Remarks by President John J. DeGioia
Introduction of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
December 14, 2009
It’s my pleasure to welcome you all here this afternoon…and it’s truly an honor to have with us the United States’ Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to discuss the “Human Rights Agenda for the 21st Century.”
In this new century, no nation can achieve its fullest potential—economic or otherwise—if any segment of its population is abused, neglected, oppressed, or disenfranchised…if their skills are ignored…if their promise and possibility is squandered.
And at a time when nations are increasingly interdependent, and people increasingly interconnected, the situation in any one nation affects every nation in the global community.
For nearly four decades, and in various roles, Secretary Clinton has championed the cause of human rights, of human dignity, of human worth—both here and abroad—for the neediest, the most vulnerable, and the most wounded in our midst. She has long been a voice for the voiceless and powerless, most especially women and children. And her acclaimed speech in Beijing in 1995, where she declared that “human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights,” not only helped inspire and galvanize women throughout the global community…it’s now considered a milestone event in the history of the struggle for universal human rights.
The last time that the Secretary was with us was in 2004, when then Senator Clinton joined Senator Jack Reed and other distinguished guests for a conference on national security and the military reserve.
Hillary Rodham Clinton now serves as the 67th United States’ Secretary of State—and her predecessors include Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Daniel Webster, George Marshall, and—of course—Madeleine Albright, Georgetown’s Mortara Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy. When she was Secretary of State, Madeleine worked with Secretary Clinton to launch the federal government’s “Vital Voices Democracy Initiative.” Today, Vital Voices is a non-profit that works to train and organize women leaders around the world.
Before being appointed to her current position by President Obama, Secretary Clinton served as a United States Senator from New York, where she was a strong advocate for the expansion of economic opportunity and access to health care.
Prior to that, as First Lady, for eight years she worked on many issues relating to children and families, and she championed heath care—including leading a successful bipartisan effort to provide care to millions of children through the “Children’s Health Insurance Program.”
Representing America abroad, she also traveled to more than 80 countries—promoting human rights, democracy, the values of law and liberty…and the welfare of women.
Secretary Clinton’s biography is also one of “firsts”: The first First Lady to hold a law degree…the first sitting First Lady to be elected to the Senate—or any public office…the first woman to win statewide election in New York…the first woman to win a Presidential state primary…and the first First Lady to ever win a Grammy—for her audio recording of her groundbreaking bestseller on children, It Takes a Village.
It’s truly a privilege to have Secretary Clinton with us today, and to share with us her thoughtful—and I’ve no doubt—thought provoking remarks on human rights…an issue which certainly resonates with us at Georgetown—and our Catholic and Jesuit heritage of promoting social justice and global equality.
It’s now my pleasure to introduce the United States’ Secretary of State, the Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton…