The 38th Floor


A framework for the future . . .

Today, more than ever, we need to think carefully about the future evolution of the international system. At a time of transition, every decision taken could affect the course of world events. The question is: "transition towards what?" To answer, we must first discuss where we have come from. One system of international relations has collapsed. Another is being formed. After the Napoleonic Wars, after the 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 wars, important changes took place in the way States related to each other, This time there is a difference. In the past, the end of each major conflict was marked by an international conference to agree on a new dispensation: the Congress of Vienna in 1815; Versailles in 1919; and San Francisco in 1945.

But when the cold war ended no international conference was convened. Yet the need for agreement among nations is greater than ever. Local and regional conflicts threaten international peace and security. Pressing global issues can be dealt with only multilaterally. In the absence of a post-cold-war world conference, our task is to shape a framework for the future, not in theory, but in practice. We must address issues pragmatically. As we do so, we will define new principles for a common future. As we turn to this task we are fortunate to possess the machinery of the United Nations.

At the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Moscow, 2 April

A time for reflection . . .

If, at this moment in history, States have felt the need to place at the head of the United Nations Secretariat a man who is both an academic and a diplomat, it is perhaps because they have felt in some vague way that the present period is as much a time for reflection as for action. indeed, in the past few years, our world has experienced such an acceleration of history that the values and standards on which international society was traditionally based have been shaken. In the eyes of public opinion, the United Nations often suffers from the ups and downs of this turbulence in the world. Thus it is, in turn, commended or blamed, showered with fulsome praise or criticized. There is nothing really surprising in that. The United Nations represents the sum of the ideals to which we are committed as a human community. And each of us feels offended when these ideals are flouted in some part of the world.

On receiving the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa from the Carlos III University, Madrid, Spain, 15 April

New UN approach . . .

In many of our peace-keeping operations--in Angola, Mozambique, Cambodia and El Salvador--we are not only involved in peace-keeping (sending soldiers to observe a cease-fire or try to assure the distribution of humanitarian aid), but we are also protecting refugees and displaced persons, distributing food, carrying out the reconstruction of roads, cities and hospitals, or opening schools. Thus, our approach in a peace-keeping operation is no longer limited to the military dimension, but includes political, diplomatic, social and human dimensions. Olof Palme said a few years ago that the approach to peace must not only be without war, but must involve the integration of development, democracy and peace. This global approach is, in fact, the new approach of the United Nations, trying to improve the different situations of the world where we have confrontation, ethnic disputes and war.

To the International Olof Palme Foundation, Badalona, Spain, 16 April

A day to call for freedom . . .

In too many parts of the world, power lies not in the hands of the friends of freedom but with its enemies. The freedom of the press comes only with long, hard and brave support--and when it is achieved, it must be defended on a daily basis. With the spread of democracy in recent years, press freedom also has spread to areas of the globe where it had been suppressed for years.

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