Ambassador Wayne Speech
Speech by Ambassador Wayne at Model UN Program in YMCA
October 5, 2007
Buenos Aires YMCA
Thank you very much for that kind introduction. I want to express my gratitude to the YMCA President Osvaldo Pérez Cortés, Vice President Eduardo Ibichian and General Secretary Norberto Rodríguez for their combined efforts in putting together this impressive and important program this afternoon, and for asking me to come and speak to you all. I also want to recognize Legislator Borrelli, Ambassador Sigal, and my distinguished diplomatic colleague Sweden's Ambassador Sven Arne Rodin, and Mrs. Sol Blanco Granada for being here today and for supporting this great education opportunity. I have been looking forward to this event with great anticipation.
Many of you may not be aware of it, but the Buenos Aires chapter of the YMCA has a strong U.S. connection. Its founder was an American named Bertram Shuman who was sent from the U.S. to Argentina specifically to launch the organization here. As you can see from this impressive building and the range of activities under way here, he was very successful. Not only that, but I was amazed to discover that one of my country’s most revered leaders – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt – visited the YMCA during his trip to Argentina in 1936 and signed the guest book. I am deeply honored to add my name to his and to continue the long and vibrant tradition the Buenos Aires chapter of the YMCA has with the United States.
I am very pleased to be here with you today because I believe strongly in the value of the Model UN program, and I applaud your participation and your interest in learning more about our world and the important role the UN plays in international diplomacy.
As a founding member and the host country, the United States is committed to supporting the UN as an instrument for promoting peace, security, freedom, and human rights. Since its founding 62 years ago, the UN has served the needs of nations around the world. In recent years, for example, the Security Council acted to stem the violence in Sudan, to sanction North Korea for its nuclear test, and to end the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Other UN agencies deal with urgent transnational needs like HIV/AIDS, diseases which threaten countless millions, providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief, caring for the world’s children, and much more.
The United States looks to the UN to help in the fight against terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction, to promote democracy and human rights, and to keep and restore peace. We recognize the value of a strong UN that can take on tough challenges that no one nation can handle by itself.
The U.S. has worked closely with Argentina over the past several years in its role as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in such areas as peacekeeping, UN reform, and the Iran nuclear issue. Argentina's participation in the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti and the exemplary conduct of its armed forces there have been critical to the hemisphere’s efforts to restore democracy and a measure of stability in that country.
And of course, last week your President and First Lady were in New York for the UN General Assembly, an important occasion when all of the world’s heads of state have the opportunity to express their views on international relations.
The UN, of course, is not without its own problems. The debate over how to undertake reform is still active, and the United States is committed to this effort. As President Bush said in his address to the General Assembly last week, the United States wants a “strong and vibrant United Nations” and “will listen to all good ideas” on how to undertake reform. We believe that those who want an effective UN want one that operates at top efficiency to achieve results for those who need them most.
While the UN is one of our most important and valuable institutions, we recognize that it can’t solve every problem. All of us have a role to play in making our world a better place. And when I say “all of us,” I don’t just mean nations. I mean average citizens who, through active participation in the political and social life of their communities, can bring positive change and reshape the world.
That’s why when I began my talk I called tonight’s event “important.” Through active participation in this Model UN program, you will learn about other countries, see issues from other people’s perspective, and get a better sense of how hard it is to reconcile everyone’s interests and achieve consensus. You must be able to listen to others, to understand their needs as well as your own, and to make trade-offs. These are critically important things to learn in order to function in today’s globalized world.
The U.S. Embassy is committed to investing in Argentina’s youth to ensure that they have the tools necessary to succeed in our increasingly interconnected world. We sponsor a number of exchange and scholarship programs for students your age to study English and even travel to the U.S. I encourage you to visit our new Youth Page on the Embassy website for more information. There is even a section for Model UN participants and other students who are studying key global issues.
With that, I will close, but I want to congratulate you for participating in this Model UN program, and to encourage you to stay engaged in learning about our world after the program ends. Remember, anyone can be a leader. A leader is someone who helps a group find solutions to the problems it faces. We need all the leaders we can get to make a difference, to make our global community a better place. Thank you again for inviting me to be here with you this evening, and I wish you an exciting and productive program.