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 Home > News & Policies > July 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 1, 2004

Senator Danforth Sworn in as Ambassador to the United Nations
Remarks by the President in Swearing-In of John CA Danforth as Representative of the United States to the United Nations
Dwight David Eisenhower Executive Office Building

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2:40 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Please be seated. Good afternoon. It's an honor to welcome Jack and Sally Danforth and their wonderful family to the White House. I want to thank Justice Thomas and Ginny, Deputy Secretary Armitage, and all the other distinguished guests for joining us here today.

In his remarkable career, Jack Danforth has been called attorney general, senator, special counsel, special envoy, and reverend. (Laughter.) He's been called "Saint Jack." It's a little beyond my power to confer. (Laughter.) Today, I am very proud to name this good man and superb public servant America's next Ambassador to the United Nations. (Applause.)

As our Ambassador, Jack Danforth will succeed a good man with an important new mission. On Tuesday, former U.N. Ambassador John Negroponte presented his credentials to President al-Yawar as America's first Ambassador to Iraq since 1990. We appreciate his continuing service to our country.

For his own new assignment, Jack Danforth is exceptionally well-prepared. During his years on Capitol Hill, he earned the admiration of colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Jack is a man of strong convictions, unquestioned integrity, and great decency. He is a man of calm and judicious temperament who goes about his work with deliberation and a goodwill that draws others to his cause. These qualities were evident during his 18 years as Missouri's United States senator, and during his recent assignment in the Sudan. I'm confident that his good judgment and wisdom will serve America well at the United Nations.

Jack Danforth now heads to New York at a critical time, when the United States and the United Nations are facing new tests. We are called to defend the peace against ruthless terrorist networks and against outlaw regimes that support and shelter them. We are called to preserve the peace by building good relations among the great powers. We're called to extend the peace by replacing poverty and repression and resentment around the world, especially in the broader Middle East. America is determined to lead all in these great objectives.

Yet, no nation can achieve them alone. Global challenges must be answered by active, effective, multilateral institutions. So we're working with many nations on the proliferation security initiative, for example, to interdict dangerous weapons and materials in transit. We're helping to transform the NATO Alliance, which is now acting beyond Europe, bringing security to Afghanistan and soon providing training assistance for Iraqi security forces. And we're challenging the United Nations to rise to its responsibilities in a changing world.

The U.N. must fulfill its mission of peace by holding outlaw states to account, by aiding the rise of stable democracies, and by encouraging development and hope as alternatives to stagnation and bitterness. The U.N. is serving these great purposes in many different places. In Iraq, the U.N. is helping that newly sovereign nation to prepare for free and fair elections, and will help to draft a new constitution. From Africa to the Caribbean, the U.N. is helping to turn societies away from old conflicts, to overcome persistent poverty, to fight AIDS and other diseases.

America supports all of these efforts, and we know that more will be necessary. So I'm sending Jack Danforth to the U.N. with a clear mandate. America will work closely with the United Nations to confront terror, and to fight the suffering and despair that terrorists exploit. In all our work at the U.N., Ambassador John C. Danforth will be a strong voice for the humane and decent conscience of America.

One of Jack's many virtues is an eye for talent. Three decades ago, in Jefferson City, he took a chance on a promising lawyer from Pinpoint, Georgia. Since then, Attorney General Danforth has moved on to some other impressive jobs -- and so has his young assistant. Today it is my honor to ask Justice Clarence Thomas to swear in Jack Danforth as the representative of the United States to the United Nations. (Applause.)

(Ambassador Danforth is sworn in.)

AMBASSADOR DANFORTH: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President, for the confidence you have placed in me by your nomination for this important position. I look forward to working with you and the Secretary of State to advance the U.S.'s interest at the United Nations.

Thanks also to my friend, Clarence Thomas, for honoring me by administering the oath. And thanks to my family and friends for your steady support and for being here today.

Mr. President, nearly three years ago, you appointed me your Special Envoy for peace in Sudan. That is still a tragic country and a new crisis has followed the old. Yet, the parties have agreed on a framework for peace, ending a decades-long North-South civil war. And that is a major achievement.

From the outset, we made clear that the role of the United States in the Sudan peace process would be catalytic. Instead of tabling our own plan, we worked closely with interested African and European countries. However, both sides have said that American participation has been crucial, and both sides have told me that your personal engagement, Mr. President, has been decisive in their agreement for a framework for peace.

Throughout our efforts to bring peace to Sudan, my role was to be your spokesman. The parties wanted to know what you thought, and that was what I tried to express. The same will be the case in my new position. The job of permanent representative is to express to the world the views of the President, and that is what I intend to do. It will be my job to state what you have made clear. The United Nations is important, indeed, it is essential to winning the war against terrorism.

The threats of the 21st century are so different from anything we have faced in the past that it is little wonder nations have had difficulty agreeing on how to respond to new crises. Not long ago, we feared that the Soviet Union, which, while immensely powerful, was, at least, sane and manageable by military deterrent.

Now, the threat is fanatical groups and rogue states, capable of killing thousands at a time, and seeing glory in their own martyrdom. Too often, disagreements among nations on how to confront this new threat have been bitter, as though the enemy were ourselves, not those who fly planes into buildings or build the power to destroy cities.

But last month, the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1546 by the Security Council demonstrated how nations can come together. All members agreed on the transfer of sovereignty to a new interim Iraqi government. All members agreed to the central role to be played by the United Nations in Iraq.

Now the task is to build on the momentum begun by Resolution 1546. By seeking consensus and working together, there is much the United Nations can do, certainly, in Iraq, but also in combating terrorism, in preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, in bringing peace to the Middle East and stability to Africa, among others. We face a conflict between civilization and the forces of chaos. The task before the United Nations is for civilization to find ways to pull together to meet the common challenges we face. It is with this task firmly in mind that I go to the United Nations.

Thank you, Mr. President, for this great honor and this great opportunity. (Applause.)

END 2:53 P.M. EDT