NEW YORK (AP) — President Barack Obama is challenging other countries to do more to help groups aimed at improving civil society carry out their work.

Obama says a growing number of countries are passing laws to stifle such organizations, and that in extreme cases activists are even arrested.

He's asking countries to take specific steps over the next year to make it easier for these groups to function, to oppose restrictions on them and to come up with new and better ways to support what he says is valuable work.

Obama says such groups uphold human rights, promote good governance and hold leaders like him accountable.

Obama spoke Monday for a White House event while in New York for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.

He addresses the assembly Tuesday morning.