only one vote more than the required two-thirds majority. 19 Carter had demonstrated impressive presidential leadership in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds. An important collateral benefit was the now budding realization among Latin Americans and many in the third world that this president might be a friend, indeed might be serious about his pronouncements.
This fresh perception by the third world was to be enhanced by Carter's early approach to the United Nations.
Two related factors pervade Carter's relationship with the UN: one was his public commitment to human rights, the other his determination to respond with sensitivity to the concerns of the underdeveloped world.
In his inaugural address Carter had said that "our commitment to human rights must be absolute." 20 At a town meeting in Clinton, Massachusetts, in March 1977, he added, "I want our country to be the focal point for deep concern about human beings all over the world." 21 And in a commencement speech at Notre Dame University on May 22, 1977, while outlining the major themes of his foreign policy, he proclaimed America's commitment to human rights as "fundamental." 22
Carter's persistent engagement with the motif of human rights derived in part from his religious background and from the connection of his religious convictions with the civil rights movement he had observed firsthand in his native South. A revealing statement in his memoirs illustrates the conjunction of his religion and the civil rights movement with his international idealism:
To me, the political and social transformation of the Southland was a powerful demonstration of how moral principle should and could be applied effectively to the legal structure of our society.... The same lesson has been learned many times in our dealings with other nations....In recent history, President Harry Truman was the strongest and most effective advocate of human