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United States of America
H.E. Mr. George W. Bush, President

23 September 2008

Statement Summary

GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States, recalled that 63 years ago, world leaders had gathered in San Francisco to complete the United Nations Charter, and agree on a historic pledge to restore the faith and fundamental human rights of the world’s peoples.  That noble pledge had endured trying hours, and still guided work today.

At the same time, such ideals were being challenged by the global movement of terrorism, by those who showed contempt for all who respect life, he said.  Terrorists rejected the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, and any standard of any conscience of morality.  They impaired the justice and human rights that had given birth to the United Nations.  Sovereign States had a responsibility to solve problems before they crossed borders; an obligation to respect rights and respond to their people’s needs.

Multilateral organizations also had responsibilities, he continued.  While there had been successes and setbacks, a clear lesson had emerged:  the United Nations and other multilateral organizations were needed more urgently than ever.  To be successful, the United Nations must be resolute.  States must cooperate more closely to keep terrorist attacks from happening, and “actively challenge the actions of tyranny and despair”.

The United Nations must continually confront terrorism, a mission that required clarity of vision, he said.  Terrorists sought to impose their will on as many as possible, and bringing them to justice was the best way to protect people.  No cause could justify the deliberate taking of life.  Security Council resolutions said that terrorism was unlawful, and the Secretary-General earlier this month had stated that terror could never be justified.  The Group of Eight (G-8) had declared that all terrorist acts were criminal, while the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) recently spoke out against terrorist bombings.

Like slavery, terrorism had no place in the modern world, he said, and nations were turning that idea into action, conducting joint operations and freezing finances.  Such efforts had spared citizens from devastating blows.  For seven years, Afghanistan and Iraq had transformed from regimes that sponsored terror into those that combated it.  Some nations, including Syria and Iran, continued to sponsor terror.  To think that the threat had receded would be wrong.  The United Nations must be resolute in the fight against terror, and remain vigilant against its proliferation.  In that context, he cited Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).

States must also confront the ideology of terrorists, who envisioned a world in which women were oppressed and dissent was crushed, he said.  The Assembly must present an alternative that advanced the vision of freedom and the highest ideals.  Doing so would serve security interests.  When citizens chose their leaders, they were less likely to look to radical ideologies.

Further, the United Nations must challenge tyranny as vigorously as it challenged terror, he said.  From the voting booths of Afghanistan and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, to the Rose Revolution in Georgia, people had chosen to demand their liberty.  The truth was that when given a choice, people choose freedom.  States had supported newly free societies through the United Nations Democracy Fund, and he urged the Assembly delegations to stand with them.

The United Nations was an active civilian presence in Afghanistan, with experts facilitating humanitarian aid and protecting human rights, he said.  In Iraq, the fight had been difficult, but life had improved dramatically thanks to the determination of Iraqis.  He called on States to “stand united” for people in such areas as Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories and Georgia, where the Russian invasion was a violation of the United Nations Charter.

The United States had worked with the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to provide humanitarian relief in Georgia.  He thanked Georgia, Ukraine, Iraq and other “brave young democracies” for their inspiring example.  Freedom was a noble goal worthy of the United Nations and it should enjoy the support of all Members.  Many had answered the call to help those in need, working to alleviate homelessness.  Such goals advanced security interests, as terrorists found fertile ground in nations that were trapped in despair.  “In the shadow of hopelessness, radicalism thrived”, he said, and overcoming that hopelessness required addressing poverty, disease and ignorance.

Describing his country’s launch of the Millennium Challenge Account, he urged adopting a model of partnership, not paternalism, and highlighted work to combat HIV/AIDS, notably in sub-Saharan Africa.  Among the most powerful “engines of prosperity” were trade and investment, and many countries had conducted Free Trade Agreements.  It would be most effective to tear down barriers at the global level, and reach a successful Doha agreement as soon as possible.

“We must open our economies, and stand firm against isolation”, he said, ideas that were being tested today by turbulence in the United States financial sector.  In recent weeks, the United States had taken “bold steps” to prevent economic disruption, and had promoted stability by preventing the disorderly failure of companies.  Last week it announced actions to address the root causes of financial instability, including by purchasing assets.  Congress was working to pass legislation to approve that strategy, and he was confident it would act in the urgent time frame.

To have maximum impact, he called on multilateral institutions to work towards measurable goals, and be accountable for their actions.  The world needed a confident United Nations.  Among other things, he called for corruption to be corrected, the Human Rights Council to be immediately reviewed, stronger efforts to help the people of “ Burma”, who lived under repression, and the Security Council to ensure that the Sudan addressed violence in Darfur.

“The United Nations is an organization of extraordinary potential and could affirm the promise of its founding,” he said.  Recalling the words of former United States President Harry S. Truman, he said success would be possible through an “unshakable unity of determination”.  Together, States could defeat terrorism, and “build a world that is freer, safer and better for generations that follow”.

[Source: GA/10749]

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