WASHINGTON (AFX) — President Bush asked the United Nations last week to back his administration’s plan for Iraq to transition to a democratic society, but did not set a specific timetable for the return of sovereignty to Iraq.
“The primary goal of our coalition in Iraq is self-government for the people of Iraq, reached by orderly and democratic means,” he said in his address to the world body. Mr Bush asked the United Nations to increase its role in the reconstruction by helping write a new constitution and conduct free and fair elections 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,” he said.
Without mentioning France specifically, he dismissed the French plan for a quick symbolic return of sovereignty to Iraq followed by a real transfer of power in six to nine months.
“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 Iraqi self-government,” Mr Bush said.
He also called for a new U.N. resolution that would criminalize the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
“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,” Mr Bush said in the speech. He sought broad international support for the resolution to criminalise the spread of weapons of mass destruction and said the United States would help “any nation” draft new laws on the matter.
“This resolution should call on all members of the UN to criminalise the proliferation of 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,” Mr Bush said.
Just before his speech, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan had harsh words for the United States, calling Bush’s pre-emptive strike doctrine a threat to global peace and security.
“This logic represents a fundamental challenge to the principles on which, however imperfectly, world peace and stability have rested for the last fifty-eight years,” Mr Annan told the General Assembly. He did not name the United States or Mr Bush by name.
“My concern is that, if it were to be adopted, it could set precedents that resulted in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without credible justification,” Mr Annan added.
Mr Bush said the war with Iraq was justified and insisted that deposed leader Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction, which have not been found since the dictator’s ouster.
“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,” Mr Bush said.