Reaction of Senator Patrick Leahy to UN Ambassador John Bolton's
    Bid to Strike "Respect for Nature"
    from Draft UN Statement of Principles

    t r u t h o u t | Statement

    Friday 26 August 2005

    News Item: (Excerpt from an article today, Friday, August 26, in The Washington Post.)

"The Bush Administration, whose pro-business policies on climate change have long rankled environmentalists and UN delegates, has done it again. The United States is pressing to scrap a proposal to have world leaders gathering in New York next month express 'respect for nature.'

"That phrase was included in a draft statement of principles to be agreed to by 175 heads of state and government attending a Sept. 14 United Nations summit on poverty and UN reform. The statement invited leaders to embrace a set of 'core values' that unite the international community, including respect for human rights, freedom, equality, tolerance, multilateralism and respect for nature.

"The offending phrase would place no fresh legal or financial burdens on US taxpayers, but the Bush Administration voiced concern that it would distract attention from the main goal: reforming the United Nations."

    Statement of Senator Leahy:

"It didn't take long for Ambassador Bolton to find ways to further erode our leadership in the world and our standing as a moral authority. In his tantrum over this straightforward reference to the environment, Ambassador Bolton does not speak for most Americans, and I count myself among them.

"We are blessed with a planet that sustains life and the comforts we enjoy, but in so many crucial ways we are destroying the delicate fabric of life that supports us. The phrase that Ambassador Bolton finds offensive is an understated reference to some of the most urgent challenges we face, and they are challenges that we can't handle by ourselves. We need cooperation from other nations. US and world opinion are far ahead of ideologues like Ambassador Bolton in recognizing that far more needs to be done to improve our stewardship of the environment, which today is under siege on every continent - from pollution and over-fishing of the oceans, to the destruction of forests and of wildlife biodiversity; and from the lack of potable water, to the pollution of our water sources by poor sanitation and industrial waste. The world has been slow to rise to these challenges, and acknowledging them at least is a first step.

"This is clearly a time for the Bush Administration to step in with the adult supervision they hinted that John Bolton would be getting as our UN representative."

    Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), a leader on environmental policy in the Senate, is also the ranking member of the Senate appropriations panel that handles the Senate's work in writing the annual budget bill for the State Department, including the US contribution to the UN. Leahy is a member of the US delegation to the UN during the current session, nominated last year by President Bush and unanimously confirmed by the Senate.