President Obama Takes the World Stage

At the United Nations 64th annual session in New York City, President Barack Obama made his first appearance before the international body. Addressing the General Assembly, he stressed his commitment to “reengage” with the UN. Obama focused on “four pillars” of his foreign policy: “nonproliferation and disbarment [of nuclear weapons], the promotion of peace and security, the preservation of our planet, and a global economy that advances opportunity for all people.” He promised a renewed commitment from the United States but also issued a challenge: “Those who used to chastise [criticize] America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone.”

President Obama then chaired a meeting of the UN Security Council’s heads of state. The group called for stricter controls on the spread of nuclear weapons. Citing violations by Iran and North Korea, Obama urged the international community to “stand together.”

On September 26, after a two-day summit meeting in Pittsburgh, President Obama announced the outlines of agreements reached by the leaders of the Group of 20 (G-20). The G-20 includes finance ministers and central bankers from the world’s largest developed and developing economies. The summit focused on preventing future financial crises like the one that has shaken the global economy in 2008–09. The G-20 agreements recommended closer regulation of the world’s financial system, new procedures to cope with the failure of major financial firms, and new rules limiting bankers’ compensation.

Related Links

  • Transcript: Obama Addresses U.N. General Assembly
    This Web page includes the complete transcript of Barack Obama’s address to the United Nations General Assembly, his first ever speech to the international body.
    (Source: CNN, September 25, 2009)
  • Obama Leads Summit’s Adoption of Nuclear Arms Resolution
    This article describes the special meeting of the UN Security Council led by President Obama that focused on nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.
    (Source: CNN, September 25, 2009)
  • G20 Leaders Wrap Up Their Economic Summit
    This article sums up the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit, detailing the agreements reached to bolster the global financial system.
    (Source: VOA News, September 26, 2009)
  • What Is the G-20?
    The official Web site of the Group of 20 explains its history, mission, and membership.
    (Source:; accessed September 28, 2009)

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Summarize Read about President Obama’s recent speech to the United Nations. What are the president’s main foreign policy objectives?
  2. Make Inferences How might decisions made by the G-20 summit affect the economies of countries that are not a part of that group?
  3. Form and Support Opinions Are agreements reached by international bodies such as the G-20 binding on the United States?

One Comment

  1. Riann says: