UNITED NATIONS -- The UN must make itself more relevant to tackle 21st-century problems and should condemn as terrorists those who target civilians whatever their cause, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday.
Recalling the founding of the United Nations 60 years ago, Rice told the General Assembly: ''In this new world, we must again embrace the challenge of building for the future."
World leaders at a summit last week adopted a watered-down version of proposed overhauls advanced by Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Bush administration.
Rice, in her first speech before the General Assembly, called on the 191 nations to try harder.
''The time to reform the United Nations is now," she said. ''And we must seize this opportunity together."
Rice placed terrorism at the top of her list. Appealing for adoption of a comprehensive convention on terrorism, she said there could be no definition of terrorism that excludes from condemnation any group that harms innocent civilians.
''No cause, no movement, and no grievance can justify the intentional killing of innocent civilians and noncombatants," she said.
Preceding Rice to the rostrum, Annan said that condemnation of terrorism must be unqualified and that the 191 countries should ''forge a global counterterrorism strategy that weakens terrorists and strengthens the international community."
In her speech, Rice called on rich countries to help poor ones with development assistance.
And developing countries, she said, ''have responsibility to govern justly, to advance economic liberty, and to invest in their people."