Obama Recaps Presidency in Final UN General Assembly Address

On 20 September, US President Obama addressed the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly at NY, the last time he spoke at the UN in his capacity as President of the United States. The White House did not release a full list of participating countries or a breakdown of their pledges, making Obama's boast of major headway impossible to confirm.

In a less-than-subtle jab at Donald Trump, the Republican running to replace him, Obama said, "A nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself". He drew a parallel to the Holocaust, calling the US move to turn away Jews fleeing Nazi Germany a stain on America's collective conscience.

"I am more convinced than ever [that we can] end war, poverty and persecution", U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his own opening remarks. Rights groups dismissed the plan as falling far short of the needed global response.

Many leaders came a day early to attend Monday's first-ever United Nations summit on refugees and migrants, which approved a declaration aimed at providing a more coordinated and humane response to the world's 65.3 million displaced people.

Standing before the 193-member United Nations body, Obama sought in broad strokes to lay out a blueprint for addressing other unresolved conflicts.

Obama was well-received when he arrived at the United Nations in 2009 and vowed to shift USA tactics toward collective action rather than the more unilateral approach of President George W. Bush.

Although, Obama's references to walls were clearly aimed at Trump. He said that would send the message that countries like the US were "somehow opposed to Islam".

Obama says he and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari discussed additional ways the country's military can achieve even more progress against Boko Haram militants. Obama's longstanding differences with Russian President Vladimir Putin over his actions in Ukraine have accompanied intense disagreement over Syria's future and a series of failed attempts by Russia and the U.S.to resolve the civil war there together.

The latest developments placed added importance on a meeting early Tuesday morning of the International Syria Support Group, comprised of about 20 countries supporting opposing sides in the conflict.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice in June announced that the gathering - co-hosted along with the United States by Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan, Mexico, Sweden and the UN Secretary General - would seek an increase in funding of at least 30%, a doubling of permanent resettlement, and expanded access to education and work rights for refugees. China said it was pledging $300 million, while the United Kingdom said it would resettle 20,000 and provide nearly $2 billion in aid - a roughly 10 percent bump.

As he has in previous years, Obama reflected on the progress made on global issues during his presidency - the response to the 2008 financial crisis, climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and human rights.

"Make no mistake", US Secretary of State John Kerry said at the United Nations meeting, "additional efforts are urgently needed".

Private companies were stepping up, too. At the heart of his approach, Obama said, is a belief that conflicts are best solved when nations cooperate and a willingness to engage with erstwhile adversaries like Cuba and Myanmar.

"I want to emphasize that from their perspective this isn't charity. It makes good business sense", he said.



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