Trump Administration Cancels Two More International Treaties

Harut Sassounian
Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN

I wrote an article in September criticizing the Trump administration’s dismissal of the International Criminal Court. I considered the U.S. action to be a lack of respect for justice and the rule of law.

Last week, the Trump administration took two more scandalous actions further flouting international law and avoiding the peaceful option of legal recourse to conflict resolution.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States was terminating the Treaty of Amity signed in 1955 between the U.S. and Iran, after a unanimous ruling on October 3, 2018, by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, that the United States had to resume the export of humanitarian goods and spare parts for civil aviation safety services to Iran, despite U.S. sanctions. This was certainly a victory for Iran as it had sued the United States in the World Court. The U.S. withdrawal from the treaty made it look like a sore loser!

President Trump renewed the U.S. sanctions after withdrawing this May from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and several other major powers. The sanctions covered dollar transactions, food exports and sales of aluminum and steel. In November, the U.S. will add new sanctions against Iran’s oil sales, energy and shipping sectors and foreign financial transactions.

After the verdict, ICJ President Abdulqawi Yusuf announced that “the court’s order applies to medicines and medical devices; foodstuffs and agricultural commodities; and spare parts, equipment and repair services for civil aviation. The United States must also ensure that licenses and authorizations are granted and that payment for such goods and services are not subject to any restrictions,” the Washington Post reported.

Although the rulings of the International Court of Justice are binding, they are not enforceable. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, during his appearance at the White House press briefing on Oct. 3, stated that Iran had “made a mockery” of the Amity Treaty. In response, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the United States “an outlaw regime.”

Ironically, the United States files cases against other countries in the International Court of Justice when it suits its interests. Back in 1979, the United States sued the government of Iran after the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by Iranian militants. The U.S. won that case and the ICJ ordered Iran to release all American hostages and pay compensation. It is strange that the United States government is now cancelling its treaty with Iran and not in 1979 during the hostage crisis!

The Washington Post reported that “during meetings at the United Nations last week, Trump, Pompeo and Bolton railed against Iran and berated various other member states and U.N. bodies for not bending to American interests. Their approach elicited an icy reaction. At a Security Council session chaired by President Trump, every other member of the U.N.’s most powerful body scolded Washington for its rejection of the nuclear deal, an agreement the council had endorsed.”

On Oct. 3, 2018, Bolton also announced that the United States would withdraw from the “optional protocol” under the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations. This decision was prompted by the filing of an ICJ complaint in September 2018 by the Palestinian Authority against the United States for moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Vienna Convention is an international treaty which sets out diplomatic relations between states and provides immunity to diplomats. Ironically, Bolton stated: “the United States remains a party to the underlying Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and we expect all other parties to abide by their international obligations under the convention.”

Bolton further announced that the United States will review all other international agreements to safeguard U.S. sovereignty. In less than two years of Trump’s presidency, the United States has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, the global climate agreement, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, threatened to distance itself from NATO, left the UN Human Rights Council, and cut off funding to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) which has been providing humanitarian aid to millions of Palestinian refugees for the past 70 years!

Constitutional lawyers may question the legal right of the Trump administration to abrogate international treaties which are ratified by the U.S. Senate. Shouldn’t the Senate give its consent to the White House before it withdraws from such treaties? In the first 189 years of America’s history, 40 treaties were abrogated after both houses of Congress agreed to do so. Just two treaties were abrogated by the Senate only, after a vote by two-thirds of its members. Unfortunately, in recent years, due to congressional ineptitude and historical inactivity, the Executive Branch has taken the initiative of unilaterally abrogating international treaties. This is an issue that the U.S. Congress should review, particularly if Democrats win the majority, in order to restrain President Trump’s arbitrary decisions which embarrass the United States in the eyes of the world.

Hopefully, the next more responsible U.S. President will reverse Trump’s deeply flawed decisions on international agreements and other vital issues.

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5 Comments

  1. State of Emergency said:

    It’s called political and economic pressure, in other words, the means justify the ends. World order has been misaligned for decades and without such draconian measures it will continue to be misaligned. Despots, oligarchs, and corrupt dictatorial regimes only understand the language of brute force. After all, they’re all very well versed in trampling the rights of their respective minorities. They’ll be compelled to change only when it threatens their grip on power, otherwise, no amount of sweet talk will work.

  2. HAGOP said:

    TRUMP NEEDS TO CARE ABOUT ONE COUNTRY: THE USA. AS A CITIZEN OF THE USA, THAT’S THE ONLY COUNTRY YOU NEED TO CARE ABOUT TOO!!!!

    TRUMP’S PRESSURE ON THE FILTHY TURKS JUST RELEASED THE U.S. PASTOR ANDREW BRUNSON TODAY!!!

    TRUMP ALSO RELEASED MORE AID TO ARMENIA AND ARTSAKH!!!! FROM A NEWS SOURCE CALLED HETQ: Today, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard M. Mills, Jr., was pleased to announce an increase in U.S. assistance funding for Armenia. The United States recently provided more than $14 million in additional foreign assistance resources for initiatives in Armenia following the political transition, and in the coming year the U.S. government intends to provide more than $26 million in FY 2018 foreign assistance funds, an increase of approximately $20 million above what had been requested for Armenia. These funds will support priority programs in the political processes, anti-corruption, civil society, and independent media sectors. Funds will also advance the Administration’s foreign policy priorities to increase business and trade opportunities for American and Armenian companies including by supporting energy reforms as well as Armenia’s fast-growing information technology industry.

    EVERY ARMENIAN MUST VOTE FOR REPUBLICS THIS NOVEMBER. THE ANCA IS SUPPORTING DISGUSTING LIBERALS UP AND DOWN THE STATE!!!! DEMOCRATS ARE ANTI-ARMENIAN!! THEY SUPPORT ABORTION (KILLING ARMENIAN BABIES)!! THEY SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGES (DESTROYING ARMENIAN FAMILIES!!!!!) THEY HATE RELIGION (DESTROYING THE ARMENIAN CHURCH)!!! THEY LOVE HIGH TAXES (DESTROY ARMENIAN BUSINESSES AND ENTREPRENEURS!!!) EVERYTHING ABOUT DEMOCRATS IS ANTI-ARMENIAN.

    ARMENIANS VOTE REPUBLICAN.

    • Bob said:

      Yes, but where are they? In my town I only see a Turkish cultural center. Haven’t found any Armenian organized presence around here

    • Raffi said:

      ….and they are financed by Jewish interests, Israel so far not even recognized the Genocide, I agree EVERYTHING ABOUT DEMOCRATS IS ANTI-ARMENIAN.

  3. Gagik Melikyan said:

    Trump is doing what is right for his country, and for doing so, he should be respected. Where are Armenian republican politicians whom we could wholeheartedly support? Whoever is on the political arena do not deserve our support for multiple reasons.

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