Address to the United Nations
September 23, 2003
Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, distinguished
delegates, ladies and gentlemen, 24 months ago--and yesterday
in the memory of America--the center of New York City became
a battlefield and a graveyard and the symbol of an unfinished
war. Since that day, terrorists have struck in Bali, in
Mombasa, in Casablanca, in Riyadh, in Jakarta, in Jerusalem--measuring
the advance of their cause in the chaos and innocent suffering
they leave behind.
Last month, terrorists brought their war to the United
The U.N. headquarters in Baghdad stood for order and compassion,
and for that reason the terrorists decided it must be destroyed.
Among the 22 people who were murdered was Sergio Vieira
de Mello. Over the decades, this good and brave man from
Brazil gave help to the afflicted in Bangladesh, Cyprus,
Mozambique, Lebanon, Cambodia, Central Africa, Kosovo and
East Timor, and was aiding the people of Iraq in their
time of need. America joins you, his colleagues, in honoring
the memory of Senor Vieira Mello and the memory of all
who died with him in the service to the United Nations.
By the victims they choose and by the means they use,
the terrorists have clarified the struggle we are in. Those
who target relief workers for death have set themselves
against all humanity. Those who incite murder and celebrate
suicide reveal their contempt for life itself. They have
no place in any religious faith, they have no claim on
the world's sympathy, and they should have no friend in
Events during the past two years have set before us the
clearest of divides: between those who seek order and those
who spread chaos; between those who work for peaceful change
and those who adopt the methods of gangsters; between those
who honor the rights of man and those who deliberately
take the lives of men and women and children without mercy
Between these alternatives there is no neutral ground.
All governments that support terror are complicit in a
war against civilization. No government should ignore the
threat of terror, because to look the other way gives terrorists
the chance to regroup and recruit and prepare. And all
nations that fight terror as if the lives of their own
people depend on it will earn the favorable judgment of
The former regimes of Afghanistan and Iraq knew these
alternatives and made their choices.
The Taliban was a sponsor and servant of terrorism. When
confronted, that regime chose defiance, and that regime
is no more.
Afghanistan's president, who is here today, now represents
a free people who are building a decent and just society.
They're building a nation fully joined in the war against
The regime of Saddam Hussein cultivated ties to terror
while it built weapons of mass destruction. It used those
weapons in acts of mass murder and refused to account for
them when confronted by the world.
The Security Council was right to be alarmed. The Security
Council was right to demand that Iraq destroy its illegal
weapons and prove that it had done so.
The Security Council was right to vow serious consequences
if Iraq refused to comply. And because there were consequences,
because a coalition of nations acted to defend the peace
and the credibility of the United Nations, Iraq is free.
And today we are joined by representatives of a liberated
Saddam Hussein's monuments have been removed and not only
his statues. The true monuments of his rule and his character--the
torture chambers and the rape rooms and the prison cells
for innocent children--are closed. And as we discover the
killing fields and mass graves of Iraq, the true scale
of Saddam's cruelty is being revealed.
The Iraqi people are meeting hardships and challenges,
like every nation that has set out on the path of democracy,
yet their future promises lives of dignity and freedom.
And that is a world away from the squalid, vicious tyranny
they have known.
Across Iraq, life is being improved by liberty. Across
the Middle East, people are safer because an unstable aggressor
has been removed from power. Across the world, nations
are more secure because an ally of terror has fallen.
Our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq were supported by
many governments and America is grateful to each one.
I also recognize that some of the sovereign nations of
this assembly disagreed with our actions. Yet there was
and there remains unity among us on the fundamental principles
and objectives of the United Nations.
We are dedicated to the defense of our collective security
and to the advance of human rights. These permanent commitments
call us to great work in the world; work we must do together.
So let us move forward.
First, we must stand with the people of Afghanistan and
Iraq as they build free and stable countries. The terrorists
and their allies fear and fight this progress above all,
because free people embrace hope over resentment and choose
peace over violence.
The United Nations has been a friend of the Afghan people,
distributing food and medicine, helping refugees return
home, advising on a new constitution, and helping to prepare
the way for nationwide elections.
NATO has taken over the U.N.-mandated security force in
Kabul. American and coalition forces continue to track
and defeat Al Qaida terrorists and remnants of the Taliban.
Our efforts to rebuild that country go on. I have recently
proposed to spend an additional $1.2 billion dollars for
the Afghan reconstruction effort, and I urge other nations
to continue contributing to this important cause.
In the nation of Iraq, the United Nations is carrying
out vital and effective work every day.
By the end of 2004, more than 90 percent of Iraqi children
under age 5 will have been immunized against preventable
diseases, such as polio, tuberculosis, and measles, thanks
to the hard work and high ideals of UNICEF. Iraq's food
distribution system is operational, delivering nearly a
half million tons of food per month, thanks to the skill
and expertise of the World Food Programme.
Our international coalition in Iraq is meeting its responsibilities.
We are conducting precision raids against terrorists and
holdouts of the former regime. These killers are at war
with the Iraqi people, they have made Iraq the central
front in the war on terror, and they will be defeated.
Our coalition has made sure that Iraq's former dictator
will never again use weapons of mass destruction.
We are interviewing Iraqi citizens and analyzing records
of the old regime to reveal the full extent of its weapons
programs and its long campaign of deception. We are training
Iraqi police and border guards and a new army, so the Iraqi
people can assume full responsibility for their own security.
And at the same time, our coalition is helping to improve
the daily lives of the Iraqi people. The old regime built
palaces while letting schools decay, so we are rebuilding
more than a thousand schools. The old regime starved hospitals
of resources, so we have helped to supply and reopen hospitals
across Iraq. The old regime built up armies and weapons
while allowing the nation's infrastructure to crumble,
so we are rehabilitating power plants, water and sanitation
facilities, bridges and airports.
And I have proposed to Congress that the United States
provide additional funding for our work in Iraq, the greatest
financial commitment of its kind since the Marshall Plan.
Having helped to liberate Iraq, we will honor our pledges
to Iraq. And by helping the Iraqi people build a stable
and peaceful country, we will make our own countries more
The primary goal of our coalition in Iraq is self-government
for the people of Iraq, reached by orderly and democratic
This process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis,
neither hurried nor delayed by the wishes of other parties.
And the United Nations can contribute greatly to the cause
of Iraq self-government. America is working with friends
and allies on a new Security Council resolution which will
expand the U.N.'s role in Iraq. As in the aftermath of
other conflicts, the United Nations should assist in developing
a constitution, in training civil servants, and conducting
free and fair elections.
Iraq now has a governing council; the first truly representative
institution in that country. Iraq's new leaders are showing
the openness and tolerance that democracy requires and
also showing courage.
Yet every young democracy needs the help of friends. Now
the nation of Iraq needs and deserves our aid, and all
nations of goodwill should step forward and provide that
Success of a free Iraq will be watched and noted throughout
the region. Millions will see that freedom, equality and
material progress are possible at the heart of the Middle
East. Leaders in the region will face the clearest evidence
that free institutions and open societies are the only
path to long-term national success and dignity.
And a transformed Middle East would benefit the entire
world by undermining the ideologies that export violence
to other lands.
Iraq, as a dictatorship, had great power to destabilize
the Middle East. Iraq, as a democracy, will have great
power to inspire the Middle East.
The advance of democratic institutions in Iraq is setting
an example that others, including the Palestinian people,
would be wise to follow. The Palestinian cause is betrayed
by leaders who cling to power by feeding old hatreds and
destroying the good work of others. The Palestinian people
deserve their own state and they will gain that state by
embracing new leaders committed to reform, to fighting
terror and to building peace.
All parties in the Middle East must meet their responsibilities
and carry out the commitments they made at Aqaba. Israel
must work to create the conditions that will allow a peaceful
Palestinian state to emerge and Arab nations must cut off
funding and other support for terrorist organizations.
America will work with every nation in the region that
acts boldly for the sake of peace.
A second challenge we must confront together is the proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction. Outlaw regimes that possess
nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the means
to deliver them would be able to use blackmail and create
chaos in entire regions. These weapons could be used by
terrorists to bring sudden disaster and suffering on a
scale we can scarcely imagine.
The deadly combination of outlaw regimes and terror networks
and weapons of mass murder is a peril that cannot be ignored
or wished away. If such a danger is allowed to fully materialize,
all words, all protests will come too late.
Nations of the world must have the wisdom and the will
to stop grave threats before they arrive.
One crucial step is to secure the most dangerous materials
at their source. For more than a decade, the United States
has worked with Russia and other states of the former Soviet
Union to dismantle, destroy or secure weapons and dangerous
materials left over from another era. Last year in Canada,
the G-8 nations agreed to provide up to $20 billion--half
of it from the United States--to fight this proliferation
risk over the next 10 years.
Since then, six additional countries have joined the effort.
More are needed, and I urge other nations to help us meet
We are also improving our capability to interdict lethal
materials in transit. Through our Proliferation Security
Initiative, 11 nations are preparing to search planes and
ships, trains and trucks carrying suspect cargo, and to
seize weapons or missile shipments that raise proliferation
concerns. These nations have agreed on a set of interdiction
principles, consistent with current legal authorities.
And we are working to expand the Proliferation Security
Initiative to other countries. 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.
Because proliferators will use any route or channel that
is open to them, we need the broadest possible cooperation
to stop them. Today, I ask the U.N. Security Council to
adopt a new anti-proliferation resolution.
This resolution should call on all members of the U.N.
to criminalize the proliferation of weapons--weapons of
mass destruction, to enact strict export controls consistent
with international standards, and to secure any and all
sensitive materials within their own borders. The United
States stands ready to help any nation draft these new
laws and to assist in their enforcement.
A third challenge we share is a challenge to our conscience.
We must act decisively to meet the humanitarian crises
of our time. The United States has begun to carry out the
Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, aimed at preventing AIDS
on a massive scale and treating millions who have the disease
already. We have pledged $15 billion over five years to
fight AIDS around the world.
My country is acting to save lives from famine as well,
providing more than $1.4 billion in global emergency food
aid. And I've asked our United States Congress for $200
million for a new famine fund, so we can act quickly when
the first signs of famine appear. Every nation on every
continent should generously add their resources to the
fight against disease and desperate hunger.
There's another humanitarian crisis spreading, yet hidden
from view. Each year an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 human
beings are bought, sold or forced across the world's borders.
Among them are hundreds of thousands of teenage girls,
and others as young as 5, who fall victim to the sex trade.
This commerce in human life generates billions of dollars
each year, much of which is used to finance organized crime.
There's a special evil in the abuse and exploitation of
the most innocent and vulnerable.
The victims of sex trade see little of life before they
see the very worst of life: an underground of brutality
and lonely fear.
Those who create these victims and profit from their suffering
must be severely punished. Those who patronize this industry
debase themselves and deepen the misery of others. And
governments that tolerate this trade are tolerating a form
This problem has appeared in my own country and we are
working to stop it. The PROTECT Act, which I signed into
law this year, makes it a crime for any person to enter
the United States or for any citizen to travel abroad for
the purpose of sex tourism involving children. The Department
of Justice is actively investigating sex tour operators
and patrons, who can face up to 30 years in prison. Under
the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the United States
is using sanctions against governments to discourage human
The victims of this industry also need help from members
of the United Nations, and this begins with clear standards
and the certainty of punishment under the laws of every
Today, some nations make it a crime to sexually abuse
children abroad. Such conduct should be a crime in all
nations. Governments should inform travelers of the harm
this industry does and the severe punishments that will
fall on its patrons.
The American government is committing $50 million to support
the good work of organizations that are rescuing women
and children from exploitation, and giving them shelter
and medical treatment and the hope of a new life. I urge
other governments to do their part.
We must show new energy in fighting back an old evil.
Nearly two centuries after the abolition of the trans-Atlantic
slave trade, and more than a century after slavery was
officially ended in its last strongholds, the trade in
human beings for any purpose must not be allowed to thrive
in our time.
All the challenges I have spoken of this morning require
urgent attention and moral clarity. Helping Afghanistan
and Iraq to succeed as free nations in a transformed region,
cutting off the avenues of proliferation, abolishing modern
forms of slavery, these are the kinds of great tasks for
which the United Nations was founded. In each case, careful
discussion is needed and also decisive action. Our good
intentions will be credited only if we achieve good outcomes.
As an original signer of the U.N. Charter, the United
States of America is committed to the United Nations. And
we show that commitment by working to fulfill the U.N.'s
stated purposes and giving meaning to its ideals.
The founding documents of the United Nations and the founding
documents of America stand in the same tradition.
Both assert that human beings should never be reduced
to objects of power or commerce, because their dignity
is inherent. Both recognize a moral law that stands above
men and nations which must be defended and enforced by
men and nations. And both point the way to peace; the peace
that comes when all are free.
We secure that peace with our courage and we must show
that courage together.
May God bless you all.
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