Bush Calls on U.N. to Unify Against Terrorism
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2003 Acknowledging that some United Nations members disagreed with U.S. and coalition military action in Iraq, President Bush today urged the world body to put those differences aside to work together toward building a stable, secure Iraq.
Bush also called on the U.N. Security Council to adopt a new anti-proliferation resolution to help stem the spread of weapons of mass destruction and the equipment to deliver them worldwide.
In an address to the U.N. General Assembly, the president defended Operation Iraqi Freedom, telling the group that "the Security Council was right to be alarmed" about Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, "was right to demand that Iraq destroy its illegal weapons and prove that it had done so" and "was right to vow serious consequences if Iraq refused to comply."
"And because a coalition of nations acted to defend the peace and the credibility of the United Nations," he said, "Iraq is free."
Bush said the ripple effect of that newfound freedom extends throughout the Middle East. There, he said, "people are safer because an unstable aggressor has been removed from power," and across the world, "nations are more secure because an ally of terror has fallen."
The president called on the General Assembly to unite in the "fundamental principles and objectives of the United Nations" and to "stand with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq as they build free, stable countries."
Bush praised the role the United Nations is already playing in this effort, distributing food and medicine in Afghanistan, helping refugees return home, advising the nation on a new constitution and helping pave the way for nationwide elections. In Iraq, he pointed toward UNICEF's extensive child vaccination program conducted and the U.N. World Food Program's food distribution system.
But the president said the United Nations can and must do more. "America is working with friends and allies on a new Security Council resolution which will expand the U.N.'s role in Iraq," he told the assembly. "As in the aftermath of other conflicts, the United Nations should assist in developing a constitution and training civil servants and conducting free and fair elections."
"Iraq's new leaders are showing the openness and tolerance that democracy requires, and also the courage," Bush said. "Yet every young democracy needs the help of friends. Now the nation of Iraq needs and deserves our aid. And all nations of good will should step forward and provide that support."
Similarly, Bush said the United Nations must work together to confront the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction that "could be used by terrorists to bring sudden disaster and suffering on a scale that we can scarcely imagine."
He urged the Security Council to adopt a resolution that criminalizes the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and encouraged U.N. members to enact strict export controls and secure all sensitive materials within their borders.
"We are determined to keep the world's most destructive weapons away from all our shores and out of the hands of our common enemies," he said.
Bush reminded the group that "there is no neutral ground" when confronting the threat of terrorism. "All governments that support terror are complicit in a war against civilization," he said. "No government should ignore the threat of terror because to look the other way gives terrorists a chance to regroup and recoup and repair."
The events of the past two years, with terrorist attacks targeting innocent people in many parts of the world, he said, reinforce that those who practice terrorism have "contempt for life itself."
Terrorists and those who support them, he told the U.N. body, "have no place in any religious faith, have no claim on the world's sympathy and they should have no friend in this chamber."