REMARKS: Solomon Islands PM Manasseh D. Sogavare delivers National Statement to UNGA77

SOLOMON ISLANDS
STATEMENT BY
HONOURABLE MANASSEH DAMUKANA SOGAVARE
PRIME MINISTER OF SOLOMON ISLANDS
AT THE OPENING DEBATE OF THE SEVENTY SEVENTH
SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
THEME: “A WATERSHED MOMENT: TRANSFORMATIVE
SOLUTIONS TO INTERLOCKING CHALLENGES”
23 SEPTEMBER 2022

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Mr. President,
Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,

Introduction
Let me first convey on behalf of the government and people of
Solomon Islands my warmest greetings to you Mr. President and to
the members of this General Assembly. It is indeed very humbling to
stand here today to address this august 77th General Assembly as
sovereign equals.
I take this opportunity to congratulate Your Excellency Mr.
Csaba Kőrösi on your election as President of the Seventy-seventh
Session of the General Assembly. I assure you of Solomon Islands
support and cooperation during your tenure in office.
I also commend and thank your predecessor, His Excellency Mr.
Abdulla Shahid, for his assertive leadership of the General Assembly
during an unprecedented period in our history.
Solomon Islands is a member of the family of Commonwealth
countries, and a Realm State so on behalf of the government and
people of Solomon Islands, I express our profound grief on the
passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and convey our heartfelt
and deepest condolences to His Royal Highness, King Charles III, the
Royal Family and the government and people of the United Kingdom.
Her Majesty will always be remembered as an inspiration, a figure of
stability, dignity, and grace. May God bless King Charles III’s reign
as Head of the Commonwealth and all Realm countries.

Geopolitics, the Pacific Region, and Solomon Islands.
Mr. President,
The shifting international system has generated renewed strategic
interests in the corner of the world we regard our home – the Pacific,
with super and middle powers coming together seeking to strengthen
their presence in the Blue Pacific Continent. Solomon Islands sees
the global system as interlinked and interdependent.
The recently adopted 2050 Strategy of the Blue Pacific Continent
approved by Pacific Leaders and launched here in New York
yesterday, defines the Pacific region’s priorities and strategic
interests. The strategy offers opportunities that can be leveraged to
benefit our people. The large Ocean Island states that inhabit the
Blue Pacific Continent share a common sense of identity and
purpose. All partners that wish to work with Pacific countries must
align with this strategy.

Mr President,
The right to establish diplomatic relations between sovereign nations
is a universal principle shared by all members of the United Nations.
Solomon Islands had been unfairly targeted since formalizing
diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China just over 3
years. We have been subjected to a barrage of unwarranted and
misplaced criticisms, misinformation and intimidation that threatens
our democracy and sovereignty.
Solomon Islands has been vilified in the media since formalizing its
relationship with China. This decision was reached through
democratic processes by a democratically elected government. Our
decision to establish relationship with PRC is consistent with the
United Nations 1971 Resolution 2758 observed by most countries in
this esteemed Assembly, and which also articulates the ‘One China
Policy’ that Solomon Islands respects. I reiterate the call for all to
respect our sovereignty and democracy.

Mr President,
Solomon Islands has adopted a “Friends to all and Enemies to None”
Foreign Policy. In implementing this policy, we will not align
ourselves with any external power(s) or security architecture that
targets our or any other sovereign country or threaten regional and
international peace. Solomon Islands will not be coerced into
choosing sides.
I am reminded of the wisdom conveyed by the late President Nelson
Mandela during an interview with Ted Koppel which is relevant to our
situation, and I quote:
“One of the mistakes which some political analysts make is to
think their enemies should be our enemies…Our attitude
towards any country is determined by the attitude of that country
to our struggle…”
Solomon Islands has no enemies – only friends. Our struggle is to
develop our country. We stretch out our hand of friendship and seek
genuine and honest cooperation and partnership with all.
Mutual respect for national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and non-
interference into the internal affairs of any country is universal and
paramount. As a sovereign nation we embrace and zealously guard
these principles.

Global flashpoints and conflicts.
Mr. President,
Looking at the wider region, the Taiwan Strait is one of the world’s
busiest trading routes used by international shipping. We call on all
countries to be sensitive and not inflame tensions that can threaten
the unity and security of any country. Any miscalculation could
threaten international peace and security and could have disastrous
consequences on global trade.
On Ukraine conflict, Solomon Islands calls for maximum restraint by
all parties and a de-escalation of the conflict. We continue to hear
words of war in this Hall of peace. We must be united in our resolve
to seek peace and urge all parties to pursue a diplomatic solution to
the conflict based on the spirit and purpose of our United Nations
Charter.

Least Development Country Status
Mr. President,
The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, impact of global conflicts
and domestic civil unrest have jeopardized our progress on delivering
against the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda. It
undermined our ability to graduate out of LDC status in 2024.
Solomon Islands experienced negative economic growth due to the
closure of our international borders since COVID-19 was declared a
global pandemic more than two years ago.
These circumstances have changed the landscape for our progress
and sustainable development. We will collaborate with partners to
undertake in-depth assessment on our readiness to graduate out of
LDC status in 2024.

Nuclear Free Pacific
Mr. President,
Solomon Islands joins other countries in the Blue Pacific Continent
who are signatories of the Rarotonga Treaty to maintain a nuclear-
free Pacific. We encourage nuclear power states who have signed the
Rarotonga Treaty to take the next steps to ratify the Treaty which is
aligned to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons. We
reiterate our call for the total elimination of nuclear material, nuclear
weapons, and nuclear-powered military assets in our Blue Pacific.
Solomon Islands also echoes the concerns expressed by other Pacific
countries on the proposal by Japan to discharge ALPS treated
nuclear water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into
the ocean, because of potential transboundary and intergenerational
implications.

Maritime boundaries and United Nations Convention on the Law
of the Sea
Mr President,
I am pleased to inform the General Assembly that Solomon Islands
has now legally formalized the delimitation of all five of our maritime
boundaries with Australia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, France, and
Fiji. With the completion of all five maritime boundaries, our rights
and obligations are protected under UNCLOS in perpetuity.
In this connection, the Solomon Islands government supports the
ongoing work undertaken by the United Nations International Law
Commission on the question of sea level rise and sovereignty. The
position taken by Solomon Islands is that once the signed
instruments are deposited with the United Nations, our boundaries
have achieved permanent status. This also uphold the principles of
stability, security, certainty, and perpetuity enshrined in UNCLOS.

Post conflict and peace building
Mr. President,
Solomon Islands is a post-conflict country and our work to address
the underlying causes of this conflict is still a work in progress. Sadly,
in November 2021 this progress was seriously hampered by civil
unrest and rioting that exposed the country’s security and economic
fragility. We welcome any assistance in addressing our post-conflict
challenges.
On a brighter note, Solomon Islands will, for the first time, be hosting
the Pacific Games in 2023. This event will strengthen the unity of our
nation and will contribute to our nation-building and peace building
processes.
I take this opportunity to thank our partners that have so far assisted
us in our preparation to host the games – including the People’s
Republic of China who funds the bulk of the games’ facilities,
Republic of Indonesia, Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Japan. The
2023 Pacific Games infrastructure has transformed our capital city
and has opened new opportunities for our youthful population.

Communication infrastructure
Mr. President,
Solomon Islands has embarked on a ‘digital transformation journey’
to enhance and modernize our telecommunication infrastructure in
line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9 to link its more than
nine hundred habited islands distributed over 1.2 million square
kilometers of water.
Together with Australia and Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands
commissioned its first submarine cable in 2019. The geographical
reach of the submarine cable will be expanded with the installation
of about approximately 170 telecommunication towers under a Belt
and Road Initiative that will link 80% of Solomon Islands and provide
our rural populace much-needed access to reliable, accessible, and
affordable telecommunication services.
We also acknowledge with appreciation the ongoing support from our
bilateral and multilateral partners including Australia, China, Japan,
New Zealand, South Korea, World Bank, ADB, European Union, the
Green Climate Fund, and others for supporting our infrastructure
projects by building new roads, bridges, airports, wharves, and
hydropower dams.

Climate Change
Mr. President,
I stand here in solidarity with my Pacific Island Brothers and Sisters
to continue our fight against Climate Change. The onset of extreme
temperatures, heat waves, droughts, flooding, and sea level rise has
increased the vulnerability of Pacific countries to the negative
impacts of climate change.
For least developing countries like Solomon Islands, vulnerability is
a key hindrance to sustainable development. Currently, indicators to
measure vulnerability are inadequate. Solomon Islands therefore
calls on all states and partners to support the development of
Multidimensional Vulnerability Index, (MVI) and looks forward to its
finalization and adoption.
Pacific Island countries including Solomon Islands are in a constant
mode of recovery from disasters. Global financial mechanisms for
disaster recovery need to be established to ensure the economic
burden of recovery and ‘building back better and stronger’ following
rapid-onset disasters and climate related disasters are not borne
solely by countries that are in serious need of support.
Considering these challenges, the Pacific region has declared a ‘state
of climate emergency.’ Sadly, we are seeing more resources spent on
wars than in combating climate change. This is extremely
unfortunate.

Pacific countries have also established a “Pacific Resilience Facility”
– a financing mechanism that aims to build resilience and reduce
vulnerability of Pacific populations to the negative impacts of climate
change. A pledging session for the facility will be held during this
session. We call on all partners to support the Facility.
Solomon Islands also commends the ‘Vanuatu-led initiative
requesting support from the UN to ask the International Court of
Justice to provide an advisory opinion on Climate Change that has
also been strongly supported by Pacific Leaders.

Mr President,
As the world continues to combat climate change, we ask all parties
going into COP27, to set more ambitious National Determined
Contributions, that would put our world on a 1.5 degrees Celsius
pathway. We would also like to see a roadmap for ease of access, and
timely disbursements of the US 100 billion adaptation finance by
2025. The discussions on Loss and Damage demand a stand-alone
agenda and COP27 aimed at establishing a ‘Loss and damage
financing facility’.

Human rights
Mr. President,
Solomon Islands embraces the promotion and respect for human
rights as a fundamental freedom for all. We subscribe to Resolution
60/251 that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated,
interdependent, and mutually reinforcing, and that all human rights
must be treated in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and
with the same emphasis.
Now, I am pleased to inform this Assembly that Solomon Islands has
successfully deposited its Instrument of Ratification to the Optional
Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of
children, child prostitution and child pornography.
We will be submitting the Instrument of Ratification to the Optional
Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the
involvement of children in armed conflict within the coming weeks.

Sanctions on Cuba and Referendum on New Caledonia
Mr. President,
We join the international community in reiterating the call for the
lifting of the economic embargo imposed on Cuba. We commend
Cuba’s resilience and urge the United States of America to take the
initiative and normalize relations between the two close neighbors.
I also wish to convey my deepest appreciation to Cuba for the training
of our medical students. More than one hundred Solomon Islands
medical doctors have graduated from Cuban medical schools over the
years.
Solomon Islands also closely follows the outcome of the third
referendum in New Caledonia which took place in December 2021
with an air of uncertainty. Solomon Islands subscribe to resolution
A/AC.109/2022/L.22 and supports the call for all relevant parties to
ensure that the next steps for the self-determination process are
transparent and inclusive.

Gratitude
Mr. President,
In relation to our successful fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,
we express our heartfelt gratitude to our partners including
Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, the United States of America
and the United Nation’s Agencies, World Bank and other multilateral
agencies who stood with us and provided us with tremendous
support and much-needed COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX
facility as well as bilaterally.
Solomon Islands is also extremely grateful for employment
opportunities provided by Australia and New Zealand through their
respective labour mobility programs to accommodate some of the
unemployed twenty thousand youths who enter our labour market
every year.

Conclusion
Mr. President,
Let me conclude by thanking you again for the theme for this year’s
General Assembly session.
Our world is at cross-roads. It is feeling the strain of divisive elements
that can divide us. We must not allow that to happen. We have been
weighed down by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are feeling the
negative impacts of geopolitical conflicts and wars.
The time has come for our world to rally and focus on what unites us
rather than what divides us – for the world will be always stronger if
we are together.
We must foster friendship and solidarity through genuine and
durable partnerships. We must commit to work together, with each
other to ensure we can leave behind a legacy of a more peaceful, just,
and brighter world for the young generations that will come after us.
Mr. President, the key questions we must each ask ourselves are,

(i) what legacies do we as today’s leaders leave behind for those that will
come after us, and
ii), how do we wish to be remembered by generations that will follow?

I am sure we would all wish to be remembered as the generation of
leaders that uplifted our world, that united our people and our
countries to live together in peaceful co-existence.
Mr. President and fellow leaders, if we can leave a legacy that
safeguards the survival and freedom of our future generations, we
will have done our jobs well.

To God be the Glory great things He has done. Thank you. –ENDS/CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY