Statement of the Honorable John R. Bolton
Nominee for Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
April 11, 2005
Chairman Lugar, Senator Biden, I am honored to appear before you today as President Bush's nominee to be the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. I am grateful for your consideration and I look forward to discussing the critical leadership role that the United States plays in the United Nations. I would like to extend my warm thanks to Senator Warner for his kind words and introduction. He is a true and valued friend, and his remarks are all the more appreciated given his long history of service to our nation.
Mr. Chairman, I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had to work with this Committee over the years. This is the fourth time I have appeared before this Committee in a confirmation hearing. If confirmed, I pledge to fulfill the President's vision of working in close partnership with the United Nations.
The United States is committed to the success of the United Nations and we view the UN as an important component of our diplomacy. As the President stated before the UN General Assembly last September, "Let history show that in a decisive decade, members of the United Nations did not grow weary in our duties, or waver in meeting them."
The Secretary has made this a top priority as well. She was unequivocal in her remarks about how, "The American people respect the idealism that sparked the creation of the United Nations and we share the UN's unshakable support for human dignity. At this time of great opportunity and great promise, the charge to the international community is clear: we who are on the right side of freedom's divide have an obligation to help those who were unlucky enough to be born on the wrong side of that divide. The hard work of freedom is a task of generations; yet, it is also urgent work that cannot be deferred….Now, more than ever, the UN must play a critical role as it strives to fulfill the dreams and hopes and aspirations of its original promise to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith and fundamental human rights and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom."
If confirmed, I look forward to working closely with this Committee to forge a stronger relationship between the United States and the United Nations, which depends critically on American leadership. Such leadership in turn must rest on broad bipartisan support in Congress that must be earned by putting to rest skepticism that too many feel about the UN system.
Through the course of three decades of public service, both in and out of government, I have learned that this consensus is not only essential, but possible. Working together, in the spirit of bipartisan cooperation, I believe we can take important steps to restore confidence in the United Nations. Mr. Chairman, we are at a critical juncture, and I fully share the sentiments you expressed in 1997, when you remarked that, "It is time to decide if we want a strong and viable United Nations that can serve United States interests, or a United Nation that is crippled by insolvency and hobbled by controversy and uncertainty."
A Stronger, More Effective United Nations
The President and Secretary Rice believe that a stronger, better, more effective United Nations is one which requires sustained and decisive American leadership, broad bipartisan support, and the support of the American public. If confirmed, that would be my objective as well. Walking away from the United Nations is not an option. I undertake to do my utmost to uphold the confidence that the President, Secretary Rice, and the Senate will have placed in me if confirmed.
Mr. Chairman, now more than ever, the United Nations needs American leadership. President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill promoted a post-war international organization to avert another world war when they envisioned a collective security organization that would resist aggressor states that threatened international peace and security. Accordingly, the UN Charter lists as its first objective, "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war."
If the UN is to play a role in fulfilling that mission, however, it is not enough that it reform its internal structures. It must also clearly and forcefully address the new challenges we face. Rogue states, which do not necessarily subscribe to theories of deterrence, now threaten the global community as both possessors and proliferators of weapons of mass destruction. These weapons could also be transferred to terrorist organizations that would have no compunction about using them in cold blood against innocent civilian populations.
I believe my past government experience and writings reflect my awareness of both the strengths and weaknesses of the United Nations. I learned much about the UN's potential when I served for four years as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs in 1989-1993, and again later when I worked for the United Nations pro bono between 1997 and 2000, assisting former Secretary of State James Baker in his capacity as the Secretary General's Personal Envoy for the Western Sahara. I saw first-hand the impact of armed conflict and repression, and the devastating consequences this can have on innocent civilian populations.
I therefore wish to assure the Committee, the American people, and potential future colleagues at the United Nations that, if confirmed, I will strive to work with all interested parties to build a stronger and more effective United Nations. Doing so will promote not only American interests, but will inevitably improve and enhance the UN's ability to serve all of its members as well.
Mr. Chairman, if confirmed, I pledge to bring my strong record of experience of working cooperatively within the United Nations to fulfill the intentions and aspirations of its original promise. In particular, I will work closely with the Congress and this Committee to achieve that goal. In attempting to strengthen the UN's effort to promote international peace and security, I would like to identify several priorities.
Supporting Freedom and Democracy
One priority is to strengthen and build institutions that serve as the cornerstone of freedom in nascent democracies. I am proud of my record in this regard. In 1981, as General Counsel of the Agency for International Development, I proposed that we fund international observers to witness upcoming elections in El Salvador so that there would be an independent assessment of whether those elections would be free and fair. Many experts at the time thought that the Government of El Salvador would not accept this idea, but, with the support of USAID Administrator Peter McPherson and Deane Hinton, then our Ambassador to El Salvador, I was encouraged to raise the possibility with President Jose Napoleon Duarte in late 1981. I did so and we were able to fund international election observers through Section 116 of the Foreign Assistance Act, very likely the first such assistance provided by USAID, thus leading to further success stories in legitimizing and instilling confidence in democracy in countries once torn apart by violence.
During my service in IO in President George H.W. Bush's Administration, I personally observed the legislative elections in Namibia in 1989 as part of a presidential delegation led by former Senator Edward Muskie, the largest effort to organize elections by the United Nations in its history to that point. It constituted a major test of UN capabilities and resources, and served as a successful model for future elections in Nicaragua, Cambodia and elsewhere.
Some of these earlier missions have no doubt helped pave the way for the recent and remarkable success stories we have observed in Afghanistan and Iraq, where UN assistance in both countries played a critical role. Many of us today, myself included, still marvel at the success of those elections -- elections which are having repercussions throughout the region and beyond, as they are already doing in Lebanon. We appreciate that the United Nations is committed over the long-term to respond positively to the elected Iraqi Government's request for help with its constitutional process and subsequent elections, as laid out in Resolution 1546.
Mr. Chairman, we should never underestimate the impact of free and fair elections on a country. I look forward, if confirmed, to working with relevant UN agencies to enable them to contribute further to democratic institutions in countries freed from the bonds of oppression. I am sure that many of you are aware of our support for programs such as the Community of Democracies. If confirmed, I also look forward to working with you on President Bush's request for $10 million in the Fiscal Year 2006 budget to set up a Democracy Fund within the United Nations, and I am grateful to Secretary General Annan for endorsing the President's proposal in his new report on UN reform. This fund would have a lean staff of experts who identify carefully tailored projects for strengthening democratic institutions, political parties, administration of justice programs and respect for human rights advocacy. If successful, the Fund will be among the best diplomatic tools we have in the global war on terrorism.
While the UN has had its successes in the human rights field, there have been problems as well, such as in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights ("UNHRC"). For too long, some of the most egregious violators of human rights have undercut the UNHRC's principles and its effectiveness. The consequence, as Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said, is that the Commission's important work has "been increasingly undermined by its declining credibility and professionalism." We must work with our friends and allies to keep those who would usurp the moral authority of this Commission off of it, and we must send clear and strong signals that we will not shy away from naming human-rights violators.
We must work to galvanize the General Assembly to focus its attention on issues of true importance. Sadly, there have been times when the General Assembly has gone off track. In my view, one of the greatest stains on the United Nations was the abominable Resolution 3379 equating Zionism with racism. This canard for many years distracted the General Assembly from focusing its attention on the very real problems confronting the international community. I am proud to have been an active player in getting this resolution repealed. I recall fondly the day of December 16, 1991, when the General Assembly voted 111-25 to repeal this odious resolution, when our delegation was led by Acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, accompanied in the General Assembly by Senator Moynihan. I was proud to have served also as one of the original members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom from 1999-2001.
Stopping the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Mr. Chairman, a second priority should I be confirmed will be stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to ensure that terrorist organizations and the world's most dangerous regimes are unable to threaten the United States, our friends, and our allies.
As Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, I have worked with our friends and allies to press states that have violated important treaties to stop WMD proliferation such as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, and the Chemical Weapons Convention, to live up to their obligations or face a referral to the UN Security Council. I have worked hard to promote effective multilateral action to curb the flow of these dangerous weapons. I served as the lead U.S. negotiator in the creation of the G-8 Global Partnership Against the Proliferation of WMD, through which we aim to add an additional $10 billion in Nunn-Lugar type programs through contributions by other nations. In the case of Libya, I had the opportunity to work in close consultation with our British colleagues in diplomatic efforts to secure the verifiable elimination of their weapons of mass destruction programs.
I helped build a coalition of more than 60 countries to help combat the spread of dangerous weapons through President Bush's Proliferation Security Initiative ("PSI"). The Administration welcomes the endorsement of this initiative in the recently published Secretary-General's Report, "Strengthening the United Nations: an agenda for further change." And despite fears that the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty would result in a new arms race, exactly the opposite occurred. I was proud to serve as the Administration's chief negotiator for the Treaty of Moscow, signed by Presidents Putin and Bush in 2002, which reduced operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads by two-thirds.
Effective multilateral solutions reflect a commitment on the part of this Administration to use the best tools in our arsenal. Activities such as these are helping to create a new international consensus that recognizes the danger posed by these weapons of terror. I have no doubt these efforts played a crucial role in enabling the United States to lead the Security Council to pass Resolution 1540, first suggested by President Bush in his speech to the General Assembly in September, 2003. This resolution calls upon "all Member States to fulfill their obligations in relation to arms control and disarmament and to prevent proliferation in all its aspects of all weapons of mass destruction." Resolution 1540 was the first of its kind focusing on WMD proliferation, and I am proud that our strong leadership contributed to its unanimous adoption. I am happy to report that as of March 15, over 80 countries have submitted reports required by the resolution outlining their plans to enact and implement measures to stop WMD proliferation. I look forward to working with Security Council members to achieve 100% compliance with the Resolution.
We also cannot ignore the real possibility that countries may be brought before the Security Council if they do not cease the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Failure of the Security Council to act on such fundamental threats to international peace and security will only weaken the Council's role in security issues more generally. If confirmed, I would make it a top priority to work with the Security Council to take meaningful action in the face of these grave threats.
Winning the Global War on Terror
A third priority that I would pursue if confirmed is supporting the global war on terror. As we all learned on September 11, 2001, no one is safe from the devastating effects of terrorists' intent on harming innocent people. Confronting and triumphing in the global war on terror remains a central priority of the Bush Administration, and to win this war requires long-term cooperation with all like-minded nations.
The President is firmly committed to working with the United Nations to make this shared goal of the civilized world a reality. As he noted in his speech to the UN General Assembly in September 2003, "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, 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 history."
The United Nations has taken positive steps to support the war on terror, but more of course remains to be done. In the wake of September 11th, we have been actively encouraging Member States to become parties to the UN Conventions on Terrorism. I have been personally involved in the past four years as well in working to complete the negotiations on a Nuclear Terrorism Convention. We must build upon Security Council Resolution 1368, passed one day after the tragic events of September 11th, which for the first time classified every act of international terrorism as a threat to international peace and security. We must also work together to help Member States build capacities to combat terrorism as outlined in Resolution 1373, passed on September 28, 2001. This resolution obligates all UN member states to use their domestic laws and courts to keep terrorists from sheltering resources or finding safe haven anywhere in the world and to cooperate in investigating, prosecuting, and preventing terrorism wherever it may spring up. The UN Security Council is monitoring compliance with the requirements of this resolution, with impressive results: to date 142 countries have issued orders freezing the assets of suspected terrorists and terrorist organizations; accounts totaling almost $105 million have been blocked -- $34 million in the U.S. and over twice that amount in other countries. Overall, Resolution 1373 has been the framework for unprecedented international consultation and coordination against terrorism, including the provision of technical assistance to governments that want to do the right thing, but may not have the specialized expertise necessary.
International Humanitarian Efforts
Mr. Chairman, a fourth priority of mine should I be confirmed is addressing humanitarian crises. Following the successful prosecution of the first Gulf War, we worked through the Security Council to address the humanitarian disaster caused by Saddam Hussein's repression of Shiites in southern Iraq and the Kurdish population in the north and east of that country. As we are all aware, this was a thorny and delicate issue -- one that required carefully calibrated coordination within the Security Council.
During 1990, we were successful in having the United Nations impose its most comprehensive economic sanctions package ever, in Resolution 661, against Iraq. We were also successful in passing the first Security Council authorization for the use of force since Korea in Resolution 678. It was not lost upon us, however, that a humanitarian crisis was beginning to erupt. Hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Iraq into other countries would certainly have had a dramatic and destabilizing effect, in addition to the humanitarian costs of lives lost and displaced.
As a result of our leadership and collaborative efforts, we secured the adoption of Resolution 688, which decided that internal repression causing substantial refugee flows could be a threat to international peace and security. This gave the Security Council jurisdiction to approve intervention into Iraqi territory to aid displaced persons. The United States took the lead in implementing this Resolution, under the name "Operation Provide Comfort." Success stories such as these are a direct result of decisive American leadership and our effective multilateral diplomacy.
Of pressing urgency now is stopping the genocide and violence devastating the Darfur region in the Sudan. The United Nations has already played a critical role in bringing attention to this crisis. But we all know there is much more to be done. If confirmed, I pledge to work with our partners in the Security Council to pressure parties to stop the violence in Darfur, deploy the new peacekeeping mission to secure implementation of the comprehensive North-South peace agreement, and to assist the African Union mission in Darfur to punish those responsible for the genocide. My hope is that we can build upon the United Nation's considerable success record in helping to ensure free and fair elections in the Sudan despite its tortured past of violence and strife.
Careful oversight of such operations is critical, particularly in light of recent reports concerning abuse by UN peacekeepers themselves. If confirmed, I will make every effort to see that the Secretary General's new zero-tolerance policy of such behavior by UN personnel is enforced. There is a pressing need to do so. In light of the current global situation, we anticipate that 70,000 peacekeepers will be deployed by the end of 2005, compared with 39,000 by the end of 2002. Since October 2003, the UN has created four new missions including Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Burundi, and Haiti and has expanded the Congo mission. In addition to the proper oversight of such troops, there are additional concerns about capacity and stressing the UN system too far. This is not lost upon UN officials either. Jean-Marie Guehenno, Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, acknowledges the system is getting stretched to its limits, and that, in his own words, "It is difficult to run and tie your shoelaces properly. I sincerely hope that the organization will not be required to deploy any new complex peacekeeping operations in 2005, beyond what is already on our plate or in the pipeline." Currently, we pay roughly 27% of the costs of these operations.
Other humanitarian crises demand our attention as well. It is not just the scourge of war we must confront. We must confront the scourge of disease and afflictions such as HIV/AIDS through strong U.S. leadership in the United Nations system. We strongly support the UN Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and are working to ensure resources from the Global Fund for AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis are available to countries most severely affected. We are actively pursuing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a five-year $15 billion investment, the largest commitment ever by a nation toward an international health initiative for a single disease or affliction.
I will make it a key priority as well to improve programs that have been involved in the tsunami relief effort, so that we can enhance and build upon structures and institutions already in place. Doing so will not only help current victims and communities, who will surely need help for years to come, but will help prepare for the next time a natural disaster of this magnitude strikes. More broadly, we must confront the scourge of poverty, which leaves hundreds of millions on the margins of societies scrambling for food or shelter with little opportunity to improve their lives or those of their children.
We also must make sure that the UN acts effectively in promoting the economic and social advancement of all people. For far too long, the UN promoted statist solutions to the problems of poverty and underdevelopment. Today, we know the private sector can do the best job in generating flows of investment capital and encourage small entrepreneurship, as set out in the remarkable report of the Commission on the Private Sector and Development, chaired by President Zedillo and Martin, and in the consensus results of the Monterey Conference on Financing for Development. Policy reform, institution building, appropriate technology transfer and private sector involvement are all necessary for underpinning sustained economic growth. We will continue to support the contribution of women to economic growth and development as well as their critical role in the growth of democratic institutions worldwide.
The UN, in conjunction with U.S. leadership, is hopefully now recognizing that the traditional models of development are insufficient to achieve development objectives and better the lives of people around the world. The Partnership for Maternal, New Born and Child Health, The Global Alliance for Vaccinations & Immunizations, and Roll Back Malaria, are all examples of how UN agencies, such as UNICEF, are working along side the private sector, charitable organizations, and foundations, such as the Gates Foundation, to leverage resources, generate new activities and impact the lives of millions in developing countries.
To enhance these efforts, if I am confirmed, I hope I would have your support in increasing the level of American representation in UN agencies and affiliated organizations. This is not a question of simply getting our fair share of positions. Americans have the skills and training to contribute significantly to making the UN more efficient, effective, and accountable.
A More Efficient UN Will Make a Stronger UN
Accountability and reform of the United Nations is something I know this Committee has encouraged, including by holding a hearing on this important question just last month. This will be a top priority of mine if confirmed. During the first President Bush's Administration, I worked hard to secure appropriations to repay U.S. arrearages. Working with the Congress, we also made sure that the United Nations would target these arrearages to effective programs rather than treating them as a "windfall." If confirmed, I would look forward to working with the Congress again to make certain that the money you allocate is spent wisely and accountably.
I look forward if confirmed to reviving the concept of the "Unitary UN," which served as a guiding analytical construct during our work under Secretaries Baker and Eagleburger. As the system has grown, there has been too little attention paid by member governments to coordinating their efforts in key programs. The consequence is a tremendous waste of resources due to duplication, overlap and inefficiencies, all of which can be corrected if member governments have the political will.
The Administration welcomes the Secretary-General's new report on UN Reform, and we are examining carefully its many recommendations. I hope to work closely with the Secretary-General and my colleagues if confirmed to bring greater accountability and transparency to the United Nations. The key is to implement changes to the UN structure and management, including budget, personnel, and oversight reforms. Scandals, such as those we have witnessed with the Oil-for-Food program, undermine not only America's confidence in the United Nations, but the confidence of the international community as well. They must not recur. To make this outcome a reality, we must recognize the proper roles and capabilities of UN agencies, funds and programs. Some have all but concluded that the Oil-for Food scandal was bound to happen because it was beyond the UN's capabilities. Even the Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette, has lamented, "Personally, I hope to God we never get another oil-for-food program or anything approaching that kind of responsibility, which was tantamount to trying to oversee the entire import-export regime of a country of 24 million people." Whether or not this is so, we must never lose sight of the reality that ultimately it is member governments that must take responsibility for the UN's actions, whether they be successes or failures.
The successful implementation of any reform will require broad consensus among member states. If confirmed, I will work actively with my colleagues at the United Nations and with Congress to help restore confidence in the organization.
Mr. Chairman, let me close by reiterating what I said at the beginning. If confirmed, I will work closely and effectively with this Committee and both Houses of Congress. The President and Secretary Rice are committed to building a strong, effective United Nations. The United Nations affords us the opportunity to move our policies forward together with unity of purpose. Now, more than ever, the UN must play a critical role as it strives to fulfill the dreams and hopes and aspirations of its original promise to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith and fundamental human rights and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom. This effort demands decisive American leadership, broad bipartisan support, and the backing of the American public. I will undertake to do my utmost to uphold the confidence that the President, Secretary Rice, and the Senate will have placed in me.
Thank you, and I would welcome the opportunity to answer your questions.