Africa Notes: The UN: A Not So Dangerous Place? - July 1985
July 24, 1985
On May 20, 1985, the U.S. Department of State released its second annual Report to Congress on Voting Practices in the United Nations. The report sparked renewed calls for consideration of some form of punitive action against those nations whose UN voting records are most at odds with that of the United States. Writing in The New York Times, Senator Robert Kasten (R-WI), chairman of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee (and author of the 1983 legislation mandating annual reports to Congress on UN voting patterns), called on his colleagues to keep the evidence of "widespread lack of support for our positions at the United Nations in mind as we review requests for foreign assistance."
The State Department document and its implications for the ongoing debate over linking bilateral aid to UN voting records has special relevance for U.S. relations with Africa. With 50 members, the African group is the largest single 'regional bloc at the UN. Moreover, the African group (along with the Arab group and the Islamic Conference, both of which include a substantial number of African states) is depicted by the State Department report as having one of the "worst" UN voting records. It follows that African countries would almost certainly be seriously affected by passage of any legislation tying aid to UN votes.