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.