UN Summit Hears Reform Calls; Anti-Terrorism Measure Approved



President Bush and Secretary-General Kofi Annan have opened a U.N. anniversary summit with appeals for reform of the world body. From U.N. headquarters, A summit-level Security Council meeting issued a call for a global ban on incitement to terrorism.

With the leaders of the United States, Britain, Russia, China among dignitaries sitting around the horseshoe-shaped table, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution urging all countries to make it a crime to incite terrorist acts.

The measure was sponsored by Britain, a recent victim of terrorism which has taken action against preachers of hate. As the incitement resolution was approved, British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned that counterterrorism efforts were doomed to fail unless they attack the root cause, which he identified as a doctrine of fanaticism.

"It won't be defeated until we unite, not just in condemning terrorism, which we all do, but in fighting the poisonous propaganda that the root cause of terrorism somehow lies with us around this table, and not with them," the prime minister said."They want us to believe that somehow, it is our fault, that their extremism is our responsibility.

Earlier, addressing a gathering of 150 kings, presidents and prime ministers in the General Assembly hall, President Bush challenged other countries to abolish trade tariffs and subsidies. He said the elimination of trade barriers could lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in the next 15 years.

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

In his address, Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed to world leaders to restore confidence in the United Nations. He urged collective action to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

But with the world body reeling from revelations of widespread corruption and mismanagement, he admitted that months of diplomatic negotiations had failed to produce the package of reforms he had hoped to present them.

"But let us be frank with each other and the peoples of the United Nations," he said. "We have not yet achieved the sweeping and fundamental reform that I, and many others, believe is required. Sharp differences, some of them substantive and legitimate, have played their part in preventing that."

Mr. Annan lamented that members had failed to include any mention of disarmament and non-proliferation in the declaration to be approved at the close of the summit. He called the omission "inexcusable".

President Bush pledged the United States would take a lead role in pushing for reform of the world body. He pointed to the discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission, which has included countries such as Sudan, Cuba and Libya as members, as an example of the urgent need for reform. He chided member states for failing to take strong action to replace the commission with a more robust body.

"The process of reform begins with members taking our responsibilities seriously," the president said. "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."

The summit, billed as the largest gathering of world leaders in history, has offered countless opportunities for bilateral talks and contact between countries with long histories of rivalries. The prime ministers of India and Pakistan are discussing their dispute over Kashmir. And Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon shook hands with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf at a reception, weeks after their government held their first public talks.

The meeting is also providing a forum for signing a global treaty aimed at preventing nuclear terrorism. The accord - the first of its kind since September 11, 2001 - makes it a crime to possess radioactive material or weapons for the purpose of committing a terrorist act or attacking a nuclear facility.

President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin were first to sign the treaty, and 50 other heads of state and government were to add their signatures by the end of the day.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs