August 26, 2005 in Nation/World

U.S. calls for major changes for U.N.

Colum Lynch Washington Post
 

UNITED NATIONS – Less than a month before world leaders arrive in New York for a world summit on poverty and U.N. reform, the Bush administration has thrown the proceedings in turmoil with a call for drastic renegotiation of a draft agreement to be signed by presidents and prime ministers attending the event.

The United States has only recently introduced more than 750 amendments that would eliminate new pledges of foreign aid to impoverished nations, scrap provisions that call for action to halt climate change and urge nuclear powers to make greater progress in dismantling their nuclear arms. At the same time, the administration is urging U.N. members to strengthen language in the 29-page document that calls for tougher action to combat terrorism, promote human rights and democracy and halt the spread of the world’s deadliest weapons.

Next month’s summit, an unusual meeting at the United Nations of heads of state from around the globe, was called by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to reinvigorate efforts to fight poverty and take stronger steps in the battles against terrorism and genocide. The leaders of 175 nations are expected to attend and sign the agreement, which has been under negotiation for six months.

The United Nations originally scheduled the Sept. 14 summit as a follow-up on the 2000 Millennium Summit, which produced commitments by U.N. members to meet a series of deadlines over the next 15 years aimed at reducing poverty, preventable diseases and other scourges of the world’s poor. But the Bush administration is seeking to focus attention on the need to streamline the U.N. bureaucracy, establish a democracy fund, strengthen the U.N. human rights office and support a U.S. initiative to halt the trade in weapons of mass destruction.

The U.S. amendments call for striking any mention of the Millennium Development Goals, and the administrations has publicly complained that the document’s section on poverty is too long. Instead, the United States has sought to underscore the importance of the Monterrey Consensus, a 2002 summit which focused on free market reforms and required governments to improve accountability in exchange for aid and debt relief.

The proposed U.S. amendments, contained in a confidential, 36-page document obtained by the Washington Post, have been presented this week to select envoys. The U.N. General Assembly’s president, Jean Ping of Gambia, is organizing a core group of 20 to 30 countries to engage in an intensive final round of negotiations in an attempt to strike a deal.

The proposed U.S. changes, submitted by U.N. ambassador John Bolton, touch on virtually every aspect of U.N. affairs and provide a detailed look at U.S. concerns about the U.N.’s future. They underscore U.S. efforts to impose greater oversight of U.N. spending and to eliminate any reference to the International Criminal Court.

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