Barack Obama: “The right to self-determination is universal”

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Not long after Artur Mas, the President of the Catalan government, proclaimed in Parliament yesterday afternoon that “it is time to exercise the right to self-determination,” the right of peoples to decide was also spoken of on the other side of the world.
It was US President Barack Obama who said in his speech before the UN general assembly in New York that “freedom and self-determination are universal values.” Quite a coincidence in an afternoon in which President Mas has cut the parliamentary term short calling elections so that the people of Catalonia can decide upon the much yearned-for right to self-determination.
Coincidentally, Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy happened to be in New York at the time in order to argue precisely in favor of the opposite, namely, against Gibraltar choosing freely about their own future, and in favor of it becoming a part of the Spanish Crown instead of a British territory. Spain has lobbied repeatedly to regain Gibraltar, in spite of the wishes of the people of Gibraltar. As is usual in Spain, the wishes of the people count for naught.

“We have taken these positions because we believe that freedom and self-determination are not unique to one culture. These are not simply American values or Western values – they are universal values. And even as there will be huge challenges that come with a transition to democracy, I am convinced that ultimately government of the people, by the people and for the people is more likely to bring about the stability, prosperity, and individual opportunity that serve as a basis for peace in our world.” —President Barack Obama

For the speech transcript, click here.

President Obama’s speech to the UN general assembly – full transcript
Delivered to the UN in New York on 25 September 2012
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