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Stating that he has "captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded U.S. President Barack Obama the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. "His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population," the committee said in a written statement.
"I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace," said President Obama in his acceptance speech:
"But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build -- a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action -- a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century."
Noting that such challenges cannot be met by any one leader of any single nation, President Obama called on all nations to take responsibility for the world we seek. The world, said President Obama, cannot tolerate a world in which, due to nuclear arms proliferation, a nuclear holocaust endangers more people; nor can it accept the growing threat posed by climate change. We cannot allow our differences to define us, but instead must pursue a new beginning among people of different faiths and races and religions: one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect. We must resolve old conflicts and create new opportunities for people to get an education and make a decent living.
"I know these challenges can be met so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone," said President Obama. "This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration -- it's about the courageous efforts of people around the world."