By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Sept. 25, 2007 - Nations of the world must unite against terrorism, which denies fundamental rights, President Bush told the United Nations General Assembly today. Terrorists are a threat to all civilized people, Bush said at the opening of the assembly's 62nd session.
"All civilized nations must work together to stop them by sharing intelligence about their networks and choking off their finances and bringing to justice their operatives," he said. "In the long run, the best way to defeat extremists is to defeat their dark ideology with a more hopeful vision, a vision of liberty that founded this body."
The president said the United Nations must encourage leaders attempting to build free institutions that fight terror, enforce the law and respond to the needs of their people.
The citizens of Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Afghanistan and Iraq have chosen democracy, Bush said, yet terrorists have tried to overturn those votes. "It is not a show of strength. It is evidence of fear," he said. "And the extremists are doing everything in their power to bring down these young democracies."
The president spoke against the dictators of Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Iran as nations that deny their people the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Bush called the declaration, negotiated 60 years ago, a landmark achievement in the history of human liberty.
Bush also spoke against the military junta in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, and said he will announce a series of steps to help bring peaceful change to the Southeast Asian nation.
Anticipating the eventual death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, Bush said, the United Nations must stand ready to assist a post-Castro Cuba. He also said the world body has a responsibility to work for change in Zimbabwe and in Darfur, Sudan.
Bush said the United Nations helps to build a world where "people are free to speak, assemble and worship as they wish, a world where children in every nation grow up healthy, get a decent education, and look to the future with hope, a world where opportunity crosses every border."
"America will lead toward this vision where all are created equal and free to pursue their dreams," he said. "This is the founding conviction of my country. It is the promise that established this body. And with our determination, it can be the future of our world."
The president said the family of nations must join together to fulfill the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This means the world body must confront terrorism, deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, work to eliminate malaria, and guarantee education for all, he said.
"The declaration opens by recognizing the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom and justice and peace in the world," Bush said.
He added that these standards must guide the work of nations. "Achieving the promise of the declaration requires confronting long-term threats. It also requires answering the immediate needs of today," the president said.
Bush said the nations of the world have differences, but they can agree on many things.
"When innocent people are trapped in a life of murder and fear, the declaration is not being upheld," he said. "When millions of children starve to death or perish from a mosquito bite, we're not doing our duty in the world. When whole societies are cut off from the prosperity of the global economy, we're all worse off."
The nations of the world need to unite to change these underlying conditions for all peoples, and the United Nations must be the catalyst for this change, he said.
"This great institution must work for great purposes: to free people from tyranny and violence, hunger and diseases, illiteracy and ignorance and poverty and despair," the president said. "Every member of the United Nations must join in this mission of liberation."