A pair of developments this week signal that the Obama administration is ready to put some political capital behind campaign promises to secure American ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
On the former, Walter Pincus reports that Vice President Joe Biden will shepherd the CTBT through the Senate. Ratification requires 67 votes and the last time the CTBT came up for a vote in 1999 it fell more than a dozen votes short of passage. The political dynamics are a bit different this time around, though, and the treaty stands a much better chance of ratification. As Matt Yglesias notes, American ratification of the CTBT would strengthen an the international non-proliferation regime and put meat some behind President Obama’s recent call for global disarmament.
Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Arctic Council earlier this week Secretary of State Clinton re-affirmed American support for UNCLOS, which establishes rules of the road for the high seas and sea beds. President Bush also supported UNCLOS, though the treaty never came up for ratification in the Senate. As Don Kraus of Citizens for Global Solutions likes to say, UNCLOS is low hanging fruit. It has wide support from across the political spectrum and from a diverse coalition of interest groups. All that’s needed for ratification is a little effort on the part of the White House and Senate leadership.
It would seem that there here is reason to believe the stars are finally alligning to pass both these treaties.