Human Rights Treaties: Why is the U.S. Stalling?

Twenty years of effort by the United Nations to give vitality and concrete form to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be celebrated in 1968, designated by the General Assembly as International Human Rights Year. From 1945 to 1948 the United States delegation led the movement for the enactment of the Declaration as the embodiment of basic democratic political ideas. But since then, while the United Nations has been struggling to establish global norms of conduct, the United States has been the chief laggard in translating them into international law. At the present time the U.S. Senate has yet to ratify a single human rights treaty.

By next year the United Nations and its specialized agencies will have completed about a dozen conventions on human rights, including one banning religious intolerance (scheduled for adoption in the 1967 session of the Assembly), and the twin covenants on civil and political rights and on economic, social and cultural rights. Thereafter the focus of the effort will shift to methods and machinery for effectively implementing the measures.

When it established International Human Rights Year the General Assembly singled out nine conventions which all member states were specifically "invited" to ratify "before 1968." Failure to ratify will no doubt limit a government's effectiveness in the U.N.-sponsored intergovernmental conference to be held in Tehran in the spring of 1968. There stress will be placed upon procedures for implementation, and treaty abstainers, however shielded by legalisms, can expect to be made acutely uncomfortable. One of these will be the United States unless the Administration takes vigorous steps this year to overcome the "lingering Brickeritis" that has afflicted the Senate for well over a decade.

The failure of the United States to ratify human rights treaties has seriously embarrassed the conduct of its policy at the United Nations and prevented it from effectively championing the rule of law on an international scale. On almost every occasion when we have advanced or supported proposals for the protection of human rights, our

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