World leaders are examining ways to revitalize the United Nations at a summit in New York, but their blueprint falls short of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's vision of freedom from hunger, persecution and war.
Member countries reached agreement Tuesday on a watered-down document outlining steps to reform the world body.
President Bush was among the world leaders arriving for the opening of the annual U.N. General Assembly. He met privately at U.N. headquarters for nearly an hour Tuesday afternoon with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The Bush-Annan meeting occurred as a "core group" of ambassadors from more than 30 nations met to finalize the reform plan, which was later adopted by the full 191-nation General Assembly on its 60th anniversary, CNN reports.
"We would have preferred a stronger language in some parts of the text," Annan said at a news conference.
The 35-page document, to be submitted for General Assembly approval, includes U.N. operations reforms, commitments by the world's richer nations to aid underdeveloped countries, the establishment of a new human rights council to address "systematic violations," and the creation of a peace-building commission to help stabilize countries emerging from armed civil conflict.
"The big item missing is non-proliferation and disarmament. This is a real disgrace ... when we are all concerned with weapons of mass destruction and that they may get into the wrong hands," Annan said.
Bush did not comment on his meeting with Annan, but John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said internal management reform is the top priority for the United States, which pays more than 20 percent of the U.N. budget.
"We certainly obtained a number of priorities that we felt were very important - on terrorism, on human rights, on management," Bolton said. "There are things we didn't get. This is a negotiation among 191 countries."
While the reforms "represent steps forward," Bolton said the reform plan was "not the alpha and the omega, and we never thought it would be."
Undersecretary of State Nick Burns cited as victories a proposed code of ethics for U.N. staff, "whisteblower" protection for those that expose wrongdoing and greater financial disclosure for top officials.
"This is not end of the reform effort. This is the must be the beginning of a permanent reform effort to strengthen the U.N.," Burns said. "We wanted to achieve summit outcome to unite the world around reforming the United Nations. We didn't get everything we wanted."
"Multilateral discussions lead to compromises," said incoming General Assembly President Jan Eliasson of Sweden. "We can only go as far as member states want to go."
The United States backs only the addition of Japan as a permanent Security Council member.
With all the focus on bureaucratic reform, Eliasson held up a glass of water to remind reporters of the tough problems the world body is called upon to solve.