U.S. Underwhelmed With Emerging
Powers At U.N.
It's the time of year when world leaders converge at the United
Nations headquarters in New York. And this year, there will be a lot of
talk about multilateral diplomacy — a priority for the Obama
administration since it came to office.
Obama's team has courted the world's rising powers, even publicly
backing India's hopes to one day be a permanent member of the U.N.
Security Council. But now that India, along with South Africa and
Brazil, have rotating seats on the council, U.S. officials and many
human rights activists complain they're not living up to expectations.
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., says she's had a
chance to get a close-up look at how those three countries have been
acting on the world stage lately. She's not sounding particularly
"This has been an opportunity for them to demonstrate how they
might act if they were to obtain permanent membership, and for us to
assess our level of enthusiasm about that," she says. "Let me just
say we've learned a lot, and not all of it, frankly, encouraging."
Philippe Bolopion, who monitors the U.N. for Human Rights Watch,
has also been keeping tabs on these countries and doesn't like what
he sees, either — especially in the case of Syria.
"It is extremely disappointing, to say the least, to see that India, Brazil
and South Africa, for example, are not more eager to get more
Security Council action on Syria," he says. "Over 2,000 protesters,
peaceful protesters, have been killed — and yet these countries are
reluctant to apply any significant pressure on the Assad regime."
U.N. ambassadors from those three nations went to Syria to meet