Thursday, July 27, 2006


Why Bolton’s First Year Was A Failure

While John Bolton has certainly proven to be an ineffective diplomat by souring relations with U.S. allies, his proponents claim that he deserves a permanent placement at the U.N. due to his record on the job. Heritage writes, “Over the past year, Bolton has proven a forceful advocate of American interests.”

While Bolton did successfully negotiate a “weakened resolution” to condemn the North Korean missile tests, Bolton’s tenure has been marked by gridlock and strife as U.N. member-states have sought to advance an agenda that Bolton has repeatedly obstructed. Here are some of the lowlights of Bolton’s first year at the United Nations.

Bolton isolated the U.S. from its allies on the Human Rights Council. Because Bolton was unable to negotiate favorable terms on the creation of a new Human Rights Council, the U.S. was one of four nations to oppose the creation of the Council, while 170 nations voted for it. Out of 30 or so negotiating sessions over the creation of the Council, Bolton attended just one.

Bolton blocked the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide from briefing the Security Council on Darfur. “Bolton said he had objected to the briefing to make the point the council should be ‘talking more about the steps it can take to do something about the deteriorating security situation’ in Darfur. [But] he gave no new proposals.”

Bolton unable to build consensus on U.N. reform. Kofi Annan’s deputy Mark Malloch Brown said that there is global consensus on the need for U.N. reform, but that international perception of U.S. motives are hindering those efforts. “There is currently a perception among many otherwise quite moderate countries that anything the U.S. supports must have a secret agenda aimed at either subordinating multilateral processes to Washington’s ends or weakening the institutions, and therefore, put crudely, should be opposed without any real discussion of whether they make sense or not,” he said. Bolton has not been able to breakthrough the deadlock, but has instead reinforced the perception.

Bolton blocked and delayed approval of funding for U.N. renovation plan. The United States was the lone holdout on a U.N. committee that tried to approve an estimated $1.6 billion renovation plan for the U.N. The U.N. building violates New York safety and fire codes; it is packed with asbestos, has no sprinkler system, and leaks about a quarter of its heating. Bolton’s position provoked “an America-versus-the-world standoff.” Ultimately, Bolton’s obstruction caused Louis Frederick Reuter, the official in charge of the renovation, to quit his post.

Bolton sought to undermine the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs aimed to convert rhetoric into hard numbers on such issues as reducing poverty and hunger, enrolling children in primary school, etc. Just days after he arrived in New York after a recess appointment, Bolton released over 700 edits to the draft document for the summit, excising all mentions of the MDGs. Bush and Rice later had to backtrack from Bolton, reassuring the U.N. of its commitment to the agreed upon goals.

Much more at The Washington Note.

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