The most important fact in Washing ton’s failure on Thursday to be re-elected for the first time since 1947 to the U. N. Human Rights Commission is that it as America’ friends, not its enemies, that engineered the defeat. After all, China and Cuba and other targets of U.S.-led criticism in the committee were always going to vote and lobby against Washington; the shock came in the fact that the European and other Western nations that traditionally ensured U.S. Re-election turned their backs on Washington.
Many traditional U.S. supporters clearly withdrew their vote to signal displeasure over U.S. unilateralism. They have been increasingly chagrined by Washington’s tendency to ignore the international consensus on issue ranging from the use of land mines to the Kyoto climate change treaty. They are also critical of what they see ass Washington’s tendency to publicise the issue of human rights, using annual resolutions at the committee to denounce China or Cuba hen that conforms to U.S. foreign policy objectives but for the same reason voting alone in defence of Israel when that country is in the dock over its conduct.