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Speaking to the United
Nations General Assembly on the morning of September 23rd, the first day of
that body's 64th annual debate, U.S. President Barack Obama, who has actively
sought to embrace multilateralism and improve the relationship between the United
States and the United Nations, called on all member nations to "share the
responsibility" and unite in a "global response to global
"We come from many places, but we share a common future. . . . We must
embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect,
and our work must begin now," said President Obama:
" If we are honest with
ourselves, we need to admit that we are not living up to that responsibility.
Consider the course that we are on if we fail to confront the status quo.
Extremists sowing terror in pockets of the world. Protracted conflicts that
grind on and on. Genocide and mass atrocities. More and more nations with
nuclear weapons. Melting ice caps and ravaged populations. Persistent poverty
and pandemic disease. I say this not to sow fear, but to state a fact: the
magnitude of our challenges has yet to be met by the measure of our action."
"The time has come to realize that old habits and arguments are irrelevant
to the challenges faced by our people," said President Obama.
"Together, we must build new coalitions that bridge old divides:"
" The choice is ours. We can be
remembered as a generation that chose to drag the arguments of the 20th century
into the 21st; that put off hard choices, refused to look ahead, and failed to
keep pace because we defined ourselves by what we were against instead of what
we were for. Or, we can be a generation that chooses to see the shoreline
beyond the rough waters ahead; that comes together to serve the common
interests of human beings, and finally gives meaning to the promise embedded in
the name given to this institution: the United Nations."
"That is the future America wants," said President Obama. "A
future of peace and prosperity that we can only reach if we recognize that all
nations have rights, but all nations have responsibilities as well. That is the
bargain that makes this work. That must be the guiding principle of