International Law

(The Failure of the U.S. to Support Global Treaties)

 

We need new systems global governance. The next world war with weapons of mass destruction could destroy whole nations and the earth itself. We believe that a multilateral global peace force should be organized along with the advancement of a new and effective global governing system. The development of international law is fundamental to the effort to build world peace with justice.

The American colonies realized that they could not stop fighting one another until they established a higher order of federal government and law. We believe that this same principle – creating a higher order of enforceable law -- applies to the global level. It is essential to reduce the likelihood of devastating global wars and national genocides in the 21st century.

The following U.S. foreign policy practices undermine this effort for world peace. They are not acceptable. A change in U.S. policy begins by supporting these treaties.

 

1. The U.S. rejected the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

In the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems the United States and the Soviet Union agreed that each have only two ABM deployment areas. The USA's unilateral statement expresses the US opinion that the evolution of the threat may require further deployment of defensive systems that will be more effective than those allowed by the Protocol.

 

2. The U.S. rejected the international agreement to prohibit Small Arms Trade.

The US is the world’s largest arms dealer selling weapons to known human rights violators. At the UN Small Arms Conference in July 2001 the international community recognized the need to control the state sanctioned trade in small arms. A key provision in this regard is found in Section II, Paragraph 11 of the UN Programme of Action, "Member States undertake to assess applications for export authorizations according to strict national regulations and procedures that cover all small arms and light weapons and are consistent with the existing responsibilities of States under relevant international law." The central aim of the Arms Trade Treaty is to provide a set of common minimum standards for the control of arms transfers, and a workable operative mechanism for the application of these standards, which are based firmly on states existing responsibilities under international law. Who profits most from this murderous trade? The five permanent members of the UN Security Council—the USA, UK, France, Russia, and China are responsible for eighty eight per cent of reported conventional arms exports. Former US President Jimmy Carter, presidential campaign, 1976 said, “We can’t have it both ways. We can’t be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of arms.”

 

3. The U.S. rejected a protocol to the Biological Weapons Treaty to make compliance more verifiable.

The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) prohibits Parties from developing, producing, stockpiling, acquiring, or retaining: (1) Biological agents or toxins of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes, and (2) Weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict. At a July 2001 meeting of the Ad Hoc Group negotiating the final text of the verification protocol that would attempt to strengthened the BWC, U.S. Ambassador Donald Mahley announced that "the U.S. would not support a draft protocol intended to strengthened the BWC" because it "would not improve our ability to verify compliance with the treaty's global ban on biological weapons and would put national security and confidential business information at risk."

It was also announced that the U.S. "would pursue alternative ways to enforce the BWC that do not pose risks for U.S. bio-warfare defense preparations, sensitive commercial information and multilateral export regimes." The BWC obligates Parties to destroy all such material within nine months of the BWC's entry into force, but it permits Parties to conduct defensive biological research. It does not, however, contain measures for verification of any BWC provision. Here is where U.S. leadership is required.

 

4. The U.S. rejected the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty bans all nuclear explosions. It comprises a preamble, 17 articles, two annexes and a Protocol with two annexes. The preamble outlines the significance of the Treaty.

Article I stipulates the basic obligations of the Treaty, and prohibits State parties from carrying out any nuclear explosion.

Article II provides for the establishment of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization in Vienna to ensure the Treaty's implementation as well as providing a forum for consultation and cooperation.

Article III focuses on national implementation measures.

Article IV elaborates on the global verification regime to monitor compliance with Treaty provisions. The regime is to comprise a global network of monitoring stations (the International Monitoring System), an International Data Centre in Vienna, a consultation and clarification process, On-site Inspections, and confidence-building measures.

 

5. The U.S. rejected the Kyoto treaty on reducing carbon emissions.

The Kyoto Protocol or Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international treaty on climate change. It is an amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Countries that ratify this protocol commit to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases, or engage in emissions trading if they maintain or increase emissions of these gases. In March 2001, after reneging on a campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, President George W. Bush announced opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 international accord setting limits on greenhouse gas emissions. The objective is the "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

 

6. The U.S. rejected an international convention to ban child soldiers.

There is a global trend towards the exploitation of children in military conflicts. Children are easily kidnapped, require little food, are often considered expendable, are able to carry and aim the newer lightweight rifles, are strong enough to pull the trigger, and heavy enough to clear mine fields with their own bodies. "Child soldiers are 'more obedient, do not question orders and are easier to manipulate than adult soldiers.' " 8

Combating this trend is a movement of non-government organizations (NGOs) who are promoting a ban on the use of soldiers under the age of 18. A U.N. working group mandated to produce an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child yielded no results during its January 1999 meeting. The U.N. Human Rights Commission requested its chair to conduct informal consultations during 1999, and urged the conclusion of the protocol in the year 2000, the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the convention.

 

The United States remained a vigorous opponent of the proposed agreement. It continued to argue for seventeen as the minimum age of recruitment and participation in hostilities, seeking to preserve the Pentagon's ability to recruit seventeen-year-old youth just completing high school. At the same time, 1997 Defense Department statistics indicated that only 2,880 members of the 1.3 million active duty armed forces were under age eighteen.

 

7. The U.S. rejected the START III treaty with Russia to codify and verify planned deep cuts in nuclear arms.

Start III is a multinational treaty that aims to limit each party to 2,000-2,500 strategic nuclear weapons. This is a 30 to 45 percent reduction from the limit established by Start II. The treaty should be established by December 2007, and to include measures relating to the transparency of strategic nuclear warhead inventories and the destruction of strategic nuclear warheads. With the signing of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), it appears unlikely that a START III agreement will be negotiated. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed SORT on May 24, 2002. The treaty calls for each country to deploy no more than 1,700-2,200 strategic warheads but does not address strategic nuclear warhead destruction or tactical nuclear weapons limits, both ground-breaking arms control measures that were suggested for inclusion in START III.

 

8. The U.S. rejected the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC.)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in 2002 as a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, as defined by several international agreements, most prominently the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The "International Criminal Court" should be distinguished from "International Chamber of Commerce" (also ICC) and is separate from the International Court of Justice, which is a body to settle disputes between nations, and the War Crimes Law (Belgium).

The International Court of Justice known as the World Court (or ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its seat is in the Peace Palace at The Hague, Netherlands. Established in 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations, the Court began work in 1946 as the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice. The Statute of the International Court of Justice, similar to that of its predecessor, is the main constitutional document constituting and regulating the Court. The U.S. has refused to acknowledge its judgment applied to American policies as in a case brought to it by Nicaragua.

 

9. The U. S. did not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international convention setting out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of children. The Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors it.

 

Most member nation states of the United Nations have ratified it. The United Nations General Assembly agreed to adopt the Convention into international law on November 20, 1989; it came into force in September 1990, after the required number of nations ratified it. The Convention generally defines a child as any person under the age of 18 years. The Convention acknowledges that every child has certain basic rights, including the right to life, their own name and identity, to be raised by their parents within a family or cultural grouping and have a relationship with both of their parents even if separated and obliges states to allow parents to exercise their parental responsibilities. The Convention also acknowledges that the child has the right to express its own opinions and to have those opinions heard and acted upon when appropriate, to be protected from abuse or exploitation, to have their privacy protected and requires that their lives not be subject to excessive interference. The Convention also obliges signatory states to provide separate legal representation for a child in any judicial dispute concerning their care and asks that the child's viewpoint be heard in such cases. The Convention forbids capital punishment for children.

 

10. The U.S. did not ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

 

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of rights for women. It defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. The Convention defines discrimination against women as "...any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field."

 

By accepting the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including: * to incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women; * to establish tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination; and * to ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.

 

11. The U.S. did not ratify the Mine Ban Treaty, banning antipersonnel landmines, also known as the Ottawa Treaty.

The Ottawa Treaty (also known as the Convention On The Prohibition Of The Use, Stockpiling, Production And Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines And On Their Destruction) bans the use of anti-personnel mines around the world. As of 20 September 2005, there are 154 signatories/accessions to the Treaty - more than two-thirds of the world’s nations. Those who have still not signed include the US, Russia, China, Pakistan, Finland and India.

 

12. The U.S. did not ratify the Law of the Sea.

The oceans had long been subject to the freedom of-the-seas doctrine - a principle put forth in the seventeenth century essentially limiting national rights and jurisdiction over the oceans to a narrow belt of sea surrounding a nation's coastline. The remainder of the seas was proclaimed to be free to all and belonging to none. While this situation prevailed into the twentieth century, by mid-century there was an impetus to extend national claims over offshore resources. There was growing concern over the toll taken on coastal fish stocks by long-distance fishing fleets and over the threat of pollution and wastes from transport ships and oil tankers carrying noxious cargoes that plied sea routes across the globe. The hazard of pollution was ever present, threatening coastal resorts and all forms of ocean life. The issues involve spreading pollution, competing demands for lucrative fish stocks in coastal waters and adjacent seas, growing tension between coastal nations' rights to these resources and those of distant-water fishermen, the prospects of a rich harvest of resources on the sea floor, the increased presence of maritime powers and the pressures of long-distance navigation and a seemingly outdated, if not inherently conflicting, freedom-of-the-seas doctrine - all these threaten to transform the oceans into another arena for conflict and instability.

 

The U.S. government is also not complying with the Chemical Weapons Commission and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and has refused to let the U.N. Human Rights Commission conduct a probe into the alleged torture abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo and other detention centers. We believe that the United States should initiate conferences to establish a permanent multilateral peace force, a system of world courts, and an effective global governing system.