Felix Finkbeiner

Seen in August 2011, Felix Finkbeiner has made it his life's goal to plant trees. And he is getting a lot of help.

  • THE PEOPLE V. CLIMATE CHANGE

Teenager Is on Track to Plant a Trillion Trees

Starting his project as a nine-year-old, Felix Finkbeiner aims to restore the world’s forests.

Children are not often invited to speak to the United Nations General Assembly. But there stood Felix Finkbeiner, German wunderkind in his Harry Potter spectacles, gray hoodie, and mop-top haircut—with a somber question about climate change.

“We children know adults know the challenges and they know the solutions,” he said. “We don’t know why there is so little action.”

The children came up with three possible reasons to explain the lapse, he said. One is differing perspectives on the meaning of the word “future.”

“For most adults, it’s an academic question. For many of us children, it’s a question of survival,” he said. “Twenty-one hundred is still in our lifetime.”

Another explanation is climate denial. The third possibility can be glimpsed in an animal parable about monkeys that made an especially sharp point in the way that only a child delivering the message can.

“If you let a monkey choose if he wants one banana now or six bananas later, the monkey will always chose the one banana now,” he said. “From this, we children understood we cannot trust that adults alone will save our future. To do that, we have to take our future in our hands.”

At the time of his speech, Finkbeiner was four years into leading a remarkable environmental cause that has since expanded into a global network of children activists working to slow the Earth’s warming by reforesting the planet.

For Hungry Minds

Today, Finkbeiner is 19—and Plant-for-the-Planet, the environmental group he founded, together with the UN’s Billion Tree campaign, has planted more than 14 billion trees in more than 130 nations. The group has also pushed the planting goal upward to one trillion trees—150 for every person on the Earth.

The organization also prompted the first scientific, full-scale global tree count, which is now aiding NASA in an ongoing study of forests’ abilities to store carbon dioxide and their potential to better protect the Earth. In many ways, Finkbeiner has done more than any other activist to recruit youth to the climate change movement. Plant-for-the-Planet now has an army of 55,000 “climate justice ambassadors ,” who have trained in one-day workshops to become climate activists in their home communities. Most of them are between the ages nine and 12.

“Felix is a combination of inspirational and articulate,” says Thomas Crowther, an ecologist who conducted the tree count while working at Yale University in Connecticut. “A lot of people are good at one of those things. Felix is really good at both.”

It’s Not About Polar Bears

Plant-for-the-Planet came about as the result of a fourth grade school assignment in Finkbeiner’s hometown, Uffing am Staffelsee, south of Munich. The topic was climate change. To his nine-year-old worldview, that meant danger for his favorite animal, the polar bear. He consulted Google for his research. Google steered him elsewhere—to stories about Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan woman whose heroic campaign to recover barren land that had been sheared of trees resulted in the planting of 30 million saplings and won her, in 2004, the Nobel Prize.

“I realized it’s not really about the polar bear, it’s about saving humans,” Finkbeiner says in a telephone interview from Britain, where he is a student at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. His report about trees was a hit and as a dramatic close, Finkbeiner laid down the challenge to plant one million trees in Germany. No one expected anything to come of it.

Finkbeiner’s teacher asked him to present his talk again to other students and the headmaster, and two months later, he planted his first tree, a stunted, unimpressive crab apple, near the entrance to his school. If he had known then how much international media coverage that crab apple would receive, he says now, a little ruefully, he would have insisted his mother buy a more majestic first tree.

Looking back, a nine-year-old kid with a cherubic face, a natural gift for public speaking, and a one-million tree-planting challenge was irresistible to the world’s media. Word of Finkbeiner’s project spread rapidly. The next thing he knew, he was speaking to the European Parliament and attending UN conferences in Norway and South Korea. By the time he delivered his speech at the UN in New York in 2011, at the age of 13, Germany had planted its millionth tree, and Plant-for-the-Planet had been officially launched. It had a website and a full-time employee.

You May Also Like

why did felix give a speech to the united nations

One of the most resilient trees on Earth is dying in droves

why did felix give a speech to the united nations

The surprising way that millions of new trees could transform America

why did felix give a speech to the united nations

Ginkgo trees nearly went extinct. Here’s how we saved these ‘living fossils.’

The UN also handed over stewardship of its Billion Tree campaign to the group.

“I knew he was this legendary kid,” says Aji Piper, a 15-year-old tree “ambassador” in Seattle who met Finkbeiner in 2015. Piper, an activist and plaintiff in a children’s’ lawsuit against the United States government over climate change, regards Finkbeiner as a role model.

“We saw he was doing speeches. He was so young. Very impressive. That’s the skill level I want to get to.”

Finkbeiner has an answer for skeptics who doubt the science of climate change.

“If we follow the scientists and we act and in 20 years find out that they were wrong, we didn’t do any mistakes,” Finkbeiner told an Urban Futures conference in Austria last year. “But if we follow the skeptics and in 20 years find out that they were wrong, it will be too late to save our future.”

A Big Effort to Count Trees

The tree study came about as Plant-for-the-Planet’s ambitions expanded. One of the largest projects now is a reforestation effort underway on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The group built a nursery that contains 300,000 seedlings of native trees and plans ultimately to plant 10 million trees by 2020.

Larger ambitions prompted new questions. Did the 14 billion trees already planted make any difference? Would 10 million in Mexico? Can planting keep up with the continuing deforestation around the world? No one knew. Scientists have long considered conducting a tree census, but until then, no one had done one. Enter Tom Crowther and his team at Yale.

“Felix asked the simple question: how many trees are there?” Crowther says. “Plant-for-the-Planet was certainly the inspiration for me.”

The two-year study, published in Nature in 2015, found that the Earth has 3 trillion trees—seven times the number of previous estimates. The study found that the number of trees on the planet since the dawn of agriculture 12,000 years ago has fallen by almost half—and that about 10 billion trees are lost every year. Planting a billion trees is a nice effort, but won’t make a dent.

“I thought they might be disheartened,” Crowther says. Instead, “they said, ‘Okay, now we have to scale up.’ They didn’t hesitate. They’re contacting billionaires all over the world. It is amazing.”

Scaling up means Plant-for-the-Planet now aims to plant one trillion trees. That’s 1,000 billion. Those trees could absorb an additional 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year; Finkbeiner says that will buy time for the world to get serious about reducing carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, he’ll keep giving speeches to the grownups.

“We’re going to be the victims of climate change. It is in our own self-interest to get children to act,” he says. “At the same time, I don’t think we can give up on this generation of adults and wait 20 or 30 years for our generation to come to power. We don’t have that time. All we can do is push them in the right direction.”

Related Topics

  • CLIMATE CHANGE
  • HABITAT PRESERVATION

why did felix give a speech to the united nations

To save chestnut trees, we may have to ‘play God’

why did felix give a speech to the united nations

Madagascar’s sacred trees face existential threats in a changing world

why did felix give a speech to the united nations

4 solutions for trees and forests threatened by a hotter world

why did felix give a speech to the united nations

Tree-planting projects abound. Which should you support?

why did felix give a speech to the united nations

What's the oldest tree on Earth—and will it survive climate change?

  • Environment
  • Perpetual Planet

History & Culture

  • History & Culture
  • History Magazine
  • Mind, Body, Wonder
  • Paid Content
  • Terms of Use
  • Privacy Policy
  • Your US State Privacy Rights
  • Children's Online Privacy Policy
  • Interest-Based Ads
  • About Nielsen Measurement
  • Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information
  • Nat Geo Home
  • Attend a Live Event
  • Book a Trip
  • Inspire Your Kids
  • Shop Nat Geo
  • Visit the D.C. Museum
  • Learn About Our Impact
  • Support Our Mission
  • Advertise With Us
  • Customer Service
  • Renew Subscription
  • Manage Your Subscription
  • Work at Nat Geo
  • Sign Up for Our Newsletters
  • Contribute to Protect the Planet

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society Copyright © 2015-2024 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved

Help inform the discussion

Presidential Speeches

September 25, 1961: address to the un general assembly, about this speech.

John F. Kennedy

September 25, 1961

Miller Center logo

  • Download Full Video
  • Download Audio

Mr. President, honored delegates, ladies and gentlemen:

We meet in an hour of grief and challenge. Dag Hammarskjold is dead. But the United Nations lives. His tragedy is deep in our hearts, but the task for which he died is at the top of our agenda. A noble servant of peace is gone. But the quest for peace lies before us.

The problem is not the death of one man--the problem is the life of this organization. It will either grow to meet the challenges of our age, or it will be gone with the wind, without influence, without force, without respect. Were we to let it die, to enfeeble its vigor, to cripple its powers, we would condemn our future.

For in the development of this organization rests the only true alternative to war--and war appeals no longer as a rational alternative. Unconditional war can no longer lead to unconditional victory. It can no longer serve to settle disputes. It can no longer concern the great powers alone. For a nuclear disaster, spread by wind and water and fear, could well engulf the great and the small, the rich and the poor, the committed and the uncommitted alike. Mankind must put an end to war--or war will put an end to mankind.

So let us here resolve that Dag Hammarskjold did not live, or die, in vain. Let us call a truce to terror. Let us invoke the blessings of peace. And, as we build an international capacity to keep peace, let us join in dismantling the national capacity to wage war.

This will require new strength and new roles for the United Nations. For disarmament without checks is but a shadow-and a community without law is but a shell. Already the United Nations has become both the measure and the vehicle of man's most generous impulses. Already it has provided--in the Middle East, in Asia, in Africa this year in the Congo--a means of holding man's violence within bounds.

But the great question which confronted this body in 1945 is still before us: whether man's cherished hopes for progress and peace are to be destroyed by terror and disruption, whether the "foul winds of war" can be tamed in time to free the cooling winds of reason, and whether the pledges of our Charter are to be fulfilled or defied-pledges to secure peace, progress, human rights and world law.

In this Hall, there are not three forces, but two. One is composed of those who are trying to build the kind of world described in Articles I and II of the Charter. The other, seeking a far different world, would undermine this organization in the process.

Today of all days our dedication to the Charter must be maintained. It must be strengthened first of all by the selection of an outstanding civil servant to carry forward the responsibilities of the Secretary General--a man endowed with both the wisdom and the power to make meaningful the moral force of the world community. The late Secretary General nurtured and sharpened the United Nations' obligation to act. But he did not invent it. It was there in the Charter. It is still there in the Charter.

However difficult it may be to fill Mr. Hammarskjold's place, it can better be filled by one man rather than by three. Even the three horses of the Troika did not have three drivers, all going in different directions. They had only one--and so must the United Nations executive. To install a triumvirate, or any panel, or any rotating authority, in the United Nations administrative offices would replace order with anarchy, action with paralysis, confidence with confusion.

The Secretary General, in a very real sense, is the servant of the General Assembly. Diminish his authority and you diminish the authority of the only body where all nations, regardless of power, are equal and sovereign. Until all the powerful are just, the weak will be secure only in the strength of this Assembly.

Effective and independent executive action is not the same question as balanced representation. In view of the enormous change in membership in this body since its founding, the American delegation will join in any effort for the prompt review and revision of the composition of United Nations bodies.

But to give this organization three drivers-to permit each great power to decide its own case, would entrench the Cold War in the headquarters of peace. Whatever advantages such a plan may hold out to my own country, as one of the great powers, we reject it. For we far prefer world law, in the age of self-determination, to world war, in the age of mass extermination.

Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.

Men no longer debate whether armaments are a symptom or a cause of tension. The mere existence of modern weapons--ten million times more powerful than any that the world has ever seen, and only minutes away from any target on earth--is a source of horror, and discord and distrust. Men no longer maintain that disarmament must await the settlement of all disputes--for disarmament must be a part of any permanent settlement. And men may no longer pretend that the quest for disarmament is a sign of weakness--for in a spiraling arms race, a nation's security may well be shrinking even as its arms increase.

For 15 years this organization has sought the reduction and destruction of arms. Now that goal is no longer a dream--it is a practical matter of life or death. The risks inherent in disarmament pale in comparison to the risks inherent in an unlimited arms race.

It is in this spirit that the recent Belgrade Conference--recognizing that this is no longer a Soviet problem or an American problem, but a human problem--endorsed a program of "general, complete and strictly an internationally controlled disarmament." It is in this same spirit that we in the United States have labored this year, with a new urgency, and with a new, now statutory agency fully endorsed by the Congress, to find an approach to disarmament which would be so far-reaching yet realistic, so mutually balanced and beneficial, that it could be accepted by every nation. And it is in this spirit that we have presented with the agreement of the Soviet Union--under the label both nations now accept of "general and complete disarmament"--a new statement of newly-agreed principles for negotiation.

But we are well aware that all issues of principle are not settled, and that principles alone are not enough. It is therefore our intention to challenge the Soviet Union, not to an arms race, but to a peace race--to advance together step by step, stage by stage, until general and complete disarmament has been achieved. We invite them now to go beyond agreement in principle to reach agreement on actual plans.

The program to be presented to this assembly--for general and complete disarmament under effective international control-moves to bridge the gap between those who insist on a gradual approach and those who talk only of the final and total achievement. It would create machinery to keep the peace as it destroys the machinery Of war. It would proceed through balanced and safeguarded stages designed to give no state a military advantage over another. It would place the final responsibility for verification and control where it belongs, not with the big powers alone, not with one's adversary or one's self, but in an international organization within the framework of the United Nations. It would assure that indispensable condition of disarmament-true inspection--and apply it in stages proportionate to the stage of disarmament. It would cover delivery systems as well as weapons. It would ultimately halt their production as well as their testing, 'their transfer as well as their possession. It would achieve, under the eyes of an international disarmament organization, a steady reduction in force, both nuclear and conventional, until it has abolished all armies and all weapons except those needed for internal order and a new United Nations Peace Force. And it starts that process now, today, even as the talks begin.

In short, general and complete disarmament must no longer be a slogan, used to resist the first steps. It is no longer to be a goal without means of achieving it, without means of verifying its progress, without means of keeping the peace. It is now a realistic plan, and a test--a test of those only willing to talk and a test of those willing to act.

Such a plan would not bring a world free from conflict and greed--but it would bring a world free from the terrors of mass destruction It would not usher in the era of the super state--but it would usher in an era in which no state could annihilate or be annihilated by another.

In 1945, this Nation proposed the Baruch Plan to internationalize the atom before other nations even possessed the bomb or demilitarized their troops. We proposed with our allies the Disarmament Plan of 1951 while still at war in Korea. And we make our proposals today, while building up our defenses over Berlin, not because we are inconsistent or insincere or intimidated, but because we know the rights of free men will prevail--because while we are compelled against our will to rearm, we look confidently beyond Berlin to the kind of disarmed world we all prefer.

I therefore propose, on the basis of this Plan, that disarmament negotiations resume promptly, and continue without interruption until an entire program for general and complete disarmament has not only been agreed but has been actually achieved.

The logical place to begin is a treaty assuring the end of nuclear tests of all kinds, in every environment, under workable controls. The United States and the United Kingdom have proposed such a treaty that is both reasonable, effective and ready for signature. We are still prepared to sign that treaty today.

We also proposed a mutual ban on atmospheric testing, without inspection or controls, in order to save the human race from the poison of radioactive fallout. We regret that that offer has not been accepted.

For 15 years we have sought to make the atom an instrument of peaceful growth rather than of war. But for 15 years our concessions have been matched by obstruction, our patience by intransigence. And the pleas of mankind for peace have met with disregard.

Finally, as the explosions of others beclouded the skies, my country was left with no alternative but to act in the interests of its own and the free world's security. We cannot endanger that security by refraining from testing while others improve their arsenals. Nor can we endanger it by another long, un-inspected ban on testing. For three years we accepted those risks in our open society while seeking agreement on inspection. But this year, while we were negotiating in good faith in Geneva, others were secretly preparing new experiments in destruction.

Our tests are not polluting the atmosphere. Our deterrent weapons are guarded against accidental explosion or use. Our doctors and scientists stand ready to help any nation measure and meet the hazards to health which inevitably result from the tests in the atmosphere.

But to halt the spread of these terrible weapons, to halt the contamination of the air, to halt the spiraling nuclear arms race, we remain ready to seek new avenues of agreement, our new Disarmament Program thus includes the following proposals:

--First, signing the test-ban treaty by all nations. This can be done now. Test ban negotiations need not and should not await general disarmament.

--Second, stopping the production of fissionable materials for use in weapons, and preventing their transfer to any nation now lacking in nuclear weapons.

--Third, prohibiting the transfer of control over nuclear weapons to states that do not own them.

--Fourth, keeping nuclear weapons from seeding new battlegrounds in outer space.

--Fifth, gradually destroying existing nuclear weapons and converting their materials to peaceful uses; and

--Finally, halting the unlimited testing and production of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles, and gradually destroying them as well.

To destroy arms, however, is not enough. We must create even as we destroy--creating worldwide law and law enforcement as we outlaw worldwide war and weapons. In the world we seek, the United Nations Emergency Forces which have been hastily assembled, uncertainly supplied, and inadequately financed, will never be enough.

Therefore, the United States recommends the Presidents that all member nations earmark special peace-keeping units in their armed forces-to be on call of the United Nations, to be specially trained and quickly available, and with advance provision for financial and logistic support.

In addition, the American delegation will suggest a series of steps to improve the United Nations' machinery for the peaceful settlement of disputes--for on-the-spot fact-finding, mediation and adjudication--for extending the rule of international law. For peace is not solely a matter of military or technical problems--it is primarily a problem of politics and people. And unless man can match his strides in weaponry and technology with equal strides in social and political development, our great strength, like that of the dinosaur, will become incapable of proper control--and like the dinosaur vanish from the earth.

As we extend the rule of law on earth, so must we also extend it to man's new domain--outer space.

All of us salute the brave cosmonauts of the Soviet Union. The new horizons of outer space must not be driven by the old bitter concepts of imperialism and sovereign claims. The cold reaches of the universe must not become the new arena of an even colder war.

To this end, we shall urge proposals extending the United Nations Charter to the limits of man's exploration in the universe, reserving outer space for peaceful use, prohibiting weapons of mass destruction in space or on celestial bodies, and opening the mysteries and benefits of space to every nation. We shall propose further cooperative efforts between all nations in weather prediction and eventually in weather control. We shall propose, finally, a global system of communications satellites linking the whole world in telegraph and telephone and radio and television. The day need not be fat away when such a system will televise the proceedings of this body to every corner of the world for the benefit of peace.

But the mysteries of outer space must not divert our eyes or our energies from the harsh realities that face our fellow men. Political sovereignty is but a mockery without the means of meeting poverty and literacy and disease. Self-determination is but a slogan if the future holds no hope.

That is why my Nation, which has freely shared its capital and its technology to help others help themselves, now proposes officially designating this decade of the 1960's as the United Nations Decade of Development. Under the framework of that Resolution, the United Nations' existing efforts in promoting economic growth can be expanded and coordinated. Regional surveys and training institutes can now pool the talents of many. New research, technical assistance and pilot projects can unlock the wealth of less developed lands and untapped waters. And development can become a cooperative and not a competitive enterprise-to enable all nations, however diverse in their systems and beliefs, to become in fact as well as in law free and equal nations.

My Country favors a world of free and equal states. We agree with those who say that colonialism is a key issue in this Assembly But let the full facts of that issue be discussed in full.

On the one hand is the fact that, since the close of World War II, a worldwide declaration of independence has transformed nearly 1 billion people and 9 million square miles into 42 free and independent states. Less than 2 percent of the world's population now lives in "dependent" territories.

I do not ignore the remaining problems of traditional colonialism which still confront this body. Those problems will be solved, with patience, good will, and determination. Within the limits of our responsibility in such matters, my Country intends to be a participant and not merely an observer, in the peaceful, expeditious movement of nations from the status of colonies to the partnership of equals. That continuing tide of self-determination, which runs so strong, has our sympathy and our support.

But colonialism in its harshest forms is not only the exploitation of new nations by old, of dark skins by light, or the subjugation of the poor by the rich. My Nation was once a colony, and we know what colonialism means; the exploitation and subjugation of the weak by the powerful, of the many by the few, of the governed who have given no consent to be governed, whatever their continent, their class, or their color.

And that is why there is no ignoring the fact that the tide of self-determination has not reached the Communist empire where a population far larger than that officially termed "dependent" lives under governments installed by foreign troops instead of free institutions--under a system which knows only one party and one belief--which suppresses free debate, and free elections, and free newspapers, and free books and free trade unions--and which builds a wall to keep truth a stranger and its own citizens prisoners. Let us debate colonialism in full--and apply the principle of free choice and the practice of free plebiscites in every corner of the globe.

Finally, as President of the United States, I consider it my duty to report to this Assembly on two threats to the peace which are not on your crowded agenda, but which causes us, and most of you, the deepest concern.

The first threat on which I wish to report is widely misunderstood: the smoldering coals of war in Southeast Asia. South Viet-Nam is already under attack--sometimes by a single assassin, sometimes by a band of guerrillas, recently by full battalions. The peaceful borders of Burma, Cambodia, and India have been repeatedly violated. And the peaceful people of Laos are in danger of losing the independence they gained not so long ago.

No one can call these "wars of liberation." For these are free countries living under their own governments. Nor are these aggressions any less real because men are knifed in their homes and not shot in the fields of battle.

The very simple question confronting the world community is whether measures can be devised to protect the small and the weak from such tactics. For if they are successful in Laos and South Viet-Nam, the gates will be opened wide.

The United States seeks for itself no base, no territory, no special position in this area of any kind. We support a truly neutral and independent Laos, its people free from outside interference, living at peace with themselves and with their neighbors, assured that their territory will not be used for attacks on others, and under a government comparable (as Mr. Khrushchev and I agreed at Vienna) to Cambodia and Burma.

But now the negotiations over Laos are reaching a crucial stage. The cease-fire is at best precarious. The rainy season is coming to an end. Laotian territory is being used to infiltrate South Viet-Nam. The world community must recognize--and all those who are involved--that this potent threat to Laotian peace and freedom is indivisible from all other threats to their own.

Secondly, I wish to report to you on the crisis over Germany and Berlin. This is not the time or the place for immoderate tones, but the world community is entitled to know the very simple issues as we see them. If there is a crisis' it is because an existing peace is under threat, because an existing island of free people is under pressure, because solemn agreements are being treated with indifference. Established international rights are being threatened with unilateral usurpation. Peaceful circulation has been interrupted by barbed wire and concrete blocks.

One recalls the order of the Czar in Pushkin's "Boris Godunov": "Take steps at this very hour that our frontiers be fenced in by barriers .... That not a single soul pass o'er the border, that not a hare be able to run or a crow to fly."

It is absurd to allege that we are threatening a war merely to prevent the Soviet Union and East Germany from signing a so-called "treaty" of peace. The Western Allies are not concerned with any paper arrangement the Soviets may wish to make with a regime of their own creation, on territory occupied by their own troops and governed by their own agents. No such action can affect either our rights or our responsibilities.

If there is a dangerous crisis in Berlin-and there is--it is because of threats against the vital interests and the deep commitments of the Western Powers, and the freedom of West Berlin. We cannot yield these interests. We cannot fail these commitments. We cannot surrender the freedom of these people for whom we are responsible. A "peace treaty" which carried with it the provisions which destroy the peace would be a fraud. A "free city" which was not genuinely free would suffocate freedom and would be an infamy.

For a city or a people to be truly free, they must have the secure right, without economic, political or police pressure, to make their own choice and to live their own lives. And as I have said before, if anyone doubts the extent to which our presence is desired by the people of West Berlin, we are ready to have that question submitted to a free vote in all Berlin and, if possible, among all the German people.

The elementary fact about this crisis is that it is unnecessary. The elementary tools for a peaceful settlement are to be found in the charter. Under its law, agreements are to be kept, unless changed by all those who made them. Established rights are to be respected. The political disposition of peoples should rest upon their own wishes, freely expressed in plebiscites or free elections. If there are legal problems, they can be solved by legal means. If there is a threat of force, it must be rejected. If there is desire for change, it must be a subject for negotiation and if there is negotiation, it must be rooted in mutual respect and concern for the rights of others.

The Western Powers have calmly resolved to defend, by whatever means are forced upon them, their obligations and their access to the free citizens of West Berlin and the self-determination of those citizens. This generation learned from bitter experience that either brandishing or yielding to threats can only lead to war. But firmness and reason can lead to the kind of peaceful solution in which my country profoundly believes.

We are committed to no rigid formula. We see no perfect solution. We recognize that troops and tanks can, for a time, keep a nation divided against its will, however unwise that policy may seem to us. But we believe a peaceful agreement is possible which protects the freedom of West Berlin and allied presence and access, while recognizing the historic and legitimate interests of others in assuring European security.

The possibilities of negotiation are now being explored; it is too early to report what the prospects may be. For our part, we would be glad to report at the appropriate time that a solution has been found. For there is no need for a crisis over Berlin, threatening the peace--and if those who created this crisis desire peace, there will be peace and freedom in Berlin.

The events and decisions of the next ten months may well decide the fate of man for the next ten thousand years. There will be no avoiding those events. There will be no appeal from these decisions. And we in this hall shall be remembered either as part of the generation that turned this planet into a flaming funeral pyre or the generation that met its vow "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war."

In the endeavor to meet that vow, I pledge you every effort this Nation possesses. I pledge you that we shall neither commit nor provoke aggression, that we shall neither flee nor invoke the threat of force, that we shall never negotiate out of fear, we shall never fear to negotiate.

Terror is not a new weapon. Throughout history it has been used by those who could not prevail, either by persuasion or example. But inevitably they fail, either because men are not afraid to die for a life worth living, or because the terrorists themselves came to realize that free men cannot be frightened by threats, and that aggression would meet its own response. And it is in the light of that history that every nation today should know, be he friend or foe, that the United States has both the will and the weapons to join free men in standing up to their responsibilities.

But I come here today to look across this world of threats to a world of peace. In that search we cannot expect any final triumph-for new problems will always arise. We cannot expect that all nations will adopt like systems--for conformity is the jailer of freedom, and the enemy of growth. Nor can we expect to reach our goal by contrivance, by fiat or even by the wishes of all. But however close we sometimes seem to that dark and final abyss, let no man of peace and freedom despair. For he does not stand alone. If we all can persevere, if we can in every land and office look beyond our own shores and ambitions, then surely the age will dawn in which the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

Ladies and gentlemen of this Assembly, the decision is ours. Never have the nations of the world had so much to lose, or so much to gain. Together we shall save our planet, or together we shall perish in its flames. Save it we can--and save it we must--and then shall we earn the eternal thanks of mankind and, as peacemakers, the eternal blessing of God. 

More John F. Kennedy speeches

Larisa Epatko

Larisa Epatko Larisa Epatko

Leave your feedback

  • Copy URL https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/full-text-pope-francis-speech-united-nations

Full text of Pope Francis’ speech to United Nations

Pope Francis’ address to the United Nations on Friday as prepared for delivery and translated by the Vatican:

Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for your kind words. Once again, following a tradition by which I feel honored, the Secretary General of the United Nations has invited the Pope to address this distinguished assembly of nations. In my own name, and that of the entire Catholic community, I wish to express to you, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, my heartfelt gratitude.

I greet the Heads of State and Heads of Government present, as well as the ambassadors, diplomats and political and technical officials accompanying them, the personnel of the United Nations engaged in this 70th Session of the General Assembly, the personnel of the various programs and agencies of the United Nations family, and all those who, in one way or another, take part in this meeting. Through you, I also greet the citizens of all the nations represented in this hall. I thank you, each and all, for your efforts in the service of mankind.

This is the fifth time that a Pope has visited the United Nations. I follow in the footsteps of my predecessors Paul VI, in1965, John Paul II, in 1979 and 1995, and my most recent predecessor, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in 2008. All of them expressed their great esteem for the Organization, which they considered the appropriate juridical and political response to this present moment of history, marked by our technical ability to overcome distances and frontiers and, apparently, to overcome all natural limits to the exercise of power. An essential response, inasmuch as technological power, in the hands of nationalistic or falsely universalist ideologies, is capable of perpetrating tremendous atrocities. I can only reiterate the appreciation expressed by my predecessors, in reaffirming the importance which the Catholic Church attaches to this Institution and the hope which she places in its activities.

For this reason I pay homage to all those men and women whose loyalty and self-sacrifice have benefitted humanity as a whole in these past seventy years. In particular, I would recall today those who gave their lives for peace and reconciliation among peoples, from Dag Hammarskjöld to the many United Nations officials at every level who have been killed in the course of humanitarian missions, and missions of peace and reconciliation.

Beyond these achievements, the experience of the past 70 years has made it clear that reform and adaptation to the times is always necessary in the pursuit of the ultimate goal of granting all countries, without exception, a share in, and a genuine and equitable influence on, decision-making processes. The need for greater equity is especially true in the case of those bodies with effective executive capability, such as the Security Council, the Financial Agencies and the groups or mechanisms specifically created to deal with economic crises. This will help limit every kind of abuse or usury, especially where developing countries are concerned. The International Financial Agencies are should care for the sustainable development of countries and should ensure that they are not subjected to oppressive lending systems which, far from promoting progress, subject people to mechanisms which generate greater poverty, exclusion and dependence.

Pope Francis addresses a plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 at United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York, Sept. 25. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

Pope Francis addresses a plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 at United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York, Sept. 25. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

The work of the United Nations, according to the principles set forth in the Preamble and the first Articles of its founding Charter, can be seen as the development and promotion of the rule of law, based on the realization that justice is an essential condition for achieving the ideal of universal fraternity. In this context, it is helpful to recall that the limitation of power is an idea implicit in the concept of law itself. To give to each his own, to cite the classic definition of justice, means that no human individual or group can consider itself absolute, permitted to bypass the dignity and the rights of other individuals or their social groupings.

The effective distribution of power (political, economic, defense-related, technological, etc.) among a plurality of subjects, and the creation of a juridical system for regulating claims and interests, are one concrete way of limiting power. Yet today’s world presents us with many false rights and – at the same time – broad sectors which are vulnerable, victims of power badly exercised: for example, the natural environment and the vast ranks of the excluded. These sectors are closely interconnected and made increasingly fragile by dominant political and economic relationships.

That is why their rights must be forcefully affirmed, by working to protect the environment and by putting an end to exclusion.

Second, because every creature, particularly a living creature, has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures. We Christians, together with the other monotheistic religions, believe that the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the Creator; he is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it. In all religions, the environment is a fundamental good (cf. ibid.).

The misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion. In effect, a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged, either because they are differently abled (handicapped), or because they lack adequate information and technical expertise, or are incapable of decisive political action. Economic and social exclusion is a complete denial of human fraternity and a grave offense against human rights and the environment. The poorest are those who suffer most from such offenses, for three serious reasons: they are cast off by society, forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment. They are part of today’s widespread and quietly growing “culture of waste”.

The dramatic reality this whole situation of exclusion and inequality, with its evident effects, has led me, in union with the entire Christian people and many others, to take stock of my grave responsibility in this regard and to speak out, together with all those who are seeking urgently-needed and effective solutions. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the World Summit, which opens today, is an important sign of hope. I am similarly confident that the Paris Conference on Climatic Change will secure fundamental and effective agreements.

The number and complexity of the problems require that we possess technical instruments of verification. But this involves two risks. We can rest content with the bureaucratic exercise of drawing up long lists of good proposals – goals, objectives and statistical indicators – or we can think that a single theoretical and aprioristic solution will provide an answer to all the challenges. It must never be forgotten that political and economic activity is only effective when it is understood as a prudential activity, guided by a perennial concept of justice and constantly conscious of the fact that, above and beyond our plans and programs, we are dealing with real men and women who live, struggle and suffer, and are often forced to live in great poverty, deprived of all rights.

To enable these real men and women to escape from extreme poverty, we must allow them to be dignified agents of their own destiny. Integral human development and the full exercise of human dignity cannot be imposed. They must be built up and allowed to unfold for each individual, for every family, in communion with others, and in a right relationship with all those areas in which human social life develops – friends, communities, towns and cities, schools, businesses and unions, provinces, nations, etc. This presupposes and requires the right to education – also for girls (excluded in certain places) – which is ensured first and foremost by respecting and reinforcing the primary right of the family to educate its children, as well as the right of churches and social groups to support and assist families in the education of their children. Education conceived in this way is the basis for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and for reclaiming the environment.

At the same time, government leaders must do everything possible to ensure that all can have the minimum spiritual and material means needed to live in dignity and to create and support a family, which is the primary cell of any social development. In practical terms, this absolute minimum has three names: lodging, labor, and land; and one spiritual name: spiritual freedom, which includes religious freedom, the right to education and other civil rights.

For all this, the simplest and best measure and indicator of the implementation of the new agenda for development will be effective, practical and immediate access, on the part of all, to essential material and spiritual goods: housing, dignified and properly remunerated employment, adequate food and drinking water; religious freedom and, more generally, spiritual freedom and education. These pillars of integral human development have a common foundation, which is the right to life and, more generally, what we could call the right to existence of human nature itself.

The ecological crisis, and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species. The baneful consequences of an irresponsible mismanagement of the global economy, guided only by ambition for wealth and power, must serve as a summons to a forthright reflection on man: “man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Bundestag, 22 September 2011, cited in Laudato Si’, 6). Creation is compromised “where we ourselves have the final word… The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any instance above ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves” (ID. Address to the Clergy of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone, 6 August 2008, cited ibid.). Consequently, the defense of the environment and the fight against exclusion demand that we recognize a moral law written into human nature itself, one which includes the natural difference between man and woman (cf. Laudato Si’, 155), and absolute respect for life in all its stages and dimensions (cf. ibid., 123, 136).

Without the recognition of certain incontestable natural ethical limits and without the immediate implementation of those pillars of integral human development, the ideal of “saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war” (Charter of the United Nations, Preamble), and “promoting social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom” (ibid.), risks becoming an unattainable illusion, or, even worse, idle chatter which serves as a cover for all kinds of abuse and corruption, or for carrying out an ideological colonization by the imposition of anomalous models and lifestyles which are alien to people’s identity and, in the end, irresponsible.

War is the negation of all rights and a dramatic assault on the environment. If we want true integral human development for all, we must work tirelessly to avoid war between nations and between peoples.

Pope Francis arrives for a plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 at United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York, Sept. 25. More than 150 world leaders are expected to attend the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit from Sept. 25-27 at the United Nations to formally adopt a new sustainable development agenda. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

More than 150 world leaders are expected to attend the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit from Sept. 25-27 at the United Nations to formally adopt a new sustainable development agenda. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

To this end, there is a need to ensure the uncontested rule of law and tireless recourse to negotiation, mediation and arbitration, as proposed by the Charter of the United Nations, which constitutes truly a fundamental juridical norm. The experience of these seventy years since the founding of the United Nations in general, and in particular the experience of these first fifteen years of the third millennium, reveal both the effectiveness of the full application of international norms and the ineffectiveness of their lack of enforcement.

When the Charter of the United Nations is respected and applied with transparency and sincerity, and without ulterior motives, as an obligatory reference point of justice and not as a means of masking spurious intentions, peaceful results will be obtained. When, on the other hand, the norm is considered simply as an instrument to be used whenever it proves favorable, and to be avoided when it is not, a true Pandora’s box is opened, releasing uncontrollable forces which gravely harm defenseless populations, the cultural milieu and even the biological environment.

The recent agreement reached on the nuclear question in a sensitive region of Asia and the Middle East is proof of the potential of political good will and of law, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy. I express my hope that this agreement will be lasting and efficacious, and bring forth the desired fruits with the cooperation of all the parties involved.

In this sense, hard evidence is not lacking of the negative effects of military and political interventions which are not coordinated between members of the international community. For this reason, while regretting to have to do so, I must renew my repeated appeals regarding to the painful situation of the entire Middle East, North Africa and other African countries, where Christians, together with other cultural or ethnic groups, and even members of the majority religion who have no desire to be caught up in hatred and folly, have been forced to witness the destruction of their places of worship, their cultural and religious heritage, their houses and property, and have faced the alternative either of fleeing or of paying for their adhesion to good and to peace by their own lives, or by enslavement.

These realities should serve as a grave summons to an examination of conscience on the part of those charged with the conduct of international affairs. Not only in cases of religious or cultural persecution, but in every situation of conflict, as in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan and the Great Lakes region, real human beings take precedence over partisan interests, however legitimate the latter may be. In wars and conflicts there are individual persons, our brothers and sisters, men and women, young and old, boys and girls who weep, suffer and die. Human beings who are easily discarded when our only response is to draw up lists of problems, strategies and disagreements.

As I wrote in my letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 9 August 2014, “the most basic understanding of human dignity compels the international community, particularly through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities” and to protect innocent peoples.

Along the same lines I would mention another kind of conflict which is not always so open, yet is silently killing millions of people. Another kind of war experienced by many of our societies as a result of the narcotics trade. A war which is taken for granted and poorly fought. Drug trafficking is by its very nature accompanied by trafficking in persons, money laundering, the arms trade, child exploitation and other forms of corruption. A corruption which has penetrated to different levels of social, political, military, artistic and religious life, and, in many cases, has given rise to a parallel structure which threatens the credibility of our institutions.

I began this speech recalling the visits of my predecessors. I would hope that my words will be taken above all as a continuation of the final words of the address of Pope Paul VI; although spoken almost exactly fifty years ago, they remain ever timely. “The hour has come when a pause, a moment of recollection, reflection, even of prayer, is absolutely needed so that we may think back over our common origin, our history, our common destiny. The appeal to the moral conscience of man has never been as necessary as it is today… For the danger comes neither from progress nor from science; if these are used well, they can help to solve a great number of the serious problems besetting mankind (Address to the United Nations Organization, 4 October 1965). Among other things, human genius, well applied, will surely help to meet the grave challenges of ecological deterioration and of exclusion. As Paul VI said: “The real danger comes from man, who has at his disposal ever more powerful instruments that are as well fitted to bring about ruin as they are to achieve lofty conquests” (ibid.).

Such understanding and respect call for a higher degree of wisdom, one which accepts transcendence, rejects the creation of an all-powerful élite, and recognizes that the full meaning of individual and collective life is found in selfless service to others and in the sage and respectful use of creation for the common good. To repeat the words of Paul VI, “the edifice of modern civilization has to be built on spiritual principles, for they are the only ones capable not only of supporting it, but of shedding light on it” (ibid.).

El Gaucho Martín Fierro, a classic of literature in my native land, says: “Brothers should stand by each other, because this is the first law; keep a true bond between you always, at every time – because if you fight among yourselves, you’ll be devoured by those outside”.

The contemporary world, so apparently connected, is experiencing a growing and steady social fragmentation, which places at risk “the foundations of social life” and consequently leads to “battles over conflicting interests” (Laudato Si’, 229).

The present time invites us to give priority to actions which generate new processes in society, so as to bear fruit in significant and positive historical events (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 223). We cannot permit ourselves to postpone “certain agendas” for the future. The future demands of us critical and global decisions in the face of worldwide conflicts which increase the number of the excluded and those in need.

The praiseworthy international juridical framework of the United Nations Organization and of all its activities, like any other human endeavor, can be improved, yet it remains necessary; at the same time it can be the pledge of a secure and happy future for future generations. And so it will, if the representatives of the States can set aside partisan and ideological interests, and sincerely strive to serve the common good. I pray to Almighty God that this will be the case, and I assure you of my support and my prayers, and the support and prayers of all the faithful of the Catholic Church, that this Institution, all its member States, and each of its officials, will always render an effective service to mankind, a service respectful of diversity and capable of bringing out, for sake of the common good, the best in each people and in every individual.

Upon all of you, and the peoples you represent, I invoke the blessing of the Most High, and all peace and prosperity. Thank you.

Larisa Epatko produced multimedia web features and broadcast reports with a focus on foreign affairs for the PBS NewsHour. She has reported in places such as Jordan , Pakistan , Iraq , Haiti , Sudan , Western Sahara , Guantanamo Bay , China , Vietnam , South Korea , Turkey , Germany and Ireland .

Support Provided By: Learn more

Educate your inbox

Subscribe to Here’s the Deal, our politics newsletter for analysis you won’t find anywhere else.

Thank you. Please check your inbox to confirm.

why did felix give a speech to the united nations

  • Skip to global NPS navigation
  • Skip to this park navigation
  • Skip to the main content
  • Skip to this park information section
  • Skip to the footer section

why did felix give a speech to the united nations

Exiting nps.gov

Alerts in effect, eleanor roosevelt and the universal declaration of human rights.

Last updated: June 25, 2020

Park footer

Contact info, mailing address:.

4097 Albany Post Road Hyde Park, NY 12538

845-229-9422 For Information about the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites.

Stay Connected

Haile Selassie's address to the United Nations, 1963

Spoken to the United Nations General Assembly on October 4, 1963. This speech is typically credited as the inspiration for Bob Marley 's hit song " War ". The translation is that provided by the United Nations, running concurrent with his speech.

Twenty-seven years ago, as Emperor of Ethiopia, I mounted the rostrum in Geneva, Switzerland, to address the League of Nations and to appeal for relief from the destruction which had been unleashed against my defenseless nation, by the Fascist invader. I spoke then both to and for the conscience of the world. My words went unheeded, but history testifies to the accuracy of the warning that I gave in 1936.

Today, I stand before the world organization which has succeeded to the mantle discarded by its discredited predecessor. In this body is enshrined the principle of collective security which I unsuccessfully invoked at Geneva. Here, in this Assembly, reposes the best - perhaps the last - hope for the peaceful survival of mankind.

In 1936, I declared that it was not the Covenant of the League that was at stake, but international morality. Undertakings, I said then, are of little worth if the will to keep them is lacking. The Charter of the United Nations expresses the noblest aspirations of man: abjuration of force in the settlement of disputes between states; the assurance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion; the safeguarding of international peace and security.

But these, too, as were the phrases of the Covenant, are only words; their value depends wholly on our will to observe and honor them and give them content and meaning. The preservation of peace and the guaranteeing of man's basic freedoms and rights require courage and eternal vigilance: courage to speak and act - and if necessary, to suffer and die - for truth and justice; eternal vigilance, that the least transgression of international morality shall not go undetected and unremedied. These lessons must be learned anew by each succeeding generation, and that generation is fortunate indeed which learns from other than its own bitter experience. This Organization and each of its members bear a crushing and awesome responsibility: to absorb the wisdom of history and to apply it to the problems of the present, in order that future generations may be born, and live, and die, in peace.

The record of the United Nations during the few short years of its life affords mankind a solid basis for encouragement and hope for the future. The United Nations has dared to act, when the League dared not in Palestine, in Korea, in Suez, in the Congo. There is not one among us today who does not conjecture upon the reaction of this body when motives and actions are called into question. The opinion of this Organization today acts as a powerful influence upon the decisions of its members. The spotlight of world opinion, focused by the United Nations upon the transgressions of the renegades of human society, has thus far proved an effective safeguard against unchecked aggression and unrestricted violation of human rights.

The United Nations continues to serve as the forum where nations whose interests clash may lay their cases before world opinion. It still provides the essential escape valve without which the slow build-up of pressures would have long since resulted in catastrophic explosion. Its actions and decisions have speeded the achievement of freedom by many peoples on the continents of Africa and Asia. Its efforts have contributed to the advancement of the standard of living of peoples in all corners of the world.

For this, all men must give thanks. As I stand here today, how faint, how remote are the memories of 1936. How different in 1963 are the attitudes of men. We then existed in an atmosphere of suffocating pessimism. Today, cautious yet buoyant optimism is the prevailing spirit.

But each one of us here knows that what has been accomplished is not enough. The United Nations judgments have been and continue to be subject to frustration, as individual member-states have ignored its pronouncements and disregarded its recommendations. The Organization's sinews have been weakened, as member-states have shirked their obligations to it. The authority of the Organization has been mocked, as individual member-states have proceeded, in violation of its commands, to pursue their own aims and ends. The troubles which continue to plague us virtually all arise among member states of the Organization, but the Organization remains impotent to enforce acceptable solutions. As the maker and enforcer of the international law, what the United Nations has achieved still falls regrettably short of our goal of an international community of nations.

This does not mean that the United Nations has failed. I have lived too long to cherish many illusions about the essential high mindedness of men when brought into stark confrontation with the issue of control over their security, and their property interests. Not even now, when so much is at hazard would many nations willingly entrust their destinies to other hands.

Yet, this is the ultimatum presented to us: secure the conditions whereby men will entrust their security to a larger entity, or risk annihilation; persuade men that their salvation rests in the subordination of national and local interests to the interests of humanity, or endanger man's future. These are the objectives, yesterday unobtainable, today essential, which we must labor to achieve.

Until this is accomplished, mankind's future remains hazardous and permanent peace a matter for speculation. There is no single magic formula, no one simple step, no words, whether written into the Organization's Charter or into a treaty between states, which can automatically guarantee to us what we seek. Peace is a day-to-day problem, the product of a multitude of events and judgements. Peace is not an "is", it is a "becoming." We cannot escape the dreadful possibility of catastrophe by miscalculation.

But we can reach the right decisions on the myriad subordinate problems which each new day poses, and we can thereby make our contribution and perhaps the most that can be reasonably expected of us in 1963 to the preservation of peace. It is here that the United Nations has served us - not perfectly, but well. And in enhancing the possibilities that the Organization may serve us better, we serve and bring closer our most cherished goals.

I would mention briefly today two particular issues which are of deep concern to all men: disarmament and the establishment of true equality among men. Disarmament has become the urgent imperative of our time. I do not say this because I equate the absence of arms to peace, or because I believe that bringing an end to the nuclear arms race automatically guarantees the peace, or because the elimination of nuclear warheads from the arsenals of the world will bring in its wake that change in attitude requisite to the peaceful settlement of disputes between nations. Disarmament is vital today, quite simply, because of the immense destructive capacity of which men dispose.

Ethiopia supports the atmospheric nuclear test ban treaty as a step towards this goal, even though only a partial step. Nations can still perfect weapons of mass destruction by underground testing. There is no guarantee against the sudden, unannounced resumption of testing in the atmosphere.

The real significance of the treaty is that it admits of a tacit stalemate between the nations which negotiated it, a stalemate which recognizes the blunt, unavoidable fact that none would emerge from the total destruction which would be the lot of all in a nuclear war, a stalemate which affords us and the United Nations a breathing space in which to act.

Here is our opportunity and our challenge. If the nuclear powers are prepared to declare a truce, let us seize the moment to strengthen the institutions and procedures which will serve as the means for the pacific settlement of disputes among men. Conflicts between nations will continue to arise. The real issue is whether they are to be resolved by force, or by resort to peaceful methods and procedures, administered by impartial institutions. This very Organization itself is the greatest such institution, and it is in a more powerful United Nations that we seek, and it is here that we shall find, the assurance of a peaceful future.

Were a real and effective disarmament achieved and the funds now spent in the arms race devoted to the amelioration of man's state; were we to concentrate only on the peaceful uses of nuclear knowledge, how vastly and in how short a time might we change the conditions of mankind. This should be our goal.

When we talk of the equality of man, we find, also, a challenge and an opportunity; a challenge to breathe new life into the ideals enshrined in the Charter, an opportunity to bring men closer to freedom and true equality. and thus, closer to a love of peace.

The goal of the equality of man which we seek is the antithesis of the exploitation of one people by another with which the pages of history and in particular those written of the African and Asian continents, speak at such length. Exploitation, thus viewed, has many faces. But whatever guise it assumes, this evil is to be shunned where it does not exist and crushed where it does. It is the sacred duty of this Organization to ensure that the dream of equality is finally realized for all men to whom it is still denied, to guarantee that exploitation is not reincarnated in other forms in places whence it has already been banished.

As a free Africa has emerged during the past decade, a fresh attack has been launched against exploitation, wherever it still exists. And in that interaction so common to history, this in turn, has stimulated and encouraged the remaining dependent peoples to renewed efforts to throw off the yoke which has oppressed them and its claim as their birthright the twin ideals of liberty and equality. This very struggle is a struggle to establish peace, and until victory is assured, that brotherhood and understanding which nourish and give life to peace can be but partial and incomplete.

In the United States of America, the administration of President Kennedy is leading a vigorous attack to eradicate the remaining vestige of racial discrimination from this country. We know that this conflict will be won and that right will triumph. In this time of trial, these efforts should be encouraged and assisted, and we should lend our sympathy and support to the American Government today.

Last May, in Addis Ababa, I convened a meeting of Heads of African States and Governments. In three days, the thirty-two nations represented at that Conference demonstrated to the world that when the will and the determination exist, nations and peoples of diverse backgrounds can and will work together. in unity, to the achievement of common goals and the assurance of that equality and brotherhood which we desire.

On the question of racial discrimination, the Addis Ababa Conference taught, to those who will learn, this further lesson :

that until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned;

that until there are no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation;

that until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes;

that until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race;

that until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained.

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed;

until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will;

until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven;

until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil.

The United Nations has done much, both directly and indirectly to speed the disappearance of discrimination and oppression from the earth. Without the opportunity to focus world opinion on Africa and Asia which this Organization provides, the goal, for many, might still lie ahead, and the struggle would have taken far longer. For this, we are truly grateful.

But more can be done. The basis of racial discrimination and colonialism has been economic, and it is with economic weapons that these evils have been and can be overcome. In pursuance of resolutions adopted at the Addis Ababa Summit Conference, African States have undertaken certain measures in the economic field which, if adopted by all member states of the United Nations, would soon reduce intransigence to reason. I ask, today, for adherence to these measures by every nation represented here which is truly devoted to the principles enunciated in the Charter.

I do not believe that Portugal and South Africa are prepared to commit economic or physical suicide if honorable and reasonable alternatives exist. I believe that such alternatives can be found. But I also know that unless peaceful solutions are devised, counsels of moderation and temperance will avail for naught; and another blow will have been dealt to this Organization which will hamper and weaken still further its usefulness in the struggle to ensure the victory of peace and liberty over the forces of strife and oppression. Here, then, is the opportunity presented to us. We must act while we can, while the occasion exists to exert those legitimate pressures available to us, lest time run out and resort be had to less happy means.

Does this Organization today possess the authority and the will to act? And if it does not, are we prepared to clothe it with the power to create and enforce the rule of law? Or is the Charter a mere collection of words, without content and substance, because the essential spirit is lacking? The time in which to ponder these questions is all too short. The pages of history are full of instances in which the unwanted and the shunned nonetheless occurred because men waited to act until too late. We can brook no such delay.

If we are to survive, this Organization must survive. To survive, it must be strengthened. Its executive must be vested with great authority. The means for the enforcement of its decisions must be fortified, and, if they do not exist, they must be devised. Procedures must be established to protect the small and the weak when threatened by the strong and the mighty. All nations which fulfill the conditions of membership must be admitted and allowed to sit in this assemblage.

Equality of representation must be assured in each of its organs. The possibilities which exist in the United Nations to provide the medium whereby the hungry may be fed, the naked clothed, the ignorant instructed, must be seized on and exploited for the flower of peace is not sustained by poverty and want.

To achieve this requires courage and confidence. The courage, I believe, we possess. The confidence must be created, and to create confidence we must act courageously.

The great nations of the world would do well to remember that in the modern age even their own fates are not wholly in their hands. Peace demands the united efforts of us all. Who can foresee what spark might ignite the fuse? It is not only the small and the weak who must scrupulously observe their obligations to the United Nations and to each other. Unless the smaller nations are accorded their proper voice in the settlement of the world's problems, unless the equality which Africa and Asia have struggled to attain is reflected in expanded membership in the institutions which make up the United Nations, confidence will come just that much harder. Unless the rights of the least of men are as assiduously protected as those of the greatest, the seeds of confidence will fall on barren soil.

The stake of each one of us is identical - life or death. We all wish to live. We all seek a world in which men are freed of the burdens of ignorance, poverty, hunger and disease. And we shall all be hard-pressed to escape the deadly rain of nuclear fall-out should catastrophe overtake us.

When I spoke at Geneva in 1936, there was no precedent for a head of state addressing the League of Nations. I am neither the first, nor will I be the last head of state to address the United Nations, but only I have addressed both the League and this Organization in this capacity.

The problems which confront us today are, equally, unprecedented. They have no counterparts in human experience. Men search the pages of history for solutions, for precedents, but there are none.

This, then, is the ultimate challenge. Where are we to look for our survival, for the answers to the questions which have never before been posed?

We must look, first, to Almighty God, Who has raised man above the animals and endowed him with intelligence and reason. We must put our faith in Him, that He will not desert us or permit us to destroy humanity which He created in His image.

And we must look into ourselves, into the depth of our souls. We must become something we have never been and for which our education and experience and environment have ill-prepared us. We must become bigger than we have been: more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community.

why did felix give a speech to the united nations

  • PD-Ethiopia
  • United Nations

Navigation menu

Soldado de las Ideas

Search form, speeches and statements, speech made by commander-in-chief fidel castro ruz at the un headquarters, us, on september 26, 1960, date: .

Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished Delegates,

Although it is said I make long speeches, there is no reason for you to worry. I shall do my best to be brief and state what we see as our duty to say here. I shall also speak slowly to help the interpreters.

Maybe some think we are very angry at the treatment given to the Cuban delegation. We are not. We do understand the reasons why things happen. That is why we are not angry and nobody should worry that Cuba will not make also its modest contribution in the effort to have understanding in the world.

But, yes, we shall speak in clear terms.

It is expensive to send a delegation to the United Nations. We underveloped countries do not have a lot of money to spend, except for speaking clearly at this gathering of the representatives of nearly all the countries of the world.

Previous speakers have expressed here their concern over problemss affecting the whole world. We are concerned over those problems, but also, in the case of Cuba, there is a particular circumstance, and it is that now Cuba should be a reason for concern to the world because, as rightly stated by different delegates, the Cuba problem is among the current issues in today´s world. Besides the issues worrying everybody today, there are problems Cuba and our people are worried about.

There is talk of a universal desire for peace, which is the desire of all peoples and thus also the desire of our people. But such peace the world wants to preserve is the peace we Cubans have not had for a long time now. The perils other peoples of the world may see as more or less distant are problems and concerns that are very present for us. And it has not been easy to come to this Aseembly to explain Cuba´s problems. It has not been easy for us to come here.

I do not know whether we are privileged. Are we, the Cuban delegation, the representatives of the worst type of government in the world? ¿Do we, the representatives of the Cuban delegation, deserve to be mistreated as we have been? ¿And why precisely our delegation? Cuba has sent many delegations to the United Nations; Cuba has been represented by many persons and, yet, it was us to whom exceptional measures were applied, including confinement to the island of Manhattan, an instruction to all hotels that no room was to be rented to us, hostility and, under the pretext of security, isolation.

Perhaps none of you, distinguished representatives ... you, who are not representing anybody personally but your respective countries and thus are concerned over things which happen to each of you due to what each of you represents upon arriving at this City of New York, has endured such a personally and physically humiliating treatment as the one endured by the head of the Cuban delegation.

I am not rocking the boat here in this Assembly. I am just stating facts. It was about time also we had the opportunity to speak. For many days, there has been talk and newspaper coverage about us and we have remained silent. We cannot defend ourselves from attacks here, in this country. This is our chance to tell the truth and we shall tell it.

Humiliating personal treatment, extortion attempts, eviction from the hotel where we were staying and, after going to another hotel, we have done everything possible to avoid problems and have refrained from going out at all, gone to no other place but to a few sessions of this UN Assembly and only accepted to attend a reception at the embassy of the Soviet government. But this was not enough for us to be left alone.

There were many Cuban immigrants here, in this country. In the last 20 years, over 100 000 Cubans have come to this country from their homeland, where they would have wanted to stay for good and to which they are hoping to return, as always do those who due to social or economic reasons have been forced to leave their homes. That Cuban community worked here and abode and they continue to abide by the law and, naturally, had good feelings for their country and for the Revolution. They never had any problems. But, one day, other type of visitors began arriving in this country: War criminals began arriving; individuals who, in some cases, had murdered hundreds of our fellow Cubans, began arriving. Soon, they were encouraged by publicity here, they were encouraged by the authorities here and, of course, such encouragement results in their behavior and they have provoked frequent incidents with the Cuban community, who had been working honestly in this country for so many years.

One of such incidents, provoked by those who feel supported by systematic anti-Cuban propaganda here and the complicity of the authorities, led to the death of a girl. It was a regrettable ocurrence and everybody should regret it. The culprits were in no way Cubans residing here. The culprits were, in no way at all, ourselves, the members of the Cuban delegation and, still, you all should have seen those newspaper reports saying that “pro-Castro groups” had killed a 10-year-old girl. And with that characteristic hypocricy of those having to do with relations between Cuba and

this country, a White House spokesman readily made statements to everybody about the incident and almost, almost, blamed the Cuban delegation. And, of course, His Excellency the US delegate to the United Nations would promptly join the farse by sending to the Venezuelan government a message of condolences for the victim´s relatives, as if he felt obliged to give explanations from the United Nations about something on which, virtually, the Cuban delegation was to be blamed.

But that was not all. After we were forced to leave a hotel in this city and went to the UN Headquarters, while other efforts to find accommodation were being made, one hotel, a modest hotel in this city, a black Harlem hotel, offered accommodation to us. That answer came as we were talking to His Excellency the General Secretary. But a State Department official did everything possible to prevent us from staying in that hotel. Then, as if by work of magic, there were available hotels in New York. And it included hotels that had previously refused to accommodate the Cuban delegation which were now offering to receive us, even for free. But we, as a matter of elementary reciprocity, accepted to go to the Harlem hotel. We thought we had the right to expect to be left alone. But, no, we were not.

After we moved to Harlem, and as we could be stopped from staying there, slanderous campaigns started. They began spreading around the world the news that the Cuban delegation had gone to stay in a brothel. To some, a humble US black Harlem hotel must be a brothel. And they have also been trying to defame the Cuban delegation, even by showing no respect to the ladies who are its officials or assistants.

If we were men as bad as they are trying to depict us in every way, imperialism would have not lost hope, as it has for so long already, to buy us out or seduce us in one way or another. But as it has lost hope long ago (and there wasn´t ever any reason to harbor it), or at least after saying that the Cuban delegation had found accommodation in a brothel, they should admit that imperialisr financial capital is a whore who cannot seduce us. And I am not talking about Jean Paul Sartre´s The Respectful Prostitute.

The Cuba problem. Maybe some of you are well informed; maybe others are not. It all depends on the sources of information but, no doubt, to the world, the Cuba problem, which came up in the last two years, is a new problem. The world did not have many reasons to know Cuba existed. To many, it was something like an apprendix of the United States. Even, to many citizens of this country, Cuba was a US colony. It did not appear as such in the maps, where our color was different from the United States´. But in actual fact it was.

And how was it our country ended up being a US colony? Not due to its origin, for sure. The United States and Cuba were colonized by different men. Cuba´s ethnic and cultural roots are very different and such roots took hold for centuries. Cuba was the last country in the Americas to get rid of Spanish colonialism, of the Spanish colonial yoke, and this is said with no animosity toward His Excelllency the representative of the Spanish government. And, as Cuba was the last to get free, it had to fight the hardest.

Spain had only one possession left in the Americas and it defended it stubbornly and with determination. Our people, whose numbers were just a little more than a million then, had to face on their own, for nearly thirty years, an army regarded as one of the strongest in Europe. To fight such a small national population, the Spanish government would mobilize as many troops as all those which had fought during the South Amercan independence wars combined. Up to half a million Spanish soldiers came to stop the heroic and unbending resolve of our people to attain their freedom. .

For thirty years, Cubans, on their own, fought for their independence. Those thirty years were also the time during which the love of freedom and independence took hold in our country. But Cuba was a fruit, in the view of a US president in the early Nineteenth Century, John Adams, like an apple hanging from the Spanish tree, which when ripe would fall into the hands of the United States. And Spanish power had waned in our country. Spain had already no more men or economic resources to continue the war in Cuba. Spain was defeated. The apple, so it seemed, was ripe, and the US government held out its hands.

Not one but several apples fell into its hands. Puerto Rico, heroic Puerto Rico, that had started its war for independence at the same time as Cubans, fell; the Philipines fell; and some other possessions fell. But the plan to dominate our country could not be the same. Our country had made a great stand and world opinion supported it. A diferent plan had to be designed.

The Cubans who had fought for our independence, those who were bleeding and dying then, came to believe in good faith that US Congress Joint Resolution of April 20, 1898 stating Cuba was and had the right to be free and independent.

The US people supported the Cuban struggle. That Joint Resolution was a US Congress law which declared war on Spain. But such an illusion ended up in great deceit. After two years of military occupation of our country, the unexpected took place: Just when the people of Cuba were drafting, in a Constituent Assembly, the Constitution of the Republic, a new US Congress bill proposed by Senator Platt, whose name is a sad memory for Cuba, was voted into law. It stated that the Cuban Constituent Assembly had to attach an appendix to the Constitution saying that the US government would have the right to intervene in Cuban political life and, also, the right to lease certain parts of the island´s territory for naval or coal stations.

That is to say, based on a law coming from the legislative body of a foreign nation, the Cuban constitution had to include such a provisíon, and our Constituent Assembly lawmakers were told very clearly that the occupation forces would not withdraw if the Amendment was not accepted. That is to say, the right to intervene and the right to lease naval bases or stations was forcibly imposed on our country by the legislative body of a foreign nation.

It is good that the peoples who have just joined this organisation, those who are now starting their independent lives, do know the history of our country in view of the similarities they may find with their own. Or, if they do not, maybe they shall be found by their children or grandchildren, although I don´t think we will have to wait that long.

Thus started the new colonization of our country and the purchase of its most fertile lands by US companies, toghether with concessions over its natural resources and mines; concessions over utilities for their operation and profiting; and trade and all kinds of concessions; and all this, together with the constitutional right (which had been forcibly imposed) to invervene in our country, turned it into a US colony after having been a Spanish colony.

Colonies have no say; colonies are not known in the world until they have a chance to express themselves. That´s why our colony was unknown to the world and the problems of our colony were not known to the world. Geography texts included one more flag, one more coat of arms; geograhy maps showed one more color; but there wasn´t an independent republic there. Let nobody be mistaken; if we let ourselves be mistaken we are just making fools of ourselves. Let nobody be mistaken. It was not an independent republic: It was a colony where the US ambassador was in charge.

We do not feel embarassed for saying it because, in contrast to such shame, we are proud to be able to say that today no embassy is ruling our people! Our people are being ruled by the people! (APPLAUSE)

Again, the Cuban nation had to fight to attain such independence. It did after seven years of bloody tyranny. By whom was it tyrannized? It was tyrannized by those in our country who were nothing but the tools of the ones that controlled our country economically.

How can any unpopular regime which harms the interests of the people stay in power except by force? Is it necessary that we tell the representatives of our sisterly peoples of Latin America here what military tyrannies are like? Do we have to tell them how those tyrannies have been propped up? Do we have to tell them about the history of several such tyrannies, which are already classic? Do we have to tell them which forces support them? What domestic and international interests support them?

The military clique who opressed our country was supported by the most reactionary circles in the nation and, above all, by foreign economic interests that controlled the Cuban economy. Everyone knows, and we understand that even the US government itself admits to it, everybody knows that was the kind of government monopolies like. Why? Because all demands by the people are repressed by force. It was by force that strikes calling for better living conditions were repressed; it was by force that peasant movements calling for lands were repressed; it was by force that the loftiest aspirations of the nation were thwarted.

That is why governments ruling by force were the oncs US policy leaders liked. That is why governments ruling by force stayed in power for so long and governments ruling by force are still in power in the Americas. Of course, circumstances always determine whether they will have US government support or not.

For instance, now they are saying they are against one of those governments that rule by force: The Trujillo government. But they are not saying they are against another of such goverments, the government of Nicaragua or, for example, the one in Paraguay. The government of Nicaragua is no longer a government ruling by force but a monarchy, almost as constitutional as that of Great Britain, where power is handed down from one generation to the next. And that would have also been the case of our country. That was the government ruling by force led by Fulgencio Batista, the government in Cuba US monopolies liked, but, of course, not the type of good government for the Cuban people, and the Cuban people, through the loss of many lives and much sacrifice, ousted it.

What did the Revolution find upon attaining power in Cuba? What wonders did the Revolution find in Cuba upon attaining power? First, it found there were 600 000 able Cubans who had no jobs, they were unemployed; proportionally, they were as many as the number of unemployed persons in the United States during the big crisis, that crack which brough a near catastrophe to this country, and that level of unemployment was permanent in our country. Three million out of a population of a little more than six didn´t have electricity or any of the benefits and comforts of electricity; 3.5 million out of a total of a little more than 6 million were living in huts, barracks and slums without the least habitability. In the cities, rents took up to one third of family incomes. Both electricity bills and rents ranked among the highest in the world. Thirty-seven point-five percent of our population were illiterate; they didn´t know how to read and write. Seventy percent of our peasant children had no teachers. Two percent of our population suffered from TB, that is, 100 000 persons in a total of a little more than 6 million. Ninety-five percent of our countryside children had worms. Thus, the infant mortality rate was very high. The life expectancy was very low. On the other hand, 85% of small farmers paid leases for the lands they tilled which accounted for 30% of their gross income, while 1.5% of all land holders owned 46% of the whole territory of our nation. Of course, comparisons based on the number of hospital beds against the number of people in a country make no sense, if such comparisons are made with countries where medical care is reasonably guaranteed.

Utility services such as electricity trusts and telephone companies were owned by US monopolies.

Many banks, much of import trade, oil refineries, most of sugar production, Cuba´s most fertile lands and the most important industries of all kinds were owned by US companies. In the last ten years, from 1950 to 1960, the balance of payments has favored the US over Cuba by 1 billion dollars.

Not to mention the millions and hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from state coffers by the corrupt rulers of the tyranny that were deposited in US or European banks.

One billion dollars in ten years. A Caribean poor and underdeveloped country with 600 000 unemployed people was financing the development of the most industrialized country in the world.

That was the situation we found and it is not unknown to many of the countries represented in this Assembly because, after all, what we have said about Cuba is nothing but a general x-ray diagnosis that can be given on most of the countries represented here.

What was the choice for the Revolutionary Government? Betray the people? Of course, in the eyes of the president of the United States, what we have done for our people is a betrayal to them, and most certainly it would not be so if instead of being loyal to our people we had been loyal to the big US monopolies that were exploiting our country´s economy. At least, it should be stated for the record which were the “wonders” the Revolution found when it came to power, which are nothing but the wonders of imperialism; they are nothing but the “wonders” of the “free world” for us, the colonized countries!

Nobody can blame us for the 600 000 unemployed people in Cuba, the 37.5% of illiterates among the population, the 2% of TB patients and the 95% of children with parasites that existed in Cuba. No! Up to then, we had not had any say in the fate of our country; up to then, the fate of our country had been in the hands of rulers who served monopoly interests; up to then, monopolies had a say in our country. Were they disturbed by anybody? No! Nobody disturbed them. Were they bothered by anybofy? No! Nobody bothered them. They were able to do their job and thus we found the deeds by monopolies.

What reserves did the nation have? When tyrant Batista siezed power there were $500 million in national reserves. That was a good amount which could have been invested in the country´s industrial development. When the Revolution came to power, our reserves had dwindled to 70 million.

Was there an interest in the industrial development of our country? No! Never! That is why we have been so surprised and we are still surprised at listening to the great concerns of the US government for the fate of Latin American, African and Asian countries. And we were still surprised because, after 50 years, we could see the results there.

What has the Revolutionary Government done? What crime has the Revolutionary Government committed to justify the treatment we have been given here and to have so powerful enemies as it has been evidenced we have here?

Did problems with the United States start right from the start? No! Was it that we, after attaining power, were willing to have international conflicts? No! No revolutionary government that comes to power wants to have international conflicts. What it wants is devoting itself to the solution of its own problems; what it wants is implementing a platform, as do governments really interested in the progress of their countries.

The first event we saw as an unfriendly action was that the doors of this country were left wide-open to a full bunch of murderers who had sunk our country in blood; they had murdered hundreds of defenseless peasants, systematically tortured prisoners for many years and indiscriminately killed people, and they were recieved here with open arms. And that intrigued us. Why such an unfriendly action by the US authorities toward Cuba? Why such an act of hostility? We just didn´t understand it fully then; now, we do see the reasons. Was such policy in line with a correct treatment of Cuba, with US-Cuba relations? No, the affront was to us, and the affront was to us because the Batista regime stayed in power with US support; the Batista regime stayed in power with the help of tanks, planes and weapons supplied by the US government; the Batista regime stayed in power through an army whose officers were trained by a US government military mission, and we expect no US official dares to deny such facts.

Even, when the Rebel Army reached Havana, the US military mission was in that city´s main army camp. That army had collapsed; that army had been overrun and defeated. We could have very well regarded those foreign officers who had been there, helping and training the enemies of the people, as war prisoners. But that was not our decision; we just requested the officers of that mission to return home as, after all, we didn´t need their training and their trainees there had been defeated.

Here is a documment (he shows it). Don´t be surprised at how it looks, as it is a torn paper. It is an old military agreement under which the Batista tyranny would get much assistance from the US government, and it is worthwhile reading what Article 2 of this agreement states:

“The Government of the Republic of Cuba undertakes to make good use of the assistance it receives from the Government of United States of America, in conformity with this Agreement, so as to implement defense plans accepted by both governments under which the two governments shall participate in important missions for the defense of the Western Hemisphere; and, unless it is previously agreed to by the Government of the United States of America ... –I repeat--, “... and, unless it is previously agreed to by the Government of the United States of America, such assistance shall not be used to other ends except those for which it was provided.”

The assistance was used to fighting Cuban revolutionaries; so it was agreed to by the US government. And, although a few months prior to the end of the war this country decreed an embargo on arms being sent to Batista, after a little more than six years of military assistance, and after that arms embargo had been solemnly declared, the Rebel Army got evidence, documentary evidence, that the tyranny´s forces had been supplied again with 300 rockets to be launched from aircraft.

When comrades staying in the US revealed those documents to US public opinion, the only thing this country´s government would say was that we were wrong, that it had not re-supplied the tyranny´s army but, simply, replaced some rockets of another caliber which could not be launched from its planes by other rockets that could be launched from the tyranny´s planes and those, by the way, were actually launched against us while in the mountains. It is a sui generis way of explaining contradictions when they turn unexplainable. According to its argument, it was not assistance but some sort of “technical assistance.”

Then why, in view of such precedents, which angered our people, and, as everybody knows, and it is known to the most innocent person here, and considering also the military hardware revolution in these modern times, that those weapons from the last war are completely obsolete for modern warfare, were they sent? With 50 tanks or armored cars and a few old planes you cannot defend a continent, you cannot defend a hemisphere. But such weapons can be used to oppress unarmed people, they can be used to intimidate the people. They can be used for what they are: They can be used to defend monopolies. That is why it would be better to define such hemispheric defense pacts as US monopoly defense pacts.

The Revolutionary Government began taking its early steps. The first thing it did was to lower by 50 percent rents paid by households. It was a very just measure because, as we said earlier, there were families paying up to one third of their income in rents. And the people had been victimized by much real estate speculation and there had been huge speculation with urban plots to the detriment of people´s income. But, when the Revolutionary Government lowered rents by 50%, some got angry; yes, a few who owned those apartment buildings got angry. But the people went out to the streets joyfully, as it would happen in any country, just here in New York also, if all families are benefitted by a 50- percent rent cut. But that did not bring about any problem with monopolies. Some US companies had large buildings but, in relative terms, they were a few.

Then another law was passed: It was a law canceling the concessions the tyrannic Batista government had given to the telephone company that was a US monopoly. Availing themselves of the defendlessness of the people, they had got profitable concessions. The Revolutionary Government wrote off those concessions and reset telephone bills to their previous amounts. Thus the first conflict with US monopolies began.

The third measure was to lower electricity bills, which were among the highest in the world. That was the second conflict with US monopolies. We were being seen already as Communists; they were already painting us red, just because we had clashed with US monopoly interests.

But there came the third law, which was indispensable and inevitable; it was inevitable for our country and it will be inevitable, sooner or later, for all the peoples of the world ... at least for all the peoples of the world who have not passed it yet: The Agrarian Reform Law. Of course, in theory, everybody agrees with the agrarian reform. Nobody dares to deny it; only ignorant people would dare to deny that the agrarian reform is, for the underdeveloped countries of the world, an essential requisite for economic development. In Cuba, even large land holders agreed with the agrarian reform, but only with an agrarian reform in their own way, like the agrarian reform being upheld by many theorists. It is an agrarian reform in their own way and, above all, one that is not implemented in their own way or any way while it can be avoided! It is something accepted by UN economic agencies, something nobody is arguing about anymore. In our country, it was indispensable: Over 200 000 peasant families lived in the Cuban countryside with no lands to grow essential food products.

Without the agrarian reform, our country would not have been able to take the first step toward development. And, yes, we took that step: We carried out an agrarian reform. Was it a radical one? It was a radical agrarian reform. Was it very radical? It was not a very radical agrarian reform. We carried out an agrarian reform based on our development needs, based on our agricultural development possibilities. That is, an agrarian reform to deal with the issue of landless peasants, to deal with the issue of supplies of indispensable food products, to deal with rampant unemployment in the countryside, to put an end to the terrible poverty we had seen in the countryside areas of our country.

And thus came the first real problem. The same had happened also in the neighboring Republic of Guatemala. When the agrarian reform was carried out in Guatemala, problems came up in Guatemala. And I am warning this in full candor to the delegates of Latin America, Africa and Asia. The day you embark on a just agrarian reform, get ready for confrontations similar to ours, particularly if the best and largest farms are in the hands of US monopolies, as it was the case in Cuba (LONG APPLAUSE.)

Maybe we shall be accused later of giving bad advice in this Assembly and, certainly, that is not our intention. ... surely, it is not our purpose to let anybody sleepless. We are just giving facts, though facts are enough to make anybody go sleepless.

The payment question was raised immediately. A barrage of notes from the US State Department came. They never asked us about our problems, never; not even out of commiseration or for the big share of responsibility they had. They would not ask how many people were starving in our country, how many TB patients we had, how many people were jobless. No. Was there a show of solidarity toward our needs? Never. All talks with US government representatives were about the Telephone Company, about the Electricity Trust, and about the issue of US company lands.

How could we pay? Of course, the first question was what were we going to pay with; not how, but with what. Do you think it would be possible that a poor and underdeveloped country with 600 000 jobless people and large numbers of illiterate and sick persons, whose reserves had been depleted, and which had contributed to the economy of a powerful country with $10 billion in 10 years, had cash to pay for the lands that would be expropriated under the agrarian law, or even that it could pay for them under the terms intended to be applied to such payment?

What did the State Department tell us it wanted concerning affected US interests? Three things: Swift payment ..., “swift, efficient and just payment.” Do you understand such language? “Swift, efficient and just payment.” It means “pay right now, in dollars, the amount we ask for our lands.” (APPLAUSE.)

We were not 150% Communist yet (LAUGHTER.) We were getting a little redder hue. We were not confiscating lands. Simply, we were proposing to pay for them in 20 years, in the only way we could pay for them, that is, in bonds that would fall due in 20 years; they would carry a 4.5-percent interest and be payed back yearly.

How could we pay for the lands in dollars? How could we pay for them immediately? And how could we pay the amounts that would be asked for them? It was absurd. Anyone would see that, under such circumstances, we had to choose between carrying out the agrarian reform or not. If we chose not to, our country´s terrible economic situation would last indefinitely. If we carried it out, we were risking the emnity of the government of the powerful neighbor to the north.

We carried out the agrarian reform. Of course, for a representative of, let´s say, The Netherlands, or any European country, the boundaries we set for farms would be almost surprising. Surprising due to their expanse. The largest expanse set under our agrarian law was around 400 hectares. In Europe, 400 hectares are a really large land holding. In Cuba, where there were US monopoly concerns holding up to 200 000 hectares ... Two hundred thousand hectares! (I repeat just in case someone thinks he didn´t get the number right). In Cuba, an agrarian reform that reduced the maximum expanse to 400 hectares was an inadmissible law to those monopolies.

But the thing is in our country not only lands were owned by US monopolies. The biggest mines were also in the hands of those monopolies. Cuba, for instance, produces much nickel; all nickel was taken by US concerns. And during the Batista tyranny Moa Bay, a US company, had got such a profitable concession that (listen carefully) it would pay back a $120 million investment in just five years; it was a $120 million investment to be payed back in five years.

Who had granted such a concession to Moa Bay through the auspices of the ambassador of the US government? Just the Fulgencio Batista tyrannical government, the government which was there to protect monopoly interests. And this certainly happened. It was completely tax free. What would those companies leave to us Cubans? The mining pits, a depleted land, and no contribution to the economic development of our country at all.

And the Revolutionary Government passed a Law of Mines

imposing on those monopolies a 25-percent tax for the export of those ores. Actions by the Revolutionary Governement had turned too bold already. They had clashed with the interests of the international electricity trust; they had clashed with the interests of the international telephone trust; they had clashed with the interests of international mining trusts; they had clashed with the interests of the United Fruit Company; and, virtually, they had clashed with the most powerful US interests which, as you know, are closely interwined. And it was too much for the US government or, rather, the representatives of US monopolies. And so, it was the beginning of a new period of harassment of our Revolution. Would anyone who analyzes facts objectively, anyone who tries to think honestly and not to think as told by UPI or AP but with his own head, and to draw conclusions based on his own reasoning and reach an unprejudiced, sincere and honest opinion of things, believe that the actions taken by the Revolutionary Government were enough to decree the destruction of the Cuban Revolution? No. But those interestes affected by the Cuban Revolution were not concerned over Cuba´s case; the measures by the Revolutionary Government would not ruin them. That was not the issue. The issue was those very interests owned the wealth and natural resources of most of the peoples of the world. And the Cuban Revolution had to be punished for its stance. Punitive actions of all kinds, including the destruction of those daring men, had to be the response to the boldness of the Revolutionary Government.

We swear on our honor that we hadn´t had a chance yet to even exchange a single letter with the distinguished prime minister of the Soviet Union Nikita Krushchev. That is, when the US press and the international news agencies that inform the world were thinking already that Cuba was a red government, a red menace 90 miles off the US shores, a government controlled by Communists, the Revolutionary Government had not had even a chance to establish diplomatic or trade relations with the Soviet Union.

But hysteria knows no boundaries. Out of hysteria, the most unbelievable and absurd things can be said. Of course, nobody here should expect we shall say mea culpa. No mea culpa. We don´t have to apologize to anybody. We have been fully aware of what we have been doing and, specially, very sure we have the right to do it (LONG APPLAUSE.)

And threats against our sugar quota started; it was the uttering of the philosophy, the cheap philosophy, of imperialism showing its selfish and exploitative kindness, showing its kindness toward Cuba, as they were granting us a privileged price for sugar, and it was a sort of subsidy for Cuban sugar, which was not so sweet for Cubans because we Cubans did not own the best sugar lands nor did we own the best sugar factories. Also, that statement concealed the true history of Cuban sugar, of the sacrifices that had been imposed on Cuba, of the times Cuba had been harmed economically. Earlier, it had not been a question of quotas but of tariffs. Under one of those laws or agreements that are entered between the “shark” and the “sardine,” the US, through a pact they called a “reciprocity” agreement, got a series of franchises for its products to compete easily with and oust from the Cuban market the goods of their British or French “friends,” a usual thing among “friends.” In exchange for that, there were certain tariff concessions for our sugar that, incidentally, could be changed unilaterally if so decided by the US Congress or administration. And that´s what happened.

When they thought it was good for their interests, they would raise tariffs and our sugar could not go to the US market or it did under unfavorable terms. In war times, they would lower tariffs. Of course, as Cuba was the closest sugar supplier such a supply source had to be guaranteed. Tariffs were lowered, production was encouraged and during the war years, when the sugar price was skyrocketing all over the world, we were selling our sugar to the United States cheaply even when we were the only source of supply.

Then the war ended and thus came collapses in our economy. Mistakes with the sale of that commodity made in this country were paid for by us. Prices skyrocketed at the end of World War I, there was a huge encouragment of production, and, later, a sharp drop in prices that ruined Cuban sugar factories which then, very easily, landed in ... whose hands? In the hands of US banks, because, when Cuban entities went bankrupt US banks in Cuba reaped the benefits.

And that situation continued until the 1930s and the US government, trying to find a way to concile its supply interests with those of its domestic producers, created a quota system. Supposedly, that quota would be based on the historical market shares of different suppliers and, in the case of our country, its historic US market supply share had been nearly 50 percent. But, when quotas were set, our share was cut to 28%, and the benefits we had got under that law, the few ones we had got under it, were gradually eliminated in later laws and, of course, the colony relied on the metropolis; the economy of the colony had been structured by the metropolis. The colony was to be subdued by the metropolis, and if the colony took measures to get free the metropolis would act to crush it. Knowing that our economy relied on its market, the US government began issuing a series of warnings that we would be deprived of our sugar quota while other things, actions by contrarrevoltuonaries, were taking place in the United States.

One afternoon, an aircraft coming over the sea from the north overflew one of our sugar factories and dropped a bomb. It was a strange event, an usual thing, but, of course, we knew where those aircraft were coming from.

Another afternoon, a plane overflew our sugar cane fields and dropped some little incendiary bombs. And what had begun as sporadic actions became a usual practice.

One afternoon when, by the way, many US tourism agents were visiting our country when the Revolutionary Government was trying to promote tourism as a national income source, a US-made aircraft, like those that fought in the last war, flew over Havana and dropped leaflets and a few hand grenades. Of course, some anti-aircraft volleys were fired. The result was over 40 victims hit by the grenades dropped from by plane and anti-aircraft fire as some rounds (as you know) blow up when hitting a hard surface. The result was over 40 victims, including girls with their bellies ripped off, and old men and women. Was it the first time for us? No. Children, elderly persons and men and women had been torn apart in our villages in Cuba many times by US-made bombs that had been supplied to tyrant Batista.

Once, 80 workers died when a boat loaded with Belgian weapons that had docked in Cuba blew up suspiciously, very suspociouly, after the US government had made great efforts to prevent the Belgian government from selling weapons to us. There were dozens of war victims, eighty families who lost their dear ones in the blast. Forty victims as a result of an aircraft that simply overflew our country. Ah! US government authorities were denying that such planes were taking off from the US, but the aircraft was just stationed in a hangar, and it was only when a Cuban magazine showed a picture of the plane that the US authorities seized it and, of course, they stated it wasn´t important, that the victims had not been the result of bombs but of anti-aircraft fire, and those who had done such terrible things, the ones who had committed that crime, were just free here in the United States, where they were not even bothered in the aftermath of those acts of aggression.

Your Excellency, I avail myself of this occasion to tell His Excellency the US representative that many mothers in the Cuban countryside and many Cuban mothers are still awaiting your messages of condolences for their children killed by US bombs (APPLAUSE.)

Aircraft were flying in and out. There was no evidence. Well, it depends on what is seen as evidence. There was that aircraft photographed and seized here but, well, they were saying it had not dropped bombs. It is not known how US authorities were so well informed. Pirat aircraft continued overflying our country and dropping incendiary devices. Millions and millions of Cuban pesos were lost in burning sugar cane fields. Many among the people (yes, the humble people!) were witnessing the destruction of a wealth which was now theirs, and they got burns and lesions while facing repeated and continued bombings by pirate aircraft.

Until one day, when the bomb to be dropped on one of our sugar factories went off and blew up the aircraft, and the Revolutionary Governement was able to find parts of the pilot´s body who, incidentally, was a US pilot whose documents were seized, and we had the aircraft and all the evidence on where it had taken off from. That aircraft had flown in-between two US bases. Now it could not be denied those aircraft were taking off from the US. Ah!

Now faced with irrefutable evidence, the US governmenr gave an explanation to the government of Cuba! Its stance was not as during the U-2 incident. When it was proved the aircraft were coming from the United States, the US government did not state its right to set our sugar cane fields afire. This time they apologized to us and said they were very sorry. We were so lucky after all! Because when the U-2 incident took place the US government did not apologize then. It proclaimed its right to overflow the Soviet territory! Bad luck for the Soviets! (APPLAUSE.)

But we do not have a strong anti-aircraft defense and the aircraft overflights continued, until the sugar harvest was over. There were no more sugar canes and the bombings ceased. We were the only country in the world going through such harassment, although I remember well that, during his Cuba visit, President Sukarno told us that no, that we should not think we were the only ones, that they had also had some problems with some US planes overflying their country also. I don´t know whether I´ve been indiscreet. I hope not (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE.)

But the fact is that, at least in this peaceful hemisphere, we were a country which, being at war with nobody, was enduring a ceaseless harassment by pirate aircraft. Could those aircraft fly in and out the US territoriy freely? Well, we invite delegates to think a little, and we also invite the US people, if by any chance the US people have the opportunity to be informed about the things that are being said here, to think about the fact that, according to the very statements of the US government, this country´s territory is well surveilled and protected from any air raid, that the US territory defense is impregnable, that the defense of what they call the “free” world (though, at least for us, it wasn´t free until January 1, 1959) is impregnable, that such territory is very well defended. If that is the case, how come not only subsonic planes but also small aircraft flying a mere 150 miles per hour can fly in and out the US territory undisturbed, fly past two bases and fly back past two bases without the US government even noticing those aircraft are coming in and out its territory? It means one of two things: Either the US government is lying to the US people and the US is open to air raids or the US government is an accessory to such air raids (APPALUSE.)

There were no more air raids and economic aggressions started. Which was one of the arguments given by those opposing the agrarian reform? They were saying the agrarian reform would bring chaos to farming, that production would drop a lot, that the US government was worried over Cuba not being able to meet its supply commitmtents to the US market. First argument –and it is good that at least the new delegations here get familiar with some arguments as, maybe, one day they will have to respond to similar ones: The agrarian reform would ruin the country. It did not. If the agrarian reform had ruined the country, if agricultural production had gone down, then the US government would not have needed to carry out its economic aggression.

Were they being honest by saying that the agrarian reform would bring production drops? Maybe they were! It is logical you believe things you have conditioned your mind to believe in. Possibly, they thought that, without the all-powerful monopolies, we Cubans would not be able to produce sugar. That´s possible! Perhaps they even expected we would ruin the country. And, of course, had the Revolution ruined the country the United States would not have needed to attack us, it would have left us alone; the US government would have been seen as a very noble and good government, and we would have been regarded as men who had ruined the nation, and that would have been a very good example that you should not carry out revolutions, because revolutions ruin countries. That was not the case! There is evidence revolutions do not ruin countries, and such evidence has just been provided by the US government. It has proved many things but, among others, it has proved revolutions do not ruin countries and that it is imperialist governments who can really try to ruin countries! .

Cuba had not gone bankrupt; it had to be ruined. Cuba required new markets for its products and, honestly, we can ask any delegation here which of them would not want their country to be able to sell the things it produces or that its exports increase? We wanted to expand our exports. That is what all countries want; it must be a universal law.

Only selfish interest may oppose the general interest in trade, which is one of the oldest aspirations and needs of humanity.

And we wanted to sell our products and went out for new markets and signed a trade agreement with the Soviet Union under which we would sell 1m tons of sugar and buy certain amounts of Soviet goods or products. Of course! Nobody would say that´s wrong. There may be some who would not do it so as not to run counter certain interests. Actually, we didn´t need permission from the State Department to sign a trade agreement with the Soviet Union, as we saw and we see ourselves and shall continue seeing ourselves always as a truly free country.

When sugar stocks began dwindling, for the benefit of our economy, we then got a swipe: Upon the request of the US executive, Congress passed a law by virtue of which the president or the executive was empowered to narrow the limits, as it thought fit, of sugar imports from Cuba. The economic weapon was being wielded against our Revolution. The justification for such attitude had already been concocted by the media. The campaign had been going for a long time already, and you know perfectly well that, here, monopolies and publicity are absolutely identified. The economic weapon was wielded, our sugar quota was swung down by nearly a million tonnes (it was an amount of sugar already produced to go to the US market) so as to deprive our country of resources for its development, to render our country impotent, to reach political aims. Such measure was explicitly forbidden by Regional International Law. As all Latin American delegates attending this Assembly know, economic aggression is explicitly condemned by Regional International Law. Still, the United States violated such right, it wielded the economic weapon, and wrote off nearly 1m tonnes of our sugar quota. End of story. It could do it.

How could Cuba defend itself under such circumstances? Appealing to the UN? Appealing to the UN to denounce political and economic aggressions? To denounce air raids by pirate aircraft and denounce economic aggression, as well as constant US government interference in our country´s politics, the subvertion campaigns being carried out against the Revolutionary Government of Cuba?

We appealed to the UN. The UN has powers to discuss these questions; the UN is, among international organizations, the highest authority; the UN even has higher authority than the OAS. And, moreover, we wanted the issue to be known in the UN, as we understand the economic situation of the peoples of Latin America, the reliance on the US of the economies of the peoples of Latin America. The UN knew about the issue and requested an investigation by the OAS; and the OAS held a session. Fine. What was to be expected? That the OAS would protect the country under attack, that the OAS would condemn political aggressions against Cuba and, above all, that the OAS would condemn economic aggressions against our country. That could be expected. After all, we were just a small people of the Latin American community; we were, after all, one more people who were being attacked. We were neither the first nor the last in such predicament, because Mexico had been attacked more than once, and it had been so by the force of arms. During a war, it was deprived of much of its territory and during that time the heroic sons and daughters of Mexico stormed out of Chapultepec Castle wrapped in the Mexican flag instead of surrendering. Those are the heroic children of Chapultepec! (APPLAUSE.)

And that was not the only aggression, it was not the only time US infantry troops trampled upon Mexican soil. There was an intervention in Nicaragua and Augusto César Sandino resisted heroically for seven years. Cuba went through an intervention more than once, as did Haiti and Santo Domingo. There was an intervention in Guatemala. Who would honestly dare to deny here the involvement of the United Fruit Company and the US State Department in the outsting of the legitimate government of Guatemala? I understand some see it as their official duty to be discreet on this matter, and that they even come here and deny it; but deep in their minds they do know we are stating facts.

Cuba was not the first country to be attacked. Cuba was not the first country facing the danger of aggression. In this hemisphere, everybody knows the US government always imposed its law: The law of the strongest; that´s the law of the strongest through which it has been destroying Puerto Rican nationhood and it continues its domination over that sisterly island! That´s the law by virtue of which it grabbed the Panama Canal and it it keeping the Panama Canal.

It was nothing new. Our country should have been defended, but it was not defended. Why? What´s important here is going to the heart of the matter and not to formalities. If we stick to the written papers, we are safe; if we see facts, we are not safe at all. Because realities prevail over the rights enshrined in international codes; and such realities are that a small country, which was under the attacks of a powerful government, was not defended and could not be defended.

What, in turn, came out of Costa Rica? Ah, the results from Costa Rica were such a miracle of ingenuity! In Costa Rica, the US or, rather, the US government, was not condemned ... Allow me to say our good feelings toward the US people should not be mistaken. There was no condemnation of the US government for 60 pirate aircraft incursions, it was not condemned for its economic aggression or for many other aggressions. No. They condemned the Soviet Union. So remarkable! We had not been the target of any aggression by the Soviet Union; no Soviet plane had violated our airspace and, yet, in Costa Rica, the Soviet Union was condemned for interference. The Soviet Union had limited istelf to saying that in case of a military aggression against our country Soviet gunners (speaking figuratively) could support the country under attack.

Since when has support to a small country that is facing a possible aggression by a powerful country been defined as interference? Because the law includes the so-called impossible conditions: If a country considers it is incapable to commit a given crime, then it is enough to say: “There is no possibility whatsoever that the Soviet Union supports Cuba, because there is no possibility that we attack the small country.” But that principle was not stated. The principle of condemning interference by the Soviet Union was stated.

Any mention of the bombings in Cuba? None. (APPLAUSE) Of the aggressions against Cuba? None.

Surely, there is something we should remember and somehow it should be of concern to us all. All of us, without any exceptions among those present here, are the actors and participants of a transcendental moment in the history of mankind. Sometimes, apparently, criticisms are not heard, that is, criticism and a condemnation for our deeds, seemeningly, are not realized by us, and that happens mainly when we forget that in the same way we´ve had the privilege of being actors during this transcendental

moment of history, some day history shall also hand down its judgement on us for our deeds. And on the defenselessness of our country at the Costa Rica meeting. That´s why we smile, because history shall judge such episode.

And I am not saying this out of sourness; it is hard to condemn men. Very often, men act according to circumstances, and we, knowing which was the history of our country and also being the exceptional witnesses to the on-going experiences of our country, understand how terrible the submission of the economy and general life of nations to foreign economic power is. Suffice it to say simply that our country got defenseless and, also, that there is an interest in not bringing the Cuba issue to the UN, perhaps because there is the notion it is easier to reach a mechanical majority vote at the OAS. And such fear is not so easy to understand after all, as we has seen that here too, at the UN, mechanical majority votes have worked many times.

And, in full respect toward this institution, I must say here that is why the peoples, and the Cuban people, yes, our people, those people who are there back home, but people who have learned so much and who are a people, and we say this proudly, who are up to the role they are playing now and to the heroic struggle they are waging ... our people, who have learned in the school of recent international events, know that, in the final analysis, after their rights have been negated, when aggressive forces are about to pounce on them, they shall make the ultimate choice and the heroic choice of resisting when their rights are not guaranteed either at the OAS or the UN. (LONG APPLAUSE)

That is why we small countries aren´t so sure yet our rights shall be preserved; that is why, when we small countries want to be free, we know we are doing it at our peril. Because, actually, when the people are united, when they are defending a true right, they can rely on their own strength because, of course, it is not a group of men ruling a country, as it has been intended to depict us. It is the people ruling a country; it is all the people in very close ranks having great revolutionary awareness and upholding their rights. And that should be known by the enemies of the Revolution and of Cuba, and if they are ignoring it they are making a regrettable mistake.

Those are the circumstances under which the Cuban revolutionary process has been taking place; the situation we found in our country; the reasons there have been problems. And, still, the Cuban Revolution is changing what was a hopeless country in the past, a country where part of the population was illiterate; it is turning it into a nation which shall be soon one of the most advanced and developed peoples in this continent.

In just 20 months, the Revolutionary Government has opened 10 000 new schools, meaning that in such a short time the number of countryside schools created in 50 years has been doubled. And, today, Cuba is already the first country in the Americas to have met all its schooling needs, with teachers even in the most remote mountain areas.

In such a short time, the Revolutionary Government has built 25 000 homes in rural and urban areas; 50 new townships are emerging now in our country; the most important military fortresses are now the schools for thousands of students and, for next year, our people are readying themselves to wage their great battle against illiteracy, with the ambitious goal of teaching all illiterate persons how to read and write by next year and, to such end, teacher, student and workers´ organizations, that is, the whole people, are getting ready for a great campaign, and Cuba shall be the first country in the Americas that, in a matter of months, will be able to say it has no illiterates at all.

Our people are now being given care by hundreds of physicians who have been sent to the countryside to fight diseases such as parasitism snd improve health conditions in the nation.

Concerning another question, that is, the preservation of natural resources, we can also say here that, in just one year, and under the most ambitious project for preserving natural resources ever implemented in this continent, the US and Canada included, over 50 million wood trees have been planted.

Youths who were neither working nor studying have been organized by the Revolutionary Government and now they are doing useful work for the country while being trained for productive labor.

Agricultural production in our country has increased right from the start –an almost unique feat. An increase in agricultural production was scored from the beginning. Why? First, because the Revolutionary Government gave small farmers who had been paying rents the titles of their lands and, at the same time, preserved large-scale production through farming production cooperatives; that is, big company production continued with cooperatives and this has made it possible to use state-of-the-art technologies in our agricultural production; and there has been a rise in production right from the start.

And we have made all such efforts at social wellbeing, as teachers, housing and hospitals, without sacrificing development resources, because now the Revolutionary Government is implementing an industrialization program in the country, and the first factories are being erected in Cuba already.

We have spent resources rationally in our country. For instance, in the past, Cuba imported $35 million worth of cars but $5 million in tractors. An essentially agricultural nation was importing seven times more cars than tractors. We have reversed that and we are importing seven times more tractors than cars.

Nearly $500 million were recovered from politicians who had enriched themselves during the tyranny. Almost $500 million in goods and in cash; that´s the full worth of what was recovered from corrupt politicians who had been plundering our country for seven years. A correct investment of such goods, wealth and resources is allowing the Revolutionary Government, which is implementing a plan for industrialization and expansion of our farming activities, to build houses and schools, send teachers to the country´s most isolated areas and provide medical care there, that is, to carry forward a social development program.

And it is just now, as you know, that the US government has proposed a plan at the Bogota meeting. But is it an economic development plan? No. It proposed a social development plan. What does that mean? Well, also a program to build homes, to build schools, to build roads. But would that solve the problem in any way? How can you solve social problems without an economic development program? Is there an intent to deceive the peoples of Latin America? What will the families who dwell in those houses live on --if such houses are built? What shoes, clothes and food

will the children going to those schools have? Ins´t it known that when families have no clothes or shoes for their children they do not send them to school? Where will the money to pay teachers come from? Where will the money to pay physicians come from?

Where will the money to pay for drugs come from? Do you want to have a good way for saving drugs? Improve nutrition among the people; the better people are nourished the greater hospital savings will be.

So, in the face of the tremendous reality of undervevelopment, the US government is coming forward now with a social development program. Of course, its concern over Latin American problems is something. Until recently, it had not been concerned at all. What a coincidence it is being concerned now over those problems! And, possibly, they will say that any resemblance with the fact that such concern has come after the Cuban Revolution is purely coincidental.

So far, the only interest of monopolies has been to exploit underveloped countries. But the Cuban Revolution came, and monopolies got concerned, and while we are being attacked economically and there is an effort to crush us, on the other hand, pittances are being offered to the peoples of Latin America. It is not resources for economic development, which is what Latin America wants, but it is being offered resources for social development, for houses where jobless men shall live, for schools children will not go to, and for hospitals that would not be so needed if there was a little better nutrition in Latin America.

After all, and even though some comrades from Latin America think it is their duty to be discreet, the Cuban Revolution should be welcomed because, as least, it has brought about a concern of monopolies for returning just a small portion of the natural resources and of the toil of Latin American peoples they have been taking! (APPLAUSE.)

The fact we are not included for such assistance does not worry us. We do not get angry over such things; we have been solving those very school, housing and other problems for a long time now. But we think perhaps somebody has doubts as to us making propaganda here, as the president of the United States said some would come to this rostrum to make propaganda. And, certainly, there is a permanent invitation for any UN comrade to visit Cuba. We don´t close the doors to anybody there, nor do we confine anybody´s movements; any person in this Assembly may visit Cuba and see thing for himself. You are familiar with that Bible chapter about St Thomas, who said seeing is believing. I think it was St. Thomas.

And, after all, we can invite any journalist or any member of a delegation to visit Cuba and see what the people are capable of doing with their own resources when they are invested honestly and rationally.

But we are not only solving our housing and schooling problems but also our development problems, because social problems shall never be solved without tackling the development issue.

But, what´s the situation? Why doesn´t the US government want to talk about development? Simply, because the US government doesnt want trouble with monopolies, and monopolies demand natural resources and investment markets for their capitals. That´s the big contradiction; that is why the true solution to problems is not sought; that is why no public development investment plan is tried in underdeveloped countries.

And this should stated here crearly because, in the final analysis, we undeveloped countries are in the majority here --just in case somebody does not know it-- and, after all, we are seeing what is happening in underdeveloped countries.

But a real solution to the problem is not sought, and there is always talk here of private capital involvement. Of course, that means markets for surplus capital investments, those investments that are paid back within 5 years.

The US government cannot propose a public investment program because that would alienate it from its reason to be, that is, US monopolies.

No further analysis is needed; that is why no real economic development program to preserve our lands in Latin America, Africa and Asia is promoted. It is for excess capital investmenrts.

So far, we have referred here to our country´s problems. Why have such problems not been solved? Just because we do not want to solve them? No. The government of Cuba has always been willing to discuss its issues with the US government, but the US government has not wanted to discuss its problems with Cuba, and it should have its reasons for not wanting to discuss issues with Cuba.

This is the note sent by the Revolutionary Government of Cuba to the US government on January 27, 1960. I reads as follows:

“Through diplomatic negotiations, differences in views that may exist between both governments can be solved effectively through such negotiations. The government of Cuba is fully willing to discuss, unreservedly and quite amply, all differences, and it states explicitly its view there are no obstacles whatsoever to the holding of such negotiations through any of the traditionally adequate instruments and means to such end. Based on mutual respect and reciprocal benefits, the government of Cuba wishes to have and expand diplomatic and economic relations with the government and the people of the Unied States, and it understands that, under such premises, the traditional friendship between the peoples of Cuba and the United States is indestructible.”

And, on February 22 this year, the following was stated:

“The Revolutionary Government of Cuba, in line with the purpose of resuming through diplomatic channels the already-initiated negotiations on pending issues between Cuba and the United States of America, has decided to appoint a commission with powers to such effect so that it starts discussions in Washington on a date acceptable to both parties.

“But the Revolutionary Government of Cuba wishes to state that a resumption and further development of such negotiations shall take place only if your country´s administration or Congress does not take any unitaleral measure prejudging the results of the above-mentioned negotiations or harming the Cuban economy or the Cuban people. It seems obvious it should be added that adherence by the government of Your Excellency to this viewpoint would not only contribute to an improvement in relations between our respective countries but also reaffirm the spirit of fraternal friendship that has bound and is binding our peoples. That would also make it possible for both governments to examine calmly and most flexibly the issues which have affected the traditional relations between Cuba and the United States of America.”

Which was the answer from the US government?

“The Government of the United States cannot accept the negotating terms stated in the note of Your Excellency to the effect that no unilateral meaures are to be taken by the government of the United States that may harm the Cuban economy or that of its people, either by the legislative or the executive. As stated by President Eisenhower on January 26, the US government shall remain free, while exercising its own overeignty, to take the steps it deems necessary, being aware of its international obligations, to defend the legitimate rights or interests of its people.”

That is, the US government shall not bother to discuss with a small country, Cuba, its differences in relations.

What hopes can the Cuban people have concerning a solution to these problems? Well, all the facts we have been able to describe here are running counter a solution to such problems, and it is good the UN takes this very much into account, because the government of Cuba and the people of Cuba are essentially concerned about the aggressive path being taken by US government Cuba policies, and it is good we all are well informed.

First, the US government considers it has the right to promote subversion in our country; the US government is helping in the creation of subversive movements against the Revolutonary Government of Cuba and we are denouncing it here, in this General Assembly, and we want to denounce specifically that, for instance, in a Caribbean island which is Honduran territory and is known as Swan Island, the US government has grabbed manu military that island; US marines are stationed there, even when it is a territory of Honduras, thus violating international law and depriving a sisterly people of part of their territory; and, in violation of international radio broadcast conventions, they have set up a powerful radio station and put it in the hands of war criminals and subversive groups they are supporting in that country. Also, there is training being given there to promote subservion and promote armed landings in our island.

It would be good that the delegate of Honduras to the General Assembly reivindicate here the right of Honduras to that chunk of its territory, but that´s a matter concerning him. What concerns us is that a small part of a sisterly country has been taken away, as pirates would do, from that country by the US government and it is being used as a base for subversion and attacks against our territory. And I am requesting that this denunciation we are making in the name of the government and people of Cuba is taken for the record.

Does the US government think it has the right to promote subversion in our country, in violation of all international agreements and of radio broadcasting space? Would that mean in any way that the Revolutionary Government of Cuba also has the right to promote subversion in the United States? Does the US government think it has the right to violate the radio broadcasting space, greatly harming our radio stations? Would that mean the government of Cuba also has the right to violate the radio broadcasting space?

What right can the US government have over ourselves or over our island which allows other peoples to demand equal respect? Swan Island should be returned to Honduras, because the US has never had any jurisdiction over that island (APPLAUSE.)

But there are even more alarming circumstances for our people. It is known that, under the Platt Amendment, forcibly imposed on our people, the US government abrogated itself the right to establish naval bases in our territory. It was a right imposed by force and it is being kept by force.

A naval base in the territory of any country is a reason for just concern. First, the concern that a country which is implementing and aggressive and war-mongering international policy has a base there, at the heart of our island, which exposes our island to the perils of any international conflict, of any nuclear conflict, with us having absolutely nothing to do with such a problem, as we have absolutely nothing to do with US government problems and the crises being provoked by the US government. And, yet, there is a base there, at the heart of our island, that poses a danger for us in case of any armed conflict.

But is that the only peril? No! There is a peril which worries us even more, as it is closer to us. The Revolutionary Government of Cuba has stated repeatedly its concern over the possibility that the imperialist government of the United States uses that base, located in our territory, for a self-inflicted aggression that justifies an attack against our nation! I repeat: The Revolutionary Government of Cuba is extremely concerned, and it is stating it here, that the imperialist government of the United States uses a self-inflicted aggression as a pretext in an effort to justify an attack on our country! And such concern of ours is growing bigger and bigger because there is more aggressiveness and symptoms are more alarming.

This is, for instance, a UPI newscable received in our country. It reads:

“Admiral Harley Burke, the US naval operations chief, says that if Cuba would try to occupy the Guantánamo Naval Base, ´we shall fight. back´” In an interview published by U.S. News and World Report,”(excuse me for any defect in my pronounciation) Burke was asked whether the Navy was worried about the prevailing situation in Cuba under the Castro regime. ´Yes, our Navy is worried, not for our Guantánamo Base but for the whole Cuban situation,´ Burke answered. The admiral adds that all US army corps are worried. ´Is it due to Cuba´s strategic position in the Caribbean?´ Burke was asked. ´Not particularly,´ he said. “It is a country whose people were usually friendly to the United States, who liked our people and we also liked them. In spite of that, there is an individual who has come up with a group of hardline Communists bent on changing everything. Castro has taught people to hate the United States and done much to ruin his country.´ Burke said ´we would react promptly if Castro would take some decision against the Guantánamo Base. If they try to take it by force, we shall fight back,’ he added. Questioned whether the threat uttered by Krushchev that Soviet rockets would support Cuba had made him think about such decision twice, the admiral said: ´´No, because he wouldn´t fire the rockets; he knows very well he would be destroyed if he did so.´“

He means Russia would be destroyed.

First of all, I should emphasize that, for this gentleman, having increased industrial production by 35% in our country, having given jobs to another 200 000 Cubans and having solved the great social problems in our country are equivalent to “ruin the country.” And based on such “arguments,” they abrogate themselves the right to create conditions for an aggression.

See the calculation he is making, a really dangerous calculation, because this gentleman is virtually calculating that, in case of an attack against us, we are going to be alone. It is just a calculation by Mr. Burke, but let´s imagine Mr. Burke is wrong. Let´s imagine that Mr. Burke, though an admiral and soon, is wrong. (Voices from the Soviet delegation and Krushchev himself and applause are heard.)

Then Admiral Burke is toying irresponsibly with the fate of the world. Admiral Burke and all those in his aggresive war-mongering group are toying with the fate of the world, and actually it would not be worthwhile worrying about the fate of each of us. But we believe that we, the representatives of the various peoples of the world, do have a duty to worry about the fate of the world, and we have a duty to condemn all those toying irresponsibly with the fate of the world! Because they are not toying only with the fate of our people: they are toying with the fate of their own people and they are toying with the fate of all the peoples of the world! Or is it this Admiral Burke thinks we are still living in the times of harquebuses? Or is it this Admiral Burke hasn´t realized finally we are living in the atomic era, with a disastrous destructive force that would have not been imagined even by Dante or Leonardo da Vinci in spite of their great imagination, because it is above anything man was ever able to imagine? However, he is calculating and, of course, United Press has already spread the news all over the world. The magazine will be in the stands soon. The campaign is already under way; preparations for hysteria are already under way; the imaginary danger of an action by us against the base is already being reported.

And this is not all. Yesterday, another UPI report appeared with statements by a US senator whose name is pronounced, or so it seems to me, as Stail Bridge, and I understand he is a member of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, and he said today: “The US must make preparations at its Guantánamo Naval Base in Cuba no matter what.” And added: “We must go as far as it takes to defend the huge US facility. There we have naval forces, we have marines and, were we attacked, I certainly would defend it because I think it is the most important base in the Caribbean.”

This member of the Senate Armed Services Committe would not rule out completely the use of atomic weapons in case of an attack against the base.

What does this mean? This means that not only hysteria is being created, that not only opinions are being influenced systematically, but that we are being threatened even with the use of atomic weapons. And, actually, among the many things crossing our minds, one is asking this Mr. Bridge whether he is not ashamed when threatening a small country like Cuba with atomic weapons. (LONG APPLAUSE.)

For our part, and in full respect, we must tell him that the problems of the world cannot be solved by uttering threats and spreading fear, and that our modest and small people ... and what can we do about it? ... are here, whether he likes it or not, and the Revolution will go on, whether he likes it or not; and also, our modest and small people must accept their fate and are not cowed by his nuclear weapon use threats at all.

What does that mean? There are many countries in the world having US bases but, at least, and as far as we know, those bases are there not against the very governments which gave them such concessions. Our case is the most tragic one: It is having a base in our island territory against Cuba and against the Revolutionary Government of Cuba. That is, it is in the hands of those declaring themselves as enemies of our country, enemies of the Revolution and enemies of our people. In all the history of bases existing in the world today, Cuba´s case is the most tragic one: It is a base imposed in our indubitable territory far from US shores, against Cuba, against the people; it is being imposed forcibly and as a threat to and a concern for our people.

That is why we must state here, first, that such attack gibberish is intended to create hysteria and the conditions for aggressions against our country; that we have never talked about nor uttered ever a single word implying the idea of any kind of attack against the Guantánamo Naval Base. Because nobody is having a greater interest than us in not giving imperialism pretexts to attack us, and we are stating this here most emphatically; but we are also declaring that, as that base has become a threat to the safety and tranquility of our country and a threat to our people, the Revolutionary Government is considering very seriously to request, under the principles of international law, the withdrawal of US government navy and army forces from that portion of our territory (LONG APPLAUSE.) And the imperialist US government shall have no choice but to withdraw those forces, because, how will it justify in the eyes of the world its right to install an atomic base or a base which brings peril to our people in a portion of our territory, in an indubitable island which is the territory in the world where the Cuban people live? How will it justify in the eyes of the world any right to exert sovereignty on a portion of our territory? What will it tell the world to justify such arbitrariness? And, as it will not be able to justify such right in the eyes of the world, the time our government requests it, in line with international law, the US government shall have to abide by such law.

But this Assembly should be very well informed about Cuba´s problems because we must be vigilant against deceit and confusion. We must explain all these problems very clearly, because the security and fate of our country are at stake. And that is why we are asking these words go very much for the record, particularly if it is remembered that bad opinions or misinterpretations of Cuba´s problems by politicians in this country are showing no signs to get better.

Right here, for instance, I have statements by Mr. Kennedy that would astonish anybody. Concerning Cuba, he has said:

“We must exert all the OAS force to prevent Castro from interfering in other Latin American governments and bring freedom back to Cuba.” They are going to bring freedom back to Cuba!

“We must state our intent of not allowing the Soviet Union to turn Cuba into its Caribbean base and apply the Monroe Doctrine.”

Just in the middle of the Twentieth Century, or a little bit later, this candidate is talking about the Monroe Doctrine!

“We must make Premier Castro understand we intend to defend our right to the Guantánamo Naval Base.” He is the third, the third person to refer to the issue. “And we should make the Cuban people know we sympathize with their legitimate economic aspirations ...,” How come they did not sympathize before? “ ... that we know about their love of freedom, and that we shall never be satisfied until democracy is back in Cuba ...” What democracy? Democracy “made” in the imperialist monopolies of the US government?

“The forces fighting for freedom in exile ...” --here you should pay attention so as to understand later why planes are flying from US territory to Cuba; pay attention to what has been said by this gentleman--“... and in the Cuban mountains should be sustained and supported, and, in other Latin American countries, Communism should be kept confined and it should not be allowed to expand.”

If Kennedy were not an ignorant and illiterate millionaire, (APPLAUSE) he would realize it is not possible to carry out a revolution against peasants in the mountains with the support of large land holders, and that each time imperialism has tried to promote counterrevolutionary groups peasant militias, in a matter of days, have defeated them. But it seems he read, or saw in a Hollywood novel or in some movie, some story about guerrillas and believes that, socially speaking, it is possible to wage guerrilla warfare in Cuba today.

In any case, it is disheartening, but still, nobody should think these views on Kenendy´s statements mean we somewhat like the other one, Mr. Nixon, (LAUGHTER) at all, because Nixon has made similar statements. To us, they both lack political brains.

So far, we have expounded our country´s problem, which is our essential duty upon coming to the United Nations. But we do understand we would be a little selfish if our concerns were only about our specific case. It is also true we have spent most of our time informing this Assembly about the Cuba case, and we don´t have much time for discussing other matters about which we want to speak just briefly.

But Cuba´s case is not the only one. Thinking of Cuba´s case only would be a mistake. Cuba´s case is that of all underdeveloped peoples. Cuba´s case is like that of Congo´s, Egypt´s, Algeria´s or western Iran´s; (APPLAUSE) and, well, it is like the case of Panama, which wants its canal back; like the case of Puerto Rico, whose national identity is being destroyed; like the case of Honduras, part of whose territory is being seggregated; and, well, although we haven´t mentioned other countries specifically, Cuba´s case is the case of all underdeveloped and colonized countries.

The problems of Cuba we were describing could be easily found all over Latin America. Monopolies control economic resources in Latin America, and when they do not own mines directly, they do mining operations, as it happens with copper in Chile or Peru or Mexico, or with sync in Peru and Mexico, or with oil in Venezuela; or it is because they own utilities, utility companies as in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia; or they own telephone services, as in Chile, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Paraguay and Bolivia; or they trade in our products, as is the case of coffee from Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Costa Rica and

Guatemala; or in bananas, which are harvested, traded and also transported by the United Fruit Company in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Honduras; and as is the case of cotton in Mexico or cotton in Brazil. And monopolies control the country´s leading industries.

Economies are completely reliant on monopolies! Ah! The day they also want to embark on an agrarian reform there will be trouble! They will be asked to make prompt, efficient and just payment. And, if inspite of it all, they carry out an agrarian reform, the delegate from the sisterly country who comes to the UN shall be confined to Manhattan, no hotel shall accommodate him, slanders shall fall on his head, and it is even possible he is manhandled by the police.

The Cuba problem is just an example of the situation in Latin America. And for how long will Latin America be waiting for its development? Well, it shall have to wait, in the view of monopolies, till the Greek calends.

Who is going to industrialize Latin America? The monopolies? No. There is a UN Economic Secretariat report explaining, also, how private investment capital is going, not to countries where it is most needed for creating basic industries, to contribute to development, but instead, and preferably, to the most industrialized countries because, as so it is said or believed, there is greater safety there. And, of course, even the UN Economic Secretariat has admitted there is no possibility of development with private investment capital, that is, with monopolies.

Development in Latin America must be carried out through public investments that are planned for and conceived with no political conditionings because, of course, we all like representing a free country and nobody likes representing a country which does not feel free. None of us likes that the independence of one´s country is subordinated to interests which are not the country´s. So assistance should include no political conditionings.

Is it we will not be offered any assistance? It doesn´t matter. We have not asked for it. But, in the interest of Latin American peoples, we do think it is our solidarity duty to say that assistance should be given with no political conditionings. There should be public investments for economic development, and not for “social development,” which has been the latest invention to hide the real need for economic development.

The problems of Latin America are like the problems of the world, of the rest of the world, of Africa and Asia. The world is distributed among monopolies. Those very monopolies you see in Latin America are also in the Middle East. There, oil is in the hands of monopoly companies controlled by financial interests in the US, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France ... That´s the case of Iran, Irak and Saudi Arabia. I mean, it is happening everywhere in the world. The same is happening, let´s say, in the Phillipines. The same is happening in Africa. The world is distributed among monopoly interests. Who would dare denying that historical fact? And monopoly interests do not want the peoples to develop. What they want is to exploit the natural resources of the peoples and exploit the peoples. And the sooner their investment capitals are paid back or amortized the better.

The problems the people of Cuba have been having with the imperialist US government are the same ones Saudi Arabia, or Iran, or Irak, would have if they nationalized their oil. Those are the same problems Egypt faced when it nationalized, and rightly so, the Suez Canal; the same problems Oceania faced when it wanted to be independent, that is, Indonesia, when it wanted to be independent; the same surprise invasion of Egypt, the same surprise invasion of Congo.

Have colonialists or imperialists ever lacked pretexts for invasions? Never! They have always resorted to some pretext. And which are the colonialist countries? Which are the imperialist countries? Four or five countries own things. Or, rather, not four or five countries but four or five groups of monopolies are the ones owing the wealth of the world.

If an alien from outer space came to this Assembly without having read Karl Marx´s Communist Manifesto or cable news from UPI, AP or other monopolistic media, and asked how the world is partitioned, how it is distributed, and saw in a map that wealth is distributed among the monopolies of four or five countries, he would say, without any further consideration: “The distribution of the world is not right; the world is being exploited.”

And here, where underdeveloped countries are in a great majority, he would be able to say: “A great majority of the peoples you represent are being exploited and they have been exploited for a long time. The form of exploitation has changed, but they continue being exploited.” That would be the verdict.

There is a statement in Premier Krushchev´s sppech that drew our attention very much due to its value: He said that “the Soviet Union has neither colonies nor foreign investments in any country.”

Ah! What a good place our world, now facing cataclysmic threats, would be if the delegates from all nations could say also: “Our country has no colonies nor does it have investments in any foreign country!” (APPLAUSE)

It is idle to keep on talking about it. That´s the core of the matter, and even the key for peace and for war, the key for the arms race or for disarmament. From the beginning of humanity, wars have started essentially due to one reason: The desire of some to plunder the wealth of others. When the philosophy of plundering is gone, the philosophy of war shall be no more! (APPLAUSE) When there are no more colonies, when there is no more exploitation of countries by monopolies, then humanity shall have reached a true time of progress!

As long as such step is not taken, as long as such time is not reached, the world will have to live always with the nightmare of being involved in any crisis, in an atomic war. Why? Because there are some having an interest in continued plundering; there are some having an interest in continued exploitation.

We have talked about the case of Cuba here. We have learned from our case, due to the problems we have had with our imperialism, that is, the imperialism which is against us ... But, after all, imperialisms are all the same, and they are all allies. A country exploiting the peoples of Latin America or of any other part of the world is an ally in the exploitation of the other peoples of the world.

There is something in the speech by the US president that really worried us. He said:

“In developing zones, we should try to promote peaceful changes, and also to assist in the implementation of their economic and social progress. To do that, to attain such change, the international community should be able to have a presence in cases it is needed by sending UN observers or forces.

“I would wish that Member States take positive measures concerning the suggestions stated in the report by the Secretary General for the training of qualified staff within the Secretariat to assist in meeting the needs for UN forces.”

That is, after considering that Latin America, Africa, Asia and Oceania are “development zones,” he is calling for the promotion of “peaceful changes” and, for that, he is even proposing the use of “UN forces” or “observers.” But the United States came to the world through a revolution against those who colonized it. The right of the people to get rid of colonial power or any other form of oppression through a revolution was enshrined even by the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, and now the US government is calling for the use of UN forces to prevent revolutionary changes.

Now the Secretary General has suggested that Member States should be willing to meet future UN requests to contribute with keeping those forces. All countries represented here should meet such need by contributing with national contingents that could join those UN forces if need be. The time to do it is now, at this very Assembly. He assured countries now getting assistance from the United States of America to be in favor of the use of such assistance to help them in keeping contingents in the way suggested by the Secretary General. That is, he is saying to countries having bases and getting assistance there is a readiness to provide more assistance for the creation of that emergency force. In order to assist in the efforts by the Secretary General, the

United States of America is equally willing to provide great air and maritime support to transport contingents the UN asks for any future emergency situation. It means it is even offering its ships and aircraft for those emergency forces, and we wish to say here that fhe Cuban delegation shall not agree with such an emergency force until all the peoples of the world can be sure that those forces shall not be used in the service of colonialism and imperialism (APPLAUSE), and much less so when any of our countries may be at any time the target of the use of such forces in violation of the rights of our peoples.

There are several issues here various delegations have referred to already. Just due to lack of time, we only wish to express our view about the problem in Congo. It can be understood that, as our stance is against colonialism and the exploitation of undedeveloped countries, we condemn the way the UN forces intervention was carried out in Congo.

First, those forces did not go there to act against interventionist forces, which was the reason for calling them up. All the time needed for promoting the first dissension was given there. When this was not enough yet, time was given and an opportunity was favored for having the second dissension, and, finally, as radio stations and aerodromes were being seized there, the opportunity was favored for having the emergence of a third man, as those saviors that come up under such circumstances are called. We have known them too well already, because in the year of 1934, in Cuba, one of those saviors, called Fulgencio Batista, also emerged. In Congo, it is Mobutu. In Cuba, (Batista) was visiting the US embassy daily and it seems the one in Congo was doing the same. Is it because we are saying it? No. It is said, of all sources, by a magazine which is the biggest champion of monopolies and thus cannot be against them. It cannot support Lumumba, as it is against Lumumba and for Mobutu. But it also explains who he is, how he came up, how he worked, and, finally, in its last issue, Time magazine states: “Mobutu became a frequent visitor to the US embassy and held long talks with its officials. One afternoon last week, Mobutu held discussons with Camp Leopold officers and got their arousing support. That evening, he went to Radio Congo, the same Radio Congo station Lumumba had not been allowed to speack from and, simply, announced the army was taking power.”

Which means he did all that after frequent visits to and long talks with US embassy officials –it is being said by Time, which stands for monopolies.

Which means that colonialist interests have been clearly and evidently involved in Congo, and therefore it is our view that wrong things have been done, that colonialist interests have been favored and that all facts show the people of Congo are for and right is with the only leader, who stayed there defending the interests of his country, and that leader is Lumumba. (APPLAUSE)

If Afro-Asian peoples, in view of this situation and of this mysterious man who has come up there in Congo and been called upon to put aside the legitimate interests of the Congolese people and the legitimate governments of Congo, are able to make such legitimate powers reconcile themselves for the sake of the interests of Congo, so much for the better. But if such reconciliation is not reached, he who not only is having the support of the people and Parliament, but who has stood firmly in the face of monopoly interests and by the side of his people, should be seen as being right and having the law on his side.

Concerning the Algerian issue, we must say we fully support the right of the Algerian people to their independence, (APPLAUSE) and also, it has a touch of the ridiculous, like many other ridiculous things with an artificial life given by vested interests have. It is ridiculous to pretend that Algeria is part of the French nation. That has also been pretended by other countries to keep their colonies in the past. That thing called “integrism” failed historically. Let´s approach the question from the other end, that Algeria were the metropolis and declared that a piece of Europe was an integral part of its territory. That´s simply a feeble argument making no sense. Algeria, ladies and gentlemen, is part of Africa as France is part of Europe.

Yet, those African people have been waging a heroic struggle against the metropolis for several years now. Perhaps, as we are discussing here calmly, shrapnel and bombs of the French government or army are falling on Algerian villages and townships. And men are dying in a war about which there is no doubt whatsoever who is right and which can be ended taking into account even the interests of a minority, who are also the ones taken as a pretext to deny 90 percent of the population of Algeria their right to independence. Still, we are doing nothing. We went to Congo so quickly and we are showing so little desire to go to Algeria! (APPLAUSE) And, if the Algerian government (which is also a government as it is representing millions of Algerians who are fighting) requests UN forces to go there also, would we go as promptly? It would be good we went as promptly, but with different ends, that is, with the end of upholding the interests of the colony and not the interests of colonizers!

So we take sides with the Algerian people, as we take sides with the peoples still under the yoke of colonialism in Africa, and with the discriminated blacks of the Union of South Africa, and we are taking sides with the peoples wanting to be free, and not only politicially free, as it is very easy to hoist a flag and have a coat of arms and anthem and a color in a map, but economically free. Because there is a fact we all should have foremost in our minds, and it is there is no political independence without economic independence, that political independence is a lie if there no economic independence. And so, we support the aspiration to be politically and economically free, and not just having a flag and a coat of arms and representation at the United Nations. We want to uphold another right here, a right that has been proclaimed by our people at a big mass rally recently: The right of underdeveloped countries to nationalize, without indemnity, natural resources and monopoly investments in their respective territories. That is, we are calling for the nationalization of natural resources and foreign investments in underdeveloped countries.

And, if highly industrialized nations want to do it also, we shall not oppose it. (APPLAUSE)

For countries to be truly free politically, they must be truly free economically, and then they should be helped. We will be asked about the value of investments and we are asking about the amount of profits, the profits which have been taken away from underveloped peoples subdued by colonialism for decades, or even for centuries!

There is also a proposal by the head of the Ghanean delegation we wish to support. The proposal that the territory of Africa has no military bases and thus no nuclear arms bases; that is, a proposal to free Africa from the perils of an atomic war. Something has been done over Antarctica already. Why, while there is progress toward disarmament, don´t we make progress also to free certain regions of the world from the danger of nuclear war? Yes, Africa is being reborn, that Africa we are learning to know; not the Africa we were shown in maps, not the Africa we were shown in Hollywood movies and in novels, not that Africa where there were always half-naked tribes wielding spears who would run away at the first clash with the white hero, that white hero who got bigger as he killed more African natives. That Africa standing up here with leaders like Nkruma and Sekou Touré, or that Africa of the Arab world of Nasser; the true Africa, the oppressed continent, the exploited continent, the continent from where millions of slaves came, that Africa whose history is so full of suffering. With that Africa, to that Africa, we have a duty: Preserving it from the danger of destruction. Other peoples should make it up to Africa to some measure, the West should make it up to Africa for the great suffering it has brought to it, by preserving it from the danger of atomic war, by declaring Africa as a zone free from such danger; that no atomic bases are opened there and that, at least, the continent, until we can do something else, is the sancturary for preserving human life. (LONG APPLAUSE) We do support that proposal.

And, on the issue of disarmament, on the issue of disarmament we fully support the Soviet proposal --and we are not blushing here for supporting the Soviet proposal. We believe it is a correct, specific, defined and clear proposal.

For instance, we have read carefully the speech made here by President Eisenhower and, really, he didn´t talk about disarmament, about the development of underdeveloped countries or about the problem of the colonies. Actually, it would be good that the citizens of this country, who are so influenced by false propaganda, objectively read the speeches by the US president and the Soviet premier to realize where there is a sincere concern over the problems of the world, to see where things are said clearly and honestly and, also, to see who are those wanting disarmament and who are those not wanting disarmament and why.

The Soviet proposal is crystal clear. The Soviet statement has gone as far as it can get. Why the reservations when such a big issue as this one has never been discussed so clearly?

The history of the world has shown tragically that arms races have always led to war. But, still, nowhere in time has war meant so big a catastrophe for humanity as now and, consequently, never has responsibility been so big. And, concerning this issue which worries humanity so much, because its existence is virtually at stake with it, the Soviet delegation has put forward a proposal for total, complete and far-reaching disarmament. Who could ask for more? Ask for more, if you can! Ask for more guarantees, if you can! But the proposal is as clear and defined as it can be, and, historically, you cannot give a negative answer to it without taking the responsibility of risking war and war itself.

Why the desire to prevent the General Assembly from discussing the issue? Why doesn´t the US delegation want to discuss this matter among all of us? Is it we hold no views? Is it we should not know about the problem? Is it a commission should meet? Why isn´t the most democratic thing done? Namely, that the General Assembly, all delegates, discuss the disarmament issue here, and that everybody does air his views and it is known who is for disarmament and who is not, who wants to play with war and who doesn´t, and who is ignoring that aspiration of humanity. Because humanity should never be dragged into a catastrophe by selfish and mean interests! Humanity, our peoples, not us, must be saved from such catastrophe, so that everything human knowledge and intelligence have created is not used for the very destruction of humanity.

The Soviet delegation has spoken clearly, and I am being objective by saying this, and I urge you to discuss such proposals, and that everyone says what he thinks. Above all, this is not just a question for delegations: This is a question for public opinion! War-mongerers and militarists must be exposed and condemned by world public opinion! This is not a problem concerning minorities; it concerns the world. And war-mongerers and militarists must be unmasked and that´s a task for public opinion. It should be discussed not only in the plenary session: It should be discussed before the whole world. It should be discussed before the general assembly of the whole world because, in case of war, not only those responsible shall be exterminated. It will be the extermination of hundreds of millions of innocent people who are not to be blamed at all, and that´s why we, meeting here as the representatives of the world –or part of the world, as not all the world is represented here yet, and it will be so fully only when the People´s Republic of China is represented here!-- must take measures. (APPLAUSE) Of course, one fourth of the world is absent from this Assembly, but the part that is here has a duty to speak up clearly and not to hide, and to discuss everything, because this is too serious an issue, this is a more important problem, and discussing it shall entail more economic benefit than all other commitments as it is a commitment with preserving the life of humanity. Let us all discuss, and let us all talk about this problem and let us all endeavor for the sake of peace or, at least, to unmask militarists and war-mongerers. And, above all, if we underveloped countries want to cherish hopes for progress, want to have hopes that our peoples enjoy higher living standards, we must strive for peace and we must strive for disarmament, because one fifth of what the world is spending in weapons could be used to promote development in all underdeveloped countries at a 10-percent growth rate. Just one fifth! And, of course, the living standards in countries spending their resources in weapons could be raised.

But which are the obstacles facing disarmament? Who are those interested in being armed? Those with an interest in being armed to the teeth and the ones wanting to keep colonies, the ones wanting to keep monopolies, the ones wanting to keep Middle

Eastern oil and natural resources in Latin America, Africa and Asia in their hands, and, to keep them, they need force. And you know perfectly well those territories were occupied and colonized by virtue of the right of force; millions of men were enslaved by virtue of the right of force. And it is by force such exploitation is continued in the world. So those chiefly interested in having no disarmament are those interested in keeping force, to preserve their control over the natural resources and wealth of the peoples and over cheap labor in underdeveloped countries. We promised we would speak clearly, and truth should be told for what it is.

So, colonialists are the enemies of disarmament. We must struggle together with world opinion to impose disarmament on them, as we must struggle together with world opinion to impose on them the right of peoples to their political and economic liberation.

Monopolies are the enemies of diasarmament because, besides imposing such interests with weapons, the arms race has always been big business for monopolies. And, for instance, everybody knows that in this country big monopolies tripled their capitals after World War II. Like vultures, monopolies feed on the bodies of those killed in wars.

And war is business. Those doing business with war, those getting rich with war, must be unmasked. We must open the eyes of the world and tell it who are the ones trading in the fate of humanity, those trading in the peril of war, specially when war may be so terrible there will be no more hope of liberation or survival in the world after it.

And that is an endeavor we, as a small and underdeveloped country, are inviting, specially, other small and underdevloped peoples, as well as all this Assembly, to join, and to struggle and to bring the issue here; if we don´t, we won´t forgive ourselves for the consequences later if, due to our negligence or infirmity or weakness concerning this problem, the world is increasingly immersed in the perils of war.

There is one more point that, according to what we have read in some newspapers, was going to be one of the points by the Cuban delegation and, logically, it was the issue of the People´s Republic of China.

Other delegations have raised it already. We wish to state here that the fact a discussion of such problem has not even started here is actually a negation of the United Nations´ reason to be and essence. Why?

Because that´s what the US government wants. Why should the UN General Assembly give up its right to discuss that issue?

Many countries have joined this organization in recent years. Opposing a debate here on the righs of the People´s Republic of China, that is, of 99% of the inhabitants of a country of over 600 million, to be represented here is denying the realities of history, and denying occurrences and the facts of life themselves. It is simply absurd and ridiculous that such an issue is not even discussed. And for how long are we going to play that pitiful role of not even discussing this problem when we have here the representatives of, for instance, Spain´s Franco?

We would like to make a consideration on how the United Nations came into being.

It came into being after the struggle against fascism, after tens of millions of people died. And thus, out of a war that took so many lives, the organization emerged as a hope. Still, there are remarkable paradoxes. While US soldiers were dying in Guam, Guadalcanal or Okinawa, or in any of the many islands in Asia, other men were also falling in continental China fighting the same enemy. And those are the same men to whom the right to a discussion on their admission to the United Nations is being denied. And while in those days there were Blue Division soldiers fighting in the Soviet Union for fascism, the People´s Republic of China is being denied the right his case is debated here at the United Nations.

However, that regime which emerged as a result of German Nazism and Italian Fascism, which stormed power with Hitler´s guns and planes and Mussolini´s Blackshirts, was generously admitted to the United Nations.

China has one fourth of the world´s population. What government really represents those people, the largest in the world? Simply, the government of the People´s Republic of China. And there is still another regime, in the midst of a civil war which was interrupted by the interference of the US Seventh Fleet.

It is still worth asking here what is the right the navy of a country from another continent has to do that (and it is worthwhile repeating this here), at times there is so much talk of extracontinental interference; and we should be given an explanation why the fleet of an extracontinental country meddled there in an internal affair of China´s with the single aim of keeping a friendly group there and impeding the total liberation of the territory. But, as it is an absurd situation and an illegal situation from any viewpoint, the United States does not want a discussion about the issue of the People´s Republic of China. And, for the record, we wish to state our viewpoint here and our support to such debate and to the legitimate representatives of the Chinese people, who are the representatives of the government of the People´s Republic of China, having their seats at the United Nations General Assembly.

I understand perfectly well it is somewhat unlikely that anyone here can get rid of the stereotyped notions by which the representatives of nations are often judged. I must say we have come here with no prejudices, to discuss matters objectively, not fearing other people´s views or the consequences of our attitude.

We have been honest, we have been frank (with no franquismo), (APPLAUSE) because we don´t want to be an accessory to that great injustice being committed against many Spaniards who have been in jail in Spain for 20 or more years and who fought together with Americans in the Lincoln Battalion, the comrades of those very Americans who went there to be true to the name of that great American, Abraham Lincoln.

In sum, we shall trust reasoning and everybody´s honesty. There are aspects concerning these problems of the world with which we would like to summarize our thoughts, things that are indubitable. We have explained our problem here. It is one of the problems of the world. Those attacking us today are the ones helping to attack others in other parts of the world.

The US government cannot take sides with the Algerian people because it is an ally of the metropolis, France. It cannot take sides with the Congolese people because it is an ally of Belgium. It cannot take sides with the Spanish people because it is an ally of Franco. It cannot take sides with the Puerto Rican people, whose nationhood it has been destroying for 50 years. It cannot take sides with the Panamanians, who are claiming the Canal. It cannot be with the strengthening of civilian power in Latin America, Germany or Japan. It cannot take sides with peasants wanting lands because it is an ally of large land holders. It cannot take sides with workers demanding better living conditions anywhere in the world because it is an ally of monopolies. It cannot take sides with colonies seeking independence because it is an ally of colonizers.

That means it is with Franco, with colonization in Algeria, with colonization in Congo; it is with keeping its privileges and interests in the Canal, with colonialism all over the world. It is with German militarism and the resurgence of German militarism. It is with Japanese militarism and the resurgence of Japanese militarism.

The US government is ignoring the millions of Hebrews who were killed in European concentration camps by Nazis who are now regaining their influence in the German army. It is ignoring the Frenchmen who were killed in their heroic struggle against occupation. It is ignoring the US soldiers who died in the Sigfried Line, in the Ruhr or in the Rhine, or in the Asian fronts. It cannot be with the integrity and sovereignty of the peoples. Why? Because it needs to sever the sovereignty of peoples to keep its military bases, and each base is a knife stabbed on sovereignty, each base is a severance of sovereignty.

That is why it must be against the sovereignty of peoples; because it must sever sovereignty to continue its policy of bases encircling the Soviet Union. And we believe the US people are not being explained these matters well. It would be enough that the US people imagined what would come of their safety if the Soviet Union began establishing a ring of atomic bases in Cuba, Mexico or Canada. People in the US would feel unsafe, they would be uneasy.

World public opinion, which includes US public opinion, should be taught how to see problems from another angle, from the angle of others. Aren´t undeveloped peoples and revolutionaries depicted always as the aggressors, as the enemies of the US people? We cannot be the enemies of the US people because we have seen Americans like Carleton Beals, or Waldo Frank, and great and distinguished intellectuals like them, with tears in their eyes over the mistakes being made, over the lack of hospitality we experienced in particular. I see, in many US people, in the most humane and progressive and valuable US writers, the noble feelings of the early leaders of this country, of Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. I´m saying this not demagogically but out of our sincere admiration for those who one day were able to free their people from the colony and to struggle, but not for their country to be now the ally of all the reacionaries of the world, the ally of all the gangsters of the world, the ally of large land holders, of monopolies, of exploiters, or militarists, of fascists, that is, not to be the ally of the most backward-minded and reactionary people but for their country to be always the champion of noble and lofty ideals.

We, by the way, know what they are going to tell the US people today, tomorrow and always about us to deceive them. It doesn´t matter. We are fulfilling our duty by expressing these feelings at this historic Assembly. We proclaim the right of peoples to their integrity, the right of peoples to their nationhood, and those knowing that nationalism means an endeavor to get back what is yours, your wealth and natural resources, are conspiring against nationalism.

In sum, we support all the noble aspirations of all peoples. That´s our position. We support and shall always support everything that is just, and be against colonialism, against exploitation, against monopolies, against militarism, against the arms race, against playing with war. We shall always be against those things. That shall be our position.

And, to conclude, and to fulfill what we deem as our duty, we will read to this Assembly the essential part of the Havana Declaration. You know the Havana Declaration was the response by the people of Cuba to the Costa Rica Letter. It was not a gathering of 10, 100 or 100 000 but of over a million Cubans. Those in doubt, may go there and count them at the next rally or general assembly we hold in Cuba; certainly, they will have the sight of an enthusiastic people and of a people with an awareness, a sight most likely they shall not have had before, one that only takes place when the people are fervently upholding their most sacred interests.

During that assembly to respond to the Costa Rica Letter, after a consultation with the people and as agreed by acclamation by them, these principles were proclaimed as the principles of the Cuban Revolution:

“The National General Assembly of the People of Cuba condems large land holding, the cause of poverty for peasants and a backward and inhumane agricultural production system; it condems hand-to-mouth wages and the iniquitous explotation of human labor by bastardly and privileged interests; it condems illiteracy, the lack of teachers, schools, physicians and hospitals, and the lack of protection for elderly persons that are rampant in the countries of the Americas; it condemns discrimination against Blacks and Indians; it condems women´s inequality and exploitation; it condems the political and military oligarchies that are keeping our peoples in poverty, preventing their democratic development and the full exercise of their sovereignty; it condems concessions on the natural resources of our countries to foreign monopolies as part of a submissive and treasonous policy that harms the interests of the people; it condems the governments which ignore the sentiments of their peoples so as to obey foreign orders; it condemns the systematic lies to the people by the media which are answerable to the interests of oligarchies and the policies of oppressive imperialism; it condems the monopoly over news by monopolistic news agencies, which are the tools of monopoly trusts and the agents of such interests; it condemns repressive laws prohibiting workers, peasants, students, intellectuals and the large majorities in each country to organize themselves and struggle for their social and patriotic reivindications; it condemns imperialist monopolies and companies that are constantly plundering our wealth, exploiting our workers and peasants, bleeding our economies and keeping them in backwardness and subordinating Latin American politics to their designs and interests.

“In sum, the National General Assembly of the People of Cuba condems exploitation of man by man and the exploitation of underveloped countries by imperialist financial capital.

“Consequently, the National General Assembly of the People of Cuba is proclaiming to the Americas --and it is proclaiming it here to the world:

“The right of peasants to have lands; the right of workers to enjoy the results of their labor; the right of children to education; the right of sick persons to medical and hospital care; the right of youths to work; the right of students to free, experimental and scientific education; the right of Blacks and Indians to the ´full dignity of man;´ the right of women to civil, social and political equality; the right of elderly persons to secure old age; the right of intellectuals, artists and scientists to strive, through their works, for a better world; the right of States to nationalize imperialist monopolies, thus recovering national wealth and resources; the right of countries to free trade with all the peoples of the world; the right of nations to their full sovereignty; the right of people to turn their army fortresses into schools and to arm their workers,” (as in this case we´ve got to be for weapons, in the sense of arming our people to defend ourselves from imperialist attacks), “peasants, students, intellectuals, and Blacks and Indians, and women, youths old persons, all those who have been oppressed and exploited, so that they themselves defend their rights and fate.”

Some wanted to know the line of the Revolutionary Government of Cuba. Well, this is our line!

Typewritten version of the Council of State

Subscribe to newsletter

Latest news!

You can make your contribution to the website “Fidel Soldado de las Ideas” (Fidel Soldier of Ideas) writing to [email protected]

Related contents.

  • Fidel Castro - What Trump and the haters he encourages ignore
  • The CIA and hate as a weapon on social networks
  • Indelible memories
  • May 22, 2008
  • November 27, 2001
  • November 12, 2010

Letters and Messages

  • Message to people of Holguin
  • August 29th 1947
  • November 2th 1948
  • 20 de abril de 1956
  • SECOND EPISTLE
  • Proclamation by an adversary of the US government
  • Speech delivered at the funeral for the victims of the bombings to different airports of the republic held at the intersection of the Avenues 23rd and 12 in Havana across the Colon cemetery
  • Unpublished interview of Lisa Howard to Fidel Castro (1964): The US should live in peace with Cuba

Fragmento de Portada

  • October 26, 2011
  • April 13, 2009
  • May 7, 2010
  • Atilio Borón calls on the international community to reject current US escalation against Cuba
  • African Union calls on U.S. to end unjustified blockade of Cuba
  • Díaz-Canel says Cuba is waiting for U.S. response to the attack on embassy

Reflections

  • PHILIPS’ DOUBLE BETRAYAL
  • “THE DISASTER IN JAPAN AND A VISIT FROM A FRIEND”
  • AN ATROCIOUS ACT

Soldier of Ideas

  • International edition
  • Australia edition
  • Europe edition

Screens show the voting result during the vote on a resolution to bestow full membership to the state of Palestine.

UN general assembly votes to back Palestinian bid for membership

Assembly votes 143 to nine, with 25 abstentions, signalling Israel’s growing isolation on the world stage

The UN general assembly has voted overwhelmingly to back the Palestinian bid for full UN membership, in a move that signalled Israel’s growing global isolation amid alarm over the war in Gaza and the extent of the humanitarian crisis in the territory.

The assembly voted by 143 to nine, with 25 abstentions, for a resolution that called on the UN security council to bestow full membership to the state of Palestine, while enhancing its current mission with a range of new rights and privileges, in addition to what it is allowed in its current observer status.

The highly charged gesture drew an immediate rebuke from Israel. Its envoy to the UN, Gilad Erdan, delivered a fiery denunciation of the resolution and its backers before the vote.

“Today, I will hold up a mirror for you,” Erdan said, taking out a small paper shredder in which he shredded a copy of the cover of the UN charter. He told the assembly: “You are shredding the UN charter with your own hands. Yes, yes, that’s what you’re doing. Shredding the UN charter. Shame on you.”

The other nations that voted against the resolution were Argentina, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Papua New Guinea. The UK abstained.

The Palestinian envoy, Riyad Mansour, pointed out the vote was being held at a time when Rafah, the southernmost city that is the last haven for many Palestinians in Gaza, faced attack from Israeli forces.

“As we speak, 1.4 million Palestinians in Rafah wonder if they will survive the day and wonder where to go next. There is nowhere left to go,” Mansour said. “I have stood hundreds of times before at this podium, often in tragic circumstances, but none comparable to the ones my people endured today … never for a more significant vote than the one about to take place, a historic one.”

Late on Friday the US government said it was “reasonable to assess” that the weapons it had provided to Israel had been used in ways that were “inconsistent” with international humanitarian law – but found there was not enough concrete evidence to link specific US-supplied weapons to violations or to warrant cutting the supply of arms.

In a highly anticipated report to Congress, the state department said the assurances given by Israel that they had been using US-supplied weapons in accordance with international humanitarian law (IHL) were “credible and reliable”.

The report, which had been held up for several days by debate within the state department, expressed deep misgivings about Israeli compliance with IHL but said the US did not have sufficient evidence about individual cases to recommend that arms supplies be suspended.

It came two days after Joe Biden expressed his own misgivings over the Israeli use of US-supplied weapons, and suggested they underpinned his decision last week to hold up a shipment of particularly powerful US-made bombs .

Friday’s UN resolution was carefully tailored over recent days, diluting its language so as not to trigger a cut-off of US funding under a 1990 law. It does not make Palestine a full member, or give it voting rights in the assembly, or the right to stand for membership of the security council, but the vote was a resounding expression of world opinion in favour of Palestinian statehood, galvanised by the continuing deaths and famine caused by Israel’s war in Gaza.

Even before the vote, Israel and a group of leading Republicans urged US funding be cut anyway because of the new privileges the resolution granted to the Palestinian mission.

The US mission to the UN, which voted against the resolution, said it would use its veto again if the question of Palestinian membership returned to the security council for another vote.

“Efforts to advance this resolution do not change the reality that the Palestinian Authority does not currently meet the criteria for UN membership under the UN charter,” the mission’s spokesperson, Nathan Evans, said. “Additionally, the draft resolution does not alter the status of the Palestinians as a “non-member state observer mission”.

Under the resolution, the Palestinian mission will have the right to sit in the general assembly among other states in alphabetical order, rather than in its current observer seat at the back of the chamber. Palestinian diplomats will have the right to introduce proposals and amendments, they can be elected to official posts in the full chamber and on committees, and will have the right to speak on Middle Eastern matters, as well as the right to make statements on behalf of groups of nations in the assembly.

But the resolution also makes plain that “the state of Palestine, in its capacity as an observer state, does not have the right to vote in the general assembly or to put forward its candidature to United Nations organs.”

Richard Gowan, the UN director at the International Crisis Group, said: “In essence, it gives the Palestinians the airs and graces of a UN member, but without the fundamental attributes of a real member, which are voting power and the right to run for the security council.”

The general assembly resolution was crafted to fall short of the benchmark set in a 1990 US law that bans funding of the UN or any UN agency “which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states”.

The main faction in the PLO, Fatah, now controls the Palestinian Authority, which the Biden administration is backing to govern Gaza, which is currently run by Hamas, after the war is over.

Despite the wording in the resolution making clear Palestine would not have a vote, Israel called on the US to cut funding for the UN, and a group of Republican senators announced they were introducing legislation to do that.

“The US should not lend credibility to an organization that actively promotes and rewards terrorism. By granting any sort of status at the UN to the Palestine Liberation Organization, we would be doing just that,” Senator Mitt Romney said in a written statement. “Our legislation would cut off US taxpayer funding to the UN if it gives additional rights and privileges to the Palestinian Authority and the PLO.”

On Thursday night, Israel’s security cabinet approved a “measured expansion” of Israeli forces’ operation in Rafah, after ceasefire talks in Cairo stalled. The US adamantly opposes the Rafah offensive, and has paused the delivery of a consignment of bombs, and President Biden has threatened further restrictions on arms supplies if Israel presses ahead with the attack.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, vowed to defy US objections, saying Israel would fight on “with our fingernails” if necessary. On Monday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) took control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing, after ordering civilians in the east of Rafah city to evacuate. Since then more than 150,000 people have fled the area. On Friday, the UN reported intense clashes between the IDF and Palestinian militants on the eastern outskirts of the city. The fighting has cut off aid supplies to Gaza at a time of spreading famine.

Jan Egeland, the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council , said on X that he had been told by NRC workers in Rafah that “the IDF assault is intensifying with continuous, massive explosions. There is no fuel, transportation, nor safe evacuation areas for most of the remaining 1.2 million civilians.”

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said during a visit to Nairobi that the situation in Rafah was “on a knife’s edge”.

“A massive ground attack in Rafah would lead to [an] epic humanitarian disaster and pull the plug on our efforts to support people as famine looms,” he said.

  • United Nations
  • Palestinian territories
  • Israel-Gaza war
  • Middle East and north Africa

Most viewed

Malala Yousafzai: 16th birthday speech at the United Nations

"So let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism and let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons." {"content":{"data":{},"content":[{"data":{},"content":[{"data":{},"marks":[],"value":"\"So let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism and let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.\"","nodeType":"text"}],"nodeType":"paragraph"}],"nodeType":"document"}}

New York, New York

Bismillah hir rahman ir rahim. In the name of God, the most merciful, the most beneficent.

Honourable UN Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon, Respected President General Assembly Vuk Jeremic Honourable UN envoy for Global education Mr Gordon Brown, Respected elders and my dear brothers and sisters; Today, it is an honour for me to be speaking again after a long time. Being here with such honourable people is a great moment in my life.

I don't know where to begin my speech. I don't know what people would be expecting me to say. But first of all, thank you to God for whom we all are equal and thank you to every person who has prayed for my fast recovery and a new life. I cannot believe how much love people have shown me. I have received thousands of good wish cards and gifts from all over the world. Thank you to all of them. Thank you to the children whose innocent words encouraged me. Thank you to my elders whose prayers strengthened me.

I would like to thank my nurses, doctors and all of the staff of the hospitals in Pakistan and the UK and the UAE government who have helped me get better and recover my strength. I fully support Mr Ban Ki-moon the Secretary-General in his Global Education First Initiative and the work of the UN Special Envoy Mr Gordon Brown. And I thank them both for the leadership they continue to give. They continue to inspire all of us to action.

There are hundreds of human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for human rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goals of education, peace and equality. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them.

So here I stand, one girl among many.

I speak not for myself, but for all girls and boys.

I raise up my voice — not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.

Those who have fought for their rights:

Their right to live in peace. Their right to be treated with dignity. Their right to equality of opportunity. Their right to be educated.

Dear Friends, on the 9th of October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed. And then, out of that silence came, thousands of voices. The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same.

Dear sisters and brothers, I am not against anyone. Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorists group. I am here to speak up for the right of education of every child. I want education for the sons and the daughters of all the extremists especially the Taliban.

I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me. I would not shoot him. This is the compassion that I have learnt from Muhammad — the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This is the legacy of change that I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This is the philosophy of non-violence that I have learnt from Gandhi Jee, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa. And this is the forgiveness that I have learnt from my mother and father. This is what my soul is telling me, be peaceful and love everyone.

Dear sisters and brothers, we realise the importance of light when we see darkness. We realise the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, when we were in Swat, the north of Pakistan, we realised the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.

The wise saying, "The pen is mightier than sword” was true. The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them. And that is why they killed 14 innocent medical students in the recent attack in Quetta. And that is why they killed many female teachers and polio workers in Khyber Pukhtoon Khwa and FATA. That is why they are blasting schools every day. Because they were and they are afraid of change, afraid of the equality that we will bring into our society.

I remember that there was a boy in our school who was asked by a journalist, "Why are the Taliban against education?” He answered very simply. By pointing to his book he said, “A Talib doesn't know what is written inside this book.” They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would send girls to the hell just because of going to school. The terrorists are misusing the name of Islam and Pashtun society for their own personal benefits. Pakistan is peace-loving democratic country. Pashtuns want education for their daughters and sons. And Islam is a religion of peace, humanity and brotherhood. Islam says that it is not only each child's right to get education, rather it is their duty and responsibility.

Honourable Secretary General, peace is necessary for education. In many parts of the world especially Pakistan and Afghanistan; terrorism, wars and conflicts stop children to go to their schools. We are really tired of these wars. Women and children are suffering in many parts of the world in many ways. In India, innocent and poor children are victims of child labour. Many schools have been destroyed in Nigeria. People in Afghanistan have been affected by the hurdles of extremism for decades. Young girls have to do domestic child labour and are forced to get married at early age. Poverty, ignorance, injustice, racism and the deprivation of basic rights are the main problems faced by both men and women.

Dear fellows, today I am focusing on women's rights and girls' education because they are suffering the most. There was a time when women social activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But, this time, we will do it by ourselves. I am not telling men to step away from speaking for women's rights rather I am focusing on women to be independent to fight for themselves.

Dear sisters and brothers, now it's time to speak up.

So today, we call upon the world leaders to change their strategic policies in favour of peace and prosperity.

We call upon the world leaders that all the peace deals must protect women and children's rights. A deal that goes against the dignity of women and their rights is unacceptable.

We call upon all governments to ensure free compulsory education for every child all over the world.

We call upon all governments to fight against terrorism and violence, to protect children from brutality and harm.

We call upon the developed nations to support the expansion of educational opportunities for girls in the developing world.

We call upon all communities to be tolerant — to reject prejudice based on cast, creed, sect, religion or gender. To ensure freedom and equality for women so that they can flourish. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.

We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave — to embrace the strength within themselves and realise their full potential.

Dear brothers and sisters, we want schools and education for every child's bright future. We will continue our journey to our destination of peace and education for everyone. No one can stop us. We will speak for our rights and we will bring change through our voice. We must believe in the power and the strength of our words. Our words can change the world.

Because we are all together, united for the cause of education. And if we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must not forget that millions of people are suffering from poverty, injustice and ignorance. We must not forget that millions of children are out of schools. We must not forget that our sisters and brothers are waiting for a bright peaceful future.

So let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism and let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.

One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.

Education is the only solution. Education first.

why did felix give a speech to the united nations

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist, student, UN messenger of peace and the youngest Nobel Laureate. As co-founder of Malala Fund, she is building a world where every girl can learn and lead without fear.

Related Posts

Malala yousafzai: nobel peace prize acceptance speech, malala yousafzai: g7 education and development ministers meeting, sign up to learn how you can help support malala fund and receive the latest updates on our work..

UN logo

  • Our Activities
  • Our Mandate & History
  • Our Collections
  • UN Depository Libraries
  • Library News
  • UN Resources & Documents
  • UN Digital Library
  • Index to Proceedings
  • Linked Data Services
  • Research Guides
  • Voting Information
  • Member States on the Record
  • Articles, Books & More
  • UN Libraries
  • Researchers & Librarians
  • General Public
  • Access Electronic Resources
  • Borrow Books & More
  • Request Articles, Books & Documents
  • Visit the Library
  • Open Science

Speeches and meetings

Secretary-General António Guterres giving a speech

The United Nations Digital Library provides access to individual speeches contained within meeting records of the Principal organs. Speeches since the mid-1980s or earlier, depending on the body, can be searched by country or organization, speaker, document symbol, or topic. Historic data is added regularly.

The Index to Proceedings (ITP) is a powerful tool which provides a window into the annual meetings of the main UN organs. The publication is comprised of a subject index to all the documents issued by the body in question during a particular session/year and an index to speeches delivered before the forum in question during a particular session/year. 

General Debate statements

Ask DAG has entries for each Member State's statements in the General Assembly's general debate from 1946 to today. Search by country name.

AskDAG logo

  • How can I find a statement made by the president of a country?
  • Where can I find speeches made during the General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council meetings?
  • Where can I find statements made at the general debate of the General Assembly?

General debate statements at your fingertips

General Assembly

  • UN Member States on the Record

why did felix give a speech to the united nations

get direct access to documents reflecting the views of UN Member States

Services for...

Research the un, using the library.

202,000 pages digitized in 2022

OPENING HOURS

Online: Mon-Fri: 9am–5pm ET

Reading rooms: Mon-Fri: 10am-4pm ET

Teaching American History

Special Message to the Congress on Greece and Turkey (The Truman Doctrine)

  • March 12, 1947

Introduction

In this speech, Democratic President Harry S. Truman hoped to persuade Congress to provide $400 million in economic and military aid to Greece and Turkey. Both nations, especially Greece, had emerged from World War II in difficult situations. The German occupation of Greece resulted in widespread damage to the impoverished nation’s infrastructure and economy. Civil conflict in Greece threatened to topple its government, and communist rebels in Greece received support from the communist states of Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. Though Turkey was spared wartime devastation, after the war the Soviet Union began pressuring the Turkish government to allow the Soviets to set up military bases in the Black Sea Straits. In February 1947, the British government, which had been financially assisting Greece, informed the United States that it could no longer afford this aid.

These developments caused great alarm within the U.S. State Department. Should the Soviet Union gain control of the Black Sea Straits, it would have unchecked access to the Mediterranean Sea. Communist influence in Greece would likewise increase Soviet power in an area of vital importance to the United States and its European allies. George Kennan’s prediction that the Soviet Union would slowly but steadily undermine governments in areas where it wanted to expand appeared to be coming true.

Prior to his speech, Truman met with leaders of Congress, now controlled by the opposition party. (Republicans had won a commanding majority during the 1946 midterm elections.) Senator Arthur Vandenberg (R-Mich.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, purportedly told the president that he would need to “scare” the American people in order to persuade them to assist Greece and Turkey. Whether or not Vandenberg actually offered such advice, Truman provided a somber view of the present world situation. After detailing the economic and political struggles of Greece and Turkey, the president reminded listeners of the principles for which the United States fought in World War II, especially the right of all people to determine the form of government under which they live. (For examples, see World War II: Core Documents, The Four Freedoms and The Atlantic Charter ). To ignore Greece and Turkey in their time of need, Truman suggested, would betray the hard-won Allied victory and contribute to global instability by allowing communism to spread.

The influence of the speech was tremendous. After lengthy debate, Congress approved the aid request. Greece received most of the aid, $300 million, with the remainder, $100 million, going to Turkey. Both nations became U.S. allies; both joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization organized by the United States two years later (1949). The greatest result of the speech was the so-called doctrine it established. In the heart of the speech, Truman outlined two ways of life. The first, based upon “the will of the majority,” provides citizens with basic rights and freedoms – a constitutional democracy, in other words. The second way of life, carried out by “the will of a minority,” is forced upon people by “terror and oppression.” Although the president only referred to communism once and never mentioned the Soviet Union by name in his address, the association was clear: the United States supports and defends the first way of life while the Soviet Union aggressively advances the second. Therefore, the president asserted, “It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” This statement helped establish the containment of communism as the basic goal of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War. The influence of the Truman Doctrine is evident in numerous documents in this collection, including the Marshall Plan , NSC 68 , Truman’s Farewell Address , John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address , and the Rusk-McNamara Report .

Source: Address of the President of the United States, Recommendation for Assistance to Greece and Turkey, March 12, 1947. Available at https://goo.gl/AjyAtq .

The gravity of the situation which confronts the world today necessitates my appearance before a joint session of the Congress. The foreign policy and the national security of this country are involved.

One aspect of the present situation, which I wish to present to you at this time for your consideration and decision, concerns Greece and Turkey.

The United States has received from the Greek Government an urgent appeal for financial and economic assistance . . . if Greece is to survive as a free nation.

I do not believe that the American people and the Congress wish to turn a deaf ear to the appeal of the Greek Government. . . .

Greece is today without funds to finance the importation of those goods which are essential to bare subsistence. Under these circumstances the people of Greece cannot make progress in solving their problems of reconstruction. Greece is in desperate need of financial and economic assistance to enable it to resume purchases of food, clothing, fuel, and seeds. These are indispensable for the subsistence of its people and are obtainable only from abroad. Greece must have help to import the goods necessary to restore internal order and security so essential for economic and political recovery. . . .

The very existence of the Greek state is today threatened by the terrorist activities of several thousand armed men, led by Communists, who defy the Government’s authority at a number of points . . . .

[T]he Greek Government is unable to cope with the situation. The Greek Army is small and poorly equipped. It needs supplies and equipment if it is to restore the authority of the Government throughout Greek territory.

Greece must have assistance if it is to become a self-supporting and self-respecting democracy.

The United States must supply that assistance. We have already extended to Greece certain types of relief and economic aid, but these are inadequate.

There is no other country to which democratic Greece can turn. . . .

We have considered how the United Nations might assist in this crisis. But the situation is an urgent one requiring immediate action, and the United Nations and its related organizations are not in a position to extend help of the kind that is required.

It is important to note that the Greek Government has asked for our aid in utilizing effectively the financial and other assistance we may give to Greece, and in improving public administration. It is of the utmost importance that we supervise the use of any funds made available to Greece, in such a manner that each dollar spent will count toward making Greece self-supporting, and will help to build an economy in which a healthy democracy can flourish.

No government is perfect. One of the chief virtues of a democracy, however, is that its defects are always visible and under democratic processes can be pointed out and corrected. The Government of Greece is not perfect. Nevertheless it represents 85 per cent of the members of the Greek parliament who were chosen in an election last year. . . .

Greece’s neighbor, Turkey, also deserves our attention.

The future of Turkey as an independent and economically sound state is clearly no less important to the freedom-loving peoples of the world than the future of Greece. The circumstances in which Turkey finds itself today are considerably different from those of Greece. Turkey has been spared the disasters that have beset Greece; and during the war, [1] the United States and Great Britain furnished Turkey with material aid. Nevertheless, Turkey now needs our support. . . .

I am fully aware of the broad implications involved if the United States extends assistance to Greece and Turkey, and I shall discuss these implications with you at this time.

One of the primary objectives of the foreign policy of the United States is the creation of conditions in which we and other nations will be able to work out a way of life free from coercion. This was a fundamental issue in the war with Germany and Japan. Our victory was won over countries which sought to impose their will, and their way of life, upon other nations.

To insure the peaceful development of nations, free from coercion, the United States has taken a leading part in establishing the United Nations. The United Nations is designed to make possible lasting freedom and independence for all its members. We shall not realize our objectives, however, unless we are willing to help free people to maintain their free institutions and their national integrity against aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them totalitarian regimes. . . .

At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one.

One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guaranties of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.

The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.

I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.

I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.

I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes. . . .

Should we fail to aid Greece and Turkey in this fateful hour, the effect will be far-reaching to the West as well as to the East.

We must take immediate and resolute action.

I, therefore, ask the Congress to provide authority for assistance to Greece and Turkey in the amount of $400,000,000. . . .

In addition to funds, I ask the Congress to authorize the detail of American civilian and military personnel to Greece and Turkey, at the request of those countries, to assist in the tasks of reconstruction. . . .

The United States contributed $341,000,000,000 toward winning World War II. This is an investment in world freedom and world peace.

The assistance that I am recommending for Greece and Turkey amounts to little more than one-tenth of 1 per cent of this investment. It is only common sense that we should safeguard this investment and make sure that it was not in vain.

The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want. They spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach their full growth when the hope of a people for a better life has died.

We must keep that hope alive.

The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms.

If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world – and we shall surely endanger the welfare of our own nation.

Great responsibilities have been placed upon us by the swift movement of events.

I am confident that the Congress will face these responsibilities squarely.

  • 1. World War II.

The Truman Doctrine

Executive order 9835, see our list of programs.

Conversation-based seminars for collegial PD, one-day and multi-day seminars, graduate credit seminars (MA degree), online and in-person.

Check out our collection of primary source readers

Our Core Document Collection allows students to read history in the words of those who made it. Available in hard copy and for download.

why did felix give a speech to the united nations

illustration

Biden’s speech at the Holocaust remembrance ceremony, annotated

By Zachary B. Wolf and Annette Choi , CNN

Published May 7, 2024

President Joe Biden talked about the documented increase of antisemitism in the United States during the annual US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Days of Remembrance ceremony at the US Capitol building. Every recent president has made remarks at least once at the event, but Biden’s remarks came as pro-Palestinian protests have disrupted classes and commencements at multiple US universities . At times, rhetoric at those protests has veered into antisemitism, offended Jewish students and sparked a fierce debate about free speech.

Biden talked in-depth about the Hamas terror attack against Israel on October 7, 2023, and the Israeli hostages that remain in captivity . He did not mention Israel’s heavy-handed response, which has not only destroyed much of Gaza and cost tens of thousands of lives but has also driven a wedge between Biden and many progressives, particularly on college campuses. See below for what he said , along with context from CNN.

Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you, Stu Eizenstat, for that introduction, for your leadership of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum . You are a true scholar and statesman and a dear friend.

Speaker Johnson , Leader Jeffries, members of Congress and especially the survivors of the Holocaust. If my mother were here, she’d look at you and say, “God love you all. God love you all.”

Abe Foxman and all other survivors who embody absolute courage and dignity and grace are here as well.

During these sacred days of remembrance we grieve, we give voice to the 6 million Jews who were systematically targeted and murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II. We honor the memory of victims, the pain of survivors, the bravery of heroes who stood up to Hitler's unspeakable evil. And we recommit to heading and heeding the lessons that one of the darkest chapters in human history to revitalize and realize the responsibility of never again.

The Days of Remembrance commemoration has been an annual event since 1982. Every US president since Bill Clinton has spoken at least once at a remembrance event.

House Speaker Mike Johnson spoke shortly before Biden and tried to compare the situation on college campuses today with that on college campuses in Germany in the 1930s.

Never again, simply translated for me, means never forget, never forget. Never forgetting means we must must keep telling the story, we must keep teaching the truth, we must keep teaching our children and our grandchildren. And the truth is we are at risk of people not knowing the truth.

That's why, growing up, my dad taught me and my siblings about the horrors of the Shoah at our family dinner table.

Shoah is the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.

That's why I visited Yad Vashem with my family as a senator, as vice president and as president. And that's why I took my grandchildren to Dachau , so they could see and bear witness to the perils of indifference, the complicity of silence in the face of evil that they knew was happening.

Biden visited Yad Vashem , Israel’s Holocaust remembrance site, in 2022 as president.

As vice president, he toured the Nazi concentration camp outside Munich in 2015 with his granddaughter during a trip for an annual security conference.

Germany, 1933, Hitler and his Nazi party rise to power by rekindling one of the world's oldest forms of prejudice and hate — antisemitism.

His rule didn't begin with mass murder. It started slowly across economic, political, social and cultural life — propaganda demonizing Jews, boycotts of Jewish businesses, synagogues defaced with swastikas, harassment of Jews in the street and in the schools, antisemitic demonstrations, pogroms, organized riots.

With the indifference of the world, Hitler knew he could expand his reign of terror by eliminating Jews from Germany, to annihilate Jews across Europe through genocide the Nazis called the final solution. Concentration camps, gas chambers, mass shootings. By the time the war ended, 6 million Jews, one out of every three Jews in the entire world, were murdered.

This ancient hatred of Jews didn't begin with the Holocaust. It didn't end with the Holocaust either, or after, even after our victory in World War II. This hatred continues to lie deep in the hearts of too many people in the world and requires our continued vigilance and outspokenness.

The Holocaust survivor Irene Butter wrote for CNN Opinion in 2021 about Adolf Hitler’s rise and echoes of Nazism in the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack.

That hatred was brought to life on October 7th in 2023. On the sacred Jewish holiday, the terrorist group Hamas unleashed the deadliest day of the Jewish people since the Holocaust.

Read mo re about Hamas .

Driven by ancient desire to wipe out the Jewish people off the face of the Earth, over 1,200 innocent people — babies, parents, grandparents — slaughtered in their kibbutz, massacred at a music festival, brutally raped, mutilated and sexually assaulted .

Evidence of sexual violence has been documented. Here’s the account of one Israeli woman who has spoken publicly about her experience.

Thousands more carrying wounds, bullets and shrapnel from the memory of that terrible day they endured. Hundreds taken hostage, including survivors of the Shoah.

Now here we are, not 75 years later but just seven-and-a-half months later and people are already forgetting, are already forgetting that Hamas unleashed this terror. That it was Hamas that brutalized Israelis. It was Hamas who took and continues to hold hostages. I have not forgotten, nor have you, and we will not forget.

On May 7, 1945, the German High Command agreed to an unconditional surrender in World War II, 79 years ago.

And as Jews around the world still cope with the atrocities and trauma of that day and its aftermath, we've seen a ferocious surge of anti s emitism in America and around the world.

In late October, FBI Director Christopher Wray said reports of antisemitism in the US were reaching “ historic ” levels.

Vicious propaganda on social media, Jews forced to keep their — hide their kippahs under baseball hats, tuck their Jewish stars into their shirts.

On college campuses, Jewish students blocked, harassed, attacked while walking to class . Antisemitism, antisemitic posters , slogans calling for the annihilation of Israel, the world's only Jewish state.

Many Jewish students have described feeling intimidated and attacked on campuses. Others have said they support the protests , citing the situation in Gaza.

Last month, the dean of the University of California Berkeley Law School described antisemitic posters that targeted him.

Too many people denying, downplaying, rationalizing, ignoring the horrors of the Holocaust and October 7th, including Hamas' appalling use of sexual violence to torture and terrorize Jews. It's absolutely despicable and it must stop.

Silence. Silence and denial can hide much but it can erase nothing.

Some injustices are so heinous, so horrific, so grievous they cannot be married – buried, no matter how hard people try.

In my view, a major lesson of the Holocaust is, as mentioned earlier, is it not, was not inevitable.

We know hate never goes away. It only hides. And given a little oxygen, it comes out from under the rocks.

We also know what stops hate. One thing: All of us. The late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks described antisemitism as a virus that has survived and mutated over time.

Together, we cannot continue to let that happen. We have to remember our basic principle as a nation. We have an obligation. We have an obligation to learn the lessons of history so we don't surrender our future to the horrors of the past. We must give hate no safe harbor against anyone. Anyone.

From the very founding, our very founding, Jewish Americans , who represented only about 2% of the US population , have helped lead the cause of freedom for everyone in our nation. From that experience we know scapegoating and demonizing any minority is a threat to every minority and the very foundation of our democracy.

As of 2020, Jewish Americans made up about 2.4% of the US population, according to the Pew Research Center , or about 5.8 million people.

So moments like this we have to put these principles that we're talking about into action.

I understand people have strong beliefs and deep convictions about the world .

In America we respect and protect the fundamental right to free speech, to debate and disagree, to protest peacefully and make our voices heard . I understand. That's America.

The complaint of many protesters is that Israel’s response to the terror attack has claimed more than 30,000 lives and destroyed much of Gaza .

But there is no place on any campus in America, any place in America, for antisemitism or hate speech or threats of violence of any kind.

Whether against Jews or anyone else, violent attacks, destroying property is not peaceful protest. It's against the law and we are not a lawless country. We're a civil society. We uphold the rule of law and no one should have to hide or be brave just to be themselves.

To the Jewish community, I want you to know I see your fear, your hurt and your pain.

Let me reassure you as your president, you're not alone. You belong. You always have and you always will.

And my commitment to the safety of the Jewish people, the security of Israel and its right to exist as an independent Jewish state is ironclad, even when we disagree.

My administration is working around the clock to free remaining hostages, just as we have freed hostages already, and will not rest until we bring them all home.

My administration, with our second gentleman's leadership, has launched our nation's first national strategy to counter antisemitism. That's mobilizing the full force of the federal government to protect Jewish communities.

But we know this is not the work of government alone or Jews alone. That's why I’m calling on all Americans to stand united against antisemitism and hate in all its forms.

My dear friend — and he became a friend — the late Elie Wiesel said, quote, “One person of integrity can make a difference.”

Elie Wiesel , the Holocaust survivor, writer and activist, died in 2016.

We have to remember that, now more than ever.

Here in Emancipation Hall in the US Capitol, among the towering statues of history is a bronze bust of Raoul Wallenberg . Born in Sweden as a Lutheran, he was a businessman and a diplomat. While stationed in Hungary during World War II, he used diplomatic cover to hide and rescue about 100,000 Jews over a six-month period.

Read more about Wallenberg , the Holocaust hero and Swedish diplomat who was formally declared dead in 2016, 71 years after he vanished.

Among them was a 16-year-old Jewish boy who escaped a Nazi labor camp. After the war ended, that boy received a scholarship from the Hillel Foundation to study in America. He came to New York City penniless but determined to turn his pain into purpose. Along with his wife, also a Holocaust survivor, he became a renowned economist and foreign policy thinker, eventually making his way to this very Capitol on the staff of a first-term senator.

That Jewish refugee was Tom Lantos and that senator was me. Tom and his wife and Annette and their family became dear friends to me and my family. Tom would go on to become the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to Congress, where he became a leading voice on civil rights and human rights around the world. Tom never met Raoul, who was taken prisoner by the Soviets, never to be heard from again.

Read more about Lantos , the longtime congressman and Holocaust survivor who died in 2008. Lantos worked for Biden early in his career.

But through Tom's efforts, Raoul’s bust is here in the Capitol. He was also given honorary US citizenship, only the second person ever after Winston Churchill. The Holocaust Museum here in Washington is located in a road in Raoul’s name.

The story of the power of a single person to put aside our differences, to see our common humanity, to stand up to hate and its ancient story of resilience from immense pain, persecution, to find hope, purpose and meaning in life, we try to live and share with one another. That story endures.

Let me close with this. I know these days of remembrance fall on difficult times. We all do well to remember these days also fall during the month we celebrate Jewish American heritage, a heritage that stretches from our earliest days to enrich every single part of American life today.

There are important topics Biden did not address. He referenced the October 7 attacks on Israel but not Israel’s controversial response, which has drawn furious protests. He failed to mention Gaza, where Israel’s military campaign has killed so many, and which has led the World Food Programme to warn of a “full-blown famine .”

A great American — a great Jewish American named Tom Lantos — used the phrase “the veneer of civilization is paper thin.” We are its guardians, and we can never rest.

My fellow Americans, we must, we must be those guardians. We must never rest. We must rise Against hate, meet across the divide, see our common humanity. And God bless the victims and survivors of the Shoah.

May the resilient hearts, the courageous spirit and the eternal flame of faith of the Jewish people forever shine their light on America and around the world, pray God.

Thank you all.

Address before the General Assembly of the United Nations, September 25, 1961

President John F. Kennedy New York City September 25, 1961

Mr. President, honored delegates, ladies and gentlemen:

We meet in an hour of grief and challenge. Dag Hammarskjold is dead. But the United Nations lives. His tragedy is deep in our hearts, but the task for which he died is at the top of our agenda. A noble servant of peace is gone. But the quest for peace lies before us.

The problem is not the death of one man--the problem is the life of this organization. It will either grow to meet the challenges of our age, or it will be gone with the wind, without influence, without force, without respect. Were we to let it die, to enfeeble its vigor, to cripple its powers, we would condemn our future.

For in the development of this organization rests the only true alternative to war--and war appeals no longer as a rational alternative. Unconditional war can no longer lead to unconditional victory. It can no longer serve to settle disputes. It can no longer concern the great powers alone. For a nuclear disaster, spread by wind and water and fear, could well engulf the great and the small, the rich and the poor, the committed and the uncommitted alike. Mankind must put an end to war--or war will put an end to mankind.

So let us here resolve that Dag Hammarskjold did not live, or die, in vain. Let us call a truce to terror. Let us invoke the blessings of peace. And as we build an international capacity to keep peace, let us join in dismantling the national capacity to wage war.

This will require new strength and new roles for the United Nations. For disarmament without checks is but a shadow--and a community without law is but a shell. Already the United Nations has become both the measure and the vehicle of man's most generous impulses. Already it has provided--in the Middle East, in Asia, in Africa this year in the Congo--a means of holding man's violence within bounds.

But the great question which confronted this body in 1945 is still before us: whether man's cherished hopes for progress and peace are to be destroyed by terror and disruption, whether the "foul winds of war" can be tamed in time to free the cooling winds of reason, and whether the pledges of our Charter are to be fulfilled or defied--pledges to secure peace, progress, human rights and world law

In this Hall, there are not three forces, but two. One is composed of those who are trying to build the kind of world described in Articles I and II of the Charter. The other, seeking a far different world, would undermine this organization in the process.

Today, of all days our dedication to the Charter must be maintained. It must be strengthened first of all by the selection of an outstanding civil servant to carry forward the responsibilities of the Secretary General--a man endowed with both the wisdom and the power to make meaningful the moral force of the world community. The late Secretary General nurtured and sharpened the United Nations' obligation to act. But he did not invent it. It was there in the Charter. It is still there in the Charter.

However difficult it may be to fill Mr. Hammarskjold's place, it can better be filled by one man rather than three. Even the three horses of the Troika did not have three drivers, all going in different directions. They had only one--and so must the United Nations executive. To install a triumvirate, or any panel, or any rotating authority, in the United Nations administrative offices would replace order with anarchy, action with paralysis, confidence with confusion.

The Secretary General, in a very real sense, is the servant of the General Assembly. Diminish his authority and you diminish the authority of the only body where all nations, regardless of power, are equal and sovereign. Until all the powerful are just, the weak will be secure only in the strength of this Assembly.

Effective and independent executive action is not the same question as balanced representation. In view of the enormous change in membership in this body since its founding, the American delegation will join in any effort for the prompt review and revision of the composition of United Nations bodies.

But to give this organization three drivers--to permit each great power to decide its own case, would entrench the Cold War in the headquarters of peace. Whatever advantages such a plan may hold out to my own country, as one of the great powers, we reject it. For we far prefer world law, in the age of self-determination, to world war, in the age of mass extermination.

Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.

Men no longer debate whether armaments are a symptom or a cause of tension. The mere existence of modern weapons--ten million times more powerful than any that the world has ever seen, and only minutes away from any target on earth--is a source of horror, and discord and distrust. Men no longer maintain that disarmament must await the settlement of all disputes--for disarmament must be a part of any permanent settlement. And men may no longer pretend that the quest for disarmament is a sign of weakness--for in a spiraling arms race, a nation's security may well be shrinking even as its arms increase.

For fifteen years this organization has sought the reduction and destruction of arms. Now that goal is no longer a dream--it is a practical matter of life or death. The risks inherent in disarmament pale in comparison to the risks inherent in an unlimited arms race.

It is in this spirit that the recent Belgrade Conference--recognizing that this is no longer a Soviet problem or an American problem, but a human problem--endorsed a program of "general, complete and strictly an internationally controlled disarmament." It is in this same spirit that we in the United States have labored this year, with a new urgency, and with a new, now statutory agency fully endorsed by the Congress, to find an approach to disarmament which would be so far-reaching, yet realistic, so mutually balanced and beneficial, that it could be accepted by every nation. And it is in this spirit that we have presented with the agreement of the Soviet Union--under the label both nations now accept of "general and complete disarmament"--a new statement of newly-agreed principles for negotiation.

But we are well aware that all issues of principle are not settled, and that principles alone are not enough. It is therefore our intention to challenge the Soviet Union, not to an arms race, but to a peace race- -to advance together step by step, stage by stage, until general and complete disarmament has been achieved. We invite them now to go beyond agreement in principle to reach agreement on actual plans.

The program to be presented to this assembly--for general and complete disarmament under effective international control--moves to bridge the gap between those who insist on a gradual approach and those who talk only of the final and total achievement. It would create machinery to keep the peace as it destroys the machinery of war. It would proceed through balanced and safeguarded stages designed to give no state a military advantage over another. It would place the final responsibility for verification and control where it belongs, not with the big powers alone, not with one's adversary or one's self, but in an international organization within the framework of the United Nations. It would assure that indispensable condition of disarmament--true inspection--and apply it in stages proportionate to the stage of disarmament. It would cover delivery systems as well as weapons. It would ultimately halt their production as well as their testing, their transfer as well as their possession. It would achieve under the eyes of an international disarmament organization, a steady reduction in force, both nuclear and conventional, until it has abolished all armies and all weapons except those needed for internal order and a new United Nations Peace Force. And it starts that process now, today, even as the talks begin.

In short, general and complete disarmament must no longer be a slogan, used to resist the first steps. It is no longer to be a goal without means of achieving it, without means of verifying its progress, without means of keeping the peace. It is now a realistic plan, and a test--a test of those only willing to talk and a test of those willing to act.

Such a plan would not bring a world free from conflict and greed-- but it would bring a world free from the terrors of mass destruction. It would not usher in the era of the super state--but it would usher in an era in which no state could annihilate or be annihilated by another.

In 1945, this Nation proposed the Baruch Plan to internationalize the atom before other nations even possessed the bomb or demilitarized their troops. We proposed with our allies the Disarmament plan of 1951 while still at war in Korea. And we make our proposals today, while building up our defenses over Berlin, not because we are inconsistent or insincere or intimidated, but because we know the rights of free men will prevail--because while we are compelled against our will to rearm, we look confidently beyond Berlin to the kind of disarmed world we all prefer.

I therefore propose on the basis of this Plan, that disarmament negotiations resume promptly, and continue without interruption until an entire program for general and complete disarmament has not only been agreed but has actually been achieved.

The logical place to begin is a treaty assuring the end of nuclear tests of all kinds, in every environment, under workable controls. The United States and the United Kingdom have proposed such a treaty that is both reasonable, effective and ready for signature. We are still prepared to sign that treaty today.

We also proposed a mutual ban on atmospheric testing, without inspection or controls, in order to save the human race from the poison of radioactive fallout. We regret that the offer has not been accepted.

For 15 years we have sought to make the atom an instrument of peaceful growth rather than of war. But for 15 years our concessions have been matched by obstruction, our patience by intransigence. And the pleas of mankind for peace have met with disregard.

Finally, as the explosions of others beclouded the skies, my country was left with no alternative but to act in the interests of its own and the free world's security. We cannot endanger that security by refraining from testing while others improve their arsenals. Nor can we endanger it by another long, uninspected ban on testing. For three years we accepted those risks in our open society while seeking agreement on inspection. But this year, while we were negotiating in good faith in Geneva, others were secretly preparing new experiments in destruction.

Our tests are not polluting the atmosphere. Our deterrent weapons are guarded against accidental explosion or use. Our doctors and scientists stand ready to help any nation measure and meet the hazards to health which inevitably result from the tests in the atmosphere.

But to halt the spread of these terrible weapons, to halt the contamination of the air, to halt the spiralling nuclear arms race, we remain ready to seek new avenues of agreement, our new Disarmament Program thus includes the following proposals:

--First, signing the test-ban treaty by all nations. This can be done now. Test ban negotiations need not and should not await general disarmament. --Second, stopping the production of fissionable materials for use in weapons, and preventing their transfer to any nation now lacking in nuclear weapons. --Third, prohibiting the transfer of control over nuclear weapons to states that do not own them. --Fourth, keeping nuclear weapons from seeding new battlegrounds in outer space. --Fifth, gradually destroying existing nuclear weapons and converting their materials to peaceful uses; and --Finally, halting the unlimited testing and production of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles, and gradually destroying them as well.

To destroy arms, however, is not enough. We must create even as we destroy--creating worldwide law and law enforcement as we outlaw worldwide war and weapons. In the world we seek, the United Nations Emergency Forces which have been hastily assembled, uncertainly supplied, and inadequately financed, will never be enough.

Therefore, the United States recommends that all member nations earmark special peace-keeping units in their armed forces--to be on call of the United Nations, to be specially trained and quickly available, and with advanced provision for financial and logistic support.

In addition, the American delegation will suggest a series of steps to improve the United Nations' machinery for the peaceful settlement of disputes--for on-the-spot fact-finding, mediation and adjudication--for extending the rule of international law. For peace is not solely a matter of military or technical problems--it is primarily a problem of politics and people. And unless man can match his strides in weaponry and technology with equal strides in social and political development, our great strength, like that of the dinosaur, will become incapable of proper control--and like the dinosaur vanish from the earth.

As we extend the rule of law on earth, so must we also extend it to man's new domain--outer space.

All of us salute the brave cosmonauts of the Soviet Union. The new horizons of outer space must not be driven by the old bitter concepts of imperialism and sovereign claims. The cold reaches of the universe must not become the new arena of an even colder war.

To this end, we shall urge proposals extending the United Nations Charter to the limits of man's exploration of the universe, reserving outer space for peaceful use, prohibiting weapons of mass destruction in space or on celestial bodies, and opening the mysteries and benefits of space to every nation. We shall propose further cooperative efforts between all nations in weather prediction and eventually in weather control. We shall propose, finally, a global system of communications satellites linking the whole world in telegraph and telephone and radio and television. The day need not be far away when such a system will televise the proceedings of this body to every corner of the world for the benefit of peace.

But the mysteries of outer space must not divert our eyes or our energies from the harsh realities that face our fellow men. Political sovereignty is but a mockery without the means of meeting poverty and illiteracy and disease. Self-determination is but a slogan if the future holds no hope.

That is why my nation, which has freely shared its capital and its technology to help others help themselves, now proposes officially designating this decade of the 1960s as the United Nations Decade of Development. Under the framework of that Resolution, the United Nations' existing efforts in promoting economic growth can be expanded and coordinated. Regional surveys and training institutes can now pool the talents of many. New research, technical assistance and pilot projects can unlock the wealth of less developed lands and untapped waters. And development can become a cooperative and not a competitive enterprise-- to enable all nations, however diverse in their systems and beliefs, to become in fact as well as in law free and equal nations.

My country favors a world of free and equal states. We agree with those who say that colonialism is a key issue in this Assembly. But let the full facts of that issue be discussed in full.

On the one hand is the fact that, since the close of World War II, a worldwide declaration of independence has transformed nearly 1 billion people and 9 million square miles into 42 free and independent states. Less than 2 percent of the world's population now lives in "dependent" territories.

I do not ignore the remaining problems of traditional colonialism which still confront this body. Those problems will be solved, with patience, good will, and determination. Within the limits of our responsibility in such matters, my Country intends to be a participant and not merely an observer, in the peaceful, expeditious movement of nations from the status of colonies to the partnership of equals. That continuing tide of self-determination, which runs so strong, has our sympathy and our support.

But colonialism in its harshest forms is not only the exploitation of new nations by old, of dark skins by light, or the subjugation of the poor by the rich. My Nation was once a colony, and we know what colonialism means; the exploitation and subjugation of the weak by the powerful, of the many by the few, of the governed who have given no consent to be governed, whatever their continent, their class, their color.

And that is why there is no ignoring the fact that the tide of selfdetermination has not reached the Communist empire where a population far larger than that officially termed "dependent" lives under governments installed by foreign troops instead of free institutions-- under a system which knows only one party and one belief--which suppresses free debate, and free elections, and free newspapers, and free books, and free trade unions--and which builds a wall to keep truth a stranger and its own citizens prisoners. Let us debate colonialism in full--and apply the principle of free choice and the practice of free plebiscites in every corner of the globe.

Finally, as President of the United States, I consider it my duty to report to this Assembly on two threats to the peace which are not on your crowded agenda, but which causes us and most of you, the deepest concern.

The first threat on which I wish to report is widely misunderstood: the smoldering coals of war in Southeast Asia. South Viet-Nam is already under attack--sometimes by a single assassin, sometimes by a band of guerrillas, recently by full battalions. The peaceful borders of Burma, Cambodia, and India have been repeatedly violated. And the peaceful people of Laos are in danger of losing the independence they gained not so long ago.

No one can call these "wars of liberation." For these are free countries living under their own governments. Nor are these aggressions any less real because men are knifed in their homes and not shot in the fields of battle.

The very simple question confronting the world community is whether measures can be devised to protect the small and the weak from such tactics. For if they are successful in Laos and South Viet-Nam, the gates will be opened wide.

The United States seeks for itself, no base, no territory, no special position in this area of any kind. We support a truly neutral and independent Laos, its people free from outside interference, living at peace with themselves and their neighbors, assured that their territory will not be used for attacks on others, and under a government comparable (as Mr. Khrushchev and I agreed at Vienna) to Cambodia and Burma.

But now the negotiations over Laos are reaching a crucial stage. The cease-fire is at best precarious. The rainy season is coming to an end. Laotian territory is being used to infiltrate South Viet-Nam. The world community must recognize--and all those who are involved--that this potent threat to Laotian peace and freedom is indivisible from all other threats to their own.

Secondly, I wish to report to you on the crisis over Germany and Berlin. This is not the time or the place for immoderate tones, but the world community is entitled to know the very simple issues as we see them. If there is a crisis it is because an existing peace is under threat, because an existing island of free people is under pressure, because solemn agreements are being treated with indifference. Established international rights are being threatened with unilateral usurpation. Peaceful circulation has been interrupted by barbed wire and concrete blocks.

One recalls the order of the Czar in Pushkin's "Boris Godunov:" "Take steps at this very hour that our frontiers be fenced in by barriers. . . . That not a single soul pass o'er the border, that not a hare be able to run or a crow to fly."

It is absurd to allege that we are threatening a war merely to prevent the Soviet Union and East Germany from signing a so-called "treaty" of peace. The Western Allies are not concerned with any paper arrangement the Soviets may wish to make with a regime of their own creation, on territory occupied by their own troops and governed by their own agents. No such action can affect either our rights or our responsibilities.

If there is a dangerous crisis in Berlin--and there is--it is because of threats against the vital interests and the deep commitments of the Western Powers, and the freedom of West Berlin. We cannot yield these interests. We cannot fail these commitments. We cannot surrender the freedom of these people for whom we are responsible. A "peace-treaty" which carried with it the provisions which destroy the peace would be a fraud. A "free city" which was not genuinely free would suffocate freedom and would be an infamy.

For a city or a people to be truly free they must have the secure right, without economic, political or police pressure, to make their own choice and to live their own lives. And as I have often said before, if anyone doubts the extent to which our presence is desired by the people of West Berlin, we are ready to have that question submitted to a free vote in all Berlin and, if possible, among all the German people.

The elementary fact about this crisis is that it is unnecessary. The elementary tools for a peaceful settlement are to be found in the charter. Under its law, agreements are to be kept, unless changed by all those who made them. Established rights are to be respected. The political disposition of peoples should rest upon their own wishes, freely expressed in plebiscites or free elections. If there are legal problems, they can be solved by legal means. If there is a threat of force, it must be rejected. If there is desire for change, it must be a subject for negotiation, and if there is negotiation, it must be rooted in mutual respect and concern for the rights of others.

The Western Powers have calmly resolved to defend, by whatever means are forced upon them, their obligations and their access to the free citizens of West Berlin and the self-determination of those citizens. This generation learned from bitter experience that either brandishing or yielding to threats can only lead to war. But firmness and reason can lead to the kind of peaceful solution in which my country profoundly believes.

We are committed to no rigid formula. We see no perfect solution. We recognize that troops and tanks can, for a time, keep a nation divided against its will, however unwise that policy may seem to us. But we believe a peaceful agreement is possible which protects the freedom of West Berlin and allied presence and access, while recognizing the historic and legitimate interests of others in insuring European security.

The possibilities of negotiation are now being explored; it is too early to report what the prospects may be. For our part, we would be glad to report at the appropriate time that a solution has been found. For there is no need for a crisis over Berlin, threatening the peace-- and if those who created this crisis desire peace, there will be peace and freedom in Berlin.

The events and decisions of the next ten months may well decide the fate of man for the next ten thousand years. There will be no avoiding those events. There will be no appeal from these decisions. And we in this hall shall be remembered either as part of the generation that turned this planet into a flaming funeral pyre or the generation that met its vow "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war."

In the endeavor to meet that vow, I pledge you every effort this Nation possesses. I pledge you that we will neither commit nor provoke aggression, that we shall neither flee nor invoke the threat of force, that we shall never negotiate out of fear, we shall never fear to negotiate.

Terror is not a new weapon. Throughout history it has been used by those who could not prevail, either by persuasion or example. But inevitably they fail, either because men are not afraid to die for a life worth living, or because the terrorists themselves came to realize that free men cannot be frightened by threats, and that aggression would meet its own response. And it is in the light of that history that every nation today should know, be he friend or foe, that the United States has both the will and the weapons to join free men in standing up to their responsibilities.

But I come here today to look across this world of threats to a world of peace. In that search we cannot expect any final triumph--for new problems will always arise. We cannot expect that all nations will adopt like systems--for conformity is the jailor of freedom, and the enemy of growth. Nor can we expect to reach our goal by contrivance, by fiat or even by the wishes of all.

But however close we sometimes seem to that dark and final abyss, let no man of peace and freedom despair. For he does not stand alone. If we all can persevere, if we can in every land and office look beyond our own shores and ambitions, then surely the age will dawn in which the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

Ladies and gentlemen of this Assembly, the decision is ours. Never have the nations of the world had so much to lose, or so much to gain. Together we shall save our planet, or together we shall perish in its flames. Save it we can--and save it we must--and then shall we earn the eternal thanks of mankind and, as peacemakers, the eternal blessing of God.

Furious Israel ambassador shreds UN charter before vote on Palestine membership

NEW YORK − Israel's United Nations ambassador physically fed a mock copy of the U.N. charter into a shredder to illustrate what he said was the General Assembly's disregard for the document as delegates voted to advance Palestinian membership to the world body.

The stunt came just before the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for a resolution asking the Security Council to make Palestine, which has U.N. observer status, into a full member.

A furious Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan, invoking the Holocaust, World War Two and the Oct. 7 Hamas attack , ripped his colleagues for wanting to "advance the establishment of a Palestinian terror state led by the Hitler of our time."

Earlier, Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour spoke with emotion about the death toll in Gaza and cited the anti-war protests at Columbia University as he implored the assembly to vote "Yes." In the face of a looming Israeli invasion of Rafah, he said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was "ready to kill thousands more for his political survival."

More: 'Not supplying the weapons' to Israel if there's a major Gaza offensive, Biden says

Prep for the polls: See who is running for president and compare where they stand on key issues in our Voter Guide

Humanitarian officials told USA TODAY aid shipments to Gaza has slowed to a trickle as Israeli troops battled fighters from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the eastern part of Rafah and Israeli jets dropped bombs. Israel has ordered an estimated 100,000 residents − roughly the population of Burbank, California − to evacuate for their own safety.

Here are some of the day's top events.

US report on Israel's war conduct could come Friday

A Biden administration report on Israel's conduct in Gaza is expected to come as soon as Friday, USA TODAY's Francesca Chambers reports .

A U.S. government official who was not authorized to speak publicly told USA TODAY an unclassified version of the report with broad strokes and an executive summary were likely to be sent to lawmakers first, with a subsequent classified version or addition coming days later, most likely early next week.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby separately said Friday afternoon that President Joe Biden is "aware of the contents" of the forthcoming report and was "fully briefed on it" but Kirby would not describe the report or say when the commander in chief was read in.

More: Biden administration set to release report on Israel's conduct in Gaza war

Biden administration monitoring Israeli strikes in Rafah 'with concern'

The White House said Friday it is monitoring intensified fighting between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian militants in the southern Gaza city of Rafah but does not believe it represents a large-scale invasion to this point.

The fighting has resulted in the closing of border crossings near Rafah, preventing humanitarian aid from entering Gaza.

“We’re obviously watching it with concern, of course,” said John Kirby, a White House spokesman on national security matters. “I wouldn't go so far as to say what we've seen here in the last 24 hours connotes or indicates a broad, large-scale invasion or major ground operation.”

More: Thousands flee Rafah assault as aid groups warn suffering will be 'unbearable'

Kirby said the fighting appears to be localized near the Rafah border crossing and involves Israeli troops already dispatched to the area following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

“That said, we’re watching it with concern,” he reiterated.

More than 100,000 Palestinians have left Rafah since Israel ordered an evacuation in preparation for an invasion.

President Joe Biden, in an interview on CNN Wednesday, said for the first time that the U.S. would cut off supplying certain offensive weapons to Israel if it moves ahead with a planned invasion of Rafah that the Biden administration has long opposed.

−Joey Garrison

More: In Biden vs. Trump, a striking split screen captures bizarre 2024 election

South Africa presses world court to order Israel out of Rafah

South Africa has asked the International Court of Justice to order Israel to withdraw from Rafah as part of additional emergency measures over the war in Gaza, the U.N.'s top court said Friday.

In the ongoing case brought by South Africa, which accuses Israel of acts of genocide against Palestinians, the World Court in January ordered Israel to refrain from any acts that could fall under the Genocide Convention and to ensure its troops commit no genocidal acts against Palestinians.

Israel did not immediately respond to requests for comment. It has previously said it is acting in accordance with international law in Gaza, and has called South Africa's genocide case baseless and accused Pretoria of acting as "the legal arm of Hamas."

In filings published on Friday, South Africa is seeking additional emergency measures in light of the ongoing military action in Rafah, which it calls the "last refuge" for Palestinians in Gaza.

More: UN court orders Israel to prevent Gaza carnage

US says it supports Palestinian statehood but direct negotiations come first

Explaining America's opposition, U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood described Friday's overwhelming U.N. General Assembly vote as a "unilateral" step that won't advance peace in Israel and Palestine.

"Our vote does not reflect opposition to Palestinian statehood; we have been very clear that we support it and seek to advance it meaningfully," Wood said in a statement. "Instead, it is an acknowledgement that statehood will come only from a process that involves direct negotiations between the parties."

Sen. Jim Risch , R-Idaho, called the U.N. vote "a dangerous political move that rewards terrorism" in a post on X, the former Twitter.

"The US has made it clear it will not support full membership for the PA outside of a negotiated settlement w/ #Israel," Risch, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said, referring to the Palestinian Authority. "Any efforts otherwise put US financial support to the UN at risk."

−Dan Morrison

Toll of Gaza war deaths doesn't include those killed for lack of medical care

While the official Gaza death toll nears 35,000, that number includes only Palestinians killed in direct combat operations − while omitting those who have died from a lack of medical care for other conditions.

That unknown number includes "people with chronic diseases, pregnant women , and children with malnutrition ," Zaher Sahloul, president of the humanitarian group MedGlobal , told USA TODAY.

With Gaza's hospitals mostly in ruins, "There will be more deaths that will not be counted as war deaths," said Sahloul, a Chicago-based doctor whose organization works in Ukraine, Syria, Gaza and Sudan.

This week, MedGlobal was forced to evacuate a clinic in the Zorub neighborhood of Rafah, which had been home to 10,000 people. The small clinic served 200 people and is being relocated north − along with many Zorub residents − to the town of Deir al Balad as Israeli forces press Rafah and aerial bombings increase.

"Tens of thousands of people are being treated like cattle," Zaher said. 

More: Pregnant women in Gaza Strip face starvation, no anesthesia after 6 months of war

Biden arms report will find Israel credible, AP says

An overdue Biden administration report will conclude that Israel hasn't violated the terms for its use of American weapons, the Associated Press said Friday, citing three people briefed on the controversial document .

AP said the report is expected to be sharply critical of Israel while affirming that Israel has not violated ther terms of its weapons agreements with the U.S. while dropping munitions on Gaza, where nearly 35,000 people have died.

President Joe Biden confirmed this week he had paused shipments of bombs to Israel out of concern over a possble full scale assault on Rafah.

"He is tactically using the weapons pause to try to forestall this Rafah invasion," Scott Paul, humanitarian policy chief at Oxfam America, told USA TODAY. "They've spent seven months of avoiding the question of whether Israel is violating international humanitarian law" in the Gaza war. 

The Biden administration report will be submitted to Congress by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Cease-fire talks back to square one, Hamas says

Hamas said in a statement on Friday that Israel's effective rejection of a cease-fire proposal supported by the Islamist militant group has brought negotiations back to square one.

The group added it will hold consultations with different Palestinian factions to review its negotiation strategy.

On Monday, Hamas said it had accepted what appeared to be an amended cease-fire proposal that differed from one Israel had been considering. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said then that "even though the Hamas proposal is far from Israel's requirements, Israel will send a delegation to mediators to exhaust the possibility of reaching an agreement under conditions acceptable to Israel."

Netanyahu's government is under intense domestic pressure to secure the safe release of 128 hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7, while his goverment continues to push for an assault on Rafah in southern Gaza.

Gaza death toll pushes 35,000

The official tally of casualties in Gaza reached 34,943 killed and 78,572 injured since Oct. 7, Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry said Friday.

Palestine resolution passed at UN General Assembly

The resolution asking the Security Council to reconsider full Palestinian membership in the U.N. has passed with a huge majority.

Delegates from 143 countries voted yes, nine − including the U.S. − voted no, and 25 abstained.

"It remains the U.S. view that unilateral measures at the U.N. and on the ground will not advance this goal," Nate Evans, a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the U.N. said earlier Friday.

−Francesca Chambers and Dan Morrison

Israeli Ambassador shreds UN charter at the podium

Ambassador Gilad Erdan of Israel closed his speech to the assembly by producing a small, hand-held document shredder, into which he fed a small prop copy of the United Nations charter.

"You are shredding the U.N. charter with your own hands," he said. "This day will go down in infamy."

Israel's ambassador invokes Holocaust, says UN supporting a 'Palestinian terror state'

Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan ripped the General Assembly for wanting to "advance the establishment of a Palestinian terror state led by the Hitler of our time."

"It makes me sick," he said. Erdan called the General Assembly a "shameless body" welcoming "a terror state into its ranks" and raised the Holocaust repeatedly. He told the silent assembly that elections in Palestine would raise Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar the Palestinian presidency. "He owes you his deepest gratitude," Erdan said.

Erdan accused Mansour, his Palestinian counterpart, of shedding "crocodile tears," noting that no Palestinian officials had denounced Hamas' Oct. 7 attack.

Palestinian ambassador lauds Columbia University protests

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour cited the anti-war protests at Columbia University as he implored the General Assembly to pass a vote urging the Security Council to make Palestine a full member of the U.N.

Mansour described the Palestinian flag as flying in solidarity with Gaza around the world, "and on the campus of Columbia University ."

Police arrested 282 people at Columbia University and the City College of New York on April 30 after demonstrators refused to leave protest encampments.

Mansour called the flag "a symbol raised by all those who believe in freedom."

"Voting 'yes' is the right thing to do," he said.

More: False claims made amid protests at Columbia University over the Israel-Hamas war

UAE presents resolution urging Security Council to make Palestine a full UN member

Representing a group of Arab states, Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab of the United Arab Emirates is submitting the draft resolution asking the Security Council to "reconsider and support" the Palestinian Authorities bid for full membership.

"Voting against this resolution would be a moral and legal abandonment," he told the assembly.

He called for a vote at 11am.

Last month the U.S. vetoed a move at the Security Council to make Palestine a full U.N. member .

UN General Assembly meets, with Palestine vote on tap

An emergency special session of the U.N. General Assembly has opened. Members expect a vote Friday − mostly symobolic − on a draft resolution to make Palestine a full member of the world body. Full membership can only be approved by the U.N. Security Council, where the U.S. holds one of five vetoes. The U.S. and Israel oppose the vote.

Watch the livestreamed proceedings here .

Israel's UN ambassador blasts Palestine member vote

Gilad Erdan, Israel's Ambassador to the UN, slammed his General Assembly colleagues for allowing a vote on Palestinian statehood.  

"The UN, in a shameful violation of its own charter, will vote to grant the Palestinian Authority the rights and privileges reserved only for UN member states even though it doesn't meet the criteria for statehood and failed to receive the recommendation of the Security Council," Erdan told USA TODAY in a text message.

"This is a reward for terrorism and will only strengthen Hamas and make peace impossible," he said. "It is one of the most destructive resolutions ever presented in the UN made possible due to the antisemitism and political interests that are so prevalent at the UN."

The Palestinian Authority's foreign ministry said on X, the former Twitter that the assembly would vote Friday "on a new draft resolution regarding the right of the State of #Palestine to full membership, enhancing its status in the UN system, and its natural place among the countries of the world."

−Kim Kjelmgaard

UN Palestinian agency closes Jerusalem headquarters after arson

The main United Nations aid agency for Palestinians closed its headquarters in East Jerusalem after local Israeli residents set fire to areas at the edge of the sprawling compound on Thursday, the agency said.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNWRA, said in a post on the social media platform X that he had decided to close the compound until proper security was restored. He said Thursday's incident was the second in less than a week.

"This is an outrageous development. Once again, the lives of UN staff were at a serious risk," he said.

"It is the responsibility of the State of Israel as an occupying power to ensure that United Nations personnel and facilities are protected at all times," he said.

More: Israeli failed to prove Hamas has deeply infiltrated UN aid agency, report says

Defying Biden, Netanyahu invokes Israel's 1948 independence war

On Thursday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was strong enough to fight alone after President Joe Biden warned that U.S. arms shipments to the country could be stopped if he orders a full-scale invasion of Rafah in Gaza .

"If we need to stand alone, we will stand alone," Netanyahu said in a video message ahead of Israel’s Independence Day next week. "I have said that if necessary − we will fight with our fingernails."

In his message late Thursday night, Netanyahu looked back to Israel's foundational 1948 war, when the new state was attacked by a coalition of Arab countries after it declared independence in the wake of a U.N. plan to partition the-then British Mandate into two states, one Jewish, one Arab.

"In the War of Independence 76 years ago, we were the few against the many. We did not have weapons. There was an arms embargo on Israel, but with great strength of spirit, heroism and unity among us − we were victorious," Netanyahu said.

The Excerpt: Will the pro-Palestinian college protests lead to lasting change?

His government has vowed to enter Rafah to crush Hamas militants behind the Oct. 7 border attacks that triggered the Israel-Hamas war. Israel's military says it has dismantled at least 18 of Hamas' 24 battalions. However, it believes thousands of Hamas fighters are hiding in Rafah.

On Wednesday night, President Joe Biden told CNN that he would withhold offensive weaponry from Israel if Netanyahu goes forward with an all-out invasion of Rafah.

“Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers,” Biden told CNN. The U.S. has paused a planned shipment of heavy bombs to its Middle East ally.

Israel's operation in Rafah has so far appeared to be limited in scope.

Escape from Gaza Palestinians are paying tens of thousands of dollars to an Egyptian company to escape

But world leaders fear an even larger humanitarian crisis there. And even without a full-scale Rafah invasion, medical facilities in Gaza's southernmost city have been overwhelmed.

About 80,000 people have fled Rafah this week as Israeli tanks mass on the edge of the city and humanitarian aid is choked off by border closures, U.N. agencies said Thursday.

Fact check: Misspelled pro-Palestinian message is from Canadian protest, not Columbia University

"The toll on these families is unbearable," the U.N. Relief Works Agency said on social media. "Nowhere is safe."

Meanwhile, negotiations over reaching a truce agreement between Israel and Hamas have appeared to stall.

Contributing: Reuters

IMAGES

  1. Felix Frankfurter quote: Freedom of speech and of the press are

    why did felix give a speech to the united nations

  2. PPT

    why did felix give a speech to the united nations

  3. PPT

    why did felix give a speech to the united nations

  4. Felix L Sparks ~ Life Story & Biography with Photos

    why did felix give a speech to the united nations

  5. World leaders give speeches at the United Nations

    why did felix give a speech to the united nations

  6. speech to the United Nations General Assembly

    why did felix give a speech to the united nations

VIDEO

  1. World leaders give speeches at the United Nations

  2. Secretary-General António Guterres video message: A New Year's Message from the United Nations

  3. why did Felix did not see the phone???😭😭😭💀☠️

  4. Did Felix just crack an egg on Jonathan's head? 😭😂

  5. Did Felix leave Stray Kids?

  6. President Kagame Seemingly Strikes Back At DRC President After He Got Accused Of Supporting Rebels

COMMENTS

  1. Why did felix give a speech to the united nations

    Felix gave a speech to united nations because he felt that the negative effects of global warming required proper and strict action to be taken. Why was this speech considered by Felix for the UN? This speech was considered because of the following reasons: The effects of climate change has effected the overall environment around the world.

  2. Teenager Is on Track to Plant a Trillion Trees

    Children are not often invited to speak to the United Nations General Assembly. But there stood Felix Finkbeiner, German wunderkind in his Harry Potter spectacles, gray hoodie, and mop-top haircut ...

  3. Children speak out about the climate crisis

    But when the children were invited to speak at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Felix was really excited. The children were going to be heard by the grown-ups and even Wangari Maathai would listen to his speech. "Old and young, rich and poor" - Felix called on the world to plant a trillion trees. Photo by Plant-for-the-Planet

  4. October 1, 1990: Address to the United Nations

    About this speech. George H. W. Bush. October 01, 1990. Source National Archives. Bush emphasizes the need for a stronger United Nations in the post-Cold War era. He also highlights the importance of free elections and action against Iraq. Presidential Speeches | George H. W. Bush Presidency October 1, 1990: Address to the United Nations ...

  5. September 25, 1961: Address to the UN General Assembly

    President John F. Kennedy delivers a historic speech to the UN General Assembly, calling for a global effort to end the nuclear arms race, promote disarmament, and advance human rights. Listen to the audio, read the transcript, and explore the context of this pivotal moment in the Cold War era at the Miller Center.

  6. Address to the United Nations General Assembly

    President Kennedy's address to the United Nations General Assembly in September 1961 was given at a critical moment in the life of that body, one week after the death of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld who had had been killed in a plane crash in the Congo. Some counseled the President to cancel his plans to address the opening of the General Assembly on September 25.

  7. A speech by The Queen at the United Nations General Assembly, 2010

    I address you today as Queen of sixteen United Nations Member States and as Head of the Commonwealth of 54 countries. I have also witnessed great change, much of it for the better, particularly in science and technology, and in social attitudes. Remarkably, many of these sweeping advances have come about not because of governments, committee ...

  8. Full text of Pope Francis' speech to United Nations

    The work of the United Nations, according to the principles set forth in the Preamble and the first Articles of its founding Charter, can be seen as the development and promotion of the rule of ...

  9. Secretary-General's address to the 76th Session of the UN General

    At the United Nations, we have achieved this among the Senior Management and our country team leaders. We will keep going until we have parity at every level. At the same time, we need to push ...

  10. Fidel Castro's Epic 1960 UN Speech

    The United Nations General Assembly requests that delegates limit their addresses to 15 minutes. On 26 September 1960, Fidel Castro of Cuba remained on the rostrum for 269 minutes, making his ...

  11. George Bush's speech to the UN general assembly

    This is the text of the speech delivered by the US president to the United Nations in which he urged action on Iraq. Thu 12 Sep 2002 13.55 EDT. The United Nations was born in the hope that ...

  12. Atoms for Peace speech

    Atoms for Peace speech, speech delivered to the United Nations by U.S. Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower on December 8, 1953. In this address, Eisenhower spelled out the necessity of repurposing existing nuclear weapons technology to peaceful ends, stating that it must be humanity's goal to discover "the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but ...

  13. Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    April 25, 1945, representatives from fifty nations convened in San Francisco to organize the United Nations. Over the course of nine weeks, the delegates debated what the scope and the structure of this new body should be. June 26, they adopted the United Nations Charter, Article 68 of which mandated that the General Assembly "set up ...

  14. Atoms for Peace Speech

    Atoms for Peace Speech. Address by Mr. Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, to the 470th Plenary Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. Tuesday, 8 December 1953, 2:45 p.m. General Assembly President: Mrs. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (India)

  15. Malala Yousafzai: 'Our books and our pens are the most powerful weapons

    This is a transcription of the speech that Malala Yousafzai gave to the United Nations on 12 July 2013, the date of her 16th birthday and "Malala Day" at the UN. In the name of God, the most ...

  16. Haile Selassie's address to the United Nations, 1963

    sister projects: Wikidata item. Spoken to the United Nations General Assembly on October 4, 1963. This speech is typically credited as the inspiration for Bob Marley 's hit song "War". The translation is that provided by the United Nations, running concurrent with his speech. Twenty-seven years ago, as Emperor of Ethiopia, I mounted the rostrum ...

  17. Speech at the UN Headquarters, US, on September 26, 1960

    And, of course, His Excellency the US delegate to the United Nations would promptly join the farse by sending to the Venezuelan government a message of condolences for the victim´s relatives, as if he felt obliged to give explanations from the United Nations about something on which, virtually, the Cuban delegation was to be blamed.

  18. UN general assembly votes to back Palestinian bid for membership

    It does not make Palestine a full member, or give it voting rights in the assembly, or the right to stand for membership of the security council, but the vote was a resounding expression of world ...

  19. Four Freedoms

    Four Freedoms, formulation of worldwide social and political objectives by U.S. Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt in the State of the Union message he delivered to Congress on January 6, 1941. The first part of Roosevelt's speech dealt with the preparations under way to put the United States on a war footing as World War II raged in Europe. As he outlined the country's war aims, Roosevelt called ...

  20. Malala Yousafzai: 16th birthday speech at the United Nations

    New York, New York. Bismillah hir rahman ir rahim. In the name of God, the most merciful, the most beneficent. Honourable UN Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon, Respected President General Assembly Vuk Jeremic Honourable UN envoy for Global education Mr Gordon Brown, Respected elders and my dear brothers and sisters; Today, it is an honour for me to be speaking again after a long time.

  21. Speeches and meetings

    The United Nations Digital Library provides access to individual speeches contained within meeting records of the Principal organs. Speeches since the mid-1980s or earlier, depending on the body ...

  22. Why did Felix give a speech to the United Nations?

    Why did Felix give a speech to the United Nations? He wanted to tell his teacher about climate change. He wrote a report years before that inspired him to fight climate change. He wanted experience making a presentation in front of world leaders. He needed to overcome his fear of making speeches.

  23. Special Message to the Congress on Greece and Turkey (The Truman

    The United Nations is designed to make possible lasting freedom and independence for all its members. We shall not realize our objectives, however, unless we are willing to help free people to maintain their free institutions and their national integrity against aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them totalitarian regimes. . . .

  24. Biden's speech at the Holocaust remembrance ceremony, annotated

    Published May 7, 2024. President Joe Biden talked about the documented increase of antisemitism in the United States during the annual US Holocaust Memorial Museum's Days of Remembrance ceremony ...

  25. Address before the General Assembly of the United Nations, September 25

    Listen to the speech. View related documents. President John F. Kennedy New York City September 25, 1961. Mr. President, honored delegates, ladies and gentlemen: We meet in an hour of grief and challenge. Dag Hammarskjold is dead. But the United Nations lives. His tragedy is deep in our hearts, but the task for which he died is at the top of ...

  26. Israel denounces UN vote on Palestine membership: Recap

    0:49. NEW YORK − Israel's United Nations ambassador physically fed a mock copy of the U.N. charter into a shredder to illustrate what he said was the General Assembly's disregard for the ...