Thank you so much, Ted. I think we all know there is no greater friend of the United Nations than Ted Turner. You have made an incredible difference in the lives of millions through your philanthropy, and we’re all enormously grateful.
I also want to thank Tim Wirth, Kathy Calvin, and the rest of the UNF/UNA family for their vital work. And thank you also for inviting me to join you tonight as you recognize the contributions of so many distinguished people, including Prime Minister Stoltenberg, my friend Under-Secretary-General Susana Malcorra, Chairman Rex Tillerson, Linkin Park and Asma Jahangir. Congratulations to all these distinguished honorees.
Whether fighting nuclear proliferation, advancing public health, or reducing poverty, the United Nations remains crucial to the world’s future. The United Nations is also crucial to the future of the United States. The Obama administration remains firmly committed to advancing universal values and American strategic interests through engagement with the United Nations and the international system. This has been fundamental to our foreign policy from the beginning, and will continue to be. Our moral, strategic and financial investment is for the long term.
The need for the UN is growing at the very time that the threats to it are increasing. While the American public still strongly supports the United Nations, in political circles, that support has recently come under significant strain. That means your very good work has never been so important, and I am grateful for your enduring support for the United Nations and your continued active U.S. leadership within the United Nations system.
We are very fortunate to have with us tonight Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who enters his second term with a universal mandate. He is tackling the world’s toughest challenges with the full force of his energy and talents. In the past year alone, the Secretary-General has defended the right of protesters in Tunisia and Egypt to demand change and shape their own futures. He has spoken out against governments waging violence against their own people in Libya and Syria. He has stood up to a despot trying to steal an election in Cote d’Ivoire. He has persisted in placing women’s issues on the UN agenda and appointing more and more women to his senior management team. And he continues to tackle the transnational challenges of the 21st century, from terrorism and nuclear proliferation to climate change, infectious disease and eradicating poverty.
Mr. Secretary-General, I deeply admire your dedication, and I’m proud to have the opportunity to serve with you. I value our friendship and the strong relationship the Obama administration shares with the United Nations. I’d also like to thank your wonderful wife, Madame Ban Soon-Taek, for her steadfast support as you enter your second term.
Tonight, Mr. Secretary-General, we honor your service to mankind. I want you to know how much we value your wisdom and committed leadership in these challenging times.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
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