Treatment at the United Nations By John R. Bolton
TESTIMONY House International Relations Committee (Washington) Publication Date: July 14, 1999
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I want to thank you for the opportunityto appear before you today to give testimony on the subject of Israel's treatmentin the United Nations. I would ask that my prepared statement by accepted for therecord, and I will provide a brief summary and, of course, be happy to answer theCommittee's questions.
Because other witnesses have admirably detailed the discrimination against and mistreatmentof Israel at the hands of hostile UN majorities over the years, I will not coverthat ground again. I would, however, like to set our briefly why this mistreatmentand hostility have been so important to every American Administration over the lastfifty years, on a bipartisan basis.Bluntly stated, many anti-Americans believe that U.S. concern with the adverse treatmentof Israel at the United Nations stems from domestic political causes. In their conspiratorial view, "the Jewish lobby" and its much-feared legislative and electoralapparatus have capitalized on an existing skepticism about the UN to distort votesand actions taken in various international fora.
In short, "anti-Israeli"sentiment at the UN is often a surrogate for two other predilections: anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. Of course, if you already believe that the American economyand its foreign policy are beholden to a small, powerful, secretive clique, all of this readily makes sense.In the real world, however, things are very different.
The place of Israel in theUnited Nations is important to the United States for several reasons, of which domesticpolitics is only one (and which, in a democracy, it quite properly should be). Most significantly, the UN's consideration of Israel, apart from the earliest days surrounding its creation, has been a continuing case study of political manipulation, mistreatmentand dishonesty. What this record tells Americans is that the near-theological rhetoric about the UN's purposes and principles is just rhetoric, pure and simple. By diligently harassing Israel over the years, its opponents have demonstrated conclusively thatt he UN (and international organizations generally) are entirely political in their makeup and their conduct. As such, it follows inexorably that the UN is simply one among many -- and certainly no better than other -- possible instruments to deal with international problems.
Three Examples of Israel's Mistreatment at the United Nations
Nonetheless, it is hard to understate the troubles Israel has borne at the hands of its fellow UN members. Amidst the flurry of anti-Israeli General Assembly special sessions, and hostile resolutions there and elsewhere, three recent manifestations of Israel's isolated status particularly stand out: the aftermath of the 1991 repealof the "Zionism is racism" resolution; Israel's exclusion from membership in a regional grouping; and efforts to revive superseded texts like General Assembly Resolution 181, partitioning the Palestinian mandate in 1947. These three are closelyrelated.
First, the General Assembly's December, 1991, decision to invalidate its despicable1975 Resolution 3379 equating Zionism with racism marked a clear opportunity to reverse nearly forty years of anti-Israeli behavior. Both the collapse of the SovietUnion and Iraq's crushing defeat in the Persian Gulf War, signaled unmistakably that conditions in the Middle East has changed forever. Farsighted leaders couldhave capitalized on this opportunity, and the near-simultaneous launching of theMadrid peace process, but unfortunately, at the United Nations, the moment passed.Moreover, and before memories fade too quickly, we should remember that even therepeal of "Z/r" was no easy task.
I have written a very brief descriptionof the repeal efforts from the American perspective, which I have attached to this prepared statement as an Appendix. I did so because even this summary descriptionmakes it clear that the repeal effort, which should have been a self-evident proposition, required an extensive diplomatic lobbying campaign by the United States, Israel and a few others. It included the direct, personal participation of President Bush,Vice President Quayle, and Secretary of State Baker; massive efforts by every regional bureau of the Department of State in Washington, American Ambassadors and their staffs in New York and every UN member capital; and lobbying by private groups aroundthe world. The very difficulty of repealing Resolution 3379 showed just how deeplyingrained in the UN system were its venomous precepts, and why, even after repeal,its effects linger. Nor should we forget that, odious as it was, "Z/r" was only the most visible of a long series (which, unfortunately, continues even to this day) of offensive,anti-Israel, anti-American and anti-Western resolutions. Except for "Z/r"itself, all of this detritus remains on the General Assembly's record.
Second, early in 1992, heartened by the repeal of "Z/r," the United Statessought membership for Israel in a UN regional group, if not its natural geographicarea, then at least temporarily in the Western Group. Opposition to finding a regional "home" for Israel was intense then, and has continued to the present. Exclusion from a regional group at the UN means that Israel is effectively precludedfrom ever becoming a non-permanent member of the Security Council; it is structurallyprecluded in many other ways from participating in UN discussions; and it has been and will continue to be seriously under-represented in UN leadership and employment positions.
Some emphasize the importance of membership in a regional group, and argue therefore that Israel's exclusion is a gross and unnecessary injury to a legitimate membergovernment. But consider the alternative perspective: outside of the pretend worldat Turtle Bay, the discrimination against Israel actually amounts to very little. But in fact, in this light, it is precisely the triviality of the exclusion thatmakes it so outrageous. What possible purpose -- other than a purely punitive one-- is served by this violation of comity and statesmanship?
This long-standing segregation of Israel calls into question one of the enduring fallacies offered in support of multilateral organizations, namely that they encourageand facilitate the pursuit of objectives broader than narrow national self-interest. To the contrary, as the Israeli case demonstrates, multilateralism often facilitates precisely the opposite. Indeed, one could argue persuasively that the General Assemblyforum has encouraged a "lowest common denominator" approach for anti-Israel governments, as they seek to demonstrate their bona fides to others by escalatingthe harshness of their attacks against Israel and its friends. This "race forthe bottom" mentality unquestionably persists in UN cities around the world.
Third, Palestinians and their supporters are trying to revive General Assembly Resolution181 as a basis to create a Palestinian state. In a sense, their argument here is a replay of arguments against the repeal of UNGA Resolution 3379. For many years,there was a UN myth that prior resolutions could not be repealed, implicitly or explicitly. While this was never actually true, it gained powerful currency, especiallyas the number and scope of anti-Western and anti-American resolutions grew. Repealingthe operative portions of Resolution 3379 in 1991 shattered this myth, but it liveson in adherence to 181. Ignoring the Security Council's critically important Resolutions242 and 338 is functionally the same as arguing that 181 has never been modifiedby subsequent resolutions, much less by events in the real world (which only dimlypenetrate UN consideration of the Arab-Israeli peace process). Obviously these events,as reflected in 242 and 338, have overtaken 181; returning to it now as a sacredtext is simply illusory.These examples (and there are countless others) are directly related to clear UnitedStates foreign policy interests. By impeding our ability to achieve our internationalobjectives, these problems at the United Nations are neither peripheral nor transitory.
Any effective American policy at the United Nations must recognize these issues and deal with them, not simply because this mistreatment of Israel in unconscionable,but because it perceptibly and adversely affects the United States.
Injustice at Geneva
Tomorrow, for the first time ever, the High Contracting Parties of the Geneva Conventions meet to scrutinize the conduct of a particular signatory country. That country --Israel -- was singled out for this highly dubious distinction after a sustained, highly-politicized campaign waged against it at the United Nations, over the persistent objections of the United States and others. Tomorrow's gathering in Geneva thus marks the worst political abuse of the four Geneva Conventions in their history,and a new low point for "humanitarian law" in the international system. The treaty at issue -- the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 -- defines what is permissible when one state-party occupies the territory of another during and after armed conflict. Israel stands accused of repeated misconduct since 1967 in its governance of the"occupied territories" of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. (The othert hree Conventions deal with the treatment of sick and wounded combatants, and prisonersof war.)
Legal scholars have debated for years whether the Fourth Geneva Convention even applies to the West Bank and Gaza. In fact, Arab diplomats have boasted that on eof their key objectives immediately after the Six-Day War was to make the term "occupied territories" the standard nomenclature to describe these lands; their initialsuccess is in a sense a precursor to tomorrow's meeting in Geneva. Israel has consistently asserted that the Convention does not strictly apply legally, but has de facto followed its humanitarian principles because of their acknowledged moral authority. Indeed, Israel may stand alone in its respect for the Convention; certainly, for example,no one believes the Soviets paid it any attention while they occupied Afghanistan,or the Vietnamese during their occupation of Cambodia. One can agree that, as mere mortals, successive Israeli governments have not been perfect in their application of the Convention to the territories.
But the real issue is not what "grade" Israel should receive for its conduct over the last thirty-two years, or the meaning or applicability of specific provisions of the Fourth Convention. Instead, the real issue is the unfairness to and discrimination against a particular signatory, the interference caused in the Middle East peaceprocess, and the potential for abuse of the entire Geneva Convention system. First, tomorrow's meeting results from a vote by an Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly, one of innumerable such steps that the Assembly's anti-Israeli majority has taken since Israel's creation. Its convocation of parties to the GenevaConventions is one more example of trying to isolate Israel on the world stage, rather than allowing serious bilateral negotiations to proceed. Much, much worse, however, is the precedent that a highly political body like the General Assembly has been able to warp the humanitarian Conventions to its purposes. We will see no end of harm from this distortion.
Second, the United Nations itself is partially to blame both for this result and its consequences. At an informal meeting last Fall to discuss the general applicability of the Conventions, a representative of Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, savaged Israel, and effectively invited the Security Council to imposesanctions. When confronted about this outrageous attack on a UN member by an international civil servant, Mrs. Robinson, former President of Ireland, unequivocally stood by her subordinate's statement. Ironically, Mrs. Robinson is democratically accountable to no one, but she found time to denounce the only fully democratic government in the Middle East.
Most significantly, her office's position represents a truly dramatic politicization of the Convention's humanitarian principles, which we have surelynot heard the last of. Third, the United States, on a bipartisan basis, has worked for decades to bring peace to the Middle East. Tomorrow's meeting, and its possible consequences, pose a direct threat to those efforts, and to even larger American interests in the international system. To its credit, the Clinton Administration resisted convening this meeting,and is correctly boycotting it entirely to show our disdain for the perverse and corrupting motives that brought it about. Switzerland, depository state for the Conventions, has also worked diligently to minimize damage from the relentless effort to bend them to political objectives exogenous to their humanitarian purposes.
Unfortunately,others in Europe have not been so helpful.
Tomorrow's meeting will not be the end of this story. Although the Swiss hope to confine its scope, realists must plan for the worst. Accordingly, the United States have an alternative strategy, starting with a clear reaffirmation that it rejects tomorrow's's affair as illegitimate, and will resist any further politicization of the Geneva Conventions. We should also make clear to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and all UN officials that they serve member governments, and that their political opinions are best expressed only at the behest of those governments. Finally, the U. S. should insist that the Middle East peace process continue within the 1991 framework established in Madrid: direct negotiations among the parties, and not in side shows in multilateral organizations. By so doing, we can minimize tomorrow'sdamage to a wide range of American interests.
APPENDIX: Repealing the "Zionism is racism" Resolution
After the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 3379 (XXX) on November10, 1975, the then-American Permanent Representative, Daniel Patrick Moynihan (latera U.S. Senator from New York), stated:"The United States rises to declare before the General Assembly of the UnitedNations, and before the world, that it does not acknowledge, it will not abide by,it will never acquiesce in this infamous act."The position of the United States at that time, and in all subsequent Administrations,was to seek the repeal of Resolution 3379, or at least of its operative paragraph,which equated "Zionism" with "racism" (known colloquially as"the Zionism/racism resolution"). For a variety of reasons, including the international diplomatic weakness of the United States in the 1970's, littlewas accomplished.A major part of the problem was the perception that General Assembly Resolutionscould not be repealed. This was, of course, wholly untrue. On November 4, 1950, the General Assembly rescinded Resolution 38 (I) of December 12, 1946, which hadbarred Spain from UN membership as a former "enemy state," and recommendedthe withdrawal of diplomatic representation from Madrid. This 1950 Resolution --386 (V) -- was not readopted in subsequent decisions to accept other former "enemystates" into membership largely because of Third World government fears aboutthe impact of repealing General Assembly Resolutions. Thus, the General Assemblycame to believe that, once adopted, Resolutions lasted forever.The Bush Administration, in its early days, decided to mount a campaign to repealU.N.G.A Resolution 3379, recognizing that earlier Administrations had been unsuccessfulin their similar efforts. One of President Bush's most important opening initiativestoward repeal was to seek the support of the Soviet Union, which had been a principleforce behind the General Assembly's 1975 vote to condemn Zionism as "racism."At that time (the mid-1970's), the United States was in diplomatic retreat aroundthe world (because of Vietnam, the early evidence of OPEC's strength, and a weakAmerican economy), and because of enormous domestic problems (e.g., Watergate). These weaknesses had given the Soviets an opportunity that they were only too happyto exploit. With changed international circumstances, however, the Bush Administrationbelieved that Soviet cooperation on the repeal of the "Zionism/racism"resolution might now be a possibility. Although "new thinking" in Sovietforeign policy had been demonstrated in a number of areas, this early Bush Administrationinitiative was unsuccessful (although there was considerable Soviet interest in backing away from the annual Arab challenge in the General Assembly to Israel's membership credentials, a potentially important first step). Despite several discussionsduring 1989, the Soviet reaction remained frosty. Nonetheless, the importance ofSoviet cooperation in any repeal effort was manifest.The first public statement about the Bush Administration's intense desire to repealResolution 3379 came on Sunday, December 10, 1989, when Vice President Dan Quaylespoke to a Yeshiva University Hannakuh Convocation at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Senator Moynihan called later that evening to express his appreciationfor the remarks, and to offer whatever assistance he could muster in Congress, aclear demonstration of bipartisan support for the Administration's position. TheVice President repeated the strength of the Bush Administration's views the nextday in a small meeting with Secretary General Perez de Cuellar. As Vice PresidentQuayle was explaining the American view on the repeal of "Zionism/racism,"he also handed to Perez de Cuellar a check for $ 65,000,000, a partial payment ofthe American assessment for the United Nations. This tangible indication of Americaninterest in repealing Resolution 3379 was widely discussed in UN corridors.During 1990, consultations continued, especially and intensively with the SovietUnion, in Washington, Moscow and New York. There was considerable support, particularlywithin the American pro-Israel community, to seek repeal of Resolution 3379 at thefall General Assembly session, which would mark the forty-fifth anniversary of theUN, and the fifteenth anniversary of the passage of Resolution 3379 itself. SenatorMoynihan scheduled a hearing in late March, 1990, to discuss the repeal question,and it received considerable publicity. Witnesses from the Jewish groups who testifiedput particular importance on visible involvement by President Bush and SecretaryBaker, a sentiment echoed in much of the Jewish press. In Hadassah magazine, forexample, one article said that the American campaign to repeal Resolution 3379 wouldonly reach "full force" when the President and the Secretary "takea high profile on the issue of repeal, and do not simply leave it to John Boltonand Dan Quayle to pursue."Nonetheless, within the Department of State, the Near East and South Asia Bureau("NEA") resisted making a major effort at repeal because of concerns aboutthe ongoing Arab-Israeli peace process. NEA's opposition continued virtually to the actual General Assembly vote in December, 1991, and was symptomatic of State'sentrenched institutional bias against taking controversial positions.Despite these bureaucratic problems, the United States continued to lobby in foreigncapitals, making over one hundred demarches in the first half of 1990. An importantpart of this effort was encouraging governments to support the repeal of Resolution3379 in their statements in the "general debate" which opens each year'sGeneral Assembly. Eastern European governments, by then freed from Soviet domination,were particularly eager to have a vote on repeal, in many respects more eager thanthe Western Europeans. Perez de Cuellar told the United States that the subject of repealing "Zionism/racism" took up fully half of his summertime meetingwith Czech President Vaclev Havel. Many Latin American governments were also supportive,but the Africans were largely silent during consultations, not indicating an opinionone way or the other. Very little lobbying was done among the Arab countries (exceptEgypt) for obvious reasons. The Asian countries largely saw the issue as having little relevance to their concerns.Although the General Assembly does not open until the end of September each year,preparations in capitals begin in the late spring and early summer. To influencethe thinking and ultimately the positions of member governments, therefore, diplomaticlobbying, especially on potentially difficult issues, must begin early, before positionsbecome firm. Moreover, when American Ambassadors returned to Washington for routineconsultations, the importance of the effort to repeal the "Zionism/racism"resolution was stressed to them, so that when the decision to seek repeal was made,they would understand the high priority attached to the issue.The United States agreed with Israel that we would make a joint decision in mid-to late-August of 1990 about whether to seek a vote in the fall. This time periodwas chosen because virtually all pre-General Assembly consultations would have beenconcluded by then, and the two governments would have time to assess the results.By the end of August, we concluded that the likely outcome of a vote was still tooclose to call, and we deferred a final decision until the actual opening of the Forty-Fifth General Assembly. Obviously, from early August on, the Iraqi invasionand annexation of Kuwait was the dominant world issue, and hung over all discussionsnot only of repealing Resolution 3379, but virtually everything else.The Israeli position all along had been that they did not want to proceed with avote on repeal without what they called a "clear indication of success."The United States had argued that pushing for a vote was the only way to obtain such an indication, but the Israelis were very concerned about the consequences of a defeat. Ultimately, on September 24, 1990, the Israelis informed the UnitedStates that Prime Minister Shamir himself had decided that there was no "clearindication of success," and that there should be no vote that year. Obviously,the United States could not proceed further, when the main beneficiary of the repealof "Zionism/racism" did not itself wish to do so. President Bush did notmention repeal in his speech to the General Assembly, and the issue largely diedaway for the rest of the year, especially because of the intense diplomatic effortsbeing put into successfully forging an international coalition to expel Iraq fromKuwait. One piece of news that was encouraging was that, for the first time in manyyears, the Arab nations did not challenge Israel's credentials at the Forty-FifthGeneral Assembly.After the coalition forces' massive military victory over Iraq, and particularlybecause of renewed hopes for reinvigorating the Middle East peace process, therewas increased interest in early 1991 to press ahead with repeal. Israel informedthe United States in late March that they were now prepared to proceed with a vote.Unfortunately, within the American government, those involved in the peace process-- specifically NEA and the Policy Planning staff -- argued that a vigorous effortto repeal the "Zionism/racism" resolution could complicate their efforts.Others argued that the opposite was true: repeal of Resolution 3379 could encourageIsrael that the United Nations was not hopelessly biased against it, and might thereforehave a useful role in implementing a comprehensive settlement. There was no finaldecision at the Department of State, but soundings on repeal were made in the courseof pre-General Assembly consultations, as in 1990. Private citizens from the pro-Israelcommunity and from Jewish organizations in other countries also continued lobbyingaround the world.As a result, Secretary Baker agreed with Israel in August, 1991, that we should make a "serious effort" at repeal in the Forty-Sixth General Assembly.Accordingly, we increased the already high level of US-Israeli bilateral consultationson the issue, to be ready in case a decision were made to seek a vote. I arrangedto go to Israel in mid-September, stopping first for consultations in London andParis (capitals of two Permanent Members of the Security Council) and The Hague (because the Netherlands then held the Presidency of the European Community). TheEuropeans were all opposed to any major repeal effort in 1991. I conveyed this informationon to the Israelis, who had heard essentially the same thing.Israeli-American relations were at a low ebb at this point because of a controversyover United States housing loan guarantees to Israel, but the consultations werenonetheless productive. Most importantly, the text of the repeal resolution was agreed upon. It would have no preambular paragraphs, and only one operative paragraph,which would repeal the sole operative paragraph of Resolution 3379. This approachseemed to be the simplest, and would avoid potential controversy about a lengthyresolution. Another drafting approach -- which was rejected -- was to resubmit adraft resolution with exactly the same language as Resolution 3379, and then defeatit, thus nullifying the effect of the 1975 vote. Although innovative, this approachwas deemed to be too risky. The two sides also agreed to make immediate demarchesin twelve capitals to seek co-sponsors for a repeal resolution. Co-sponsorship isimportant, because agreement to co-sponsor signifies not only support for the resolution,but also opposition to all amendments opposed by the principle sponsors.President Bush raised the repeal issue in his speech to the General Assembly on September 23, 1991. Simultaneously, the Department of State sent out a worldwidecable stressing what the President had said, and instructing all embassies to informtheir respective host governments that the repeal campaign was now effectively underway. Because so many high-level officials were present for the opening of the GeneralAssembly, we used the week following the President's speech very intensively to spread the word about our serious efforts to repeal Resolution 3379. Many nationsagreed in principle to co-sponsor the repeal resolution, especially from Easternand Western Europe (ranging from Norway to Albania) and Latin America (includingBrazil, an important breakthrough), confirming the results of earlier consultations.The Peoples Republic of China, which had voted for Resolution 3379 in 1975 (but without making an explanation of vote) told the United States that the subject ofrepeal was a critical matter for Beijing's relations with Arab countries. Accordingly,the PRC would hold back diplomatically until the general reaction to President Bush'sspeech was clearer. Similarly, the Soviets virtually pleaded that the repeal resolutionnot be put to a vote, since they were concerned about the domestic and internationaleffects of whatever position they adopted. Unfortunately, the Egyptians -- the onlyArab nation at that time to have diplomatic relations with Israel -- were activelyopposing the repeal effort. Their position was somewhat weakened, however, by theircontinuing efforts to secure United States support for the candidacy of Boutros Boutros-Ghali to become Secretary General of the United Nations.By October, we had decided to seek to have a majority of the entire General Assembly(84 out of the then-membership of 166) become co-sponsors of the repeal resolution.There were two reasons. First, having a clear majority of the Assembly as co-sponsorswould demonstrate that there was no way that the issue of repeal could be made an"important question" under Article 18 of the UN Charter. Article 18 listsa number of issues (such as the election of non-permanent members to the SecurityCouncil) which must be deemed as "important questions," and thereby requiresa two-thirds majority of the members present and voting to be adopted. Article 18also provides that additional questions can be considered as "important"by a simple majority of the members present and voting. Thus, having a majority of member-governments as co-sponsors would make it impossible to have the repealresolution so designated, and thereby removed a potentially troubling proceduraltactic which the opponents of repeal were considering using.Second, obtaining 84 or more co-sponsors would also indicate that any attempts toweaken the repeal resolution with unhelpful amendments were similarly doomed to fail. Such amendments could have included harsh criticisms of Israel that, if adopted,would have largely undermined the impact of repeal. Having a majority of membersas co-sponsors likewise eliminated this procedural option. There were, nonetheless,still many other procedural tactics which the opponents of repeal could employ (suchas seeking to postpone the vote until the next General Assembly, or a motion to take no action), but all could be defeated with a majority of the members as co-sponsors.For tactical reasons, the United States and Israel had agreed to hold the repealvote as late in the General Assembly as possible. They had also agreed to take therepeal resolution directly to the floor of the General Assembly, rather than havingit considered first in one of the Assembly's committees. Both of these decisionswere intended to minimize the number of potentially troubling tactics which opponentsof repeal could employ. Nonetheless, by waiting until mid-December, we were riskingrunning out of time, and being engulfed by the flood of end-of-General Assembly business.Starting on December 3, 1991, the State Department's main focus for two weeks wason the repeal of Resolution 3379. At that point, despite the earlier indicationsof support in principle, there were still only sixteen co-sponsors, and time wasexceedingly short. Using not just the staff of the IO Bureau, but staffs from allof the regional bureaus as well, cables and telephone calls were made on a continuousbasis to obtain additional co-sponsors and indications of support. Demarches weremade personally by American and Israeli Ambassadors to heads of governments and foreign ministers, and often made several times. Foreign ambassadors in Washingtonwere called in frequently to meet with senior State Department officials (at thelevel of Assistant Secretary or higher), and urged to become co-sponsors. At theend of each day, a worldwide cable was sent to every American embassy summarizingthe new developments in the last twenty-four hours. This cable also let every Ambassadorknow that his or her performance was being closely watched, and compared to the successes of other American Ambassadors in the respective regions.Significantly, numerous letters from President Bush to his counterparts, and fromSecretary Baker to his counterparts, were also delivered, nearly fifty by the endof the campaign. They, along with Vice President Quayle, also made personal telephonecalls to particular capitals when lower-level lobbying had failed to produce adequateresults. Several influential Members of Congress also sent letters to governmentswhere they had strong ties. By December 7, there were 39 co-sponsors.Co-sponsors were themselves urged to make demarches in countries where there wasreason to believe that approaches from governments other than the United States and Israel might be helpful. The United Kingdom, for example, lobbied in a numberof Commonwealth countries, as did Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The French demarched in Francophone Africa, and Argentina held consultations with several otherLatin American governments. Other countries, such as Finland, lobbied in capitalswhere they had developed substantial foreign aid programs or projects.One pattern that rapidly emerged was that nations frequently expressed a reluctanceto co-sponsor unless either their neighbors or other significant nations also co-sponsored.This pattern was particularly pronounced in Latin America and Africa. Panama, forexample, was initially reluctant to be a co-sponsor, but came on board when it learnedthat Costa Rica and Honduras had agreed. Columbia was persuaded to become a co-sponsoronly after learning that Mexico and Venezuela were part of the coalition. There were many similar situations.Another pattern which emerged was that a commitment to join as a co-sponsor -- evenfrom a head of government or foreign minister -- was often hard to translate intoa country's Mission in New York signing the co-sponsor list with USUN or the Secretariat.Frequently, there had to be numerous telephone calls and meetings to persuade ordirect recalcitrant Permanent Representatives in New York to follow their instructions.This phenomenon was part of a larger pattern that has emerged only in the last fewyears, namely that more and more voting decisions are actually being made in capitals,where the "UN culture" is absent, and where direct appeals can be madeto national interests. Several Permanent Representatives in New York, many accustomedto operating for years without specific instructions, were fighting a losing battleagainst this historic change. The effort to repeal Resolution 3379 was a vivid examplein this shift in the conduct of United Nations diplomacy.By Monday, December 9, there were 42 confirmed co-sponsors and 81 definite votesin favor of repealing Resolution 3379. The Organization of the Islamic Conference,which had been meeting in Senegal, then proposed a "compromise," in whichrepeal of the "Zionism/racism" resolution would proceed, but there wouldthen follow a second resolution condemning Israel's practices in the Occupied Territories.The United States and Israel rejected the "compromise," believing thatthey would soon have the votes necessary to block any obstacles to repeal. Moreover,there were continued diplomatic efforts to persuade Islamic countries simply notto participate in the final vote on repeal. The fewer members present and votingmeant that the list of co-sponsors was coming closer and closer to being an actualmajority on the General Assembly floor.The Soviet Union, the moving force behind the adoption of Resolution 3379 in 1975,finally confirmed on December 10 that it would vote for repeal, but it had not yetagreed to be a co-sponsor. At the very moment we were lobbying in Moscow, Washingtonand New York, the Soviet Union was in the process of breaking apart (the USSR. formallyceased to exist on December 31), and the foreign ministry was in disarray. Nonetheless,the U.S. continued to press for co-sponsorship, and obtained it on December 13, in one of the last official acts of the Soviet Union before it disappeared. Moscow'sdecision made it easier to obtain co-sponsorship from Ukraine and Belarus, whichwere original members of the UN.After further difficult negotiations, the vote was scheduled for the afternoon ofMonday, December 16. By Friday, December 13, we had 73 co-sponsors and 94 confirmedvotes for repeal. We had also decided that Acting Secretary Eagleburger would leadthe US delegation, and give the American statement to the General Assembly (SecretaryBaker being out of the country). Secretary Baker also agreed to an op ed piece thatI wrote, and which appeared in the Monday New York Times, called "Zionism IsNot Racism." All of these tactics were intended to highlight the importancethe United States attached to repeal. Cabling, telephoning and meetings continuedunabated over the weekend.When Acting Secretary Eagleburger and his party left for New York on December 16,there were 81 co-sponsors and 106 committed votes for repeal. By the time the GeneralAssembly session convened shortly after 3:00 P.M., there were 86 co-sponsors, twomore than an absolute majority of all UN members. As expected, the opponents of repeal tried to have the issue declared an "important question," but theirmotion to do so failed by a vote of 39 in favor; 96 opposed; 13 abstaining; and the remaining nations not participating.The repeal resolution (Resolution 46-86) was then adopted by a vote of 111 in favor;25 opposed; 13 abstaining; and the remainder not participating.
John R. Bolton is senior vice president at AEI.