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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                          (New York, New York)
For Immediate Release                                  September 7, 2000
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                        TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL

                        Security Council Chamber
                           The United Nations
                           New York, New York

2:08 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, members of the Security Council. We come together in this historic session to discuss the role of the United Nations in maintaining peace and security. I thank President Konare for the moment of silence for the U.N. workers who died in West Timor yesterday, and ask the Indonesian authorities to bring those responsible to justice, to disarm and disband the militias, and to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of those continuing to work on humanitarian goals there.

Today I would like to focus my peacekeeping remarks on Africa, where prosperity and freedom have advanced, but where conflict still holds back progress. I can't help noting that this historic meeting in this historic chamber is led by a President and a Secretary General who are both outstanding Africans. Africans' achievements and the United Nations' strengths are evident. Mozambique and Namibia are just two success stories.

But we asked the United Nations to act under increasingly complex conditions. We see it in Sierra Leone, where U.N. actions saved lives, but could not preserve the peace. Now we're working to strengthen the mission. In the Horn of Africa, U.N. peacekeepers will monitor the separation of forces so recently engaged in brutal combat. In Congo civil strive still threatens the lives of thousands of people and warring parties prevent the U.N. from implementing its mandate.

We must do more to equip the United Nations to do what we ask it to do. They need to be able to be peacekeepers who can be rapidly deployed, properly trained and equipped, able to project credible force. That, of course, is the thrust of the Secretary General's report on peacekeeping reform. The United States strongly supports that report. It should be the goal of our assistance for West African forces that are now going into Sierra Leone.

Let me also say a word, however, beyond peacekeeping. It seems to me that both for Africa and the world, we will be forced increasingly to define security more broadly. The United Nations was created to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. War kills massively, crosses borders, destabilizes whole regions. Today, we face other problems that kill massively, cross borders and destabilize whole regions.

A quarter of all the deaths on the planet now are caused by infectious diseases like Malaria, TB and AIDS. Because of AIDS alone, life expectancy in some African nations is plummeting by as much as 30 years. Without aggressive prevention, the epicenter of the epidemic likely will move to Asia by 2010 with very rapid growth rates also in the New Independent States.

The affected nations must do more on prevention, but the rest of us must do more, too -- not just with AIDS, but also with malaria and TB. We must invest in the basics -- clean water, safe food, good sanitation, health education. We must make sure that the advances in science work for all people.

The United States is investing $2 billion a year in AIDS research, including $210 million for an AIDS vaccine. And I have asked our Congress to give a tax credit of $1 billion to speed the development in the private sector of vaccines against AIDS, malaria and TB. We have to give the tax credit because the people who need the medicine can't afford to pay for it as it is. We've worked to make drugs more affordable, and we will do more. And we have doubled our global assistance for AIDS prevention and care over the last two years.

Unfortunately, the U.N. has estimated that to meet out goals, we will collectively need to provide an additional $4 billion a year. We must join together to help close that gap. And we must advance a larger agenda to fight the poverty that breeds conflict and war.

I strongly support the goal of universal access to primary education by 2015. We are helping to move toward that goal, in part, with our effort to provide school lunches to 9 million boys and girls in developing nations. For about $3 billion a year, collectively, we could provide a nutritious meal to every child in every developing country in a school in the world. That would dramatically change the future for a lot of poor nations today.

We have agreed to triple the scale of debt relief for the poorest countries, but we should do more. This idea of relieving debt if the savings will be invested in the human needs of the people is an idea whose time has long since come, and I hope we will do much more.

Finally, Mr. Secretary General, you have called on us to support the millennium ecosystem assessment. We have to meet the challenge of climate change. I predict that within a decade -- or maybe even a little less -- that will become as big an obstacle to the development of poor nations as disease is today.

The United States will contribute the first complete set of detailed satellite images of the world's threatened forests to this project. We will continue to support aggressive efforts to implement the Kyoto protocol and other objectives which will reduce the environmental threats we face.

Now, let me just say in closing, Mr. President, some people will listen to this discussion and say, well, peacekeeping has something to do with security, but these other issues don't have anything to do with security and don't belong in the Security Council. This is my last meeting; I just have to say I respectfully disagree -- these issues will be more and more and more in the Security Council. Until we confront the iron link between deprivation, disease, and war, we will never be able to create the peace that the founders of the United Nations dreamed of.

I hope the United States will always be willing to do its part, and I hope the Security Council increasingly will have a 21st century vision of security that we can all embrace and pursue.

Thank you very much.

END 2:14 P.M. EDT