President-elect Barack Obama's choice as US envoy to the United Nations told lawmakers Thursday that the UN is often used to "willfully and unfairly condemn Israel."
Susan Rice added that she will work to strengthen "an indispensable if imperfect" institution so that it can better meet international challenges.
She said at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she realizes that many Americans are deeply frustrated by the organization. But, she said, terrorism, nuclear weapons, genocide, poverty, climate change and disease are "global challenges that no single nation can defeat alone; they require common action, based on a common purpose."
Rice, who served in the Clinton administration as assistant secretary of state for Africa, said that "the UN sometimes deeply frustrates Americans, and I am aware of its shortcomings, yet all nations understand the importance of this organization."
This understanding, she said, is why countries like Cuba, Sudan and North Korea try to render the UN human rights council "ineffective and objectionable," why efforts to pass Security Council resolutions on abuses in Myanmar and Zimbabwe spark intense debate and why many try to use the UN "willfully and unfairly to condemn our ally Israel."
US officials and lawmakers have called for changes at the UN and have leveled charges of corruption and mismanagement. Many around the world, however, believe the Bush administration did not have a strong commitment to working with other countries and that US power as the world's richest nation and a veto-wielding member of the Security Council has been disproportionate.
Rice is expected to be confirmed as US ambassador to the UN, which Obama has decided to elevate to a Cabinet position.