The Honorable Nikki R. Haley
United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations
December 3, 2018
The Intercontinental Barclay, New York City
AMBASSADOR NIKKI HALEY: Thank you, Paul [Singer].
I meet lots of people who are dedicated to the advancement of liberty and the values that make us special. Paul Singer stands out among them. Thank you for being such a great friend and ally to all of us who care about the future of our country Paul.
I’m proud to share this honor with my friend Paul Ryan, whose principled leadership will be sorely missed in Washington. But the silver lining is that Paul and I can hang out together in the unemployment line. I’m looking forward to that.
And I thank the Hudson Institute for this honor.
The Hudson Institute understands something that’s very important. American leadership is indispensable to the advancement of freedom.
If anyone doubts this, I welcome them to spend a day at the United Nations Security Council.
If the United States fails to lead on behalf of our values at the United Nations, our values are simply not going to be advanced. In fact, more often than not, freedom, free markets, and human rights suffer at the UN when U.S. leadership is lacking.
There is a belief in parts of the media and in some foreign policy circles that American leadership has declined under this administration. I reject that conclusion. I believe the record shows a re-emergence of United States leadership in the world under this administration, not an abandonment of it.
For example, just last week Russian forces fired on and seized three Ukrainian naval ships in a shared waterway near the Crimea. It was a serious escalation, and an outrageous, blatant provocation.
The next day, Russia called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting with the topic listed as “violation of the borders of the Russian Federation.”
It was up to the United States, along with key allies, to oppose the Russians and represent the interests of the Ukrainian people in the Security Council. I spoke to President Trump and we agreed that a strong condemnation of Russia’s aggression was needed, which I was happy to deliver.
What the administration’s critics miss—purposefully or not—is that leadership isn’t always popular. As a matter of fact, real leadership usually makes somebody mad. It can sometimes make our friends mad too. That’s ok.
This administration’s predecessors at the United Nations were less concerned about the U.S. leading, and more concerned about avoiding the U.S. being “isolated” at the UN. They didn’t want other countries to be upset with us.
This got so ridiculous that when Cuba brought up their annual resolution condemning America and blaming us for all of Cuba’s problems, the Obama Administration abstained.
That was a no-brainer for us to reverse.
In our approach, we always seek the support of other countries. But not at the expense of our values. Not at the expense of our leadership.
Our predecessors didn’t want to rock the boat.
We made the conscious decision that it’s better to be respected. That means this administration has advanced U.S. leadership, sometimes through cooperation with others, sometimes through standing alone.
When the United States got out of the Iran nuclear deal, our European friends were not happy. But most telling was how upset the terrorist government in Iran was. The Iran deal was a bad deal for the security of the United States and the world. It was a bad deal for the Iranian people. But it was good deal for the Iranian government.
Now the western money that Iran used to fund Hezbollah, send missiles to Yemen, and fight alongside Assad in Syria is drying up. And thanks to our leadership, the Iranian people who are risking their lives to protest their government know they now have an ally in the United States of America.
This administration has led in confronting the North Korean nuclear threat. Previous administrations of both parties either attempted to appease the North Korean regime or kicked the can down the road.
With U.S. leadership, the United Nations has leveled more sanctions against North Korea than any country in a generation. Now we’re in tough but real negotiations with Pyongyang. We don’t know yet what the outcome of those talks will be, but there’s no question we are in a better place than what we inherited from the previous administration.
The United States has led the world in fighting ISIS and been remarkably successful. The situation in Syria remains very messy. But ISIS is nearly destroyed, and this administration has enforced the red line against the barbaric Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons.
At the UN, we are no longer a member of the UN Human Rights Council—a Council that does more to mock the cause of human rights than to advance it. This was not a popular decision among other countries, but it was the right one.
Others told us we had to stay in the Human Rights Council because we were the last shred of credibility it had. To which we replied, that’s exactly why we shouldn’t be there.
The United States has stood up for the people of Venezuela when others have stayed silent. We have called out the Maduro dictatorship for ruining the once thriving Venezuelan economy.
We’ve made it clear that they—and they alone—have robbed the Venezuelan people of their basic human rights. Our leadership has brought around the Organization of American States and regional countries to this cause of freedom.
And this president has done what previous presidents pledged to do but never did: move the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
For acknowledging the obvious truth that Jerusalem is the capital of the modern state of Israel, we were accused of setting back the peace process.
But the United States led, and in fact, our leadership has clarified the path to peace.
A peace process that is damaged by the simple recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is not a peace process at all. It is a justification for an endless stalemate.
Peace must be built on truth. By telling the truth, this administration has advanced the cause of peace.
Leadership is a function of confidence. My entire public life I have worked to help people find the power of their voice.
I am proud to have been a part of the United States rediscovering the power of her voice at the United Nations.
No other country can lead the way the United States can. The rest of the world knows that, and respects it, even if they don’t always say so.
America leads the world, not because of who we are, but because of what we believe.
That the daughter of Indian immigrants has had the privilege to give voice to our values at the United Nations is a testament to the power of those beliefs.
I will never stop being inspired by the greatness of America. And like you, I will never stop advocating its strong, moral leadership in the world.
Thank you. And God bless you.