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FJMr. President, Mr. Secretary-General,Distinguished Delegates, Ladies andGentlemen.Allow me at the outset to convey toyou, on behalf of my delegation, oursincere congratulations on yourelection as the President of the fiftyeighthsession of the GeneralAssembly. It is, indeed, an addedpleasure for my delegation to see sucha distinguished personality from asisterly small island state preside overthis august Assembly.VideoAllow me also, Mr. President, to extend my delegation's profoundgratitude and appreciation to your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Jan Kavan,former Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the CzechRepublic, for the exemplary manner in which he steered the work of the 57th session.I would also like to take this opportunity, on behalf of my delegation, to express ourdeep appreciation to the Secretary-General, His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan, for hisdedication and untiring work in promoting the noble principles of this Organization. Ialso wish to congratulate him in particular for his courage and foresight with which hehas proposed last week the much-needed reforms to this Organization. I sincerelywish him every success in carrying them forward.I would also like to take this opportunity to express my delegation’s sentiments ofsadness and deep sorrow for the tremendous loss suffered by the internationalcommunity in the recent terrorist bombings in Baghdad of UN premises. I pay aspecial tribute to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. SergioVieira de Mello, and the other staff members of the Organization who made theultimate sacrifice in the cause of humanity.Mr. President,Terrorism has always menaced the human race in one form or the other. Yet, neverbefore have we witnessed acts of terrorism so organized, so frequent and so lethal,threatening international peace and security in its entirety. The Baghdad bombingand other violent eruptions elsewhere in the world grimly remind us that seriousthreats to world peace and security remain, undermining the noble principles that sofar had contributed to the survival of the world order and the sustenance of thevalues that we upheld. Much has been done. Yet the persistence of thesedeplorable acts signals our failure to address the fundamental causes of thesethreats. Bold decisions need to be taken swiftly to address them.Since my country fell victim to a brutal terrorist attack in 1988, we had tried, on manyoccasions, to impress upon this Assembly the threats to small states by increasedinternational terrorism. A decade and a half later, the heat of terrorism is affecting usall irrespective of our physical size, economic strength, political power or militarymight. For some small states, the danger is graver as a terrorist onslaught couldseverely threaten even their sovereignty and independence. Therefore, let meemphasize the importance of providing support and assistance to the small states inthe implementation of the Security Council resolution 1373, and strengthening theirinstitutional capabilities in this important field.We should all recognize that the strength and stability of the international securitysystem or any political order would be determined by the strength of its weakestmembers, and not just the endurance or the prevalence of the strongest amongthem.The Maldives will, nevertheless, continue to support the war against internationalterrorism in the spirit of contributing to enhancing international peace and security.Mr. President,The structural impediments facing Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like theMaldives are numerous. The geophysical characteristics of our island statescombined with remoteness from major markets have accentuated our vulnerabilities.Nearly a decade ago, we met in Barbados to address the environmentalvulnerabilities and developmental challenges faced by SIDS. However, addressingthese vulnerabilities and challenges require a meaningful global partnership withshared responsibility and commitments at the highest level. My country hopes thatthe Barbados + 10 to be held in Mauritius next year would provide the impetus forthe international community to renew their commitments for concrete action, made atBarbados, ten years hence.Mr. President,Globalization of the world economy and liberalization of the multilateral tradingsystem are continuing to marginalize the developing countries, especially the LeastDeveloped Countries. As tariff barriers fall, so does the potential for the developingcountries to compete effectively in the open market. Hopes were dashed at Cancunrecently since the Conference proved disappointing, leaving the developing countriesin affliction. Abject poverty and disease in the developing world exist beyondcomprehension, while deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB remainrampant. The development opportunities for the LDCs appear bleak. Therefore, Icall for a level playing field for all countries, with preferential treatment for the weak,3and in particular, for the narrowly based economies such as that of my own country,who find it hard, if not impossible, to sustain their share in the global market.My delegation believes that greater commitment to the implementation of theBrussels Programme of Action (BPOA) for the Least Developed Countries is aprerequisite if we are to halt and reverse the deteriorating situation of the LDCs.While I express my appreciation of the donor community’s willingness to help theLDCs in accelerating their growth and sustaining their development, and to achievethe Millennium Development Goals, it must be said that, the Monterrey pledgesremain far from being realized. The overriding objectives of the Brussels Programmeof Action to arrest and reverse continued socio-economic marginalization of LDCsand to improve their share in international trade, foreign investment and otherfinancial flows will also remain a dream if ODA is not increased and IDA is notaugmented.Mr. President,As I have stated on many occasions, the Maldives is not simply an island nation, it isa nation of many islands flung over 90,000 square kilometers of ocean. Our islandsare resource poor and the saline soil conditions prohibit most agricultural production.Transport and communication costs are exhorbitant. The scope for economicdiversification is virtually limited. That is why, Mr. President, we have appealed to theinternational community to take a closer look at our real situation before the issue ofour graduation from LDC status is considered by the ECOSOC.As I emphasized in my statement before this august Assembly last year, thestructural weaknesses of our economy can have grave implication on my country’sdevelopment should it be deprived of the preferential access to markets and of theconcessionnal capital that it has critically relied upon.The Committee for Development Policy (CDP) has fully recognized the specialcircumstances of small states like the Maldives who are environmentally fragile andeconomically vulnerable. The CDP has also, over the years, highlighted thesevulnerabilities and the severe costs small island developing countries will have toendure in the event of graduation. We believe that, unless these vulnerabilities andcosts are addressed in a concrete and meaningful manner, the conditions forgraduation set forth in General Assembly resolution 46/206, particularly that ofsmooth transition, would not be met. We are concerned that graduation withoutadequately addressing them in advance, would reverse the progress that we havemade so far.Although the criteria for inclusion in the list of LDCs and graduation therefrom havebeen regularly reviewed and refined, the criteria still fail to capture the entire range ofstructural and other handicaps. We are glad that the CDP is continuing its work onthe refinement of the criteria. We also believe that, of the three criteria forgraduation, the Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI) need to be a requisite criterion, inorder to ensure that the country will not elapse back into a lower status ofdevelopment after the dooming graduation.4The UNCTAD profile of the Maldives also highlights a number of circumstances notcaptured by the criteria. The profile very clearly states that graduation would result inan unsustainable debt burden even with sustained growth. The rate of our economicgrowth has declined significantly since 1997 and, hence, graduation at the presenttime would amount to a serious exogenous shock at the wrong time. This is preciselythe situation that we are so desperately trying to avoid.Mr. President,In accordance with the decision taken at its 2003 substantive session in Geneva, theECOSOC will soon consider the issue of graduation of the Maldives from the LDCstatus. We sincerely hope that we would get the necessary support and cooperationof all countries to adopt a comprehensive resolution that would address the issue ofgraduation in a holistic manner and require an appropriate mechanism to ensure asmooth transition. In this connection, we would like to express our full support to thecall by the CDP to convene an expert group meeting to address the issue of smoothtransition. We also expect the international meeting on SIDS in Mauritius next year toformulate recommendations to guide policies on the graduation of SIDS.Mr. President,After a glimmer of hope for the revival of the Middle East peace process, we areagain witnessing an unprecedented deterioration of the situation in Palestine and theMiddle East. We strongly condemn the Israeli move to deport President YasserArafat from the Palestinian territories and the continued Israeli aggression againstthe Palestinian people. We have consistently supported the just struggle of thePalestinian people to regain their inalienable rights and to establish an independentPalestinian state with Al-Quds as its capital. We call upon the members of theQuartet, particularly the United States to ensure the implementation of the Road Mapfor peace. While we sincerely believe that United Nations has an important role toplay in the peace process, we are also convinced that the United States needs toremain actively engaged as it currently does, with all sincerity, in the search for ajust, permanent and lasting peace in the region.Mr. President,The international community should maintain the high priority it has accorded todisarmament and arms control efforts, without any discrimination among nations orregions, to make the world a more peaceful place. The international community muststrengthen and improve the enforcement of the non-proliferation regime. In thiscontext, we believe that the United Nations must not only be at the centre of themultilateral processes, but should remain the principal player in grappling withimportant global issues. We believe, with unity of purpose, bilateral, regional andmultilateral approaches, with complementarity to each other, can lead to theresolution of these issues.Mr. President,The need to reform the United Nations, as emphasized by the Secretary General, toface the challenges of a changing world remains paramount. We are convinced thatthe United Nations with its universal membership is not only the sole and legitimate5body responsible for the preservation and maintenance of international peace andsecurity but also the unique body, capable of realizing the goals for a better andsecure world for mankind. Therefore, the United Nations should never be allowed tobe marginalized or be digressed from its role and the principles of its Charter. TheMaldives remains committed and will do its utmost to contribute to strengthening ofthe role of the United Nations and to making it more efficient and effective.Thank you Mr. President.