UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- President Clinton said today the United
Nations must play a very large role in preventing mass slaughter
and dislocation of innocent people in conflicts such as Kosovo,
East Timor and elsewhere around the world.
"When we are faced with deliberate organized campaigns to
murder whole people or expel them from the land, the care of the
victims is important but not enough," the president said.
"We should work to end the violence," he said. He said the
United Nations should use collective military force at times,
diplomacy and sanctions on other occasions. But, he warned, "We
cannot do everything everywhere."
His voice was hoarse, breaking at times, apparently because of
allergies. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and National
Security Adviser Sandy Berger were in the audience for his address.
"What is the role of the U.N. in preventing mass slaughter and
dislocation?" the president asked. "Very large."
Clinton urged world leaders to "wage an unrelenting battle
against poverty and for shared prosperity so that no part of
humanity is left behind in the global economy."
He said 1.3 billion people live on less than $1 a day.
"More than half the population of many countries have no access
to safe water. A person in south Asia is 700 times less likely to
use the Internet as someone in the United States. And 40 million
people a year still die of hunger, almost as many as the total
number killed in World War II."
Clinton said he would convene a White House conference of public
health experts, pharmaceutical companies and foundation
representatives to encourage production of vaccines for developing
"Each year diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia leave
millions of children without parents, millions of parents without
children," the president said. "Yet for all these diseases,
vaccine research is advancing too slowly, in part because the
potential customers in need are too poor."
Clinton said that only 2 percent of global biomedical research
is devoted to the worst diseases in the developing world. "No
country can break poverty's bonds if its people are disabled by
disease and its government overwhelmed by the needs of the ill,"
the president said.
Clinton also said U.N. members share an obligation to stop the
spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
In particular, Clinton urged world leaders to keep pressure on
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to abandon his suspected weapons
"Now we must work to deny weapons of mass destruction to those
who would use them," the president said. "For almost a decade,"
he said, "nations have stood together to keep the Iraqi regime
from threatening its people and the world with such weapons.
"Despite all the obstacles Saddam Hussein has placed in our
path, we must continue to ease the suffering of the people of
Iraq," Clinton said. "At the same time, we cannot allow the
government of Iraq to flout 40 -- and I say, 40 -- successive U.N.
Security Council resolutions and to rebuild his arsenal."
But the Security Council remains deadlocked on Iraq, with the
United States and Britain alone among the five permanent members in
demanding that any easing of sanctions be conditional.
Russia, China and France -- the other three veto-wielding members
-- have expressed sympathy with Baghdad's call for an immediate
easing of the sanctions.
The United States has lessened clout because it owes the United
Nations more than $1 billion and thus far has not been able to pay
If a sizable installment isn't made by year's end, the United
States could be in the embarrassing position of losing its vote in
the General Assembly. Its Security Council vote would not be
The Clinton administration has pledged to pay the arrears, some
of it dating to the 1980s, but has been blocked repeatedly by the
The most recent dispute is over efforts by Rep. Christopher
Smith, R-N.J., and other House conservatives to link the payment of
arrears to restrictions on family-planning programs abroad.
On the issue of Iraq, the United States has signaled willingness
to consider some easing of sanctions to allow more food, medicine
and certain other goods to reach the long-suffering Iraqis.
But it and Britain insist that Iraq allow weapons inspections
suspended in late 1998 to be resumed as a precondition.
"This is an extraordinarily difficult issue," said a senior
administration official who briefed reporters on the condition of
anonymity. "The consensus has broken down."