Selected Speeches Of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I
KAGNEW BATTALION AND COLLECTIVE SECURITY
You are today on the point of leaving Ethiopia on a voyage half way around the world in defence of liberty and of the principles to which all members of the United Nations stand committed.
We have personally come here in the presence of the highest officials of the nation which is honouring you today and of representatives of other nations participating in this momentous undertaking to bid you a fond farewell and Godspeed on your mission and to give to you Regimental Colours. These flags you will carry in valour throughout the campaign. You will, We are sure, bring them back to Your Emperor and Commander-in-Chief, to whom you have sworn allegiance, as cherished battle standards, glorified by your exploits and heroism.
You have been called upon to represent amongst the armed forces of many friendly nations engaged in the same high endeavour, the heritage of a people that, for untold centuries, has fiercely fought to defend its freedom and independence. Everyone among you has known sacrifices in recent years. In the dark hours when We and Our People were called upon to fight, We did not fail in Our fierce resolve, and today, thanks to that determination, Ethiopia has again resumed her rightful place amongst the United Nations. We have all earned the right to be proud of that heritage of struggle.
We must recognize, then, that every nation that fights, as we have done, for the defence and maintenance of its independence has the right to expect the honour and indeed the assistance of all freedom-loving peoples. You are departing on a long crusade in defence of that very principle for which we have so long fought—freedom and respect for the freedom of others. With such traditions and after such sacrifices, Ethiopia would be the very first nation to recognize the imperative urgency of the call of duty towards a sister nation.
It is in yet a larger sense, Soldiers, that you are today leaving the homeland to fight on distant shores. You are fighting not only for freedom as We know it in Ethiopia, and the right of each people to its freedom. You are also representing and defending in far corners of the earth, the most sacred principle of modern international policy—that principle of collective security with which the name of Ethiopia is imperishably associated.
It is but natural that small nations who must so vigilantly defend their independence, should regard collective security as the cornerstone of their very existence. Their support of that principle should be instant, unhesitating and absolute. No small state, no democratic nation, no people imbued with charity towards its fellow men, could do otherwise.
Of all nations of the world, the name of Ethiopia has been most closely associated with that principle. Our undaunted defence of collective security at the League of Nations, Our own appeal to that august body, Our fierce and unaided struggles throughout the darkest hours preceding the last World War, the courage of our patriots, the unending sacrifices of Our families, have given to Ethiopia an imperishable place in the history of that principle in modern times.
Did Not Hesitate
This is why, as Sovereign Head of Ethiopia and as Commander-in-Chief of the Ethiopian Armed Forces, We did not hesitate immediately to respond to the appeal for collective assistance launched by the United Nations following the aggression in Korea.
From the first, it was evident that much time, effort and expense would be required to provide for your participation in the combined front of the United Nations forces in Korea. Foreseeing those inevitable difficulties, Ethiopia did not hesitate to provide instant assistance before even Our military forces could be brought into the battle. That is why, not only did We promise military assistance, but also immediately transmitted funds to the United Nations to help in the collective effort.
Thus it is that you are now departing to take your honoured place beside the valiant soldiers of other United Nations, those of the United States, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Turkey and others.
At this proud moment of participation in the first collective and world-wide effort for the defence of the principle of collective security, Ethiopia and Ourselves can look back with pride, on the progress achieved, progress to which Ethiopia has so heavily contributed in recent years. Precisely fifteen years ago this very month, We, Your Emperor, and Commander-in-Chief, addressed from the battlefield a pressing appeal to the League of Nations for the respect and application of the principle of collective security. It was not a question then as now, even to hope for the application of measures of military sanction. So new then was that principle that Ethiopia could only hope for the most basic economic sanctions to restrict aggression, and urgent measures to bring to an end the use of asphyxiating gas. However, it was also in that same month, fifteen years ago today, that the Council of the League of Nations finally declared its inability to meet these essential requirements of collective security. Undaunted by this failure, Ethiopia under Our leadership and with the courage of its patriots continued the struggle until that glorious day when, at the head of Our troops and with the aid of British Empire heroes, We reentered Our Capital.
Today, it is no longer a question of asking for simple economic sanctions. Korea asks the United Nations and receives from it collective security in the form of military assistance.In joining today in these measures of collective security, We are being faithful to Ourselves and to the obligation which We conceive to be the most high and solemn duty not alone of the present hour, but of the present century. Collective security knows no bounds or distances. In participating in the measures of collective security in the Far East, We are only fulfilling Our obligations towards the United Nations. Just as previously, by the sending of financial assistance, We had manifested Our sympathy towards the valiant people of China so sorely tried by natural disasters, so today, We deplore the new hardships which that people has been called upon to suffer as a result of the events in the Far East. Let us hope that peace and tranquillity may soon be re-established there.
You have been fortunate, Soldiers, in that each one of you has been selected thus to testify before the world to the flame of liberty and of devotion to the cause of international justice which has fired the breasts of Our patriots.
You are following the footsteps of the long line of your forefathers in proclaiming before the world the right of each nation, determined by its own efforts to save its independence and freedom, to receive as collective security assistance of all peace-loving nations. Ethiopia could do no less today and still remain faithful to her traditions and to the sacrifices which We have undergone.
Soldiers, the spirit of your ancestors, heroes of the thousand-year-long struggle for the defence of Our freedom will follow you and will strengthen your hands and hearts in the heat of battle.
Remember that you are about to pay a debt of honour for your homeland which was liberated thanks not only to the blood of her patriots, but also to that of faithful allies, likewise members of the United Nations. Remember also that in paying this debt, you are laying the basis for a universal system of collective security on behalf of your own homeland as well as of nations of the world, be they great or small, powerful or weak.
May God protect you, give you courage to acquit yourselves as heroes and bring you back safely to your beloved homeland.
April 14, 1951.
Electronic edition created and published online by members of the
August 16, 2017