International Treaties

Don't Forfeit American Leadership at the UN

The United Nations provides a platform for nations to work together to establish international norms, standards, and agreements in the common interest of all nations. In recent decades, the UN has facilitated negotiation of critical international treaties on issues ranging from trade and commerce to the environment and human rights.

While, historically, the United States has played a leading role in fostering the development of international law, the U.S. has thus far failed to ratify several important international conventions negotiated under the auspices of the UN, including: the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Provided below is a list of recent developments on an array of important international agreements established under the auspices of the UN.

  • In September 2011, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher stated that one of the Administration's "highest priorities is the ratification and entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear- Test-Ban Treaty." In addition, in late August 2011, the U.S. made an $8.9 million voluntary contribution to accelerate development of the treaty's verification regime.
  • In July 2011, in honor of the 21st anniversary of enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, President Obama issued a proclamation reiterating the U.S.'s commitment to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which it signed in 2009.
  • In response to increasing assertiveness by China in regards to its territorial claims in the South China Sea, a major conduit for international trade, Secretary of State Clinton stated in November that the U.S. wanted the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to be "used as the overriding framework for handling territorial disputes" between China and its neighbors. Earlier in the year, Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, stated in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee that it is "essential that the United States become a full party" to the Law of the Sea Treaty.
  • In a March 2010 report to the UN Human Rights Council, the State Department reiterated its support for CEDAW and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and stated that the Administration intended to review how they could move forward on ratification.
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