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World Summit Concludes With Declaration of U.N. Goals

U.S. says document "important first step in U.N. reform"

Posted: September 17, 2005 Related item: Rice Challenges United Nations To Seize Opportunity To Reform  

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. (State Dept. photo - Janine Sides)
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...)

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.

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 year.

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 flesh out.

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 Council.

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 consensus.

For information on U.S. activities at the United Nations, see The United Nations at 60.

Judy Aita
Washington File Staff Writer

 
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