Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Must Accept Its Foreign Obligations

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Must Accept Its Foreign Obligations

Article excerpt

Two recent intrusions by world organizations into America's domestic affairs raise serious questions regarding United States international obligations.

A report authorized by the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) has accused the US of unfair, arbitrary, and racist use of the death penalty. The report - prepared by a Senegalese, Bacre Waly Ndiaye - was preliminary to a vote of the commission calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty; the US opposed the moratorium, along with China, Congo, and the Sudan.

On April 14, Paraguayan citizen Angel Francisco Breard, was executed in Virginia despite interventions by the International Court of Justice. The Court's appeal pointed out that the Commonwealth of Virginia had not, as international law requires, notified Paraguayan consular authorities of Breard's arrest. The requirement notification, codified in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, is a universally recognized obligation. Americans, perhaps because of their colonial heritage, have never been friendly to external interventions in their affairs. The problem is exacerbated today by negative attitudes toward the UN. Sen. Jesse Helms, Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, attacked the UNHRC report as a "UN charade" and urged the State Department to refuse to cooperate with any investigation. His views are probably shared by many others in the Congress. Congressional resentment of the UN is at a peak. The debate over whether the US should pay back-dues to the UN, combined with criticism of Secretary General Kofi Annan's efforts in Baghdad, have demonstrated the deep antagonism toward the UN in the US legislature. Many in the US speak of the UN as if it were another sovereign body threatening America. It is not. It is an international body to which the US belongs and in which the US has a strong measure of control through a veto in the Security Council. Membership in the international community also carries obligations. The problem would not be as serious if the question related solely to intervention by multinational organizations in US affairs. The US itself intervenes in the affairs of other nations and looks to other nations to abide by international law where US citizens are concerned. …

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