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America the exception: 7 other treaties the U.S. hasn’t ratified

America the exception: 7 other treaties the U.S. hasn’t ratified

The Obama administration, this month, decided to take up the fairly unrewarding task of pushing for the ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. In a piece for FP today, James Kraska explains why ratification is long overdue. The treaty, which lays out rules for both military use of the seas and extraction of resources, went into effect in 1994, has been accepted by 161 nations, and was supported by both the Clinton and Bush administrations as well as U.S. Naval commanders. However it will still face a tough fight in Congress where many lawmakers feel it would constitute an unwarranted intrusion on U.S. sovereignty. 

But the Law of the Sea is hardly the only major international agreement waiting for either a U.S. signature, or for Congress to approve ratification. Here’s a quick look at a few of the other international treaties and conventions where the United Statates is conspicuous by its absence:

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Entered into force in 1990, signed by U.S. in 1995

Number of states parties: 193 (Fellow non-ratifiers: Somalia, South Sudan*)

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

Signed by U.S. in 1980, entered into force in 1981

Number of states parties: 187 (Fellow non-ratifiers: Palau, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Tonga) 

Mine Ban Treaty

Entered into force in 1999, never signed by U.S.

Number of states parties:159

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Entered into force in 2008, signed by U.S. in 2009.

Number of states parties: 112

Convention on Cluster Munitions

Entered into force in 2010, never signed by U.S.

States parties: 71

Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture

Entered into force in 2006, never signed by U.S.

Number of states parties: 63

International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

Entered into force in 2010, never signed by U.S.

Number of states parties: 32 (91 have signed)

One could, of course, make the case that the fact that countries like Iran, North Korea, and Belarus have ratified many of these treaties suggests they don’t actually accomplish very much. On the other hand, it doesn’t look very good that the United States is considered a likely no vote when it comes to new human rights treaties, and at this point there’s enough evidence from other states parties to suggest that ratifying an agreement on say, the rights of children, won’t lead to U.N. bureaucrats telling parents how to raise their kids. 

*In fairness to South Sudan, it has only been a country for about 10 months.