UN Association of the National Capitol Area's Global Classrooms D.C. Business Forum

Esther Brimmer
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs
Washington, DC
October 24, 2012

Thank you, Karen [Mulhauser, President, UNA-NCA]. I’m so pleased to be with the UN Association tonight. On behalf of the Department of State, let me say how much we appreciate all the work UNA does, and repeat our strong support for your Global Classrooms program. Given the important role for the business community in U.S. foreign policy, and the benefits that U.S. businesses derive from our engagement across the UN system, it’s great to see such support from business leaders for UNA’s important work.

As you all know, we’ve gathered here on the sixty-seventh anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. On this day in 1945, amid the ashes of the Second World War, the establishment of the UN embodied the international community’s determination, in the words of the UN Charter, to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, and to promote social progress and better standards of life for all mankind.

The importance of those aims has only grown In the nearly seven decades since that momentous day in San Francisco. And as our globe has become more interconnected, as we see our security and prosperity inextricably linked across borders, effective multilateral cooperation has become more essential than ever.

For the United States, these last four years have been witness to the power of U.S. global leadership. U.S. leadership at the United Nations not only has promoted so many of our own strategic interests; it also has been essential to addressing the world’s most pressing collective threats and challenges.

For starters, U.S. multilateral leadership has made us more secure. Tough sanctions on Iran and North Korea; increased global action on nuclear security; prevention of atrocities in Libya; support for the birth of South Sudan; protecting democracy in Cote d’Ivoire, and improved international efforts to fight terrorism.

It also has advanced our values. U.S. leadership at the Human Rights Council has transformed that body, and helped turn the global spotlight on persistent violators of universal human rights. Our backing helped establish a new UN agency focused on the empowerment of women. And U.S. support for UN humanitarian efforts worldwide – including in Somalia, Pakistan, and Haiti – have saved lives in the aftermath of disasters both natural and manmade.

And U.S. leadership across the UN system has been key to maintaining the global systems and standards, on which businesses and ordinary citizens depend. In so many areas – aviation security, maritime safety, international telecommunications, global mail service – U.S. leadership in UN technical and specialized agencies has ensured continued international cooperation to enhance the benefits of globalization for all. By setting standards and helping build national capacity, UN agencies also help countries advance the rule of law, and stamp out corruption and other obstacles to development.

UNA’s Global Classrooms program is remarkable precisely because it engages young people to consider these global challenges, and to think about the roles they want to play in helping solve them. All of us who work on foreign policy do so in part because we want to secure a safer and more prosperous world – a better future – for our children and for future generations of Americans. By educating young people about the world around them and helping them see the complexity of the challenges we face, the Global Classrooms program is training the next generation of global leaders.

And there is a second, equally important component of your work. By involving the business community, you’re opening students’ eyes to the key role that U.S. businesses play in American foreign policy, and helping educate them about the real impact that U.S. global leadership has on American businesses and on our economy. Every day, across the UN, the United States works on issues of the utmost importance to U.S. businesses, from setting standards to ensuring fair play. So I’m delighted that so many business leaders are on board for this important partnership.

Let me close by thanking Karen personally for the key role she has played in all these efforts. The partnership between my bureau and UNA-NCA has grown stronger each year. Our annual Model UN event is the largest gathering the Department hosts – and in my opinion, the highest-energy meeting by far. So Karen, thank you for your leadership. With that, my thanks again to UNA for the chance to be with you this evening, and I hope you’ll join me in wishing a happy sixth-seventh birthday to the United Nations.