Human Rights and the United States
Recently, in a television interview, President-Elect Obama noted that the United States needed to “regain America’s moral stature in the world” through closing the Guantanamo Bay complex.
An additional step that President-Elect Obama could take would be to encourage the United States to ratify major United Nations human rights treaties. Most Americans may be surprised to learn that the United States, despite being a founding member of the United Nations, has not ratified any of the five major treaties on human rights. This fact is perhaps more striking when one considers that each of these five treaties (International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Protocol II Additional to the Geneva Conventions, Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Declaration of the Rights of the Child, Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change) have more than 150 nations who have ratified these treaties.
Earlier this year, a book was published on how the United States is a “leading rogue state” of human rights and more recently, an article was published exploring why some nations ratify treaties and others do not.
The Leading Rogue State: The United States and Human Rights
I agree wholeheartedly. Of course, that the US has managed to get away with not ratifying for so long does suggest that there is a limited international value to doing so. I think that ratification would be a great first step towards eliminating some of the NATIONAL rights violations and help rights movements that are currently being set back by the US (gay rights & prop 8 would be a classic example).