Good afternoon, everybody. It’s great to see you all here today. Captain Chassee, Marines, and sailors of the Iwo Jima—thank you for hosting us.
It’s a special thrill to be here on the USS Iwo Jima. This is a ship with an extraordinary history—including a new chapter that was written after its mission to save lives in Haiti after the devastating earthquake that hit our neighbors. And it’s a particular honor to celebrate the partnerships behind UN peacekeeping from this deck. So for the crew of the Iwo Jima: thank you for everything you do to serve our country and to help the vulnerable around the world.
General Jacoby, I am delighted to co-host this reception with you—and we’re glad you wisely decided to take some time away from your work in the Pentagon to come get a little taste of New York.
Now, I also know that part of your job, General, is to guide the work of the U.S. Military Staff Committee at the U.S. Mission to the UN. So let me tell you, as someone who works with them every day: they are doing a tremendous job.
Let me also welcome our honored guests today: the Military and Police Advisors community and the members of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support. Colonel Allwine, his team, and all of us at the U.S. Mission are deeply grateful for your dedication and for the cooperation you extend to us every day. Peacekeeping is both a mission and a calling—it’s a unique global partnership that the United States is proud to be a part of. That partnership is built on strong relationships—relationships that can even survive some of the late-night negotiations of the C-34 Special Committee. This partnership is rooted in the professionalism and the spirit of cooperation that’s embodied by the men and women gathered here today.
I’m not going to make a long speech, but let me say just a word about the common goal that drives all of us who are here. We work together to strengthen the UN’s capacity to bring peace and stability to areas that could otherwise be swamped by conflict and chaos. For the United States, this mission comes right from the Commander-in-Chief. Last September, President Obama told the General Assembly, and I quote, “It’s time to reinvigorate UN peacekeeping, so that missions have the resources necessary to succeed, and so atrocities like sexual violence are prevented and justice is enforced—because neither dignity nor democracy can thrive without basic security,” end quote. Now that’s the mission. That’s the challenge. It’s not something that any one nation can do on its own. So the United States remains fully and firmly committed to the lifesaving work of UN peacekeeping. And we believe that all nations, great and small, share the responsibility for making the world we share more decent, prosperous, and secure.
This year, Fleet Week happens to coincide with the International Day of UN Peacekeepers—a day to pay tribute to all of those who serve in peacekeeping operations and to remember those who lost their lives in the cause of peace. We must never forget that real lives are at stake in peacekeeping. Our shared security is not some abstract concept. It’s about problems beyond our borders that we can’t afford to ignore. It’s about innocent men, women, and children who suffer and die when war erupts. It’s about civilians in harm’s way. And it’s about brave men and women from all corners of the globe who’re willing to shoulder their responsibilities, head to the front lines, and risk their own lives—day in and day out—to protect the innocent, save the vulnerable, and keep the peace.
Over the years, the United Nations has taken on huge new responsibilities for peacekeeping. That would not be possible without all of you. So on behalf of the United States, thank you and your nations for all you do to make the world more secure and more just.
We look forward to serving together with all of you in the months and years ahead. Thank you all again for joining us today.
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