Remarks by the President in Address to the Millenium Summit of the United Nations (9/6/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                         Office of the Press Secretary
                           (New York, New York)
For Immediate Release                                   September 6, 2000

                            REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                             OF THE UNITED NATIONS

                           General Assembly Hall
                              United Nations
                                       New York City, New York

9:55 A.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Madam President, Mr. Secretary General, my fellow
leaders, let me begin by saying it is a great honor to have this
unprecedented gathering of world leaders in the United States.

     We come together not just at a remarkable moment on the calendar, but
at the dawn of a new era in human affairs, when globalization and the
revolution in information technology have brought us closer together than
ever before.  To an extent unimaginable just a few years ago, we reach
across geographical and cultural divides.  We know what is going on in each
other's countries.  We share experiences, triumphs, tragedies, aspirations.

     Our growing interdependence includes the opportunity to explore and
reap the benefits of the far frontiers of science and the increasingly
interconnected economy.  And as the Secretary General just reminded us, it
also includes shared responsibilities to free humanity from poverty,
disease, environmental destruction and war.  That responsibility, in turn,
requires us to make sure the United Nations is up for the job.

     Fifty-five years ago, the U.N. was formed to save succeeding
generations from the scourge of war.  Today there are more people in this
room with the power to achieve that goal than have ever been gathered in
one place.  We find today fewer wars between nations, but more wars within
them.  Such internal conflicts, often driven by ethnic and religious
differences, took five million lives in the last decade, most of them
completely innocent victims.

     These conflicts present us with a stark challenge -- are they part of
the scourge the U.N. was established to prevent? If so, we must respect
sovereignty and territorial integrity, but still find a way to protect
people as well as borders.

     The last century taught us that there are times when the international
community must take a side, not merely stand between the sides or on the
sidelines.  We faced such a test and met it when Mr. Milosevic tried to
close the last century with the final chapter of ethnic cleansing and
slaughter.  We have faced such a test for 10 years in Iraq, where the U.N.
has approved a fair blueprint spelling out what must be done.  It is
consistent with our resolutions and our values, and it must be enforced.

     We face another test today in Burma, where a brave and popular leader,
Aung San Suu Kyi, once again has been confined -- with her supporters in
prisons and her country in distress -- in defiance of repeated U.N.

     But most conflicts and disputes are not so clear-cut.  Legitimate
grievances and aspirations pile high on both sides.  Here there is no
alternative to principled compromise, in giving up old grudges in order to
get on life.  Right now, from the Middle East to Burundi to the Congo to
South Asia, leaders are facing this kind of choice, between confrontation
and compromise.

     Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Barak are with us here today.  They
have promised to resolve the final differences between them this year,
finally completing the Oslo process embodied in the Declaration of
Principles signed seven years ago this month at the White House.

     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 to all of you, they need your support now, more than
ever, to take the hard risks for peace.  They have the chance to do it.
But like all life's chances, it is fleeting and about to pass.  There is
not a moment to lose.

     When leaders do seize this chance for peace, we must help them.
Increasingly, the United Nations has been called into situations where
brave people seek reconciliation, but where the enemies of peace seek to
undermine it.  In East Timor, had the United Nations not engaged, the
people would have lost the chance to control their future.

     Today I was deeply saddened to learn of the brutal murder of the three
U.N. relief workers there by the militia in West Timor, and I urge the
Indonesian authorities to put a stop to these abuses.

     In Sierra Leone, had the United Nations not engaged, countless
children now living would be dead.  But in both cases, the U.N. did not
have the tools to finish the job.  We must provide those tools -- with
peacekeepers that can be rapidly deployed with the right training and
equipment, missions well-defined and well-led, with the necessary civilian

     And we must work, as well, to prevent conflict; to get more children
in school; to relieve more debt in developing countries; to do more to
fight malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS, which cause a quarter of all the
deaths in the world; to do more to provoke prevention and to stimulate the
development and affordable access to drugs and vaccines; to do more to curb
the trade in items which generate money that make conflict more profitable
than peace -- whether diamonds in Africa or drugs in Colombia.

     All these things come with a price tag.  And all nations, including
the United States, must pay it.  These prices must be fairly apportioned,
and the U.N. structure of finances must be fairly reformed so the
organization can do its job.  But those in my country or elsewhere who
believe we can do without the U.N., or impose our will upon it, misread
history and misunderstand the future.

     Let me say to all of you, this is the last opportunity I will have as
President to address this General Assembly.  It is the most august
gathering we have ever had, because so many of you have come from so far
away.  If I have learned anything in these last eight years, it is, whether
we like it or not, we are growing more interdependent.  We must look for
more solutions in which all sides can claim a measure of victory and move
away from choices in which someone is required to accept complete defeat.
That will require us to develop greater sensitivity to our diverse
political, cultural and religious claims.  But it will require us to
develop even greater respect for our common humanity.

     The leaders here assembled can rewrite human history in the new
millennium.  If we have learned the lessons of the past, we can leave a
very different legacy for our children.  But we must believe the simple
things -- that everywhere in every land, people in every station matter.
Everyone counts, everyone has a role to play, and we all do better when we
help each other.

     Thank you, and God bless you all.  (Applause.)

     END  10:05 A.M. EDT

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