For information only - not an official document.
11 January 2001


Following is the text of remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at a reception hosted by the World Affairs Councils of America in New York on 10 January:

I am delighted to welcome the members of the World Affairs Council to the United Nations at an important time of change and transition in the relations between our Organization and the United States.

Your conference will give you a unique opportunity to hear from some of our most experienced managers and experts about the ways in which the United Nations is seizing on the opportunities of a new era, and how we are seeking to bring their benefits to the poorest, most vulnerable of our world. Whether it is the struggle against HIV/AIDS, or the effort to renew our peacekeeping instruments, or our initiatives to join forces with the private sector and civil society, we are fully engaged in addressing the central issues of our time.

To succeed, however, we need the energy, the initiative, and the assistance of groups like yours who can bring our message to the peoples we serve, and bring their concerns to our attention.

As the largest international affairs non-profit organization in the United States, you have a vital role in bringing a greater and deeper understanding of world affairs to every citizen of this country. I am particularly pleased that you will be hosting a series of town meetings on the United Nations throughout the coming year. Through these and other efforts, you can help Americans of all ages - but particularly the young - to understand how important the United States is to the future of the United Nations, and how important multilateral cooperation and the United Nations are to the future of the United States.

I believe the recent resolution of the question of the scale of assessments and the United States contribution to the United Nations budget can be a turning point in United States-United Nations relations, and give the new Administration greater freedom in establishing its priorities. Let me in this regard pay tribute to Ambassador Holbrooke for his remarkable efforts in bringing this matter to a close. Frankly, it would not have succeeded without him. I look forward to working with his successor, and with the President-elect and his foreign policy team in Washington.

A principal challenge of the coming years will be to ensure that globalization’s benefits flow to all, rich and poor, developed and developing.

For the United Nations, the task is to ensure that the difficulties facing globalization do not become an impediment to global cooperation, but rather give such cooperation new life and new promise. The task for the United States is to recognize its own importance to the global response, and to understand that the United Nations can and will play a central role in enabling economic development and protecting political progress, not least by helping to keep the peace.

In meeting this grave and historic challenge we -- the United Nations and the United States -- may both benefit from recalling the words of America’s greatest president of the last century, and a founder of the United Nations, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In his fourth inaugural address, President Roosevelt made a passionate plea for America’s global engagement:

"We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations, far away. We have learned that we must live as men, and not as ostriches, nor as dogs in the manger. We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community."

In this era, we have learned our lessons, too: that democracy is the condition for true, lasting and equitable prosperity; and that without global cooperation between the great and the small alike, no progress and no peace can last forever. I wish you a very enjoyable and instructive conference.

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