The Un­rat­i­fied — How the U.S. Lets the World Down by Not Rat­i­fy­ing Treaties

Trillions - - In This Issue -

You may not know it, but the United States cur­rently has 45 treaties its pres­i­dents have ne­go­ti­ated but that re­main un­rat­i­fied. The old­est of these dates back 69 years, to 1948. These treaties were ne­go­ti­ated in good faith on be­half of the Amer­i­can people. While some of them per­haps did not serve the best in­ter­ests of the Amer­i­can people, most do and were im­por­tant to the de­vel­op­ment of a civil so­ci­ety.

Many of those that were not rat­i­fied were blocked by the war in­dus­try, pol­luters and other cor­po­rate crim­i­nals who con­trol or in­flu­ence se­na­tors. Not rat­i­fy­ing some of them is a deep be­trayal.

Blame the way that pres­i­dents go about such treaty ne­go­ti­a­tions for part of the prob­lem and the poor re­spon­sive­ness by the Sen­ate for the rest. Un­der any log­i­cal sce­nario, the for­eign gov­ern­ments that ne­go­ti­ated those treaties in good faith with the U.S. govern­ment would be fu­ri­ous. The United States, a coun­try for which logic on cer­tain mat­ters seems more fleet­ing than ever, is very bad – and known to be bad – at the rapid pas­sage of treaties. So those for­eign gov­ern­ments, for the most part, are used to Amer­ica’s for­mal in­ac­tion in rat­i­fi­ca­tion and in­stead rely on a com­bi­na­tion of hope and Ex­ec­u­tive Branch over­ride of the Con­sti­tu­tional process for any­thing im­por­tant.

The idea of a treaty is of course to cre­ate a unique bind­ing agree­ment be­tween the United States and other na­tions. It can cover ev­ery­thing from how wars are set­tled to how land and wa­ters are di­vided at bor­ders, how trade reg­u­la­tions are man­aged be­tween coun­tries (e.g., the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment, or NAFTA) and is­sues such as weapons test­ing, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions, in­ter­na­tional la­bor is­sues and hu­man rights.

Un­der the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion, treaties are con­sid­ered so im­por­tant to the na­ture of the na­tion’s gover­nance that they are in­cluded in its Ar­ti­cle VI, Clause 2. This item, also known as the Supremacy Clause, makes it clear ex­actly how im­por­tant these treaties are with just a few sim­ple state­ments:

“This Con­sti­tu­tion, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pur­suance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, un­der the Au­thor­ity of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in ev­ery State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Con­sti­tu­tion or Laws of any State to the Con­trary not­with­stand­ing.”

Over time, these treaties in­cluded not just coun­tries be­yond U.S. bor­ders but also ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ments with many dif­fer­ent Na­tive Amer­i­can tribes, the orig­i­nal first in­hab­i­tants of Amer­i­can soil.

The process in­volved in ne­go­ti­at­ing all treaties un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion has been nearly iden­ti­cal. It usu­ally be­gins with mem­bers of the Ex­ec­u­tive Branch, led by the U.S. Pres­i­dent and al­most al­ways with the Sec­re­tary of State as a trusted ad­vi­sor in the mat­ter. Depend­ing on the is­sues in­volved, other Cabi­net mem­bers, such as the Sec­re­tary of the In­te­rior (es­pe­cially for Na­tive Amer­i­can mat­ters) and the Sec­re­tary of Com­merce (of­ten for trade ne­go­ti­a­tions), are also pulled in. No­tably ab­sent in most cases are se­nior ad­vi­sors from the U.S. leg­isla­tive branch, some­times be­cause the op­pos­ing party is in charge and some­times just be­cause the Pres­i­dent’s team does not feel that help is needed any­way.

Hav­ing the leg­isla­tive branch in­volved from the be­gin­ning was ap­par­ently more com­mon in the early days of U.S. his­tory. Its ab­sence in both the plan­ning and ne­go­ti­a­tion of treaties in modern times is also a ma­jor rea­son why so many treaties of the 20th and early 21st cen­turies re­main un­rat­i­fied.

The rea­son why this is so im­por­tant also once again re­sides in the lan­guage of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. In its Ar­ti­cle II, Sec­tion 2, it states that the Pres­i­dent of the United States “shall have Power, by and with the Ad­vice and Con­sent of the Sen­ate, to make Treaties, pro­vided two thirds of the Se­na­tors present con­cur.” That two-thirds ma­jor­ity is tough to muster even in sit­u­a­tions with the broad­est agree­ment of all in­volved and even if the Pres­i­dent and the Sen­ate are run by the same party. So not in­volv­ing the Sen­ate much at all prior to bring­ing a treaty to its mem­bers for rat­i­fi­ca­tion is of­ten a cause for in­def­i­nite de­lay, ex­cept in the sim­plest of sit­u­a­tions.

There are cases where such a de­lay has an ad­van­tage. In the case of the Trans-pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP) agree­ment (an agree­ment ne­go­ti­ated more to help gi­ant cor­po­ra­tions rather than the cit­i­zens of the na­tions af­fected by it), it was con­sid­ered by many to be a very bad deal that few in the United States be­sides Pres­i­dent Obama and his ne­go­ti­at­ing team felt was a good one for the United States. In the end, it failed by Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der by the cur­rent Pres­i­dent rather than in the U.S. Sen­ate, but re­gard­less, it was a good thing for it to get set aside.

About the Geneva Con­ven­tion

One of the many im­por­tant treaties with rat­i­fi­ca­tion is­sues that of­ten comes up for dis­cus­sion in the press and on tele­vi­sion is some­thing of­ten re­ferred to as the Geneva Con­ven­tion. It is also one that many re­fer to as be­ing “one” of the treaties that the United States has not signed. That state­ment is wrong.

To clar­ify one of the ma­jor mis­un­der­stand­ings about this, the Geneva Con­ven­tion is prop­erly re­ferred to only in the plu­ral, as the Geneva Con­ven­tions. It com­prises four separate treaties go­ing back to 1929 and then up­dated in 1949 with a few other ad­di­tions later, con­cern­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian treat­ment in war. The agree­ments con­sider how both non-com­bat­ants and pris­on­ers of war are to be pro­tected and ac­corded rights. With the United States’ nearly-con­tin­u­ous state of be­ing at war with at least one ma­jor in­ter­na­tional en­emy (and now sev­eral), one may of­ten hear the state­ment that the United States is not a signer to the Geneva Con­ven­tions – though it tends to fol­low its pro­to­cols any­way.

The truth of this mat­ter is that the United States is in fact a full signer of all four Geneva Con­ven­tions. What it has not rat­i­fied, which causes the con­fu­sion, are two amend­ing pro­to­cols (Pro­to­col 1 and Pro­to­col 2) that came up dur­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Carter and were fi­nally set aside by Pres­i­dent Rea­gan in the 1980s.

Pro­to­col 1 pro­poses to amend the ex­ist­ing pro­tec­tions of the Geneva Con­ven­tions to in­clude vic­tims in which “armed con­flicts in which peo­ples are fight­ing against colo­nial dom­i­na­tion, alien oc­cu­pa­tion or racist regimes” are to be con­sid­ered ”in­ter­na­tional con­flicts” un­der the terms of those con­ven­tions. As of June 2013, 174 na­tions had rat­i­fied this pro­to­col. The United States, Is­rael, Iran, Pak­istan, In­dia and Turkey are some of the more sig­nif­i­cant na­tions that have so far not cho­sen to sign off.

Pro­to­col 2’s amend­ment cov­ers the sit­u­a­tion of non-in­ter­na­tional armed con­flicts, or con­flicts that hap­pen wholly within the bor­ders of coun­tries them­selves with­out out­side in­ter­ven­tion. It pro­poses some spe­cific in­ter­na­tional law mod­i­fi­ca­tions to pro­vide pro­tec­tions for all in­volved un­der those cir­cum­stances. By Jan­uary 2015, this pro­to­col had been rat­i­fied by 168 coun­tries. Once again, there were some ma­jor coun­tries that did not rat­ify it, in­clud­ing the United States, Turkey, Is­rael, Iran, Pak­istan and Iraq.

In the United States, when the is­sue was de­bated in the early 1980s, as part of his ar­gu­ment to the Sen­ate, Pres­i­dent Rea­gan felt the lan­guage of the amend­ments was too vague and prone to prob­lems. He felt they could ap­ply to “ir­reg­u­lar forces” present in each case, re­gard­less of whether or not those en­e­mies would try to “dis­tin­guish them­selves from the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion.” Even then, the idea of pro­tect­ing what now would be called ter­ror­ists was not a pop­u­lar idea.

There was also the is­sue of the pro­to­cols be­ing ap­plied to “wars of na­tional lib­er­a­tion.” While the United States has a well-es­tab­lished track record of as­sist­ing others in over­throw­ing na­tions against their will, even for Amer­ica this clause was con­sid­ered too fuzzy to jus­tify rat­i­fi­ca­tion.

The con­cept of pro­to­col amend­ments such as these also il­lus­trates one of the hid­den com­pli­ca­tions in in­ter­na­tional treaties. Even when the orig­i­nal treaty may be rat­i­fied, usu­ally after some time lapse, the par­ties in­volved may sug­gest fu­ture amend­ments based on any num­ber of new con­sid­er­a­tions. Since con­sid­er­ing those amend­ments raises their own chal­lenges and may even sug­gest re­con­sid­er­a­tion of the orig­i­nal treaties, the truth is that of­ten only the most straight­for­ward of treaties get rat­i­fied quickly and stand a longterm “test of time.”

The 2017 List of the Un­rat­i­fied

For those in­ter­ested in the de­tails of the many items still on the un­rat­i­fied list, they range from the old­est be­ing a 1948 treaty about the right to or­ga­nize, as agreed upon at the 1948 In­ter­na­tional La­bor Con­fer­ence, to an ex­tra­di­tion treaty ne­go­ti­ated be­tween the United States and the Repub­lic of Ser­bia as of Au­gust 2016. In be­tween are items re­lat­ing to

• Traf­fick­ing of il­licit firearms

• Women’s rights

• Maritime bound­aries

• The lat­est it­er­a­tion of the Nu­clear Test Ban Treaty (from 1996)

• Sev­eral items re­gard­ing pol­lu­tion, in­clud­ing both air­borne and in the oceans

• Pro­tec­tions against cor­po­rate and per­sonal in­ter­na­tional tax eva­sion

• Sup­port to “Fa­cil­i­tate Ac­cess to Pub­lished Works for Per­sons Who Are Blind, Vis­ually Im­paired, or Oth­er­wise Print Dis­abled”

The com­plete list as of May 8, 2017, and still the most cur­rent, is below. Hy­per­links to the ac­tual treaty in­for­ma­tion are also in­cluded.

1. In­ter­na­tional La­bor Or­ga­ni­za­tion Con­ven­tion No. 87 Con­cern­ing Free­dom of As­so­ci­a­tion and Pro­tec­tion of the Right to Or­ga­nize, adopted by the In­ter­na­tional La­bor Con­fer­ence at its 31st Ses­sion, held at San Fran­cisco, June 17 - July 10, 1948 (Treaty Doc.: Ex. S, 81st Cong., 1st Sess. ); submitted to Sen­ate Au­gust 27, 1949. 2. In­ter­na­tional La­bor Or­ga­ni­za­tion Con­ven­tion No. 116 Con­cern­ing the Par­tial Re­vi­sion of the con­ven­tions adopted by the Gen­eral Con­fer­ence of the In­ter­na­tional La­bor Or­ga­ni­za­tion at its first 32 ses­sions for the pur­pose of stan­dard­iz­ing the pro­vi­sions re­gard­ing the prepa­ra­tion of re­ports by the gov­ern­ing body of the In­ter­na­tional La­bor Of­fice on the Work­ing of Con­ven­tions, adopted by the In­ter­na­tional La­bor Con­fer­ence at its 45th Ses­sion, held at Geneva, June 26, 1961 (Treaty Doc.: Ex. C, 87th Cong., 2nd Sess.); submitted to Sen­ate June 1, 1962.

3. In­ter­na­tional La­bor Or­ga­ni­za­tion Con­ven­tion No. 122 Con­cern­ing Em­ploy­ment Pol­icy, adopted by the In­ter­na­tional La­bor Con­fer­ence at its 48th Ses­sion, held at Geneva, July 9, 1964 (Treaty Doc.: Ex. G, 89th Cong., 2nd Sess.); submitted to Sen­ate June 2, 1966.

4. Vi­enna Con­ven­tion on the Law of Treaties, done at Vi­enna May 23, 1969, and signed by the United States April 24, 1970 (Treaty Doc.: Ex. L, 92nd Cong., 1st Sess.); submitted to Sen­ate Novem­ber 22, 1971.

5. In­ter­na­tional Covenant on Eco­nomic, So­cial and Cul­tural Rights, done at New York De­cem­ber 16, 1966, and signed by the United States Oc­to­ber 5, 1977 (Treaty Doc.: Ex. D, 95th Cong., 2nd Sess.); submitted to Sen­ate Fe­bru­ary 23, 1978.

6. Amer­i­can Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights, done at San José Novem­ber 22, 1969, and signed by the United States June 1, 1977 (Treaty Doc.: Ex. F, 95th Cong., 2nd Sess.); submitted to Sen­ate Fe­bru­ary 23, 1978.

7. Maritime Bound­ary Agree­ment be­tween the United States of Amer­ica and the Repub­lic of Cuba, signed at Wash­ing­ton De­cem­ber 16, 1977 (Treaty Doc.: Ex. H, 96th Cong., 1st Sess.); submitted to Sen­ate Jan­uary 19, 1979.

8. Con­ven­tion on the Elim­i­na­tion of All Forms of Dis­crim­i­na­tion Against Women, done at New York De­cem­ber 18, 1979, and signed by the United States July 17, 1980 (Trea-

ty Doc.: Ex. R, 96th Cong., 2nd Sess.); submitted to Sen­ate Novem­ber 12, 1980.

9. Amend­ment to the 1973 Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), done at Gaborone April 30, 1983 (Treaty Doc.: 9810); submitted to Sen­ate Oc­to­ber 4, 1983.

10. Pro­to­col II Ad­di­tional to the Geneva Con­ven­tions of 12 Au­gust 1949, and re­lat­ing to the Pro­tec­tion of Vic­tims of Non-in­ter­na­tional Armed Con­flicts, done at Geneva June 10, 1977, and signed by the United States De­cem­ber 12, 1977 (Treaty Doc.: 100-2); submitted to Sen­ate Jan­uary 29, 1987.

11. Con­ven­tion on Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity, done at Rio de Janeiro June 5, 1992, and signed by the United States at New York June 4, 1993 (Treaty Doc.: 103-20); submitted to Sen­ate Novem­ber 20, 1993.

12. United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea, done at Mon­tego Bay De­cem­ber 10, 1982 (the “Con­ven­tion”) and Agree­ment re­lat­ing to Im­ple­men­ta­tion of Part XI of the Con­ven­tion, done at New York July 28, 1994 (the “Agree­ment”); Agree­ment signed by the United States July 29, 1994 (Treaty Doc.: 10339); submitted to Sen­ate Oc­to­ber 7, 1994.

13. Com­pre­hen­sive Nu­clear-test-ban Treaty, done at New York Septem­ber 10, 1996, and signed by the United States Septem­ber 24, 1996 (Treaty Doc.: 105-28); submitted to Sen­ate Septem­ber 23, 1997.

14. In­ter­na­tional La­bor Or­ga­ni­za­tion Con­ven­tion No. 111 Con­cern­ing Dis­crim­i­na­tion in Re­spect of Em­ploy­ment and Oc­cu­pa­tion, adopted by the In­ter­na­tional La­bor Con­fer­ence at its 42nd Ses­sion, held at Geneva June 25, 1958 (Treaty Doc.: 10545); submitted to Sen­ate May 18, 1998.

15. In­ter-amer­i­can Con­ven­tion against the Il­licit Man­u­fac­tur­ing of and Traf­fick­ing in Firearms, Am­mu­ni­tion, Ex­plo­sives, and other Re­lated Ma­te­ri­als, done at Wash­ing­ton Novem­ber 13, 1997, and signed by the United States Novem­ber 14, 1997 (Treaty Doc.: 10549); submitted to Sen­ate June 9, 1998.

16. Pro­to­col for the Pro­tec­tion of Cul­tural Prop­erty in the event of Armed Con­flict, done at The Hague May 14, 1954 (Treaty Doc.: 1061); submitted to Sen­ate Jan­uary 6, 1999.

17. Rot­ter­dam Con­ven­tion on the Prior In­formed Con­sent Pro­ce­dure for Cer­tain Haz­ardous Chem­i­cals and Pes­ti­cides in In­ter­na­tional Trade, done at Rot­ter­dam Septem­ber 10, 1998, and signed by the United States Septem­ber 11, 1998 (Treaty Doc.: 10621); submitted to Sen­ate Fe­bru­ary 9, 2000.

18. Treaty be­tween the United States of Amer­ica and the Repub­lic of Nicaragua Con­cern­ing the En­cour­age­ment and Re­cip­ro­cal Pro­tec­tion of In­vest­ment, signed at Den­ver July 1, 1995 (Treaty Doc.: 10633); submitted to Sen­ate June 26, 2000.

19. Con­ven­tion on the Safety of United Na­tions and As­so­ci­ated Per­son­nel, done at New York De­cem­ber 9, 1994, and signed by the United States De­cem­ber 19, 1994 (Treaty Doc.: 1071); submitted to Sen­ate Jan­uary 3, 2001.

20. Stock­holm Con­ven­tion on Per­sis­tent Or­ganic Pol­lu­tants, done at Stock­holm May 22, 2001, and signed by the United States May 23, 2001 (Treaty Doc.: 107-5); submitted to Sen­ate May 7, 2002.

21. 1996 Pro­to­col to the Con­ven­tion on the Pre­ven­tion of Ma­rine Pol­lu­tion by Dump­ing of Wastes and Other Mat­ter, 1972, done at Lon­don Novem­ber 7, 1996, and signed by the United States March 31, 1998 (Treaty Doc.: 1105); submitted to Sen­ate Septem­ber 4, 2007.

22. Agree­ment on the Con­ser­va­tion of Al­ba­trosses and Pe­trels, with an­nexes, done at Can­berra June 19, 2001 (Treaty Doc.: 110-22); submitted to Sen­ate Septem­ber 26, 2008.

23. An­nex VI on Li­a­bil­ity Aris­ing From En­vi­ron­men­tal Emer­gen­cies to the Pro­to­col on En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion to the Antarc­tic Treaty (An­nex VI), adopted June 14, 2005 (Treaty

Doc.: 111-2); submitted to Sen­ate April 2, 2009.

24. Con­ven­tion be­tween the Govern­ment of the United States of Amer­ica and the Govern­ment of the Repub­lic of Hun­gary for the Avoid­ance of Dou­ble Tax­a­tion and the Pre­ven­tion of Fis­cal Eva­sion with Re­spect to Taxes on In­come, signed at Budapest Fe­bru­ary 4, 2010, with re­lated ex­change of notes (Treaty Doc.: 1117); submitted to Sen­ate Novem­ber 15, 2010.

25. Pro­to­col Amend­ing the Con­ven­tion be­tween the Govern­ment of the United States of Amer­ica and the Govern­ment of the Grand Duchy of Lux­em­bourg for the Avoid­ance of Dou­ble Tax­a­tion and the Pre­ven­tion of Fis­cal Eva­sion with Re­spect to Taxes on In­come and Cap­i­tal, signed at Lux­em­bourg May 20, 2009, with re­lated ex­change of notes (Treaty Doc.: 1118); submitted to Sen­ate Novem­ber 15, 2010.

26. Pro­to­col Amend­ing the Con­ven­tion be­tween the United States of Amer­ica and the Swiss Con­fed­er­a­tion for the Avoid­ance of Dou­ble Tax­a­tion with Re­spect to Taxes on In­come, signed at Wash­ing­ton Oc­to­ber 2, 1996, signed at Wash­ing­ton Septem­ber 23, 2009, with re­lated ex­changes of notes (Treaty Doc.: 1121); submitted to Sen­ate Jan­uary 26, 2011.

27. Pro­to­cols 1, 2, and 3 to the South Pa­cific Nu­clear Free Zone Treaty, done at Suva Au­gust 8, 1986, and signed on be­half of the United States March 25, 1996 (Treaty Doc.: 1122); submitted to Sen­ate May 2, 2011.

28. Pro­to­cols I and II to the African Nu­clear-weapon-free Zone Treaty, done at Cairo April 11, 1996, and signed that day on be­half of the United States (Treaty Doc.: 1123); submitted to Sen­ate May 2, 2011.

29. Pro­to­col Amend­ing the Con­ven­tion on Mu­tual Ad­min­is­tra­tive As­sis­tance in Tax Mat­ters, done at Paris May 27, 2010 and signed that day on be­half of the United States (Treaty Doc.: 1125); submitted to Sen­ate May 17, 2012.

30. Con­ven­tion on the Rights of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties, adopted by the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly De­cem­ber 13, 2006, and signed on be­half of the United States June 30, 2009 (Treaty Doc.: 112-7); submitted to Sen­ate May 17, 2012.

31. Con­ven­tion be­tween the Govern­ment of the United States of Amer­ica and the Govern­ment of the Repub­lic of Chile for the Avoid­ance of Dou­ble Tax­a­tion and the Pre­ven­tion of Fis­cal Eva­sion with Re­spect to Taxes on In­come and Cap­i­tal, with Pro­to­col, signed at Wash­ing­ton Fe­bru­ary 4, 2010, as cor­rected by ex­changes of notes ef­fected Fe­bru­ary 25, 2011, and Fe­bru­ary 10 and 21, 2012, with re­lated agree­ment ef­fected by ex­change of notes Fe­bru­ary 4, 2010 (Treaty Doc.: 1128); submitted to Sen­ate May 17, 2012.

32. Pro­to­col Amend­ing the Con­ven­tion be­tween the United States of Amer­ica and the King­dom of Spain for the Avoid­ance of Dou­ble Tax­a­tion and the Pre­ven­tion of Fis­cal Eva­sion with re­spect to Taxes on In­come, and its Pro­to­col signed at Madrid Fe­bru­ary 22, 1990, with me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing signed at Madrid Jan­uary 14, 2013, as cor­rected by ex­change of notes July 23, 2013, and Jan­uary 31, 2014 (Treaty Doc.: 113-4); submitted to Sen­ate May 7, 2014.

33. Con­ven­tion be­tween the United States of Amer­ica and the Repub­lic of Poland for the Avoid­ance of Dou­ble Tax­a­tion and the Pre­ven­tion of Fis­cal Eva­sion with re­spect to Taxes on In­come, signed at War­saw Fe­bru­ary 13, 2013 (Treaty Doc.: 113-5); submitted to Sen­ate May 20, 2014.

34. Pro­to­col Amend­ing the Con­ven­tion be­tween the Govern­ment of the United States of Amer­ica and the Govern­ment of Ja­pan for the Avoid­ance of Dou­ble Tax­a­tion and the Pre­ven­tion of Fis­cal Eva­sion with re­spect to Taxes on In­come, and a re­lated agree­ment en­tered into by an ex­change of notes, both signed at Wash­ing­ton Jan­uary 24, 2013, as cor­rected by ex­change of notes March 9 and 29, 2013 (Treaty Doc.: 114-1); submitted to Sen­ate April 13, 2015.

35. Pro­to­col to the Treaty on a Nu­clear-weapons-free Zone in Cen­tral Asia, done at New York May 6, 2014, and signed that day on be­half of the United States (Treaty Doc.: 114-2); submitted to Sen­ate April 27, 2015.

36. The United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Use of Elec­tronic Com­mu­ni­ca­tions in In­ter­na­tional Con­tracts, done at New York Novem­ber 23, 2005, and signed that day on be­half of the United States (Treaty Doc.: 114-5); submitted to Sen­ate Fe­bru­ary 10, 2016.

37. The Mar­rakesh Treaty to Fa­cil­i­tate Ac­cess to Pub­lished Works for Per­sons Who Are Blind, Vis­ually Im­paired, or Oth­er­wise Print Dis­abled, done at Mar­rakesh June 27, 2013, and signed on be­half of the United States Oc­to­ber 2, 2013 (Treaty Doc.: 1146); submitted to Sen­ate Fe­bru­ary 10, 2016.

38. The United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the As­sign­ment of Re­ceiv­ables in In­ter­na­tional Trade, done at New York De­cem­ber 12, 2001, and signed on be­half of the United States De­cem­ber 30, 2003 (Treaty Doc.: 114-7); submitted to Sen­ate Fe­bru­ary 10, 2016.

39. The Bei­jing Treaty on Au­dio­vi­sual Per­for­mances, done at Bei­jing June 24, 2012, and signed on be­half of the United States June 26, 2012 (Treaty Doc.: 114-8); submitted to Sen­ate Fe­bru­ary 10, 2016.

40. United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on In­de­pen­dent Guar­an­tees and Stand-by Let­ters of Credit, done at New York De­cem­ber 11, 1995, and signed on be­half of the United States De­cem­ber 11, 1997 (Treaty Doc.: 114-9); submitted to Sen­ate Fe­bru­ary 10, 2016.

41. Treaties on the de­lim­i­ta­tion of maritime bound­aries be­tween the United States of Amer­ica and the Repub­lic of Kiri­bati, signed at Ma­juro Septem­ber 6, 2013, and be­tween the United States of Amer­ica and the Fed­er­ated States of Mi­crone­sia, signed at Koror Au­gust 1, 2014 (Treaty Doc.: 114-13); submitted to Sen­ate De­cem­ber 9, 2016.

42. The Arms Trade Treaty, done at New York April 2, 2013, and signed on be­half of the United States Septem­ber 25, 2013 (Treaty Doc.: 11414); submitted to Sen­ate De­cem­ber 9, 2016.

43. United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on Trans­parency in Treaty-based In­vestor-state Ar­bi­tra­tion, done at New York De­cem­ber 10, 2014, and signed on be­half of the United States March 17, 2015 (Treaty Doc.: 114-15); submitted to Sen­ate De­cem­ber 9, 2016. 44. Treaty on Ex­tra­di­tion be­tween the Govern­ment of the United States and the Govern­ment of the Repub­lic of Kosovo, signed at Pristina March 29, 2016 (Treaty Doc.: 115-2); submitted to Sen­ate Jan­uary 3, 2017.

45. Treaty on Ex­tra­di­tion be­tween the Govern­ment of the United States and the Repub­lic of Ser­bia, signed at Bel­grade Au­gust 15, 2016 (Treaty Doc.: 115-1); submitted to Sen­ate Jan­uary 3, 2017.

In the end, will it make a big dif­fer­ence that some of these are still NOT rat­i­fied, es­pe­cially after a con­sid­er­able amount of time has passed since they were orig­i­nally cre­ated? The an­swer is that while it does de­pend some­what on the spe­cific treaty, in many cases the United States and its part­ners are al­ready act­ing like the treaties are in place – for all prac­ti­cal pur­poses at least. In other cases, although the United States may be play­ing by the rules out­lined in the treaty, not sign­ing al­lows some flex­i­bil­ity of ac­tion while still giv­ing the ap­pear­ance of fol­low­ing what it signed up to do.

In other cases, not rat­i­fy­ing the treaty poses a threat or in­jus­tice. One ex­am­ple is the UN Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea (UN­C­LOS) which de­fines the rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of na­tions with re­spect to their use of the world's oceans, es­tab­lish­ing guide­lines for busi­nesses, the en­vi­ron­ment, and the man­age­ment of ma­rine nat­u­ral re­sources. The US tries to im­pose the treaty on other na­tions while hold­ing it­self ex­empt, be­cause it did not rat­ify the treaty.

An­other ex­am­ple is the In­ter-amer­i­can Con­ven­tion against the Il­licit Man­u­fac­tur­ing of and Traf­fick­ing in Firearms, Am­mu­ni­tion, Ex­plo­sives, and other Re­lated Ma­te­ri­als. Not rat­i­fy­ing this treaty al­lows the U.S. to be the world's largest arms dealer and en­cour­ages its war in­dus­try to man­u­fac­ture con­flict so that it can sell more weapons. At the same time it can use the treaty to re­duce com­pe­ti­tion. The treaty should have been rat­i­fied.

Not rat­i­fy­ing treaties makes it eas­ier for the United States to act as a bully, cheat other na­tions, vi­o­late hu­man rights, de­stroy the en­vi­ron­ment, wage war for profit and rob people of their ba­sic hu­man rights and dig­nity.

In or­der for the U.S. to func­tion as a civil so­ci­ety, we the people would have to start elect­ing Se­na­tors who are not cor­rupt, evil or stupid and en­sure that they do the right thing. For that to hap­pen, we would have to change as in­di­vid­u­als and as a so­ci­ety. We our­selves would have to be­come more civil but also more proac­tive.

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