This story is no longer just theirs to tell, but ours: Forum SG statement at the RMI Solidarity March and Commemoration, USP Suva, March 1

RMI Nuclear Victims Remembrance Day 2021

Solidarity March and Commemoration

Monday 1 March 2021, 4pm, USP, Suva

Remarks by Dame Meg Taylor

Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum

Excellencies, Colleagues, Friends, good afternoon and thank you for inviting me to join you today in commemorating this Nuclear Victims and Survivors Remembrance Day.

  1. At the outset, allow me to commend the Marshall Islands Students Association (MISA) for convening this event on an annual basis – it is this very energy and youthful perspective that ensures that our unique Pacific experiences are shared far and wide across our Blue Pacific Continent.
  1. In reflecting on today, I recall the words of the late Minister Tony De Brum “the Marshallese people have one of the most important stories to tell regarding the need to avert the use of nuclear weapons, and one which should spur far greater efforts for nuclear disarmament”.
  1. This story is no longer just theirs to tell, but ours. It is our shared story as people of the Blue Pacific Continent. This is our shared history in this Ocean that we all call home.
  1. We stand with the Marshall Islands today, most especially with those who suffered and continue to suffer the effects of nuclear testing programs in the Pacific. Indeed, it was the Marshallese experience that convinced the international community to pursue not only non-proliferation but ultimate disarmament.
  1. The consequence of the Marshallese experience is a burden which no nation and no people should ever have to carry. To ensure this, our Forum Leaders committed to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty in 1985.
  1. This past year in particular, we were able to mark the 35th Anniversary of the Treaty through the first meeting of the States Parties to the Rarotonga Treaty in December. We have also strengthened coordination on nuclear legacy issues in the Pacific through the establishment and operationalisation of the CROP Taskforce on Nuclear Legacy Issues in the Pacific.
  1. Indeed, the memories of those who endured 12 years of nuclear testing, including the flash of the Bravo detonation, are critical in our collective pursuit towards a full, fair and just resolution of all outstanding nuclear testing legacy issues for the Republic of the Marshall Islands and other affected countries, including French Polynesia and Kiribati.
  1. In commemorating today’s event, let us also remember nuclear threats still pose a grave and present danger. Nuclear threats do not exist in weapons alone. We must remain diligent in the Pacific region, particularly as countries continue to move nuclear waste through our waters.
  1. Ladies and gentlemen, as demonstrated by the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, we can make impactful strides if we work together. Let us continue to advocate to pursue peace and security in the world without the need for nuclear weapons and through international law and action, peacefully move forward.
  1. Let us make every effort possible to move closer to our shared goal for a nuclear free world and a nuclear free Pacific.

I thank you.

–Check against Delivery.

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