UPDATE: Video and transcript added below
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen, each year we come together to reaffirm the founding vision of this institution. For most of recorded history, individual aspirations were subject to the whims of tyrants and empires and divisions of race and religion and tribe were settled through the sword and the clash of armies.
The idea that nations and peoples could come together in peace to solve their disputes and advance a common prosperity seemed unimaginable. It took the awful carnage of two world wars to shift our thinking.
The leaders who built the United Nations were not naive. They did not think this body could eradicate all wars. But in the wake of millions dead and (inaudible) rubble, and with the development of nuclear weapons that could annihilate a planet, they understand that humanity could not survive the course it was on.
And so, they gave us this institution, believing that it could allow us to resolve conflicts, enforce rules of behavior and build habits of cooperation that would grow stronger over time.
For decades, the United Nations has, in fact, made a difference from helping to eradicate disease to educating children to brokering peace. But like every generation of leaders, we face new and profound challenges, and this body continues to be tested. The question is whether we possess the wisdom and the courage as nation states and members of an international community to squarely meet those challenges, whether the United Nations can meet the test of our time.
And for much of my tenure as president, some of our most urgent challenges have involved around an increasingly integrated global economy and our efforts to recover from the worst economic crisis of our lifetime.
Now, five years after the global economy collapsed, and thanks to coordinated efforts by the countries here today, jobs are being created, global financial systems have stabilized and people are once again being lifted out of poverty.
But this progress is fragile, and unequal and we still have work to do together to assure that our citizens can access the opportunities that they need to thrive in the 21st century.
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