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Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 14:08 GMT
Jimmy Carter's Nobel Prize speech
Jimmy Carter receives the prize
Jimmy Carter called for international peace
Former United States President Jimmy Carter accepted the Nobel peace prize at a ceremony in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, on Tuesday.

The following are excerpts from his acceptance speech:

"The world has changed greatly since I left the White House.

Now there is only one superpower, with unprecedented military and economic strength.

Instead of entering a millennium of peace, the world is now, in many ways, a more dangerous place. There is a plethora of civil wars... and recent appalling acts of terrorism have reminded us that no nations, even superpowers, are invulnerable.

It is clear that global challenges must be met with an emphasis on peace, in harmony with others, with strong alliances and international consensus.

Imperfect as it may be, there is no doubt that this can best be done through the United Nations.

Middle East conflict

Today there are at least eight nuclear powers on earth, and three of them are threatening to their neighbours in areas of great international tension.

For powerful countries to adopt a principle of preventive war may well set an example that can have catastrophic consequences.

For more than half a century following the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, the Middle East conflict has been a source of worldwide tension.

United Nations Resolution 242 calls for withdrawal of Israel from the occupied territories, and provides for Israelis to live securely and in harmony with their neighbours.

There is no other mandate whose implementation could more profoundly improve international relationships.

Iraqi threat

Perhaps of more immediate concern is the necessity for Iraq to comply fully with the unanimous decision of the Security Council that it eliminate all weapons of mass destruction and permit unimpeded access by inspectors to confirm that this commitment has been honoured.

The world insists that this be done.

I am not here as a public official, but as a citizen of a troubled world who finds hope in a growing consensus that the generally accepted goals of society are peace, freedom, human rights, environmental quality, the alleviation of suffering, and the rule of law.

During the past decades, the international community, usually under the auspices of the United Nations, has struggled to negotiate global standards that can help us achieve these essential goals.

I am convinced that Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and others can embrace each other in a common effort to alleviate human suffering and to espouse peace.

Wealth gap

At the beginning of this new millennium I was asked to discuss, here in Oslo, the greatest challenge that the world faces.

I decided that the most serious and universal problem is the growing chasm between the richest and poorest people on earth.

The results of this disparity are root causes of most of the world's unresolved problems, including starvation, illiteracy, environmental degradation, violent conflict and unnecessary illnesses that range from Guinea worm to HIV/Aids.

War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good.

The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices.

God gives us the capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes - and we must."

The BBC's David Shukman
"His philosophy is that building bridges is better than threatening war"
Former US President Jimmy Carter
"It's very gratifying to me to see our folks at the Carter center so recognised"
Jimmy Carter's biographer Professor Douglas Brinkley
"Since leaving the White House Carter has worked tirelessly"
See also:

11 Oct 02 | Americas
12 Oct 01 | Europe
01 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
21 Sep 02 | Americas
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