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The Nobel Prize for Peace for President Obama

Congratulations, President Obama!

This morning's announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize is an honor and well-deserved.

The honor is, of course, an honor that American shares. And, while there are naysayers, the award is deserved for the new approach to global policy that President Obama has brought by creating, in the words of the Nobel Committee,  the climate in which "Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play." The Nobel Committee specifically highlights the initiative he has taken to reach out to the Muslim world and to urge nuclear disarmament.

At, we work daily with issues of international diplomacy and global institutions, and we can confirm that President Obama's approach has changed the very nature of the discussions that are held and the possibilities that are sought. Consider the following:

North Korea

North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons has been the cause of much tension throughout the international community for several years.  After the country's withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, it has repeatedly issued reports of successful nuclear tests.  North Korea, now referred to as a "fully fledged nuclear power," has had world leaders at the edge of their seats.  But now, according to a New York Times article, the country is expressing interest in rejoining the six-nation talk about its nuclear weapon programs.

"Five to Rule them All"

Last night, I attended a book launch hosted by the World Affairs Council. The book is entitled "Five to Rule Them All", and is a historical narrative of the Security Council and in particular the relationship of the five permanent members (United Kingdom, France, Russia, United States and China).

Secretary of State Clinton Chairs U.N. Security Council Meeting

On September 30, 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chaired a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on women, peace, and security. The U.N. Security Council immediately passed unanimously U.N. Security Council resolution 1820 strengthening international action against sexual violence.

The Nuclear Warhead Debate

The leaders of the Western world have finally come to the agreement that Iran is indeed in the process of developing nuclear weapons. The debate has now shifted away from the existence of the nuclear weapons to the possibility of Iran's efforts to design a nuclear warhead. The warhead would be the final step in the completion of the nuclear weapon.

Education in South Africa

Last week in Cape Town, South Africa thousands of children took to the streets to protest for better schools. After apartheid ended in South Africa, leaders have tried to create a better education system for the children of the country. Unfortunately, they have not taken the most effective measures. The current protest movement takes precedence from a 1976 uprising against apartheid. One of the leaders of the current movement, led by an organization called Equal Education, is Zackie Achmat- one of South Africa's main advocates for AIDS treatment.

The main premise of the movement is to work for educational equity and to empower students to work with teachers and government officials to promote change. The importance of education in the development process in any country is overwhelming. By empowering individuals to think for themselves and question what is going on around them, a diverse civil society can be created. As Achmat has said in an article in the New York Times, "In building a citizens' movement, the most important element is giving people the sense of their own power to change things with little victories." The achievements of Equal Education (which began in 2008) thus far include: installing windows in a school whose windows were shattered, and providing a science teacher for a high school that did not have one for its seniors. According to the article, the protest that occurred last week was to rally for libraries and librarians in these schools, and is their first attempt to take on a national issue.

President Obama and the United Nations

Multilateralism is again the focal point for American foreign policy, in a way that has not been seen in a number of decades. The new U.S. engagement is manifesting itself in both word and deed. President Obama's whirl-wind tour of multilateralism is a refreshing sight. President Obama started his tour with a speech to the U.N.'s Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's Climate Change Summit. In his remarks, as he repeated in his address to the General Assembly, he stated that the U.S. is ready to address global problems on the global stage. He recognized that, while the U.S.

150 Foreign Ministers Call for Ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

Today at a UN conference a declaration was adopted to promote entry into force of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). This treaty prohibits the testing of nuclear weapons, which helps to limit the negative impacts that nuclear weapons have on the environment. It also slows the production of new nuclear weapons. The declaration that was adopted today, by a large majority, urges nations to sign and ratify this treaty as soon as possible:

"The overwhelming support for the Treaty and its early entry into force has been expressed by the United Nations General Assembly and other multilateral and regional organs and initiatives, which have called for signature and ratification of the Treaty as soon as possible, and have urged all States to remain seized of the issue at the highest political level. We affirmed the importance and urgency of signatures and ratifications without delay to achieve early entry into force of the Treaty"

Hillary Clinton's remarks at the conference support the CTBT and emphasizes President Obama's goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Furthermore, she asserts that the administration will work to get the CTBT ratified through the Senate.

Act now to urge the U.S. Senate to ratify this treaty!

President Obama urges world leaders to live up to international responsibilities

President Barack Obama gave his first speech in front of the United Nations General Assembly this morning. President Obama pointed out that "speeches alone will not solve our problems." He called for the international community to share the responsibility of tremendous global challenges that face us all.