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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


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Honourbale Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi
Prime Minister of the Independent State of Samoa
at the
Cultural Opening Ceremony of the SIDS Conference
31 August 2014, Hockey Stadium, Conference Venue,
Tuanaimato, Apia. SAMOA
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese, the
Government and the People of Samoa, I would like to extend our warmest greetings
to visiting Heads of State, Heads of Government, the United Nations Secretary
General, the President of the UN General Assembly, Heads of delegations,
Representatives of UN agencies, delegates and all our overseas guests. Welcome to
We are honoured and humbled with your presence to attend the 3rd SIDS
Conference here in Samoa and in our Pacific region. As we speak, the world in
many parts is in turmoil and in the grip of violence, deadly diseases or social unrest.
The threats these represent to the peace and stability of our world and communities
cannot be underestimated and international focus have understandably and correctly
turned to the consequential imperative demand for action that has resulted. Yet,
even with major attention and energy directed to these crisis spots around the
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world, the United Nations and its membership has nevertheless found time to
address the challenges facing SIDS. This is profoundly reflected in the full and wide
involvement of the UN membership with the successful negotiations and lead up
preparatory work for the Conference. Many delegations here have also travelled
thousands of miles to come to Apia. Thank you again for your unwavering support
for SIDS and for honouring Samoa and our Pacific Region with your participation in
the Conference.
It is an immense honour for my country to host the Conference but it is a
privilege that would not have been possible without the understanding of AOSIS, the
support of the G77 and China, and ultimately the agreement of the UN General
Assembly under the presidency of a son of the Caribbean, His Excellency John Ash.
Last and certainly not least is my appreciation to our Pacific region for their
agreement in the first place to advance Samoa’s name for consideration by the UN. I
would like to again express my gratitude to the leadership of our Pacific family for
the privilege for Samoa to host on behalf of our region.
I would like to particularly thank the UN Secretary General, His Excellency Ban
ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the Conference, Mr Wu Hongbo and the United
Nations staff for the their forbearance and close cooperation throughout the
preparations for the Conference.
The fact that we are able to celebrate together this evening is the result of
the happy confluence of many influences and contributions. I have referred already
to some of these in the decision process to bring the conference to the Pacific region
and to Samoa.
In the preparations and requirements for hosting the Conference, we are
deeply grateful and indebted to Samoa’s resident development partners: Australia,
China, European Union, Japan, New Zealand, United States and the United Nations,
for their ready commitment to help and for their generous contributions of assets
and equipment as well as technical expertise and personnel to support our
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preparations in meeting the timeframes set for the Conference. I wish also to thank
all of Samoa’s non-resident partners for their help with the host arrangements, as
well as to the wider UN membership that generously donated to the UN Trust Fund
to assist with the participation of delegates to the Conference. Indeed, the support
provided and received that made it possible to host the Conference and to gather so
many of our UN family here in Samoa resonates with the theme of the Conference
for “Genuine and Durable Partnerships”.
Finally, my vote of thanks would not be complete without mention of the
tremendous support of our country and people for the hosting of the Conference. I
would like to register my gratitude and appreciation to the: Head of State, the
Ministers of Cabinet, the Leader of the Opposition, the Speaker and Members of
Parliament, the Chief Justice and the Judiciary, the Religious Leaders and churches,
the village leaders and councils, the private sector leaders and business community,
the public servants and government agencies, and all our people for their
understanding, patience and vital contributions with the many preparations that
have enabled our small developing island country to bring and host the 3rd UNSIDS
Conference within our shores.
In our culture, we make presentations of material goods for different
important occasions and events. A presentation of such goods is usually made by an
orator chief who gives a speech on behalf of the family. Samoans like to give and
donate generously providing the orator the perfect excuse to speak long and display
his oratory skills with so many goods to be presented. But sometimes the amount of
goods put together is not as much as the orator would like. When that happens, the
orator chooses one of two options when making his speech:
In the first he says “As there is only little to offer, my words will be few!!” and
makes a short speech.
In the second he says “As there is only little to offer, my words will be few”
and then he proceeds to make a very long speech anyway!
I hope I have not strayed too much into the second option!!
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To end on a serious note, the plenary opening and the start of the conference
is tomorrow morning. The next four days of meetings and side events will be the
opportunity to converse and treat in detail the substantive matters on our Agenda
and the challenges SIDS face that require global attention and action. It will be a
busy time and we therefore won’t keep you here too long tonight.
So for now, I would like on behalf of the Head of State, our Government and
People to wish the visiting Heads of State and Government and all the dignitaries
and delegates a successful and an enjoyable stay with us. I hope you will enjoy the
short entertainment programme prepared by our young people.
Good Evening.
Fa’afetai. Soifua.