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Bush fires a warning shot

By Henry Lamb
web posted May 13, 2002

George W. BushGeorge Bush fired a shot across the bow of the United Nations last Monday, when he ordered Undersecretary of State, John R. Bolton, to withdraw the signature of the U.S. from the treaty which created the International Criminal Court. The curt, one-paragraph letter to Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, says the "United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature," which was attached by the Clinton administration, just hours before the December 31, 2000 deadline.

The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties requires that signature nations do nothing to interfere with the treaty, even if it is not ratified. This too, is a treaty signed, but not ratified by the U.S. Several other treaties also fall into this category: The Convention on Rights of the Child, and two optional protocols, signed by Clinton, but not ratified; the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, signed, but not ratified, and others. U.S. signature on these unratified treaties should be unambiguously withdrawn as well.

Bush's unprecedented action has been roundly criticized by the European Community, and by "progressives" in the United States. Critics contend that the withdrawal signals to the world that the U.S. is not interested in multilateral participation in international justice.

The message that should be taken from Bush's courageous action is this: The U.S. is not interested in surrendering its sovereignty to any global authority.

This action is an exclamation point behind Bush's earlier withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, the walkout from the U.N. Conference on Human Rights at Durban, and the administration's insistence that all references to a Global Taxing Authority be removed from the final report of the U.N. High Level Panel on Financing Development.

This is the right message to send to the U.N., and it is long overdue.

We have already surrendered sovereignty to the World Trade Organization which has consistently ruled against U.S. interests. We have already surrendered sovereignty to UNESCO by agreeing (through memoranda, not treaties) to manage land and resources according to principles set forth in the "Seville Strategy," and other U.N. documents. The U.S. should withdraw from these sovereignty-sapping U.N. institutions as well.

While Bush is saying "no-deal" to the U.N., he is saying to the world that the U.S. is not only willing, but eager to work with other nations to rid the world of terrorism, to help war-torn nations rebuild their infrastructures; to help people - who now live under the oppressive reign of dictators - discover the principles of freedom that makes the U.S. the envy of the world.

It's time to put the U.N.-genie back into its original bottle: a forum in which sovereign nations can discuss their differences and agree on cooperative activities. The U.N. should have no "enforcement" authority for anything. The U.N. should have no "regulatory" authority for anything. The U.N. should have no "taxing" authority under any disguise. The U.N. should have no military capability. The U.N. should have no legislative authority.

In fact, the U.N. should become the I.F. - International Forum. Period.

Fantasies of equitable per-capita redistribution of the earth's resources, under the benevolent care of the United Nations - are pipe dreams. Such fantasies camouflage inevitable global oppression that despises individual freedom, and human achievement, and instead, champions individual compliance and group harmony. Neither Nations, nor individual people, should be managed. Freedom results in voluntary cooperation.

Of course, there are bad actors, Osama bin Laden, for example. The United Nations' only concern should be to provide a facility for U.S. officials to consult with officials from other sovereign nations to develop strategy and plans for sovereign nations to act. Such plans and action do not require the approval of the U.N.

The creation of the International Criminal Court is only the most recent blatant example of U.N. aspirations to become the government for the world. The President, and Congress, should make it abundantly clear to the world, that the United States will not allow the U.N. to consolidate its power into a world government, which they choose to call "global governance."

Every candidate for every office in the mid-term elections should be asked to declare whether they support or oppose Bush's decisions to withdraw from the ICC and from the Kyoto Protocol. Any response other than an unequivocal "support," should be interpreted as a willingness to surrender U.S. sovereignty to a foreign entity.

President Bush has fired his warning shot. If the United Nations continues on its present course, it will be up to ordinary citizens, through the candidates they elect, to aim more accurately at the U.N. when the next shot is fired.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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