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US and International bodies and treaties

 
  

Project: History of US Interventions

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1942

       The United Nations is formed. Article 51 of the charter states that a country has the “right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations,” but otherwise prohibits the use of force in international affairs. [Sources: United Nations Charter]
          

December 21, 1965

       The UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 2131, titled, “Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty,” which recognizes that “armed intervention is synonymous with aggression and, as such, is contrary to the basic principles on which peaceful international cooperation between States should be built.” It also states that “direct intervention, subversion and all forms of indirect intervention are contrary to these principles and, consequently, constitute a violation of the Charter of the United Nations.” In its declaration, which as a General Assembly resolution is non-binding, it prohibits all forms of intervention by one state “in the internal or external affairs of any other State.” [Sources: UN General Assembly Resolution 2131]
People and organizations involved: UN General Assembly
          

1966 and after

       The United States vetoes far more Security Council resolutions than any other country. Roughly half of these defend Israeli actions against its neighbors or against the Palestinians in the occupied territories. [Global Policy Forum, n.d.]
          

June 1986

       Nicaragua appeals to the World Court in The Hague to end US efforts to destabilize its government. The court rules in its favor, ordering America to end its interventionist policy in Nicaragua and to pay massive reparations. America ignores the World Court's ruling, and instead escalates the war. [Keen, 1992; Rosset and Vendermeer, 1986, pg 289-293]
          

December 1997

       In Ottawa, 122 governments sign the Mine Ban Treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention. In September of the following year, Burkina Faso becomes the 40th country to ratify the agreement, triggering entry of force for March 1999 and making the treaty binding under international law. As signatories to the Convention, member-states are prohibited from using, developing, or stockpiling anti-personnel mines. By 2004, 152 states will have signed and 143 ratified or acceded to the treaty, leaving only 42 countries which do not recognize it. [International Campaign to Ban Landmines website, n.d. Sources: Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction] The United States is the only G7 country that refuses to sign. [Associated Press, 11/26/2004; BBC, 11/30/2004; BBC, 12/2/2004]
          

June 9, 1998

       US Congress votes 392-22 in favor of legislation that restricts international inspections of chemical sites in the United States, effectively killing the Chemical Weapons Convention. [Henry Stimson Center, 6/16/1998; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,]
          

July 17, 1998

       The UN General Assembly adopts the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). One hundred twenty member-states vote in favor of the Statute with 21 abstaining and only seven voting against. The countries which oppose its creation are the United States (will sign Statute on December 31, 2000 but later withdraw (see May 6, 2002)), Israel (will sign Statute on December 31, 2000 but later withdraw (see August 28, 2002)), China, Iraq, Qatar, Libya and Yemen. [PBS, n.d.; CNN, 7/8/2002 Sources: Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court] The Clinton administration's vote against the ICC was made under pressure from the Pentagon which believes that US troops, military officers and officials will become subject to politically motivated or frivolous prosecutions. Additionally, the US says it does not want the court to supplant its own domestic and military court system. [PBS, n.d.; Human Rights Watch, 4/14/1998] On April 11, 2002, the countries of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ireland, Jordan, Mongolia, Niger, Romania and Slovakia will submit their ratifications to the UN bringing the total number of countries to ratify the Rome Statute to 66, well beyond the 60 needed to make it a binding treaty. The Statute is entered into force on July 1, 2002. [Amnesty International, 4/11/2002; Coalition for the International Court, 4/11/2002] The International Criminal Court (ICC) “is the first ever permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to promote the rule of law and ensure that the gravest international crimes do not go unpunished.” [International Criminal Court website, n.d.] It has authority to try cases involving genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Significantly, Article 12 of the Rome Statute gives the court jurisdiction over the nationals of any state if the alleged crime takes place on the territory of a state that is a party to the Statute or that delegates jurisdiction for that case to the ICC—even in cases where the defendant's state of nationality is not a party to the treaty. [Morris, 2001]
People and organizations involved: UN General Assembly
          

January 24-29, 2000

       In Montreal, Canada, the Ad Hoc Working Group on Biosafety (BSWG) continues negotiations on the text of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB), the first protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The conference is the last in a series of BSWG discussions that began on February 22, 1999 in Cartagena, Colombia. It is attended by over 750 participants, representing 133 governments, NGOs, industry organizations and the scientific community. The purpose of the protocol is to develop a set of international minimum safety standards for the regulation of trade in genetically engineered organisms (GMOs). The major points of contention during the negotiations relate to (1) the obligations of an exporter to inform importers of shipments containing GMOs, (2) the rights of an importer to reject GMO imports, and (3) whether CBD or World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations have primacy in cases where there is a conflict between the two. The two main negotiating blocks are the “Miami Group” (which includes the GMO-exporting countries of the US, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay) on one side and the European Union and the Like Minded Group (which includes most developing countries) on the other. The Miami Group had formed earlier in Cartagena in order to prevent genetically modified agricultural commodities from being included within the scope of the Protocol, preferring that their regulation remain solely under the jurisdiction of the WTO. The delegates agree on a final draft during the early morning hours of January 29. [Convention on Biological Diversity website, n.d.; Genewatch, n.d.; Biowatch, n.d.; EAAP News, 8/2000; IISD Linkages, 2/18/2000 Sources: Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB)] The Protocol will enter into force on September 11, 2003, ninety days after receiving its 50th ratification. [Convention on Biological Diversity website, n.d.]
Biodiversity Clearing-House - The CPB establishes a “Biodiversity Clearing-House” to facilitate the exchange of information on GMOs and to assist countries in the implementation of the Protocol. [Genewatch, n.d.; Biowatch, n.d. Sources: Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB)]

Advanced Informed Agreement (AIA) - The Protocol requires exporters of GMOs to seek permission from the importing country before the GMOs are exported. For most GMO exports, the exporter will be required to follow a set of procedures referred to as the “Advance Informed Agreement” (AIA). However, for GMOs intended for food, feed or processing (LMO-FFPs), and not planting, a different, less rigorous notification system applies. For these types of GMOs the CPB only requires governments to notify the Biodiversity Clearing-House when they have decided to permit the use of a GMO in their own country and to supply certain information about it. This alternative notification system for food, feed, and processing GMOs was a concession negotiated by the GMO-exporting Miami Group. Pharmaceutical GMOs, GMOs-in-transit, and GMOs intended for use in a laboratory, are also subject to fewer, less stringent regulations. [Genewatch, n.d.; Biowatch, n.d. Sources: Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB)]

The precautionary principle - The CPB permits countries to restrict or ban a GMO if they believe there is a potential for the GMO to cause adverse affects. Conclusive scientific evidence is not necessary. “Lack of scientific certainty due to insufficient relevant scientific information and knowledge regarding the extent of the potential adverse effects of a living modified organism ?.shall not prevent that Party from taking a decision, as appropriate, ?to avoid or minimize such potential adverse effects.” [Genewatch, n.d.; Biowatch, n.d. Sources: Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB)]

Multilateral Trade Agreements vs. Convention on Biological Diversity - The Cartagena Protocol contains provisions that address circumstances that would also be under the jurisdiction of certain trade agreements. But it does not address the issue of which set of regulations should take precedence, only stating that “trade and environment agreements should be mutually supportive with a view to achieving sustainable development.” [Biowatch, n.d. Sources: Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB)]

          

March 27, 2001

       EPA administrator Christie Todd Whitman tells reporters that the Bush administration has “no interest in implementing” the Kyoto Protocol. [BBC, 3/28/2001; Associated Press, 3/28/2001; Environmental News Network (EIN), 3/28/2001; CBS News, 3/28/2001; CNN, 3/29/2001] The treaty would require 39 industrialized nations to cut emissions of six greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride—to an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012. The US would be required to reduce its emissions by about 7 percent. The protocol will not go into effect until it has been ratified by countries that were responsible for at least 55 percent of the world's carbon emissions in 1990. [BBC, 3/29/2001; BBC, 9/29/2001] The United States is the world's largest polluter and therefore its refusal to support the treaty represents a significant setback. In 1990, the US was responsible for 36.1% of greenhouse emissions. [BBC, 6/4/2004] The Bush administration complains that the treaty would harm US economic interests and that it unfairly puts too much of the burden on industrialized nations while not seeking to limit pollution from developing nations. [BBC, 3/29/2001]
People and organizations involved: Christine Todd Whitman, Bush administration
          

July 9, 2001

       In New York City, the United States—the world's largest exporter of arms—informs delegates at the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons that it opposes any effort to create broad worldwide controls on the sale of small arms. “We do not support measures that would constrain legal trade and legal manufacturing of small arms and light weapons,” John Bolton, US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, tells the international body. “The vast majority of arms transfers in the world are routine and not problematic. Each member state of the United Nations has the right to manufacture and export arms for purposes of national defense.” But UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette notes that small arms have been the preferred weapons in 46 of 49 major conflicts since 1990, which have resulted in some 4 million deaths, 80 percent of which were women and children. The hundreds of diplomats, gun-control activists and representatives attending the meeting hope to formulate a plan, that although not legally binding, will lead to the development of national systems to regulate arms brokers and exports. Many also support a plan that would require small arms manufacturers to mark the weapons they produce so their movements can be traced. [United States Department of State, 7/9/2001; CNN, 7/10/2001]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton
          

July 23, 2001-July 25, 2001

       The twenty-fourth negotiating session convenes to negotiate a proposal to add an enforcement and verification protocol to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. For three days, representatives from more than 50 member-states speak favorably of ending the negotiations and adopting the protocol. The mechanism would require member-states to annually declare their biodefense facilities and programs as well as any industrial facilities with capabilities to produce microbial cultures in quantity. Additionally, all member-states would be subject to random inspections of any plant where biological weapons could be made. Inspections would also be conducted if a facility is suspected of illegally producing bioweapons; there are allegations of bioweapons use; or in the event of a disease outbreak suspected to be the result of the activities of a bioweapons facility. But on July 25, US Ambassador Donald Mahley announces that the US will block any consensus on the proposed changes to the convention. “The United States has concluded that the current approach to a protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention . . . is not, in our view, capable of . . . strengthening confidence in compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention,” he says. “We will therefore be unable to support the current text, even with changes.” US opposition to the convention is based on fears that inspections of US facilities might harm the profits of US biotech companies and impede the United States' current “biodefense” program. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/2003; Common Dreams, 8/5/02; CNN, 11/1/01; Counterpunch, 10/25/01 Sources: Statement by the United States to the Ad Hoc Group of Biological Weapons Convention States Parties]
People and organizations involved: Donald Mahley
          

November 19, 2001-December 7, 2001

       The Fifth Review Conference for the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention convenes in Geneva, Switzerland. The primary objective of the conference is to complete the negotiation of an enforcement and verification protocol. Member-states, known as the “Ad Hoc Group,” had previously attempted to do this during a forum in July, but the efforts had been blocked by the US (see July 23, 2001-July 25, 2001). The proposed change to the Convention would, among other things (see July 23, 2001-July 25, 2001), require mandatory inspections of any plant where biological weapons could be made—including sites located in the United States. For six years, the US has opposed this proposal. At the very end of the Review Conference, the Bush admininistration proposes to eliminate the Ad Hoc Group and terminate the protocol negotiations completely. The proposal is rejected by other members, but the action effectively blocks consensus on the conference's Final Declaration. To prevent the outright failure of the Review Conference, the chairman suspends negotiations until November 2002. [Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2/2002; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/2003; Common Dreams, 8/5/02]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

May 6, 2002

       The Bush administration effectively withdraws the US signature from the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court (ICC). In a letter to Secretary-General of the UN Kofi Annan, US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton writes: “This is to inform you, in connection with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on July 17, 1998, that the United States does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on December 31, 2000. The United States requests that its intention not to become a party, as expressed in this letter, be reflected in the depositary's status lists relating to this treaty.” [New York Times, 5/7/2002; United Nations, n.d. Sources: Letter from US to UN, 5/6/2002] The Bush administration defends its action, contending that the treaty infringes on US sovereignty because under its provisions an international prosecutor answerable to no one could initiate politically motivated or frivolous suits against US troops, military officers or officials. [New York Times, 5/7/2002; BBC, 7/13/2002] Bolton's letter is also intended to relieve the United States of its obligations under the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. That agreement prohibits the signatories of international treaties from taking steps to undermine the treaties they sign, even if they have not ratified them. [New York Times, 5/7/2002]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Kofi Annan, John R. Bolton
          

May 8, 2002-May 10, 2002

       In New York, the first UN Children's Summit adopts an action plan to improve children's lives in the coming decade. One of the Summit's most notable achievements is a plan to reduce the mortality rates of infants and children under five, and of mothers after childbirth, by at least one third by 2010. Certain issues are hotly debated during the Summit. For example, the US sides with the Vatican, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Iraq in arguing for language promoting sexual abstinence before marriage and traditional family values and against the inclusion of any statement in the Summit's final declaration sanctioning abortion. The US wants the final document to include a footnote that specifically excludes abortion from a passage stating that children have a right to “reproductive health services.” As a compromise, the final agreement drops any reference to “services.” Also, at the insistence of the Bush administration, the final document excludes the United States from a requirement prohibiting the death penalty or life imprisonment for those under the age of 18. The US also successfully argues for the removal of a resolution condemning Israel for violence against Palestinian children and the deprivation of their human rights. [Associated Press, 5/11/2002; BBC, 5/11/2002; BBC, 5/8/2002; Nation, 1/16/2002] The Bush administration also opposes referring to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child as a global “standard” for children's rights. [Associated Press, 5/11/2002] The 1989 Convention established a child's right to good quality education, protection from abuse and healthcare, outlawed child labor and child trafficking, and prohibited nations from enlisting children under the age of 15 in their armed services. [BBC, 9/18/1999; UNICEF, n.d.; BBC, 11/8/1999 Sources: Convention on the Rights of the Child] It was signed by the US, but neither the Clinton nor Bush administration has submitted the convention to Congress for ratification. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most universally accepted human rights instrument in history. The only other country that hasn't ratified it is Somalia, which is unable to because it has no recognized government. [Associated Press, 5/11/2002; BBC, 9/18/1999; UNICEF, n.d.; BBC, 11/8/1999]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

June 2002

       The Bush administration submits a proposed resolution to the UN Security Council that would grant indefinite immunity from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) (see July 17, 1998) to all UN peacekeeping military personnel who are from nations that do not accept the court?s jurisdiction. The proposal appeals to Article 16 of the Rome Statute which stipulates that the UN Security Council can grant deferrals on a temporary, case-by-case basis for nationals accused of war crimes who are from countries not party to the treaty. The US recommends that this provision for conditional immunity be universally pre-applied to all cases involving US military personnel engaged in UN peacekeeping. Immunity would be granted for a period of 12 months—but automatically and unconditionally renewed every year. As such, US troops would effectively be exempt from the jurisdiction of the ICC since it would take a UN Security Council resolution to end the automatic renewals and since the US holds veto power in the council. [Boston Globe, 7/1/2002; Independent, 7/4/2002; New York Times, 7/11/2002; Boston Globe, 5/23/2002] The US proposal is backed by threats that the US will withdraw its troops from international peacekeeping missions, starting with Bosnia (see June 30, 2002), and block funds to those missions as well. [Boston Globe, 5/23/2002; Agence France Presse, 7/10/2002]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton, Kofi Annan, Bush administration
          

June 30, 2002

       The Bush administration vetoes a UN Security Council Resolution that would have extended the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia for the next six months. The Council however agrees to extend the mission's mandate for 72 hours, during which time it hopes members will be able to resolve a dispute with the US. [Boston Globe, 7/1/2002; BBC, 7/1/2002 [a]; BBC, 7/1/2002 [a]] The Bush administration vetoed the resolution because UN Security Council members did not accept a proposal (see June 2002) that would grant indefinite immunity from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) (see July 17, 1998) (which opens on this day) to all UN peacekeeping military personnel who are from nations that do not accept the court?s jurisdiction. Explaining Washington's veto, US Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte explains, “With our global responsibilities, we are and will remain a special target, and cannot have our decisions second-guessed by a court whose jurisdiction we do not recognize.” [Boston Globe, 7/1/2002; BBC, 7/1/2002 [a]; BBC, 7/1/2002 [b]] If a compromise cannot be reached, UN peacekeeping forces will have to leave Bosnia. A failure to renew the UN mandated mission in Bosnia could also affect Nato's 19,000-strong Stabilization Force in Bosnia, or S-For, which includes 3,100 Americans. “Although S-For does not legally require a Security Council mandate, some of the 19 countries contributing to it have indicated they will withdraw their troops without one,” the BBC reports. [BBC, 7/1/2002 [a]]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, John Negroponte
          

July 3, 2002

       The UN Security Council extends the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia while its members continue to debate over a US proposal to grant all UN peacekeeping military personnel from countries not party to the Rome Statute (see July 17, 1998) immunity from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) (see July 17, 1998). The Bush administration has made it clear that it will not support the UN mandated mission in Bosnia if the Security Council does not accept its proposal . [Agence France Presse, 7/9/2002]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

July 12, 2002

       After much debate, the UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1422 under pressure from the United States. The resolution delays, for a period of twelve months, the prosecution and investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of any UN peacekeeping personnel accused of war crimes. After one year, the delay can be extended with the passage of another resolution. The privilege applies only to personnel from states that are not party to the Rome Statue. [New York Times, 7/13/2002 Sources: UN Resolution 1422] The US had previously demanded a permanent exemption (see June 2002), which was strongly opposed by the other members. The US proposed Resolution 1422 as a compromise and threatened to block future resolutions extending UN peacekeeping missions, beginning with ones in Bosnia and the Croatian peninsula of Prevlaka, if the Security Council did not adopt it. [New York Times, 7/11/2002; New York Times, 7/12/2002; New York Times, 7/13/2002] Immediately after adopting Resolution 1422, the council extends the mandates for the two UN peacekeeping missions. [New York Times, 7/13/2002] Afterwards, John Negroponte states: “Should the ICC eventually seek to detain any American, the United States would regard this as illegitimate—and it would have serious consequences. No nation should underestimate our commitment to protect our citizens.” [New York Times, 7/13/2002]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, John Negroponte
          

August 2002-July 1, 2003

       More than 50 countries sign “Article 98” agreements with the US under threat of losing US military aid. Article 98 agreements, so called because the US claims they have a legal basis in Article 98 of the Rome Statute (see July 17, 1998), are bilateral immunity agreements (BIA) that prohibit both parties from extraditing the other's current or former government officials, military and other personnel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) . With the exception of a few close allies, countries that are party to the ICC (see July 17, 1998) and have not signed the agreements will become ineligible for US military aid when on July 1, 2003 (see July 1, 2003) Section 2007 of the American Servicemembers? Protection Act (see August 2, 2002) goes into effect. The Bush administration hopes that the “Article 98” agreements will protect US troops and officials from being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for any alleged war crimes committed in a country that is party to the court. Critics say the BIAs are inexcusable attempts to gain impunity from war crimes. Some countries sign the agreement despite popular opposition and ask the Bush administration not to make the agreements public. [New York Times, 8/7/2002; New York Times, 8/10/2002; CNS News, 8/5/2002; Coalition for the International Criminal Court, 9/2003]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

August 2, 2002

       US President George Bush signs the American Servicemembers? Protection Act (HR 4775), making it Public Law 107-206. Section 2007, written by Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, prohibits the United States from providing military assistance to any nation that is party to the International Criminal Court (see July 17, 1998). Only countries that receive a special waiver from the president or that sign so-called “Article 98” agreements (see August 2002-July 1, 2003) will be exempt from the prohibition. The exemption is also extended to a select few other counties (Taiwan, NATO members, and “major non-NATO allies” like Australia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Argentina, the Republic of Korea, and New Zealand). Section 2007 will go into effect on July 1, 2003, one year after the Rome Statute entered into force. Section 2008 of HR 4775 gives the president authority to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any person ... being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court.” [New York Times, 8/10/2002 Sources: American Servicemembers' Protection Act, HR 4775]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Tom DeLay
          

August 28, 2002

       Israel effectively withdraws its signature from the Rome Statute (see July 17, 1998). In a letter to the UN, the Israeli government writes, “[I]n connection with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on 17 July 1998, ... Israel does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, Israel has no legal obligations arising from its signature on 31 December 2000. Israel requests that its intention not to become a party, as expressed in this letter, be reflected in the depositary's status lists relating to this treaty.” [United Nations, n.d.]
          

July 1, 2003

       In compliance with the American Servicemembers? Protection Act (HR 4775) (see August 2, 2002), the Bush administration halts over $47 million in military aid to 35 countries that are party to the International Criminal Court. The only ICC signatories that are exempt from the measure are countries that have signed bilateral “Article 98” agreements (see August 2002-July 1, 2003) with the US or that qualify for exemption under the provisions of the Act. [BBC, 7/2/2003; CNN, 7/2/2003; New York Times, 7/2/2003; Washington Times, 7/2/2003]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

December 8, 2004

       President Bush signs into law the 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act 2005 setting a $338 billion budget for “Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs.” Section 574 of the Act (see August 2, 2002) blocks the distribution of economic aid to countries that are party to the Rome Statute (see July 17, 1998) and have not signed “Article 98” agreements (see August 2002-July 1, 2003) with the US. The provision states: “None of the funds made available in this Act in title II under the heading `Economic Support Fund' may be used to provide assistance to the government of a country that is a party to the International Criminal Court and has not entered into an agreement with the United States pursuant to Article 98 of the Rome Statute preventing the International Criminal Court from proceeding against United States personnel present in such country.” [Washington Post, 11/26/2002; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 12/3/2004 Sources: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005, HR 4818]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          


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