"Universal truths" are self-evident: Obama

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Barack Obama speaking at the UN at the opening of the high-level debate of the General Assembly. UN Photo/Loey Felipe

The US President has urged governments across the world to embrace democracy and allow people to express themselves freely.

Barack Obama was speaking at the UN at the opening of the high-level debate of the General Assembly.

Daniel Dickinson reports.

President Obama's speech lasted over 42 minutes and focused on a wide range of issues, including the conflict in Syria, the nuclear deal with Iran, Russian foreign policy and climate change.

It also focused on the rights of individuals and the need for democracy.

Addressing world leaders, he said the General Assembly had to defend the democratic principles that allow societies to succeed.

"I recognize that democracy is going to take different forms in different parts of the world – the very idea of a people governing themselves depends upon government giving expression to their unique culture, their unique history, their unique experiences. But some universal truths are self-evident. No person wants to be imprisoned for peaceful worship. No woman should ever be abused with impunity or go barred from going to school. The freedom to peacefully petition those in power – without fear of arbitrary laws – these are not ideas of one country or one culture. They are fundamental to human progress.  They are a cornerstone of this institution."

And condemning oppressive leaders, he said that history shows that regimes who fear their own people will eventually crumble.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations.

Duration: 1’18″


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