Reform of United Nations Significant Element of U.S. Agenda

Some progress already made on management reforms, State's Silverberg says

United Nations reform remains a significant item on the U.S. agenda for the 60th U.N. General Assembly session set to begin in mid-September, Assistant Secretary of State Kristen Silverberg says.

"We're making some good progress on management and budget reforms. It's very important to make sure that U.N. programs are accountable and effective, to make sure that U.N. staff abides by the highest ethical standards," said Silverberg, who heads the State Department's Bureau for International Organization Affairs.

At a Washington briefing August 31, Silverberg said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has laid out a very ambitious four-part agenda for a high level summit planned at the opening of the General Assembly, September 14-16. (See The United Nations at 60.)

The United States has been actively participating in drafting the final document to be signed by all of the heads of state at the conclusion of the summit, according to Silverberg.

She said the agenda includes:

• Development and the importance of poverty reduction;

• Security and counterterrorism;

• Democracy and human rights; and

• U.N. management reform and accountability.

The United States also is supporting creation of a Human Rights Council to replace the existing "discredited Human Rights Commission," she said. Among other things, nations that have a history of human rights abuse and have been subject to sanctions or investigation would not be allowed to participate in the new council, she said.

Silverberg said that President Bush, who will be attending the summit, will be signing the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism to help nations cooperate on preventing, prosecuting and extraditing those who possess unlawful nuclear devices.

"We will also be calling on states to make progress on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, which rejects terrorism in all of its forms," she said.

At their 2005 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations also urged the United Nations to reach early agreement on the convention and to “reiterate the international community’s clear condemnation of terrorist acts.” (See related article.)

Silverberg said Bush will be joining with other nations in welcoming the new U.N. Democracy Fund, the establishment of which he called for last year.

The transcript of her remarks

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