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Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, U.S. President Barack Obama told representatives of 192 countries that the U. N. "can be an institution that is disconnected from what matters in the lives of our citizens, or it can be indispensable in advancing the interests of the people we serve:"
"This Assembly’s Charter commits each of us, and I quote – 'to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women.' Among those rights is the freedom to speak your mind and worship as you please; the promise of equality of the races, and the opportunity for women and girls to pursue their own potential; the ability of citizens to have a say in how you are governed, and to have confidence in the administration of justice. For just as no nation should be forced to accept the tyranny of another nation, no individual should be forced to accept the tyranny of their own people."
Mr. Obama said that 65 years ago, former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt summed up what could be learned from the terrible suffering and enormous sacrifice caused by years of war. "We have learned," said President Roosevelt, "to be citizens of the world, members of the human community."
The United Nations was built by men and women who had the wisdom to know that nations could advance their interests by acting together instead of splitting apart, said President Obama:
"Now it falls to us – for this institution will be what we make of it. The United Nations does extraordinary good around the world. ... But it also struggles to enforce its will, and to live up to the ideals of its founding. I believe that those imperfections are not a reason to walk away from this institution, they are a calling to redouble our efforts."
"Certain basic principles are universal," said President Obama. "There are certain truths which are self evident -- and the United States of America will never waiver in our efforts to stand up for the right of people everywhere to determine their own destiny."