27 Jan 2023


Mikhail Gorbachev's 1988 United Nations Speech

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Academic level: College

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Mikhail Gorbachev's s peech at the United Nations (UN) in 1988 was direct ed at the international community . In his speech, Gorbachev i ntended to draw the attention of the entire world to the nature of the existing international relations, global problems and some of the strategies that had been agreed upon by the UN Council to solve the enumerated problems. Since all the member states were represented , the UN a ssembly turned out to be the best forum . This is because his sentiments would be addressed directly to the representatives of the various nations in attendance . In this case, Gorbachev reckoned that t he representative s and delegates would take the message directly to their home countries . This w as as opposed to the targeted nations using a communiqué from the United Nations.

In his speech, Gorbachev insisted on de-idealization of inte r- state relations . This would serve as the initial step towards establishing mutual relations between nations and hence solving some of the most pressing world problems. By using the term ‘d e-idealization, ’ Gorbachev meant that there was a need for countries to relinquish, give up or restructure some of their convictions, philosophies or traditions . This would be done in such a way that they d id not confi n e nations within their range of values and also open ed up opportunities for mutual relations . Gorbachev did not directly mean that nations were to denounce their traditional cultures . In stead, he suggested that they ought to reconsider the contribution of such traditional cultures to the healt h of foreign relations and mutual prosperity of all nations in the world. The impact of de-idealization, according to Gorbachev is that it would lead to the sharing of all the ideologies that were unique to each nation. Sharing would ensure that the advantages of each system were felt through real deeds as opposed to mere words or propaganda.

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Regarding the state of unity and peace in the Soviet bloc, Gorbachev insisted that “ force could no longer be regarded as an instrument of foreign policy. ” By the above statement, Gorbachev implied that gone are the days when nations used their military superiority to threaten and force down their policies on other countries in the pretext of foreign relations. On the contrary, he felt that international relations ought to provide a forum for cultural exchange, economic partnerships and fostering of peace between countries of the world . This was as opposed to providing grounding for the show of political or economic supremacy. The Soviet Union was the central target of the above statement since the nation had continuously threatened others with its nuclear missiles and military superiority for its self-interests. At the time, t he relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States (U.S) had also deteriorated significantly because the two countries were engaged in a tug of war to prove their military prowess. Thus, Gorbachev meant that each nation had a right to choose its foreign partners depending on mutual benefits without being forced.

Gorbachev foresaw a world in which the superpowers were in the frontline, leading efforts geared towards solv ing prevailing world problems. According to Gorbachev , disarmament and reduction of military force ought to begin with the superpowers and then followed by other nations. Similarly, negotiations for peaceful coexistence and the end of hostility were to be led by the superpowers. Therefore, Gorbachev foresaw a future world that would be led by superpowers, not by their superiority on different fronts, but by acting as facilitators of the various programs . These programs would be aimed at fostering healthy foreign relations and bringing an end to hostility and conflicts between nations across the globe . Also, Gorbachev foresaw a future where the Soviet Union and the U.S could no longer be at war or in a conflict. In this regard, h e had a conviction that at one point, the superpowers would put behind their differences and embrace each other for the sake of both economic prosperity and unity. With this in mind, t he immense power and ability held by the superpowers could no longer be considered as bragging rights . Rather, they ought to be considered privileges which w ould be used for the mutual benefit of all nations , and in the process make the world a better place. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Mikhail Gorbachev's 1988 United Nations Speech .


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