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Earth Day 2014 Is Tuesday The 22nd Of April. Earth Week 2014 Is April 21st – April 25th.


 

By Jueseppi B.

eday5

 

 

Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.

In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a Proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations. A month later a separate Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970.

Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award in recognition of his work. While this April 22 Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations. Numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues.

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Earth Day Worldwide observance

Tue Apr 22 2014 Earth Day Worldwide observance
Wed Apr 22 2015 Earth Day Worldwide observance
Fri Apr 22 2016 Earth Day Worldwide observance
Sat Apr 22 2017 Earth Day Worldwide observance
Sun Apr 22 2018 Earth Day Worldwide observance
Mon Apr 22 2019 Earth Day Worldwide observance
Wed Apr 22 2020 Earth Day Worldwide observance

Earth Day is a name used for 2 similar global observances. While some people celebrate Earth Day around the time of the March Equinox, others observe the occasion on April 22 each year.

Earth Day aims to inspire awareness of and appreciation for earth’s environment. It’s not to be confused with Earth Hour

What do people do

The April 22 Earth Day is usually celebrated with outdoor performances, where individuals or groups perform acts of service to earth. Typical ways of observing Earth Day include planting trees, picking up roadside trash, conducting various programs for recycling and conservation, using recyclable containers for snacks and lunches. Some people are encouraged to sign petitions to governments, calling for stronger or immediate action to stop global warming and to reverse environmental destruction.  Television stations frequently air programs dealing with environmental issues.

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Background

The April 22 Earth Day, founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson, was first organized in 1970 to promote ecology and respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water and soil pollution.

Some people prefer to observe Earth Day around the time of the March equinox. In 1978, American anthropologist Margaret Mead added her support for the equinox Earth Day, founded by John McConnell. She stated that the selection of the March Equinox for Earth Day made planetary observance of a shared event possible.

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History of the Equinox Earth Day (March 20)

The equinoctial Earth Day is celebrated on the March equinox (around March 20) to mark the precise moment of astronomical spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and of astronomical autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. An equinox in astronomy is that point in time (not a whole day) when the Sun is directly above the Earth’s equator, occurring around March 20 and September 23 each year. In most cultures, the equinoxes and solstices are considered to start or separate the seasons.

 

John McConnell first introduced the idea of a global holiday called “Earth Day” at the 1969 UNESCO Conference on the Environment. The first Earth Day proclamation was issued by San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto on March 21, 1970. Celebrations were held in various cities, such as San Francisco and in Davis, California with a multi-day street party. UN Secretary-General U Thant supported McConnell’s global initiative to celebrate this annual event; and on February 26, 1971, he signed a proclamation to that effect, saying:

 

May there be only peaceful and cheerful Earth Days to come for our beautiful Spaceship Earth as it continues to spin and circle in frigid space with its warm and fragile cargo of animate life.

 

United Nations secretary-general Kurt Waldheim observed Earth Day with similar ceremonies on the March equinox in 1972, and the United Nations Earth Day ceremony has continued each year since on the day of the March equinox (the United Nations also works with organizers of the April 22 global event). Margaret Mead added her support for the equinox Earth Day, and in 1978 declared:

 

“Earth Day is the first holy day which transcends all national borders, yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord, is devoted to the preservation of the harmony in nature and yet draws upon the triumphs of technology, the measurement of time, and instantaneous communication through space.

 
Earth Day draws on astronomical phenomena in a new way – which is also the most ancient way – by using the vernal Equinox, the time when the Sun crosses the equator making the length of night and day equal in all parts of the Earth. To this point in the annual calendar, EARTH DAY attaches no local or divisive set of symbols, no statement of the truth or superiority of one way of life over another. But the selection of the March Equinox makes planetary observance of a shared event possible, and a flag which shows the Earth, as seen from space, appropriate.”

 

At the moment of the equinox, it is traditional to observe Earth Day by ringing the Japanese Peace Bell, which was donated by Japan to the United Nations. Over the years, celebrations have occurred in various places worldwide at the same time as the UN celebration. On March 20, 2008, in addition to the ceremony at the United Nations, ceremonies were held in New Zealand, and bells were sounded in California, Vienna, Paris, Lithuania, Tokyo, and many other locations. The equinox Earth Day at the UN is organized by the Earth Society Foundation.

 

Earth Day ringing the peace bell is celebrated around the world in many towns, ringing the Peace Bell in Vienna, Berlin, and elsewhere. A memorable event took place at the UN in Geneva, celebrating a Minute for Peace ringing the Japanese Shinagawa Peace Bell with the help of the Geneva Friendship Association and the Global Youth Foundation, directly after in deep mourning about the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant catastrophe 10 days before.

 

Beside the Spring Equinox for the Northern Hemisphere, the observance of the Spring Equinox for the Southern Hemisphere is of equal importance ! It is a “new sign of hope” for Peace that the International Day of Peace is celebrated on the Spring Equinox of the South! right along the original intentions of John McConnell, U-Thant, Muller, Mead,

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April 22 observances

Growing eco-activism before Earth Day 1970

In 1968, Morton Hilbert and the U.S. Public Health Service organized the Human Ecology Symposium, an environmental conference for students to hear from scientists about the effects of environmental degradation on human health. This was the beginning of Earth Day. For the next two years, Hilbert and students worked to plan the first Earth Day. In April 1970—along with a federal proclamation from U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson—the first Earth Day was held.

 

Project Survival, an early environmentalism-awareness education event, was held at Northwestern University on January 23, 1970. This was the first of several events held at university campuses across the United States in the lead-up to the first Earth Day. Also, Ralph Nader began talking about the importance of ecology in 1970.

 

The 1960s had been a very dynamic period for ecology in the US. Pre-1960 grassroots activism against DDT in Nassau County, New York, had inspired Rachel Carson to write her bestseller, Silent Spring (1962).

 

 

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Significance of April 22

Nelson chose the date in order to maximize participation on college campuses for what he conceived as an “environmental teach-in”. He determined the week of April 19–25 was the best bet as it did not fall during exams or spring breaks. Moreover, it did not conflict with religious holidays such as Easter or Passover, and was late enough in spring to have decent weather. More students were likely to be in class, and there would be less competition with other mid-week events—so he chose Wednesday, April 22. The day also fell after the anniversary of the birth of noted conservationist John Muir.

 

Unbeknownst to Nelson, April 22, 1970, was coincidentally the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Lenin, when translated to the Gregorian calendar (which the Soviets adopted in 1918). Time reported that some suspected the date was not a coincidence, but a clue that the event was “a Communist trick”, and quoted a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution as saying, “subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them.”

 

J. Edgar Hoover, director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, may have found the Lenin connection intriguing; it was alleged the FBI conducted surveillance at the 1970 demonstrations. The idea that the date was chosen to celebrate Lenin’s centenary still persists in some quarters, an idea borne out by the similarity with the subbotnik instituted by Lenin in 1920 as days on which people would have to do community service, which typically consisted in removing rubbish from public property and collecting recyclable material. Subbotniks were also imposed on other countries within the compass of Soviet power, including Eastern Europe, and at the height of its power the Soviet Union established a nation-wide subbotnik to be celebrated on Lenin’s birthday, April 22, which had been proclaimed a national holiday celebrating communism by Nikita Khrushchev in 1955.

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Earth Week April 21-25, 2014

 

This year’s theme for the week of events, “Connecting the Drops,” helps illustrate the campus’s water-saving strategies and the need for individuals to conserve water as California faces a severe drought. Events across campus—many of them led by student organizations—will engage students, staff, faculty and local community members in fun and educational activities designed to raise awareness about recycling, sustainability, water conservation and more.

 

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Earth-Week

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Tomorrow – March 8th, 2014 – Is “International Women’s Day”.


 

By Jueseppi B.

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International Women’s Day

 

 

International Women’s Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day, is marked on March 8th every year. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political and social achievements. Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarily Eastern EuropeRussia, and the former Soviet bloc.

 

In some regions, the day lost its political flavor, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. In other regions, however, the political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.

 

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History

The first national Women’s Day was observed on 28 February 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. In August 1910, an International Women’s Conference was organized to precede the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen. Inspired in part by the American socialists, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed the establishment of an annual ‘International Woman’s Day‘ (singular) and was seconded by fellow socialist and later communist leader Clara Zetkin, although no date was specified at that conference.

 

Delegates (100 women from 17 countries) agreed with the idea as a strategy to promote equal rights, including suffrage, for women The following year, on 18 March 1911, IWD was marked for the first time, by over a million people in Austria,DenmarkGermany and Switzerland. In theAustro-Hungarian Empire alone, there were 300 demonstrations. In Vienna, women paraded on the Ringstrasse and carried banners honoring the martyrs of the Paris Commune. Women demanded that women be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against employment sex discrimination.Americans continued to celebrate National Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February.

 

In 1913 Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February (by Julian calendar then used in Russia). In 1917 demonstrations marking International Women’s Day in Saint Petersburg on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar) initiated the February Revolution.

 

Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Vladimir Lenin to make it an official holiday in the Soviet Union, and it was established, but was a working day until 1965. On May 8, 1965 by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women’s Day was declared a non-working day in the USSR “in commemoration of the outstanding merits of Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Fatherland during the Great Patriotic War, in their heroism and selflessness at the front and in the rear, and also marking the great contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples, and the struggle for peace. But still, women’s day must be celebrated as are other holidays.”

 

From its official adoption in Russia following the Soviet Revolution in 1917 the holiday was predominantly celebrated in communist and socialist countries. It was celebrated by the communists in China from 1922, and by Spanish communists from 1936. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949 the state council proclaimed on December 23 that March 8 would be made an official holiday with women in China given a half-day off, though today’s young women in college or before motherhood are increasingly reluctant to celebrate it for the suggestion of the term ‘women’ of youth ended, prettiness lost, and relational liberty restricted.

 

In the West, International Women’s Day was first observed as a popular event after 1977 when the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace.

 

 

2010 International Women’s Day

On the occasion of 2010 International Women’s Day the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) drew attention to the hardship displaced women endure. The displacement of populations is one of the gravest consequences of today’s armed conflicts. It affects women in a host of ways.

 

 

2011 International Women’s Day

Events took place in more than 100 countries on March 8, 2011 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. In the United States, President Barack Obama proclaimed March 2011 to be “Women’s History Month”, calling Americans to mark IWD by reflecting on “the extraordinary accomplishments of women” in shaping the country’s history. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the “100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls through International Exchanges”, on the eve of IWD.

 

In the run-up to 2011 International Women’s Day, the ICRC called on States and other entities not to relent in their efforts to prevent rape and other forms of sexual violence that harm the lives and dignity of countless women in conflict zones around the world every year. In Pakistan, Punjab Govt. Project Gender Reform Action Plan, District Gujranwala celebrated this day in large scale in the Gift University Gujranwala. Mrs. Shazia Ashfaq Mattu, MPA and GRAP officer Mr. Dr. Yasir Nawaz Manj organized the events in very effective manners.

Australia issued a 100th anniversary commemorative coin.

 

 

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2012 International Women’s Day

The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2012 was Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty. In that year, Oxfam America invited people to celebrate inspiring women in their lives by sending a free International Women’s Day e-Card or honoring a woman whose efforts had made a difference in the fight against hunger and poverty with Oxfam’s International Women’s Day award.

 

On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2012, the ICRC called for more action to help the mothers and wives of people who have gone missing during armed conflict. The vast majority of people who go missing in connection with conflict are men. As well as the anguish of not knowing what has happened to the missing person, many of these women face economic and practical difficulties. The ICRC underlined the duty of parties to a conflict to search for the missing and provide information for the families.

 

The Google Doodle for March 8, 2012 had an International Women’s Day theme.

 

google-international-womens-day-doodle-080312 image_174516_3 international-women-s-day-image-2-938752661-176364

 

 

2013 International Women’s Day

The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2013 is “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women,” while International Women’s Day 2013 has declared the year’s theme as The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum.

 

On 2013 International Women’s Day, the [International Committee of the Red Cross] (ICRC)draw attention to the plight of women in prison. All over the world, women and girls living behind bars often face particular hardship in terms of protection, privacy and access to basic services, including health care.

 

 

2017 International Women’s Day

2017 will be the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution, which was sparked on March 8, 1917 by women protesting against bread shortages in St. Petersburg. These events culminated in the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II on March 15. Worldwide celebrations and re-enactments are scheduled to begin on March 8, 2017. Among the organisers is the Ukrainian women’s direct action group FEMEN, which aims “to shake women in Ukraine, making them socially active; to organize in 2017 a women’s revolution.”

 

On this day a global women’s strike including a sex strike is planned, called by, among others, the International Union of Sex Workers.

 

 

International Women’s Day Official UN Themes

Year UN Theme 
1996 Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future
1997 Women and the Peace Table
1998 Women and Human Rights
1999 World Free of Violence Against Women
2000 Women Uniting for Peace
2001 Women and Peace: Women Managing Conflicts
2002 Afghan Women Today: Realities and Opportunities
2003 Gender Equality and the Millennium Development 

Goals

2004 Women and HIV/AIDS
2005 Gender Equality Beyond 2005; Building a More 

Secure Future

2006 Women in Decision-making
2007 Ending Impunity for Violence Against Women 

and Girls

2008 Investing in Women and Girls
2009 Women and Men United to End Violence Against 

Women and Girls

2010 Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All
2011 Equal Access to Education, Training, and Science 

and

Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women

2012 Empower Rural Women, End Poverty and Hunger
2013 A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End 

Violence Against Women

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In modern culture

The day is an official holiday in AfghanistanAngolaArmeniaAzerbaijan,

BelarusBurkina FasoCambodiaChina (for women only), Cuba,

GeorgiaGuinea-BissauEritreaKazakhstanKyrgyzstanLaos,

Macedonia (for women only), Madagascar (for women only), 

MoldovaMongoliaMontenegroNepal (for women only), Russia,

Tajikistan, TurkmenistanUgandaUkraineUzbekistanVietnam, and Zambia.

 

In some countries, such as CameroonCroatiaRomaniaBosnia and Herzegovina, SerbiaBulgaria and Chile, the day is not a public holiday, but is widely observed nonetheless. On this day it is customary for men to give the women in their lives – mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters, colleagues, etc. – flowers and small gifts. In some countries (such as Bulgaria and Romania) it is also observed as an equivalent of Mother’s Day, where children also give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

 

In Armenia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union celebrations of IWD were abandoned. Instead, April 7 was introduced as state holiday of ‘Beauty and Motherhood’. The new holiday immediately became popular among Armenians, as it commemorates one of the main holidays of the Armenian Church, the Annunciation. However, people still kept celebrating IWD on March 8 as well. Public discussion held on the topic of two ‘Women’s Days’ in Armenia resulted in the recognition of the so-called ‘Women’s Month’ which is the period between March 8 and April 7.

 

In Italy, to celebrate the day, men give yellow mimosas to women. Yellow mimosas and chocolate are also one of the most common March 8 presents in Russia and Albania.

 

In many countries, such as in ArmeniaBelarusBosnia and HerzegovinaBrazil,

BulgariaCroatia,EstoniaHungaryKazakhstanLatviaLithuaniaPoland,

MacedoniaMoldovaMontenegroRomania,RussiaSerbiaSlovakia,

Slovenia and Ukraine the custom of giving women flowers still prevails.

Women also sometimes get gifts from their employers. Schoolchildren

often bring gifts for their teachers, too.

 

In countries like Portugal groups of women usually celebrate on the night of 8 March in “women-only” dinners and parties.

 

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In Pakistan working women in formal and informal sectors celebrate International Women’s Day every year to commemorate their ongoing struggle for due rights, despite facing many cultural and religious restrictions. Some women working for change in society use IWM to help the movement for women’s rights. In Poland, for instance, every IWD includes large feminist demonstrations in major cities.

 

In 1975, which was designated as International Women’s Year, the United Nations gave official sanction to, and began sponsoring, International Women’s Day.

 

The 2005 Congress (conference) of the British Trades Union Congress overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for IWD to be designated a public holiday in the United Kingdom.

 

Since 2005, IWD has been celebrated in Montevideo, either on the principal street, 18 de Julio, or alternatively through one of its neighbourhoods. The event has attracted much publicity due to a group of female drummers, La Melaza, who have performed each year.

 

Today, many events are held by women’s groups around the world. The UK-based marketing company Aurora hosts a free worldwide register of IWD local events so that women and the media can learn about local activity. Many governments and organizations around the world support IWD.

 

70% of those living in poverty are women and Oxfam GB encourages women to Get Together on International Women’s Day and fund-raise to support Oxfam projects, which change the lives of women around the world. Thousands of people hold events for Oxfam on International Women’s Day, join the celebration by visiting the website and registering their events.

 

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Controversies

In some cases International Women’s Day has led to questionable practices that discriminated against men. For example Tower Hamlets Council closed off one of its libraries to all males to “celebrate” the occasion, forcing them to travel elsewhere, going as far as even banning male staff from the premises.

 

In Communist Czechoslovakia, huge Soviet-style celebrations were held annually. After the fall of Communism, the holiday, generally considered to be one of the major symbols of the old regime, fell into obscurity. International Women’s Day was re-established as an official “important day” by the Parliament of the Czech Republic only recently, on the proposal of the Social Democrats and Communists. This has provoked some controversy as a large part of the public as well as the political right see the holiday as a relic of the nation’s Communist past. In 2008, the Christian conservative Czechoslovak People’s Party‘s deputies unsuccessfully proposed the abolition of the holiday. However, some non-government organizations consider the official recognition of International Women’s Day as an important reminder of women’s role in the society.

 

International Women’s Day sparked violence in TehranIran on March 4, 2007, when police beat hundreds of men and women who were planning a rally. Police arrested dozens of women and some were released after several days of solitary confinement and interrogation. Shadi Sadr,Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh and several more community activists were released on March 19, 2007, ending a fifteen day hunger strike.

 

 

Apocrypha

A popular apocryphal story which surfaced in French Communist circles claimed that women from clothing and textile factories had staged a protest on 8 March 1857 in New York City. The story alleged that garment workers were protesting against very poor working conditions and low wages and were attacked and dispersed by police. It was claimed that this event led to a rally in commemoration of its 50th anniversary in 1907. Temma Kaplan explains that “neither event seems to have taken place, but many Europeans think March 8, 1907, inaugurated International Women’s Day.”

 

Speculating about the origins of this 1857 legend, Liliane Kandel and Françoise Picq suggested it was likely that (in recent times) some felt it opportune to detach International Women’s Day from its basis in Soviet history and ascribe to it a more “international” origin which could be painted as more ancient than Bolshevism and more spontaneous than a decision of Congress or the initiative of those women affiliated to the Party.

 

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See also

 

 

 

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Lets not forget how women are treated in the U.S. Military....On Women's Day 2014.

Lets not forget how women are treated in the U.S. Military….On Women’s Day 2014.

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Time to spring ahead this coming Sunday morning at 2 AM. Don’t forget!

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Don’t forget to change batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors as well.

Working-Smoke-Detectors

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Letter From The President To The Speaker Of The House Of Representatives And The President Pro Tempore Of The Senate


 

By Jueseppi B.

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A Letter From The President To The Speaker Of The House Of Representatives And The President Pro Tempore Of The Senate

December 22, 2013

 

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
In my report to the Congress of December 19, 2013, I provided information on the deployment of U.S. forces to support the security of U.S. personnel and our Embassy in South Sudan. I am providing this additional report, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), to help ensure that the Congress is kept fully informed on U.S. military activities in South Sudan.

 

On December 21, 2013, approximately 46 additional U.S. military personnel deployed by military aircraft to the area of Bor, South Sudan, to conduct an operation to evacuate U.S. citizens and personnel. After the aircraft came under fire as they approached Bor, the operation was curtailed due to security considerations, and the aircraft and all military personnel onboard departed South Sudan without completing the evacuation.

 
The purpose of this operation was to protect U.S. citizens, personnel, and property. As I monitor the situation in South Sudan, I may take further action to support the security of U.S. citizens, personnel, and property, including our Embassy, in South Sudan.

 

This action has been directed consistent with my responsibility to protect U.S. citizens both at home and abroad, and in furtherance of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.

 
I appreciate the support of the Congress in these actions.

 

Sincerely,
BARACK OBAMA

 

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Statement by the President on South Sudan

In 2011, millions of South Sudanese voted to forge a new nation, founded on the promise of a more peaceful and prosperous future for all of South Sudan’s people.  In recent years, against great odds, South Sudan has made great progress toward breaking the cycle of violence that characterized much of its history.

Today, that future is at risk.  South Sudan stands at the precipice.  Recent fighting threatens to plunge South Sudan back into the dark days of its past.

 

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  South Sudan has a choice.  Its leaders can end the violence and work to resolve tensions peacefully and democratically.  Fighting to settle political scores or to destabilize the government must stop immediately.  Inflammatory rhetoric and targeted violence must cease.  All sides must listen to the wise counsel of their neighbors, commit to dialogue and take immediate steps to urge calm and support reconciliation.  South Sudan’s leaders must recognize that compromise with one’s political enemy is difficult; but recovering from unchecked violence and unleashed hatred will prove much harder.

 

Too much blood has been spilled and too many lives have been lost to allow South Sudan’s moment of hope and opportunity to slip from its grasp.  Now is the time for South Sudan’s leaders to show courage and leadership, to reaffirm their commitment to peace, to unity, and to a better future for their people.  The United States will remain a steady partner of the South Sudanese people as they seek the security and prosperity they deserve.

 

Urging Peace In South Sudan

 

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The Evacuation Of The Sudan


 

By Jueseppi B.

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Readout of President Obama’s Updates on South Sudan

Last night, upon landing in Hawaii, President Obama was updated on Air Force One on the status of the four American service members who were wounded attempting to evacuate American citizens in Bor, South Sudan. He directed his national security team to ensure the safety of our military personnel, and to continue to work with the United Nations to evacuate our citizens from Bor.

 

This morning, following a meeting of his national security principals that was led by National Security Advisor Susan Rice, President Obama participated in a secure call with Ambassador Rice, Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, and Senior Director for African Affairs Grant Harris to update him on the situation in South Sudan. The President was briefed on the status of our military personnel, and the safety of our citizens in Bor and U.S. personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Juba. The President was pleased that our service members are in stable condition, and reaffirmed the importance of continuing to work with the United Nations to secure our citizens in Bor. He underscored that South Sudan’s leaders have a responsibility to support our efforts to secure American personnel and citizens in Juba and Bor.

 

More broadly, the President underscored the urgency of helping to support efforts to resolve the differences within South Sudan through dialogue. South Sudan’s leaders must know that continued violence will endanger the people of South Sudan and the hard-earned progress of independence. This conflict can only be resolved peacefully through negotiations. Any effort to seize power through the use of military force will result in the end of longstanding support from the United States and the international community.

 

President Obama expressed his deep appreciation for the work of our military and civilians who are operating in difficult circumstances in South Sudan and directed his team to continue to update him going forward.

 

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From Reuters:

 

U.S. citizens evacuated from Bor to Juba, South Sudan: State Department

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. citizens were safely evacuated on Sunday from Bor, South Sudan, to Juba, the State Department said as fears grew of an all-out ethnic civil war in the landlocked African country.

 

“This morning, the United States – in coordination with the United Nations and in consultation with the South Sudanese government – safely evacuated American citizens from Bor, South Sudan. U.S. citizens and citizens from our partner nations were flown from Bor to Juba on U.N. and U.S. civilian helicopters,” the statement said.

 

The department did not specify how many Americans were taken to Juba on Sunday, a day after three U.S. aircraft came under fire from unidentified forces while attempting an evacuation.

 

But overall about 380 U.S. officials and private citizens have been moved out of South Sudan, the State Department said. It said it also flew about 300 citizens of other countries to Nairobi and other locations outside South Sudan on four chartered flights and five military aircraft.

 

“The U.S. government is doing everything possible to ensure the safety and security of United States citizens in South Sudan,” said the statement by Jen Psaki, the department’s spokesperson.

 

It said the United States and the United Nations had taken steps to ensure fighting factions were aware that the evacuation flights were on a humanitarian mission.

 

The U.S. military said four of its members were wounded in the attacks on Saturday when the U.S. aircraft came under fire while trying to evacuate Americans from the conflict.

 

The United Nations says hundreds of people have been killed in the conflict.

 

(Reporting By Susan Cornwell; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

 

A United Nations photo shows a woman carrying a baby as people are transported from Bor to Juba on Dec. 22. (Photo: Rolla Hinedi, AFP/Getty Images)

A United Nations photo shows a woman carrying a baby as people are transported from Bor to Juba on Dec. 22.
(Photo: Rolla Hinedi, AFP/Getty Images)

 

Statement by the President on South Sudan

In 2011, millions of South Sudanese voted to forge a new nation, founded on the promise of a more peaceful and prosperous future for all of South Sudan’s people.  In recent years, against great odds, South Sudan has made great progress toward breaking the cycle of violence that characterized much of its history.

Today, that future is at risk.  South Sudan stands at the precipice.  Recent fighting threatens to plunge South Sudan back into the dark days of its past.

 

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  South Sudan has a choice.  Its leaders can end the violence and work to resolve tensions peacefully and democratically.  Fighting to settle political scores or to destabilize the government must stop immediately.  Inflammatory rhetoric and targeted violence must cease.  All sides must listen to the wise counsel of their neighbors, commit to dialogue and take immediate steps to urge calm and support reconciliation.  South Sudan’s leaders must recognize that compromise with one’s political enemy is difficult; but recovering from unchecked violence and unleashed hatred will prove much harder.

 

Too much blood has been spilled and too many lives have been lost to allow South Sudan’s moment of hope and opportunity to slip from its grasp.  Now is the time for South Sudan’s leaders to show courage and leadership, to reaffirm their commitment to peace, to unity, and to a better future for their people.  The United States will remain a steady partner of the South Sudanese people as they seek the security and prosperity they deserve.

 

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The country has been racked by violence for a week after an attempted coup triggered fighting between rival ethnic groups. The violence has killed hundreds and has world leaders worried that a full-blown civil war could ignite in South Sudan. Earlier this week, President Obama dispatched U.S. troops to help protect the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Juba.

 

Contributing: Associated Press

 

Urging Peace In South Sudan

 

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National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice At The Human Rights First Annual Summit


 

By Jueseppi B.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Rice transitioned from her role as U.S. Ambassador to National Security Adviser after Obama appointed her as Tom Donilon's successor on June 5, 2013.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Rice transitioned from her role as U.S. Ambassador to National Security Adviser after Obama appointed her as Tom Donilon’s successor on June 5, 2013.

 

Remarks by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice: “Human Rights: Advancing American Interests and Values”

 

Remarks by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice at the Human Rights First Annual Summit
Washington, DC
Wednesday, December 4, 2013

 

“Human Rights:  Advancing American Interests and Values”

 

Good afternoon, everyone.  And thank you so much Elisa for your incredibly kind introduction, but even more I want to thank you for your long career fighting the good fight, and for your dedicated leadership of Human Rights First.  For more than three decades, this group has been a clarion voice in defense of human dignity and the rights and freedom of people everywhere.  And it really is my deep honor to be with you today.

 

Sixty-five years ago this month, representatives to the United Nations General Assembly came together to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—a worldwide recognition that all members of our human family are born possessing certain equal and inalienable rights.  These same rights are reflected in the founding documents of the United States, and we cherish them as part of our national character.  But, as President Obama has said, just because some truths are self-evident doesn’t mean they are self-executing.  We have to work relentlessly to make them real.  We must constantly question and challenge ourselves to be on the right side of history—to do our part so that more and more of our fellow human beings can enjoy the rights and freedoms, which are the birthright of all mankind.

 

Our history is filled with champions who have fought to bring us closer to our ideals—from Dr. King and the thousands who marched on Washington 50 years ago to “Battling” Bella Abzug, from Cesar Chavez to Harvey Milk and countless others.  I know everyone in this room believes, as I do, that continuing their work at home and expanding it around the globe is our great commission as the inheritors of their legacy.

 

For me, the struggle for equal human rights is deeply personal.  It’s essential to who I am as an American.  I can never forget that I am the daughter of proud citizens who suffered the indignities of Jim Crow.  Nor can I forget that, in 1964, the year of my birth, in many parts of this great country, people who looked like me could not vote or marry someone who looks like my husband.  The unfinished battle for equality and human dignity is not only what drives me as a public servant, it is my central duty as the mother of my two children to make sure they never encounter any limitations on their dreams because of who they are or what they look like.

 

No one understands this profound responsibility more keenly than President Obama.  From his Nobel Prize acceptance speech to his remarks at the United Nations in September, he has been clear about the principles that guide us and to which we hold ourselves accountable, even as we navigate an increasingly complex world of competing and overlapping challenges.

 

Make no mistake:  advancing democracy and respect for human rights is central to our foreign policy.  It’s what our history and our values demand, but it’s also profoundly in our interests.  That is why the United States remains firmly committed to promoting freedom, opportunity and prosperity everywhere.  We stand proudly for the rights of women, the LGBT community and minorities.  We defend the freedom for all people to worship as they choose, and we champion open government and civil society, freedom of assembly and a free press.

 

We support these rights and freedoms with a wide range of tools, because history shows that nations that respect the rights of all their citizens are more just, more prosperous and more secure.  And while it’s neither effective nor desirable to advance human rights through the barrel of a gun, we have made clear that, in the face of imminent mass atrocities, there may be times when it is appropriate to use force to protect the innocent from the very worst crimes.  But, we cannot and we should not bear that burden alone.

 

Yet, obviously, advancing human rights is not and has never been our only interest.  Every U.S. president has a sworn duty to protect the lives and the fortunes of the American people against immediate threats.  That is President Obama’s first responsibility, and mine.  We must defend the United States, our citizens and our allies with every tool at our disposal, including, when necessary, with military force.  We must do all we can to counter weapons of mass destruction, aggression, terrorism, and catastrophic threats to the global economy, upon which our way of life depends.  Anything less would be a dereliction of duty.

 

As we seek to secure these core interests, we sometimes face painful dilemmas when the immediate need to defend our national security clashes with our fundamental commitment to democracy and human rights.  Let’s be honest: at times, as a result, we do business with governments that do not respect the rights we hold most dear.  We make tough choices.  When rights are violated, we continue to advocate for their protection.  But we cannot, and I will not pretend that some short-term trade offs do not exist.

 

Still, over time, we know that our core interests are inseparable from our core values, that our commitment to democracy and human rights roundly reinforces our national security. The greatest threats to our security often emerge from countries with the worst human rights records.  Witness Iran and North Korea, which have stoked tensions with the world, in part to prolong their repressive rule at home.  By contrast, when we are able to strengthen societies through our support for democracy and human rights, we plow the ground for greater cooperation among responsible nations on issues of mutual concern.  So, the fact is: American foreign policy must sometimes strike a difficult balance — not between our values and our interests, because these almost invariably converge with time, but more often between our short and long-term imperatives.

 

During the past five years, we’ve employed a variety of means to spur governments to respect the universal rights of their people—and to hold them accountable when they do not.

 

Wherever President Obama goes, he speaks both publicly and privately to highlight human rights abuses and to help nations see that protecting the rights of their people is ultimately in their self-interest.  We use the unmatched strength of our economy to apply financial pressure, including sanctions, on those that violate human rights.  We leverage our military aid and other forms of bilateral support to encourage countries to live up to their international commitments.  We allocate significant resources to assistance programs that foster human rights, the rule of law and good governance.  Our senior leaders engage directly with civil society, both to show our support and to hear what is really happening on the ground.  And, we work closely with multilateral institutions to marshal a coordinated international response to human rights violations.

 

Under President Obama, we joined the United Nations Human Rights Council in the face of domestic opposition.  And, for all its continuing flaws, we’ve succeeded in making it a more effective institution that has shed light on abuses in Qadhafi’s Libya, Sri Lanka, Syria, Sudan, North Korea and Iran.  And I want to salute my friend and colleague Eileen Donahoe who is a good reason and a major reason for that success in Geneva.  Thank you so much Eileen. We’ve worked cooperatively with the International Criminal Court to foster accountability for the worst crimes.  Together with our international partners, we helped to midwife the peaceful emergence of an independent South Sudan.  In Cote D’Ivoire, we worked through the United Nations to arrest spiraling violence and enable the duly-elected leader of Cote d’Ivoire to take office after a despot stubbornly refused to cede power.  Just recently, we backed regional diplomacy and a robust UN force to help usher the M23 militia off the battlefield in eastern Congo, yielding the promise of progress for the first time in many years.

 

In Burma, after long and effective pressure, including tough sanctions and persistent calls to end Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest and release political prisoners, we are now working to help Burma take steps towards inclusive democracy and national reconciliation.  In the Western Hemisphere, we joined in beating back efforts to limit the autonomy of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and its special rapporteur for freedom of expression.  And, backed by a UN Security Council mandate, we led, with our partners in NATO and the Arab League, an unprecedented international intervention to prevent mass atrocities in Libya.

 

Around the world, we call to account the world’s worst abusers, from Iran to Syria, from Eritrea to Zimbabwe, from North Korea to Sudan.  These governments crush the rights of their people and use the tyrant’s toolkit of repression to retain power.  Some have systematically slaughtered their own citizens, as in the genocide in Darfur.

 

In Syria, even as we provide humanitarian assistance and make rapid progress toward eliminating the threat of chemical weapons, our work continues to end the violence that has claimed more than 100,000 lives and to see the perpetrators of atrocities held accountable.   In Iran, as we test the potential for a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear issue, we are mindful that another key test is whether we begin to see progress on human rights.  We call on the government to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran to visit the country.  Our sanctions on Iran’s human rights abusers will continue and so will our support for the fundamental rights of all Iranians.  The Iranian people deserve the same right to express themselves online and through social media as their leaders enjoy.

 

Closer to home, we note modest steps toward economic reform in Cuba, but we condemn continued arrests of human rights activists and other government critics.  As we mark the fourth year of his imprisonment, we call on the Cuban government to release our innocent, jailed compatriot, Alan Gross.  Ultimately, it will be the Cuban people who drive economic and political reforms. And that’s why President Obama has increased the flow of resources and information to ordinary citizens.  The Cuban people deserve the full support of the United States and of an entire region that has committed to promote and defend democracy through the Inter American Democratic Charter.

 

These extreme examples are in many ways the most clear-cut.  They are egregious cases, where the weight of our concern and the tenor of our relationship make it easier to chart a clear policy course.  In other countries, it is more difficult to disentangle our competing interests and to give full primacy to our values.  So, let me talk a bit more about these tougher cases.

 

In this new century, there are few relationships more complex or important than the one between the United States and China.  Building a constructive relationship with China is crucial to the future security and prosperity of the world as a whole.  We value China’s cooperation on certain pressing security challenges, from North Korea to Iran.  Our trade relationship, one of the largest in the world, supports countless American jobs.  And that’s precisely why we have a stake in what kind of power China will become, and that is why human rights are integral to our engagement with China.

 

So the United States speaks clearly and consistently about our human rights concerns with the Chinese government at every level, including at this year’s summit between President Obama and President Xi at Sunnylands.  U.S. officials engage their Chinese counterparts directly on specific cases of concern—like that of Liu Xiaobo and Xu Zhiyong—as well as about broader patterns of restrictive behavior.  And we voice our condemnation publicly when violations occur.

 

The Chinese people are facing increasing restrictions on their freedoms of expression, assembly and association.  This is short-sighted.  When people in China cannot hold public officials to account for corruption, environmental abuses, worker and consumer safety, or public health crises, problems that affect China as well as the world go unaddressed.  When courts imprison political dissidents who merely urge respect for China’s own laws, no one in China, including Americans doing business there, can feel secure.  When ethnic and religious minorities—such as Tibetans and Uighurs—are denied their fundamental freedoms, the trust that holds diverse societies together is undermined.  Such abuses diminish China’s potential from the inside.

 

The same is true of Russia.  We often can cooperate with Russia on nonproliferation, arms control, counterterrorism and other vital interests.  But, as we meet these mutual challenges, we don’t remain silent about the Russian government’s systematic efforts to curtail the actions of Russian civil society, to stigmatize the LGBT community, to coerce neighbors like Ukraine who seek closer integration with Europe, or to stifle human rights in the North Caucasus.  We deplore selective justice and the prosecution of those who protest the corruption and cronyism that is sapping Russia’s economic future and limiting its potential to play its full role on the world stage.

 

In the Middle East and North Africa, we are navigating the security challenges of the Arab Spring and helping partners lay the foundations for a future rooted in greater peace, opportunity, democracy and respect for human rights.  In Egypt, we said we could not conduct business as usual with the interim government after it used large-scale violence against civilians and detained opposition leaders earlier this year.  So, we withheld the delivery of some major weapons systems pending progress towards democratic reforms and inclusive governance.  We have a stake in promoting inclusive politics in Egypt to avoid driving government opponents into the arms of extremist groups and condemning the country to further instability.  We have spoken out about the deleterious impact the new demonstrations law and its heavy-handed enforcement is having on freedom of assembly in Egypt, and we will continue to urge non-violence and progress on Egypt’s road map towards an inclusive and stable democracy.

 

Bahrain is a long standing partner in the region.  As home to our Fifth Fleet, a stable Bahrain is of great strategic importance to the United States.  So we serve both our principles and our security by pressing for national reconciliation between the government and the opposition.  We are discouraging actions on both sides that sharpen religious divisions or escalate violence.  And, through concrete actions, including withholding portions of our military assistance, we are urging the government to lift restrictions on civil society, to treat members of the opposition in accordance with the rule of law, and to engage in a deliberate reform process.

 

Our commitment to Israel’s security is unprecedented and enduring.   Thus, in the West Bank, we condemn incitement and violence against Israelis.  At the same time, we reject settler violence against Palestinians.  The daily humiliations of administrative detentions, land confiscations, and home demolitions must end for a culture of peace to take root.

 

Even as we address such pressing national challenges, the United States continues to lead in promoting a global human rights agenda for the 21st century.  This starts with our intensive efforts to protect and empower women and girls.  No society can reach its full potential when half its people are held back.  That’s why, through the Equal Futures Partnership, we’re working with countries around the world to fulfill specific commitments that elevate the status of women, such as developing constitutional protections for gender equality or extending benefits for women-owned businesses.

 

A full third of women—one in three—experience either sexual or physical violence in their lifetimes.  Gender-based violence is an affront to human dignity, but it also threatens public health, economic stability, and the security of nations.  So, as part of our commitment to end this scourge, we’re helping equip first responders to protect women and girls from rape as soon as conflicts or disasters occur, and we’re launching a cabinet-level task force to raise awareness and coordinate our efforts to combat violence against women and girls.

 

No one–no one–should face discrimination because of who they are or whom they love.  So, we are working to lead internationally, as we have domestically, on LGBT issues.  This summer, President Obama championed equal treatment for LGBT persons while standing next to the President of Senegal, a country that is making progress on democratic reforms, but like too many nations, still places criminal restrictions on homosexuality.  President Obama met with LGBT and other civil society activists in St. Petersburg, Russia to discuss the restrictions they face in Russia.  At the UN Human Rights Council and in regional organizations, such as the Organization of American States and the Pan American Health Organization, the United States has fought for and won support for resolutions that recognize the rights and protect the safety and dignity of LGBT persons.  We created the Global Equality Fund to protect LGBT rights and those who defend them.

 

To support embattled civil society, which is the engine that drives greater transparency and accountability everywhere, including here in the United States we founded and are working through the Open Government Partnership to develop and share best practices.  We’re coordinating with the Community of Democracies to pressure repressive regimes.  The State Department led the creation of the Lifeline partnership, which provides emergency assistance to civil society organizations.  We are reaching out directly to all of you in the NGO community to learn about how we can best support and train your sister organizations around the world.  And, our support for young leaders across Africa focuses, in part, on empowering those who are committed to working for an Africa that is buttressed, as President Obama said, by “strong institutions” rather than by “strongmen.”

 

This isn’t an exhaustive summary of our efforts.  From Rakhine State in Burma to Jonglei State in South Sudan, we are working to protect vulnerable civilians, especially minorities, to heal rifts in communities, and to press for accountability so that the worst forms of violence do not go unpunished.  The modern-day slavery of human trafficking remains a stain on our collective conscience, and President Obama has redoubled our efforts to end human trafficking in all its forms.

 

We are promoting internet freedom while still guarding against threats from those who would use the connective power of new technologies to harm us.  And, as part of our comprehensive strategy to help prevent genocide and mass atrocities, we’re developing the tools and partnerships that can warn us before violence ignites and strengthen our capacity to respond.  For example, to take on the deteriorating situation and increasing violence in the Central African Republic, we’re working this week at the UN to support African Union forces protecting civilians, to provide humanitarian assistance, and to investigate human rights abuses so the perpetrators can be held accountable.

 

Finally, our commitment to human rights means we must live our values at home.  And, here too, our work is not nearly complete.  If we are not walking the talk, we undermine the United States’ ability to lead internationally.   President Obama has an extremely strong record of promoting human rights domestically — from the first bill he signed into law as President, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to his support for voter protection, and his commitment to full equality for our LGBT brothers and sisters and for repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  This Administration is deeply committed to ensuring that all men and women are treated equally.

 

In 2009, as UN Ambassador, I was proud to sign, on behalf of the United States, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  But, almost five years later, as you know, we are still urging the Senate to approve this convention.  I am very glad you’ll be hearing tomorrow from the great former Senator Bob Dole, who has been a relentless advocate for this cause.  We need Congress to join with us to show that America doesn’t just press other nations to abide by international treaties and norms while we stand on the sidelines.  Rather we must lead by example.

 

That is why too President Obama remains deeply determined to close the detention facility at Guantanamo. We have new envoys at the Departments of State and Defense dedicated to this cause.  In August, we completed the first successful detainee transfers under the onerous restrictions that Congress enacted in 2011, and we expect to announce more transfers in the near future.  We continue to urge Congress to remove these restrictions, which have severely hampered our efforts to close the Guantanamo detention facility.  And I want to thank Human Rights First and your coalition for your energetic support for closing Guantanamo.

 

More broadly, after over a decade of war, we continue to transition from a perpetual war footing while robustly protecting America’s interests and security around the world.  Earlier this year, President Obama announced new guidelines governing the use of lethal force in our counterterrorism operations outside areas of active hostilities, including the use of drones.  Congress is briefed on every strike taken, and we are committed to sharing as much information as possible with the American people about our efforts.  Over time, continued progress against al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups should reduce the need for such actions.

 

More recently, President Obama directed a review of our signals intelligence collection.  Intelligence saves lives—American lives and those of our allies and partners.  We are committed to continuing to collect such information to meet our critical security needs.  At the same time, we recognize that, in many countries, surveillance is an instrument of repression, which is why we must use the unprecedented power that technology affords us responsibly, while respecting the values of privacy, government transparency, and accountability that all people share.

 

In closing, I want to stress that our nation, and we in the Obama Administration, benefit enormously from groups like Human Rights First.  Your analyses, your perspectives — and, yes, your criticisms—help shape and improve our decision making.  It may be decades before we see how all the challenges and choices of today play out.  But, the promise we make to you is this:  The United States will keep working every day to uphold the rights and freedoms that belong to all the people of this earth.

 

Over the last 20 years, I’ve seen up close the evil that humans can perpetrate against one another—from churchyards in Rwanda to dirt camps in Darfur, from war-torn Sarajevo to burned-out death traps in Tripoli.  More recently, I chaired meetings in the Situation Room after the Assad regime unleashed the world’s largest chemical weapons attack in 25 years.  I’ve seen the worst of man’s inhumanity.  But I also know the bewildering resilience of the human spirit.  In so many unlikely places, I’ve seen the hope that pushes its way to the surface, unbidden, in the most dire circumstances.

 

I often think of the little boy, just 3 or 4 years old, whom I met in 1994 while visiting an IDP camp in war-torn rural Angola.  I didn’t get his name.  He was just one in a group of curious kids who came out to greet our delegation.  He had short legs, a distended belly, and only a torn, dirty t-shirt to cover his little body.  Looking around at his hellish surroundings was enough to sap the hope out of the most optimistic person.  But that little boy defied logic.  He just glowed — with a smile so innocent and infectious I will carry it to my grave.  As I moved toward him, drawn almost involuntarily, I suddenly realized I had nothing of worth to offer him, except perhaps the well-worn baseball hat on my head.  When I took it off and set it on his unsuspecting head, he just beamed, radiating nothing but joy.  The poet Emily Dickinson tells us that, “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.”  So, for me, hope will always be that young boy’s smile.

 

Everything I’ve seen and done in my career since then has only left me more convinced of the common yearnings that stir in all of us.  I have no idea what happened to that little boy in Cuito, Angola, but there are millions more just like him all over the Earth—each  deserving of the same rights, the same security, and the same hope that our own children enjoy.  Their future is bound up with our own.  It is for their sake, and ours, that we stand fast for human rights.  For their sake, and ours, we hold resolutely to our founding principles in this complicated and often dangerous world.  And, it is for the sake of our common humanity and our shared future, that, even if imperfectly, we keep striving each day to build a world that is more just, more equal, more safe, and more free.

 

Thank you all very much.

 

 

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