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Henry J. Hyde United Nations Reform Act of 2005

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Location: Washington, DC


HENRY J. HYDE UNITED NATIONS REFORM ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - June 16, 2005)

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PART 1, SUBPART A AMENDMENT NO. 1 OFFERED BY MR. KING OF NEW YORK

Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as may consume.

At the outset, Mr. Chairman, let me join with my other colleagues in commending the gentleman from Illinois (Chairman Hyde) for the outstanding leadership he has demonstrated on this bill. It caps a tremendous career in this body and is just one further shining example of how much we owe him and how we are indebted to him for his years of service to the United States Congress.

Mr. Chairman, my amendment should be noncontroversial. As both sides have acknowledged, there have been enormous scandals at the United Nations. Its reputation has suffered dramatically.

For those who do wish the United Nations to be reformed, and for the United Nations to reform itself, it is essential that it restore or regain some modicum of credibility from the American public and, indeed, from the world community. To do that, my amendment urges or directs the President of the United States to urge our permanent representative to the U.N. to call upon the Secretary General to waive immunity in those instances where U.N. officials have committed serious offenses.

We have heard descriptions of various alleged misconduct by officials such as Benon Sevan, who is head of the Oil-for-Food program. Also, other individuals have been relieved of their duties at the U.N., such as the official charged with supervising contractor selection.

To me, it just makes elemental sense that the Secretary General under section 20 exercise his discretion to waive immunity in those cases so that criminal action, if necessary, can be brought, and it would be imperative upon our upcoming representative to the United Nations to call upon him to do that.

It is an amendment on which I urge its adoption. I believe it is essential, again, a significant step, and yet one which is a common-sense step to restoring the credibility that the U.N. deserves.

Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. KING of New York. I yield to the gentleman from California.

Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Chairman, I want to commend my friend from New York for offering this amendment. Our side is prepared to accept the gentleman's amendment.

The diplomatic immunity that the United Nations is granted under international law is not designed to shield its employees from the due process of law when they commit crimes. Secretary General Kofi Annan has stated on numerous occasions that he would never allow the U.N.'s diplomatic immunity to protect any employee from prosecution for a crime she or he may have committed.

The Lantos-Shays substitute has a parallel amendment, and we are happy to accept the gentleman's amendment.

Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, reclaiming my time, as always, I appreciate the kind words of the gentleman from California who, again, I am proud to call my friend, and I certainly accept his support of the amendment.

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Mr. KING of New York. I yield to the gentleman from Massachusetts.

Mr. DELAHUNT. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding to me.

I do obviously support the acceptance by our ranking member of the amendment.

I think it is important to note for the record that there are currently investigations that are ongoing, and for the information of my friend from New York, the Secretary General has been very explicit that he will fully cooperate. We have received information back that that cooperation is, in fact, occurring, and he has publicly stated, without equivocation, that there will be no immunity for members of the United Nations.

Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, reclaiming my time, I would agree with the gentleman.

In my remarks, I particularly did not direct my remarks to the Secretary General, and, in fact, the remarks are directed to our Ambassador to the United Nations, that in the future he continue that policy.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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