With climate change so high up on everyone's agenda, we don't need to be reminded yet again that the United States hasn't ratified the Kyoto Protocol. But what about other international conventions that the United States continues to snub? They may be pointless, they may be basically unenforceable, but some people actually take these things seriously.
Here's a brief rundown of some of the big ones:
International Criminal Court: The United States is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that created the ICC in 2002, citing objections to the court's claim of jurisdiction over people from non-party states and concern for U.S. sovereignty. But in a recent attempt to show that the United States can cooperate with others, John B. Bellinger III, legal advisor at State, declared that the U.S. government is open to any requests for help with the ICC's efforts to investigate and prosecute war crimes in Darfur.
Law of the Sea: The U.S.'s beef with this convention relates to several provisions on deep-sea mining. However, in a speech earlier this month at The Hague, Bellinger stressed the fact that the U.S. administration considers the convention "enormously important" and that it have been abiding by it the whole time. He went so far as to hint at possible ratification:
We have been working with the Senate to move the treaty forward. In fact, although the press has not actively reported it, last month President Bush personally urged the Senate to approve the Convention during this session of Congress.
Convention on the Elimination of All Discrimination Against Women: In the same speech, Bellinger argued that domestic U.S. law did enough to protect women's rights and he wasn't convinced the convention presented any measures that weren't already being taken. The United States stands alone as the only developed country to oppose this convention.
Convention on the Rights of the Child: This treaty promotes basic human rights for children: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. U.S. concerns revolve around a fear of losing sovereignty, family planning issues and parental rights, but the situation for our own children is far from perfect - It is estimated that 1,400 American children die each year from abuse and neglect. But hey, Somalia hasn't ratified it, either, so what's the big deal?
(Note: Changes were made to this post thanks to a very good catch by one of our readers.)