Statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on United Nations Day
Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, NY
October 24, 2011
Today, we commemorate the creation of the United Nations and its founding Charter, which entered into force 66 years ago. The UN’s founders, who included U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, envisioned amid the devastation of war an institution that would keep peace, support democracy, and promote respect for human rights—a pragmatic, truly global mechanism for furthering our security and well-being in the 20th century.
The work of the UN remains just as relevant in 2011. Today, natural disasters, pandemic diseases, and climatic changes threaten our collective security without paying heed to national borders. Desperate poverty challenges state institutions and may open havens to terrorists and traffickers. New technologies create new opportunities, but also new targets for cybercriminals. Conflicts old and new persist through generations, abetted by such outrages as the use of child soldiers. The spread of nuclear weapons and material remains a devastating legacy of the last century. And the global population approaches seven billion in a world roiled by economic turmoil and political transition. Now more than ever, it pays to share the burden of our common challenges.
On this day, in particular, we recognize the international community’s unique capacity and solemn responsibility to protect civilians and prevent mass atrocities. Earlier this year, when an illegitimate former President saw division and death as a path to retaining power in Cote d’Ivoire, it was the United Nations who intervened. When the people of Libya were brutalized by the forces of a tyrant who vowed to hunt them down like “rats,” going “house by house,” it was the United Nations, led by the United States and responding to calls for help from the Libyan people and the Arab League, who authorized robust action to prevent the slaughter.
On this United Nations Day, we can take pride in the lives the organization has saved and pledge to redouble our efforts to strengthen and reform it to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
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