Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at a United Nations Luncheon in New York City

September 27, 1993

[Inaudible]—of all the heads of state here, we thank you for your warm and eloquent words, for your gentle urging to us to do better by the United Nations, and for the hospitality and vision which you have brought to your work.

We have seen so many changes in the world in the last few years, indeed in the last few weeks. I saw the Foreign Minister of Israel here and could not help remembering again the magic ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House 2 weeks ago today and the handshake that electrified the world.

Seven months from today, black and white South Africans will join in casting their votes for a genuine multiracial democracy and a new future for that long-troubled land. New possibilities for peace and progress unfold almost daily. And the United Nations will clearly play a central role in confronting the challenges and seizing the opportunities of this new era.

Eleanor Roosevelt, a First Lady of ours who once played a vital role in the birth of the United Nations, described the United Nations as a bridge, a bridge that could join different people despite their differences. Today, the traffic across that bridge is brisk and crowded indeed. As with our own Nation and Russia, peoples who once rarely met each other halfway, now increasingly join to walk across that bridge shoulder-to-shoulder, joined in common efforts to solve common problems.

As this grand bridge reaches nearly half a century in age, we need to modernize and strengthen it, but let us not lose sight of how dramatically the view from that bridge has improved. We can see new possibilities for conflict resolution. We can look toward new breakthroughs and the efforts to make progress against humankind's oldest problems: poverty, hunger, and disease. We can envision an era of increasing peace.

Those are the sights which have driven the U.N.'s vision since its creation. Today, I suggest that we all raise our glass in a toast to make those visions new and real.

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:23 p.m. at the United Nations.

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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