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Rice Remarks at the 60th UN General Assembly

Remarks at the 60th United Nations General Assembly

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
United Nations Headquarters
New York, New York
September 17, 2005

(10:45 a.m. EDT)

SECRETARY RICE: Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen:

On behalf of President Bush, and all of the American people, welcome to New York City.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, my fellow citizens have experienced the compassion of the United Nations.

I want to thank Secretary General Annan for mobilizing the support of this institution.

And I want to thank the representatives of 126 countries that have offered assistance in our relief efforts.

The United States will never forget your generosity in our time of need.

Fellow delegates: In moments of tumultuous historical change, leaders must become architects of a better world.

We must survey the new international landscape, lay firm foundations of moral principle and build institutions that reflect our unique moment in history. It is these institutions that enable citizens of conviction to lead us ever closer to the ideals of justice that stir every soul -- the universal desire for security, and prosperity, and liberty, and dignity.

Sixty years ago was just such a time of transformation. After one of the greatest cataclysms in world history, the United States joined with visionary builders from over 50 countries to create the United Nations.

We placed the enduring principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the foundation of the UN Charter. And we built an institution that has helped to support a peaceful world order for six decades.

Today, however, with the end of the Cold War, and the rise of globalization, and the emergence of new threats, the very terrain of international politics has shifted beneath our feet.

In this new world, we must again embrace the challenge of building for the future.

Fellow members of the General Assembly: The time to reform the United Nations is now. And we must seize this opportunity together.

Chapter 1, Article 1, of the UN Charter proclaims the four "purposes of the United Nations" -- great aspirations that have stood the test of time.

But consider what different forms they take today -- in 2005 -- as opposed to 1945, when they were first declared.

The first purpose of the United Nations is to help "maintain international peace and security."

In 1945, the most serious threats to peace and security emerged between states and were largely defined by their borders.

Today, however, the greatest threats we face emerge within states and melt through their borders -- transnational threats like terrorism, and weapons proliferation, pandemic disease and trafficking in human beings.

The second purpose of this institution -- as written in the UN Charter -- is "to develop friendly relations among nations, based on equal rights and self-determination of all peoples."

In 1945, a life of liberty and dignity was more an aspiration than a reality for a majority of the world's people.

Today, however, more nations than ever have enshrined the principles of democracy and human rights -- a true moral triumph that will only be complete when all individuals are secure in their basic freedoms.

The third purpose of the United Nations is "to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems."

In 1945, the fear was that strong, aggressive states -- eager and able to expand their frontiers with force -- would be the primary cause of international problems.

Today, however, it is clear that weak and poorly governed states -- unwilling or incapable of ruling their countries with justice -- are the principal source of global crises -- from civil war and genocide, to extreme poverty and humanitarian disaster.

The final purpose of the United Nations -- as the Charter states -- is "to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of common ends."

In 1945, the world's leaders joined together to build an institutional partnership that could address the shared challenges of their time.

Today, faced with the realities of a new world, we must transform the United Nations to meet the shared challenges of our time.

The members of this body must work together to strengthen security in a world threatened by stateless extremists.

Today, I call on the nations of the world to ratify the Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism.

No cause, no movement, and no grievance can justify the intentional killing of innocent civilians and non-combatants.

This is unacceptable by any moral standard.

It is time for every member of the United Nations to outlaw acts of international terrorism.

We must also work together to promote prosperity and development in a world of great potential.

The United States is committed to the Millennium Development Goals.

And at Monterrey, three years ago, all nations agreed that development must be a two-way street.

Donor countries have a responsibility to increase their assistance to developing nations. And developing nations have a responsibility to govern justly, to advance economic liberty, and to invest in their people.

The Monterrey Consensus is working.

Now is not the time to revert to old, failed thinking about development.

Countries representing three-quarters of the developing world's population are on a pace to meet the targets of the Millennium Declaration by 2015.

And as President Bush said on Wednesday, the United States is prepared to take new action to accelerate this progress: We will eliminate all tariffs and subsidies that distort free trade -- as other nations do the same.

Members of the United Nations must work together as well to support democracy in a world of expanding liberty. To advance this common purpose, in 2004, President Bush proposed the creation of a Democracy Fund. With the broad support of this body, we have made that a reality.

The Fund is now receiving donations -- in cash and in kind -- from countries both large and small, who wish to help other nations lay the foundations of democracy.

Showing its leadership as the world's largest democracy, India made the generous opening pledge of $10 million.

Now to be sure, when speaking about democracy, the United States has reason for humility.

After all, it was only in my lifetime that America guaranteed the right to vote for all its citizens.

Obviously, the path to democracy is long, and imperfect, and different for every nation.

But the principles of democracy are universal -- as is the desire for them. And the United Nations must support every country that embraces the challenge of self-government. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, in the Palestinian territories and throughout the world, peoples who want to build democracy deserve our help.

The many goals we share are great indeed. And the United Nations has a major role to play in their achievement.

But for this institution to become an engine of change in the 21st century, it must now change itself.

The United Nations must launch a lasting revolution of reform.

The UN Summit Declaration, which every head of state endorsed this week, expresses a global consensus that reform is imperative. And I want to thank former General Assembly President Ping for his tireless hard work.

Our challenge now -- under President Eliasson's leadership -- is to enact the vital reforms that will make the United Nations more accountable to its members, more suited to new challenges and more faithful to its founding purposes.

The United States welcomes the commitment of all leaders to establish a new Peace-Building Commission. Now, we must embrace the difficult task of implementing that vision.

A Peace-Building Commission should plan for post-conflict missions before crises erupt.

And it must help to coordinate reconstruction efforts after the fighting stops.

In a world threatened by civil strife, the United Nations needs to be better prepared to help countries rebuild in the aftermath of conflict.

We are also pleased that the world's leaders recognized the importance of establishing a new Human Rights Council.

But it will take a lot of hard work in the coming months to realize this goal.

The Human Rights Council must have fewer members, less politics, and more credibility. And it should never -- never -- empower brutal dictatorships to sit in judgment of responsible democracies.

The Human Rights Council must have the moral authority to condemn all violators of human rights -- even those that sit among us in this hall.

Finally, we welcome the promise of the world's leaders to make the United Nations a more effective -- and more principled -- institution.

As President Bush said on Wednesday, "The United Nations must stand for integrity, and live by the high standards it sets for others."

For the United Nations to champion democracy more legitimately, we must increase the transparency and accountability of this institution.

For the United Nations to promote prosperity more credibly, tougher ethics rules and greater internal oversight are needed to ensure the highest professional standards.

And to make the United Nations relevant to the challenges of today, the purpose and performance of all UN programs must be reviewed thoroughly, consistently, and comprehensively.

Our fellow citizens deserve a United Nations that commands their respect -- and is worthy of their hard-earned tax dollars.

In a democracy, leaders must be able to justify that their people's money is indeed being well spent.

Real progress on these fundamental reforms will prove that the United Nations can address greater issues of change -- in particular, the reform of the Security Council.

We want this important body to reflect the world as it is in 2005 -- not as it was in 1945.

The United States is open to expanding the Security Council.

We have long supported a permanent seat for Japan. And we believe that developing countries deserve greater representation on this body.

All of this would make for a more effective Security Council -- and the Security Council must be effective.

It must be able to deal with great challenges like terrorism and nuclear proliferation, especially when it faces real threats and when countries like Iran threaten the effectiveness of the global non-proliferation regime.

When diplomacy has been exhausted, the Security Council must become involved.

Questions about Iran's nuclear activities remain unanswered, despite repeated efforts by the IAEA.

And after agreeing to negotiate with Europe, Iran has unilaterally walked away from the talks and restarted its nuclear programs.

Iran should return to the negotiations with the EU-3 and abandon forever its plans for a nuclear weapons capability.

My friend, the experience of recent years has reinforced the universal truth that international institutions are only as strong, and effective, and relevant as their members choose to make them.

The United Nations is no different.

The United States believes in a United Nations that is strong and effective.

And we have ambitious hopes for its future.

So in this year, as the United Nations marks its 60th anniversary, let us recommit ourselves to principled action.

Let us embrace the same spirit of creation that moved the builders and leaders of 1945.

And let us reform this great institution to meet the challenges of a new era.

Thank you.

###

2005/T13-20

ENDS


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