- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 14, 2005

NEW YORK — President Bush yesterday implored the United Nations to rid itself of corruption and scolded the global body for squandering the world’s respect and making a mockery of human rights.

“When this great institution’s member states choose notorious abusers of human rights to sit on the U.N. Human Rights Commission, they discredit a noble effort and undermine the credibility of the whole organization,” Mr. Bush told the U.N. General Assembly.

In past years, Libya and Sudan have served on the commission.

“If member countries want the United Nations to be respected and effective, they should begin by making sure it is worthy of respect,” he said.

Although Mr. Bush did not mention the multibillion-dollar oil-for-food debacle that has rocked the United Nations, he called on the world body to move past scandal.

“The United Nations must be strong and efficient, free of corruption and accountable to the people it serves,” he said. “The United Nations must stand for integrity and live by the high standards it sets for others.”

The president also used yesterday’s speech to thank U.N. member nations for donating money to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

“To every nation, every province and every community across the world that is standing with the American people in this hour of need, I offer the thanks of my nation,” he said. “The world is more compassionate and hopeful when we act together.”

Mr. Bush also called on the United Nations to do more in the U.S.-led fight against AIDS and malaria in Africa. He said foreign aid and debt forgiveness will not eliminate global poverty without the economic catalyst of free trade.

“The United States is ready to eliminate all tariffs and subsidies and other barriers to free flow of goods and services as other nations do the same,” he pledged. “This is key to overcoming poverty in the world’s poorest nations.”

Mr. Bush also pushed for various international initiatives to fight terrorism, stop the spread of nuclear weapons and curb the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons.

“We must send a clear message to the rulers of outlaw regimes that sponsor terror and pursue weapons of mass murder: You will not be allowed to threaten the peace and stability of the world,” he said.

Although the United Nations did not support the U.S.-led Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, Mr. Bush yesterday praised the world body for supporting the fledgling democracy that has resulted from that war.

“The whole world has a vital interest in the success of a free Iraq, and no civilized nation has an interest in seeing a new terrorist state emerge in that country,” he said. “The United Nations and its member states must continue to stand by the Iraqi people as they complete the journey to a fully constitutional government.”

After his morning speech at U.N. headquarters, Mr. Bush spent the afternoon meeting with a variety of world leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

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