Address Before the 15th General Assembly of the United Nations, New York City
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, members of the General Assembly, and guests:
The people of the United States join me in saluting those countries which, at this session of the General Assembly, are represented here for the first time. With the admission of new members, mainly from the giant continent of Africa, almost 100 nations will be joined in a common effort to construct permanent peace, with justice, in a sorely troubled world.
The drive of self-determination and of rising human aspirations is creating a new world of independent nations in Africa, even as it is producing a new world of both ferment and of promise in all developing areas. An awakening humanity in these regions demands as never before that we make a renewed attack on poverty, illiteracy, and disease.
Side by side with these startling changes, technology is also in revolution. It has brought forth terrifying weapons of destruction, which for the future of civilization, must be brought under control through a workable system of disarmament. And it has also opened up a new world of outer space--a celestial world filled with both bewildering problems and dazzling promise.
This is, indeed, a moment for honest appraisal and historic decision.
We can strive to master these problems for narrow national advantage or we can begin at once to undertake a period of constructive action which will subordinate selfish interest to the general well-being of the international community.
The choice is truly a momentous one.
Today, I come before you because our human commonwealth is once again in a state of anxiety and turmoil. Urgent issues confront us.
The first proposition I place before you is that only through the United Nations Organization and its truly democratic processes can humanity make real and universal progress toward the goal of peace with justice. Therefore, I believe that to support the United Nations Organization and its properly constituted mechanisms and its selected officers is the road of greatest promise in peaceful progress. To attempt to hinder or stultify the United Nations or to deprecate its importance is to contribute to world unrest and, indeed, to incite the crises that from time to time so disturb all men. The United States stands squarely and unequivocably in support of the United Nations and those acting under its mandate in the interest of peace.
Nowhere is the challenge to the international community and to peace and orderly progress more evident than in Africa, rich in human and natural resources and bright with promise. Recent events there have brought into being what is, in effect, a vast continent of newly independent nations.
Outside interference with these newly emerging nations, all eager to undertake the tasks of modernization, has created a serious challenge to the authority of the United Nations.
That authority has grown steadily during the 15 years since the United Nations pledged, in the words of its own Charter, "to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustments or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace."
And during those years, the United Nations successfully supported Iran's efforts to obtain the withdrawal of foreign military forces; played a significant role in preserving the independence of Greece, rallied world resistance to aggression against the Republic of Korea; helped to settle the Suez crisis; countered the threat to Lebanon's integrity; and most recently, has taken on an even more important task.
In response to the call of the Republic of the Congo, the United Nations under its outstanding Secretary General, has recently mounted a large-scale effort to provide that new Republic with help. That effort has been flagrantly attacked by a few nations which wish to prolong strife in the Congo for their own purposes. The criticism directed by these nations against the Secretary General, who has honorably and effectively fulfilled the mandate which he received from the United Nations, is nothing less than a direct attack upon the United Nations itself. In my opinion, he, the Secretary General, has earned the support and gratitude of every peace loving nation.
The people of the Congo are entitled to build up their country in peace and freedom. Intervention by other nations in their internal affairs would deny them that right and create a focus of conflict in the heart of Africa.
The issue thus posed in the Congo could well arise elsewhere in Africa.
The resolution of this issue will determine whether the United Nations is able to protect not only the new nations of Africa, but also other countries against outside pressures.
It is the smaller nations that have the greatest stake in the effective functioning of the United Nations.
If the United Nations system is successfully subverted in Africa, the world will be on its way back to the traditional exercise of power politics, in which small countries will be used as pawns by aggressive major powers. Any nation, seduced by glittering promises into becoming a cat's-paw for an imperialistic power, thereby undermines the United Nations and places in jeopardy the independence of itself and all others.
It is imperative that the international community protect the newly emerging nations of Africa from outside pressures that threaten their independence and their sovereign rights.
To this end, I propose a program which contains five major elements:
First: A pledge by all countries represented at this Assembly to respect the African peoples' right to choose their own way of life and to determine for themselves the course they choose to follow. And this pledge would involve three specific commitments:
To refrain from intervening in these new nations' internal affairs--by subversion, force, propaganda, or any other means.
To refrain from generating disputes between the states of this area or from encouraging them to wasteful and dangerous competition in armaments.
And to refrain from any action to intensify or exploit present unsettled conditions in the Congo--by sending arms or forces into that troubled area, or by inciting its leaders and peoples to violence against each other.
These actions my country--and many others--are now avoiding. I hope this Assembly will call upon all its members to do likewise, and that each speaker who follows me to this platform will solemnly pledge his country to honor this call.
Second: The United Nations should be prepared to help the African countries maintain their security without wasteful and dangerous competition in armaments.
United Nations experts are being asked to train the Congo's security forces. If the Secretary General should find it useful to undertake increased activity in order to meet requests of this nature elsewhere, my country would be glad to join other Member States in making essential contributions to such United Nations activity.
More importantly I hope that the African states will use existing or establish new regional machinery in order to avert an arms race in this area. In so doing, they would help to spare their continent the ravages which the excesses of chauvinism have elsewhere inflicted in the past. If, through concerted effort, these nations can choke off competition in armaments, they can give the whole world a welcome lesson in international relations.
The speed and success of the United Nations in dispatching substantial forces to the Congo should give these states assurance that they can rely on the United Nations to organize an effective response if their security is threatened. This should reduce any pressures on them to raise larger forces than are required to maintain internal security. Thus they would help to free their resources for more constructive purposes.
Third: We should all support the United Nations response to emergency needs in the Republic of the Congo which the Secretary General has shown such skill in organizing. I hope that states represented here will pledge substantial resources to this international program, and agree that it should be the preferred means of meeting the Congo's emergency needs. The United States supports the establishment of a United Nations fund for the Congo. We are prepared to join other countries by contributing substantially for immediate emergency needs to the $ 100 million program that the Secretary General is proposing.
Fourth: The United Nations should help newly developing African countries to shape their long-term modernization programs. To this end:
The United Nations Special fund and Expanded Technical Assistance Program should be increased so that in combination they can reach their annual $ 100 million goal in 1961. The Special fund's functions should be expanded so that it can assist countries in planning economic development.
The United Nations Operational and Executive Personnel program for making available trained administrators to newly developing countries should be expanded and placed on a permanent basis. The United States is prepared to join other countries in contributing increased funds for this program, and for the Special fund, and for the United Nations Technical Assistance Program.
The World Bank and International Monetary fund should be encouraged increasingly to provide counsel to the developing countries of Africa through missions and resident advisers. We should also look forward to appropriate and timely financial assistance from these two multilateral financial sources as the emerging countries qualify for their aid.
Of course, many forms of aid will be needed: both public and private, and on a bilateral and multilateral basis. for this assistance to be most effective it must be related to the basic problems and changing needs of the African countries themselves.
Fifth: As the final element of this program, I propose an all-out United Nations effort to help African countries launch such educational activities as they may wish to undertake.
It is not enough that loud speakers in the public square exhort people to freedom. It is also essential that the people should be furnished with the mental tools to preserve and develop their freedom.
The United States is ready to contribute to an expanded program of educational assistance to Africa by the family of United Nations organizations, carried out as the Secretary General may deem appropriate, and according to the ideas of the African nations themselves.
One of the first purposes of this assistance, after consultation and approval by the governments involved, might be to establish, staff and maintain--until these governments or private agencies could take over-Institutes for Health Education, for Vocational Training, for Public Administration and Statistics, and perhaps other purposes.
Each institute could be appropriately located and specifically dedicated to training the young men and women of that vast region, who are now called upon to assume the incredibly complex and important responsibilities inherent in an explosive emergence into nationhood.
If the African States should wish to send large numbers of their citizens for training abroad under this program, my country would be glad to set up a special commission to cooperate with the United Nations in arranging to accommodate many more of these students in our institutions of learning.
These then are the five ingredients of the Program I propose for Africa:
Non-interference in the African countries' internal affairs;
Help in assuring their security without wasteful and dangerous competition in armaments;
Emergency aid to the Congo;
International assistance in shaping long-term African development programs;
United Nations aid for education.
Such a program could go far to assure the African countries the clear chance at the freedom, domestic tranquility and progress they deserve.
The changes which are occurring in Africa are also evident elsewhere. Indeed, Africa is but one part of the new world of change and progress which is emerging in all the developing areas.
We must carry forward and intensify our programs of assistance for the economic and social development in freedom of other areas, particularly in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East.
Beyond this, we must never forget that there are hundreds of millions of people, particularly in the less developed parts of the world, suffering from hunger and malnutrition, even though a number of countries, my own included, are producing food in surplus. This paradox should not be allowed to continue.
The United States is already carrying out substantial programs to make its surpluses available to countries of greatest need. My country is also ready to join with other members of the United Nations in devising a workable scheme to provide food to member states through the United Nations system, relying on the advice and assistance of the food and Agriculture Organization.
I hope this Assembly will seriously consider a specific program for carrying forward the promising food for Peace Program.
In the developing areas, we must seek to promote peaceful change, as well as to assist economic and social progress. To do this--to assist peaceful change--the international community must be able to manifest its presence in emergencies through United Nations observers or forces.
I should like to see member countries take positive action on the suggestions in the Secretary General's report looking to the creation of a qualified staff within the Secretariat to assist him in meeting future needs for United Nations forces.
To regularize the United Nations emergency force potential, I proposed in 1958 creation of stand-by arrangements for United Nations forces. Some progress has been made since that time. Much remains to be done.
The Secretary General has now suggested that members should maintain a readiness to meet possible future requests from the United Nations for contributions to such forces. All countries represented here should respond to this need, by earmarking national contingents which could take part in United Nations forces in case of need.
The time to do it is now--at this Assembly.
I assure countries which now receive assistance from the United States that we favor use of that assistance to help them maintain such contingents in the state of readiness suggested by the Secretary General. To assist the Secretary General's efforts, the United States is prepared to earmark also substantial air and sea transport facilities on a stand-by basis, to help move contingents requested by the United Nations in any future emergency.
Over the long run, further progress toward increasing the United Nations' ability to respond to future needs is surely possible. The prospects for such progress, however, will remain just that--prospects--unless we move now to exploit the immediate possibilities for practical action suggested by the Secretary General.
Another problem confronting us involves outer space.
The emergence of this new world poses a vital issue: will outer space be preserved for peaceful use and developed for the benefit of all mankind? Or will it become another focus for the arms race--and thus an area of dangerous and sterile competition?
The choice is urgent. And it is ours to make.
The nations of the world have recently united in declaring the continent of Antarctica "off limits" to military preparations. We could extend this principle to an even more important sphere. National vested interests have not yet been developed in space or in celestial bodies. Barriers to agreement are now lower than they will ever be again.
The opportunity may be fleeting. Before many years have passed, the point of no return may have passed.
Let us remind ourselves that we had a chance in 1946 to ensure that atomic energy be devoted exclusively to peaceful purposes. That chance was missed when the Soviet Union turned down the comprehensive plan submitted by the United States for placing atomic energy under international control.
We must not lose the chance we still have to control the future of outer space.
I propose that:
1. We agree that celestial bodies are not subject to national appropriation by any claims of sovereignty.
2. We agree that the nations of the world shall not engage in warlike activities on these bodies.
3. We agree, subject to appropriate verification, that no nation will put into orbit or station in outer space weapons of mass destruction. All launchings of space craft should be verified in advance by the United Nations.
4. We press forward with a program of international cooperation for constructive peaceful uses of outer space under the United Nations. Better weather forecasting, improved world-wide communications, and more effective exploration not only of outer space but of our own earth-these are but a few of the benefits of such cooperation.
Agreement on these proposals would enable future generations to find peaceful and scientific progress, not another fearful dimension to the arms race, as they explore the universe.
But armaments must also be controlled here on earth, if civilization is to be assured of survival. These efforts must extend both to conventional and non-conventional armaments.
My country has made specific proposals to this end during the past year. New United States proposals were put forward on June 27, with the hope that they could serve as the basis for negotiations to achieve general disarmament. The United States still supports these proposals.
The communist nations' walk-out at Geneva, when they learned that we were about to submit these proposals, brought negotiations to an abrupt halt. Their unexplained action does not, however, reduce the urgent need for arms control.
My country believes that negotiations can--and should--soon be resumed.
Our aim is to reach agreement on all the various measures that will bring general and complete disarmament. Any honest appraisal, however, must recognize that this is an immense task. It will take time.
We should not have to wait until we have agreed on all the detailed measures to reach this goal before we begin to move toward disarmament. Specific and promising steps to this end were suggested in our June 27 proposals.
If negotiations can be resumed, it may be possible to deal particularly with two pressing dangers--that of war by miscalculation and that of mounting nuclear weapons stockpiles.
The advent of missiles, with ever shorter reaction times, makes measures to curtail the danger of war by miscalculation increasingly necessary. States must be able quickly to assure each other that they are not preparing aggressive moves--particularly in international crises, when each side takes steps to improve its own defenses, which actions might be misinterpreted by the other. Such misinterpretation in the absence of machinery to verify that neither was preparing to attack the other, could lead to a war which no one had intended or wanted.
Today the danger of war by miscalculation could be reduced, in times of crisis, by the intervention, when requested by any nation seeking to prove its own peaceful intention, of an appropriate United Nations surveillance body. The question of methods can be left to the experts.
Thus the vital issue is not a matter of technical feasibility but the political willingness of individual countries to submit to inspection. The United States has taken the lead in this field.
Today, I solemnly declare, on behalf of the United States, that we are prepared to submit to any international inspection, provided only that it is effective and truly reciprocal. This step we will take willingly as an earnest of our determination to uphold the preamble of the United Nations Charter which says its purpose is "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind..."
The United States wants the Soviet Union and all the nations of the world to know enough about United States defense preparations to be assured that United States forces exist only for deterrence and defense-not for surprise attack. I hope the Soviet Union will similarly wish to assure the United States and other nations of the nonaggressive character of its security preparations.
There is a more basic point: in an age of rapidly developing technology, secrecy is not only an anachronism--it is downright dangerous. To seek to maintain a society in which a military move can be taken in complete secrecy, while professing a desire to reduce the risk of war through arms control, is a contradiction.
A second danger which ought to be dealt with in early negotiations is posed by the growth and prospective spread of nuclear weapons stockpiles.
To reverse this trend, I propose that the nations producing nuclear weapons immediately convene experts to design a system for terminating, under verification procedures, all production of fissionable materials for weapons purposes.
That termination would take effect as soon as the agreed inspection system has been installed and is operating effectively, while progress in other disarmament fields is also being sought.
The United States is prepared, in the event of a termination of production, to join the USSR in transferring substantial quantities of fissionable materials to international stockpiles. The United Nations Disarmament Commission has already heard the proposal of Ambassador Lodge, to set aside not pounds, as was proposed by the United States in 1954, but tons of fissionable materials for peaceful purposes. Additional transfers would be made as progress in other aspects of disarmament is accomplished.
If the USSR will agree to a cessation of production of fissionable materials for weapons purposes, some production facilities could be closed without delay. The United States would be willing to match the USSR in shutting down major plants producing fissionable materials, on by one, under international inspection and verification.
The proposed working group of experts could also consider how to verify the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, which is part of the third stage of our proposed disarmament program of June 27. There is as yet no known means of demonstrably accomplishing this; we would hope that the experts could develop such a system.
United States officials are willing to meet immediately with representatives of other countries for a preliminary exchange of views on these proposals.
Some who have followed closely the many fruitless disarmament talks since the war tend to become cynical--to assume that the task is hopeless. This is not the position of the United States.
Men everywhere want to disarm. They want their wealth and labor to be spent not for war, but for food, for clothing, for shelter, for medicines, for schools.
Time and again, the American people have voiced this yearning--to join with men of good will everywhere in building a better world. We always stand ready to consider any feasible proposal to this end. And as I have said so many times, the United States is always ready to negotiate with any country which in integrity and sincerity shows itself ready to talk about any of these problems. We ask only this--that such a program not give military advantage to any nation and that it permit men to inspect the disarmament of other nations.
A disarmament program which was not inspected and guaranteed would increase, not reduce, the risk of war.
The international control of atomic energy and general and complete disarmament can no more be accomplished by rhetoric than can the economic development of newly independent countries. Both of these immense tasks facing mankind call for serious, painstaking, costly, laborious and non-propaganda approaches.
I have specifically avoided in this address mention of several immediate problems that are troubling the United States and other nations. My failure to do so does not mean in any sense that they are not of great concern both to the United States and to the entire international community.
For example, accumulating evidence of threatening encroachments to the freedom of the people of West Berlin continues to disturb us deeply.
Another instance, though, of special concern to the United States, the shooting down of an American aircraft last July first over international waters, the apparent killing of four of its crew members and the imprisonment of two others on trumped-up spy charges, is a shocking affront to the right of all nations to peaceful passage on and over the high seas. By its veto in the Security Council the Soviet Union prevented a full investigation of the facts of the case. But these facts still demand to be heard as a proper matter for the consideration of an impartial tribunal.
The particular problems I have just mentioned are not merely isolated instances of disagreements among a few nations. They are central to the issue of peace itself, and illustrative of the continuous and interdependent nature of our respective national concerns. They must be confronted with the earnestness and seriousness which their settlement demands.
The basic fact today of all change in the domain of international affairs is the need to forge the bonds and build the structure of a true world community.
The United Nations is available to mankind to help it create just such a community. It has accomplished what no nation singly, or any limited group of nations, could have accomplished. It has become the forum of all peoples, and the structure about which they can center their joint endeavors to create a better future for our world.
We must guard jealously against those who in alternating moods look upon the United Nations as an instrument for use or abuse. The United Nations was not conceived as an Olympian organ to amplify the propaganda tunes of individual nations.
The generating force behind a successful United Nations must be the noble idea that a true international community can build a peace with justice if only people will work together patiently in an atmosphere of open trust.
In urging progress toward a world community, I cite the American concept of the destiny of a progressive society. Here in this land, in what was once a wilderness we have generated a society and a civilization drawn from many sources. Yet out of the mixture of many peoples and faiths we have developed unity in freedom--a unity designed to protect the rights of each individual while enhancing the freedom and well-being of all.
This concept of unity in freedom, drawn from the diversity of many racial strains and cultures, we would like to see made a reality for all mankind. This concept should apply within every nation as it does among nations. We believe that the right of every man to participate through his or her vote in self-government is as precious as the right of each nation here represented to vote its own convictions in this Assembly. I should like to see a universal plebiscite in which every individual in the world would be given the opportunity freely and secretly to answer this question: Do you want this right? Opposed to the idea of two hostile, embittered worlds in perpetual conflict, we envisage a single world community, as yet unrealized but advancing steadily toward fulfillment through our plans, our efforts, and our collective ideas.
Thus we see as our goal, not a super-state above nations, but a world community embracing them all, rooted in law and justice and enhancing the potentialities and common purposes of all peoples.
As we enter the decade of the 1960's, let us launch a renewed effort to strengthen this international community; to forge new bonds between its members in undertaking new ventures on behalf of all mankind.
As we take up this task, let us not delude ourselves that the absence of war alone is a sufficient basis for a peaceful world. I repeat, we must also build a world of justice under law, and we must overcome poverty, illiteracy, and disease.
We of the United States will join with you in making a mounting effort to build the structure of true peace--a peace in which all peoples may progress constantly to higher levels of human achievement. The means are at hand. We have but to use them with a wisdom and energy worthy of our cause.
I commend this great task to your hearts, to your minds, and to your willing hands. Let us go forward together, leaving none behind.
Thank you, and God bless you.
Note: The President spoke at at: 11:12 a.m. His opening words "Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General" referred to Frederick H. Boland, Permanent Representative to the United Nations for Ireland, and Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address Before the 15th General Assembly of the United Nations, New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235375