Electing a black man as president of the US would be a phenomenal change for the country and the world, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said today.
Mr Annan said having Barack Obama in power would send a clear message that American society has changed.
Mr Annan spoke out within a day of Democrat Senator Obama and his Republican rival John McCain taking part in their third and final presidential debate.
He also sent a strong message that whoever wins the election will have to be prepared to work in partnership with the rest of the world.
“I think it (a black president) will be a phenomenal change for the US and for the world,” said Mr Annan at a conference in Dublin.
“It will introduce a new dynamics and a new relationship between the US and the world. It will also send a message to the Americans that their society has indeed changed. Not a change in policy, but a change in the type of leader they look for.”
Mr Annan was in Dublin to address an international conference on hunger hosted by aid agency Concern Worldwide.
He said he has watched the election intently from afar, and never thought a woman and a black man would do so well in 2008.
Mr Annan, chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, said some lessons have been learned in the last eight years.
“I hope whoever wins will bear that in mind: that we live in an integrated world, we live in the same world and we are facing problems so enormous that no one country, however powerful, can tackle them alone,” he said.
“The only way we can be secure, safe and prosperous together is by working together.”
Jeffrey Sachs, special adviser to UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon and a key member of the Hunger Task Force, called for a change of US foreign policy.
The American said if his home country, China and other great powers joined the UN, it would properly work to address hunger, food, disease, and climate change.
“But it would require significant increased resources and mostly a change of idea, which may be coming,” said Professor Sachs.
“The idea in the US was why have a strong UN, we can do what we want? That was George Bush’s idea and it was an absolutely terrible idea.
“The only right idea in the world that we are in is that we are so interconnected no country can go it alone and hope to succeed in this world.
“The US has learned that. I hope the American public sees that clearly now because if we have a change of view, we could have a much more functioning United Nations system.”