Ambassador Peter Thomson's Fiji Day Address at UN Luncheon

Address by Ambassador Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Fiji to the United Nations, to the Fiji Day Luncheon, New York, 13th October, 2010.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.  May I welcome you here today in some of the languages of Fiji, ni sa bula vinaka, noa’ia e mauri, salaam aleikum, namaste.  

Any of you who have experienced India, will recognise that last greeting as the beautiful Hindi invocation of peace.  In the early 1970s, when I was a Fiji district officer in the rural province of Navua, a local pandit told me that the namaste invocation means, “the highest in me greets the highest in you.”  I suggest to you, that in the halls and committee rooms of the United Nations, it is this invocation we should pass amongst ourselves as we go about our daily work in the cause of international upliftment.
Today is the 40th anniversary of Fiji taking its place as the 127th member of the United Nations.  This great day in our national history came just three days after Fiji’s attainment of independence as a fledgling nation.  Since that time we have treasured our UN membership, seeing in it our country’s dedication to striving for good global citizenship. 

It is in this spirit of striving to fulfill our international rights and duties, that we have recently embarked on the formalisation of diplomatic relations with all countries with which we have previously had none.  Many of you here today are amongst the twenty-three countries with which Fiji has formalised relations over the last six months, and in the year ahead there will be more of these formalised commitments to bilateral respect, friendship and cooperation.  It is in this same spirit of global engagement that Fiji has applied for membership of the Non-Aligned Movement.

In its work at the United Nations, the Fiji Mission is concentrating on three areas of special responsibility.  The first is peacekeeping.  Most of you know of Fiji’s service to UN peacekeeping over the last four decades in Lebanon, Namibia, Timor-Leste, Southern Sudan, Dafur, Liberia, Iraq, and with the Multi-National Force in the Sinai.  This service is at the core of Fiji’s foreign policy, as the embodiment of our commitment to good international citizenship. 

May I take pause here, Your Excellencies, to pay tribute to all UN peacekeepers,  past and present, especially to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of world peace.  Fiji is one country that will forever honour their service.

The second area is that of climate change, the great challenge with which humanity is faced, one in which the Pacific Islands find themselves at the forefront of a battle to combat rising sea levels and inadequate international response.  Fiji is a member of PSIDS, the Pacific Small Island Developing States, and it is through our commitment to this vibrant island grouping that we are taking our fight forward, through AOSIS and the UNFCCC.

The third area is that of oceanic affairs, to which we are tied by virtue of the realities of Pacific Islands existence.  Be it matters of relevance to the International Seabed Authority, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, or be it matters of oceanic integrity such as the pressing issues of the acidification of oceans and coral bleaching, or the all-important defence of sustainable Pacific fisheries, Fiji’s commitment to the urgent oceanic tasks at hand is assured.

Mention of matters oceanic, affords me the great pleasure of bringing to your attention our special guest today, Satya Nandan, former Ambassador of Fiji, former Under-Secretary-General of the UN, long-serving Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, and current Chair of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.  One of Fiji’s most famous sons, Satya Nandan is reknown for his work with regard to the creation of the Law of the Sea.  But what many of you may not know, is that he was the first Fijian diplomat to be sent to New York in preparation for the day whose 40th anniversary we celebrate at this luncheon. Thank you for your years of sterling service, Ambassador Nandan, vinaka vaka levu saka.

I would like to close this address with words of sincere gratitude to the great majority of the members of the United Nations who have taken the trouble to express to the Fiji Mission their assurances of understanding, of encouragement and friendship.  At this time, Fiji is calmly proceeding through a national reform agenda that is necessary for sustainable democracy to be ingrained into the fabric of our country.  As many of you know, since the first coups d’etat in 1987, Fiji has been on a long journey, at times traumatic, at times inspired.  During that time, we have come close to the spectre of communal violence and divisive racial strife, but we have pushed that spectre away, taking instead the path to making Fiji a better place for all Fijians. 

In 2014, for the first time in our national history, Fijians will go to general elections under universal suffrage without regard to race. I would not be standing here today, if I did not believe that to be for the national good.  I would not be standing here today if I did not believe the 2014 commitment to be set in stone, and that it will be delivered with the conviction that it will bring to an end our country’s so-called “coup culture”.  It will be in this way, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, that Fiji will repay its many good friends in the international community.

And so to the toast.  I will ask you to raise your glasses in honour of Fiji’s National Day and of the 40th anniversary of Fiji’s membership of the United Nations.  Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I propose the toast to, “The President of Fiji.”


Nice one said…
Good to see such a multiracial face being presented for Fiji at the UN. It's pretty clear that Peter Thomson has been working hard to build new relationships. How the world turns. 23 years ago, Sitiveni Rabuka locked him up in a filthy cell during the 1987 coup. Now he's the man. Vinaka, Pita.
In Voreqe we trust said…
You can see Peter Thomson is a true believer in Frank. He says here the commitment to hold an election in 2014 is "set in stone" or he wouldn't have taken the UN job. Let's just hope he doesn't eventually find himself with feet of clay. There's going to be quite a few red faces if 2014 comes and goes without Frank surrendering power.
set in stone said…
Very glad to see Peter believes 2014 is set is stone. The PM himself would do well to say as much. But that even that is not enough. The PM needs to confirm he will ACCEPT the outcome of the election and that the Military will once and for also step aside.

Lets see a "set in stone" promise and then some solid action now please.
Let down said…
Sadly many of us believed the PM when he said elections would be held in 2009 and when he said everything would be turned around in 2010 (read his only published roadmap). Many of us believed no soldier would benefit from the coup and many of us believed the PM would expose SDl corruption.

Many of us have simply been let down again and again.

I truly hope Peter is not also let down. When I knew him he seemed a honest and decent guy.
Red Dragon said…
@ Let down.......

One may reassure 'Let down' that Peter Thomson IS an honest and decent guy. Indeed, it is in our judgement of people and their characters that Fiji will ultimately 'be set free'. If we fail to use our good judgement and exhibit some common sense and trust about what the future should and must hold for all of us - Fijians - then we sell our country short. Read what Ambassador Thomson had to say on 13 October 2010 and notice his use of the key word 'calm'. Yes, we intend to proceed with calm in Fiji: calm in the eye of a storm which has lasted for more than twenty years. It is now the turn of the Fiji Police Force under new leadership to show us all that they will be part of this calm transition towards a lasting liberty for all from 2014.
Walker Texas Ranger said…
@ Let down....

My calendar shows me that the SDL allegedly corrupt team appear in the Fiji Courts today. The case is on-going. How much assistance have you given to this case and other cases of corruption? If you are a taxpayer, there should be no hesitation. Expensive and valuable court time is wasted when members of the public with evidence fail to assist the court. All who give evidence in these important test cases of corruption are contributing towards the eventual liberty of Fiji: liberty from graft and liberty to run our own affairs as we see fit. Are we up to it?
Anonymous said…
Thomson is one of the most honest men I know. Seriously loves Fiji and believes in its people. Those of us who love it also wish him great success. Fiji NEEDS optimists!
raj M

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