Thank you, Marc [Grossman]. President [Gareth] Evans, distinguished Members of the International Crisis Group Board, fellow admirers of the ICG from all around the world:
This is something of a reunion. I see so many friends here tonight with whom I have had the pleasure of working over the years.
It’s a lot more fun than the U.N. General Assembly.
Welcome, all, to the Department of State and to this wonderful Ben Franklin room.
I hope that you will take the time to tour our reception areas, named for America’s founders and diplomatic pioneers.
It is fitting indeed that we should convene here to celebrate the International Crisis Group for your own pioneering work in the field of worldwide crisis prevention and response.
In just eight years since ICG’s founding, you have become one of the world’s premier Non-Governmental Organizations, working from the Balkans to Burma, from Central Africa to Colombia, and many places in between.
There are numerous reasons for ICG’s rise to prominence.
Your President, Australia’s former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, is a world-class statesman in his own right.
Gareth, you have assembled a highly impressive international staff. Under your masterful stewardship, ICG has expanded its operational reach to over 35 crisis areas on four continents.
And few organizations could rival your board’s constellation of the good and the great from across the globe.
The breadth and depth of the board’s experience and leadership in and out of Government is extraordinary. You, ICG’s distinguished board members, are not just assets to ICG; you are assets to the world community.
Indeed, I understand that Chairman Ahtisaari could not join us tonight because he couldn’t make it back from Iraq, where Kofi Annan has him looking at the security situation for United Nations personnel.
But above all else, ICG is held in such high regard here and across the international community because you perform a critical mission with exceptional expertise and professionalism.
You spur the world’s Governments and institutions to respond more effectively to brewing or existing crises.
Your founding fathers Mark Malloch Brown, the late, great Fred Cuny and Mort Abramowitz had witnessed firsthand the humanitarian disasters that result from conflicts.
They recognized the need for a better international response.
I vividly remember meeting with you Mort in Turkey during the first Gulf War when you were the U.S. Ambassador and I was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mort and Fred Cuny were working around-the-clock trying to keep hundreds of thousands of fleeing Kurds from dying of exposure on barren Turkish mountainsides.
Mort and Fred played instrumental roles in Operation Provide Comfort, which resulted in the creation of a security zone and brought nearly half a million refugees safely back home to Northern Iraq.
Mort, ICG would not have been possible without you. Your vision, your determination, your wisdom and your humanity animate ICG to this day.
You have my warmest congratulations on receiving the ICG Founders Award.
Fundamental to ICG’s approach is the recognition that preventing or resolving complex crises demands comprehensive strategies.
These strategies must apply a range of tools. To be sure, we must employ humanitarian tools. But Political, Economic and often Military tools must be brought to bear as well.
An effective response also demands sustained attention and concerted action by Governments.
President Bush understands this need and this reality, nowhere more so than with respect to Iraq.
The United States will not run from the challenge in Iraq, nor are we going it alone.
The Coalition itself represents dozens of nations willing to put themselves on the line.
And we are building a framework for increased international involvement.
We are doing so at the United Nations, through Resolution 1483 and through the current text under discussion.
Most likely, other resolutions will follow step-by-step as conditions unfold on the ground.
We and our partners are working hard to root out those bent on destruction and terror.
The peacekeeping effort is growing, not shrinking, as Poland’s commitment and now Turkey’s demonstrate.
Most importantly, we are working with Iraqis wherever possible to set up Iraqi Police forces and a new Iraqi Army.
Jordan has agreed to train Iraqi Police, and Egypt is willing to do the same.
Ultimately, security has to be in the hands of Iraqi Police, Iraqi Military, Iraqi Border Patrols and the Iraqi Judiciary.
Predominantly Muslim nations are taking a more active role. The 22 states of the Arab League and the 57 states of the Organization of Islamic Countries have accepted the legitimacy of the Iraqi Governing Council. And that council was seated at the U.N. General Assembly.
We and our Coalition Partners are determined to help the Iraqi people get on a secure and sound footing so that they can govern themselves as soon as possible and put their own entrepreneurial energies to work for Iraq’s development.
The process of transferring responsibility to the Iraqis is underway. The process of moving toward a Constitution is underway. Iraqis are running their own education, health and electrical services. And they’re starting to conduct their foreign relations.
President Bush and our Coalition Partners are fully committed to Iraq’s well being.
That we also seek broader International participation is not a matter of wanting more International support for appearances’ sake.
It is not a matter of increasing the contributions of others so that U.S. contributions can be reduced.
The point is to pool collective strengths and expand support for Iraq’s stabilization and reconstruction.
Iraq’s success is profoundly within the interests of the entire international community.
The work of individual Governments, the United Nations and NGOs will be needed in helping establish democratic government and in rebuilding the country.
And so we read with interest ICG’s analyses and recommendations on Iraq, as we do your reports on many other areas of International concern.
Though we may not agree in all instances with ICG’s assessments or proposals, your products always inform and enrich the discussion by their comprehensive approach and policy-wise analyses.
For example, ICG was an important source of on-the-ground information during the war in Kosovo when we had no diplomatic presence in Belgrade.
Today, ICG’s expert teams train spotlights on developments in Eastern Congo and remote parts of Sudan.
ICG’s widely disseminated reports also help us marshal support for humanitarian, peacekeeping and development assistance to many African countries. ICG’s work on the terrorist organization, Jemaah Islamiah, has become essential reference material for our own Government and other Governments in the region.
And ICG’s reporting helped shape U.S. policy in advance of the Tokyo Conference on Peace and Reconstruction in Aceh.
ICG has an expert presence and staying power in places that make headlines, as well as in places which tend to get crowded out of them.
ICG tells power what it thinks and advocates with both passion and effectiveness.
It is a continuous source of ideas and insights for Governments, Parliaments, International Institutions, the media and fellow NGOs.
In short, ICG is an organization that matters.
ICG matters to the shaping of the debate and the development of sound policy.
Most important of all, ICG matters to men, women and children in troubled regions across the globe, who look to the world community for hope.
Let me extend my congratulations to the entire International Board and to Gareth and his superb international staff for ICG’s eight years of outstanding service to humankind.
10 October, 2003