United Nations -- Concluding their 2005
World Summit September 16, representatives of the United Nations'
191 member states overwhelmingly adopted a hard-fought compromise
on goals and strategies for the world organization in the
years to come.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice addresses
the United Nations 60th General Assembly opening
debate, Saturday, September 17 at U.N. Headquarters
in New York. Challenging the U.N. to "reform
this great institution," Rice outlines a number
of priorities for the world organizations including
fighting terrorism, helping fledgling democracies,
and stopping nuclear proliferation. (More...)
Over the course of the three-day meetings,
participants heard President Bush and more than 150 other
leaders outline their visions for the future of the United
Nations and how to meet the goals of ending poverty; protecting
the environment; defeating HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB; building
peace; promoting democracy, and fighting terrorism.
In the document, which was adopted by consensus,
the leaders reaffirmed their "faith in the United Nations"
and their commitment to "the purposes and principles
of the Charter and international law."
The 40-page final document, weaker than
originally drafted and faulted for ignoring disarmament
and nonproliferation issues, outlines broad goals, many
of which -- especially actions on reforms of the United
Nations itself -- will need to be followed up by the General
Assembly during its 60th session.
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the United
States was pleased to join the consensus and "pleased
the member states have agreed to denounce terrorism in all
its forms, advance the cause of development, reform the
management of the U.N., establish a Peacebuilding Commission,
and create a Human Rights Council."
Bolton said "the outcome document represents
an important step in a long process of U.N. reform. We cannot
allow the reform effort to be derailed or run out of steam."
CONDEMNING TERRORISM, GENOCIDE
The document was praised widely for strongly
condemning terrorism. It is the first clear, unqualified
U.N. condemnation of terrorism "in all its forms and
manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for
whatever purposes as it constitutes one of the most serious
threats to international peace and security."
Nations also agreed to support a strategy
to fight terrorism in a way that makes the international
community stronger and terrorists weaker and to complete
a comprehensive convention on terrorism by the end of the
It contains a clear and unambiguous acceptance
by U.N. members of the collective international responsibility
to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic
cleansing and crimes against humanity. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan told the leaders that in accepting the document
"you will be pledged to act if another Rwanda looms."
A STEP FORWARD
U.S. Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas
Burns said it is "a good document" and "a
step forward" toward reforming the United Nations and
making it stronger and more effective.
"What you have is a 'big tent' agreement
where the views of countries all over the world were represented
and that is the best way to negotiate among 191 countries,"
Burns said after negotiators reached agreement just before
the start of the summit September 13.
Strong management reforms requested by the
secretary-general and the United States were replaced by
generalities and left to the upcoming General Assembly to
The centerpiece of the U.S. effort in drafting
and negotiating the summit document was "strengthening
the United Nations, making it a more effective institution
and allowing the United States to participate in the U.N.
in a very vigorous way," Burns said.
"This is not the end of the reform
effort. It really is the beginning of a permanent reform
effort that must be under way here at the United Nations,"
he said. "We believe in the United Nations. We want
the U.N. to be strengthened. We want the U.N. to be effective
around the world."
The result will be "a greatly strengthened
United Nations" that has a strong code of ethics, enhanced
whistleblower protection, more extensive financial disclosure
for U.N. officials and stronger internal oversight, Burns
said. Another reform will be a review of all programs older
than five years, the under secretary said.
PEACEBUILDING, HUMAN RIGHTS
The document also contains initiatives for
a Peacebuilding Commission to help nations emerging from
conflict and a new human rights body called the Human Rights
It calls for a Human Rights Council by the
end of the year but leaves all the details -- rules, by-laws
and membership -- to be determined later by the General
Assembly. It also does not mention the abolition of the
Human Rights Commission.
The council, Burns said, has to have "a
democratic cast which is so important to us because we can
no longer support the Human Rights Commission in Geneva."
The United States was an "enthusiastic
supporter" of the Peacebuilding Commission, which will
be created as a result of the document. It will "add
a new dimension to United Nations efforts," he said.
Burns said the development portion of the
document is "a more holistic approach" to development
that takes into account aid from donor nations, lowering
trade barriers, and good governance and fighting corruption
in developing countries as called for in the so-called Monterrey
For information on U.S. activities at the
United Nations, see The
United Nations at 60.
Washington File Staff Writer