Global Policy Forum

US Position on International Treaties

Updated July, 2003



Convention on Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

Signed July 17, 1980, never ratified

The US remains one of a handful of countries, including Iran and Sudan, not to ratify CEDAW. Although Bush has called the treaty "generally favorable," the treaty faces resistance from US conservatives.
Convention on the Rights of the Child Signed Feb. 16, 1995, never ratified At the UN, only the United States and Somalia, which has no functional government, have not ratified the Convention. Conservatives who favor the death penalty for minors strongly oppose the treaty.
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR) Signed Oct. 5, 1977, never ratified The US maintains that economic, social and cultural rights are "aspirational," not inalienable or enforceable. 142 countries have already ratified the Covenant.
UN Framework Convention on Climate Control (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol Ratified UNFCCC Oct. 15, 1992 Signed Kyoto Protocol Nov. 12, 1998, never ratified Although President Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol, mandating a reduction in carbon emissions to below 1990 levels by 2012, a 2001 State Department memo rejected the protocol on the basis that it would harm the US economy and exempt developing countries from reduction requirements. Of industrialized states, only the US, Australia and Israel haven't ratified the protocol. The US did ratify the UNFCCC, but has not complied.
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Signed Sep. 24, 1996, never ratified The US Senate voted in 1999 to reject ratification of the test ban treaty. Taking another step away from the agreement, the White House released the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) in early 2002 hinting at a return to testing and reserving the right to use nuclear weapons in a first-strike attack. The NPR also states that arms reductions can be reversed.
Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty Signed and ratified Summer 1972, US unilateral withdrawal Dec. 13, 2001 The US became the first major power to unilaterally withdraw from a nuclear arms control treaty. Citing "terror threats," the Bush administration will pursue an enormously costly missile defense program, even though its scientific feasibility remains dubious.
Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) and Draft Proposal Signed April 10, 1972, ratified March 23, 1975, rejected Draft Proposal in June, 2001 After the BWC was drafted in 1972, its 144 state parties agreed that the convention's enforcement mechanisms were inadequate. An "Ad Hoc Group" formed in 1994 to negotiate changes. When the group presented its draft proposal in 2001, the US rejected it and refused to return to negotiations, effectively derailing the treaty.
Chemical Weapons Convention Signed Jan. 13, 1993, ratified Apr. 25, 1997 The US ratified the Convention, but set extensive limitations on how it could be applied in the US, essentially gutting its provisions. The US specifies that material cannot be transferred outside the country for testing, limits which facilities can be tested, and gives the president the right to refuse inspection on the grounds of "national security."
Mine Ban Treaty Never signed The US remains the only member of NATO besides Turkey, and the only state in the Western Hemisphere besides Cuba, not to sign the Mine Ban Treaty. The US used anti-personnel land mines in the first Gulf War, and claims that land mines are essential to protect US soldiers in heavily armed places like the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Signed Dec. 31, 2000, unsigned June 6, 2002 In 2002, the US made the unprecedented move to "unsign" the treaty establishing the ICC. Since then, the US has systematically undermined the ICC by signing bilateral agreements with states to exempt US military and government personnel from the court's jurisdiction.

(Created by Marianna Quenemoen)

Learn more:
The Charade of US Ratification of International Human Rights Treaties (Fall 2000)
The Executive Director of Human Rights Watch argues that by not participating in the international human right system, the US does nothing to improve the rights of its own citizens while at the same time undermining human rights protections abroad. (Chicago Journal of International Law)



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