The Guardian 7 September, 2005
US representative to the UN
acts to stymie UN General Assembly
It has not taken long for the newly appointed US representative to the United Nations, John Bolton, to launch an expected attack on the organisation. If successful, his attack would virtually destroy that organisation as an effective body.
Bolton was appointed by President Bush over the objections of the US Congress which refused to ratify his appointment.
In preparation for the coming annual assembly of the UN General Assembly, UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan had presented a document which proposed various reforms of the UN body and re-established its core principles.
Bolton has submitted a counter document which makes no less than 750 amendments to the original and has called for negotiations on his document.
His sweeping deletions show that the US government is out to disempower the UN body leaving the way open for the US to virtually do as it pleases in international affairs.
The proposed US policy changes would remove the targets set in 2000 — called the UN Millennium Development Goals. Its specific targets are replaced by vague references to poverty.
The Bolton document deletes all references to the long held target for the US and other wealthy countries to contribute 0.7 percent of their gross national product to assist developing countries.
Whereas the UN calls for concerted global action to address climate change and a broadening of the Kyoto agreement to include greater participation by developing and developed nations, the US government even rejects the idea that climate change is a long-term challenge and merely stresses energy efficiency and the development of new technologies.
On nuclear disarmament the Bolton document fails to recommit to the target of eliminating nuclear weapons by Britain, US, France, China and Russia and shifts the target to halting the spread of nuclear weapons to other states. This would allow the US to avoid its own responsibilities while attacking Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Bolton also makes no reference to the International Criminal Court, whereas the UN wants this court to act against acts of genocide and other violations of humanitarian laws.
While the UN wants to facilitate membership of the World Trade Organisation for developing countries, Bolton insists that countries seeking to join the WTO must be willing and able to undertake WTO commitments in full from the very outset with no special considerations or assistance.
Gone also are the passages in the UN document which would give a larger role to the UN General Assembly and its proposal to establish a UN standing military capacity to be used for peacekeeping purposes.
The Bolton proposals will throw the coming UN General Assembly meeting into chaos and may even prevent it from adopting any document of substance unless all states take a strong stand and throw out the Bolton document and refuse to be drawn into the process of "negotiations" which would lead the Assembly into a blind alley.