President Obama Delivers Remarks at the United Nations General Assembly

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
September 25, 2012
President Obama Addresses the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

On September 25, 2012, President Barack Obama delivered remarks to the United Nations General Assembly. President Obama said:

"I would like to begin today by telling you about an American named Chris Stevens.

"Chris was born in a town called Grass Valley, California, the son of a lawyer and a musician. As a young man, Chris joined the Peace Corps, and taught English in Morocco. And he came to love and respect the people of North Africa and the Middle East. He would carry that commitment throughout his life. As a diplomat, he worked from Egypt to Syria, from Saudi Arabia to Libya. He was known for walking the streets of the cities where he worked -- tasting the local food, meeting as many people as he could, speaking Arabic, listening with a broad smile.

"Chris went to Benghazi in the early days of the Libyan revolution, arriving on a cargo ship. As America's representative, he helped the Libyan people as they coped with violent conflict, cared for the wounded, and crafted a vision for the future in which the rights of all Libyans would be respected. And after the revolution, he supported the birth of a new democracy, as Libyans held elections, and built new institutions, and began to move forward after decades of dictatorship.

"Chris Stevens loved his work. He took pride in the country he served, and he saw dignity in the people that he met. And two weeks ago, he traveled to Benghazi to review plans to establish a new cultural center and modernize a hospital. That's when America's compound came under attack. Along with three of his colleagues, Chris was killed in the city that he helped to save. He was 52 years old.

"I tell you this story because Chris Stevens embodied the best of America. Like his fellow Foreign Service officers, he built bridges across oceans and cultures, and was deeply invested in the international cooperation that the United Nations represents. He acted with humility, but he also stood up for a set of principles -- a belief that individuals should be free to determine their own destiny, and live with liberty, dignity, justice, and opportunity."

President Obama continued, "Today, we must reaffirm that our future will be determined by people like Chris Stevens -- and not by his killers. Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations.

"It has been less than two years since a vendor in Tunisia set himself on fire to protest the oppressive corruption in his country, and sparked what became known as the Arab Spring. And since then, the world has been captivated by the transformation that's taken place, and the United States has supported the forces of change.

"We were inspired by the Tunisian protests that toppled a dictator, because we recognized our own beliefs in the aspiration of men and women who took to the streets.

"We insisted on change in Egypt, because our support for democracy ultimately put us on the side of the people.

"We supported a transition of leadership in Yemen, because the interests of the people were no longer being served by a corrupt status quo.

"We intervened in Libya alongside a broad coalition, and with the mandate of the United Nations Security Council, because we had the ability to stop the slaughter of innocents, and because we believed that the aspirations of the people were more powerful than a tyrant.

"And as we meet here, we again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop and a new dawn can begin.

"We have taken these positions because we believe that freedom and self-determination are not unique to one culture. These are not simply American values or Western values -- they are universal values. And even as there will be huge challenges to come with a transition to democracy, I am convinced that ultimately government of the people, by the people, and for the people is more likely to bring about the stability, prosperity, and individual opportunity that serve as a basis for peace in our world."

President Obama continued, "...On this we must agree: There is no speech that justifies mindless violence. There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There's no video that justifies an attack on an embassy. There's no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.

"In this modern world with modern technologies, for us to respond in that way to hateful speech empowers any individual who engages in such speech to create chaos around the world. We empower the worst of us if that's how we respond.

"More broadly, the events of the last two weeks also speak to the need for all of us to honestly address the tensions between the West and the Arab world that is moving towards democracy.

"Now, let me be clear: Just as we cannot solve every problem in the world, the United States has not and will not seek to dictate the outcome of democratic transitions abroad. We do not expect other nations to agree with us on every issue, nor do we assume that the violence of the past weeks or the hateful speech by some individuals represent the views of the overwhelming majority of Muslims, any more than the views of the people who produced this video represents those of Americans. However, I do believe that it is the obligation of all leaders in all countries to speak out forcefully against violence and extremism.

President Obama concluded, "So much attention in our world turns to what divides us. That's what we see on the news. That's what consumes our political debates. But when you strip it all away, people everywhere long for the freedom to determine their destiny; the dignity that comes with work; the comfort that comes with faith; and the justice that exists when governments serve their people -- and not the other way around.

"The United States of America will always stand up for these aspirations, for our own people and for people all across the world. That was our founding purpose. That is what our history shows. That is what Chris Stevens worked for throughout his life.

"And I promise you this: Long after the killers are brought to justice, Chris Stevens's legacy will live on in the lives that he touched -- in the tens of thousands who marched against violence through the streets of Benghazi; in the Libyans who changed their Facebook photo to one of Chris; in the signs that read, simply, 'Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans.'

"They should give us hope. They should remind us that so long as we work for it, justice will be done, that history is on our side, and that a rising tide of liberty will never be reversed."

You can read President Obama's complete remarks here.

Related Content:White House Blog -- President Obama Addresses the United Nations

Comments

Comments

Alireza E.
|
Iran
September 25, 2012

Alireza E. in Iran writes:

As a muslim I affirm that our future will be determined by people like Chris Stevens and not by his killers. Today, I declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations.
I feel sad for Chris , and want to tell his family I'm so sorry.

provided35
September 26, 2012

W.W. writes:

Thanks Mr. President - forward now

.

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