Speech

Hillary Clinton awarded Chatham House Prize

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

William Hague spoke about Hillary Clinton's remarkable contribution as an international stateswoman during the Chatham House award ceremony.

The Rt Hon William Hague

The Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

Secretary Clinton, President Clinton, members of the Diplomatic Corps, my Lords, Ladies and Gentleman;

It is a great pleasure to be here to honour the achievements of my outstanding colleague and friend Hillary Clinton.

I thank Robin Niblett and Chatham House for their superb choice for this year’s Chatham House Prize; for their immense contribution to foreign policy here in the United Kingdom; and for laying on this spectacular occasion.

Hillary, this prize recognises your remarkable contribution as an international stateswoman.

Every Foreign Minister surely wishes for their country to be stronger in the world when they leave office than it was when they assumed it. Few can say this – but you certainly can.

You enhanced the standing of US diplomacy in the world.

You strengthened the State Department.

You visited more than 100 nations and covered over a million miles as America’s ‘First Diplomat’.

You created new opportunities for your country, breaking fresh diplomatic ground in Asia and Africa.

In doing all these things and more you placed the United States in a stronger position for the 21st century.

The fact that you did this is an achievement for America, but it is also of great benefit to us all.

For a world with a strong America is one that is more secure and more free.

Indeed the single most positive fact in world affairs remains that the United States - that has within it such a vast range of cities and states far removed from the most troubled parts of the world – is nevertheless regularly prepared to give a lead in the face of serious international crises.

The working relationship between a British Foreign Secretary and an American Secretary of State is exceptionally close. I think I speak for both of us in saying that we each relied heavily on the bond of the Special Relationship during a time of momentous upheaval and change in the Middle East.

But one of the many reasons I enjoyed working with you so much is because we share the conviction that foreign policy is not just about responding to the crises of today; it is about improving the condition of humanity.

Yes, in foreign policy we must always be clear about dangers and threats - but we must also be fired with optimism about human nature.

Yes we must always proceed with caution and wisdom – but we must also be bold in seeking out and sweeping away injustice.

And yes, we must be tough and realistic – but we should also always leave room for idealism.

It is to your immense credit Hillary that from your time as First Lady, throughout your career as a Senator, in each day of your tenure in the State Department and in all your work now, you have been and are passionately and unswervingly committed to advancing the rights of women and girls in the world.

You used your influence as Secretary of State to lead multiple initiatives that empower women - from your 100 Women Initiative to your campaign for safe cook stoves.

We live in a world where there is a fascination with tables that rank the power of nations according to their economic weight or military might.

But it is what we choose to do with our power that matters most of all, and that says most about what we stand for as nations.

I am convinced that ours is the generation that must win that great strategic prize of the 21st century – full economic, social and political rights for all women everywhere.

Foreign policy is part of our powerful arsenal in that battle still to be won.

As Secretary of State you strongly supported my campaign to end the use of rape as a weapon of war, and last month we passed an inspiring milestone, when 134 countries came together for the first time to endorse our new global declaration promising to end sexual violence in conflict.

Britain and America possess two of the largest diplomatic networks and humanitarian programmes of any nations in the world. So we must always aspire to use our power together to do immense good for others as well for our own citizens, as you did as Secretary of State.

So I am proud to pay tribute to you tonight Hillary, for this richly-deserved recognition of your service to your country and to the world; and I am pleased on my own account to be able to thank you for our excellent working relationship and friendship, for your inspiring faith in value of diplomacy, for your attachment to Britain, your belief in the power of friendship between nations, your often infectious optimism, your infallible good humour, your steely resolve, and for being a Secretary of State who not only served the American people, but fought powerfully for all of us who want to see the expansion of human rights and freedom everywhere.

Hillary Clinton at the Chatham House award ceremony
Hillary Clinton at the Chatham House award ceremony

Further information

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Published 12 October 2013