Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at a United Nations Luncheon in New York City

October 22, 1995

Mr. Secretary-General, first, on behalf of all of us here present, let me thank you for your hospitality. But far more important, I thank you for your leadership, your energy, your resolve, and the vision of the United Nations and the world for the next 50 years that you have just painted for us. To be sure, the United Nations will face greater demands, but the potential for doing greater good is there as well. And we believe that your leadership has played a very important role in bringing us to this point.

This morning, I was able to speak about many of the specific activities of the United Nations and some that I hope we will undertake in the future. At this luncheon, I would just like to thank you for something that has been done by the United Nations in the last couple of years that I believe has been also very important, and that is the effort that you have made through the international conferences sponsored by the U.N. to change the way we think and to deepen our understanding. From Rio to Vienna to Copenhagen to Cairo to Beijing, you have brought the peoples of the world together to help us to learn about one another and to change the way we think about the present and the way we imagine the future. And that, in the end, may be the most important legacy of the last few years.

Finally, let me say to you, Mr. Secretary-General, and to all of you here present, it has been a profound honor for the United States to host the U.N. for these last 50 years. We know that from time to time, because of the differences between our nations, during the cold war and in other ways, it has not always been easy for other countries to have the United States as the host. But we have always tried to provide here at the U.N., notwithstanding the differences among countries from time to time, a haven where all the members can come, have their say, and be weighed in the court of public opinion.

I would say to you that we here in the United States still treasure the opportunity that was given to us 50 years ago to be the host of the United Nations. We have benefited from it in ways that even our own citizens are often unaware. And we hope that the next 50 years will be an even richer, more profoundly successful endeavor by all of us because of what we have learned by working together in this last half century.

I'd like to conclude by offering a toast to the Secretary-General and to the United Nations.

NOTE: The President spoke at approximately 1:39 p.m. in the North Lounge at the United Nations Headquarters.

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

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