Global Policy Forum

General Analysis on US, UN and International Law


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Legal Documents

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 1984

Based on Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which provide that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment entered into force in 1987, seeking to make the struggle against torture more effective.

The Constitution of United States of America

The US constitution, including of the Bill of Rights remains at the core of US legislation. Amendment VIII states that "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."
Please read also: Eighth Amendment -Further Guarantees in Criminal Cases



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Obama to Sign Indefinite Detention Bill into Law (December 15, 2011)

US President Barack Obama previously threatened to veto the upcoming defense spending bill, which allows the US military to indefinitely detain civilians, both US citizens and non-citizens, without trial. Obama has repetitively condemned indefinite detention as “black holes” of injustice, but he has now lifted the threat of a veto. Opponents of the law describe it as damaging to the rule of law both in the US and abroad, and they accuse the president of deserting his principles. (Salon)

A New York Prosecutor with Worldwide Reach (March 27, 2011)

This article argues that some federal prosecutors in the US – especially the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York – are increasingly willing to pursue international cases. Most recently, alleged arms trafficker Victor Bout was extradited to the US to face trial. While this suggests US support for international justice, such support is usually one-sided and self-serving. Not only does the US resent the application of the principle of universal jurisdiction to its citizens, such as Henry Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld, it has also still not signed the Rome Statute, keeping Americans outside the authority of the International Criminal Court. (New York Times)


Military Tribunal Opens Hearings on Guantanamo Detainee Omar Khadr (April 29, 2010)

A United States military tribunal has opened a case against Canadian citizen, Omar Khadr. Khadr is accused of killing a US Special Forces medic in Afghanistan and conspiracy with al-Qaeda. He is the first person to be tried in a US war crimes tribunal for acts allegedly committed as a minor. His attorneys claim that his self-incriminating statements were the result of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by US interrogators. UN officials and human rights activists have expressed astonishment over the Obama administration's decision to revive the case and the Canadian government's refusal to demand Khadr's extradition. (Washington Post)

US to Face Litany of Complaints at UN Human Rights Council (April 27, 2010)

In November, the US is scheduled for the Universal Periodic Review at the UN's Human Rights Council, a process that can investigate the human rights records of all 192 member states. Human rights groups are telling the UN that the US fails to hold corporations - especially private security contractors - accountable for human rights abuses. The UPR, though welcome in principle, is too "limited in scope and authority" to successfully enforce its findings.  (IPS)

George W. Bush 'Knew Guantanamo Prisoners Were Innocent (April 9, 2010)

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, has revealed that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up the imprisonment of hundreds of innocent men in Guantánamo Bay. According to Wilkerson, they feared that releasing these prisoners would jeopardize their push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror. This is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush administration. Wilkerson made the accusations in support of a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee against a list of American officials. (The Times)

US May Opt for Military Trials for 9/11 Suspects (March 5, 2010)

In January 2009, President Obama made the promise that he would close Guantanamo Bay within a year. His administration had to address the thorny and politically charged question of how and where to try 9/11 terror suspect Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four others. The original plan to try them in a civilian court in New York met with a lot of criticism from New York City officials and Washington legislators. This prompted the Obama administration to change course. White House officials recently declared that the administration will most probably choose a military trial instead. (Associated Press)

Former Boy Soldier, Youngest Guantanamo Detainee, Heads Toward Military Tribunal (February 10, 2010)

Omar Khadr was 15 when he allegedly threw a grenade, killing a US Special Forces medic in Afghanistan. More than seven years later, the youngest detainee at Guantanamo Bay is expected to go on trial before a jury of military officers on multiple war crimes charges, including murder. This has raised debate between the US and the UN about the prosecution of child soldiers. "The UN position is that children should not be prosecuted for war crimes" said Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN special representative for children and armed conflict. However, international law does not prohibit the prosecution of people under the age of 18 and in 2008 a US military judge rejected a defense motion which argued that the commissions did not have jurisdiction over the crimes of a child solider. (Washington Post)


International Law: The First Casualty of the Drone War (December 12, 2009)

This comprehensive legal analysis of the US drone strikes in Pakistan reaches the conclusion that the drone attacks operated by the CIA to kill top al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders amount to war crimes. The US policy instigated in 2006 is violating universally recognized customary international law on numerous counts: failure to discriminate between military and civilian objects, indiscriminate attacks, extrajudicial executions, attacks against places of worship... Ironically, the drone strikes could actually be classified as "international terrorism," since they appear to have been often intended to coerce the civilian population and to influence the Pakistani government. (ZNet)


Runaway Globalization Without Governance (May 2008)

This YaleGlobal article says globalization has created a borderless world that needs a system of global governance. World leaders should address nuclear nonproliferation and climate change through global rules. But, multilateral agreements require nations to compromise national sovereignty and global rules do not always fulfill each country's economic and security interests. The US has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons and has not ratified the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The author says that the US' "exceptionalist credo [puts] the world that globalization has created at considerable risk."

Yoo's Memo Hints at Bush's Secrets (April 6, 2008)

The Bush administration justifies broad "secret powers," which violate both constitutional and international human rights law, with legal arguments that a small circle of lawyers have designed. Advisors like John Yoo claim that the principle of national "self defense" justifies harsh treatment of terrorist suspects both at home and abroad. This contradicts the US Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which should protect citizens "against unreasonable searches and seizures," and allows the government to monitor telephone calls without a court warrant. (Consortium News)

The Real Story behind Kosovo's Independence (February 23, 2008)

The US supports the contentious independence of Kosovo, yet condemned an attack on the US embassy in Belgrade by angered Serbs, calling it a violation of US territory. The US paid no such heed to state sovereignty when it bombed the Chinese embassy in 1999, nor while advocating for the secession of Kosovo. The author, Jeremy Scahill, argues that US military interests on Balkan soil motivate this stance, and that Washington invokes international law only when it suits the agenda. As Scahill puts it, "empire is bipartisan." (AlterNet)


Guantanamo Bay (December 19, 2007)

This timeline shows what happened at Guantánamo Bay from 2002 to 2007. The first of hundreds of prisoners arrived in January 2002, and received the label "terrorists," thereby stripped of their Geneva Convention protection. In June 2004 UK attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, stated that US military tribunals would not offer these prisoners a fair trial. However in December 2007 the US Supreme court began hearings regarding these foreign prisoners' right to habeas corpus. (Guardian)

America And the World's Executioners Join Efforts To Block UN Moves To End Death Penalty (November 15, 2007)

Continued global outrage against capital punishment has led to a petition with five million signatures. The Italian association Hands off Cain convinced Prime Minister Romano Prodi to push for an end to the death penalty within the United Nations. Consequently, the UN Human Rights Committee voted on a draft resolution, sponsored by 85 states including all EU member states, ending the death penalty. The resolution met resistance from the US, China and other countries on the grounds that it interferes with domestic affairs. (Independent)

Iraqis Challenge Britain's Right to Detain Them Indefinitely (November 3, 2007)

Lawyers acting for an Iraqi-British national held in Basra argue that the UK is manipulating international law to justify indefinite detention. The European Convention on Human Rights dictates that governments must either prosecute or release prisoners. But, the British government claims that its forces in Iraq operate under the UN Security Council mandate and not the Convention. The mandate provides for "internment where necessary for imperative reasons of security." International lawyers argue that the detainees are in an area controlled by Iraqi, and to a lesser extent, British forces and not the UN or its institutions. (Guardian)

Destroying the Rule of Law (October 26, 2007)

Ralph Nader shows how the rule of law in the US has eroded, which the absence of prosecution in the Blackwater scandal clearly shows. The Bush administration has accumulated so much power within the Executive branch that the president, in effect, rules over both the Legislative and Judicial branches. This monopoly of power opposes the original ideas of the country's founders. (

Mugabe Slams Bush Over Human Rights (September 27, 2007)

During a speech in the UN General Assembly, Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe told US President George Bush that it was hypocritical to accuse countries like Iran, Syria, Belarus, North Korea and Zimbabwe of being "brutal regimes." He said, "He kills in Iraq. He kills in Afghanistan. And this is supposed to be our master on human rights?" Robert Mugabe's regime itself has a history of human rights violations; however Mugabe points out, the US can hardly point a finger at other countries, as long as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib exist. (Reuters)

UN Chief's Dealings with US Draw Fire (September 24, 2007)

Human rights groups, governments and UN officials criticize UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for his close relationship with Washington and for supporting pro-US decisions. For example, Ban opposed a US withdrawal from Iraq and committed to an increased UN presence in the country. The Secretary General defends his decisions, calling them pragmatic and claims he prefers to work behind the scenes, rather than being a public moral figure. (Washington Post)

Peacemaker or Puppet? (16- 22 August 2007)

Al-Ahram discusses how US policy influences UN action. On the pretexts of "humanitarian intervention" and peacekeeping, the US and NATO have solicited UN blessing for self-interested projects in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq and now, Sudan. The article concludes that, if it can shake US control, the UN will be better equipped to preserve "international peace and security" as its founders envisioned.

US Crusader Odd Man Out at UN (July 31, 2007)

The US representative for UN management and reform, Mark D. Wallace, clashes with UN authorities as he continues his "anti-corruption crusade." Wallace's mission to uncover corruption in the UN Development Programs in North Korea and Burma has frustrated UN officials, who say that "he has hyped his findings." While former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton encouraged Wallace's aggressive investigations, the current ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, aims to ease the tension between the US and UN and has tried to "prevent Wallace's probe from triggering a larger public battle." (Washington Post)

Security Council Called Hypocritical on Nukes (May 31, 2007)

Given their large arsenals of nuclear weapons and failure to meet obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the five permanent members of the Security Council lack credibility in promoting nuclear disarmament among other countries. In particular the US quest for new nuclear weapons "virtually guarantees that other countries will choose similar paths." (Inter Press Service)

Curbing the Global Arms Bazaar (April 25, 2007)

This Asia Times article reports on the renewed push to adopt the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which is set to expire at the end of April. The author argues that the US and a coalition of developing nations led by China are set to oppose any attempt at adopting the treaty. Nearly half of all weapons sold to developing countries come from the US and Washington justifies the sales as part of its "war on terrorism." Humanitarian organizations have criticized the US position claiming that "the arms being sold continue to fuel conflicts and tensions in unstable areas."

World Publics Reject US Role as the World Leader (April 17, 2007)

This World Public Opinion poll shows that people throughout the world overwhelmingly believe that the US is an unreliable "world policeman." The editor argues that the poll confirms that global public opinion of the US is "bad and getting worse." However, there is a consensus among the countries surveyed that Washington should remain engaged in world affairs through multilateral cooperation.

US Will Not Seek Seat on Rights Body (March 6, 2007)

This Associated Press article reports on the decision by the Bush administration that the US will not run for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Washington claims that its decision is based on the Council's alleged "anti-Israel" bias. Many members of the US Congress oppose the administration's decision as they want the US to play a role at the HRC.

Introduction to "Selling US Wars" (March 2007)

This excerpt from the book "Selling US Wars" by Tariq Ali analyzes the theories and mechanisms employed by the US to "ensure indirect domination" worldwide. One of the justifications the US gives for the extension of its sphere of influence is the "lobal war on terror," which the author states is an unacceptable form of "political violence terror." Ali also asserts that Washington's selectivity in enforcing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is another tactic in its pursuit of regional and global ambitions. Moreover, the author criticizes the use of "humanitarian intervention" and "democratization" as reasons for military invasions. (Transnational Institute)

Diplomacy and Empire (Part I) (February 27, 2007)

The decision by the Bush administration to "rule the world by force of arms," following the September 11, 2001 attacks, put the US at odds with many countries including some of its traditional allies, argues this Globalist article. The author discusses the importance of diplomacy and faults US President George W. Bush's decision to invade both Afghanistan and Iraq as "irresponsible" because diplomatic channels were not fully utilized.

A Golden Opportunity: The US-UN Relationship (February 13, 2007)

President Timothy Wirth of the United Nations Foundation gives testimony to the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on the future of US/UN relations. Wirth's testimony calls on Washington to strengthen its commitments to the organization and reengage in key international treaties from which it has unilaterally withdrawn or refused to sign.

UN Ambassador's Oily Past (January 8, 2007)

US President George W. Bush plans to appoint US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad to replace former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton. This TomPaine article highlights Khalilzad's past, including his close ties with other Bush administration members such as Vice President Dick Cheney and former President George H.W. Bush. The author Phyllis Bennis argues that Khalilzad's neoconservative ideology make him the perfect candidate to advance the unilateral agenda of the Bush administration at the organization.



Iraqi Red Crescent: US Is Biggest Humanitarian Threat (December 16, 2006)

Dr. Jamal al- Karbouli, vice president of the Iraqi Red Crescent, has said that harassment from the US-led military poses a greater problem to its relief operations than attacks by Iraqi insurgents. Dr. al Karbouli further stated that Red Crescent offices had been "repeatedly attacked" by US-led forces. The Geneva Conventions on warfare - protected by the Red Crescent as an international humanitarian organization - prohibit such acts and consider them illegal. (Associated Press)

Kofi Annan's Final Speech (December 11, 2006)

In his farewell speech UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stated his disapproval of the unilateral actions taken by the Bush administration especially the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Annan further stated that the US once was "in the vanguard of the global human rights movement," but that its disregard for international law in its "war on terrorism" shows that it has abandoned its principles and commitments. The Secretary General concluded that there is a great need for US-UN understanding because global institutions accomplish much less when the US remains disengaged from multilateral processes. (BBC)

Bolton Hits the Road (December 6, 2006)

This Asia Times article outlines the damage done to multilateralism and international law during John Bolton's career - particularly his tenure as US ambassador to the UN. The author states that Bolton, prior to his position at the UN, was instrumental in weakening efforts to improve the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The article further states that, whilst at the UN, Bolton "nearly wrecked" efforts to reform the organization by introducing "hundreds of unilateral amendments" to proposals that had taken years to negotiate.

UN Delays Vote on Native Self-Determination (November 28, 2006)

The Third Committee of the UN General Assembly rejected a draft declaration - approved by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) - on the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination and to control over their traditional lands. This rejection came after several African nations that supported the declaration at HRC negotiations changed their position. This sudden reversal may have resulted from external pressure by the US and Canada, both of which do not support the declaration. The US believes that the declaration is "inconsistent with international law" and that "lands are now lawfully owned by other citizens." (Inter Press Service)

United Nations v. United States (November 28, 2006)

This TomPaine article details the ongoing struggle between US dominance and UN independence. Author Phyllis Bennis cites two principal examples of US hegemony at the UN: the election of Ban Ki-Moon as the next UN Secretary General; and the appointment of Josette Shiner as head of the World Food Program. The UN on the other hand demonstrated its independence from the US through its condemnation of industrial countries at the 2006 global warming conference. Although, the US has the "upper hand," the UN still has the opportunity to reclaim its "role of a global challenger to US unilateralism and militarism."

Post-Election, Where Do US-UN Relations Stand? (November 21, 2006)

The November 2006 US midterm elections resulted in Democratic control in the US Congress. Such a victory has many positive implications for US policy toward the UN argues this United Nations Association of the USA article. The author speculates that the Democratic successes will bring an increase in US funding for UN Peacekeeping operations. Also, the new Congress will likely push US President George Bush to nominate a new, less hostile ambassador, to represent the US at the UN, and reconsider whether the US should seek a seat on the Human Rights Council in the next election.

DHS Chief Says Foreign Courts Inhibit US Security Efforts (November 17, 2006)

In a speech to the conservative Federalist Society, US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that the "left-wing" interpretation of international law by "judicial activists" in foreign countries limits the ability of the US to effectively manage its domestic security affairs. Chertoff called on conservatives to go on the "offensive" in their dealings with such "leftist" governments and organizations, and attempt to convince them to change their legal philosophy. (CongressDaily)

The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American World Power (November 15, 2006)

In this speech at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs James Traub discusses the challenges UN Secretary General Kofi Annan faced during his tenure from aggressive US foreign policies. Traub argues that the unilateralism which characterizes the Bush administration's relationship with the UN actually began decades ago and was present during the Clinton administration as demonstrated by its decision to oppose a second term for former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Clinton's successor US President George Bush continues to shun multilateralism as evidenced by the 2003 invasion of Iraq in the face of US opposition.

US Reaffirms Emissions Cap Opposition at UN Conference on Global Warming (November 7, 2006)

At the 2006 UN conference on global warming in Nairobi the US demonstrated its continued hostility toward a mandatory reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The US remains one of the few countries not party to the Kyoto Protocol, which as of the 2006 conference had 165 signatories. The Bush administration believes that committing to an emissions quota will limit "US economic growth." This Canadian Press article notes that, even though the majority of politicians in the new US Congress favor emission caps, any legislation imposing such caps remains subject to veto by US President George Bush.

UN Security Council Edicts Challenged (October 26, 2006)

This Inter Press Service article analyzes permanent member's domination and influence at the UN Security Council. The author denounces action driven by national interests and the "double standards" of the Council's resolutions, which allow some countries to possess nuclear weapons whilst forbidding others. Citing the endorsement of the Iraq occupation by the 15 members of the Security Council, the author comments on the UN inability to prevent powerful nations, such as the US, to dictate their will. The article concludes that the disregard for international law and double standards call into question the legitimacy of the top UN body.

We Arm The World (October 27, 2006)

On October 26, 2006, the UN General Assembly voted to pursue a treaty curbing arms traffic. An overwhelming majority of 139 countries backed the proposal, while only one country - the US - voted against it. This TomPaine article argues that the Bush administration does not want to give up its "freedom" to arm US-allied opposition groups in countries with governments that US officials do not favor. Additionally, the highly influential US gun lobby pushed for a vote of dissension claiming that the measure would result in US citizens losing their right to own a gun. However, since world opinion largely favors the creation of an arms treaty the UN will move forward without US support.

Space: America's New War Zone (October 19, 2006)

The Bush administration has issued a directive that "defends US interests" in outer space. This policy gives the government the right to deny its "adversaries" access to space if such access threatens US national security interests or in some way hinders US operations in space. In October 2005, the US blocked a UN attempt to ban the "weaponization" of space, demonstrating that the US may attempt to deploy weapons in space according to this Independent article.

Preventing Nuclear War in Korea (October 15, 2006)

By consistently refusing to engage in bilateral talks with North Korea, the Bush administration exacerbates the nuclear crisis, says this ZNet article. The author argues that North Korea actively pursued nuclear technology because of the threat posed by the US large stockpile of nuclear weapons and the "legacy" of US threats to attack with nuclear weapons. If the US and other nuclear powers adhere to their commitment to eliminate their nuclear weapons arsenals under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty, then other countries will not feel a great need to develop nuclear technologies.

Nuclear Umbrella? The Peril of Missile Defense (October 12, 2006)

The nuclear situation in North Korea and Iran will likely lead to renewed calls by the Bush administration to continue development of the US missile defense shield, argues this Information Clearing House article. The expansion of the shield, designed to intercept missiles, not only violates the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, but also diminishes the credibility of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. The article concludes that Washington should spend its time and resources on creating a more effective and comprehensive international treaty than on developing a shield, which ultimately will do little to protect individuals.

Bush at the UN: Annotated (September 20, 2006)

This Foreign Policy in Focus article dissects US President George Bush's speech to the 61st session of the UN General Assembly. The article argues that nearly all of Bush's comments about democratic transitions throughout the Middle East contradict US actions in the region, which, include supporting dictatorial governments in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and preventing early UN involvement in the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese conflict.

Bush Aims to Kill War Crimes Act (September 5, 2006)

After the US Supreme Court ruled in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case that the government must respect the Geneva Conventions, this Nation article reports that the Bush administration yet again seeks to undermine international law. By eliminating certain provisions of the War Crimes Act of 1996, the administration attempts to protect US officials from prosecution of war crimes. The article concludes that such legal barriers are essential since they serve as a form of deterrence for those who might violate human rights.

US Gets as Much as It Gives to the UN (August 10, 2006)

Referring to its 22 percent share of the UN regular budget, Washington demands "value for money" and a dominant voice in management and administration of the world body. This Inter Press Service article considers the many benefits the US receives from the UN and how in turn Washington continuously undermines the UN Charter. The US gets more than 20 percent of UN procurement contracts and earns US$ billions a year from the New York location of the UN Secretariat and agencies. The US location of the UN headquarters also places Washington ideally for "spying" on and influencing UN diplomats.

The Axis of Intervention (July 27, 2006)

This Foreign Policy in Focus article cites a growing trend towards unilateral military action as opposed to multilateral diplomacy in solving conflicts. The US and Israel have justified "preventative war" under the "War on Terrorism." Meanwhile, Japan threatens to preemptively attack North Korea, jeopardizing its "peace constitution." This dangerous policy threatens to undermine the institutions of international law and global agreements such as the Geneva Conventions.

US Defends Rights Record to United Nations Panel (July 17, 2006)

The UN Human Rights Committee denounced the US human rights record in a two-day hearing. The panel discussed US abuses of detainees in the "war on terror." Normally the Committee reviews the performance of a signatory of the UN's Convention on Civil and Political Rights every four years. But this proceeding marked the first time in 11 years that the Committee examined the US human rights because Washington submitted its report seven years late. (Reuters)

UN Comments Trigger Row with US (June 7, 2006)

While UN Secretary General (SG) Kofi Annan agrees with his deputy's call for more US involvement with the UN, US Ambassador John Bolton has strongly objected to what he calls "condescending, patronizing" remarks. Observers say that the confrontation between the two officials has brought to surface tensions within the UN over US threats to withhold funding unless the organization achieves significant US-proposed management reforms. Bolton has suggested that the Deputy SG's criticisms will sway Washington further against the UN. (BBC)

Official of UN Says Americans Undermine It with Criticism (June 7, 2006)

In a move bound to ruffle feathers, Deputy Secretary General (SG) Mark Malloch Brown has denounced the US for tolerating "too much unchecked UN-bashing and stereotyping" from domestic critics. Malloch Brown also admonishes Washington for not adequately calling the public's attention to the interdependence between the US and the UN. Although he does not mention any names, the Deputy SG comments on the tendency of some US diplomats to use almost-radical strategies rather than compromise. (New York Times)

Bachelet Under Pressure (June 1, 2006)

This Progreso Weekly article claims that the United States is pressuring Chile not to vote for Venezuela in October's elections to the UN Security Council. Latin America is entitled to two representatives on the Council. While Venezuela hopes to fill one of the seats, the United States is attempting to engineer a victory for Guatemala, Washington's preferred candidate. The article claims that US Under Secretary of State Robert Zoellick warned Chilean Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley that should Chile vote for Venezuela, "the costs in terms of security and commercial trade [for Chile] would be extremely high."

Nuremberg At 60: How the United States is Turning Away from its Proud History (February 21, 2006)

Nuremberg Trials' participants worked hard to introduce the rule of law and due process into international law, however despite some developments international justice "seemed to disappear from the world's priorities" for over 50 years. The US has turned away from the principles of Nuremberg, as demonstrated in the trial of Saddam Hussein, treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, "mock[ing] the notion of legal norms." (Find Law)

Report: US Is Abusing Captives (February 13, 2006)

A United Nations report argues that Washington's treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay violates basic human rights and constitutes torture. The report focuses on the legal status of the camp, rejecting the argument that the war on terrorism exempts the US from international conventions on torture and civil and political rights. It also reveals that during the hunger strike at the camp, prison authorities physically abused detainees by taking away their clothes, giving them laxatives and leaving them strapped in the chair in their own excretions. (Los Angeles Times)

UN Security Council Wades into Corruption Fray (February 9, 2006)

The "politically controversial" US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton called the Security Council to a meeting to discuss corruption allegations involving UN peacekeeping operations overseas. The Group of 77, a 132-member group of poor nations, criticizes Bolton for "hijacking" an issue related to the General Assembly. While the Security Council deals with the maintenance of international peace and security, management issues stay within the purview of the General Assembly, the Group states. The G77 also criticizes the Security Council's involvement in the Oil-for-Food Programme in Iraq, which remains fresh in the minds of the international community. (Inter Press Service)

UN Council to Give Bolton Daily Updates (February 4, 2006)

US Ambassador John R. Bolton, known for his assertive and confrontational style, began his presidency of the Security Council by setting up daily briefings on UN activities by the UN Secretariat and challenging his colleagues to discard their prepared statements and engage in unrehearsed dialogue. Bolton hopes that by " in a new way," he can make the Security Council "a more effective decision-making body." The idea got a lukewarm response from some members, but the Council nevertheless agreed to the change on an experimental basis. (Associated Press)

CIA Expands Use of Drones in Terror War (January 29, 2006)

Human rights organizations fiercely criticize Washington's classified missile-firing Predator program, which aims at targeting Al Qaeda members outside the combat zone. While the Bush administration claims that this "targeted-killing" program attacks suspected terrorists, it does not always inform or ask for the approval of the host country. These incursions, in violation of international law, show the "murky" and completely unregulated areas of President Bush’s powers. (Los Angeles Times)

US Deflects Criticism of Commitment to UN (January 16, 2006)

Human rights groups and UN ambassadors have heavily criticized the Bush administration for its lack of effort in diplomatic relations with the UN. US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton has broadcast his support for a revised Human Rights Council yet failed to participate in any of the recent negotiation talks. Bolton however passes off these condemnations, repeating that he will only support meaningful reform. (Washington Post)

The United Nations vs the United States (January 13, 2006)

US pressure looms over important debates undertaken by the UN, such as Security Council reform, the oil-for-food scandal and the quandry of humanitarian intervention. Washington continues to criticize the UN but its actions, most recently in Iraq, are a major cause of UN damaged credibility and operation. The UN needs attainable proposals for reform, not undermining by its own member states. (openDemocracy)

American Disdain Hurts UN Reform (January 9, 2006)

After shying away from Human Rights Council (HRC) negotiations for weeks, US Ambassador John Bolton took his first policy stance on the make-up of the new UN body. Bolton insisted that the Permanent Five members of the Security Council should each have a permanent seat on the HRC. Many ambassadors and NGOs disagreed, maintaining that they expect Washington to support "free and fair elections" to the HRC, which would ensure higher standards of accountability among members. (International Herald Tribune)


The Treaty Database: A Monitor of US Participation in Global Affairs (September 29, 2004)

According to this new report by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, "The Treaty Database: A Monitor of US Participation in Global Affairs," the US Senate has only ratified around 29% of existing international treaties. The disquieting phenomenon of the US' reluctance to participate in multilateral treaties presents a clear threat to existing international law and stability.


A Fork in the Road (September 25, 2003)

In this inaugural piece for GPF's Opinion Forum, Katie Burman contrasts the speeches of Secretary General Kofi Annan and US President George Bush to the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2003. While Annan provides a vision of cooperation for world peace, Bush offers self-congratulation, bombast and prevarication.

US Position on International Treaties (updated July 2003)

The US has long been reluctant to participate in international treaties and agreements on disarmament, human rights, and international justice. Recently, Washington has adopted an even more negative posture towards these instruments. This chart presents the US position on ten major human rights and weapons conventions.

Rule of Power or Rule of Law? - Executive Summary (2003)

The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and the Lawyerss Committee on Nuclear Policy analyze the US stance toward security-related international treaties. This executive summary criticizes the US for not ratifying several important international treaties and for not complying to many of the treaties it has ratified. It argues that Washington's "do as we say, not as we do" policy is a dangerous development for both national and global security.


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