Remarks at the NATO Youth Summit

S. Douglas Bunch
U.S. Public Delegate
Washington, DC
June 5, 2023


Thank you, Madam President, for that kind introduction. It’s an honor to represent the U.S. Mission to the United Nations today and meet all of you – students and young professionals engaged in strengthening our transatlantic relationships. I also want to congratulate NATO representatives – and really all of you here: our alliance has never been stronger, and continues to grow with Finland and soon, we hope, Sweden’s accession.

NATO has never been more relevant than it is today, and our work at the U.S. Mission to the UN in New York demonstrates that. NATO and the UN are symbiotic organizations: independent, and each with a distinct but aligned purpose, that share many of the same core values. The UN was formed at the very end of World War II, to maintain peace and security through collective action. Four years later, the North Atlantic Treaty was signed, which framed NATO within the parameters of the UN Charter. Principles of peaceful resolution to conflict, but also the right to collective defense, are inherent in both organizations’ founding documents. And over the decades since the founding of both organizations, they have worked ever more closely together, whether in supporting peacekeeping missions, or disaster relief operations, or working under UN mandates in conflict zones like Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

One key and obvious difference between the organizations, however, is that Russia was one of the founding members of the United Nations, holding veto power on the Security Council, which has made Russia’s actions in Ukraine – its flagrant violations of the UN Charter – all the more appalling both within the UN and to our NATO partners.

The U.S. warned of the troubling signs of a possible invasion by Russia before it occurred, and we convened urgent meetings including at the OSCE, the bilateral U.S.-Russia Strategic Stability Dialogue, the NATO-Russia Council, and the UN Security Council, all in an effort to find a peaceful resolution through diplomacy and dialogue.

One week before Russia’s invasion, Secretary Blinken addressed the UN Security Council, warning of Russia’s intent, which was roundly denied by Russia’s UN representative. Then, last year on February 23 – in one of the more surreal diplomatic moments in history – during an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Ukraine where the Russian Ambassador to the UN continued these denials, news broke of the Russian invasion. Hours later, we activated NATO’s defensive Response Force.

But as Secretary Blinken said on Friday as he welcomed Finland as the newest NATO member, Putin’s aggression will not succeed.

While NATO has come together and grown more powerful and unified, the U.S. Mission to the UN has worked within the UN to isolate Russia on the world stage. In repeated UN General Assembly resolutions, two-thirds of UN Member States have consistently rejected Putin’s illegal actions in Ukraine and called for a peaceful resolution in accordance with the principles of the UN charter. Russia has likewise been removed from various UN bodies including the UN Human Rights Council, and is no longer represented in the UN’s Economic and Social Council, an organization in which it has actively participated since the UN’s founding. In a series of UN elections to organizations like UNICEF, Russian candidates have been roundly defeated, as the Russian presence at the UN has starkly diminished.

We will continue to work through the UN, and with our NATO allies and partners, to end Russia’s senseless and illegal war. We will continue to seek a just and lasting peace that upholds the UN Charter and protects the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence, on which the security of all countries depends. As Secretary Blinken said last week, “No nation – not Ukraine, not the United States, not Finland, Sweden, any other country can deliver for its people if it lives in constant fear of aggression.” This is why the United Nations was founded, and this is why we need a strong and vibrant NATO.

As I close I’d like to make a quick plug for young professionals and internationalists to consider what you can do to support your country’s security through NATO. We need bright young professionals who aspire to make a difference in the world to consider careers at the UN. Some of our strategic adversaries have been quite aggressive – and effective – at filling the ranks of many UN offices with their own citizens. We’d like to see citizens of the United States, and those of our democratic partners and allies, also fill positions at the UN and help make a difference in the world. Visit to read more about opportunities to work at the UN and the UN’s careers and internship page at As of last fall, funding is now available for certain UN internships through UNA-USA (

The world needs you – now, more than ever. Thank you for your time today, and best of luck in your future endeavors, wherever your path leads.