Moving Forward Toward a Common Future

October 22, 2009

By Victor C Johnson

UN Ambassador Susan Rice, in remarks to the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem yesterday, urged the international community to embrace a common responsibility to rise to today’s challenges and opportunities. Most of the coverage of her speech will likely focus on the portion devoted specifically to advancing peace in the Middle East, but her remarks about the interconnectedness of the world we live in are, I think, of equal if not greater merit.

Her words further articulate this administration's conviction that the United States can no longer operate in isolation – that our problems are the world’s and theirs are ours, and that, as Rice noted, "we must tackle the great problems that we face together." As she says, "more and more, our fates are bound closer together. More and more, we live in a world where we rise and fall together…"

But perhaps the most encouraging moment of Rice’s speech was when she said:

“We seek a world in which government is a means to advance human rights, not a tool to suppress them. A world where violent extremism is rejected, whether from al-Qaeda, Hizballah, or others. A world where nuclear danger, climate change, hunger, poverty, disease, and illiteracy are beaten back—and where access to education and opportunity rises.  A world where we have finally learned the lessons of the Holocaust, of Rwanda, of Darfur—where we put effective action behind the words “never again” by finally ending genocide.  A world where governments rid their schools and their textbooks of lies about those who are different, including slurs about Zionism, the Jewish people, or any religious, racial, and ethnic group.  A world where women and girls fulfill their own potential and are indispensable to national growth and development. A world of liberty and prosperity—of greater decency, dignity, and democracy. A world where a child can grow up in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, in Baghdad, in Bamako, or in Kabul, free of fear, free of want, and with the opportunity to live their dreams.”

NAFSA is committed to being part of building this world. We believe international education and exchange are key tools in achieving it, because it is in knowing and understanding each other better that we can embrace our common humanity and work in common purpose. In our statement, Renewing America’s Global Leadership, released earlier this year, we called for America to re-engage the world and to extend a hand of friendship and understanding to the global community.

Read the full speech: The Responsibility We Share for Our Common Future


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