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Address before the annual conference of the Department of Public Information for Nongovernmental Organizations at UN Headquarters in New York City on September 16, 1988. Ambassador Williamson is Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs,
I firmly believe that as we look toward the 1990s and on toward the 21st century, multilateral diplomacy will be of growing importance to the United States in pursuing its national interests and for other nations in pursuing theirs.
Profound changes are underway in the world-changes in virtually every subject from science to superpower relations. As a result, the "member state" itself has undergone a redefinition. That is because the issues confronting us, whether they be political, economic, or scientific in nature, transcend national borders.
A number of factors are increasing national interdependency. Scientific, economic, anti political matters are global in dimension and enormous in extent. They are outstripping the traditional means by which governments dealt with them. The speed at which information flows-whereby, in an instant, a computer in New York can exchange information around the globe by tying in with another computer-ha already created a global marketplace. The amount of money that changes hands in the global financial market in (lay exceeds $1 trillion-more than the entire annual budget of the U.S. Government. Such flows transcend national boundaries and can overwhelm rigid economic policies.
Facing every nation is a variety of emerging problems of great urgency which transcend the national boi-(]ers. We can see this today in a number of environmental issues. Emissions from factories in one nation cause trees to die and lakes to be polluted in another nation. Floods in Bangladesh are caused by deforestation in upriver countries, Rain forests are cleared foldevelopment in one region, and the climate is changed throughout the Western Hemisphere. Chlorofluorocarbons are released in several countries, and the "greenhouse effect" in the earth's atmosphere is apparent.
Actions which were once viewed as strictly national or domestic are now being perceived as having international repercussions. Nations are becoming more aware that we must work together within the global community to better understand the many implications which our individual actions will have for all our societies in the decades ahead.
I believe that multilateral negotiations will inevitably become more important' as we increase our awareness of interdependency; that there will be a growing need to develop and strengthen multilateral forums. And this will mean that each nation must further develop its skills at multilateral diplomacy. To do this, we must have a recognition of our past experience in multilateral diplomacy, face multinational fora with realism and an understanding of their limits and opportunities, and have a commitment to nurture their potential.
The Importance of Political Groupings
The global nature of changes in science,
in economics, and in technology must be matched by political developments, particularly the strengthening and closer association of like-minded nations.
With the increased awareness of national interdependency, the importance of regional country an(] functional groupings has been heightened. Regional, political, and religious blocs of nations-such as the OAS [Organization of American States], the Organization of African Unity, the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation, the Nonaligned Movement, and the [Organization of the] Islamic Conference-now provide platforms for certain countries to exercise influence more effectively than when alone.
Other regional organizations are taking on growing economic and political importance. The Pacific Basin, for example-a region of phenomenal economic growth-has been developing a web of cooperative realities. ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations] is showing the way to regional cooperation and has been taking on more and more of a political dimension beyond its initial focus on economic affairs.
These developments in political cooperation are outgrowths of our efforts and aspirations for a better world. Tbe United States led the way after World War 11 in advocating the importance of the regional approach to the recovery of a devastated Europe. Today, the institutions that resulted from this effort are thriving: regional organizations such as the NATO alliance, the OECD [Organization for …