Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech
I am both surprised and deeply humbled, by the decision of the Nobel Committee, let me be clear, I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people of all nations.
To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many transformative figures that have been honored by this prize. Me and women who have inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace. 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 been used just 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 21 century. These challenges cannot be met by any one leader or any one nation.
That’s why my administration has worked to establish a new era of engagement in which all nations must take responsibility for the world we see. We cannot tolerate a world in which nuclear weapons spread to more nations in which the terror of a nuclear holocaust endangers more people. That’s why we’ve begun to take concrete steps to pursue a world without nuclear weapons. Because all nations have the right to pursue peaceful nuclear power , all nations have the responsibility to demonstrate their peaceful intentions.
We cannot accept the growing threat posed by climate change which could forever damage the world that we pass onto our children, sewing conflict, famine, destroying coastlines and emptying cities. and that is why all nations must share their responsibility for transforming the way we use energy. We cannot allow the differences that we see between peoples to define the way that we see one another, that’s why we must pursue a new beginning of people of different faiths, races and religions, one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.
We must all do our part to resolve those conflicts that have caused so much pain and hardship over so many years. That effort must include an unwavering commitment to finally realize the rights of all Israeli and Palestinians to live in peace and security in nations of their own. We can’t accept a world in which more people are denied opportunity and dignity that all people yearn for. The ability to get an education and make a decent living, the security that you won’t have to live in the fear of disease or violence without hope for the future. Even as we strive to seek a world in which conflicts are resolved peacefully and prosperity is widely shared, we have to confront the world as we know it today.
I am a commander in chief of a country that is responsible for ending a war and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies. I’m also aware that we are dealing with the impact of a global economic crisis that has left millions of Americans looking for work. These are concerns that I confront every day on the behalf of the American people. Some of the work confronting us will not be completed during my presidency, some like the elimination of nuclear weapons may not be completed in my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it is recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.
This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration, it’s about the greatest efforts of people around the world. That’s why this award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity. For the young woman who marches silently on the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets, the leader imprisoned in her own home because she refused to abandon her commitment to democracy, for the soldier who sacrificed through tour after tour of duty on behalf of someone half a world away. For all those men and women across the world who sacrificed their safety and their freedom, and sometimes their lives for the cause of peace. That has always been the cause of America, that’s why the world has always looked to America and that’s why I believe America will continue to lead.
Thank you very much.