The General Assembly voted 108 to 9 today for a resolution deploring the "armed intervention" in Grenada. For the key vote, 27 countries abstained and 13 were absent, in an action that left the United States isolated from virtually all its close allies.
Only Israel and El Salvador joined U.S. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and the six Caribbean countries that participated in last week's invasion of Grenada in voting against the resolution, offered by Nicaragua and Zimbabwe.
Among those voting in favor were Australia, Ireland, France, eight NATO members--Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Spain--other American friends including Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia, and most of Latin America. Many of those who abstained made public statements of opposition to the U.S. action, including Britain, Japan, West Germany and Canada.
By comparison, in January 1980, the General Assembly voted 104 to 18 to condemn the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. Ironically, it was the opposition of the Grenadian government of slain prime minister Maurice Bishop to that condemnation, along with members of the Soviet Bloc, that was frequently cited by the Reagan administration in past years to demonstrate a strong Grenadian-Soviet alliance.
Many diplomats today said that the vote on the invasion of Grenada was roughly equal in its impact to the 1980 anti-Soviet vote.
"The United States is proud to have participated in the liberation of the people of Grenada," Kirkpatrick told the assembly after the vote, "and we are proud to have voted against a resolution that deplored this positive and constructive achievement."
The prevailing view, however, was that the invasion violated the norms of international behavior for which the United Nations stands. Most countries rejected U.S. arguments that the action was justified in order to save American lives, restore order to the island and prevent the export of Marxism from it.
Belgium was able, by a vote of 71 to 23, to put into the resolution a paragraph calling for speedy free elections to enable Grenadians to choose a democratic government. Otherwise, the text was identical to one vetoed by the United States in the Security Council Friday. It called for the immediate withdrawal of the invading troops and deplored the takeover.
There is no veto power in the General Assembly, nor are governments legally bound to obey its resolutions.
The vote had not been scheduled until Thursday, but backers of the resolution, in a surprise move, demanded and got it today by moving that debate be closed. Their objective, diplomats said, was to avert the possibility that Grenadian Governor General Sir Paul Scoon might be brought here to speak on behalf of his country's occupiers, and to cut short the time available to Washington to pursue an intensive lobbying campaign in world capitals against the resolution.
But today's vote did not end the U.N. debate on Grenada. The resolution calls on Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar to report back within three days after "assessing the situation," which leaves open a potential second round of debate.
Also before the assembly is a resolution put forward by Trinidad that calls for an interim government to arrange early elections under international supervision, deployment of a "security presence" made up of contingents from Commonwealth countries to replace the current occupation force, and the establishment of a fact-finding mission to report to the secretary general.
For now, the Grenadian delegation appointed by Bishop continues to sit and vote in the assembly although its legitimacy has been challenged by Scoon. Perez de Cuellar announced today that he had received a letter from Scoon saying that the credentials of all Grenadian diplomats abroad had been voided, and that only he was empowered to appoint new ones.
The touchy issue of who represents Grenada was turned over to the credentials committee, which has not yet scheduled a meeting on the matter.
Diplomats and U.N. officials warned that the potential exists for a situation similar to the one involving Cambodia, where the government that controls the country is not recognized by the United Nations because a majority of members say it was installed by an illegal invasion in violation of the U.N. Charter principles barring intervention in the domestic affairs of any state.