The US record of violating or dissolving key international treaties
It is no secret that the modern globalised world is increasingly dependent on the quality of states implementing international agreements that regulate relations between countries. This is of particular importance in fields such as human rights, the environment, and, of course, disarmament and WMD prohibition.
The United States and the Western political circles, the self-styled architects of the “new world order,” constantly violate or drag their feet on the signing of fundamental international agreements. For example, the US ratified the 1948 Genocide Convention only 40 years after its signing. It has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The United States has repeatedly violated principles of the UN Charter. For example, that state launched an armed invasion of Grenada in 1983. UN General Assembly Resolution 37/8 described the US action as a gross violation of international law. In 1986, the US made an assault on Libya and invaded Panama in 1989. Both misdeeds were condemned by the UN General Assembly which qualified them as violations of international law.
The International Court of Justice also denounced US violations of the UN Charter. It passed a well-known verdict on Nicaragua vs. the US in 1986, stating directly that the United States had violated Nicaragua’s sovereignty and the norms on non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs and non-use of force.
The irresponsible attitude to the UN Charter on the part of the United States and its allies, translated into the bombing attacks on Yugoslavia in 1999 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In March 2011, the US spearheaded NATO’s intervention in Libya, which led to that country’s complete disintegration. An illegal interference in the form of illegitimate air strikes and arms supplies to nongovernmental armed groups spurred on the growth of radical sentiments in Syria, which eventually helped the emergence of a global community of militants and terrorists. America’s absolutely ill-conceived, short-sighted and illegal actions in Iraq as well as the region as a whole have in some way or other facilitated the emergence of the Islamic State. The consequences of US interference in Libya and Syria are amazing in their scale.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed in 1970 and supported by practically all countries with the exception of Cuba, India, Pakistan and Israel. The treaty outlined a strategic goal, the renunciation of nuclear weapons. Apart from other things, it provided for nuclear states pledging not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear powers. The US claims that it “performs” its NPT obligations but the worrisome situation linked to Washington’s failure to comply with some key provisions of the treaty is still there. The United States continues to engage NATO’s European non-nuclear countries in so-called joint nuclear missions. These “missions” include elements of nuclear planning and skill enhancement drills in how to use nuclear weapons, drills involving non-nuclear NATO countries’ carrier aircraft, air crews, airfield infrastructure and ground support services. All of this is a direct violation of NPT articles 1 and 2. In 2002, certain high-ranking US military officers went on record as saying that they allowed the use of nuclear munitions against non-nuclear states or terrorists.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) has been discussed over a period of four decades and signed in 1996. It bans all nuclear explosions, for both civilian and military purposes, in all environments – underground, ground, water, air and outer space. The Treaty was signed by 44 countries possessing nuclear infrastructure. The US and China signed but failed to ratify it. For over 20 years, it was not possible to bring this crucial international treaty into effect. Given that the non-treaty countries take their cues from the United States in the matter of joining the CTBT, Washington’s stagnant stance is the main obstacle standing in the way of tuning the Treaty into a valid international legal instrument.
In 1972, the USA and the USSR signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT) that created a mutual assured destruction system. Neither the USSR, nor the USA could attack each other, for a response was sure to destroy the aggressor. Thus, a missile attack automatically became an act of suicide, with the so-called “strategic balance” being established between the two superpowers. This agreement was signed at Washington’s initiative. In 2001, US President George Bush declared that the Americans were unilaterally withdrawing from the agreement. The formal pretext for this step was that the United States wanted to secure itself against missile attacks from so-called “rogue countries” and terrorist groups. This could be taken for granted, if we didn’t see their strategic planning aimed at avoiding international commitments in the spheres where it was important for them to assure their total domination. This is a strategy. Therefore, their explanations that Russia allegedly is failing to live up to its commitments under some or other treaties are just subterfuges. Today I will familiarise you with the real history of US politicians’ behaviour in the area of international law.
Since then, the US efforts to put in place an antimissile system have most adversely affected the international security system, aggravating relations not only in the Euro-Atlantic but also in the Asia Pacific region, emerging as one of the most serious obstacles to the further stage-by-stage nuclear disarmament and creating dangerous prerequisites for a resumption of the nuclear armed race.
The next point is the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) which prohibits the development, production, transportation, diffusion and use of chemical weapons, as all of us well know. Apart from this, it provides for the creation of a complex and total international surveillance system. The US played a key role in drafting and signing this agreement. But it was and is doing its best to avoid international inspections as likely to threaten their national security interests. We have been hearing this explanation from Washington for many years. Some other countries have followed in the footsteps of the US.
The next agreement, Biological Weapons Convention, was signed in 1972 and came into force in 1975. It banned the development, production, stockpiling and acquisition of biological agents that could be used as weapons and of biological weapons proper. The Convention included a special protocol that banned the use of even tiny quantities of deadly microorganisms or toxins for research purposes. The US was rather a reluctant participant in efforts to reach an agreement on the Convention, while some senior US officials were in principle against the signing of the protocol as it would likely damage the interests of US microbiological research companies. In July 2001, Washington declared that it would not abide by the protocol until it was amended.
The next document is the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty which extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The aim of the Convention was to reduce industrial atmospheric emissions causing the so-called “greenhouse effect.” The “greenhouse effect,” in turn is believed to be one of the main causes of the global climate change. The US signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1992, but in 2001, the then US administration refused to comply with its provisions, saying that there was no unambiguous proof of the relationship between global warming processes and the amount of gaseous emissions. The Bush administration believed that implementing the Convention put the US industry in a quandary while not helping to fight the “greenhouse effect.”
I think it makes no sense to reiterate the information concerning the Paris Agreement. All of you know what has happened to it.
In assessing compliance with the obligations under Vienna Document 2011 (VD11) on confidence and security-building measures, the United States keeps reiterating the same accusations against Russia, citing “selective implementation” and “insufficient transparency.” However, this US dissatisfaction with Russia boils down to some vague concerns from 2014 in connection with “Russia's implementation of the document, including in relation to Ukraine.”
By groundlessly accusing Russia of “arming and training separatists in Eastern Ukraine and conducting joint military operations,” the United States and NATO countries have seriously discredited the role of this document as an instrument of objective control of the military activities of the OSCE member states.
The United States and its allies have repeatedly circumvented the restrictive provisions of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) through the NATO expansion everybody knows about. At the same time, they in every possible way avoided the renewal of the regime of conventional arms control (CAC) in Europe proposed by Russia in accordance with the new military and political realities on the continent. The most vivid confirmation of this, for example, is their refusal to ratify the Agreement on Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (adapted CFE).
In August 2018, the United States froze cooperation with Russia under the Treaty on Open Skies. Practically from the very moment of the signing of this document, Washington has been ignoring its requirements to work out special procedures for the aerial observation of its islands and territorial waters. Thus, for a long time a significant part of US territory was simply inaccessible for observation, which was a gross violation of the foundations of the Treaty. Only at the end of 2015 did Washington meet Russia’s requirements. However, the procedures for the Aleutian Islands still provide no possibility for the flight crews to rest there, which may adversely affect flight safety and significantly limit Russia’s ability to observe this part of US territory.
On August 31, the US authorities demanded the suspension of the work of the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco, the trade mission in Washington and its branch office in New York until September 2. After this, the buildings belonging to Russia were seized. According to many legal experts, these actions of the United States with respect to Russian diplomatic property are illegal because they violate the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
At the October 3 briefing, Assistant to the President of the United States for National Security Affairs John Bolton said the US was withdrawing from the Optional Protocol Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which allowed Convention violation disputes to be settled by the UN International Court of Justice in the Hague.
US President Donald Trump said Washington is withdrawing from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, which we have already talked about today.
This is a far-from-complete list of examples of how the US treats international law, international agreements. They are actually manipulating these documents depending on the current political situation and predominant interests in Washington.
Therefore, when we are told that the US is withdrawing from some agreement because we are not complying with something there – this is not true. Such excuses will not work.
This is just a small list of how they joined and withdrew from international agreements; signed but not ratified them; signed, ratified, but not complied with them; or modified agreements in their own way and taste. It can be expanded.