The [UN] Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If it lost ten stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference - John Bolton, US Ambassador to the UN 2005-2006
How much has US thinking changed about prospects for international cooperation, multilateralism and all that good stuff about being a responsible member of the world community? To be honest, not all that much. The infamous Bush appointee John Bolton once said that blowing up the top ten stories of the UN wouldn't make a difference in world affairs. Conservative media certainly hasn't stopped its crusade against the UN. Although Obama and his foreign policy officials are nowhere near as brazen in speech, in practice nothing much has changed. The US remains the only developed country not to sign on to the convention against discrimination against women, has not joined the International Criminal Court, has not joined the land mines ban...the list goes on and on. From keeping Guantanamo Bay open to conducting drone strikes and extraordinary rendition--there is a UN treaty on enforced disappearance the US has deliberately chosen to ignore--America's roguish streak against international law is evident. As I've said, the UN should be anywhere but New York.
Obama is actually more appalling than Bush in the sense that he pretends to be cosmopolitan and internationalist when, in reality, US foreign policy remains largely unchanged. In hindsight, we should probably appreciate Bush's candour about us being either with the US or against it. Practically speaking, Obama defines American national interest the same way Bush does, but is not as forthright in saying so. Such deception may fool committee members who gave Obama a Nobel Peace Prize for "not being Bush," but I would like to think that we are not so easily deceived.
Recently, the International Labour Organization's (ILO) Maritime Labour Convention [MLC] came into force on 20 August 2013. With 49 countries already signed on, it demonstrates that many states value the contributions of seafarers to making globalization possible. By shifting goods vast distances, they provide an essential service to the world economy. But does the United States value their contributions? To no one's surprise, one of the major holdouts in legislatively ratifying the MLC is the US of A:
Before the U.S. Senate can vote on the issue, however, the
administration of President Barack Obama must formally sign the
convention and then request the Senate to authorise its ratification.
Currently, an inter-agency advisory panel is looking at the specifics.
“The U.S. government believes the MLC is an important addition to
protect workers at sea, and we welcome its entry into force for 30
countries this week,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson told IPS. “The United States was actively involved in the negotiations, and we
supported its adoption in 2006. At present we are reviewing the
convention to determine whether to submit the convention to the Senate
for its advice and consent.”
That review is being coordinated by the U.S. Coast Guard. While the
Coast Guard did not respond to IPS requests for comment, analysts have
suggested that the agency does support ratification, as the MLC offers a
potent tool to crack down on ships in U.S. waters that are failing to
adhere to international standards. “It will be very important for the U.S. to ratify this convention, as
doing so will go a long way towards eliminating substandard vessels
from international commerce more generally,” the Centre for Seafarers’
Rights’s Stevenson says. “Further, given the size of the U.S. economy,
it is almost impossible to make money operating a major ship without
going through the United States.”
It is fair to say that shipborne cargo makes the world go round since it carries 90% of world trade. So, why
this self-proclaimed champion for human rights choose to ignore the
rights of those who labour to bring so many goods to America? Last I
checked, the United States remains by far the world's largest importing
Like "Internet Freedom," I guess this is just another instance of American hypocrisy about so very many things. On binding international treaties, the US is a non-entity. How did that saying go...all hat, no cattle? When it comes to stepping up to the plate by signing on to treaties to observe various rights, America quite frankly doesn't give a damn.