MRS. IRIS G. FALCAM
FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA
27TH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
New York, May 9, 2002
Check Against Delivery
Mr. President, distinguished delegates, ladies, gentlemen and children. It is a great pleasure and special honor for me to be here today at this special session of the General Assembly, particularly as it relates to humankind's most precious resource - our children.
I'd like to recognize Ambassador Patricia Durrant, Chairperson of the Prep Com and its 5 member bureau, the Secretary General, his staff, and Executive Director Carol Bellamy of the United Nations Children's Fund for their hard work in organizing this important session. This meeting offers a vital opportunity to review the progress we have made since we first set goals at the World Summit for Children a decade ago. The fact that so many countries are represented here today confirms universal recognition of the importance of our children.
As parents and as leaders of nations, we are bestowed the awesome task of ensuring that we leave behind a world that is fit for our children. Whether we may be from large countries, or small - such as my own, the responsibility is the same.
My country is a small island developing nation in the Western Pacific. Roughly half of our current population of 107,000 is under the age of 20. The immediate future of our nation literally rests upon our youth. The measure of our success as a people as we seek to climb the development ladder during the next several decades will be determined by the quality of life we offer our children here and now.
In the past decade the FSM has made significant progress toward this end. We have successfully eliminated polio and neonatal tetanus. Deaths related to measles were nil in 2000. Both infant and maternal mortality rates have been drastically reduced during this period. There have been significant improvements in levels of accessibility to safe water and sanitation. Still, there is much more work to be done, among others in the areas of education and literacy.
While Micronesia thankfully does not experience some of the scourges that afflict the wellbeing of children in other parts of the world, we are nevertheless very apprehensive concerning the potential effects of climate change and resultant sea-level rise on the future of our children. This phenomenon threatens the very existence of their homes, culture, and history. It may result in the introduction of contagious diseases that have not been present in Micronesia. One such disease, malaria, is reported to have spread outside its endemic boundary in the Southwest Pacific. We urge the United Nations to continue to monitor sea level rise and its implications, and to facilitate assistance for preventive measures.
The Internet and related technologies could be a tool of access for our children to better health care, education, and to a better understanding of the world outside our borders. However, the question in Micronesia is still whether we can afford to build the necessary infrastructure to bring the Internet and other telecommunications services to our children who are living, in many cases, in remote villages and islands without electricity. My country appreciates the generous financial contribution that Japan has pledged toward narrowing the digital divide, and hopes that other Member States will make similar contributions. We look forward to continuing our work with the international community as we address these emerging challenges.
Further, we must ensure that the Internet and other new technologies do not provide additional avenues for exploitation. In this regard I am pleased to announce that my country recently signed the optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In the Federated States of Micronesia, as in other developing countries, the plight of our children is tied to broader poverty reduction measures. While we have made great strides toward improving the well-being of our children, we cannot help but think how much more could be done if we just had the resources. We acknowledge with gratitude the contributions of the international community that my country has received through UNICEF, WHO, UNDP, UNFPA and other agencies of the United Nations system. We also extend our sincere appreciation to the Member States of the United Nations who have extended bilateral assistance. We hope that these partners will continue to work with us to make Micronesia a better place for its children.
We, as leaders, cannot do this alone. We will need the active cooperation of all stakeholders, including youth. We should take concrete steps to ensure that the voices of our children are adequately heard on issues that will determine their future.
I cannot help but recall the scene in the Global Movement for Children ad where a little boy points to H.E. Nelson Mandela and exclaims, "You were once us, give us a chance to be you," or little Audrey and Gabriella who yesterday proclaimed, "we are not the sources of problems but the resources needed to solve them," they are the solution. Let us all promise them and the many other children around the world that we will assist them in fulfilling these wishes towards a better future.
In closing, I would like to reiterate our shock and sadness at the tragic events that transpired on 9/11 here in the United States. We denounce those acts of cowardice which threaten principles of freedom and liberty across the globe. To the families and children whose lives were changed by these events, you have our sympathy and heartfelt best wishes.
On behalf of the President of the Federated States of Micronesia, I wish to express our appreciation for the opportunity to appear before you today and to work to review our progress and revisit our goals for the future.
Thank you, Mr. President.