Press Releases

    16 March 2004

    Secretary-General, in Message to Annual Diplomacy Lecture, Praises Senator Jesse Helms for Fostering Stronger Relationship Between US, UN

    NEW YORK, 15 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s video message to the first Helms International Diplomacy Lecture in Washington, D.C., 15 March:

    I am very sorry I cannot be with you in person today, but I do want to thank the Better World Campaign for sponsoring this annual Helms International Diplomacy Lecture.  It is highly appropriate that we honour Senator Jesse Helms for his years of service in the United States Senate, and especially for what he did to foster a stronger relationship between the United States and the United Nations. 

    Senator Helms and I may not have agreed on every issue.  But his leadership was decisive in convincing Congress that the United States needs a stronger, more effective United Nations -- and therefore needs to be a leader within the United Nations.  And that is very important, not only for the United States itself, but for the world.  When the United States shows leadership and takes an active part in the work of the United Nations, all our efforts are strengthened dramatically.

    It was the Helms-Biden agreement, reached in 1999 after three years of hard work by Senator Helms and his colleagues, which eventually made it possible to remove a major hurdle in the United States-United Nations relationship, by reducing the arrears owed by the United States to the United Nations system by one billion dollars.  The last of these payments was made in 2002, putting the United Nations in better financial health than it had enjoyed for years.

    The United States and the United Nations must continue to work together, to promote our common objectives of stability and development around the world.  That will require others to build on Senator Helms’s legacy, and I hope these annual lectures will encourage them. Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky is certainly the right person to begin the series, and I am sure you are all eager to hear what she has to say.

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