September 27, 1993 – President Clinton Addresses The United Nations
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President Bill Clinton, giving his first address as President to the General Assembly of the United Nations, on September 27, 1993:
President Clinton: “I come before you as the first American President born after the founding of the United Nations. Like most of the people in the world today, I was not even alive during the convulsive World War that convinced humankind of the need for this organization, nor during the San Francisco Conference that led to its birth. Yet I have followed the work of the United Nations throughout my life, with admiration for its accomplishments, with sadness for its failures, and conviction that through common effort our generation can take the bold steps needed to redeem the mission entrusted to the U.N. 48 years ago.
I pledge to you that my Nation remains committed to helping make the U.N.’s vision a reality. The start of this General Assembly offers us an opportunity to take stock of where we are, as common shareholders in the progress of humankind and in the preservation of our planet.
It is clear that we live at a turning point in human history. Immense and promising changes seem to wash over us every day. The cold war is over. The world is no longer divided into two armed and angry camps. Dozens of new democracies have been born. It is a moment of miracles. We see Nelson Mandela stand side by side with President de Klerk, proclaiming a date for South Africa’s first nonracial election. We see Russia’s first popularly elected President, Boris Yeltsin, leading his nation on its bold democratic journey. We have seen decades of deadlock shattered in the Middle East, as the Prime Minister of Israel and the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization reached past enmity and suspicion to shake each other’s hands and exhilarate the entire world with the hope of peace.
We have begun to see the doomsday welcome of nuclear annihilation dismantled and destroyed. Thirty-two years ago, President Kennedy warned this chamber that humanity lived under a nuclear sword of Damocles that hung by the slenderest of threads. Now the United States is working with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and others to take that sword down, to lock it away in a secure vault where we hope and pray it will remain forever.
It is a new era in this hall as well. The superpower standoff that for so long stymied the United Nations work almost from its first day has now yielded to a new promise of practical cooperation. Yet today we must all admit that there are two powerful tendencies working from opposite directions to challenge the authority of nation states everywhere and to undermine the authority of nation states to work together.
From beyond nations, economic and technological forces all over the globe are compelling the world towards integration. These forces are fueling a welcome explosion of entrepreneurship and political liberalization. But they also threaten to destroy the insularity and independence of national economies, quickening the pace of change and making many of our people feel more insecure. At the same time, from within nations, the resurgent aspirations of ethnic and religious groups challenge governments on terms that traditional nation states cannot easily accommodate.”
The above is an extended excerpt of the complete address when you hit the Play button.