Barack Obama photo

Remarks at a Luncheon Hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations in New York City

September 24, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, as is always the case with these lunches, I exceeded my time this morning, and so you've heard enough from me. [Laughter] But as President of the host country, I do simply want to say thank you to all of you and express my appreciation for Secretary Ban for his principled leadership as well as the extraordinary hard work of his team.

Mr. Secretary-General, you continue to provide the moral vision that we seek from the United Nations as well as a practical sense of how we can achieve that vision. And so on behalf of all of us, we want to say thank you very much.

I also want to salute all who help sustain our United Nations, often unseen and unheralded. This includes the dedicated U.N. inspectors in Damascus who set out into battlefield conditions. They braved sniper fire. They worked diligently with great professionalism. They uncovered the truth, and they have the thanks of the world. Meanwhile, we see thousands of peacekeepers in blue helmets standing watch around the world from Haiti to the D.R.C. to Cyprus so that people in countries recovering from conflict and strife can have the chance to build a more hopeful life.

After the Yalta Conference, shortly before the United Nations was founded, President Roosevelt spoke of what it would take to achieve a lasting and durable peace. "The structure of world peace," he said, "cannot be the work of one man or one party or one nation. It cannot be an American peace or a British, a Russian, a French, or a Chinese peace. It cannot be a peace of large nations or of small nations. It must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world." These words are more true today than ever, whether it's preventing the spread of deadly weapons, promoting democratic governance, or fighting daily battles against poverty and hunger and deprivation. International peace, development, and security will not be achieved by one nation or one group of nations. It must be the work of all of us.

So I want to propose a toast to our host and great friend, Secretary-General Ban, to all those here in New York and around the world who help sustain the United Nations, and to the spirit that we need: the cooperative effort of the whole world. Cheers. Salud.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:37 p.m. at United Nations Headquarters.

Barack Obama, Remarks at a Luncheon Hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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