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L.A. Loeak: Address to World Summit 2014

Address to World Summit 2014, Seoul, Korea, August 9-13, 2014

There is no ideal more important, more powerful and nobler today than the ideal of universal peace.

In spite of the turmoil prevailing in the world today, the Pacific island nations are convinced that this ideal is now within the reach of humanity.

When we look around us, we see evidence everywhere.

Incredible advances in sciences and technology have brought the world into a single neighborhood. A new global awareness has dawned on the horizon.

Young nations such as the Marshall Islands, regardless of our size or economic conditions, can participate in international concerns such as this one not as takers, but as givers.

Drawing from our rich heritage, from our distinct cultures and our value system, from our rich diversity across the vast Pacific Ocean, we have a unique contribution to offer to the awesome process of establishing universal peace.

Our record stands for all to see. In centuries gone by, we have yet to wage war against any one. We have yet to hurt anyone, even though our countries struggle for dominance. That love of peace, that yearning for universal harmony and friendship stands unchanged even today among the Pacific island nations.

As war is the product of the dark side of our nature, so peace must stem from our inner and better state of mind. And so it is to the minds and hearts of people that we first must begin our work.

Age-long attitudes that continue to cling to outmoded political and economic models and institutions must be set aside. Why should progress towards peace and true prosperity be sacrificed to those beliefs that no longer serve the needs of the people? Systems and practices that continue to treat women as second-class citizens must go -- not tomorrow, today. Effective means must be devised to prevent injustices to more than half of the world. New ways must be found to ensure that those who are not benefiting from the rich harvest of science and technology get their fair share.

We must forge ahead and increase economic productivity by all means, but the sharing of the pie must be more equitable; otherwise, the ideal of universal peace is nothing more than a mirage.

Today, in all of the Pacific island countries, our greatest fear, or better still, our perpetual and frightening nightmare, is the effect of climate change. Let me be frank. When a tsunami siren alert is sounded, it may not even be news to some people in the bigger nations. But to a Pacific islander, the fear is multiplied by 1000 times. Our islands are only 10 feet above sea level and as flat as a pancake. There is nowhere to run to safety. If the sea rises by two meters, island nations like Tuvalu, Kiribati and my own, Republic of the Marshall Islands, will be completely submerged. This is our reality, not some conspiracy theory that the greatest polluters love to sing like a mantra.

Last year, the Pacific island countries signed in the Marshall Islands the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership -- one of the remaining resorts to holding on to our survival as a people. I urge delegates in this conference to encourage your government to give this declaration its unreserved support.

For more information about the World Summit, click here.