DR Congo President asks for materialization of ‘all the promises made to Africa’ 

President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo of the Democratic Republic of the Congo addresses the general debate of the UN General Assembly’s 76th session.

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The President of Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, asked for United Nations Member States to “materialize all the promises made to Africa in compensation for the sacrifices agreed to protect humanity against global warming.” 

“There are less than six weeks left before  COP26  and nine years before 2030. For Africa, the year 2030 will be marked by a drop in GDP of up to 15 per cent reduction in agricultural yields and a sharp increase in the risk of coastal flooding and in island countries,” Mr. Tshilombo said.  

He noted that, to cope with the negative impacts of climate change, the African continent will need $30 billion a year to adapt. This amount should increase to around $50 billion by 2040. 

“Africa does not need charity,” but constructive win-win partnerships to make better use of its collective national wealth and improve the living conditions of its people, he stressed. 

Mr. Tshilombo was speaking at UN Headquarters at the opening of the high-level week of the  General Assembly . After being held virtually last year due the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s gathering will feature “hybrid” activities that will include leaders in person along with virtual participants.  

Debt and financial support  

Speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic, he said Africa “Africa has not folded its arms and does not intend to capitulate” to the virus but stressed all the difficulties the countries are facing.  

He welcomed initiatives related to financing of the economies, in particular those of the G20 on the suspension of debt service and the common framework for debt restructuring, and pointed to the allocation of $650 billion in special drawing rights (SDRs) from the International Monetary Fund ( IMF ). 

For him, the $33 billion allocated to Africa “are insufficient in view of the immensity of its economic stimulus needs.” The African Union supports the objective of the Paris Summit, $100 billion in SDR for the continent.  

UN Mission 

Regarding the withdrawal of the UN Mission ( MONUSCO ), he agreed to the timeline approved by the UN Security Council, with a transition period that expires in 2024.  

He asked for the process to be “gradual, responsible and orderly” and said he expects “the United Nations and the Security Council to give all the necessary means to MONUSCO and its Rapid Intervention Brigade so that they fulfill their mandates.” 

“This is to ensure that the troops deployed have the required capabilities and means, including the necessary training to meet the requirements of the reality on the ground and the asymmetric warfare currently waged by armed groups and Islamist terrorists,” he explained. 

Speaking about the elections scheduled for 2023, he said he hopes to contribute to “the organization of a free, transparent, inclusive and credible” vote.  

The threat of terrorism 

On the topic of peace and security, the resident said “the scourge of insecurity caused by the cohorts of terrorists, armed groups, mercenaries and criminals of all stripes is undermining the institutional stability of young democracies and destroying the efforts of many African leaders to develop their countries.” 

He argued that the fight against DAESH was won in the Middle East, but in Africa “AQIM and other groups affiliated with DAESH are gaining more ground every day”, in places like Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Burkina Faso.  

About his country, he said “islamist” fundamentalism has reached the east” of the territory, which is “paying a heavy price in the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema.” 

“Africa refuses to serve as a base for international terrorism”, he added. 

Economy and development  

Recently, political crises have erupted in a few Member States, but Mr. Tshilombo argued that “these crises cannot obscure the enormous progress made by the majority of African countries in terms of democracy and good governance.” 

“This is how the Congolese people continue their noble and exhilarating struggle against dictatorship, autocracy and the values ​​that still structure our actions,” he said. 

Last June, the Democratic Republic of Congo entered into a programme with the IMF and is currently benefitting from the assistance of the World Bank to carry out major social projects and basic infrastructure. Mr. Tshilombo spoke of “courageous reforms” that should accelerate economic growth accelerated to over 5 per cent a year.  

He ended his speech addressing the “endless problematic of the reform of the United Nations and of the representation of Africa within its  Security Council .” 

“It is a question of the effectiveness of the United Nations and of justice to a continent an entire section of humanity whose role continues to increase every day,” he said.  

He added that is country supports a proposal that adds two additional non-permanent members for Africa and two seats as permanent members, with the same rights, including veto. 

Read the full statement in French here.   

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo

Modern Latin America

Modern Latin America

Document #23: “Address to the United Nations,” Hugo Chávez (2006)

Invited to speak before the United Nations General assembly, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez used the opportunity to criticize the United States, neo-liberalism, and America’s “hegemonic” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The speech is now famous because Chavez publically labeled U.S. President George W. Bush “the devil.” It received mixed reactions in Venezuela. Watch the speech here.


Chávez chastises Bush and U.S. policy.

Representatives of the governments of the world, good morning to all of you. First of all, I would like to invite you, very respectfully, to those who have not read this book, to read it.

Noam Chomsky, one of the most prestigious American and world intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, and this is one of his most recent books, Hegemony or Survival: The Imperialist Strategy of the United States.  [Holds up book, waves it in front of General Assembly.] “It’s an excellent book to help us understand what has been happening in the world throughout the 20th century, and what’s happening now, and the greatest threat looming over our planet.

The hegemonic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very survival of the human species. We continue to warn you about this danger and we appeal to the people of the United States and the world to halt this threat, which is like a sword hanging over our heads […] I think that the first people who should read this book are our brothers and sisters in the United States, because their threat is right in their own house.

The devil is right at home. The devil, the devil himself, is right in the house.

“And the devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the devil came here. Right here.” [crosses himself] “And it smells of sulfur still today.

Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world.

I think we could call a psychiatrist to analyze yesterday’s statement made by the president of the United States. As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums, to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world.

An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: “The Devil’s Recipe.”

As Chomsky says here, clearly and in depth, the American empire is doing all it can to consolidate its system of domination. And we cannot allow them to do that. We cannot allow world dictatorship to be consolidated.

The world parent’s statement — cynical, hypocritical, full of this imperial hypocrisy from the need they have to control everything.

They say they want to impose a democratic model. But that’s their democratic model. It’s the false democracy of elites, and, I would say, a very original democracy that’s imposed by weapons and bombs and firing weapons.

What a strange democracy. Aristotle might not recognize it or others who are at the root of democracy.

What type of democracy do you impose with marines and bombs?

The president of the United States, yesterday, said to us, right here, in this room, and I’m quoting, “Anywhere you look, you hear extremists telling you can escape from poverty and recover your dignity through violence, terror and martyrdom.”

Wherever he looks, he sees extremists. And you, my brother — he looks at your color, and he says, oh, there’s an extremist. Evo Morales, the worthy president of Bolivia, looks like an extremist to him.

The imperialists see extremists everywhere. It’s not that we are extremists. It’s that the world is waking up. It’s waking up all over. And people are standing up.

I have the feeling, dear world dictator, that you are going to live the rest of your days as a nightmare because the rest of us are standing up, all those who are rising up against American imperialism, who are shouting for equality, for respect, for the sovereignty of nations.

Yes, you can call us extremists, but we are rising up against the empire, against the model of domination.

The president then — and this he said himself, he said: “I have come to speak directly to the populations in the Middle East, to tell them that my country wants peace.”

[…] The government of the United States doesn’t want peace. It wants to exploit its system of exploitation, of pillage, of hegemony through war.

It wants peace. But what’s happening in Iraq? What happened in Lebanon? In Palestine? What’s happening? What’s happened over the last 100 years in Latin America and in the world? And now threatening Venezuela — new threats against Venezuela, against Iran?

He spoke to the people of Lebanon. Many of you, he said, have seen how your homes and communities were caught in the crossfire. How cynical can you get? What a capacity to lie shamefacedly. The bombs in Beirut with millimetric precision?

This is crossfire? He’s thinking of a western, when people would shoot from the hip and somebody would be caught in the crossfire.

This is imperialist, fascist, assassin, genocidal, the empire and Israel firing on the people of Palestine and Lebanon. That is what happened. And now we hear, “We’re suffering because we see homes destroyed.’

And that is why, Madam President, my colleagues, my friends, last year we came here to this same hall as we have been doing for the past eight years, and we said something that has now been confirmed — fully, fully confirmed.

I don’t think anybody in this room could defend the system. Let’s accept — let’s be honest. The U.N. system, born after the Second World War, collapsed. It’s worthless.

Oh, yes, it’s good to bring us together once a year, see each other, make statements and prepare all kinds of long documents, and listen to good speeches, like Abel’s yesterday, or President Mullah’s . Yes, it’s good for that.

And there are a lot of speeches, and we’ve heard lots from the president of Sri Lanka, for instance, and the president of Chile.

But we, the assembly, have been turned into a merely deliberative organ. We have no power, no power to make any impact on the terrible situation in the world. And that is why Venezuela once again proposes, here, today, 20 September, that we re-establish the United Nations.

Last year, Madam, we made four modest proposals that we felt to be crucially important. We have to assume the responsibility our heads of state, our ambassadors, our representatives, and we have to discuss it.

The first is expansion, and Mullah talked about this yesterday right here. The Security Council, both as it has permanent and non-permanent categories, (inaudible) developing countries and LDCs must be given access as new permanent members. That’s step one.

Second, effective methods to address and resolve world conflicts, transparent decisions.

Point three, the immediate suppression — and that is something everyone’s calling for — of the anti-democratic mechanism known as the veto, the veto on decisions of the Security Council.

Let me give you a recent example. The immoral veto of the United States allowed the Israelis, with impunity, to destroy Lebanon. Right in front of all of us as we stood there watching, a resolution in the council was prevented.

Fourthly, we have to strengthen, as we’ve always said, the role and the powers of the secretary general of the United Nations.

Yesterday, the secretary general practically gave us his speech of farewell. And he recognized that over the last 10 years, things have just gotten more complicated; hunger, poverty, violence, human rights violations have just worsened. That is the tremendous consequence of the collapse of the United Nations system and American hegemonic pretensions.

Madam, Venezuela a few years ago decided to wage this battle within the United Nations by recognizing the United Nations, as members of it that we are, and lending it our voice, our thinking.

Our voice is an independent voice to represent the dignity and the search for peace and the reformulation of the international system; to denounce persecution and aggression of hegemonic forces on the planet.

This is how Venezuela has presented itself. Bolivar’s home has sought a nonpermanent seat on the Security Council.

Let’s see. Well, there’s been an open attack by the U.S. government, an immoral attack, to try and prevent Venezuela from being freely elected to a post in the Security Council.

The imperium is afraid of truth, is afraid of independent voices. It calls us extremists, but they are the extremists.

And I would like to thank all the countries that have kindly announced their support for Venezuela, even though the ballot is a secret one and there’s no need to announce things.

But since the imperium has attacked, openly, they strengthened the convictions of many countries. And their support strengthens us.

Mercosur, as a bloc, has expressed its support, our brothers in Mercosur. Venezuela, with Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, is a full member of Mercosur.

And many other Latin American countries, CARICOM, Bolivia have expressed their support for Venezuela. The Arab League, the full Arab League has voiced its support. And I am immensely grateful to the Arab world, to our Arab brothers, our Caribbean brothers, the African Union. Almost all of Africa has expressed its support for Venezuela and countries such as Russia or China and many others.

I thank you all warmly on behalf of Venezuela, on behalf of our people and on behalf of the truth, because Venezuela, with a seat on the Security Council, will be expressing not only Venezuela’s thoughts, but it will also be the voice of all the peoples of the world, and we will defend dignity and truth.

Over and above all of this, Madam President, I think there are reasons to be optimistic. A poet would have said “helplessly optimistic,” because over and above the wars and the bombs and the aggressive and the preventive war and the destruction of entire peoples, one can see that a new era is dawning.

As Silvio Rodriguez says, the era is giving birth to a heart. There are alternative ways of thinking. There are young people who think differently. And this has already been seen within the space of a mere decade. It was shown that the end of history was a totally false assumption, and the same was shown about Pax Americana and the establishment of the capitalist neo-liberal world. It has been shown, this system, to generate mere poverty. Who believes in it now?

What we now have to do is define the future of the world. Dawn is breaking out all over. You can see it in Africa and Europe and Latin America and Oceania. I want to emphasize that optimistic vision.

We have to strengthen ourselves, our will to do battle, our awareness. We have to build a new and better world.

Venezuela joins that struggle, and that’s why we are threatened. The U.S. has already planned, financed and set in motion a coup in Venezuela, and it continues to support coup attempts in Venezuela and elsewhere.

President Michelle Bachelet [of Chile] reminded us just a moment ago of the horrendous assassination of the former foreign minister, Orlando Letelier.

And I would just add one thing: Those who perpetrated this crime are free. And that other event where an American citizen also died were American themselves. They were CIA killers, terrorists.

And we must recall in this room that in just a few days there will be another anniversary. Thirty years will have passed from this other horrendous terrorist attack on the Cuban plane, where 73 innocents died, a Cubana de Aviacion airliner.

And where is the biggest terrorist of this continent who took the responsibility for blowing up the plane? He spent a few years in jail in Venezuela. Thanks to CIA and then government officials, he was allowed to escape, and he lives here in this country, protected by the government.

And he was convicted. He has confessed to his crime. But the U.S. government has double standards. It protects terrorism when it wants to.

And this is to say that Venezuela is fully committed to combating terrorism and violence. And we are one of the people who are fighting for peace.

Luis Posada Carriles is the name of that terrorist who is protected here. And other tremendously corrupt people who escaped from Venezuela are also living here under protection: a grip that bombed various embassies, that assassinated people during the coup. They kidnapped me and they were going to kill me, but I think God reached down and our people came out into the streets and the army was too, and so I’m here today.

But these people who led that coup are here today in this country protected by the American government. And I accuse the American government of protecting terrorists and of having a completely cynical discourse.

We mentioned Cuba. Yes, we were just there a few days ago. We just came from there happily.

And there you see another era born. The Summit of the 15, the Summit of the Nonaligned, adopted a historic resolution. This is the outcome document. […] you have a whole set of resolutions here that were adopted after open debate in a transparent matter — more than 50 heads of state. Havana was the capital of the south for a few weeks, and we have now launched, once again, the group of the nonaligned with new momentum.

And if there is anything I could ask all of you here, my companions, my brothers and sisters, it is to please lend your good will to lend momentum to the Nonaligned Movement for the birth of the new era, to prevent hegemony and prevent further advances of imperialism.

And as you know, Fidel Castro is the president of the nonaligned for the next three years, and we can trust him to lead the charge very efficiently.

Unfortunately they thought, “Oh, Fidel was going to die.” But they’re going to be disappointed because he didn’t. And he’s not only alive, he’s back in his green fatigues, and he’s now presiding the nonaligned.

So, my dear colleagues, Madam President, a new, strong movement has been born, a movement of the south. We are men and women of the south. With this document, with these ideas, with these criticisms, I’m now closing my file. I’m taking the book with me. And, don’t forget, I’m recommending it very warmly and very humbly to all of you.

We want ideas to save our planet, to save the planet from the imperialist threat. And hopefully in this very century, in not too long a time, we will see this, we will see this new era, and for our children and our grandchildren a world of peace based on the fundamental principles of the United Nations, but a renewed United Nations.

And maybe we have to change location. Maybe we have to put the United Nations somewhere else; maybe a city of the south. We’ve proposed Venezuela.

You know that my personal doctor had to stay in the plane. The chief of security had to be left in a locked plane. Neither of these gentlemen was allowed to arrive and attend the U.N. meeting. This is another abuse and another abuse of power on the part of the Devil. It smells of sulfur here, but God is with us and I embrace you all.

May God bless us all. Good day to you.

Source: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/10/24/america/LA_GEN_Venezuela_Chavez_Poll.php

Other: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Address_to_the_United_Nations_General_Assembly_(Ch%C3%A1vez,_2006-09-20)

In Spanish: http://www.aporrea.org/tiburon/n83899.html

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The United Nations Explained: Its Purpose, Power and Problems

why did felix give a speech to the united nations

By Somini Sengupta

  • Sept. 18, 2016

Almost everybody has heard of the United Nations. But how many people know what it actually does? Or how it works? Or why, as world leaders gather to kick off the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, the institution has struggled to live up to the promise of its founders: making the world a better, more peaceful place?

Birth of the United Nations: When, Where and Why

The United Nations Charter was signed at a conference in San Francisco in June 1945, led by four countries: Britain, China, the Soviet Union and the United States.

When the Charter went into effect on Oct. 24 of that year, a global war had just ended. Much of Africa and Asia was still ruled by colonial powers.

After fierce negotiations, 50 nations agreed to a Charter that begins, “We the peoples of the United Nations.”

Why is that opening line notable? Because today, the United Nations can, to some, seem to serve the narrow national interests of its 193 member countries — especially the most powerful ones — and not ordinary citizens.

These parochial priorities can stand in the way of fulfilling the first two pledges of the Charter: to end “the scourge of war” and to regain “faith in fundamental human rights.”

High Ideals on Human Rights

In 1948, the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights . These include the right to not be enslaved, the right to free expression and the right to seek from other countries asylum from persecution.

However, many of the rights expressed — to education, to equal pay for equal work, to nationality — remain unrealized.

General Assembly: Prominent Stage, Limited Powers

Each fall, the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly becomes the stage where presidents and prime ministers give speeches that can be soaring or clichéd — or they can deliver long, incoherent tirades, such as the one given by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan strongman, in 2009.

The event offers plenty of star power, but critics contend that it is little more than a glorified gabfest.

For the rest of the session, the General Assembly is the arena where largely symbolic diplomatic jousts are won and lost. Hundreds of resolutions are introduced annually. While some of them earn a great deal of attention — like one in 1975 that equated Zionism with racism — they are not legally binding. (The Assembly is responsible for making some budgetary decisions.)

In principle, nations small and large, rich and poor, have equal voice in the Assembly, with each country getting one vote. But the genuine power resides elsewhere.

Security Council: Powerful but Often Paralyzed

The 15-member Security Council is by far the most powerful arm of the United Nations. It can impose sanctions, as it did against Iran over its nuclear program, and authorize military intervention, as it did against Libya in 2011.

Critics say it is also the most anachronistic part of the organization. Its five permanent members are the victors of World War II: the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia. The other 10 members are elected for two-year terms , with seats set aside for different regions of the world.

Efforts to expand the permanent membership of the Council to include powers that have emerged since 1945 — such as India, Japan and Germany — have been stymied. For every country that vies for a seat, rivals seek to block it.

Any member of the permanent five — or the P5, for short — can veto any measure, and each has regularly used this power to protect either itself or allies. Since 1990, the United States has cast a veto on Council resolutions 16 times, many concerning Israeli-Palestinian relations. Russia has done so 13 times, including four times over Syria.

The Charter does allow the General Assembly to act if, because of a veto, international peace and security are threatened. But in reality, it is rarely done.

Problems Keeping the Peace

The Security Council’s job is to maintain international peace. Its ability to do so has been severely constrained in recent years, in large part because of bitter divisions between Russia and the West.

The Council has been feckless in the face of major conflicts, particularly those in which permanent members have a stake.

Most recently, its starkest failure has been the handling of the conflict in Syria, with Russia backing the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the United States, Britain and France supporting some opposition groups. The Council has not only failed to halt the fighting, but has also been unable to ensure the delivery of food aid and the safety of medical workers .

Also, North Korea, long an ally of China, has repeatedly ignored United Nations prohibitions against conducting nuclear tests.

Secretary General: Global Reach, Vague Role

The Charter is vague in defining the duties of the secretary general, the United Nations’ top official. He or she is expected to show no favoritism to any particular country, but the office is largely dependent on the funding and the good will of the most powerful nations.

The Security Council — notably the P5 — chooses the secretary general, by secret ballot, to serve a maximum of two five-year terms. This process makes it difficult for the role to be independent of the P5’s influence.

The secretary general has no army to deploy, but what the position does enjoy is a bully pulpit. If the officeholder is perceived as being independent, he or she is often the only person in the world who can call warring parties to the peace table.

The 10-year tenure of the current secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has repeatedly revealed the limits of the office’s authority. For example, Mr. Ban was persuaded for two years in a row to keep powerful countries off a list of those whose military forces had killed and maimed children .

Since 1946, eight have held the position of secretary general. All have been men. Mr. Ban’s successor will be chosen this fall.

What’s Next: 5 Questions for the U.N.’s Future

No matter who takes over as secretary general on Jan. 1, he or she will inherit a body facing the unenviable task of demonstrating the United Nations’ relevance in a world confronting challenges that were inconceivable 70 years ago. Here are some of the questions that will determine whether the organization’s influence diminishes or grows:

■ Can the Security Council take action against countries that flout international humanitarian law? And can the P5 members of the Council look beyond their own narrow interests to find ways to end the “scourge of war”?

■ Can peacekeeping operations be repaired so the protection of civilians is ensured?

■ Can the United Nations persuade countries to come up with new ways to handle the new reality of mass migration?

■ Can the secretary general persuade countries to keep their promise to curb carbon emissions — and to help those suffering from the consequences of climate change?

■ Can the United Nations get closer to achieving its founding mandate, to make the world a better, more peaceful place?

Bryant Rousseau and Caryn Wilson contributed reporting.

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General assembly, 21 september 2021, secretary-general’s address to the 76th session of the un general assembly, antónio guterres.

Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the opening of the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-sixth session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

We face a moment of truth. Now is the time to deliver…restore trust… [and] inspire hope. And I do have hope…humanity has shown that we are capable of great things when we work together. That is the raison d’être of our United Nations.

[All-English version; scroll further down for all-French and trilingual as delivered versions]

Mr. President of the General Assembly, Excellencies,

I am here to sound the alarm:  The world must wake up.

We are on the edge of an abyss — and moving in the wrong direction.

Our world has never been more threatened.

Or more divided.

We face the greatest cascade of crises in our lifetimes. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has supersized glaring inequalities. 

The climate crisis is pummeling the planet.

Upheaval from Afghanistan to Ethiopia to Yemen and beyond has thwarted peace.

A surge of mistrust and misinformation is polarizing people and paralyzing societies.

Human rights are under fire. 

Science is under assault.  

And economic lifelines for the most vulnerable are coming too little and too late — if they come at all.

Solidarity is missing in action — just when we need it most. 

Perhaps one image tells the tale of our times. 

The picture we have seen from some parts of the world of COVID-19 vaccines … in the garbage.  

Expired and unused.   

On the one hand, we see the vaccines developed in record time — a victory of science and human ingenuity.

On the other hand, we see that triumph undone by the tragedy of a lack of political will, selfishness and mistrust. 

A surplus in some countries.  Empty shelves in others.

A majority of the wealthier world vaccinated.  Over 90 percent of Africans still waiting for their first dose.

This is a moral indictment of the state of our world.

It is an obscenity. 

We passed the science test. 

But we are getting an F in Ethics.


The climate alarm bells are also ringing at fever pitch.

The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was a code red for humanity. 

We see the warning signs in every continent and region.

Scorching temperatures.  Shocking biodiversity loss.  Polluted air, water and natural spaces. 

And climate-related disasters at every turn.

As we saw recently, not even this city — the financial capital of the world — is immune. 

Climate scientists tell us it’s not too late to keep alive the 1.5 degree goal of the Paris Climate Agreement. 

But the window is rapidly closing.

We need a 45 per cent cut in emissions by 2030.  Yet a recent UN report made clear that with present national climate commitments, emissions will go up by 16% by 2030. 

That would condemn us to a hellscape of temperature rises of at least 2.7 degrees above pre-industrial levels.  A catastrophe.

Meanwhile, the OECD just reported a gap of at least $20 billion in essential and promised climate finance to developing countries.

We are weeks away from the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, but seemingly light years away from reaching our targets.

We must get serious.  And we must act fast. 

COVID and the climate crisis have exposed profound fragilities as societies and as a planet. 

Yet instead of humility in the face of these epic challenges, we see hubris. 

Instead of the path of solidarity, we are on a dead end to destruction.

At the same time, another disease is spreading in our world today:  a malady of mistrust.

When people see promises of progress denied by the realities of their harsh daily lives…

When they see their fundamental rights and freedoms curtailed…

When they see petty — as well as grand — corruption around them…

When they see billionaires joyriding to space while millions go hungry on earth…

When parents see a future for their children that looks even bleaker than the struggles of today...

And when young people see no future at all…

The people we serve and represent may lose faith not only in their governments and institutions — but in the values that have animated the work of the United Nations for over 75 years.

Peace.  Human rights.  Dignity for all.  Equality.  Justice.  Solidarity.

Like never before, core values are in the crosshairs. 

A breakdown in trust is leading to a breakdown in values. 

Promises, after all, are worthless if people do not see results in their daily lives. 

Failure to deliver creates space for some of the darkest impulses of humanity.

It provides oxygen for easy fixes, pseudo-solutions and conspiracy theories. 

It is kindling to stoke ancient grievances.  Cultural supremacy.  Ideological dominance.  Violent misogyny.  The targeting of the most vulnerable including refugees and migrants.   

We face a moment of truth.

Now is the time to deliver. 

Now is the time to restore trust. 

Now is the time to inspire hope. 

And I do have hope. 

The problems we have created are problems we can solve.

Humanity has shown that we are capable of great things when we work together. That is the raison d’être of our United Nations. 

But let’s be frank.  Today’s multilateral system is too limited in its instruments and capacities, in relation to what is needed for effective governance of managing global public goods.

It is too fixed on the short-term. 

We need to strengthen global governance.  We need to focus on the future.  We need to renew the social contract.  We need to ensure a United Nations fit for a new era. 

That is why I presented my report on Our Common Agenda in the way I did.

It provides a 360 degree analysis of the state of our world, with 90 specific recommendations that take on the challenges of today and strengthen multilateralism for tomorrow. 

Our Common Agenda builds on the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Paris Climate Agreement.

It is in line with the mandate I was given by the UN75 Declaration to seek a pathway to a better world.  

But to reach that land of our promises, we must bridge Great Divides. 

I see 6 Great Divides — 6 Grand Canyons — that we must bridge now.   

First, we must bridge the peace divide.  

For far too many around the world, peace and stability remain a distant dream. 

In Afghanistan, where we must boost humanitarian assistance and defend human rights, especially of women and girls.

In Ethiopia, where we call on parties to immediately cease hostilities, ensure humanitarian access and create the conditions for the start of an Ethiopian-led political dialogue.

In Myanmar, where we reaffirm unwavering support to the people in their pursuit of democracy, peace, human rights and the rule of law.

In the Sahel, where we are committed to mobilizing international assistance for regional security, development and governance.

In places such as Yemen, Libya and Syria, where we must overcome stalemates and push for peace.   In Israel and Palestine, where we urge leaders to resume a meaningful dialogue,  recognizing the two-State solution as the only pathway to a just and comprehensive peace.

In Haiti and so many other places left behind, where we stand in solidarity through every step out of crisis. 

We are seeing an explosion in seizures of power by force. 

Military coups are back. 

The lack of unity among the international community does not help.

Geopolitical divisions are undermining international cooperation and limiting the capacity of the Security Council to take the necessary decisions.

A sense of impunity is taking hold. 

At the same time, it will be impossible to address dramatic economic and development challenges while the world’s two largest economies are at odds with each other. 

Yet I fear our world is creeping towards two different sets of economic, trade, financial, and technology rules, two divergent approaches in the development of artificial intelligence — and ultimately the risk of two different military and geo-political strategies.

This is a recipe for trouble.  It would be far less predictable than the Cold War. 

To restore trust and inspire hope, we need cooperation.  We need dialogue.  We need understanding. 

We need to invest in prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.  We need progress on nuclear disarmament and in our shared efforts to counter terrorism.

We need actions anchored in respect for human rights.  And we need a new comprehensive Agenda for Peace.

Second, we must bridge the climate divide.  This requires bridging trust between North and South.

It starts by doing all we can now to create the conditions for success in Glasgow. 

We need more ambition from all countries in three key areas — mitigation, finance and adaptation.

More ambition on mitigation — means countries committing to carbon neutrality by mid-century —  and to concrete 2030 emissions reductions targets that will get us there, backed up with credible actions now.

More ambition on finance — means developing nations finally seeing the promised $100 billion dollars a year for climate action, fully mobilizing the resources of both international financial institutions and the private sector, too.

More ambition on adaptation — means developed countries living up to their promise of credible support to developing countries to build resilience to save lives and livelihoods.

This means 50 per cent of all climate finance provided by developed countries and multilateral development banks should be dedicated to adaptation.

The African Development Bank set the bar in 2019 by allocating half of its climate finance to adaptation.

Some donor countries have followed their lead.  All must do so.

My message to every Member State is this:  Don’t wait for others to make the first move.  Do your part.

Around the world, we see civil society — led by young people — fully mobilized to tackle the climate crisis.

The private sector is increasingly stepping up. 

Governments must also summon the full force of their fiscal policymaking powers to make the shift to green economies. 

By taxing carbon and pollution instead of people’s income to more easily make the switch to sustainable green jobs.

By ending subsidies to fossil fuels and freeing up resources to invest back into health care, education, renewable energy, sustainable food systems, and social protections for their people.

By committing to no new coal plants.  If all planned coal power plants become operational, we will not only be clearly above 1.5 degrees — we will be well above 2 degrees.   The Paris targets will go up in smoke.

This is a planetary emergency. 

We need coalitions of solidarity -- between countries that still depend heavily on coal, and countries that have the financial and technical resources to support their transition.   We have the opportunity and the obligation to act. 

Third, we must bridge the gap between rich and poor, within and among countries.

That starts by ending the pandemic for everyone, everywhere. 

We urgently need a global vaccination plan to at least double vaccine production and ensure that vaccines reach seventy percent of the world’s population in the first half of 2022.

This plan could be implemented by an emergency Task Force made up of present and potential vaccine producers, the World Health Organization, ACT-Accelerator partners, and international financial institutions, working with pharmaceutical companies.

We have no time to lose.

A lopsided recovery is deepening inequalities. 

Richer countries could reach pre-pandemic growth rates by the end of this year while the impacts may last for years in low-income countries.

Is it any wonder?

Advanced economies are investing nearly 28 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product into economic recovery.

For middle-income countries, that number falls to 6.5 per cent.

And it plummets to 1.8 per cent for the least developed countries — a tiny percentage of a much smaller amount.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the International Monetary Fund projects that cumulative economic growth per capita over the next five years will be 75 percent less than the rest of the world.

Many countries need an urgent injection of liquidity.    I welcome the issuance of $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights by the International Monetary Fund.

But these SDRs are largely going to the countries that need them least. 

Advanced economies should reallocate their surplus SDRs to countries in need. 

SDRs are not a silver bullet. 

But they provide space for sustainable recovery and growth.

I renew also my call for a reformed and more equitable international debt architecture. 

The Debt Service Suspension Initiative must be extended to 2022 and should be available to all highly indebted vulnerable and middle-income countries that request it. 

This would be solidarity in action.

Countries shouldn’t have to choose between servicing debt and serving people.

With effective international solidarity, it would be possible at the national level to forge a new social contract that includes universal health coverage and income protection, housing and decent work, quality education for all, and an end to discrimination and violence against women and girls. 

I call on countries to reform their tax systems and finally end tax evasion, money laundering and illicit financial flows.

And as we look ahead, we need a better system of prevention and preparedness for all major global risks.  We must support the recommendations of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. 

I have put forward a number of other proposals in Our Common Agenda — including an emergency platform and a Futures Lab.

Fourth, we must bridge the gender divide. 

COVID-19 exposed and amplified the world’s most enduring injustice: the power imbalance between men and women.

When the pandemic hit, women were the majority of frontline workers, first to lose their jobs, and first to put their careers on hold to care for those close to them.

Girls were disproportionately hit by school closures that limit their development and increase the risk of abuse, violence and child marriage. 

Bridging the gender divide is not only a matter of justice for women and girls.

It’s a game-changer for humanity.

Societies with more equal representation are more stable and peaceful. They have better health systems and more vibrant economies.

Women’s equality is essentially a question of power. We must urgently transform our male-dominated world and shift the balance of power, to solve the most challenging problems of our age.

That means more women leaders in parliaments, cabinets and board rooms. It means women fully represented and making their full contribution, everywhere. 

I urge governments, corporations and other institutions to take bold steps, including benchmarks and quotas, to create gender parity from the leadership down.

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 back against regressive laws that institutionalize gender discrimination. Women’s rights are human rights.    

Economic recovery plans should focus on women, including through large-scale investments in the care economy.

And we need an emergency plan to fight gender-based violence in every country.

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and build a better world, we can and we must bridge the gender divide. 

Fifth, restoring trust and inspiring hope means bridging the digital divide.

Half of humanity has no access to the internet.  We must connect everyone by 2030.    This is the vision of my Roadmap for Digital Co-operation — to embrace the promise of digital technology while protecting people from its perils. 

One of the greatest perils we face is the growing reach of digital platforms and the use and abuse of data.

A vast library of information is being assembled about each of us. Yet we don’t even have the keys to that library.

We don’t know how this information has been collected, by whom or for what purposes.

But we do know our data is being used commercially — to boost corporate profits.

Our behavior patterns are being commodified and sold like futures contracts.

Our data is also being used to influence our perceptions and opinions.

Governments and others can exploit it to control or manipulate people’s behaviour, violating human rights of individuals or groups, and undermining democracy.

This is not science fiction.  This is today’s reality. 

And it requires a serious discussion.

So, too, do other dangers in the digital frontier. 

I am certain, for example, that any future major confrontation — and heaven forbid it should ever happen — will start with a massive cyberattack.

Where are the legal frameworks to address this?

Autonomous weapons can today choose targets and kill people without human interference.  They should be banned. 

But there is no consensus on how to regulate those technologies.  

To restore trust and inspire hope, we need to place human rights at the centre of our efforts to ensure a safe, equitable and open digital future for all.

Sixth, and finally, we need to bridge the divide among generations.    Young people will inherit the consequences of our decisions — good and bad.    At the same time, we expect 10.9 billion people to be born by century’s end.    We need their talents, ideas and energies.     Our Common Agenda proposes a Transforming Education Summit next year to address the learning crisis and expand opportunities for today’s 1.8 billion young people.   But young people need more than support.    They need a seat at the table.    For this, I will appoint a Special Envoy for Future Generations and create the United Nations Youth Office.    And the contributions of young people will be central to the Summit of the Future, as set out in Our Common Agenda.

Young people need a vision of hope for the future. 

Recent research showed the majority of young people across ten countries are suffering from high levels of anxiety and distress over the state of our planet.

Some 60 percent of your future voters feel betrayed by their governments. We must prove to children and young people that despite the seriousness of the situation, the world has a plan — and governments are committed to implementing it.

We need to act now to bridge the Great Divides and save humanity and the planet.

With real engagement, we can live up to the promise of a better, more peaceful world.

That is the driving force of our Common Agenda.    The best way to advance the interests of one’s own citizens is by advancing the interests of our common future. 

Interdependence is the logic of the 21st century.

And it is the lodestar of the United Nations. 

This is our time. 

A moment for transformation. 

An era to re-ignite multilateralism.

An age of possibilities. 

Let us restore trust.  Let us inspire hope. 

And let us start right now. 


[All-French version]

Monsieur le Président, Excellences, Mesdames et Messieurs les représentants,

Je suis ici pour tirer la sonnette d’alarme : le monde doit se réveiller.

Nous sommes au bord du précipice – et nous continuons de nous en approcher.

Jamais notre monde n’a été aussi menacé.

Ou plus divisé.

Nous faisons face à la plus grande avalanche de crises de notre existence.

La pandémie de COVID-19 a amplifié des inégalités déjà flagrantes.

La crise climatique s’abat sur la planète.

De l’Afghanistan à l’Éthiopie en passant par le Yémen et ailleurs, les bouleversements font échec à la paix.

Un embrasement de méfiance et de désinformation polarise les gens et paralyse les sociétés.

Les droits humains sont mis à mal.

La science est vilipendée.

Et l’aide économique destinée aux plus vulnérables, à supposer qu’elle leur parvienne, est insuffisante et arrive trop tard.

La solidarité est portée disparue – au moment même où nous en avons le plus besoin.

Une image résume peut-être ce que nous vivons.

Celle qui nous vient de certains coins du monde, où l’on voit des vaccins contre le COVID-19 ... jetés à la poubelle.

Périmés et inutilisés.

D’un côté, les vaccins sont mis au point en un temps record – une victoire de la science et de l’ingéniosité humaine.

De l’autre, ce triomphe est réduit à néant par le manque tragique de volonté politique, l’égoïsme et la méfiance.

L’abondance pour certains pays. Des étagères vides pour d’autres.

La plupart des habitants des pays riches sont vaccinés. Plus de 90 % des Africains attendent toujours leur première dose.

Nous sommes moralement coupables de l’état du monde dans lequel nous vivons.

La situation est indécente.

Nous avons réussi l’épreuve de sciences.

Mais nous avons un zéro pointé en éthique.

Mesdames et Messieurs les représentants,

La sonnette d’alarme climatique est également assourdissante.

Le récent rapport du Groupe d’experts intergouvernemental sur l’évolution du climat est un code rouge pour l’humanité.

Nous voyons les signes d’avertissement sur chaque continent et dans chaque région.

Températures caniculaires. Perte de biodiversité épouvantable. Pollution de l’air, de l’eau et des espaces naturels.

Et à chaque instant des catastrophes liées au climat.

Comme nous l’avons vu récemment, même la ville où nous sommes – la capitale financière du monde – n’est pas à l’abri.

Les climatologues nous disent qu’il n’est pas trop tard pour respecter l’objectif de 1,5 degré fixé dans l’Accord de Paris sur le climat.

Mais la fenêtre pour le faire se ferme rapidement.

Nous devons réduire nos émissions de 45 % d’ici à 2030. Pourtant, un récent rapport de l’ONU a clairement montré que, compte tenu des engagements nationaux en matière de climat, d’ici à 2030, les émissions augmenteront de 16 %.

Cela nous condamnerait à une situation infernale où la température augmenterait d’au moins 2,7 degrés par rapport aux niveaux préindustriels. Une catastrophe.

Dans le même temps, l’OCDE vient de signaler un déficit d’au moins 20 milliards de dollars dans le financement essentiel de l’action climatique promis aux pays en développement.

Nous sommes à quelques semaines de la Conférence des Nations Unies sur les changements climatiques qui se tiendra à Glasgow, mais nous sommes à des années-lumière de nos objectifs.

Nous devons nous y mettre sérieusement. Et vite.

Le COVID-19 et la crise climatique ont mis en évidence de profondes fragilités, dans nos sociétés et pour notre planète.

Pourtant, ces défis formidables ne suscitent pas l’humilité, mais l’arrogance.

Au lieu de suivre la voie de la solidarité, nous sommes dans une impasse qui mène à la destruction.

Dans le même temps, une autre maladie se propage aujourd’hui dans le monde : le fléau de la méfiance.

Quand les gens voient les promesses de progrès anéanties par les réalités d’un quotidien éprouvant...

Quand ils voient leurs droits fondamentaux et leurs libertés restreints...

Quand ils voient autour d’eux la petite – et la grande – corruption...

Quand ils voient des milliardaires se balader dans l’espace alors que des millions de personnes sur terre ont faim...

Quand les parents voient pour leurs enfants des lendemains plus sombres encore que l’adversité à laquelle ils sont confrontés aujourd’hui...

Et quand les jeunes ne voient aucun lendemain...

Les personnes pour lesquelles nous œuvrons et que nous représentons pourraient perdre la foi non seulement dans leurs gouvernements et leurs institutions, mais aussi dans les valeurs qui animent le travail de l’ONU depuis plus de 75 ans.

Paix. Droits humains. Dignité de toutes et tous. Égalité. Justice. Solidarité.

Jamais auparavant les valeurs fondamentales n’ont été aussi menacées.

Une rupture de la confiance entraîne une rupture des valeurs.

À quoi bon des promesses si les gens ne voient pas de résultats dans leur vie quotidienne.

Quand le résultat n’est pas au rendez-vous, place est faite à certaines des pulsions les plus sinistres de l’humanité.

Cela alimente les solutions faciles, les pseudo-solutions et les théories du complot.

Cela attise les griefs anciens. La suprématie culturelle. La domination idéologique. La misogynie violente. La mise en joue des personnes les plus vulnérables, notamment les réfugiés et les migrants.

L’heure de vérité a sonné.

Le moment est venu d’agir.

Le moment est venu de redonner confiance.

Le moment est venu de raviver l’espoir.

Et de l’espoir, j’en ai !

Les problèmes que nous avons créés sont des problèmes que nous pouvons résoudre.

L’humanité a montré que rien ne l’arrêtait quand tout le monde travaillait main dans la main.

C’est la raison d’être des Nations Unies.

Mais soyons francs. Le système multilatéral actuel a ses limites : ses instruments et ses capacités ne suffisent pas pour assurer l’efficacité de la gouvernance des biens publics mondiaux.

Ce système est trop axé sur le court terme.

Nous devons renforcer la gouvernance mondiale. Nous devons nous concentrer sur l’avenir. Nous devons renouveler le contrat social. Nous devons adapter l’ONU à une nouvelle ère.

C’est pourquoi j’ai présenté comme je l’ai fait mon rapport sur Notre Programme commun.

Ce programme offre une analyse à 360 degrés de l’état de notre monde, accompagnée de 90 recommandations concrètes visant à relever les défis d’aujourd’hui et à renforcer le multilatéralisme de demain.

Notre Programme commun s’appuie sur la Charte des Nations Unies, la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’homme, le Programme de développement durable à l’horizon 2030 et l’Accord de Paris sur le climat.

Il s’inscrit dans le droit fil du mandat qui m’a été confié dans la Déclaration faite à l’occasion de la célébration du soixante-quinzième anniversaire de l’ONU : chercher une voie vers un monde meilleur.

Mais pour atteindre cette terre de promesses, nous devons combler de grands fossés.

Excellences, Mesdames et Messieurs les représentants,

Pour moi, il y a 6 grands fossés – 6 Grands canyons – que nous devons combler maintenant.

Premièrement, nous devons combler le fossé qui nous sépare de la paix.

Pour bien trop de personnes, partout dans le monde, la paix et la stabilité restent un rêve lointain.

En Afghanistan, où nous devons redonner de l’élan à l’aide humanitaire et défendre les droits humains, en particulier ceux des femmes et des filles.

En Éthiopie, où nous demandons à toutes les parties de cesser immédiatement les hostilités, de garantir l’accès humanitaire et de créer les conditions nécessaires à l’ouverture d’un dialogue politique conduit par les Éthiopiennes et les Éthiopiens.

Au Myanmar, où nous réaffirmons notre soutien indéfectible au peuple, qui aspire à la démocratie, à la paix, aux droits humains et à l’état de droit.

Au Sahel, où nous nous sommes engagés à mobiliser l’aide internationale en faveur de la sécurité, du développement et de la gouvernance de la région.

Ailleurs encore, comme au Yémen, en Libye et en Syrie, où nous devons sortir de l’impasse et tout faire pour que la paix soit instaurée.   En Israël et en Palestine, où nous exhortons les dirigeants à reprendre un dialogue constructif et à reconnaître que la solution des deux États est la seule voie pouvant conduire à une paix juste et globale.

En Haïti et dans tant d’autres pays laissés pour compte, où nous sommes solidaires à chaque mesure prise pour sortir de la crise.

Nous assistons à une flambée des prises de pouvoir par la force.

Les coups d’État militaires reprennent.

Et la désunion de la communauté internationale n’aide pas.

Les clivages géopolitiques sapent la coopération internationale et empêchent le Conseil de sécurité de prendre les décisions qui s’imposent.

Un sentiment d’impunité s’installe.

Et pourtant, il sera impossible de relever les prodigieux défis de l’économie et du développement tant que les deux plus grandes économies du monde seront en désaccord l’une avec l’autre.

Hélas, je crains fort que notre monde ne s’achemine vers deux ensembles de règles économiques, commerciales, financières et technologiques bien distincts, deux conceptions opposées du développement de l’intelligence artificielle – et finalement deux stratégies militaires et géopolitiques différentes.

Ce serait la garantie de problèmes à venir. Bien moins prévisibles que la guerre froide.

Pour redonner confiance et raviver l’espoir, nous avons besoin de coopération. Nous avons besoin de dialogue. Nous devons nous entendre.

Nous devons investir dans la prévention des conflits et le maintien et la consolidation de la paix. Nous devons faire avancer le désarmement nucléaire et l’action que nous menons ensemble contre le terrorisme.

Nous devons agir dans le profond respect des droits humains. Et nous devons nous munir d’un nouvel Agenda pour la paix.

Deuxièmement, nous devons combler le fossé climatique. Pour ce faire, il faut rétablir la confiance entre Nord et Sud.

Et cela commence en faisant tout ce que nous pouvons dès maintenant pour assurer le succès de la Conférence de Glasgow.

Il faut que tous les pays se montrent plus ambitieux dans trois grands domaines d’action : l’atténuation, le financement et l’adaptation.

Plus d’ambition en matière d’atténuation, cela veut dire que les pays s’engagent à atteindre la neutralité carbone d’ici le milieu du siècle et à se fixer des objectifs concrets de réduction des émissions pour 2030 qui nous permettent d’y parvenir, et qui s’appuient sur des mesures réalisables dans l’immédiat.

Plus d’ambition en matière de financement – cela veut dire que les pays en développement reçoivent les 100 milliards de dollars par an qui leur ont été promis pour l’action climatique, en mobilisant pleinement les ressources des institutions financières internationales et aussi celles du secteur privé.

Plus d’ambition en matière d’adaptation – cela veut dire que les pays développés tiennent la promesse qu’ils ont faite d’apporter un soutien crédible aux pays en développement afin de renforcer la résilience et de sauver des vies et des moyens de subsistance.

Cela veut dire que 50 % de tous les financements climatiques fournis par les pays développés et les banques multilatérales de développement devraient être consacrés à l’adaptation.

La Banque africaine de développement a montré la voie en 2019 en allouant la moitié de ses financements climatiques à l’adaptation.

Certains pays donateurs ont suivi son exemple. Il faut que tous en fassent autant.

Le message que j’adresse à chaque État Membre est le suivant : n’attendez pas que d’autres fassent le premier pas. Faites votre part.

Partout dans le monde, nous constatons que la société civile – menée par les jeunes – est pleinement mobilisée pour faire face à la crise climatique.

Le secteur privé s’engage de plus en plus.

Il faut que les gouvernements aussi mobilisent tous leurs pouvoirs en matière de politique financière pour faire la transition vers l’économie verte.

En imposant les émissions de carbone et la pollution plutôt que le revenu des ménages, afin de faciliter le passage à des emplois verts durables.

En arrêtant de subventionner les combustibles fossiles et en dégageant des ressources à réinvestir dans la santé, l’éducation, les énergies renouvelables, les systèmes alimentaires durables et la protection sociale.

En s’engageant à ne pas construire de nouvelles centrales à charbon. Si toutes celles qu’il est prévu d’ouvrir entrent en service, non seulement nous dépasserons nettement 1,5 degré, mais nous serons bien au-dessus de 2 degrés.

Les objectifs de Paris partiront en fumée.

Nous sommes face à une urgence planétaire.

Nous avons besoin de coalitions de solidarité – entre les pays qui sont encore fortement tributaires du charbon et ceux qui ont les moyens financiers et techniques de financer leur transition.

Nous pouvons et nous devons agir.

Troisièmement, nous devons combler le fossé entre riches et pauvres, dans les pays et d’un pays à l’autre.

Cela commence par mettre fin à la pandémie, partout et pour tout le monde.

Nous avons besoin de toute urgence d’un plan de vaccination mondial permettant de faire au moins doubler la production et d’acheminer des vaccins à 70 % de la population au premier semestre 2022.

Ce plan pourrait être exécuté par une équipe spéciale d’urgence composée de producteurs actuels et potentiels de vaccins, de l’Organisation mondiale de la Santé, de partenaires du dispositif Accélérateur ACT et des institutions financières internationales, en collaboration avec les sociétés pharmaceutiques.

Nous n’avons pas de temps à perdre.

Une reprise asymétrique creuse les inégalités.

Les pays riches pourraient retrouver les taux de croissance d’avant la pandémie d’ici la fin de l’année, tandis que les retombées de la crise sanitaire pourraient se faire sentir pendant des années dans les pays à faible revenu.

Est-ce bien étonnant ?

Les économies avancées investissent près de 28 % de leur produit intérieur brut dans la reprise économique.

Pour les pays à revenu intermédiaire, ce chiffre tombe à 6,5 %.

Et il chute à 1,8 % pour les pays les moins avancés – un pourcentage infime d’un montant très inférieur.

En Afrique subsaharienne, le Fonds monétaire international prévoit que la croissance économique cumulée par habitant pour les cinq prochaines années devrait être égale au quart de ce qu’elle est dans le reste du monde.

De nombreux pays ont besoin d’injections d’urgence de liquidités.   Je me réjouis que le Fonds monétaire international ait émis 650 milliards de dollars de Droits de tirage spéciaux.

Mais ces droits vont en grande partie aux pays qui en ont le moins besoin.

Les économies avancées devraient réaffecter l’excédent de leurs DTS aux pays qui en ont vraiment besoin.

Les DTS ne sont pas la panacée.

Mais ils permettent une reprise et une croissance durables.

Je renouvelle aussi mon appel en faveur d’une réforme de l’architecture de la dette internationale, qui doit être plus équitable.

L’Initiative de suspension du service de la dette doit être prolongée jusqu’en 2022 et devrait être accessible à tous les pays vulnérables et à tous les pays à revenu intermédiaire très endettés qui le demandent.

C’est ça, la solidarité en action.

Les États ne devraient pas avoir à choisir entre assurer le service de la dette et être au service de la population.

Une véritable solidarité internationale permettrait d’établir à l’échelle nationale un nouveau contrat social prévoyant une couverture sanitaire universelle et la protection du revenu, d’offrir à toutes et à tous un logement, un travail décent et une éducation de qualité pour toutes et tous et d’éliminer la discrimination et la violence contre les femmes et les filles.

J’engage les pays à procéder à des réformes fiscales et à mettre enfin un terme à la fraude fiscale, au blanchiment d’argent et aux flux financiers illicites.

Et pour l’avenir, face aux grands risques mondiaux, nous devons nous doter d’un meilleur système de prévention et de préparation ; nous devons suivre les recommandations du Groupe indépendant sur la préparation et la riposte à la pandémie.

J’ai fait de nombreuses autres propositions dans Notre Programme commun, parmi lesquelles une plateforme d’urgence et un laboratoire pour l’avenir.

Quatrièmement, nous devons combler le fossé entre les genres.

Le COVID-19 a mis à nu et exacerbé la plus vieille injustice du monde : le déséquilibre de pouvoir entre les hommes et les femmes.

Lorsque la pandémie a frappé, les femmes représentaient la majorité des travailleurs de première ligne. Elles ont été les premières à perdre leur emploi et les premières à mettre leurs carrières en suspens pour s’occuper de leurs proches.

Les fermetures d’écoles ont touché les filles de manière disproportionnée, freinant leurs parcours et augmentant les risques d'abus, de violence et de mariage d’enfants.

Combler le fossé entre les femmes et les hommes n’est pas seulement une question de justice pour les femmes et les filles.

Cela change la donne pour l’humanité tout entière.

Les sociétés plus égalitaires sont aussi plus stables et plus pacifiques. Elles ont de meilleurs systèmes de santé et des économies plus dynamiques.

L'égalité des femmes est essentiellement une question de pouvoir. Si nous voulons résoudre les problèmes les plus difficiles de notre époque, nous devons de toute urgence transformer notre monde dominé par les hommes et changer l'équilibre du pouvoir.

Cela requiert plus de femmes dirigeantes dans les parlements, les cabinets ministériels et les conseils d’administration. Cela exige que les femmes soient pleinement représentées et puissent apporter leur pleine contribution partout.  

J’exhorte les gouvernements, les entreprises et les autres organisations à prendre des mesures audacieuses, y compris des critères de référence et des quotas, pour établir la parité hommes-femmes à tous les niveaux de la hiérarchie.

A l’Organisation des Nations Unies, nous avons atteint cela au sein de l’équipe dirigeante et parmi les responsables de bureaux de pays. Nous continuerons jusqu’à ce que nous parvenions à la parité à tous les niveaux.

Dans le même temps, nous devons nous opposer aux lois régressives qui institutionnalisent la discrimination de genre. Les droits des femmes sont des droits humains.

Les plans de relance économique devraient accorder une place centrale aux femmes, notamment par des investissements à grande échelle dans l’économie des soins.

Et nous devons adopter un plan d’urgence pour lutter contre la violence de genre dans chaque pays.

Pour atteindre les Objectifs de développement durable et bâtir un monde meilleur, nous pouvons et nous devons combler le fossé entre les femmes et les hommes.

Mesdames et Messieurs les représentants,   Cinquièmement, pour redonner confiance et raviver l’espoir, nous devons réduire la fracture numérique.

La moitié de l’humanité n’a pas accès à l’Internet. Nous devons faire en sorte que tout le monde soit connecté d’ici à 2030.   Telle est la vision de mon Plan d’action de coopération numérique : saisir les promesses du numérique tout en se prémunissant contre ses dangers.

L’un des plus grands périls auxquels nous sommes confrontés, c’est le pouvoir croissant des plateformes numériques et l’utilisation des données à des fins néfastes.

Une vaste bibliothèque d’informations est en train d’être constituée sur chacun d’entre nous. Et nous n’y avons même pas accès.

Nous ne savons pas comment ces informations ont été recueillies, par qui, ni dans quels buts.

Mais nous savons que nos données sont utilisées à des fins commerciales, pour augmenter encore les profits.

Nos comportements et habitudes deviennent des produits qui sont vendus comme des contrats à terme.

Nos données sont également utilisées pour influencer nos perceptions et nos opinions.

Les gouvernements – et d’autres entités – peuvent les exploiter pour contrôler ou manipuler le comportement des citoyens, bafouant ainsi les droits humains des individus ou groupes et sapant la démocratie.

Ce n’est pas de la science-fiction. C’est notre réalité d’aujourd’hui.

Et cela exige un débat sérieux.

Il en va de même pour d’autres dangers de l’ère numérique. 

Je suis par exemple certain que toute future confrontation majeure – et j’espère évidemment qu’une telle confrontation n’aura jamais lieu – commencera par une cyberattaque massive.

Quels cadres juridiques nous permettraient de faire face à une telle situation ?

Aujourd’hui, des armes autonomes peuvent prendre pour cible des personnes et les tuer sans intervention humaine. De telles armes devraient être interdites.

Mais il n’y a pas de consensus sur la manière de réglementer ces technologies.

Afin de rétablir la confiance et raviver l’espoir, nous devons placer les droits humains au cœur de nos efforts pour que l’avenir numérique de tous soit sûr, équitable et ouvert.

Sixièmement, enfin, nous devons combler le fossé entre les générations.

Les jeunes devront vivre avec les conséquences de nos décisions – bonnes et mauvaises.

Dans le même temps, à la fin du siècle, il devrait y avoir 10,9 milliards de personnes sur la planète.

Nous avons besoin de leurs talents, de leurs idées et de leur énergie.

Notre Programme commun propose qu’un sommet sur la Transformation de l’éducation soit organisé l’an prochain pour faire face à la crise de l’enseignement et offrir davantage de possibilités aux 1,8 milliard de personnes que compte la jeunesse d’aujourd’hui.

Mais les jeunes ont besoin de plus.

Ils doivent être assis à la table de négociations.

Je compte nommer un Envoyé spécial pour les générations futures et créer un bureau des Nations Unies pour la jeunesse.

Et les contributions des jeunes seront essentielles pour le Sommet sur le futur proposé dans Notre Programme commun.

Les jeunes ont besoin d’un projet porteur d’espoir pour l’avenir.

Des études récentes menées dans une dizaine de pays ont montré que l’état de notre planète plongeait la plupart des jeunes dans une angoisse et une détresse profondes.

Environ 60 % de votre futur électorat se sent trahi par son gouvernement.

Nous devons prouver aux enfants et aux jeunes que, malgré la gravité de la situation, le monde a un plan – et que les gouvernements s’engagent à le concrétiser.

Nous devons agir maintenant combler ces grands fossés et sauver l’humanité et la planète.

Si la mobilisation est réelle, nous pourrons tenir notre promesse d’un monde meilleur, plus pacifique.

C’est la force motrice de Notre Programme commun.

Le meilleur moyen pour un gouvernement de défendre les intérêts de ses propres citoyens, c’est de défendre notre avenir commun.

L’interdépendance est la logique du XXIe siècle.

C’est l’idée qui guide l’Organisation des Nations Unies.

L’heure est venue d’agir.

C’est une ère de transformation qui s’ouvre.

L’ère du renouveau du multilatéralisme.

Une ère de possibilités.

Ensemble, nous devons redonner confiance. Nous devons raviver l’espoir.

Sans plus attendre.

Je vous remercie.


[Trilingual, as delivered version] 

A surge of mistrust and misinformation is polarizing people and paralyzing societies, and human rights are under fire. 

Climate scientists tell us it is not too late to keep alive the 1.5 degree goal of the Paris Climate Agreement. 

We need a 45 per cent cut in emissions by 2030.  Yet a recent UN report made clear that with present national climate commitments,  emissions will go up by 16% by 2030. 

That would condemn us to a hellscape of temperature rises of at least 2.7 degrees above pre-industrial levels – a catastrophe.

COVID-19 and the climate crisis have exposed profound fragilities as societies and as a planet. 

It provides oxygen for easy-fixes, pseudo-solutions and conspiracy theories. 

It is kindling to stoke ancient grievances.  Cultural  supremacy.  Ideological dominance.  Violent misogyny.  The targeting of the most vulnerable including refugees and migrants.   

Humanity has shown that we are capable of great things when we work together.

That is the raison d’être of our United Nations. 

And the lack of unity among the international community does not help.

Yet I fear our world is creeping towards two different sets of economic, trade, financial, and technology rules, two divergent approaches in the development of artificial intelligence — and ultimately the risk of two different military and geo-political strategies, and this is a recipe for trouble.  It would be far less predictable than the Cold War. 

More ambition on finance — means developing nations finally seeing the promised US$100 billion dollars a year for climate action, fully mobilizing the resources of both international financial institutions and the private sector too.

Many countries need an urgent injection of liquidity.    I welcome the issuance of US $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights by the International Monetary Fund.

I renew also my call for a reformed, and more equitable international debt architecture. 

And as we look ahead, we need a better system of prevention and preparedness for all major global risks. We must support the recommendations of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. 


En sexto lugar, y por último, tenemos que salvar la brecha entre generaciones.    Los jóvenes heredarán las consecuencias de nuestras decisiones, buenas y malas.

Al mismo tiempo, se espera que nazcan 10.900 millones de personas antes de que termine el siglo.

Necesitamos sus talentos, ideas y energías.

Nuestra Agenda Común propone la celebración, el año que viene, de una Cumbre para la Transformación de la Educación con el fin de abordar la crisis del aprendizaje y ampliar las oportunidades al alcance de los 1.800 millones de jóvenes de hoy.

Los jóvenes necesitan algo más que apoyo.

Necesitan tener un asiento en la mesa.

Por ello, nombraré un Enviado Especial para las Generaciones Futuras y crearé la Oficina de la Juventud de las Naciones Unidas.

Y las contribuciones de los jóvenes serán fundamentales en la Cumbre del Futuro, tal y como queda recogido en Nuestra Agenda Común.

La juventud necesita una visión de esperanza para el futuro. 

Una investigación realizada recientemente en diez países ha demostrado que la mayoría de los jóvenes sufre altos niveles de ansiedad y angustia por el estado de nuestro planeta.

Un 60% de sus futuros votantes se sienten traicionados por sus gobiernos.

Debemos demostrar a los niños y niñas, a los y las jóvenes, que, a pesar de la gravedad de la situación, el mundo tiene un plan – y que los gobiernos están comprometidos con su aplicación.

Tenemos que actuar ahora para superar las Grandes Divisiones y salvar a la humanidad y al planeta.   Excellencies,

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Address before the 18th General Assembly of the United Nations, September 20, 1963

President John F. Kennedy New York September 20, 1963

Mr. President--as one who has taken some interest in the election of Presidents, I want to congratulate you on your election to this high office -- Mr. Secretary General, delegates to the United Nations, ladies and gentlemen:

We meet again in the quest for peace.

Twenty-four months ago, when I last had the honor of addressing this body, the shadow of fear lay darkly across the world. The freedom of West Berlin was in immediate peril. Agreement on a neutral Laos seemed remote. The mandate of the United Nations in the Congo was under fire. The financial outlook for this organization was in doubt. Dag Hammarskjold was dead. The doctrine of troika was being pressed in his place, and atmospheric tests had been resumed by the Soviet Union.

Those were anxious days for mankind--and some men wondered aloud whether this organization could survive. But the 16th and 17th General Assemblies achieved not only survival but progress. Rising to its responsibility, the United Nations helped reduce the tensions and helped to hold back the darkness.

Today the clouds have lifted a little so that new rays of hope can break through. The pressures on West Berlin appear to be temporarily eased. Political unity in the Congo has been largely restored. A neutral coalition in Laos, while still in difficulty, is at least in being. The integrity of the United Nations Secretariat has been reaffirmed. A United Nations Decade of Development is under way. And, for the first time in 17 years of effort, a specific step has been taken to limit the nuclear arms race.

I refer, of course, to the treaty to ban nuclear tests in the atmosphere, outer space, and under water--concluded by the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States--and already signed by nearly 100 countries. It has been hailed by people the world over who are thankful to be free from the fears of nuclear fallout, and I am confident that on next Tuesday at 10:30 o'clock in the morning it will receive the overwhelming endorsement of the Senate of the United States.

The world has not escaped from the darkness. The long shadows of conflict and crisis envelop us still. But we meet today in an atmosphere of rising hope, and at a moment of comparative calm. My presence here today is not a sign of crisis, but of confidence. I am not here to report on a new threat to the peace or new signs of war. I have come to salute the United Nations and to show the support of the American people for your daily deliberations.

For the value of this body's work is not dependent on the existence of emergencies--nor can the winning of peace consist only of dramatic victories. Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures. And however undramatic the pursuit of peace, that pursuit must go on.

Today we may have reached a pause in the cold war--but that is not a lasting peace. A test ban treaty is a milestone--but it is not the millennium. We have not been released from our obligations--we have been given an opportunity. And if we fail to make the most of this moment and this momentum--if we convert our new-found hopes and understandings into new walls and weapons of hostility--if this pause in the cold war merely leads to its renewal and not to its end--then the indictment of posterity will rightly point its finger at us all. But if we can stretch this pause into a period of cooperation--if both sides can now gain new confidence and experience in concrete collaborations for peace--if we can now be as bold and farsighted in the control of deadly weapons as we have been in their creation--then surely this first small step can be the start of a long and fruitful journey.

The task of building the peace lies with the leaders of every nation, large and small. For the great powers have no monopoly on conflict or ambition. The cold war is not the only expression of tension in this world--and the nuclear race is not the only arms race. Even little wars are dangerous in a nuclear world. The long labor of peace is an undertaking for every nation--and in this effort none of us can remain unaligned. To this goal none can be uncommitted.

The reduction of global tension must not be an excuse for the narrow pursuit of self-interest. If the Soviet Union and the United States, with all of their global interests and clashing commitments of ideology, and with nuclear weapons still aimed at each other today, can find areas of common interest and agreement, then surely other nations can do the same--nations caught in regional conflicts, in racial issues, or in the death throes of old colonialism. Chronic disputes which divert precious resources from the needs of the people or drain the energies of both sides serve the interests of no one--and the badge of responsibility in the modern world is a willingness to seek peaceful solutions.

It is never too early to try; and it's never too late to talk; and it's high time that many disputes on the agenda of this Assembly were taken off the debating schedule and placed on the negotiating table.

The fact remains that the United States, as a major nuclear power, does have a special responsibility in the world. It is, in fact, a threefold responsibility--a responsibility to our own citizens; a responsibility to the people of the whole world who are affected by our decisions; and to the next generation of humanity. We believe the Soviet Union also has these special responsibilities--and that those responsibilities require our two nations to concentrate less on our differences and more on the means of resolving them peacefully. For too long both of us have increased our military budgets, our nuclear stockpiles, and our capacity to destroy all life on this hemisphere--human, animal, vegetable--without any corresponding increase in our security.

Our conflicts, to be sure, are real. Our concepts of the world are different. No service is performed by failing to make clear our disagreements. A central difference is the belief of the American people in the self-determination of all people.

We believe that the people of Germany and Berlin must be free to reunite their capital and their country.

We believe that the people of Cuba must be free to secure the fruits of the revolution that have been betrayed from within and exploited from without.

In short, we believe that all the world--in Eastern Europe as well as Western, in Southern Africa as well as Northern, in old nations as well as new--that people must be free to choose their own future, without discrimination or dictation, without coercion or subversion.

These are the basic differences between the Soviet Union and the United States, and they cannot be concealed. So long as they exist, they set limits to agreement, and they forbid the relaxation of our vigilance. Our defense around the world will be maintained for the protection of freedom--and our determination to safeguard that freedom will measure up to any threat or challenge.

But I would say to the leaders of the Soviet Union, and to their people, that if either of our countries is to be fully secure, we need a much better weapon than the H-bomb--a weapon better than ballistic missiles or nuclear submarines--and that better weapon is peaceful cooperation.

We have, in recent years, agreed on a limited test ban treaty, on an emergency communications link between our capitals, on a statement of principles for disarmament, on an increase in cultural exchange, on cooperation in outer space, on the peaceful exploration of the Antarctic, and on temporing last year's crisis over Cuba.

I believe, therefore, that the Soviet Union and the United States, together with their allies, can achieve further agreements--agreements which spring from our mutual interest in avoiding mutual destruction.

There can be no doubt about the agenda of further steps. We must continue to seek agreements on measures which prevent war by accident or miscalculation. We must continue to seek agreements on safeguards against surprise attack, including observation posts at key points. We must continue to seek agreement on further measures to curb the nuclear arms race, by controlling the transfer of nuclear weapons, converting fissionable materials to peaceful purposes, and banning underground testing, with adequate inspection and enforcement. We must continue to seek agreement on a freer flow of information and people from East to West and West to East.

We must continue to seek agreement, encouraged by yesterday's affirmative response to this proposal by the Soviet Foreign Minister, on an arrangement to keep weapons of mass destruction out of outer space. Let us get our negotiators back to the negotiating table to work out a practicable arrangement to this end.

In these and other ways, let us move up the steep and difficult path toward comprehensive disarmament, securing mutual confidence through mutual verification, and building the institutions of peace as we dismantle the engines of war. We must not let failure to agree on all points delay agreements where agreement is possible. And we must not put forward proposals for propaganda purposes.

Finally, in a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity--in the field of space--there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts in the regulation and exploration of space. I include among these possibilities a joint expedition to the moon. Space offers no problems of sovereignty; by resolution of this Assembly, the members of the United Nations have foresworn any claim to territorial rights in outer space or on celestial bodies, and declared that international law and the United Nations Charter will apply. Why, therefore, should man's first flight to the moon be a matter of national competition? Why should the United States and the Soviet Union, in preparing for such expeditions, become involved in immense duplications of research, construction, and expenditure? Surely we should explore whether the scientists and astronauts of our two countries--indeed of all the world--cannot work together in the conquest of space, sending someday in this decade to the moon not the representatives of a single nation, but the representatives of all of our countries.

All these and other new steps toward peaceful cooperation may be possible. Most of them will require on our part full consultation with our allies--for their interests are as much involved as our own, and we will not make an agreement at their expense. Most of them will require long and careful negotiation. And most of them will require a new approach to the cold war--a desire not to "bury" one's adversary, but to compete in a host of peaceful arenas, in ideas, in production, and ultimately in service to all mankind.

The contest will continue--the contest between those who see a monolithic world and those who believe in diversity--but it should be a contest in leadership and responsibility instead of destruction, a contest in achievement instead of intimidation. Speaking for the United States of America, I welcome such a contest. For we believe that truth is stronger than error--and that freedom is more enduring than coercion. And in the contest for a better life, all the world can be a winner.

The effort to improve the conditions of man, however, is not a task for the few. It is the task of all nations--acting alone, acting in groups, acting in the United Nations, for plague and pestilence, and plunder and pollution, the hazards of nature, and the hunger of children are the foes of every nation. The earth, the sea, and the air are the concern of every nation. And science, technology, and education can be the ally of every nation.

Never before has man had such capacity to control his own environment, to end thirst and hunger, to conquer poverty and disease, to banish illiteracy and massive human misery. We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world--or to make it the last.

The United States since the close of the war has sent over $100 billion worth of assistance to nations seeking economic viability. And 2 years ago this week we formed a Peace Corps to help interested nations meet the demand for trained manpower. Other industrialized nations whose economies were rebuilt not so long ago with some help from us are now in turn recognizing their responsibility to the less developed nations.

The provision of development assistance by individual nations must go on. But the United Nations also must play a larger role in helping bring to all men the fruits of modern science and industry. A United Nations conference on this subject held earlier this year in Geneva opened new vistas for the developing countries. Next year a United Nations Conference on Trade will consider the needs of these nations for new markets. And more than four-fifths of the entire United Nations system can be found today mobilizing the weapons of science and technology for the United Nations' Decade of Development.

But more can be done.

--A world center for health communications under the World Health Organization could warn of epidemics and the adverse effects of certain drugs as well as transmit the results of new experiments and new discoveries.

--Regional research centers could advance our common medical knowledge and train new scientists and doctors for new nations.

--A global system of satellites could provide communication and weather information for all corners of the earth.

--A worldwide program of conservation could protect the forest and wild game preserves now in danger of extinction for all time, improve the marine harvest of food from our oceans, and prevent the contamination of air and water by industrial as well as nuclear pollution.

--And, finally, a worldwide program of farm productivity and food distribution, similar to our country's "Food for Peace" program, could now give every child the food he needs.

But man does not live by bread alone--and the members of this organization are committed by the Charter to promote and respect human rights. Those rights are not respected when a Buddhist priest is driven from his pagoda, when a synagogue is shut down, when a Protestant church cannot open a mission, when a Cardinal is forced into hiding, or when a crowded church service is bombed. The United States of America is opposed to discrimination and persecution on grounds of race and religion anywhere in the world, including our own Nation. We are working to right the wrongs of our own country.

Through legislation and administrative action, through moral and legal commitment this Government has launched a determined effort to rid our Nation of discrimination which has existed far too long--in education, in housing, in transportation, in employment, in the civil service, in recreation, and in places of public accommodation. And therefore, in this or any other forum, we do not hesitate to condemn racial or religious injustice, whether committed or permitted by friend or foe.

I know that some of you have experienced discrimination in this country. But I ask you to believe me when I tell you that this is not the wish of most Americans--that we share your regret and resentment-- and that we intend to end such practices for all time to come, not only for our visitors, but for our own citizens as well.

I hope that not only our Nation but all other multiracial societies will meet these standards of fairness and justice. We are opposed to apartheid and all forms of human oppression. We do not advocate the rights of black Africans in order to drive out white Africans. Our concern is the right of all men to equal protection under the law--and since human rights are indivisible, this body cannot stand aside when those rights are abused and neglected by any member state.

New efforts are needed if this Assembly's Declaration of Human Rights, now 15 years old, is to have full meaning. And new means should be found for promoting the free expression and trade of ideas--through travel and communication, and through increased exchanges of people, and books, and broadcasts. For as the world renounces the competition of weapons, competition in ideas must flourish--and that competition must be as full and as fair as possible.

The United States delegation will be prepared to suggest to the United Nations initiatives in the pursuit of all the goals. For this is an organization for peace--and peace cannot come without work and without progress.

The peacekeeping record of the United Nations has been a proud one, though its tasks are always formidable. We are fortunate to have the skills of our distinguished Secretary General and the brave efforts of those who have been serving the cause of peace in the Congo, in the Middle East, in Korea and Kashmir, in West New Guinea and Malaysia. But what the United Nations has done in the past is less important than the tasks for the future. We cannot take its peacekeeping machinery for granted. That machinery must be soundly financed--which it cannot be if some members are allowed to prevent it from meeting its obligations by failing to meet their own. The United Nations must be supported by all those who exercise their franchise here. And its operations must be backed to the end.

Too often a project is undertaken in the excitement of a crisis and then it begins to lose its appeal as the problems drag on and the bills pile up. But we must have the steadfastness to see every enterprise through.

It is, for example, most important not to jeopardize the extraordinary United Nations gains in the Congo. The nation which sought this organization's help only 3 years ago has now asked the United Nations' presence to remain a little longer. I believe this Assembly should do what is necessary to preserve the gains already made and to protect the new nation in its struggle for progress. Let us complete what we have started. For "No man who puts his hand to the plow and looks back," as the Scriptures tell us, "No man who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God."

I also hope that the recent initiative of several members in preparing standby peace forces for United Nations call will encourage similar commitments by others. This Nation remains ready to provide logistic and other material support.

Policing, moreover, is not enough without provision for pacific settlement. We should increase the resort to special missions of fact- finding and conciliation, make greater use of the International Court of Justice, and accelerate the work of the International Law Commission.

The United Nations cannot survive as a static organization. Its obligations are increasing as well as its size. Its Charter must be changed as well as its customs. The authors of that Charter did not intend that it be frozen in perpetuity. The science of weapons and war has made us all, far more than 18 years ago in San Francisco, one world and one human race, with one common destiny. In such a world, absolute sovereignty no longer assures us of absolute security. The conventions of peace must pull abreast and then ahead of the inventions of war. The United Nations, building on its successes and learning from its failures, must be developed into a genuine world security system.

But peace does not rest in charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. And if it is cast out there, then no act, no pact, no treaty, no organization can hope to preserve it without the support and the wholehearted commitment of all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper; let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace, in the hearts and minds of all our people. I believe that we can. I believe the problems of human destiny are not beyond the reach of human beings.

Two years ago I told this body that the United States had proposed, and was willing to sign, a limited test ban treaty. Today that treaty has been signed. It will not put an end to war. It will not remove basic conflicts. It will not secure freedom for all. But it can be a lever, and Archimedes, in explaining the principles of the lever, was said to have declared to his friends: "Give me a place where I can stand--and I shall move the world."

My fellow inhabitants of this planet: Let us take our stand here in this Assembly of nations. And let us see if we, in our own time, can move the world to a just and lasting peace.

Help inform the discussion

Presidential Speeches

August 9, 1945: radio report to the american people on the potsdam conference, about this speech.

Harry S. Truman

August 09, 1945

In this radio address, delivered after the conclusion of the European theater of World War II, Harry S. Truman explains the Allies’ objective to obtain war reparations from Germany.  Moreover, the President emphasizes the need to support European nations in their rebuilding efforts following the war’s devastation.  Truman references the Pacific theater of the war as well, demanding surrender by Japan. 

My fellow Americans:

I have just returned from Berlin, the city from which the Germans intended to rule the world. It is a ghost city. The buildings are in ruins, its economy and its people are in ruins.

Our party also visited what is left of Frankfurt and Darmstadt. We flew over the remains of Kassel, Magdeburg, and other devastated cities. German women and children and old men were wandering over the highways, returning to bombed-out homes or leaving bombed out cities, searching for food and shelter.

War has indeed come home to Germany and to the German people. It has come home in all the frightfulness with which the German leaders started and waged it.

The German people are beginning to atone for the crimes of the gangsters whom they placed in power and whom they wholeheartedly approved and obediently followed.

We also saw some of the terrific destruction which the war had brought to the occupied countries of Western Europe and to England.

How glad I am to be home again! And how grateful to Almighty God that this land of ours has been spared!

We must do all we can to spare her from the ravages of any future breach of the peace. That is why, though the United States wants no territory or profit or selfish advantage out of this war, we are going to maintain the military bases necessary for the complete protection of our interests and of world peace. Bases which our military experts deem to be essential for our protection, and which are not now in our possession, we will acquire. We will acquire them by arrangements consistent with the United Nations Charter.

No one can foresee what another war would mean to our own cities and our own people. What we are doing to Japan now--even with the new atomic bomb--is only a small fraction of what would happen to the world in a third World War.

That is why the United Nations are determined that there shall be no next war.

That is why the United Nations are determined to remain united and strong. We can never permit any aggressor in the future to be clever enough to divide us or strong enough to defeat us.

That was the guiding spirit in the conference at San Francisco.

That was the guiding spirit in the conference of Berlin.

That will be the guiding spirit in the peace settlements to come.

In the conference of Berlin, it was easy for me to get along in mutual understanding and friendship with Generalissimo Stalin, with Prime Minister Churchill, and later with Prime Minister Attlee.

Strong foundations of good will and cooperation had been laid by President Roosevelt. And it was clear that those foundations rested upon much more than the personal friendships of three individuals. There was a fundamental accord and agreement upon the objectives ahead of us.

Two of the three conferees of Teheran and Yalta were missing by the end of this conference. Each of them was sorely missed. Each had done his work toward winning this war. Each had made a great contribution toward establishing and maintaining a lasting world peace. Each of them seems to have been ordained to lead his country in its hour of greatest need. And so thoroughly had they done their jobs that we were able to carry on and to reach many agreements essential to the future peace and security of the world.

The results of the Berlin conference have been published. There were no secret agreements or commitments--apart from current military arrangements.

And it was made perfectly plain to my colleagues at the conference that, under our Constitution, the President has no power to make any treaties without ratification by the Senate of the United States.

I want to express my thanks for the excellent services which were rendered at this conference by Secretary of State Byrnes, and which were highly commended by the leaders of the other two powers. am thankful also to the other members of the American delegation-Admiral Leahy and Ambassadors Harriman, Davies, and Pauley--and to the entire American staff. Without their hard work and sound advice the conference would have been unable to accomplish as much as it did.

The conference was concerned with many political and economic questions. But there was one strictly military matter uppermost in the minds of the American delegates. It was the winning of the war against Japan. On our program, that was the most important item.

The military arrangements made at Berlin were of course secret. One of those secrets was revealed yesterday, when the Soviet Union declared war on Japan.

The Soviet Union, before she had been informed of our new weapon, agreed to enter the war in the Pacific. We gladly welcome into this struggle against the last of the Axis aggressors our gallant and victorious ally against the Nazis.

The Japs will soon learn some more of the other military secrets agreed upon at Berlin. They will learn them firsthand--and they will not like them.

Before we met at Berlin, the United States Government had sent to the Soviet and British Governments our ideas of what should be taken up at the conference. At the first meeting our delegation submitted these proposals for discussion. Subjects were added by the Soviet and British Governments, but in the main the conference was occupied with the American proposals.

Our first nonmilitary agreement in Berlin was the establishment of the Council of Foreign Ministers.

The Council is going to be the continuous meeting ground of the five principal governments, on which to reach common understanding regarding the peace settlements. This does not mean that the five governments are going to try to dictate to, or dominate, other nations. It will be their duty to apply, so far as possible, the fundamental principles of justice underlying the Charter adopted at San Francisco.

Just as the meeting at Dumbarton Oaks drew up the proposals to be placed before the conference at San Francisco, so this Council of Foreign Ministers will lay the groundwork for future peace settlements. This preparation by the Council will make possible speedier, more orderly, more efficient, and more cooperative peace settlements than could otherwise be obtained.

One of the first tasks of the Council of Foreign Ministers is to draft proposed treaties of peace with former enemy countries--Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Finland.

These treaties, of course, will have to be passed upon by all the nations concerned. In our own country the Senate will have to ratify them. But we shall begin at once the necessary preparatory work. Adequate study now may avoid the planting of the seeds of future wars.

I am sure that the American people will agree with me that this Council of Foreign Ministers will be effective in hastening the day of peace and reconstruction.

We are anxious to settle the future of Italy first among the former enemy countries. Italy was the first to break away from the Axis. She helped materially in the final defeat of Germany. She has now joined us in the war against Japan. She is making real progress toward democracy.

A peace treaty with a democratic Italian government will make it possible for us to receive Italy as a member of the United Nations.

The Council of Foreign Ministers will also have to start the preparatory work for a German peace settlement. But its final acceptance will have to wait until Germany has developed a government with which a peace treaty can be made. In the meantime, the conference of Berlin laid down the specific political and economic principles under which Germany will be governed by the occupying powers.

Those principles have been published. I hope that all of you will read them.1

1See Item 91.

They seek to rid Germany of the forces which have made her so long feared and hated, and which have now brought her to complete disaster. They are intended to eliminate Nazisre, armaments, war industries, the German General Staff and all its military tradition. They seek to rebuild democracy by control of German education, by reorganizing local government and the judiciary, by encouraging free speech, free press, freedom of religion, and the right of labor to organize.

German industry is to be decentralized in order to do away with concentration of economic power in cartels and monopolies. Chief emphasis is to be on agriculture and peaceful industry. German economic power to make war is to be eliminated. The Germans are not to have a higher standard of living than their former victims, the people of the defeated and occupied countries of Europe.

We are going to do what we can to make Germany over into a decent nation, so that it may eventually work its way from the economic chaos it has brought upon itself, back into a place in the civilized world.

The economic action taken against Germany at the Berlin conference included another most important item--reparations.

We do not intend again to make the mistake of exacting reparations in money and then lending Germany the money with which to pay. Reparations this time are to be paid in physical assets from those resources of Germany which are not required for her peacetime subsistence.

The first purpose of reparations is to take out of Germany everything with which she can prepare for another war. Its second purpose is to help the devastated countries to bring about their own recovery by means of the equipment and material taken from Germany.

At the Crimea conference a basis for fixing reparations had been proposed for initial discussion and study by the Reparations Commission. That basis was a total amount of reparations of twenty billions of dollars. Of this sum, one half was to go to Russia, which had suffered more heavily in the loss of life and property than any other country.

But at Berlin the idea of attempting to fix a dollar value on the property to be removed from Germany was dropped. To fix a dollar value on the share of each nation would be a sort of guarantee of the amount each nation would get--a guarantee which might not be fulfilled.

Therefore, it was decided to divide the property by percentages of the total amount available. We still generally agreed that Russia should get approximately half of the total for herself and Poland, and that the remainder should be divided among all the other nations entitled to reparations.

Under our agreement at Berlin, the reparations claims of the Soviet Union and Poland are to be met from the property located in the zone of Germany occupied by the Soviet Union, and from the German assets in Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Rumania and East Austria. The reparations claims of all the other countries are to be met from property located in the western zones of occupation in Germany, and from the German assets in all other countries. The Soviet waives all claim to gold captured by the Allied troops in Germany.

This formula of taking reparations by zones will lead to less friction among the Allies than the tentative basis originally proposed for study at Yalta.

The difficulty with this formula, however, is that the industrial capital equipment not necessary for German peace economy is not evenly divided among the zones of occupation. The western zones have a much higher percentage than the eastern zone, which is mostly devoted to agriculture and to the production of raw materials. In order to equalize the distribution and to give Russia and Poland their fair share of approximately 50 percent, it was decided that they should receive, without any reimbursement, 10 percent of the capital equipment in the western zones available for reparations.

As you will note from the communique, a further 15 percent of the capital equipment in the western zones not necessary for Germany's peace economy is also to be turned over to Russia and Poland. But this is not free. For this property, Poland and Russia will give to the western zones an equal amount in value in food, coal, and other raw materials. This 15 percent, therefore, is not additional reparations for Russia and Poland. It is a means of maintaining a balanced economy in Germany and providing the usual exchange of goods between the eastern part and the western part.

It was agreed at Berlin that the payment of reparations, from whatever zones taken, should always leave enough resources to enable the German people to subsist without sustained support from other nations.

The question of Poland was a most difficult one. Certain compromises about Poland had already been agreed upon at the Crimea conference. They obviously were binding upon us at Berlin.

By the time of the Berlin conference, the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity had already been formed; and it had been recognized by all of us. The new Polish Government had agreed to hold free and unfettered elections as soon as possible, on the basis of universal suffrage and the secret ballot.

In acceptance--in accordance with the Crimea agreement, we did seek the opinion of the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity with respect to its western and northern boundaries.

They agreed, as did we all, that the final determination of the borders could not be accomplished at Berlin, but must await the peace settlement. However, a considerable portion of what was the Russian zone of occupation in Germany was turned over to Poland at the Berlin conference for administrative purposes until the final determination of the peace settlement.

Nearly every international agreement has in it the element of compromise. The agreement on Poland is no exception. No one nation can expect to get everything that it wants. It is a question of give and take--of being willing to meet your neighbor half-way.

In this instance, there is much to justify the action taken. The agreement on some line--even provisionally--was necessary to enable the new Poland to organize itself, and to permit the speedier withdrawal of the armed forces which had liberated her from the Germans. In the area east of the Curzon line there are over 3,000,000 Poles who are to be returned to Poland. They need room, room to settle. The new area in the West was formerly populated by Germans. But most of them have already left in the face of the invading Soviet Army. We were informed that there were only about a million and a half left.

The territory the Poles are to administer will enable Poland better to support its population. It will provide a short and more easily defensible frontier between Poland and Germany. Settled by Poles, it will provide a more homogeneous nation.

The Three Powers also agreed to help bring about the earliest possible return to Poland of all Poles who wish to return, including soldiers, with the assurance that they would have all the rights of other Polish citizens.

The action taken at Berlin will help carry out the basic policy of the United Nations toward Poland--to create a strong, independent, and prosperous nation with a government to be selected by the people themselves.

It was agreed to recommend that in the peace settlement a portion of East Prussia should be turned over to Russia. That, too, was agreed upon at Yalta. It will provide the Soviet Union, which did so much to bring about victory in Europe, with an ice-free port at the expense of Germany.

At Yalta it was agreed, you will recall, that the three governments would assume a common responsibility in helping to reestablish in the liberated and satellite nations of Europe governments broadly representative of democratic elements in the population. That responsibility still stands. We all recognize it as a joint responsibility of the three governments.

It was reaffirmed in the Berlin Declarations on Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. These nations are not to be spheres of influence of any one power. They are now governed by Allied control commissions composed of representatives of the three governments which met at Yalta and Berlin. These control commissions, it is true, have not been functioning completely to our satisfaction; but improved procedures were agreed upon at Berlin. Until these states are reestablished as members of the international family, they are the joint concern of all of us.

The American delegation was much disturbed over the inability of the representatives of a free press to get information out of the former German satellite nations. The three governments agreed at Berlin that the Allied press would enjoy full freedom from now on to report to the world upon all developments in Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Finland. The same agreement was reaffirmed also as to Poland.

One of the persistent causes for wars in Europe in the last two centuries has been the selfish control of the waterways of Europe. I mean the Danube, the Black Sea Straits, the Rhine, the Kiel Canal, and all the inland waterways of Europe which border upon two or more states.

The United States proposed at Berlin that there be free and unrestricted navigation of these inland waterways. We think this is important to the future peace and security of the world. We proposed that regulations for such navigation be provided by international authorities.

The function of the agencies would be to develop the use of the waterways and assure equal treatment on them for all nations. Membership on the agencies would include the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and France, plus those states which border on the waterways.

Our proposal was considered by the conference and was referred to the Council of Ministers. There, the United States intends to press for its adoption.

Any man who sees Europe now must realize that victory in a great war is not something you win once and for all, like victory in a ball game. Victory in a great war is something that must be won and kept won. It can be lost after you have won it--if you are careless or negligent or indifferent.

Europe today is hungry. I am not talking about Germans. I am talking about the people of the countries which were overrun and devastated by the Germans, and particularly about the people of Western Europe. Many of them lack clothes and fuel and tools and shelter and raw materials. They lack the means to restore their cities and their factories.

As the winter comes on, the distress will increase. Unless we do what we can to help, we may lose next winter what we won at such terrible cost last spring. Desperate men are liable to destroy the structure of their society to find in the wreckage some substitute for hope. If we let Europe go cold and hungry, we may lose some of the foundations of order on which the hope for worldwide peace must rest.

We must help to the limits of our strength. And we will.

Our meeting at Berlin was the first meeting of the great Allies since victory was won in Europe. Naturally our thoughts now turn to the day of victory in Japan.

The British, Chinese, and United States Governments have given the Japanese people adequate warning of what is in store for them. We have laid down the general terms on which they can surrender. Our warning went unheeded; our terms were rejected. Since then the Japanese have seen what our atomic bomb can do. They can foresee what it will do in the future.

The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians. But that attack is only a warning of things to come. If Japan does not surrender, bombs will have to be dropped on her war industries and, unfortunately, thousands of civilian lives will be lost. I urge Japanese civilians to leave industrial cities immediately, and save themselves from destruction.

I realize the tragic significance of the atomic bomb.

Its production and its use were not lightly undertaken by this Government. But we knew that our enemies were on the search for it. We know now how close they were to finding it. And we knew the disaster which would come to this Nation, and to all peace-loving nations, to all civilization, if they had found it first.

That is why we felt compelled to undertake the long and uncertain and costly labor of discovery and production.

We won the race of discovery against the Germans.

Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.

We shall continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan's power to make war. Only a Japanese surrender will stop us.

The atomic bomb is too dangerous to be loose in a lawless world. That is why Great Britain, Canada, and the United States, who have the secret of its production, do not intend to reveal that secret until means have been found to control the bomb so as to protect ourselves and the rest of the world from the danger of total destruction.

As far back as last May, Secretary of War Stimson, at my suggestion, appointed a committee upon which Secretary of State Byrnes served as my personal representative, to prepare plans for the future control of this bomb. I shall ask the Congress to cooperate to the end that its production and use be controlled, and that its power be made an overwhelming influence towards world peace.

We must constitute ourselves trustees of this new force--to prevent its misuse, and to turn it into the channels of service to mankind.

It is an awful responsibility which has come to us.

We thank God that it has come to us, instead of to our enemies; and we pray that He may guide us to use it in His ways and for His purposes.

Our victory in Europe was more than a victory of arms.

It was a victory of one way of life over another. It was a victory of an ideal founded on the rights of the common man, on the dignity of the human being, on the conception of the State as the servant--and not the master--of its people.

A free people showed that it was able to defeat professional soldiers whose only moral arms were obedience and the worship of force.

We tell ourselves that we have emerged from this war the most powerful nation in the world--the most powerful nation, perhaps, in all history. That is true, but not in the sense some of us believe it to be true.

The war has shown us that we have tremendous resources to make all the materials for war. It has shown us that we have skillful workers and managers and able generals, and a brave people capable of bearing arms.

All these things we knew before.

The new thing--the thing which we had not known--the thing we have learned now and should never forget, is this: that a society of self-governing men is more powerful, more enduring, more creative than any other kind of society, however disciplined, however centralized.

We know now that the basic proposition of the worth and dignity of man is not a sentimental aspiration or a vain hope or a piece of rhetoric. It is the strongest, most creative force now present in this world.

Now let us use that force and all our resources and all our skills in the great cause of a just and lasting peace!

The Three Great Powers are now more closely than ever bound together in determination to achieve that kind of peace. From Teheran, and the Crimea, from San Francisco and Berlin--we shall continue to march together to a lasting peace and a happy world!

More Harry S. Truman speeches

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The declaration of the united nations in the aftermath of pearl harbor.

On January 1, 1942, 26 countries signed the Declaration of the United Nations and 21 more countries formally joined the alliance prior to the end of World War II.

FDR Churchill Christmas 1941

Late on the afternoon of December 7, 1941, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt found her husband upstairs. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had spent his afternoon working the phone after the Secretary of the Navy informed him of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Before going to the studio to do her weekly radio broadcast, Eleanor found FDR “more serene than he had appeared in a long time.” Eleanor observed that it was “steadying to know the final die was cast.”

FDR and Eleanor in White House

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt relaxing in his oval study in the White House. Image courtesy of the National Archives. 

In her radio address, she observed that “For months now the knowledge that something of this kind might happen has been hanging over our heads and yet it seemed impossible to believe…” In the aftermath of the attack, however, she asserted, “That is all over now and there is no more uncertainty. We know what we have to face and we know that we are ready to face it.”

Certainly, her husband saw things the same way. The attack on Pearl Harbor clarified the strategic situation for FDR, and it ultimately resolved the murky tension between peace and war that he had contended with in the months prior to the attack. That evening he worked on drafts of his speech, declaring December 7 a date that will live in infamy, and calling for a declaration of war on Japan by the United States.

Across the Atlantic, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill took a similar approach and had a similar sentiment. On the evening of December 7, learning of the attack on Pearl Harbor and on British ships in the East Indies, Churchill worked the phones too, confirming, coordinating, and preparing the declaration of war. In their conversation, Roosevelt observed to Churchill, “We are all in the same boat now.” Later, having made his calls, Churchill came to the realization that with the United States as an ally and now actively in the war, the outcome was no longer in doubt. He recalled, “Being saturated and satiated with emotion and sensation, I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful.”

Churchill’s mind, however, must have kept turning in his sleep. He noted, “As soon as I woke I decided to go over at once to see President Roosevelt.” That same day, he received the approval of the Cabinet and the King for such a voyage.

FDR initially expressed concern over the dangers of such a journey, particularly with the threat posed by German U-boats in the North Atlantic. He delayed giving Churchill approval for the trip.

Roosevelt told his cabinet several times that he expected Germany to declare war on the United States. Nonetheless, FDR intended to ask Congress only for a declaration of war on Japan. It seems evident that FDR hoped, as Woodrow Wilson had before him, to be judged by historians as having war thrust upon him. Eleanor characterized the Japanese attack as part of a “German strategy.”

Meanwhile, on December 8, Eleanor accompanied her husband to Capitol Hill for his “Day of Infamy” speech at 12:30 p.m. With what she described as a curious sense of “repetition” she was present for the second time in her life when an American President asked for a declaration of war.

FDR declaration of war Dec 8 1942

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the declaration of war against Japan on December 8, 1941. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. 

Throughout the war, Eleanor played many roles, and she went into action right away. Later that afternoon, Eleanor and New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia took off for the West Coast. As co-chairs of the administration’s Office of Civilian Defense, they hoped a quick trip would bolster civil defense activities amid fears that the West Coast might soon be attacked, too. Submarines were reported off the coast, and reportedly American ships already had been torpedoed between Hawaii and the West Coast. 

While en route, the pilot received word that San Francisco had been bombed. Rather than divert, Eleanor and Mayor LaGuardia resolved that, if the report was accurate, the only thing to do was to fly to San Francisco. In the end, they discovered the reports were unfounded; in this case, the Army had conducted a practice blackout, but failed to inform the mayor of San Francisco beforehand. A few days later Eleanor was back in the White House.

On December 11, Hitler declared war on the United States, and FDR asked Congress “to recognize a state of war between the United States and Germany,” which he described as a struggle between “the forces of justice and righteousness” pitted against “the forces of savagery and barbarism.” That day, FDR also signaled Churchill his okay for the trip. Churchill was soon at sea.

The Germans knew that Churchill was traveling, but his destination remained a matter of conjecture, perhaps the United States or more likely the Middle East. Out of concern about leaked news of Churchill’s destination, FDR kept the information extremely close. In the meantime, Churchill and his party were at sea and, before they arrived, President Roosevelt informed his wife Eleanor that they would be expecting visitors.

Eleanor recalled, “He told me that I could not know who was coming, nor how many, but I must be prepared to have them stay over Christmas.” Eleanor noted that FDR added as an afterthought that “I must see to it that we had good champagne and brandy in the house and plenty of whiskey.”

In the face of gale force winds in the wintery Atlantic, Churchill made the voyage. The foul weather no doubt added an air of secrecy, until his battleship the HMS Duke of York  docked at Norfolk, Virginia on December 22. From there he flew to Washington.

Churchill saluting daughter

Churchill’s daughter Mary receives his farewell salute on board the HMS Duke of York. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. 

When Churchill’s plane from Norfolk landed at what is today Washington’s Reagan National Airport. FDR was there with his car to greet him and personally take him to the White House. Churchill stayed in the White House, on the second floor of the residence, remaining the personal guest of the Roosevelts for over three weeks until the end of the Washington Conference on January 14.

Today, very special dignitaries stay across Pennsylvania Avenue at the Blair House or at their embassies or ambassador’s residences. The Roosevelts really gave Churchill very special accommodations.

By any standard, Churchill’s entourage for that trip to Washington was not a small party. Churchill’s group consisted of 86 officers and staff, but, fortunately for the Roosevelts as hosts, they were lodged elsewhere. Still, a number of them constantly attended the Prime Minister at the White House, and it was a busy place.

There was a great deal to do…

During that period, FDR and Eleanor lit the national Christmas Tree, joined by Churchill and his delegation. FDR and Churchill also attended church together, sitting in the same pew. Churchill addressed Congress, and, of course, they worked out the overarching allied strategy for the global war. Many a late night was spent on strategy discussions—and it seems safe to say both Churchill and FDR were exhausted when the Washington Conference, code named ARCADIA, finally ended on January 14. It was highly stressful. Eleanor was deeply concerned about the terrible strain on FDR. Churchill, according to his doctor Lord Moran, may even have suffered a minor heart attack after his address to Congress on December 26.

FDR Churchill Christmas 1941

FDR and Churchill at the White House Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Image courtesy of the National Archives. 

Certainly, Churchill and Roosevelt had established a constructive and prolific correspondence before Pearl Harbor. Before the United States entered World War II, the two leaders had exchanged over 200 telegrams, letters, or phone calls—and they had met for a few days in August 1941 off the coast of Newfoundland, for what produced the hugely important Atlantic Charter.

But even that level of regular engagement between national leaders would quickly be eclipsed by an even deeper relationship between the two leaders and their military chieftains. Their relationship changed and deepened as a result of Churchill’s stay at the White House as the guest of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Churchill made five wartime trips to the United States for consultation, and the two leaders spent 113 days together between 1941 and 1945. During those American trips, Churchill stayed as a guest of the White House on four separate occasions. The Prime Minister also traveled with FDR to the President’s home at Hyde Park and to the Presidential retreat in Maryland, now known as Camp David, but then called Shangri-La.

At the same time, their volume of correspondence also increased dramatically after the visit. Between 1939 and 1945, Roosevelt and Churchill exchanged 1,700 letters and telegrams and they met in person 11 times.

To be sure, there were differences within the Anglo-American alliance. For example the allies agreed to an overall strategic priority of “Germany First,” but their respective militaries had different views on how best to defeat Nazi Germany. The Americans favored an early cross-channel attack, while the British advocated a strategy of pressure and peripheral operations until Germany was weakened, which would then set the stage for a cross-channel attack.

The wartime alliance framework between the United States and the United Kingdom, to include the Combined Chiefs of Staff, coalition headquarters in the field with Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, intelligence sharing with those countries—the 5 Eyes, and the partnership for atomic research, continues to resonate in the present alliance between the two countries. Our own Joint Chiefs of Staff were formed so they could collaborate with their British counterparts.

FDR Churchill Chiefs of Staff 1943

FDR, Churchill, and the Combined Chiefs of Staff outside the White House in May 1943, during a subsequent wartime conference in Washington. Image courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.

Concerning her house guest Winston Churchill, Eleanor noted, “He’s very human & I like him…” But she recognized that Churchill’s war aims did not fully comport with the ideas that she and FDR had for the postwar; she added “tho’ I don’t want him to control the peace!”

In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the constant contact and the degree of informality that ensued ensured that the Anglo-American wartime partnership and its legacy were built on trust and full transparency. A story perhaps illustrates this from Churchill’s first stay at the White House.

One morning, Roosevelt wheeled down the hall of the White House to talk with Churchill. Upon entering Churchill’s room, Roosevelt found Churchill, fresh from his bath, and pacing while dictating a message. Churchill’s towel, however, had fallen off while he paced the room. He was fully transparent for Roosevelt to see. FDR later described him as a “cherub” who was “pink and white all over”…

Churchill reportedly responded to the effect, “You see, Mr President, I have nothing to conceal from you.” Although he later denied saying this, Churchill did, however, report to King George VI, “Sir, I believe I am the only man in the world who has received the head of a nation without any clothes on.”

In addition to the Anglo-American “special relationship” that was instrumental in waging the war and persists today, another legacy of Churchill’s visit in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor was the foundation of a key pillar of the enduring postwar International Order.

FDR’s intrusion was the morning of January 1, 1942. It was an important moment; Roosevelt wanted to convey to Churchill his middle-of-the-night decision to change the name of the allied coalition fighting the Axis of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan from the “Associated Powers” to the “United Nations.” 

Churchill approved of the change, and the name United Nations stuck. Later that very same day, representatives of 26 countries signed the Declaration of the United Nations, and 21 more countries formally joined the alliance prior to the end of the Second World War.

UN Leaders caricature by Miguel Covarrubias

The leaders of the United Nations signatories of January 1, 1942 are caricatured in this contemporary drawing by the Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. 

In the Declaration of the United Nations the representatives endorsed the Atlantic Charter, pledged to uphold human rights and the sovereignty of nations, fight until there was a “complete victory” over the Axis powers (an aspect that would become known as “unconditional surrender” in another of FDR’s formulations at the Casablanca Conference), and support the future “establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security” in the postwar world.

The wartime alliance was true to their pledge. Once again our story involves San Francisco and the Roosevelts. In April 1945, the countries that during the war had signed the Declaration of the United Nations met in San Francisco for the conference founding the postwar United Nations.

FDR had been working on his speech for the opening of the conference but passed away before he could deliver it. 

”The work, my friends, is peace; more than an end of this war—an end to the beginning of all wars; … as we go forward toward the greatest contribution that any generation of human beings can make in this world—the contribution of lasting peace—I ask you to keep up your faith….”

President Harry Truman appointed Eleanor Roosevelt as delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, and she became the first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights.

On December 7, 1941, Eleanor had noted in her radio address that, in partnership with Britain and other allies, the country knew “what we have to face” in order to succeed in the war against militarism and to build a better world afterwards. Her resolve in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor proved decisive in the postwar. 

Eleanor Roosevelt’s guiding hand in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights ensured that the principles in that document embodied the vision of the 1941 Atlantic Charter, FDR’s Four Freedoms, and the spirit of the wartime United Nations, formalized 80 years ago on January 1, 1942.

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7 Powerful Speeches from the UN General Assembly

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By Rajesh Mirchandani on October 2, 2019

Let’s face it, many speeches from world leaders at the 2019 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) probably will not make the history books. But the inspiring oratory of many other attendees will and should.

Across the week, inside the UN and outside, a huge and diverse array of speakers proved themselves to be leaders. From the gut-wrenching passion of ‘how dare you,’ to a surprisingly personal moment from a Prime Minister, to impassioned arguments about the ecological expertise of indigenous communities, here are seven speeches that moved and mobilized us. We know there are many others, but want to share these with you.

(Note: We’ve edited some for length and clarity, and provided a link in case you want to watch the whole thing – they’re worth it!)

Youth Climate Activist Bruno Rodriguez: ‘Power will cede nothing without struggle’

Bruno Rodriguez, a 19-year-old Argentine climate activist from the group  Jovenes por el clima Argentina , was one of the first speakers at the Youth Climate Summit, inspiring and demanding action:

“Power will cede nothing without struggle, and that is why we decided to fight in the streets, alongside the working-class people of our country and marginalized communities. … Many times, we hear that our generation is going to be the one dealing with the problems that current leaders have created. We will not wait passively to become that future.

“The time is now for us to be leaders and that is why we are here: to lead. My message to the Secretary-General is simple: Let’s stop demanding world leaders listen to science. Let’s start demanding them to act on science!”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: ‘We, the leaders, must deliver for we, the peoples’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivered a powerful speech to world leaders in the main hall of the General Assembly. He gave a stirring defense of the need for international cooperation to solve our shared challenges, and he reminded world leaders why they are in power in the first place:

“We are living in a world of disquiet. A great many people fear getting trampled, thwarted, left behind. Machines take their jobs. Traffickers take their dignity. Demagogues take their rights. Warlords take their lives. Fossil fuels take their future.

“And yet people believe in the spirit and ideas that bring us to this hall. They believe in the United Nations. But do they believe in us? Do they believe as leaders, we will put people first? Because we, the leaders, must deliver for we, the peoples.”

Indigenous Climate Activists: ‘Don’t talk about the future of us without us.’

At the Social Good Summit, indigenous climate activists stated simply but forcefully that traditional communities possess deep-seated knowledge of how to protect the natural world – and should be listened to.

The speakers included Amy Cordalis, General Counsel for the Yurok tribe of Northern California, and Hindou Oumar Ibrahim, a UN SDG Advocate and member of a nomadic tribe from Lake Chad, 90% of whose waters have evaporated in the past decades, even though 30 million people subsist on its shores. Their logic is simple; their loss tragic.

Amy: “In the Yurok creation story…the creator made the land and the waste and the animals, and the plants, and then made humans. And told the people if you live in balance with all of this you will never want for anything. And for thousands and thousands of years, that’s how Yurok people lived. …

“With that great privilege of being close to the land and benefiting from the land, we also have an obligation to protect the land, and to see the land as a part of ourselves. … [That’s when] you realize that if you use that plastic bottle, if you pollute, if you use that toxic chemical, if you consume, consume, consume, your actions are actually harming yourself.”

Hindou: “In all developed countries, when you wake up in the morning, you check your phone to see the weather forecast. If it’s going to be cold, you have your jacket; rainy, you have an umbrella; sunny, sunglasses. Let me give you my grandmother’s app. She observes trees, she observes cloud movement, wind directions, and she can tell you if it’s going to rain in the next couple of hours. She can predict for you if the next year is going to be a good year, like a rainy season or not, because her life depends on it.

“The food that she gives to her children depends on this season. … She has to look to the environment to give her the information so she can predict the health of her family. So my grandmother is better than the app that we have. An indigenous grandmother does not need electricity, she doesn’t need the internet, but she can tell you exactly. Why? Because she lives in harmony with Mother Earth. Indigenous peoples can help in the climate movement, but we need to be at the table to take decisions. Don’t talk about the future of us without us.”

World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: ‘Our vision is not health for some’  

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reminded leaders gathered at the summit on Universal Health Coverage that, through the Sustainable Development Goals, they all signed up to provide affordable health care for everyone, everywhere:

“Ultimately health is a political choice. A choice that you have the power to make. WHO is committed to supporting every country’s transition to a health system based on strong primary health care…a world in which health is not a cost but an investment, a world in which health propels sustainable development, a world in which all of us enjoy the health we deserve.

“Our vision is not health for some. It’s not health for most. It’s health for all. Poor and rich. Able and disabled. Old and young. Urban and rural. Citizen and refugee. Everyone everywhere. Because health is an end in itself, because it’s a fundamental right and also a means to prosperity.”

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel: ‘Homosexuality is not a choice’

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel spent much of his General Assembly speech laying out the country’s commitment to tackling climate change and to being carbon neutral by 2050, as well as his country’s support for international cooperation across issues including the Iran nuclear deal, migration, gender-based violence, and conflict and human rights.

But it was his comments on equality that win him a spot on our list, especially as Prime Minister Bettel is the first openly gay national leader to address LGBTQ rights at the UN General Assembly. He said:

“In 2020, we will mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing conference, which set up the Commission on the Status of Women, the CSW. I’m asking myself whether in today’s world we’d be able to re-sign that convention…particularly when listen to the words coming from some quarters with regards to the rights of women.

“You can make the same charge about the rights of people to freely live out the expression of their sexual orientation. The day before yesterday here in New York I headlined a debate about hate speech targeting LGBTI people. As we are all aware, or we ought to be aware, homosexuality is not a choice. Let it be accepted that this is how people are. What is a choice is homophobia, and we should not tolerate it.”

Founder of SheSays Trisha Shetty: ‘We’re laughing to make sense of this madness’

2020 marks one third of the way through the 15-year timeline to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, and as a recent UN report underlines, there has been some progress but we remain off track to meet the global goals. We have a decade to deliver for people and planet.

The UN Foundation is working with several other organizations to make 2020 a super year of activism and to build the biggest coalition to demand, implement, and accelerate action to kickstart the final decade of delivery. During the UN General Assembly, we and our partners hosted an event at the UN to announce our efforts – stay tuned for more on that.

Opening that event, Trisha Shetty, Indian activist and founder of SheSays, which works to stop gender discrimination in India, transported us to her country to remind us why we must do more to reach those left furthest behind:

“A few months ago, I was in Assam, a state up northeast in India, doing a field trip, going from village to village. …. [I went] to meet women in those communities, to understand their challenges, and how they are hustling to get stuff done. Most of these women live below the poverty line, barely making a few cents a day, complaining about how a lot of the men are prone to alcohol addiction, not carrying their weight.

“They told me a story. They have one ambulance there. And every time someone is sick, they put the person in the ambulance. But the ambulance is barely functioning, and the roads are terrible. So what they do is they put the person in the ambulance and then 10 people surround the ambulance and physically push the ambulance with the hope that the ambulance will kickstart and get the person to the hospital. And they all laughed. And I laughed. And it took me a minute to realize we’re laughing to make sense of this madness.

“The reason I am sharing this with you is I want you to for a brief minute think of your community, think of your people, because those are my people. I made a commitment to them, to make sure their struggles are heard, to make sure they have access to their fundamental rights. Because currently they are being deprived of access to their fundamental rights.”

Youth Climate Activist Greta Thunberg: ‘How dare you?’

We saved Greta Thunberg’s powerful speech for last because it seemed to underline the anger, passion, and urgency of many other speakers throughout the week, and because a movement is about more than one person – and we think she would agree. At the Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, Greta’s powerful admonition to world leaders started with a promise – and a warning: “We are watching.”

“How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. …You are still not mature enough to tell it like it is. You are failing us. But young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you and if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with us.

“Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up and change is coming whether you like it or not.”

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Teaching American History

“America First”

  • Defense and War
  • Foreign Policy
  • April 23, 1941


Charles Lindbergh became one of the most famous men in America when he completed the first-ever solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927. By the late thirties, Lindbergh had evolved into a more controversial figure, after he expressed admiration for Nazi Germany. He also served as a prominent spokesman for the America First Committee, a group that formed in September 1940 to oppose intervention in the European War. Lindbergh delivered this address at an America First Committee meeting in New York City on April 23, 1941.

Source: The text of Colonel Lindbergh’s Address at a Rally of the America First Committee, New York Times (1923-Current file); Apr 24, 1941; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times, p. 12. https://goo.gl/EAbntf . Originally published as The text of Colonel Lindbergh’s Address at a Rally of the America First Committee, New York Times , April 24, 1941 , © 1941 by Charles Lindbergh. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Yale University.

. . . I have said before, and I will say again, that I believe it will be a tragedy to the entire world if the British Empire collapses. That is one of the main reasons why I opposed this war before it was declared, and why I have constantly advocated a negotiated peace. I did not feel that England and France had a reasonable chance of winning. France has now been defeated; and, despite the propaganda and confusion of recent months, it is now obvious that England is losing the war. I believe this is realized even by the British government. But they have one last desperate plan remaining. They hope that they may be able to persuade us to send another American Expeditionary Force 1 to Europe, and to share with England militarily, as well as financially, the fiasco of this war.

I do not blame England for this hope, or for asking for our assistance. But we now know that she declared a war under circumstances [that] led to the defeat of every nation that sided with her from Poland to Greece. We know that in the desperation of war England promised to all these nations armed assistance that she could not send. We know that she misinformed them, as she has misinformed us, concerning her state of preparation, her military strength, and the progress of the war.

In time of war, truth is always replaced by propaganda. I do not believe we should be too quick to criticize the actions of a belligerent nation. There is always the question whether we, ourselves, would do better under similar circumstances. But we in this country have a right to think of the welfare of America first, just as the people in England thought first of their own country when they encouraged the smaller nations of Europe to fight against hopeless odds. When England asks us to enter this war, she is considering her own future, and that of her Empire. In making our reply, I believe we should consider the future of the United States and that of the Western Hemisphere.

It is not only our right, but it is our obligation as American citizens to look at this war objectively, and to weigh our chances for success if we should enter it. I have attempted to do this, especially from the standpoint of aviation; and I have been forced to the conclusion that we cannot win this war for England, regardless of how much assistance we extend.

I ask you to look at the map of Europe today and see if you can suggest any way in which we could win this war if we entered it. Suppose we had a large army in America, trained and equipped. Where would we send it to fight? The campaigns of the war show only too clearly how difficult it is to force a landing, or to maintain an army, on a hostile coast. Suppose we took our navy from the Pacific, and used it to convoy British shipping. That would not win the war for England. It would, at best, permit her to exist under the constant bombing of the German air fleet. Suppose we had an air force that we could send to Europe. Where could it operate? Some of our squadrons might be based in the British Isles; but it is physically impossible to base enough aircraft in the British Isles alone to equal in strength the aircraft that can be based on the continent of Europe.

I have asked these questions on the supposition that we had in existence an army and an air force large enough and well enough equipped to send to Europe; and that we would dare to remove our navy from the Pacific. Even on this basis, I do not see how we could invade the continent of Europe successfully as long as all of that continent and most of Asia is under Axis 2 domination. But the fact is that none of these suppositions are correct. We have only a one-ocean navy. Our army is still untrained and inadequately equipped for foreign war. Our air force is deplorably lacking in modern fighting planes.

When these facts are cited, the interventionists shout that we are defeatists, that we are undermining the principles of Democracy, and that we are giving comfort to Germany by talking about our military weakness. But everything I mention here has been published in our newspapers, and in the reports of congressional hearings in Washington. Our military position is well known to the governments of Europe and Asia. Why, then, should it not be brought to the attention of our own people? . . .

When history is written, the responsibility for the downfall of the democracies of Europe will rest squarely upon the shoulders of the interventionists who led their nations into war uninformed and unprepared. . . .

There are many such interventionists in America, but there are more people among us of a different type. That is why you and I are assembled here tonight. There is a policy open to this nation that will lead to success – a policy that leaves us free to follow our own way of life, and to develop our own civilization. It is not a new and untried idea. It was advocated by Washington. It was incorporated in the Monroe Doctrine. 3 Under its guidance, the United States became the greatest nation in the world. It is based upon the belief that the security of a nation lies in the strength and character of its own people. It recommends the maintenance of armed forces sufficient to defend this hemisphere from attack by any combination of foreign powers. It demands faith in an independent American destiny. This is the policy of the America First Committee today. It is a policy not of isolation, but of independence; not of defeat, but of courage. It is a policy that led this nation to success during the most trying years of our history, and it is a policy that will lead us to success again.

We have weakened ourselves for many months, and still worse, we have divided our own people by this dabbling in Europe’s wars. While we should have been concentrating on American defense, we have been forced to argue over foreign quarrels. We must turn our eyes and our faith back to our own country before it is too late. And when we do this, a different vista opens before us. Practically every difficulty we would face in invading Europe becomes an asset to us in defending America. Our enemy, and not we, would then have the problem of transporting millions of troops across the ocean and landing them on a hostile shore. They, and not we, would have to furnish the convoys to transport guns and trucks and munitions and fuel across three thousand miles of water. Our battleships and submarines would then be fighting close to their home bases. We would then do the bombing from the air, and the torpedoing at sea. And if any part of an enemy convoy should ever pass our navy and our air force, they would still be faced with the guns of our coast artillery, and behind them, the divisions of our army.

The United States is better situated from a military standpoint than any other nation in the world. Even in our present condition of unpreparedness, no foreign power is in a position to invade us today. If we concentrate on our own and build the strength that this nation should maintain, no foreign army will ever attempt to land on American shores. . . .

During the last several years, I have travelled over this country, from one end to the other. I have talked to many hundreds of men and women, and I have had letters from tens of thousands more, who feel the same way as you and I. Most of these people have no influence or power. Most of them have no means of expressing their convictions, except by their vote which has always been against this war. They are the citizens who have had to work too hard at their daily jobs to organize political meetings. Hitherto, they have relied upon their vote to express their feelings; but now they find that it is hardly remembered except in the oratory of a political campaign. These people – the majority of hard-working American citizens – are with us. They are the true strength of our country. And they are beginning to realize, as you and I, that there are times when we must sacrifice our normal interests in life in order to insure the safety and the welfare of our nation.

Such a time has come. Such a crisis is here. That is why the America First Committee has been formed – to give voice to the people who have no newspaper, or news reel, or radio station at their command; to the people who must do the paying, and the fighting, and the dying, if this country enters the war. . . .

Whether or not we do enter the war, rests upon the shoulders of you in this audience, upon us here on this platform, upon meetings of this kind that are being held by Americans in every section of the United States today. It depends upon the action we take, and the courage we show at this time. If you believe in an independent destiny for America, if you believe that this country should not enter the war in Europe, we ask you to join the America First Committee in its stand. We ask you to share our faith in the ability of this nation to defend itself, to develop its own civilization, and to contribute to the progress of mankind in a more constructive and intelligent way than has yet been found by the warring nations of Europe. We need your support, and we need it now. The time to act is here.

  • 1. The name given to the American military force that fought in Europe in World War I.
  • 2. “Axis” was the name given to the alliance of Germany, Japan, and Italy, which also included some other countries, such as Bulgaria and Hungary.
  • 3. Announced in 1823 by President James Monroe, this policy stated that the United States would not involve itself in the affairs of Europe, while warning European nations against interfering in the affairs of the western hemisphere.

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why did felix give a speech to the united nations

  • Environment

‘You Have Stolen My Dreams and My Childhood’: Greta Thunberg Gives Powerful Speech at UN Climate Summit

I n an emotional speech at the United Nations during the Climate Action Summit on Monday, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg appealed to world leaders about the grave need to stop the effects of climate change.

“You all come to us young people for hope. How dare you?” she said. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet, I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.”

Thunberg grew tearful, as she continued to condemn what she sees as the lack of action on part of leaders around the world to halt climate change. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?”

The 2019 Climate Action Summit kicked off at the UN on Monday, where world leaders gathered to discuss serious strategies to mitigate climate change. Representatives of participating nations were told by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres to come up with “concrete, realistic plans” to further their commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and get to net zero emissions by 2050.

Thunberg cited more than 30 years of scientific evidence showing the consequences of a perpetually warming globe and delivered searing criticism of politicians who were aware of the science, but still did nothing.

“You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that,” she said. “Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil, and that I refuse to believe.”

Thunberg spoke at the UN following her appearance at the Global Climate Strike in New York City on Friday where she addressed the crowd of protestors , saying, “Our house is on fire. We will do everything in our power to stop this crisis from getting worse.”

Speaking to the world leaders at the climate summit Monday, Thunberg echoed her earlier message and offered a warning. “You are failing us. But young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you, and if you choose to fail us, I say, we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this.”

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Write to Mahita Gajanan at [email protected]

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    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.

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  4. FDR and the Four Freedoms Speech

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  5. Document #23: "Address to the United Nations," Hugo Chávez (2006)

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