The United Nations
In recognition of Bill Richardson's leadership and diplomatic
experience, President Bill Clinton appointed Bill the United States
Ambassador to the United Nations.
Ambassador Richardson might have been surrounded by tradition and formality -- but the cowboy boot-wearing New Mexican was always true to his Western heritage. On his first day at the UN, Bill tried to shake the hand of every single delegate -- an idea that baffled his colleagues -- there were just too many of them! Bill was also a frequent visitor to the U.N. cafeteria; he would eat lunch and get to know the UN's regular employees -- many of whom spoke Spanish and who lived in New York and New Jersey. It has always been Governor Richardson's style to reach out to everyone around him and to try to hear every point of view -- he may have the ears of Presidents and international leaders, but he always listens to the men and women working in the kitchen too.
Bill Richardson has traveled to Africa multiple times on diplomatic missions. As Ambassador he traveled to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) to try to ease that country's transition to Democracy. He has secured the release of hostages from Sudan and just this January negotiated a fragile cease-fire in Darfur. The trips to Africa have changed Governor Richardson's life -- he has seen first-hand the suffering that can exist in the world, and he has seen the hope that persists in the most persecuted heart. Touring refugee camps, witnessing the effects of famine, disease and unnecessary violence, has given Bill a uniquely personal perspective on global conflict, and what the United States can do to prevent needless suffering.
When the Governor was recently in Darfur, he kept being asked the same questions: "Where is America? Why don't they do anything? " He didn't have an answer.
The United States has moved away from diplomacy under the Bush administration, but Bill Richardson believes that America must work with the rest of the world to solve our common problems. He has seen the impact of war, and it has reaffirmed his belief in the power of America and the power of diplomacy to end suffering.
In recognition of his efforts around the world, Bill has been nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize. Each nomination has focused on his international peace mediation, hostage rescue and his commitment to justice. One of the nominating letters put it best: "Bill Richardson has shown his fight in the struggle of humanity by shining the beam of reason into those corners of the world darkened by nuclear peril for far too long, helping to ensure that we can live in a world where arms hold us together -- they don't keep us apart."
This is the kind of leadership America needs.