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Diplomacy in Action

Address by President Dwight Eisenhower to the UN General Assembly


June 20, 1955

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Address at the Tenth Anniversary Meeting of the United Nations, San Francisco, California.

President Van Kleffens, distinguished representatives of the member nations of this great organization, ladies and gentlemen:

This, my second appearance before the United Nations, gives me, as Chief Executive of the United States, the great privilege of joining with you in commemoration of an historic date--significant, momentous, for all mankind.

I am privileged to bring you a special message from the Congress of the United States. Last week the Congress unanimously adopted a resolution requesting me to express to all of you here, on behalf of the people of the United States, our deep desire for peace and our hope that all nations will join with us in a renewed effort for peace.

Later this week my close friend and associate, Secretary John Foster Dulles, speaking with my full confidence and concurrence, will address you on appropriate elements in the foreign policy of the United States. Because of this circumstance, it seems fitting that I, today, speak principally in terms of my country's unswerving loyalty to the United Nations and of the reasons for our tireless support of it.

A decade ago, in this city, in this building, the Charter of the United Nations was signed by its fifty founding members. Into a world, shattered and still at war but hopeful and eager for a new dawn, was born an international organization, fashioned to be the supreme instrument of world peace.

For this nation, I pay respectful tribute to you whose faith, and patience, and courage, and wisdom have brought it through ten tumultuous, frequently discouraging, sometimes terrifying--but often rewarding years. That there have been failures in attempts to solve international difficulties by the principles of the Charter, none can deny. That there have been victories, only the willfully blind can fail to see. But clear it is that without the United Nations the failures would still have been written as failures into history. And, certainly, without this organization the victories could not have been achieved; instead, they might well have been recorded as human disasters. These, the world has been spared.

So, with the birthday congratulations I bring, I reaffirm to you the support of the Government of the United States in the purposes and aims of the United Nations, and in the hopes that inspired its founders.

Today, together, we face a second decade. We face it with the accumulated experience of the first ten years, as well as with the awful knowledge of nuclear weapons and the realization that a certain and enduring peace still eludes our persistent search.

But the summer of 1955, like that one of 1945, is another season of high hope for the world. There again stirs in the hearts of men a renewed devotion to the work for the elimination of war. Each of us here is witness that never in ten years has the will of many nations seemed so resolved to wage an honest and sustained campaign for a just and lasting peace. True, none of us can produce incontestable evidence to support this feeling. Nevertheless, all of us, I think, will testify that the heartfelt longings of countless millions for abundance and justice and peace seem to be commanding, everywhere, a response from their governments. These longings have strengthened the weak, encouraged the doubtful, heartened the tired, confirmed the believing. Almost it seems that men, with souls restored, are, with faith and courage, resuming the march toward the greatest human goal.

Within a month there will be a Four Power Conference of Heads of Government. Whether or not we shall then reach the initial decisions that will start dismantling the terrible apparatus of fear and mistrust and weapons erected since the end of World War II, I do not know.

The basis for success is simply put: it is that every individual at that meeting be loyal to the spirit of the United Nations and dedicated to the principles of its Charter.

I can solemnly pledge to you here--and to all the men and women of the world who may hear or read my words--that those who represent the United States will strive to be thus loyal, thus dedicated. For us of the United States, there is no alternative, because our devotion to the United Nations Charter is the outgrowth of a faith deeply rooted in our cultural, political, spiritual traditions.
Woven into the Charter is the belief of its authors:

That man--a physical, intellectual and spiritual being--has individual rights, divinely bestowed, limited only by the obligation to avoid infringement upon the equal rights of others;

That justice, decency and liberty, in an orderly society, are concepts which have raised men above the beasts of the field: to deny any person the opportunity to live under their shelter is a crime against all humanity.

Our Republic was born, grew, stands firm today in a similar belief!

The Charter assumes:

That every people has the inherent right to the kind of government under which it chooses to live and the right to select in full freedom the individuals who conduct that government.

Hence the Charter declares:

That on every nation in possession of foreign territories, there rests the responsibility to assist the peoples of those areas in the progressive development of free political institutions so that ultimately they can validly choose for themselves their permanent political status.

Our long history as a republic manifests a self-imposed compulsion to practice these same principles.

The Charter recognizes that only those who enjoy free access to historical and current facts and information, and through objective education learn to comprehend their meanings, can successfully maintain and operate a system of self-government. Our Republic, likewise, maintains that access to knowledge and education is the right of all its citizens--and of all mankind.

Written under the shadow of war, the Charter is strong in the conviction that no nation has a right to employ force aggressively against any other. To do so, or to threaten to do so, is to defy every moral law that has guided man in his long journey from darkness toward the light. Those who wrote it clearly realized that global war has come to pose for civilization a threat of shattering destruction and a sodden existence by the survivors in a dark and broken world.

Likewise they recognized that the first responsibility of every nation is to provide for its own defense; and, in pursuance of this responsibility, it has the clear right to associate itself with other like-minded peoples for the promotion of their common security.

But they who wrote the Charter emphasized that in the formation of such associations, within the framework of the United Nations, it is incumbent upon the contracting parties to inform the world by solemn assurance, always supported by deeds, that the sole purpose is defense, devoid of aggressive aims.

We as a nation believe these truths that are expressed in the Charter. We strive to live by them. So:

We shall always maintain a government at home that recognizes and constantly seeks to sustain for the individual those rich economic, intellectual, and spiritual opportunities to which his human rights entitle him.

In our relations with all other nations, our attitude will reflect full recognition of their sovereign and equal status. We shall deal with common problems in a spirit of partnership.

Insofar as our technical, material, and intellectual capacities permit and wherever our aid, including the peaceful use of atomic energy, may be needed and desired, we shall continue to help others achieve constantly rising economic levels. Thereby, we trust that they will have increased opportunity to attain their own cultural and spiritual aspirations.

We shall work with all others--especially through this great organization, the United Nations--so that peaceful and reasonable negotiations may replace the clash of the battlefield. In this way we can in time make unnecessary the vast armaments that--even when maintained only for security--still terrify the world with their devastating potentiality and tax unbearably the creative energies of men.

As some success in disarmament is achieved, we hope that each of the so-called great powers will contribute to the United Nations, for promoting the technical and economic progress of the less productive areas, a portion of the resultant savings in military expenditures.

An abiding faith inspired the men and women who devised the great Charter under which you work. We of the United States share that faith. We hold fast to the hope that all nations in their intercourse with others will observe those amenities of deportment, customs and treatment of other nationals as are sanctioned by tradition, by logic, and by friendly purposes.

We and a majority of all nations, I believe, are united in another hope: that every government will abstain from itself attempting, or aiding others to attempt, the coercion, infiltration, or destruction of other governments in order to gain any political or material advantage or because of differences in philosophies, religions, or ideologies.

We, with the rest of the world, know that a nation's vision of peace cannot be attained through any race in armaments. The munitions of peace are justice, honesty, mutual understanding, and respect for others.

So believing and so motivated, the United States will leave no stone unturned to work for peace. We shall reject no method however novel, that holds out any hope however faint, for a just and lasting peace.

May I recall to you the words of a great citizen of this country, Abraham Lincoln, which, though uttered in a different context, apply to the problem which the world now seeks to solve.

He said: "... The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."

In such a body as this, it seems fitting that we should add to Lincoln's words: "Each for himself, our country and humanity."

The object of our second decade is still peace--but a peace of such new kind that all the world will think anew and act anew.

It cannot be a mere stilling of the guns--it must be a glorious way of life. In that life the atom, dedicated once as man's slayer, will become his most productive servant. It will be a peace to inspire confidence and faith so that all peoples will be released from the fear of war. Scientists will be liberated to work always for men, never against them. Who can doubt that in the next ten years world science can so beat down the ravages of disease and the pangs of poverty that humankind will experience a new expansion of living standards and of cultural and spiritual horizons. In this new kind of peace the artist, teacher and philosopher, workman, farmer, producer, and scientist will truly work together for the common welfare.

These hopes are not new. They are as old as history. But now as we meet on this tenth anniversary in the city where was born the United Nations, we must realize that at last they are steadily and surely attainable. This is new. Our part is to rededicate ourselves to the ideals of the United Nations Charter. May we here and now renew our determination to fulfill man's ancient dream, the dream which so inspired the founders of this organization.

Thus our duty will be nobly done, and future generations will behold the United Nations and stand up to call it blessed.

May I please express to your President my grateful thanks for his invitation to address this distinguished body. To each of you my gratitude for your courteous attention. Thank you very much.



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