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US President Bill Clinton UN2K Summite Address

President William J. Clinton

Millennium Summit

September 6, 2000

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, my fellow leaders: It is an honor to host in the United States this unprecedented gathering of world leaders. We meet at a remarkable moment -- when more of the world's people enjoy prosperity, freedom, and democracy than ever before. We are unlocking the human genome, exploring new frontiers of science, drawing nearer together through the most extraordinary technology. Yet the Secretary General, in his Millennium Report, reminds us that our greatest challenges are all unmet: to free humanity from poverty, disease, and war; to reverse environmental destruction; and to make this United Nations a more effective instrument in pursuing all these aims, Today, I would like to address part of that challenge, but one intertwined with the others: the making and keeping of peace.

Fifty-five years ago, the UN was formed "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war." We are that succeeding generation. There are assembled here more people with the power to create peace than have ever gathered together in one place in the history of the world. Can we scize this moment?

Today, there are fewer wars between nations, but more wars within nations. Internal wars often driven by ethnic and religious differences - took five million lives in the 1990s, the vast majority innocent victims. This trend presents us with a stark, collective challenge. We must respect sovereignty and territorial integrity. But whether it is diplomacy, sanctions, or collective force, we must find ways to protect people as well as borders. flow shall we do that?

One essential lesson of the last century is this: There are times when the international community must take a side - not merely stand between the sides. For when good and evil collide, even-handedness can be an ally of evil

We faced such a test and met it when Slobodan Milosevic, tried to close the century with a final chapter of ethnic slaughter. We have faced such a test for 10 years in Iraq. The UN has approved a fair blueprint spelling out what Iraq must do. It must be enforced for the credibility of the UN is at stake. We face a. clear moral test today in Burma, where a popular leader who has struggled peacefully for dialogue has once again been confined, with hey supporters imprisoned and her country in distress, all in defiance of repeated UN resolutions. On each of these matters, we must not be silent.

But most conflicts and disputes are not so clear-cut. Legitimate grievances are piled high on all sides. It is wrenching to put aside the instinct to avenge old grievances. But those who hope through peace to redress all their grievances are not seeking peace. They are still waging war.

Right now, from Burundi to the Middle East to the Congo to South Asia, leaders are facing a choice between confrontation and compromise. Among them Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Barak are with us today. To those who have supported the right of Israel to live in security and peace to those who have championed the Palestinian cause these many years - let me say, the time to help both sides take risks for peace is now. It will not be easy. But there is not a moment to lose.

When leaders do seize the passing chance for peace history stops ... and then starts again in a new direction. That's when outside support, including from the UN, is most important. The UN increasingly is being called into situations of great uncertainty - where courageous leaders seek reconciliation, but where enemies of peace seek to undermine it, and where social and economic institutions must be built to keep alive the hope for peace.

In East Timor, had the UN not engaged the people would have lost the chance to control their future. Yet, the UN did not have the tools to prevent abuses that followed the vote for independence. In Sierra Leone, had the UN had not engaged, countless children now living would be dead at the hands of thugs. And yet this year, the UN did not have the tools to deter challenges by those same groups

One answer to this problem would be to say: we should not ask the UN to do what it is not equipped to do. Our answer should be: let us equip the UN to do what we ask.

We need better machinery to ensure UN peacekeepers can be rapidly deployed, with the right training and equipment, the ability to project credible force, and missions well-defined by a well functioning headquarters. To meet this challenge, we must also more effectively deploy civilian police to UN missions.

We must also work with just as much passion and persistence to prevent conflict, recognizing the iron link between deprivation and war. In too many places, it is easier for children to find guns than textbooks So we must build on our initiative to provide free meals for 9 million children around the world, encouraging families to send their sons and their daughters to school. Too many countries are crippled by debt, so we must further our efforts with the G-7 and other creditors to reduce the debts of developing countries that invest the savings in basic needs. Too many nations face a tidal wave of infectious diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS, which cause one quarter of all deaths in the world. So we must intensify our work together to promote prevention and to stimulate the development of drugs and vaccines,

We must also work to stop the flow of money that finances brutal conflict, whether curbing the trade, in conflict diamonds in Africa or the trade of drugs in Colombia. And we must keep promoting democracy not only the best system of government, but the best system of conflict prevention ever devised.

These efforts come with a price tag, All nations, including my own, must meet our obligations to the UN. And those with the capacity to increase their support must do so. Reform of the UN's financial structure must be made if the organization is to meet the demands we make of it. Those who believe we can either do without the UN, or impose our will upon it, have not learned from history and do not understand the future.

My friends: The bloodiest wars in human history belong now to another century. We have a chance for a fresh start. Can we seize this chance for peace? The answer is not waiting to be revealed; it is waiting to be created by the force of our actions. For history, to us, is what we react. But history, to our children, is what we do. Let them read one day that we came together in a moment of choice ... and chose to change the world. God bless you and thank you.
f,

President William J. Clinton

Millennium Summit

September 6, 2000

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, my fellow leaders: It is an honor to host in the United States this unprecedented gathering of world leaders. We meet at a remarkable moment -- when more of the world's people enjoy prosperity, freedom, and democracy than ever before. We are unlocking the human genome, exploring new frontiers of science, drawing nearer together through the most extraordinary technology. Yet the Secretary General, in his Millennium Report, reminds us that our greatest challenges are all unmet: to free humanity from poverty, disease, and war; to reverse environmental destruction; and to make this United Nations a more effective instrument in pursuing all these aims, Today, I would like to address part of that challenge, but one intertwined with the others: the making and keeping of peace.

Fifty-five years ago, the UN was formed "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war." We are that succeeding generation. There are assembled here more people with the power to create peace than have ever gathered together in one place in the history of the world. Can we scize this moment?

Today, there are fewer wars between nations, but more wars within nations. Internal wars often driven by ethnic and religious differences - took five million lives in the 1990s, the vast majority innocent victims. This trend presents us with a stark, collective challenge. We must respect sovereignty and territorial integrity. But whether it is diplomacy, sanctions, or collective force, we must find ways to protect people as well as borders. flow shall we do that?

One essential lesson of the last century is this: There are times when the international community must take a side - not merely stand between the sides. For when good and evil collide, even-handedness can be an ally of evil

We faced such a test and met it when Slobodan Milosevic, tried to close the century with a final chapter of ethnic slaughter. We have faced such a test for 10 years in Iraq. The UN has approved a fair blueprint spelling out what Iraq must do. It must be enforced for the credibility of the UN is at stake. We face a. clear moral test today in Burma, where a popular leader who has struggled peacefully for dialogue has once again been confined, with hey supporters imprisoned and her country in distress, all in defiance of repeated UN resolutions. On each of these matters, we must not be silent.

But most conflicts and disputes are not so clear-cut. Legitimate grievances are piled high on all sides. It is wrenching to put aside the instinct to avenge old grievances. But those who hope through peace to redress all their grievances are not seeking peace. They are still waging war.

Right now, from Burundi to the Middle East to the Congo to South Asia, leaders are facing a choice between confrontation and compromise. Among them Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Barak are with us today. To those who have supported the right of Israel to live in security and peace to those who have championed the Palestinian cause these many years - let me say, the time to help both sides take risks for peace is now. It will not be easy. But there is not a moment to lose.

When leaders do seize the passing chance for peace history stops ... and then starts again in a new direction. That's when outside support, including from the UN, is most important. The UN increasingly is being called into situations of great uncertainty - where courageous leaders seek reconciliation, but where enemies of peace seek to undermine it, and where social and economic institutions must be built to keep alive the hope for peace.

In East Timor, had the UN not engaged the people would have lost the chance to control their future. Yet, the UN did not have the tools to prevent abuses that followed the vote for independence. In Sierra Leone, had the UN had not engaged, countless children now living would be dead at the hands of thugs. And yet this year, the UN did not have the tools to deter challenges by those same groups

One answer to this problem would be to say: we should not ask the UN to do what it is not equipped to do. Our answer should be: let us equip the UN to do what we ask.

We need better machinery to ensure UN peacekeepers can be rapidly deployed, with the right training and equipment, the ability to project credible force, and missions well-defined by a well functioning headquarters. To meet this challenge, we must also more effectively deploy civilian police to UN missions.

We must also work with just as much passion and persistence to prevent conflict, recognizing the iron link between deprivation and war. In too many places, it is easier for children to find guns than textbooks So we must build on our initiative to provide free meals for 9 million children around the world, encouraging families to send their sons and their daughters to school. Too many countries are crippled by debt, so we must further our efforts with the G-7 and other creditors to reduce the debts of developing countries that invest the savings in basic needs. Too many nations face a tidal wave of infectious diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS, which cause one quarter of all deaths in the world. So we must intensify our work together to promote prevention and to stimulate the development of drugs and vaccines,

We must also work to stop the flow of money that finances brutal conflict, whether curbing the trade, in conflict diamonds in Africa or the trade of drugs in Colombia. And we must keep promoting democracy not only the best system of government, but the best system of conflict prevention ever devised.

These efforts come with a price tag, All nations, including my own, must meet our obligations to the UN. And those with the capacity to increase their support must do so. Reform of the UN's financial structure must be made if the organization is to meet the demands we make of it. Those who believe we can either do without the UN, or impose our will upon it, have not learned from history and do not understand the future.

My friends: The bloodiest wars in human history belong now to another century. We have a chance for a fresh start. Can we seize this chance for peace? The answer is not waiting to be revealed; it is waiting to be created by the force of our actions. For history, to us, is what we react. But history, to our children, is what we do. Let them read one day that we came together in a moment of choice ... and chose to change the world. God bless you and thank you.

ENDS

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