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Bush urges UN members to respect human rights declaration

[JURIST] US President George W. Bush [JURIST news archive] Tuesday addressed the UN General Assembly [official website] and called on fellow member states to abide by the dictates of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights [text] by opposing dictatorships and aiding countries seeking to establish democracies. In his speech [PDF text; recorded video] at the opening of the General Assembly's 62nd session [UN materials], Bush also urged the UN to reform its Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website; JURIST news archive], established in 2006 to replace [JURIST report] the UN Human Rights Commission [official website], which was often criticized for allowing states with poor human rights records to become members.

In addition, Bush opened the door Tuesday to the possibility that the US may support the expansion of the UN Security Council [official website] to include members such as Japan:

Some have also called for reform to the structure of the Security Council, including an expansion of its membership. The United States is open to this prospect. We believe that Japan is well-qualified for permanent membership on the Security Council, and that other nations should be considered, as well. The United States will listen to all good ideas, and we will support changes to the Security Council as part of broader U.N. reform. And in all we do, I call on member states to work for an institution that adheres to strict ethical standards, and lives up to the high principles of the Universal Declaration.
Bush also announced in his speech that the US would impose economic sanctions against the military government of Myanmar [JURIST news archive], formerly known as "Burma," in addition to a visa ban on alleged human rights [JURIST news archive] violators from that country. In another controversial comment, Bush said that "the long rule of a cruel dictator is nearing its end" in reference to the rule of Fidel Castro in Cuba, reportedly causing Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque to storm out of the chamber. AP has more.

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