
region is our home and our responsibility. Not only must we provide
for ourselves from its bounty, but we are also stewards of what is coming
to be recognized in scientific circles as the last remaining great unspoiled
natural resource of the Planet. Our fisheries are still plentiful, but could
be threatened if experiences elsewhere in the world are repeated. Our air
is still clean, but we now know that we are nevertheless vulnerable to occurrences
elsewhere. Our water is still pure, but we have seen other seas contaminated
by unsustainable development. We must, and will continue to speak out.
Mr. President, we know that our Region is not simply the victim of a
callous disregard by the powerful for consequences visited upon the weak.
Rather, we recognize that for centuries, mankind has regarded the vast oceans
as being free space, open to all for passage and exploitation. Notwithstanding
that Exclusive Economic Zones and multilateral treaties have had major impacts,
the fact remains that the Pacific Ocean is today the World's ultimate "backyard."
My country's plea, then, is quite simple and straightforward. We call
upon the World community to join with us, in the spirit of Rio, in a true
partnership for the sustainable development not just of one or more Pacific
island countries, but of our Ocean, and all that is in it. One important
focus must, of course, be upon the land and coastal areas within our Region,
to accommodate appropriate development without degrading either the land
or its surrounding marine areas. But another, broader focus must be on the
ocean itself - to respect and build upon growing scientific knowledge of
its complex ecological systems, applying the precautionary principle.
It is well-known that the Federated States of Micronesia, along with
other low-lying island countries of the World, is literally frightened that
its scarce land space may be made unlivable and ultimately disappear if
even the moderate predictions of global warming and sea-level rise come
to pass. But if this were the only concern surrounding human-induced climate
change, loss of biodiversity and unsustainable development, we would be
hard put to call upon the World at large to make fundamental alterations
in its way of living. Ours, however, is by no means an isolated concern.
As the South Pacific Forum Heads of Government have stressed for some years,
as President Olter warned from this podium two years ago and again at Rio,
and as I stated here last year and now, the fate of the Islands is an advance
warning to the rest of the World of the fate that will befall our entire
planet if we all do not put into practice the lessons of Rio, in
a great, mutual undertaking.
Thanks to the trends that I discussed earlier in respect of the modern
realignment of motivations for international cooperation, I have tremendous
confidence that we, and our children and grandchildren will succeed,
not only in preserving the environment but in maintaining the pace toward
the ultimate goals of peace, enjoyment of human rights and social enrichment
that are enshrined in the Charter. The Federated States of Micronesia pledges
its utmost efforts within this great Organization, during this 48th General
Assembly and afterwards, toward the attainment of these ends.