UK paperback

Reforming the UN

Bolton’s Unspeak: a case study

John Bolton, the new US ambassador to the UN, would help to “reform” the UN so as to “update” and “strengthen” it, according to Condoleeza Rice. We can now see exactly what updating and strengthening the UN means, from an American perspective. Recently leaked to Steve Clemons at TPM are Bolton’s proposed amendments, dated August 17, to the “Revised draft outcome document of the High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly of September 2005 submitted by the President of the General Assembly”. Choice extracts follow.

text deleted by Bolton
text added by Bolton
Unspeak translation

I. Values and Principles

2. to maintain international peace and security
The US reserves the right to start wars.

3. core values and principles: respect for nature.
Fuck Kyoto . . .

5. respect for […] the right of self-determination of peoples which remain under colonial domination and foreign occupation
The US reserves the right not to respect self-determination for Iraqis or Palestinians.

6. We reaffirm the vital importance of an effective multilateral system, with a strong United Nations at its core.
The UN should be peripheral.

…and commit to spare no efforts in promoting and strengthening the effectiveness of the organization and implementation of its decisions
The US reserves the right to ignore the UN’s decisions.

9. We recognize that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, and cannot be enjoyed without each other.
The US reserves the right to start wars.

14. We pledge to make the United Nations more relevant, more effective, more efficient, more accountable and more credible, and to provide the Organization with the resources needed to fully implement its mandates.
The US is not giving the UN any more money.

II. Development

16. We emphasize the critical important role played by the major United Nations conferences and summits
The US does not consider the UN critical, and reserves the right to consider some of its conferences and summits irrelevant.

21. We resolve to: [adopt] polices [sic] that emphasize accountability, transparent public sector management, and competitive markets, and corporate responsibility and accountability.
US corporations should be able to do whatever they like.

Implement regulatory frameworks and commercial laws that encourage business formation and build public confidence in private markets through a clear definition of property rights, protection of those rights, transparent rulemaking, enforcement of contracts and general respect for the rule of law.
US pharmaceutical companies must have their drug patents protected.

[T]o support private sector development in developing countries, and tracking the progress of private sector development in developing countries
Poor countries must let US corporations own their infrastructure.


23. We emphasize the urgent need for an effective, comprehensive, durable and development-oriented solution to the debt problems of developing countries.
They should pay us back.

Protecting our Common Environment

34. We recognize that climate change is a serious and long-term challenge that has the potential to affect every part of the world. [we will] undertake concerted global action to address climate change, including through meeting all commitments and obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, the UNFCCC and other relevant international agreements.
[We] reaffirm our commitment to the UNFCCC and to its ultimate objective to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system
Despite what the global scientific consensus and the UNFCCC itself says, the US does not accept that current greenhouse-gas concentrations already represent such dangerous anthropogenic interference.

We reaffirm the importance of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and look forward to its 2007 report.
The science is still “uncertain”, we won’t do anything now; let’s see what they say in the future.

HIV/AIDS and other Health Issues

35. We commit ourselves to: […] enhanced access to affordable medicines
44. …and encourage pharmaceutical companies to make anti-retroviral drugs affordable and accessible in Africa.
Fuck dying Africans; US pharmaceutical companies must have their drug patents protected.

III. Peace and Collective Security

49. We resolve to take concerted action, through such a system of collective security, based on the United Nations Charter and respect for international law, so as to prevent, mitigate and remove threats to international peace and security
The US will do what it likes.

Pacific Settlement of Disputes

55. We also reaffirm that the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations regarding the use of force are sufficient to address the full range of security threats and agree that the use of force should be considered as an instrument of last resort.
The US reserves the right to start wars.

56. We recognize the need to continue discussing principles for the use of force, including those identified by the Secretary-General
Who needs principles? The US will do what it likes.

57. We emphasize that progress in disarmament and non-proliferation is essential to strengthening international peace and security and appeal to all States to purse and intensify negotiations with a view to advancing disarmament and strengthening the international non-proliferation regime.
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the possibility that terrorists might acquire such weapons remain the greatest threats to international peace and security.<br />The US reserves the right to attack Iran and North Korea.

60. We resolve to: […] Appeal to all States to take action in a multilateral framework unilaterally, bilaterally or multilaterally.
The US will do what it likes.

We […] appeal to the nuclear weapon States to take concrete steps towards nuclear disarmament with the objective of eliminating all such weapons
The US does not want to disarm.

[…] respect the full right of States that meet their non-proliferation obligations under the NPT to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including through access to markets for nuclear fuel and related services
The US reserves the right to attack Iran.

63. We urge States parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to fully implement their respective obligations, and we encourage those States that have not yet done so to promptly accede to those instruments. We also call upon States in a position to do so to provide greater technical assistance to mine-affected States.
The US reserves the right to use mines and cluster weapons, and has no intention of clearing them up afterwards.


65. We affirm that the targeting and deliberate killing of civilians and non-combatants by terrorists cannot be justified or legitimized by any cause or grievance…
The US reserves the right to target and deliberately kill civilians and non-combatants.

IV. Human Rights and the Rule of Law

99. We also recommit ourselves to universal adherence to respect for and observance of the human rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the United Nations Charter
The US reserves the right not to adhere to human-rights law: it may be necessary to torture people to protect our fundamental freedoms.

…to the full implementation of promotion and protection of human rights standards contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments
In particular, please forget about the Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions.

So in general, the UN should be made peripheral, and the US should continue to be able to do what it likes, including attacking other countries. Burn your dictionaries: this is what reforming, updating and strengthening really mean.

hit parade

    guardian articles

    older posts