Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at a Luncheon for Heads of State in New York City

September 26, 1994

Mr. Secretary-General, distinguished heads of state and government, your Excellencies, guests: First, I think I can speak for all of us in thanking the Secretary-General for his remarks, for his hospitality, and most important of all, for his very strong leadership of the United Nations.

Mr. Secretary-General, you have taken the ideas of peace, help, and security that are at the heart of the U.N.'s mission and worked hard to make them a reality. As the cold war has ended, the world has looked to the U.N. for even more assistance and leadership. You have met this challenge by effectively placing the U.N. at the forefront of international affairs. Your leadership has been particularly apparent in the improvements of the U.N.'s peacekeeping operations. There are now approximately 70,000 peacekeepers deployed around the world, some 5 times the number when you took office. Collaboration among nations is improving, and the operations are growing more efficient.

Your initiatives at the Cairo conference, your efforts to improve coordination of development assistance, the establishment of an independent inspector general and meaningful cost controls and your work to improve the U.N.'s field operations, all these are testaments to your outstanding leadership.

Above all, you have focused on the use of diplomacy to prevent bloodshed and conflict and on building the kinds of permanent institutions that lead to long-term stability within and, as you have so eloquently stated, among nations. For these things and more, all of us applaud you.

Today, opportunities abound to build a world in which democracy reigns, respect for human rights is the rule, political stability expands, economic prosperity is shared by all. These things will not occur, however, unless we commit ourselves to a cooperative spirit unmatched in all human history. That is our challenge. As leaders of member states, we must take responsibility for making the U.N. more responsive and more effective than it has ever been. Only in this way can the U.N. remain a positive force for change and a symbol of justice and hope for the world.

Mr. Secretary-General, you have kept our focus on building the kind of organization that can effectively turn our ideals into reality. We thank you for your vision.

As the United Nations approaches its 50th birthday, let us all pledge to continue to work together for the promise of a better tomorrow. And let us raise our glasses in toast to the Secretary-General and to that promise.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:45 p.m. at the United Nations Building.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Luncheon for Heads of State in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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