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August 25, 2005
Reform Starts With A Giant Step

John Bolton just made his presence known at Turtle Bay. The new American UN ambassador delivered a 36-page documents with 750 amendments and changes to a draft agreement that would bring unprecedented and sweeping reform to the United Nations:

Less than a month before world leaders arrive in New York for a world summit on poverty and U.N. reform, the Bush administration has thrown the proceedings in turmoil with a call for drastic renegotiation of a draft agreement to be signed by presidents and prime ministers attending the event.

The United States has only recently introduced more than 750 amendments that would eliminate new pledges of foreign aid to impoverished nations, scrap provisions that call for action to halt climate change and urge nuclear powers to make greater progress in dismantling their nuclear arms. At the same time, the administration is urging members of the United Nations to strengthen language in the 29-page document that would underscore the importance of taking tougher action against terrorism, promoting human rights and democracy, and halting the spread of the world's deadliest weapons. ...

The proposed U.S. amendments, contained in a confidential 36-page document obtained by The Washington Post, have been presented this week to select envoys. The U.N. General Assembly's president, Jean Ping of Gambia, is organizing a core group of 20 to 30 countries, including the United States and other major powers, to engage in an intensive final round of negotiations in an attempt to strike a deal.

"Now it is maybe time to go on some key issues where we still have controversies and negotiate on these key issues," he said Tuesday.

The proposed changes, submitted by U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton, touch on virtually every aspect of U.N. affairs and provide a detailed look at U.S. concerns about the world body's future.

It didn't take long for Bolton to hit the ground running at the UN, but then again, his long delay by the Senate Democrats necessitates this expedited approach to his agenda. He only has until January 2007 before Bush will have to resubmit him for confirmation or select a new UN ambassador, and Bolton will want to have achieved as much as possible in the short time he knows he has. He has already asked other envoys to start negotiations "this week", giving an indication of the high priority the US will give reform efforts in this UN session.

It's a good start for Bolton, and a strong stand for the US at a time when the endemic corruption and incompetence at Turtle Bay threatens to collapse the world body and consign it to League of Nations status. It should have started months ago, and but for the obstructionists in the Senate, we might already have achieved some important reforms by this point.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 25, 2005 7:01 AM

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