May 22, 2014

Bill Clinton Returns to Hilltop for Lecture Series

In April 2014, former president Bill Clinton (SFS’68) returned to his alma mater to deliver the second lecture in a four-part series on the people, lessons, and guiding principles that have shaped his career in public service. His first lecture, in spring 2013, focused on the stories of people who impacted his life. In this year’s lecture, Clinton addressed his approach to domestic and foreign policy.

One highlight was Clinton's account of his involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process at the Camp David Summit in 2000. “When you do peace processes,” Clinton said, “you have to remember it is not about you, it is about them… You cannot succeed if you forget that.” In describing the details of the private negotiations he hosted between Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and four separate Israeli prime ministers, Clinton expounded upon the importance of trust among world leaders. “You have to establish trust among adversaries," he insisted. "Agreement is not nearly as important as trust.” He concluded his second lecture by asking the Georgetown community to imagine a world where all leaders shared the trust that he witnessed between Chairman Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. 

Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton was not expected to attend her husband’s lecture at Georgetown, but she entered the room a few minutes before the speech to a standing ovation. Clinton thanked his wife for attending and joked that “she hasn’t had to sit through one of these in ages.” 

Global Partnerships

The Clinton Lecture Series is organized through the Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit organization that Bill Clinton founded after leaving the White House in 2001. His vision was to create “a nongovernmental organization that could leverage the unique capacities of governments, partner organizations, and other individuals to address rising inequalities and deliver tangible results that improve people’s lives.” The Clinton Foundation works around the world in five issue areas: climate change, economic development, global health, health and wellness, and empowering women and girls. 

One of the foundation's most successful efforts has been aiding Haiti following the catastrophic January 2010 earthquake. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Bill Clinton joined with former president George W. Bush to establish the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to support on-the-ground relief and assistance. Since 2010, the Clinton Foundation has raised nearly $36 million for Haiti, and it has focused on relief efforts, as well as long-term development.