Monday, September 12, 2005

Sec of State Rice's briefing on UN reform

Here is the text of Secretary of State Rice's briefing in advance of her trip to the UN General Assembly meetings. She outlined four priorities for the US:

"During the United National General Assembly, the United States will focus on four key policy areas. We will focus on the importance of trade and lifting people out of poverty in the development agenda. Having dramatically increased official development assistance, it is important to keep focused on creating an environment that can make ODA effective -- the rule of law, free market reforms and reducing corruption. It is essential that the outcome document that we are now negotiating reaffirm this comprehensive approach to financing for development the one that is in the Monterrey Consensus.

Second priority is promoting democracy and human rights. We continue to see progress here and we will work at the United Nations. I will have a number of meetings that focus on this issue of promoting democracy and human rights. The President, for instance, will celebrate the opening of the Democracy Fund while he is in New York. But I will have discussions with the G-8 and with various individual countries about this important set of issues.

We will also focus on making America and the world safer and fighting terrorism. The Security Council summit will consider a resolution on the incitement of terror and we will call for progress on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to establish a legal framework to deter and prosecute acts of terrorism.

Finally, on the important issue of United Nations reform, we need a United Nations that is strong and reformed and we are going to continue to seek consensus on an aggressive reform agenda to make the United Nations more effective. In order to do so, the United Nations must be fully accountable, transparent and efficient, with a workforce based on high standards of integrity and competency. And that is the work that we are doing and seeking in the UN outcome document."

In the questions by reporters, Rice was asked about the Bolton edits:

"QUESTION: Madame Secretary, that outcome document you mentioned, the United States has pushed for a lot of changes to it in the last three weeks or so. There's a perception that the United States is sort of kind of swanning in at the last minute and making changes to something that's been in the works for a very long time. How much of that sentiment are you hearing and what will you say about it when you see your counterparts in New York?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I will remind people that we've been working intensively on this process and this document for many months now, including the decision to have a full-time person, Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, who spent a lot of time at the UN starting in the spring and in the summer to work with the facilitators that President Ping had put together. I myself went to New York and talked about the direction that we needed the document to go. I had a meeting with President Ping.

And so the United States has been clear about the way that we felt this document needed to come out for quite a long time and we have -- we looked at the document, we believe that there were a number of changes that needed to be made. But we are working very effectively, I think, and very cooperatively with others to try and get important changes. So I might just note that, for instance, in order to move the process forward on the development section, we put forward new comprehensive -- new compromise language that would be kind of a broad tent where we can state our concerns about development and our ways of thinking about development. Others might be able to state theirs so that there's a sort of big tent on the development issue. I think that those were changes or proposed changes that were very well received. I've heard back from a number of people that they were very well received.

And so we're trying to work very cooperatively. We do believe that this is an important document and it has to be a document that represents certain key principles. For instance, the Human Rights Council has got to be a human rights council that is effective and that is principled. It cannot be a human rights council, where again, Sudan could be elected to it at the same time that it is being accused of genocide. We believe strongly that the management and -- management reforms and Secretariat reforms have got to be taken in the wake of the oil-for-food problem and a number of problems with peacekeeping around the world. It goes without saying that I think there's a broad consensus that you've got to have strong management and secretariat reforms. Secretary Annan has said that himself.

And I might just note that we have bipartisan consensus in this country to that effect. I want to thank Congressmen Lantos and Hyde who have been in New York and Senator Coleman, trying to promote the reform agenda. And we appreciate their efforts.

So there are a number of very important issues. Is the peace building commission going to really be effective? This is a very important document. We are working cooperatively and hard to get a document. We also have got have a document that really means something and so the United States is working with all of our colleagues. I think I'll probably be making a number of phone calls today. I talked to my Indian counterpart just a little bit ago about the importance of getting this moving."

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