Saturday, August 25, 2007

Reagan and the Genocide Convention In Theory

The Theoretical Underpinnings for Ratification of the Genocide Convention

In analyzing the reasons that the Convention was finally passed when it did, many have correctly noted that one of the changes that had occurred during Reagan’s Presidency was the reversal of the American Bar Association, which now came to wholeheartedly support ratification. Otherwise, the situation was not dissimilar to previous Presidencies where the fault lines ran not across party affiliation but largely between the executive and legislative centers of power. Having said that, one can analyze various trends which can be helpful in discerning additional clues explaining the successful ratification of the Convention when it took place.

First, one can take note of the weakening of the Reagan regime in terms of power to influence policy legislation relative to Congress. This can have a few consequences. For example, some have theorized that historically, as the United States increased their strength in sheer power and influence, so did their tendency to impose rules on others but not abide by these same rules themselves. By reversing the logic then and given that their American position in Latin America and elsewhere was under attack both domestically and internationally, one can conclude that the tendency to ratify multilateral agreements increased. Another more direct consequence of the administrations weakening is its inability to dictate policies to Congress, some have suggested, it that this led to Reagan cooperating with Congress on Human Rights issues and the genocide Convention.

This is in fact very agreeable with the "political struggle" model of American Foreign Policy making which identifies cyclical fluctuation between the ascendancy of “Congressional ‘micromanagement’ and Presidential ‘Caeserism.’" Second, some political theorists have tentatively identified a cyclical pattern of ratification of International Treaties. For example, McFarland has identified a cycle of action whereby post-war periods see a reduction in the amount of Extradition Treaties the United States signs, which the author then extrapolates to multilateral agreements in general. The author also correctly points to the extent that American society has historically been one which emphasizes the law as an agreed-upon instrument for social cohesion.

Reagan, it could be argued, was an internationalist: by the end of his presidency, the Senate under Reagan’s leadership had ratified some 20 multilateral agreements including many he signed himself, whilst others were outstanding from previous administrations

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