- The Washington Times - Friday, September 16, 2005

NEW YORK — The largest gathering of world leaders in history concluded a three-day U.N. summit late yesterday with a modest declaration that pledged to improve international security, stimulate development in poor countries and intervene when governments fail to protect civilians from mass murder.

But the most ambitious elements in a proposed final declaration lacked targets and firm commitments, and U.S.-driven reform efforts were largely postponed.

A final 35-page document was adopted by consensus.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton last night took issue with paragraphs in the document relating to reproductive health, declaring that such assertions “do not create any rights and cannot be interpreted to constitute support, endorsement or promotion of abortion.”

But he praised the final document as “an important step in the long process of U.N. reform,” and said Washington would continue to seek management improvements.

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin told the General Assembly that “the status quo and too-often empty rhetoric must make way here for a new and pragmatic multilateralism measured by concrete results, not simply by promises,”

The summit was conceived to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the United Nations and refine its priorities and effectiveness in the 21st century.

But after more than 25 hours of speeches by 151 presidents, prime ministers, kings and princes, the path to the future remained unclear.

“The problem is … that we ask the United Nations to do so much,” said Singapore Deputy Prime Minister S. Jayakumar.

The U.S.-backed proposal to create a new human rights body to replace the discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission was postponed.

The world body also failed to act on proposals to expand the U.N. Security Council.

“We need a reformed Security Council with a membership that is reflective of global realities,” Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said, pointing to one of the most glaring failures of months of negotiations.

The unspecific nature of the summit declaration troubled many leaders who had hoped for a more ambitious and detailed plan of action.

The summit declaration does not address nuclear weapons after the United States and others rejected calls for disarmament and other states resisted language on nonproliferation.

Scores of nations reaffirmed their support for the United Nations as a peacekeeper, a coordinator of technical and financial assistance and as the only venue where governments can forge a collective response to global crises like terrorism, poverty, pandemics and environmental degradation.

But national interests, regional concerns and differing views of collective action blocked progress on issues ranging from development policy to nuclear weapons to how to reform the United Nations.

Anti-poverty campaigners were especially disappointed.

“What we were looking for in the summit was some sense of increased aid to be focused on achieving the MDG’s,” said Nicola Reindorp of the charity Oxfam, referring to previously adopted U.N. Millennium Development goals.

“We’ve already missed the first goal — equal number of girls and boys in schools. We need a palpable sense of more.”

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