New Executive Order 13107 to
Impliment Human Rights Treaties

By Berit Kjos

Behind the glare of impeachment proceedings, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13107 on December 10, 1998, which many would consider to be an impeachable offense. In addition to three treaties mentioned in the Order, the President declares he will implement other treaties to which the United States "may become a party" in the future. (For another detailed analysis of this Executive Order, visit and click on "What's New")

The list of UN treaties on human rights is quite long. Among them is the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This treaty has not been ratified by the United States because many people believe that the treaty gives the government authority over children superior to parental authority, among other reasons. Is this treaty to be implemented despite the U.S. Senate's refusal to ratify it?

Consider the language contained in one of the treaties the United States has ratified: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 19 says:

"Everyone shall have the right to freedom of statement.... The exercise of the rights...carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary."

Even a cursory reading of most of the UN Human Rights Treaties reveals a fundamental difference between the philosophy which guides the United Nations and the philosophy upon which the U.S. Constitution rests. The U.S. Constitution recognizes that all rights reside with the people, and are limited by government only through the consent of the governed. Government is empowered only by the consent of the governed.

On the other hand, The United Nations, as reflected in virtually all UN treaties, assumes that government power is absolute, and grants or denies rights to people as best serves the government.

Executive Order 13107 is simply another in a long series of Executive Orders that demonstrates the UN's concept of government power, rather than the Constitution's limited, enumerated powers.

To be specific, the very idea that the administration would say it intends to implement treaties "to which the United States...may become a party in the future," flaunts the philosophy of unlimited government power. To ensure that government power, as imagined by the Chief Executive, is properly exercised, the Executive Order creates an "Interagency Working Group" charged with "providing guidance, oversight, and coordination" in the "adherence to and implementation of human rights obligations...." The Working Group will:

*    Coordinate all federal agencies, commissions, and boards, to meet "international human rights obligations" (2);
*    review all proposed legislation for "conformity" with the UN treaties (4(iv));
*    Review state laws for "conformity" with UN treaties (4(v))
*    Consider modifying the ratification documents agreed to by the U.S. Senate (4(vii))
*    Develop plans for public "outreach and education" concerning the provisions of the UN treaties.

A few Congressmen have defended this Executive Order, citing Section 6(c), which says "This order does not supersede Federal Statutes...." Obviously not-- overtly. It is clear, however, the intent of the Executive Order is to implement policies set forth in UN treaties whether ratified or not, and whether or not there is any legislative authority for those policies.


TRUE DEMOCRACY Spring 2002 Copyright © 2002 by News Source, Inc.