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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

95/03/07 REMARKS:  MRS. CLINTON AT WORLD SUMMIT FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT





            REMARKS OF FIRST LADY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON 

             AT A SPECIAL EVENT AT THE UN SOCIAL SUMMIT 

                           MARCH 7, 1995 

                       COPENHAGEN, DENMARK 

 

(Text as delivered) 



 

Good morning.  Thank you to Ambassador Teymour, Mr. Desai, and Mr. 

Nielson. 

 

I am honored to participate in this historic gathering, where civic, 

religious, and social organizations as well as governmental leaders from 

around the world are uniting in the fight to eradicate absolute poverty, 

create jobs, and empower women and men to become full participants in 

their societies. 

 

It is a special pleasure to be able to speak to a gathering that 

includes so many non-governmental organizations. Whether they operate in 

great cities or in remote villages, NGOs have always played a vital role 

in strengthening our global community.  But particularly today, as all 

nations face new challenges and choices, the experience and wisdom of 

the NGOs will be critical in guiding us toward a safer, more just, and 

unified world. 

 

The end of the Cold War created extraordinary new opportunities for 

growth and progress.  But at the same time, ethnic strife and civil 

conflict have erupted across our planet, depleting our resources, 

draining our energies, promoting hatred and intolerance, and imperiling 

the idea of a free and open global society. 

 

Today, too many nations waste resources on building and acquiring 

weapons of mass destruction, staggering wars, and doing violence to 

basic human rights, instead of investing those resources in people.  To 

often, natural resources are destroyed and human one exploited through 

socially irresponsible behavior.  Today, too much time is spent in naked 

pursuit of power, instead of working for peace and prosperity. 

 

It has become fashionable in recent years to assign blame for the 

world's problems to one group of nations or another.  I hope this Summit 

does not succumb to that temptation.  In fact, every nation needs to 

rethink its approach to social development and most nations need to do 

more for their own people and for humanity. 

 

To meet the goals of this Summit, governments will have to go about 

their business in new ways,  They will have to rethink how to protect 

their most vulnerable populations in a time of shrinking resources and 

accelerated global competition.  They will have to respect basic human 

rights, and that includes the rights of women and workers to be 

protected from exploitation and abuse.  And they will have to create 

conditions that encourage individual initiative and a vibrant civic 

life. 

 

Finally, as my husband said in a speech last week, governments will have 

to choose engagement over isolationism.  With our economics and our 

societies becoming increasingly interdependent, we must work to create a 

global community in which economic growth and social progress result in 

shared prosperity and opportunity. 

 

On a large scale there is no better place to start than with an 

indefinite and unconditional extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation 

Treaty. 

 

The threat posed by these devastating weapons all the work we do to end 

poverty, create jobs, and empower people.  Moreover, in balancing 

priorities and resources, all nations will have to realize that 

investing in people, not the acquisition of nuclear arms, is the way to 

make their societies stronger.  Clean water, safe sanitation, basic 

education, health care, and human rights are better investments to 

strengthen societies in both the short and long term than the 

acquisition of or increase in nuclear arms. 

 

Two days ago make the 25th anniversary of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, 

now joined by 172 nations that realize that opposing the spread of 

nuclear weapons is in their self interest.  And to further the goals of 

the Treaty, The United States and Russia have agreed -- through START I 

and START II -- to reduce their own nuclear arsenals.  We must all 

continue the effort to deal responsibly with this critical issue. 

 

In addressing the world's social problems, however, we cannot expect 

governments to act alone, particularly in an era of scattered and, some 

believe, scare resources.  Governments need NGOs to monitor their 

actions and mobilize them to find innovative solutions to problems.  

NGOs can also inspire us to work more effectively with each other -- 

within the NGO community and within the community of nations.  That is 

why the participation of NGOs at this and other UN conferences is so 

invaluable. 

 

The great social movements of my own country during the 19th and 20th 

centuries -- the abolition of slavery, the right of women to vote, as 

well as the civil rights movement would not have been achieved without 

the leadership of civic religious, and social organizations. 

 

And the same is true elsewhere.  As Ambassador Somavia knows so well, 

civic organizations committed to human rights and the rule of the law 

were instrumental in assuring Chile's transition to Democracy. 

 

Through the worked of nuns and lay people in the Philippines, civic 

groups in Bulgaria, grassroots organizations working across Africa and 

South America, and many others, NGOs have helped to improve the lives of 

tens of millions of men, women, children and families struggling to 

escape tyranny, poverty, and social dislocation. 

 

Ultimately, this forum and the Social Summit is about supporting and 

building on that work, nor for the sake of governments or ideologies, 

but for people.  It is about putting people first.  And putting people 

first requires realistic, workable solutions to complex problems. 

 

Too often, the assumption is that any solution will inevitably be costly 

and complicated.  In fact, we have proof to the contrary.  We see 

grassroots efforts around the world that are reducing poverty, improving 

health and education, and promoting individual freedom. 

 

UNICEF, to take one shining example, has had a decade-long focus on 

child survival and has pioneered many strategies that are low cost, 

including breastfeeding and oral rehydration therapy and immunizations. 

 

Last year, polio was eradicated in the Western Hemisphere by a 

multinational effort and the U.S. was the lead donor for that.  Around 

the world, the percentage of children immunized has been increasing in a 

rather remarkable way from 20 percent to 80 percent between 1980 and 

1990. 

 

In the United States, I am frank to admit, we have had to follow the 

lead of other countries so that finally we are attempting to increase 

the immunization rates of our own children.  And our rates have 

increased, but are not yet where they need to be. 

 

In South America, the involvement of NGOs teaching pregnant women self-

diagnosis of maternal health problems has resulted in a dramatic 

reduction of the infant mortality in rural areas. 

 

I saw myself at the Fabella Hospital in Manila, new mothers staying in 

the hospital long enough to learn to nurse their babies, which promoted 

a stronger bond between the mother and child and increased the chances 

of family stability. 

 

And in countries where governments and NGOs have made voluntary, safe 

and effective family planning available and have provided related health 

services, we have been an improvement not only in the lives of 

individuals but in the economic well-being of their countries. 

 

Now, no one person, as we know so well, can be freed from the bondage of 

poverty or fully integrated into society without the means to earn a 

living, and the task of nations and NGOs is to promote policies that 

lift up the poorest in society, and to insist on core labor standards 

that help stop the exploitation of workers , many of whom are children. 

 

Governments must be responsible for promoting disciplined economic 

policies.  And, in the United States, the President is working hard to 

renew the American economy through fiscal policies that do assist those 

who are poor in such ways as providing tax credits and attempting to 

raise the minimum wage. 

 

Investing in education goes hand in hand with providing economic 

opportunity. 

 

As capital and technology become more mobile, differences in the quality 

of labor forces will become that much more apparent.  And again, we can 

learn from each other as to how we can reduce illiteracy and increase 

prospects for employment and economic security. 

 

Opportunity should be the reward for taking responsibility in life.  

That philosophy is a good guide when we consider strategies -- 

governmental and non-governmental -- to promote greater self-reliance 

and economic independence among all our citizens, including especially 

the poor and disenfranchised. 

 

We have an example of that which will be discussed at this Summit when 

we look at the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.  Dr. Mohammed Yunus, who many 

of you in this room know, as I do believes that is you give people 

access to credit -- and ask them to take responsibility in return -- 

they will achieve greater economic and social independence. 

 

Through its small loans to the poorest women in rural areas of 

Bangladesh, the Grameen Bank not only has improved the immediate 

circumstances of thousands of families, it has also fostered a greater 

sense of purpose an spirit of community among the people. 

 

I only wish every nation shared Dr. Yunus's and the Grameen Bank's 

appreciation of the vital role that girls and women play in the 

economic, social, and political life of our societies. 

 

Although women comprise 52 percent of the world population, although 

they are the primary caretakers for children and the aged, and are a 

significant presence in the workforce, they continue to be marginalized 

in many countries. 

 

Worldwide, more than two-thirds of the children who never attended 

school or have dropped out are girls.  Of the One billion people who 

remain illiterate, two-thirds are women.  And a disproportionate number 

of those we call living in absolute poverty, are women. 

 

Investing in the health and education of women and girls is essential to 

improving global prosperity, and I am glad that this Summit has endorsed 

the principle of equal rights and opportunities for women.  In parts of 

Asia and South America we have seen education of girls help lift whole 

populations out of poverty.  We have seen the education of women enhance 

their roles as mothers and increase their participation in civic life.  

So we must do more to ensure equal rights for women, along with equal 

pay and equal access to health care and education. 

 

Tomorrow, as part of International Women's Day, it will be my honor to 

announce a major new United States commitment to expand educational 

opportunities for poor girls on three continents. 

 

I'd like to end by saying that we must all take the responsibility and 

do our part.  Too often we engage in a false debate that says on the one 

hand only governments or on the other only individuals, are responsible 

for solving their own problems and those of the world.  In fact, we all 

know that we need a partnership that is going to bring us all together.  

Governments can either support or undermine people as they face the 

moral, social, and economic challenges of our time.  Individuals can 

either take initiative and responsibility or fall into hopelessness and 

despair.  Simply put, no government, no NGO, no person can remain idle  

given the magnitude of the challenges we face and the uncertainties of 

the world in which we live. 

 

For those who are skeptical about our progress, I suggest that we all 

reflect on the life of one extraordinary man, James Grant, who recently 

passed away.  Jim may have been more responsible for saving more lives 

over the past 15 years than any other person in the world.  Millions of 

children are alive today because Jim Grant challenged us, set goals for 

us, and devised simple, efficient, and affordable methods of intervening 

on behalf of children and their families.  UNICEF will be issuing this 

book,  PROFILES IN SUCCESS, PEOPLES' PROGRESS IN AFRICA, ASIA, AND LATIN 

AMERICA, which outlines some of the techniques and strategies that 

UNICEF has employed in order to create successful outcomes for people. 

 

His legacy is not only found in the wonderful work that goes on every 

day at UNICEF, or in the success of his infant formula campaign, or in 

the packages of "oral Rehydration Therapy" that he would carry around in 

his pocket and pull out on any occasion. 

 

His legacy is in the jobs that each of us in this room, each of the 

people around the world in private, voluntary organizations and other 

NGOs and government organizations do day in and day out,  throughout the 

world.  It is our duty to continue to live up to Jim Grant's challenge 

and to do our part to fulfill the goals of this Summit.  In closing, I 

would ask that as we go about our business in the months and years 

ahead, whether we are in government or in the private sector or just 

acting on our own, that we draw strength and courage from Jim Grant's 

example and do justice to his memory.  If we do that, then this Summit 

and all that follows will be a success. 

 

Thank you very much.
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