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September 25, 08

NEWS / Democracy and development key to confronting extremism

Washington — The international community must redouble efforts against terrorism by supporting emerging democracies, alleviating poverty and continuing progress toward the United Nations Charter’s global vision of peace and security, says President Bush.

“Instead of only passing resolutions decrying terrorist attacks after they occur, we must cooperate more closely to keep terrorist attacks from happening in the first place,” Bush said in his eighth and final address as president to the 192-nation U.N. General Assembly in New York on September 23. “Instead of treating all forms of government as equally tolerable, we must actively challenge the conditions of tyranny and despair that allow terror and extremism to thrive.”

Since 2001, when terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people from more than 90 countries a short distance from the United Nations building, member states have come together to share intelligence, freeze terrorist finances and conduct joint operations to bring terrorists to justice, Bush said. He urged “clarity of vision” among nations as they continue the struggle in the years ahead.

“We must see the terrorists for what they are: ruthless extremists who exploit the desperate, subvert the tenets of a great religion and seek to impose their will on as many people as possible,” Bush said.

Bush praised U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the U.N. Security Council for confronting terrorism, as well as other international organizations, including the G8, NATO and the 56-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference, which recently declared that suicide bombing is contrary to the teachings of Islam. “The message behind these statements is resolutely clear: Like slavery and piracy, terrorism has no place in the modern world.”

The governments in Afghanistan and Iraq replaced regimes that supported terrorists, while intensive diplomacy has convinced Libya to abandon past ties to terrorism and nuclear weapons and rejoin the international community, Bush said. “Regimes like Syria and Iran continue to sponsor terror, yet their numbers are growing fewer and they’re growing more isolated from the world.”

Bush pledged continued U.S. commitment to international efforts confronting poverty and hunger, treating disease and promoting education — initiatives that honor the U.N.’s highest humanitarian ideals while enhancing stability. “Extremists find their most fertile recruiting grounds in societies trapped in chaos and despair, places where people see no prospect of a better life,” he said.

From Afghanistan and Iraq to Georgia, Ukraine, Lebanon and Kyrgyzstan in recent years, the world has seen a rising tide of nations embarking on the path to democracy, said Bush, who called on nations to “challenge tyranny as vigorously as we challenge terror.”

“History shows that when citizens have a voice in choosing their own leaders, they are less likely to search for meaning in radical ideologies,” Bush said. “And when governments respect the rights of their people, they’re more likely to respect the rights of their neighbors.”

U.N.-mandated security missions in Afghanistan and Iraq are helping both countries to emerge from decades of tyranny, while U.N. civilian missions are supporting reconstruction, delivering humanitarian aid and protecting human rights, he said.

Bush highlighted the U.N.’s role in helping the Iraqi government prepare for upcoming elections. “Whatever disagreements our nations have had on Iraq, we should all welcome this progress toward stability and peace, and we should stand united in helping Iraq’s democracy succeed.”

Bush also urged nations to stand united in support of Georgia. “The United Nations Charter sets forth the equal rights of nations large and small. Russia’s invasion of Georgia was a violation of those words. Young democracies around the world are watching to see how we respond to this test.”

As the United Nations faces further challenges, Bush urged attention to institutional reform and accountability, calling for a review of the U.N. Human Rights Council and stronger Security Council efforts on behalf of the people of Burma as well as Sudan’s Darfur region.

“The United Nations and other multilateral organizations are needed more urgently than ever,” Bush said. “To be successful, we must be focused and resolute and effective.”

A transcript of Bush’s remarks and a related fact sheet are available from America.gov.
By David McKeeby
Staff Writer



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