September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
James B. Cunningham, Acting U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations; September 12, 2001

The Terrorist Attacks in the United States

James B. Cunningham, Acting U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Statement in the UN General Assembly
New York, New York
September 12, 2001

Mr. President,

First, on behalf of the United States, I want also to congratulate you on your assumption of the presidency of the 56th Session of the General Assembly and to pledge my government’s full support for your success and for the success of this session.

Obviously, Mr. President, the hearts of all Americans are heavy today. I want to thank you for your words of condolence and sympathy for the victims and their families. I would like to personally convey the gratitude of President Bush and the American people to all the many world leaders and all the others around the world who have shown their support and offered their assistance in this time of grief.

I want also to say a special word of appreciation to the Secretary-General for his condolences and particularly his remarks about the City of New York and its public servants and his call for a firm and united response.

Friends and colleagues, we in this Hall are all New Yorkers at this time of tragedy. I have been struck by how many of you have expressed to me that sentiment. And indeed, unfortunately, many non-Americans will be counted among the victims of this attack. We are all grateful to the men and women, police and firefighters, doctors and nurses, who have shown tremendous heroism in coping with the catastrophic aftermath of the terrible events of September 11, 2001. Our thoughts and prayers go to all the victims and their families. We will grieve, and we will heal.

Your decision to open the 56th General Assembly was the right one. I appreciate the support and the condolences expressed by the UN membership and the condemnation and the sense of resolve expressed in the comments today. Together, we have demonstrated here in the historic hall of the General Assembly that we are united and strong in the face of terror.

In his statement on the attacks of September 11 and his decision to evacuate the United Nations, the Secretary General recognized that the attack on the United States was also an attack on the UN. The entire international community and the shared values upon which this institution was founded are under assault. Security Council Resolution 1368, passed just hours ago, demonstrates the determination of the international community to confront and triumph over this evil, as will the General Assembly Resolution that we are about to address.

Yesterday’s attack requires that we choose sides between the values of human rights and democracy, held dear by all decent people, or terrorism and the law of the jungle. There are those who oppose terrorism and those who use it. There should be no doubt: we will deal with those who support and harbor terrorists as we deal with the terrorists themselves.

Because this attack struck at all of us, it is right that we should work toward a coalition to defend our shared values against terrorism. Working in coalition, we can multiply the effectiveness of our response.

The victims of this attack and their families need our prayers and the certain knowledge of a unified response. We owe to them and ourselves swift action to find those responsible for these attacks and bring them to justice.

None of us or our children will forget yesterday’s horrifying images. They will become unfortunate but indelible icons of the 21st century. Let this serve as a constant reminder of the need to eliminate this scourge, and of the need for determination and action to do so.


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