Although democratic nations are a weak force in the United Nations, their influence is improving, said a visiting U.N. diplomat yesterday in a speech before 200 at the Kennedy School's Institute of Politics.
Because democracies don't tend to ally together, the U.S. tends to lose in most U.N. votes, said Vernon A. Walters, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Besides, said Walters, free countries only comprise one-third of the U.N.
Walters added that a chief reason for opposition to U.S. policy is other countries' hankering after American wealth. "We have the money, and they would like to get it," he said.
But Walters said that he has seen positive changes in U.N. voting patterns. Other countries have recently joined the U.S. in efforts to reduce human rights violations, for example when the 15 members of the Security Council unanimously condemned terrorism in all its forms, he said.
Also, "there is less name-calling," said Walters. "Singling out the U.S. for blame is becoming less frequent."
Walters predicted further U.N. improvement with the implementation of two newly-passed resolutions to reduce its burgeoning budget.
Walters also spoke of his rise to his diplomatic position. Although he never attended college, and family financial problems even kept him from finishing high school, he has worked closely with five U.S. presidents.
Walters addressed the "younger members of the audience," advising them to "try to be as different as you can." He said that his ability to speak eight languages helped him advance his career.
But Walters recommended tact, especially in the U.N. "No matter how small a country they are, you have to be nice to them."
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