The Five Presidents of the Sovereign Micronesian Nations Agree: the Federated States of Micronesia Should Host the United Nations Multi-Country Office

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The Five Presidents of the Sovereign Micronesian Nations Agree: the Federated States of Micronesia Should Host the United Nations Multi-Country Office

NEW YORK—On September 21st, 2019, before the opening of the 74th United Nations General Assembly, an interim session of the Presidents of the Micronesian sub-regional group was held at the Permanent Mission of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) to the United Nations. The Presidents of the five sovereign Micronesian nations—His Excellency David W. Panuelo of the FSM, His Excellency Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. of the Republic of Palau, Her Excellency Dr. Hilda C. Heine of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, His Excellency Taneti Maamau of the Republic of Kiribati, and His Excellency Lionel Aingimea of the Republic of Nauru—met to discuss, among other matters, where the proposed United Nations Multi-Country Office (MCO) in the Northern Pacific ought to be held. The Presidents, in the solidarity and unity typical of the broader Micronesian family, came to the consensus that the FSM ought to be the host.

The Presidents mutually emphasized solidarity among themselves. President Remengesau, who chaired the meeting, noted the continued importance of the sovereign Micronesian nations meeting regularly to discuss issues of mutual interest and importance.

“On behalf of the FSM and the mission here, we want to sincerely welcome all of you to the FSM Mission here. …I’ve always been an admirer of all of you, especially the more senior Presidents here,” President Panuelo began in his welcoming remarks. “President Remengesau, when we met in Chuuk [for the Micronesian Islands Forum] I had asked that we give you a round of applause for being the champion of the environment…President Maamau, I had read so much about you, and when I finally met you in the [Pacific Islands Forum] I was [so impressed with your perspectives and leadership]. President Heine, I thank you for being the champion of education and the work you’ve been doing with women’s programs…I know that you’re also on a very monumental undertaking to seek candidature in the Human Rights Council—it’s a big one, and I’m sure we’ll talk about how we can band together for that kind of effort. And my friend President Aingimea—I need to explain this a little bit! We knew each other when we were very young; he used to come to Pohnpei and spend time with our family…his [late] brother is married to my eldest sister…which brings us all closer. Congratulations to you, President, on your election, and I welcome [everyone] here.”

One of the primary topics of discussion was determining which country in the Micronesian region ought to host the United Nations MCO in the North Pacific. UN presence in the Micronesian subregion has been, for many years, an issue that Pacific ambassadors have continually called for.

Presidents Remengesau, Heine, Aingimea, and Maamau expressed their views on who should host the MCO, noting that President Panuelo had formally written a letter to them requesting their support. All four agreed that the FSM should host the MCO, though it was noted that ensuring the office genuinely supports all five Micronesian countries in a way that shows equity (fairness) is of the utmost importance.

“Chair,” said President Panuelo, “Thank you—I am truly humbled by the positions you’ve expressed. I know that we’ve all worked hard on realizing this reform at the United Nations…. On behalf of the FSM Government and the citizens of our nation, we thank you all for your leadership—Chairman and President Remengesau, President Maamau, President Heine…and President of Nauru [Aingimea]. …We assure you that…[the FSM] is really conscious of the fact that we have to make an office that serves our region. So all of the concerns you’ve raised have been taken into account, and we will work with our Congress to make sure that we have the proper resources to facilitate and…accommodate the office…so that it can serve the needs of our Micronesian region.”

“Thank you,” said Chair and President Remengesau. “With that, I think a letter is in order for our signature.”

The letter, addressed to the United Nations and signed by the five Presidents, was signed on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly and was transmitted to the UN Secretary-General,  His Excellency Antonio Guterres. The letter is available for citizens to view here:

The FSM National Government stands in friendship and solidarity with its Micronesian brothers and sisters, deeply and sincerely appreciates their support, and promises to ensure that its hosting of the United Nations MCO in the North Pacific serves all Micronesians, regardless of which island they’re from.

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