Never Joined, Never Ratified or Withdrew

This is a list of 15 significant international organizaitons and treaties "boycotted" -- for one reason or another -- by the US Government. The list is incomplete. Readers are encouraged to add any additional organization or treaty by sending email to geovisual at (The US State Department maintains an on-line list of 37 "Treaties Pending in the Senate," some of which are included below and most of which are not included below. Of course, it's a matter of personal opinion what treaties are "significant" and what are not.)

1919-1946 - League of Nations. "In the Treaty of Versailles, it was Woodrow Wilson, the president of America, that suggested that the League of Nations as part of his fourteen points... [It was] difficult...for the League to function without having the United States as a member. But it was a Republican majority in Congress that blocked the USA's entry into the League, not the President. It is now known that Wilson was very, very ill during vital periods at Versailles and afterwards and probably lacked the will to win Congress around."

June 26, 1945 - United Nations (UN). Charter signed in San Francisco. "Beginning in last decades of the Cold War, American & European critics of the UN condemned the organization for perceived mismanagement and corruption..." "Since 1985 the U.S. Congress has refused to authorize payment of the U.S. dues, in order to force UN compliance with U.S. wishes, as well as a reduction in the U.S. assessment. After prolonged negotiations, the U.S. and the UN negotiated an agreement whereby the United States would pay a large part of the money it owes, and in exchange the UN would reduce the assessment rate ceiling from 25% to 22%. The reduction in the assessment rate ceiling was among the reforms contained in the 1999 Helms-Biden legislation, which links payment of $926 million in U.S. arrears to the UN and other international organizations to a series of reform benchmarks. U.S. arrears to the UN currently total over $1.3 billion. Of this, $612 million is payable under Helms-Biden. The remaining $700 million result from various legislative and policy withholdings; at present, there are no plans to pay these amounts."

November 4, 1946 - UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). "In 1984, the United States withheld its contributions & withdrew from the organization in protest [of the "New World Information and Communication Order"], followed by the United Kingdom in 1985. Singapore withdraw also at the end of 1985, citing rising membership fees. Following a change of government in 1997, the UK rejoined. The United States rejoined in 2003, followed by Singapore on 8 October 2007." /// From New York Times: "The United States lost its vote at Unesco on [November 8, 2013], two years after cutting off its financial contribution to the organization over the admission of Palestinians as full members. The move undermined America’s ability to exercise its influence in countries around the globe through the UN agency’s educational & aid programs, according to Western diplomats & international relations experts." /// From Email November 15, 2013: "For the first time ever, we lost our vote in a UN organization for failing to pay our dues. And the agency we just walked away from is none other than UNESCO, whose programs are clearly and directly in the interests of Americans. Charged with promoting education, science, and culture worldwide, UNESCO works to build democracy from the roots of society, including in critical yet unstable nations like Iraq. And the reason we no longer have a voice in such a vital international organization is because of an outdated law that forced the U.S. to withdraw all funding for UNESCO - 22 percent of its operational budget - when the Palestinians were granted full membership in 2011."

November 22, 1969 - American Convention on Human Rights (Pact of San José). "The treaty is open to all OAS member states, although to date it has not been ratified by Canada or several of the English-speaking Caribbean nations; the United States signed it in 1977 but has not proceeded with ratification... As of 2013, 25 of the 35 OAS's member states have ratified the Convention, while [Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela] have denounced it subsequently, leaving 23 active parties... The bodies responsible for overseeing compliance with the Convention are the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights & the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, both of which are organs of the Organization of American States (OAS)."

December 18, 1979 - Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). "The United States and Palau have signed, but not yet ratified the treaty. The Holy See, Iran, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Tonga are not signatories to CEDAW."

November 17, 1988 - Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the area of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (Protocol of San Salvador). "An attempt to take the inter-American human rights system to a higher level by enshrining its protection of so-called second-generation rights in the economic, social & cultural spheres. The protocol's provisions cover such areas as the right to work, the right to health, the right to food, and the right to education. It came into effect on 16 November 1999 and has been ratified by 14 nations."

November 20, 1989 - UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). "Currently, 193 countries are party to the convention, including every member of the United Nations except Somalia, South Sudan & the United States."

June 8, 1990 - Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty. Adopted at Asunción, Paraguay. "While Article 4 of the American Convention had already placed severe restrictions on the states' ability to impose the death penalty – only applicable for the most serious crimes; no reinstatement once abolished; not to be used for political offenses or common crimes; not to be used against those aged under 18 or over 70, or against pregnant women – signing this protocol formalizes a state's solemn commitment to refrain from using capital punishment in any peacetime circumstance. To date it has been ratified by 11 nations."

December 3, 1997 - Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Land Mines Treaty). "Currently, a total of 161 nations are party to the Ottawa treaty." See

December 11, 1997 - Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Protocol was adopted by Parties to the UNFCCC in 1997 and entered into force in 2005. The United States signed but did not ratify the Protocol. Canada withdrew from it in 2011.

July 17, 1998 - International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC was created by the Rome Statute which came into force on 1 July 2002. "Currently, 122 states are states parties to the Statute of the Court, including all of South America, nearly all of Europe, most of Oceania and roughly half the countries in Africa. A further 31 countries, including Russia, have signed but not ratified the Rome Statute. The law of treaties obliges these states to refrain from 'acts which would defeat the object and purpose' of the treaty until they declare they do not intend to become a party to the treaty. Three of these states—Israel, Sudan and the United States—have informed the UN Secretary General that they no longer intend to become states parties and, as such, have no legal obligations arising from their former representatives' signature of the Statute. 41 United Nations member states have neither signed nor ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute; some of them, including China and India, are critical of the Court. On 21 January 2009, the Palestinian National Authority formally accepted the jurisdiction of the Court. On 3 April 2012, the ICC Prosecutor declared himself unable to determine that Palestine is a 'state' for the purposes of the Rome Statute and referred such decision to the United Nations. On 29 November 2012, the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of recognizing Palestine as a non-member observer state."

September 2000 - Millennium Development Goals (MDG's). "Building upon a decade of major UN conferences & summits, world leaders came together at UN Headquarters in New York to adopt the UN Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets - with a deadline of 2015 - that have become known as the [eight] MDG's." /// "The United States as well as other nations disputed the Monterrey Consensus [the outcome on 22 March 2002 of the UN International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico] that urged 'developed countries that have not done so to make concrete efforts towards the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) as ODA [official development assistance] to developing countries.' Attempts to increase US political attention to the MDG's include The Borgen Project [sic] which worked with then Senator Barack Obama on the Global Poverty Act, a bill requiring the White House to develop a strategy for achieving the goals. The bill did not pass, despite Obama's two terms as US President. /// The US [has] consistently opposed setting specific foreign-aid targets since the UN General Assembly first endorsed the 0.7% goal in 1970." /// "Some critics suggest that the US has ignored the Monterrey Consensus because the amount of US official development assistance (0.18% of its GDP in 2008), is still well below the 0.7% target, which it endorsed in the Consensus. It is much lower than some other developed countries, especially those in Scandinavia."

2003 - United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). "In 1970, the International Union of Official Travel Organizations (IUOTO) general assembly voted in favor of forming the WTO, based on statutes of the IUOTO, and after ratification by the prescribed 51 states, the WTO came into operation on November 1, 1974. Most recently, at the 15th general assembly in 2003, the WTO general council & the UN agreed to establish the WTO as a specialized agency of the UN... Fifteen state members have withdrawn from the organization for different periods in the past: Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Kuwait, Malaysia, Myanmar, Panama, Philippines, Qatar, Thailand and Puerto Rico (as an associate member). All but Canada have since rejoined... Non-members are: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Comoros, Denmark, Dominica, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Guyana, Iceland, Ireland, Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States."

March 15, 2006 - UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Successor to UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR). "Secretaries General Kofi Annan and Ban Ki Moon, former president of the council Doru Costea, the European Union, Canada and the United States have accused the council of focusing disproportionately on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The United States boycotted the Council during the George W. Bush administration, but reversed its position on it during the Obama administration."

March 30, 2007 - UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disibilities. "One of the most quickly supported human rights instruments in history, with strong support from all regional groups. 155 States signed the Convention upon its opening in 2007, and 126 States ratified the Convention within its first five years.... The US Senate failed to ratify the Convention on December 3, 2012, as ratification received just 61 of the 67 votes (2/3 of the Senate) required for ratification."