October 7, 1998
The U.N. is a valuable resource for advancing U.S. interests
Beginning with the United Nations' first significant action to stop the brutal assault of communism on the Korean peninsula, to its role in helping forge the Gulf War coalition, the United Nations has demonstrated that it can serve as a valuable vehicle for advancing U.S. interests around the world.
The Congress of the United States is currently engaged in a critical debate addressing this nation's full participation in, and commitment to, the U.N. The United States' reluctance to meet its outstanding U.N. dues obligations reflects one aspect of this debate. Many in our body, question whether collective security can be made to work, no matter what measures are taken to strengthen the U.N.'s performance.
The norms and standards painstakingly worked out by the different U. N. bodies are the basis for much of the international law and cooperation that governs relations among Member States. The establishment of global standards is nothing less than the acceptance of a common language among the nations and people of the world. In a practical way, the U.N. provides agreed upon tools that enable Member States and civil society to deal with common problems, such as poverty, environmental degradation and migration, in a coherent manner, drawing on the ever-expanding body of knowledge that contributes to standard-setting. These universally accepted norms have been essential guides for the international community at a time when ethnic, racial and religious conflicts have loomed large.
The attached publication is a compilation of the comprehensive set of norms and standards, representing the conscience and wisdom of nations, painstakingly adopted by the U.N. General Assembly during its first 50 years of work. We are indebted to Irving Sarnoff, a founder of the nongovernmental organization Friends of the United Nations, for this body of work.
We trust that you, and your staff, will find this volume a valuable resource as the U.S. Congress seeks to redefine and re-establish its role within the United Nations system.