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personnel felt our Government, if it could not vote for it, could at least abstain.
Instead, we voted "no"-the only country in the entire commission, including our Western allies, to vote "no" on a resolution dealing with a major human rights violator, South Africa, at a time when we were trying to improve relations with Iran. All our allies in the West either voted "aye" or abstained. I have yet to ascertain exactly what this "no" vote achieved for our country.
For my own part, I was scheduled to give a statement concerning human rights violations in Uganda. However, the atmosphere of the United States again voting against condemnation of South Africa was not conducive to the United States condemning Uganda.
Many of the nonalined countries couldn't care less what kind of resolution we table or adopt with regard to the Soviet Union or its supporters, but they are concerned about resolutions which specifically affect their portion of the world. When we cast vote after vote in a manner which they see as going against their own interests, they are less than encouraged to support our initiatives in areas which may be of less concern to them.
This is not to suggest that we ought to forsake our principles or overlook blatant human rights violations. At the same time, we do not have to go out of our way to take a negative position when it accomplishes nothing and could, in fact, hurt our position. Because of these actions, we are sometimes accused of exhibiting the same type of double standard of which the Commission itself is guilty.
It would appear that more positive approaches, where we can take them, can result in greater support for our initiatives down the road. Mr. Chairman, if we could just abstain sometimes, the way the other Western nations do, it would be a vast improvement. We ought not to isolate ourselves unnecessarily on minor issues to take a negative stand against the rest of the whole, wide world with the possible exception of South Africa.
Another issue which continues to arise and which also plagues the effectiveness of our delegation is the nitpicking on spending issues. The United States, and rightly so, has played a major role in budget reform within the U.N. system to insure that its spending is undertaken in the most efficient and effective manner. However, at times, it appears that we are nickel and diming the world to death over issues of no economic substance.
It is just not rational to dwell on minor issues on the one hand while our delegation continues to push, for example, for the creation of a high commissioner of human rights who will, of course, be an added
A final area of concern is the composition of our delegation itself. While we are the world's most persistent advocate of human rights, we also have a delegation which has the appearance of being less highranking than others. Most delegations, for example, are headed by an individual of ambassadorial rank. The United States is not.
I think the head of our delegation should hold ambassadorial rank. An issue related to that of our isolated voting is that of the U.S. relationship with other Western delegations. I think it will be difficult to find anyone among the Western delegations who would rate the
recently concluded Human Rights Commission meeting as a success for the West.
One of the primary reasons for this outcome was a lack of coordination and a failure of the Western delegations to work more closely together. As has often been the case where there is disharmony among the Western bloc, the Soviet Union bloc tends to exploit such situations. This certainly appears to have been the case in Geneva this year. Thus it was that the United States found itself alone too often, casting votes contrary to rather than in concert with our Western allies. It is certainly not my intent that we become subservient to the wishes of other nations. On the contrary, the United States is a leader in the quest for human rights and ought to be among the Western delegations. This leadership, however, necessitates a closer working relationship than has been the case in recent years.
It would be helpful to those in Washington making decisions on votes, in my judgment, if they were aware that their decision would contribute to the unnecessary isolation of our delegation and could, in fact, hamper the attainment of our goals.
It seems appropriate, therefore, Mr. Chairman, that because our Government is the principal advocate for human rights, that the head of our delegation ought to hold ambassadorial rank. This would give increased stature to our delegation and would serve again to emphasize the commitment of this Nation to human rights and individual liberties.
I commend the Department of State for its wisdom in including Members of Congress and of the private sector as a part of our delegation. I think this contributes to the understanding of the true widespread commitment of our Nation to a strong human policy.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I would like to apologize if my testimony appears very negative. It does, however, reflect my very deep concern that we are not fully responding to the opportunities which are available to this country to make advances toward the protection of human rights in the world.
I would note here that these are not new concerns. Quite the contrary. In the report to the Congress following my term as a member of the U.S. delegation to the U.N. in 1973, I raised many of these same issues. Regrettably, there has been little, if any, progress toward correcting what appears to me to be problems which can be resolved with a minimum of effort.
We are the greatest and freest country in the history of the world and we have the potential for leadership. By eliminating what appears to be a pattern of actions contrary to our long-term interests, we can, in my judgment, realize that potential and give the type of leadership which I believe other nations expect of us.
Mr. BONKER. I want to thank my colleague, Representative Buchanan, for an excellent statement. Unlike many of the comments we see from both the administration as well as our own colleagues, they tend to gloss over this situation rather than look at some of the acute problems. I note in your statement that, rather than look at some of the particular committees involved here, your major concern is with the process, with the institutional problems which we have and in the representation and consistency of State Department policy; delegate voting and activity; the composition of the Commission itself; the
need for more consensus among Western countries; and the need for greater discretion for our delegate there so he can exercise some judgment on the spot rather than trying to fulfill instructions from the State Department in Washington, D.C.
I think of all the things that you have mentioned, the one that is the most disconcerting is the inability of our delegate to the Commission to reflect our human rights policy in a way that is consistent, yet with enough flexibility, to work within a consensus framework. One of the issues that this subcommittee will be looking at is the consistency of U.S. human rights policy.
We have not only what emanates from the State Department, but Congress intervenes from time to time, both within the Foreign Affairs Committee and on the House floor to establish another area of interest or another human rights policy. That makes it, I think, difficult for us to establish the coherency and consistency that we want with respect to human rights.
In your observation at Geneva, did you sense that the State Department was attempting to call the shots from Washington, D.C. with little discretion for the delegates, or was it having an ill-defined human rights policies in a number of areas?
You pointed to the resolution concerning Iran and South Africa. It seems to me, while we have had prohibition on the shipment of arms to South Africa and we have had grave concern about the domestic situation there, we have not acted in any way that would lead our delegate to believe that we should oppose or condemn the present government of Iran for its refusal to sell oil to South Africa.
What responsibility does the delegate there have for this issue? Mr. BUCHANAN. To your basic question, I think lack of clear policy certainly is at the heart of the matter. Second, that on one of the most difficult questions, decisions are made at a very high level at the Department of State on major issues and by lower level personnel on smaller questions, routine matters. Both types of decisions appear to be made often in Washington.
The delegation is operating under pretty definite restrictions. But apparently some decisions made at a lower level are based on policies that may no longer be appropriate. When you get down somewhere in the middle of the bureaucracy, I fear it may become a matter of turf for some middle-level bureaucrat in the Department of State, doing his thing by issuing his instructions according to priorities established in past years without necessarily being sufficiently sensitive to the situation in Geneva.
If I may give another illustration. Last year, before I left Washington for Geneva, I met with some rather high-level people in the Department of State, and I said I could go to Geneva only if I could personally raise certain questions and mention certain names in an intervention while I was there. I told the Department that I could not be in the position of giving up some other involvements I had and go to Geneva and not raise certain questions. I was assured that I could do so, but when I got to Geneva and sent my intervention back to the Department for clearance, one of the central items was stricken, and I have never officially learned who it was who struck it. It was not the Secretary of State.
Mr. BONKER. Was this a prepared statement?
Mr. BUCHANAN. Yes. And someone in the middle bureaucracy had taken it upon himself to strike from my statement something on which I had received assurances in advance, that I could include in my statement before I left Washington, Fortunately, I was able to raise these issues in other ways.
I really think that there is a need for a high-level review, and perhaps by your committee, as well as the highest level at the State Department, of the handling of routine questions and take some of that decisionmaking power out of the hands of, or at least better define it for, the middle-level bureaucracy of the State Department.
Mr. BONKER. It seems to me that the congressional delegate to the Commission ought to be sufficiently informed of our human rights policies in general, and have the confidence and support of the State Department. He is capable of exercising discretion, not only in substantive matters, but in a whole range of procedural matters that
If he is not given free rein, it is going to be very difficult for him. to be effective within the Commission, because when you are trying to develop a consensus of the other Western allies, and he is intimidated by what may or may not be coming from the State Department, I can see where his efforts to be a leader within the Commission are inhibited. Mr. BUCHANAN. On the matter of the specific illustration which I gave, which might not have been the best illustration because you have a question mark about our policy, we do not support an all-out economic boycott against South Africa. Certainly it would seem more in line with our policy for us not to be identified with commending one government for imposing such a boycott.
What troubled me about it was the insistence that we block the consensus and then we had to move on to be the only nation to vote "no," where most other Western nations were simply abstaining, which, in their cases, did not endorse the embargo. And it was the isolation, it was the delegation being forced to take a position in isolation that troubled me and has troubled me ever since I have had any personal involvement in the U.N. system.
Mr. BONKER. Regardless of who the delegate is, this is a continuing problem?
Mr. BUCHANAN. Absolutely. So all the time I was at the U.N. General Assembly, I cringed at our African positions, particularly on that point. They have improved a little since, not very much, but we would, over and over again, in my judgment, unnecessarily isolate ourselves, both with the strength of our statements on small matters and with insisting on negative votes when our other Western friends were abstaining without endorsing necessarily what was happening.
When we do this in areas that are of such central importance to the developing countries, they are such sensitive matters as far as all the Africans are concerned, it makes it doubly hard for us to prove our concern for their rights and for us to win their support in those matters that may be of importance to our country.
Again, I would say the nitpicking on budget matters is another area like that. That Department of State is, for some reason, frightened to death of the Congress when it comes to any money matter and feels
it to be an obligation to nitpick on every single spending item that comes along.
I think for the wealthiest country that has ever existed in the history of the world, it makes such a limited total investment in these things, although it may be making the largest. By our standards, it just seems to me that we unnecessarily put ourselves right with the Russians into the role of the bad guy with the black hat rather than being the superpower who is the good guy with the white hat.
Mr. BONKER. When you referred to the nitpicking on expenditures, this does refer to the State Department's reluctance to help finance a U.N. Commissioner?
Mr. BUCHANAN. Of course, we support that idea, but we nitpick on so many other budget items. I was contrasting the fact that we are supporting the U.N. Commissioner on Human Rights, which means more budget, with the fact that we tend to nitpick on other, smaller budget items.
Mr. BONKER. There must be a former Congressman involved if we are doing that kind of nitpicking.
Mr. BUCHANAN. I think, Mr. Chairman, the United States is in a position to give leadership to the U.N. system. I think there is every reason that we can give leadership. I think the slight change of attitude and posture and review of all of our policies, the decision to abstain sometimes rather than isolate ourselves, the decision to be somewhat more positive and nitpick a little bit less, the decision to aggressively work with the leadership people like Mr. Mezvinsky and others, and to be a force within the U.N. system, I think we can succeed. I think we may need to make some changes in order to maximize that opportunity.
Mr. BONKER. John, since 1977-78 when the United States raised the concern of human rights to the level that it has, and we have attempted to implement human rights policies in various ways, is the expectation level of other countries and the potential for being in contradictory positions with respect to our human rights policy, causing us something of a problem in exercising that leadership? Do you think since we have raised this issue on such a worldwide basis, that people find it convenient to politicize our human rights policy to their own convenience?
Mr. BUCHANAN. Yes, Mr. Chairman. I would agree. I would say again that I would hope that we would have your review and review at the highest levels of the administration of the implications of human rights being an essential plank of our foreign policy, as the President, the Secretary of State, Mr. Mezvinsky and others have reiterated that we review the implications of that even in the smaller matters as well as the large matters in such areas as human rights.
Mr. BONKER. Your statement implies that we are really not exercising our leadership within the Commission, that our participation is negative, and that our delegate does not have sufficient authority to act. I am wondering whether, despite our image of being a leader in this field, if we really are being effective within the Commission?
Mr. BUCHANAN. I would say, Mr. Chairman, in my judgment it is like having a very fine eight-cylinder car operating on two cylinders, and needing something of an overhaul. We are giving some leadership.