Reclaiming Global Environmental Leadership: Why the United States Should Ratify Ten Pending Environmental Treaties

Center for Progressive Reform White Paper No. 1201

48 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2012

See all articles by Mary Jane Angelo

Mary Jane Angelo

University of Florida Levin College of Law

Rebecca M. Bratspies

City University of New York - School of Law

David B. Hunter

American University - Washington College of Law

John H. Knox

Wake Forest University - School of Law

Noah Sachs

University of Richmond School of Law

Sandra B. Zellmer

University of Montana - Alexander Blewett III School of Law

Date Written: January 2012

Abstract

For more than a century, the United States has taken the lead in organizing international responses to international environmental problems. In the last two decades, however, U.S. environmental leadership has faltered. The best-known example is the lack of an effective response to climate change, underscored by the U.S. decision not to join the Kyoto Protocol. But that is not the only shortfall. The United States has also failed to join a large and growing number of treaties directed at other environmental threats, including marine pollution, the loss of biological diversity, persistent organic pollutants, and trade in toxic substances.

This white paper identifies ten of these critical, pending environmental treaties and explains their importance and the actions needed to fully join them. The failure of the United States to join these treaties undermines global environmental protection and undermines U.S. interests in protecting a wide range of natural resources. The treaties set out standards and create institutions designed to find and implement solutions to problems of critical importance. They have attracted support from other countries, including our closest allies. Indeed, several are among the most widely ratified treaties in history. In every case, the regimes these treaties have established are less successful without U.S. membership than they could be with the full engagement of the country with the largest economy and the largest environmental impact.

Keywords: albatrosses and petrels, Antarctic Liability Annex, Basel Convention, Biodiversity Convention, London Dumping Convention, Plant Genetic Resources Treaty, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, Convention on the Law of the Sea

Suggested Citation

Angelo, Mary Jane and Bratspies, Rebecca M. and Hunter, David B. and Knox, John H. and Sachs, Noah and Zellmer, Sandra B., Reclaiming Global Environmental Leadership: Why the United States Should Ratify Ten Pending Environmental Treaties (January 2012). Center for Progressive Reform White Paper No. 1201. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2079630

Mary Jane Angelo

University of Florida Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States
352-273-0944 (Phone)
352-392-3005 (Fax)

Rebecca M. Bratspies

City University of New York - School of Law ( email )

2 Court Square
Long Island City, NY 11101
United States

David B. Hunter

American University - Washington College of Law ( email )

4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

John H. Knox (Contact Author)

Wake Forest University - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 7206
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States

Noah Sachs

University of Richmond School of Law ( email )

28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA 23173
United States
804-289-8555 (Phone)

Sandra B. Zellmer

University of Montana - Alexander Blewett III School of Law ( email )

Missoula, MT 59812-0002
United States
406-243-6653 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.umt.edu/law/faculty/directory/default.php?ID=5355

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