OF A CRUEL DICTATOR IS NEARING ITS END"
2007-09-26. US Fed News, 25 September 2007
NEW YORK, Sept. 25 -- The White House released the following transcript:
The United Nations Headquarters
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, distinguished
delegates, ladies and gentlemen: Thank you for the opportunity to
address the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Sixty years ago, representatives from 16 nations gathered to begin
deliberations on a new international bill of rights. The document they
produced is called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - and it
stands as a landmark achievement in the history of human liberty. It
opens by recognizing "the inherent dignity" and the "equal and
inalienable rights of all members of the human family" as "the
foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world." And as we
gather for this 62nd General Assembly, the standards of the Declaration
must guide our work in this world.
Achieving the promise of the Declaration requires confronting long-term
threats; it also requires answering the immediate needs of today. The
nations in this chamber have our differences, yet there are some areas
where we can all agree. When innocent people are trapped in a life of
murder and fear, the Declaration is not being upheld. When millions of
children starve to death or perish from a mosquito bite, we're not doing
our duty in the world. When whole societies are cut off from the
prosperity of the global economy, we're all worse off. Changing these
underlying conditions is what the Declaration calls the work of "larger
freedom" - and it must be the work of every nation in this assembly.
This great institution must work for great purposes - to free people
from tyranny and violence, hunger and disease, illiteracy and ignorance,
and poverty and despair. Every member of the United Nations must join in
this mission of liberation.
First, the mission of the United Nations requires liberating people from
tyranny and violence. The first article of the Universal Declaration
begins, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and
rights." The truth is denied by terrorists and extremists who kill the
innocent with the aim of imposing their hateful vision on humanity. The
followers of this violent ideology are a threat to civilized people
everywhere. All civilized nations must work together to stop them - by
sharing intelligence about their networks, and choking their - off their
finances, and bringing to justice their operatives.
In the long run, the best way to defeat extremists is to defeat their
dark ideology with a more hopeful vision - the vision of liberty that
founded this body. The United States salutes the nations that have
recently taken strides toward liberty - including Ukraine and Georgia
and Kyrgyzstan and Mauritania and Liberia, Sierra Leone and Morocco. The
Palestinian Territories have moderate leaders, mainstream leaders that
are working to build free institutions that fight terror, and enforce
the law, and respond to the needs of their people. The international
community must support these leaders, so that we can advance the vision
of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in
peace and security.
Brave citizens in Lebanon and Afghanistan and Iraq have made the choice
for democracy - yet the extremists have responded by targeting them for
murder. This is not a show of strength - it is evidence of fear. And the
extremists are doing everything in their power to bring down these young
democracies. The people of Lebanon and Afghanistan and Iraq have asked
for our help. And every civilized nation has a responsibility to stand
Every civilized nation also has a responsibility to stand up for the
people suffering under dictatorship. In Belarus, North Korea, Syria, and
Iran, brutal regimes deny their people the fundamental rights enshrined
in the Universal Declaration. Americans are outraged by the situation in
Burma, where a military junta has imposed a 19-year reign of fear. Basic
freedoms of speech, assembly, and worship are severely restricted.
Ethnic minorities are persecuted. Forced child labor, human trafficking,
and rape are common. The regime is holding more than 1,000 political
prisoners - including Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party was elected
overwhelmingly by the Burmese people in 1990.
The ruling junta remains unyielding, yet the people's desire for freedom
is unmistakable. This morning, I'm announcing a series of steps to help
bring peaceful change to Burma. The United States will tighten economic
sanctions on the leaders of the regime and their financial backers. We
will impose an expanded visa ban on those responsible for the most
egregious violations of human rights, as well as their family members.
We'll continue to support the efforts of humanitarian groups working to
alleviate suffering in Burma. And I urge the United Nations and all
nations to use their diplomatic and economic leverage to help the
Burmese people reclaim their freedom.
In Cuba, the long rule of a cruel dictator is nearing its end. The Cuban
people are ready for their freedom. And as that nation enters a period
of transition, the United Nations must insist on free speech, free
assembly, and ultimately, free and competitive elections.
In Zimbabwe, ordinary citizens suffer under a tyrannical regime. The
government has cracked down on peaceful calls for reform, and forced
millions to flee their homeland. The behavior of the Mugabe regime is an
assault on its people - and an affront to the principles of the
Universal Declaration. The United Nations must insist on change in
Harare - and must insist for the freedom of the people of Zimbabwe.
In Sudan, innocent civilians are suffering repression - and in the
Darfur region, many are losing their lives to genocide. America has
responded with tough sanctions against those responsible for the
violence. We've provided more than $2 billion in humanitarian and
peacekeeping aid. I look forward to attending a Security Council meeting
that will focus on Darfur, chaired by the French President. I appreciate
France's leadership in helping to stabilize Sudan's neighbors. And the
United Nations must answer this challenge to conscience, and live up to
its promise to promptly deploy peacekeeping forces to Darfur.
Second, the mission of the United Nations requires liberating people
from hunger and disease. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration states:
"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health
and well-being of himself and of his family, including food and clothing
and housing and medical care." Around the world, the United Nations is
carrying out noble efforts to live up to these words.
Feeding the hungry has long been a special calling for my nation. Today,
more than half the world's food assistance comes from America. We send
emergency food stocks to starving people from camps in Sudan to slums in
- around the world. I've proposed an innovative initiative to alleviate
hunger under which America would purchase the crops of local farmers in
Africa and elsewhere, rather than shipping in food from the developed
world. This would help build up local agriculture and break the cycle of
famine in the developing world - and I urge our United States Congress
to support this initiative.
Many in this hall are bringing the spirit of generosity to fighting
HIV/AIDS and malaria. Five years ago, in Sub-Saharan Africa, an AIDS
diagnosis was widely considered a death sentence, and fewer than 50,000
people infected with the virus were receiving treatment. The world
responded by creating the Global Fund, which is working with governments
and the private sector to fight the disease around the world. The United
States decided to take these steps a little further by launching the $15
billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Since 2003, this effort has
helped bring cutting-edge medicines to more than a million people in
sub-Sahara Africa. It's a good start. So earlier this year, I proposed
to double our initial commitment to $30 billion. By coming together, the
world can turn the tide against HIV/AIDS - once and for all.
Malaria is another common killer. In some countries, malaria takes as
many lives as HIV/AIDS - the vast majority of them children under the
age of five years old. Every one of these deaths is unnecessary, because
the disease is preventable and treatable. The world knows what it takes
to stop malaria - bed nets and indoor spraying and medicine to treat the
disease. Two years ago, America launched a $1.2 billion malaria
initiative. Other nations and the private sector are making vital
contributions, as well. I call on every member state to maintain its
focus, find new ways to join this cause, and bring us closer to the day
when malaria deaths are no more.
Third, the mission of the United Nations requires liberating people from
the chains of illiteracy and ignorance. Article 26 of the Universal
Declaration states: "Everyone has the right to education." And when
nations make the investments needed to educate their people, the whole
world benefits. Better education unleashes the talent and potential of
its citizens, and adds to the prosperity of all of us. Better education
promotes better health and greater independence. Better education
increases the strength of democracy, and weakens the appeal of violent
ideologies. So the United States is joining with nations around the
world to help them provide a better education for their people.
A good education starts with good teachers. In partnership with other
nations, America has helped train more than 600,000 teachers and
administrators. A good education requires good textbooks. So in
partnership with other nations, America has distributed tens of millions
of textbooks. A good education requires access to good schools. So in
partnership with other nations, America is helping nations raise
standards in their schools at home, and providing scholarships to help
students come to schools in the United States. In all our education
efforts, our nation is working to expand access for women and girls, so
that the opportunity to get a decent education is open to all.
Finally, the mission of the United Nations requires liberating people
from poverty and despair. Article 23 of the Universal Declaration
states: "Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment,
[and] to just and favorable conditions of work." In the 21st century,
this requires ensuring that people in poor countries have the same
opportunity to benefit from the global economy that citizens of wealthy
The United Nations provides vital economic assistance designed to help
developing nations grow their economies and reach their potential. The
United States agrees with that position; we've dramatically increased
our own development assistance - and we're delivering that aid in
innovative ways. We started the Millennium Challenge Account to reward
nations that govern justly, fight corruption, invest in their people,
and promote economic freedom. With this aid, we're reaching out to
developing nations in partnership, not paternalism. And we're ensuring
that our aid dollars reach those who need them - and achieve results.
In the long run, the best way to lift people out of poverty is through
trade and investment. A nation that is open and trading with the world
will create economic rewards that far exceed anything they could get
through foreign aid. During the 1990s, developing nations that
significantly lowered tariffs saw their per capita income grow about
three times faster than other developing countries. Open markets ignite
growth, encourage investment, increase transparency, strengthen the rule
of law, and help countries help themselves.
The international community now has an historic chance to open markets
around the world by concluding a successful Doha Round of trade talks. A
successful Doha outcome would mean real and substantial openings in
agriculture, goods, and services - and real and substantial reductions
in trade-distorting subsidies. The world's largest trading nations,
including major developing countries, have a special responsibility to
make the tough political decisions to reduce trade barriers. America has
the will and flexibility to make those necessary decisions. Our
negotiators are demonstrating that spirit in Geneva. I urge other
leaders to direct their negotiators to do the same. And I'm optimistic
that we can reach a good Doha agreement - and seize this
In the meantime, America will continue to pursue agreements that open
trade and investment wherever we can. We recently signed free trade
agreements with Peru, Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. These
agreements embody the values of open markets - transparent and fair
regulation, respect for private property, and resolving disputes under
international law rules. These are good agreements, and they're now
ready for a congressional vote, and I urge the Congress to approve them
as soon as possible.
As America works with the United Nations to alleviate immediate needs,
we're also coming together to address longer-term challenges. Together,
we're preparing for pandemics that could cause death and suffering on a
global scale. Together, we're working to stop the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction. Together, we're confronting the challenges
of energy security, and environmental quality, and climate change. I
appreciate the discussions on climate change led by the Secretary
General last night. I look forward to further discussions at the meeting
of major economies in Washington later this week.
The goals I've outlined today cannot be achieved overnight - and they
cannot be achieved without reform in this vital institution. The United
States is committed to a strong and vibrant United Nations. Yet the
American people are disappointed by the failures of the Human Rights
Council. This body has been silent on repression by regimes from Havana
to Caracas to Pyongyang and Tehran - while focusing its criticism
excessively on Israel. To be credible on human rights in the world, the
United Nations must reform its own Human Rights Council.
Some have also called for reform to the structure of the Security
Council, including an expansion of its membership. The United States is
open to this prospect. We believe that Japan is well-qualified for
permanent membership on the Security Council, and that other nations
should be considered, as well. The United States will listen to all good
ideas, and we will support changes to the Security Council as part of
broader U.N. reform. And in all we do, I call on member states to work
for an institution that adheres to strict ethical standards, and lives
up to the high principles of the Universal Declaration.
With the commitment and courage of this chamber, we can build a world
where people are free to speak, assemble, and worship as they wish; a
world where children in every nation grow up healthy, get a decent
education, and look to the future with hope; a world where opportunity
crosses every border. America will lead toward this vision where all are
created equal, and free to pursue their dreams. This is the founding
conviction of my country. It is the promise that established this body.
And with our determination, it can be the future of our world.
Thank you, and God bless. (Applause.)