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Henry Hyde United Nations Reform Act of 2005

Location: Washington, DC

HENRY HYDE UNITED NATIONS REFORM ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - June 15, 2005)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 4, 2005, the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the leadership for arranging this time and affording me the possibility, the opportunity to discuss with the American public an important piece of legislation that we will be considering here in this body, the Henry Hyde United Nations Reform Act of 2005.

As we can see, Mr. Speaker, the United Nations Reform Act has three basic policies. It is going to have oversight, accountability, and it is going to cut bureaucracy.

Why is it that we need to do that? Because the United Nations has a history of scandals, starting with what we all know is the Oil For Food program, but going on in a litany of scandals, one right after the other. There is virtually no U.N. agency or body that has not been mired in scandal.

So the Henry Hyde United Nations Reform Act is going to mandate United Nations budget oversight. It is going to insert accountability and ethics into the U.N. It is going to reform the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. It is going to strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency, and it is going to provide accountability in the peacekeeping operations.

In addition to all of that, it also addresses in one of the amendments that will be proposed tomorrow a problem that Donald Trump has been very interested in. The United Nations is now asking for an incredible amount of money in order to refurbish their facilities in Turtle Bay in New York City, and as Donald Trump said, the United Nations is a mess and they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars unnecessarily on this project.

It is time to reform the United Nations once and for all, and as I said, tomorrow the House will be considering a bill that aims to institute long overdue United Nations reform by shedding light on the fact that the numerous scandals that have characterized the United Nations over the past decade are no accident. Rather, they are a direct result of a flawed structure that gives rise to passing the buck at best and corruption, profiteering and collusion at worst.

The basic structure of the United Nations is broken, and it must be transformed to ensure transparency and that this world body is functioning with integrity.

The United Nations Reform Act of 2005 strategically targets crucial areas to restore this broken organization.

The goals that enshrine the United Nations charter, particularly those regarding international peace and security and the promotion of respect for fundamental human rights, have never been more significant.

Further, with the challenges of the United States and our allies that we are facing in the war on terror, there is an urgent need for an international organization that is both credible and effective, one that can work together with national governments in dealing with concrete problems of terrorism and, most importantly, nuclear proliferation.

As we learned to our horror on September 11, lives, not simply policies, are at stake in our efforts to reform the United Nations and its entities. Take the International Atomic Energy Agency for example. As it is currently structured, the membership criteria allows countries who are suspected of breaching their safeguards obligations, it allows them to serve in leadership positions within the agency.

For example, Iran, a Nation that continues to be under investigation for breaches and failures of its safeguards obligations and has admitted purchasing illicit nuclear materials through the A.Q. Khan nuclear black market network, recently served on the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Furthermore, this agency also needs a well-designed system to deter States from both developing nuclear weapons capabilities and colluding with terrorists by diverting nuclear material from the State's national program for terrorist use.

The section in the Henry Hyde U.N. Reform Act dealing with the International Atomic Energy Agency, reinforces U.S. priorities concerning the safety of nuclear materials and counterproliferation by, one, calling for U.S. voluntary contributions to the agency to be primarily used to fund activities relating to nuclear security or nuclear verification and inspections; two, it seeks to prioritize funding for inspections to focus on countries of proliferation concern; and, thirdly, by seeking to prevent proliferators and countries under the International Atomic Energy Agency investigation from benefiting from certain assistance programs.

Furthermore, it seeks the suspension of privileges for member states that are under investigation or are in breach or are in noncompliance of their obligation. And it seeks to establish membership criteria that would keep such rogue states, such as Iran, that I just discussed, and Syria from serving on the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The IAEA section of this bill reinforces our U.S. priorities concerning the safety of nuclear materials and counterproliferation. So we are going to make sure that we can close those loopholes.

I was proud to work with the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Kirk) on an amendment that he will be offering, along with the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Andrews), tomorrow on the Small Quantities Protocol. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment because we want to close this loophole from the inspections regime by calling for the International Atomic Energy Agency to rescind the Small Quantities Protocol.

I also urge strong support for an amendment that our distinguished chief deputy majority whip, the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Cantor), will be offering containing punitive measures against those members of the International Atomic Energy Agency that provide assistance to Iran before it dismantles its nuclear program.

And let me turn to the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement that occurs every day at the United Nations. The discrimination against Israel is another structural and, indeed, a cultural issue that must be addressed. The viciousness with which Israel continues to be attacked at the U.N., and the reluctance of the member states to defend Israel or to accord it the same treatment as other states, suggests that there are considerable anti-Semitic components behind the policies pursued in the United Nations' forums.

In addition to the multiple manifestations of anti-Semitism at the U.N., Israel's temporary membership status in the Western European and Others Group is extremely limited. Israel cannot present candidates for open seats in any U.N. body, it cannot compete for any major U.N. body seat, it cannot participate in U.N. conferences on human rights, on racism, and on many other issues. And despite this gross discrimination directed against Israel, there are several U.N. groups dedicated solely to Palestinian rights and there is a disproportionate representation of Palestinian issues in different committees and in various commissions.

The U.N. Reform Act of 2005 seeks to end this discrimination against Israel. What will it do? It will expand WEOG, the Western European and Others Group, to include Israel as a permanent member, not a temporary member. It will mandate a State Department review of all U.N. commissions, all U.N. committees, all offices focused solely on Palestinian issues in order to eliminate duplicative efforts. Further, it will withhold proportional U.S. contributions to the U.N. until these recommendations are implemented.

I am also working with my colleagues on amendments to the Henry Hyde United Nations Reform Act. For example, we are calling for the issuance and implementation of a directive by the U.N. Secretary General or the Secretariat to establish a series of requirements to fight anti-Semitism at the U.N. and to ensure that all entities and efforts that promote the Palestinian agenda and perpetuate an anti-Israel bias on Israeli-Palestinian issues are addressed here in this bill.

The scandals that have plagued the U.S. peacekeeping missions is another important component of this bill, and it is indicative of wider structural deficiencies that must be addressed and are addressed in this bill. Even one instance of this terrible crime is appalling and unacceptable; but, unbelievably, over the past decade their appearance is frequent.

Crimes involving sexual misconduct on the part of U.N. staff is yet another example of the ways the U.N. is unfit to operate in its current state and must be reformed at all costs to restore its integrity and its authority. In the Congo, Burundi, and Sierra Leone, U.N. peacekeepers have reportedly engaged in gross sexual misconduct, exploitation, and even systematic rape.

In Bosnia, the U.N. police mission has been accused of corruption as well as sex trafficking. But thus far the U.N. has squashed an investigation into the involvement of its police in the enslavement of Eastern European women in Bosnia in brothels.

The U.N. Reform Act of 2005 specifically includes provisions to deter the most egregious instances of sexual misconduct that have occurred in recent years. Specifically, we will be mandating the adoption of the minimum standards of qualifications for senior leaders and managers.

Furthermore, the bill will have an adoption of a Uniform Code of Conduct for all U.N. peacekeepers. Also, the institution of educational outreach programs designed to explain prohibited acts on the U.N. peacekeepers to local populations, and providing a means for them to direct complaints or allegations of abuse. And it will establish a permanent professional and independent investigative body dedicated to U.N. peacekeeping.

The U.N. mismanagement of contracts and administration in the Oil-for-Food program is yet another problem that we have seen; and this, combined with Saddam Hussein's abuse of the program through vouchers, surcharges, and kickbacks, enabled the Iraqi regime to make a mockery of the program that was ostensibly set up to help its suffering people by collecting an estimated $20 billion while the U.N. refused to intervene.

Similar scandals have rocked the United Nations in the recent past. Notable examples are in 1995, the Kenya UNICEF office defrauded or squandered up to $10 million in agency funds. In 1996, a senior official was investigated on suspicion of embezzling between $200,000 and $600,000. In 1997, 16 past or current UNDP employees were placed under investigation after more than $6 million was found to have been siphoned off over an 8-year period.

These acts did not occur in a vacuum, but were rather part of a pattern of systematic financial mismanagement and corruption that have been going on for too many years. The Henry Hyde U.N. Reform Act of 2005 has built-in budget certification requirements and accountability provisions that include holding the Secretary General accountable for certifying that the U.N.'s biannual budget is maintained at the approved level.

By requiring transparency within the U.N. budget, creating an Office of Internal Oversight Services, and an Office of Ethics, we ensure that no one in the United Nations, from the most senior officials to the low-ranking employees, will be above the law.

There will be many amendments offered that will help to further strengthen this bill, amendments such as the one that I have had the pleasure of working on with my friend and colleague, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. McCotter). He is addressing a problem that we have with Syria.

Syria's continuing presence in Lebanon is in violation of the United Nations Security Council 1559 and other applications of international law. This is a test of the effectiveness of the U.N. and a test of the willingness of its leadership to ensure full compliance with U.N. mandates in order to prevent a rogue state, such as Syria, from making a mockery of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Syria continues to maintain a sizable intelligence presence in Lebanon, and it has recently mobilized to mount an assassination campaign against anti-Syrian-Lebanese political figures. Both Syria and Iran also continue to arm their military proxy, the terrorist group Hezbollah. Absent substantial international pressure, Syria will continue to proceed with its campaign aimed at destabilizing Lebanon's internal affairs in clear violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 and in breach of international law.

The McCotter amendment, cosponsored by another great freedom fighter, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Engel), calls on the U.S. permanent representative to ensure full implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559, particularly relating to the presence of Syrian security and intelligence personnel and the disarming of Hezbollah and other militias. If compliance is not verified and certified, it calls for an adoption of a resolution by the United Nations Security Council to impose punitive measures on Syria and other foreign forces, such as Iran, who directly, or through their proxies, are interfering with Lebanese political independence and sovereignty.

I am also working with my colleagues on an amendment that calls for the establishment of a U.N. Democracy Fund, and this will assist countries that are emerging democracies or democracies in transition. I request the support of all of our colleagues in this Chamber for these amendments as well as for the underlying bill.

Mr. Speaker, just as the United States took the lead in forging the creation of the United Nations in the aftermath of World War II, we must lead the organization toward greater relevance and capability in this new era. The United States has waited patiently as the United Nations has paid lip service to nominal efforts to reform itself.

Tomorrow, I strongly urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote in favor of this amendment and this measure, and, in effect, save the U.N. from itself. So I urge all our colleagues to vote in a bipartisan manner and pass the Henry Hyde U.N. Reform Act of 2005.

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