It’s not just indifference. It’s an active, and deadly, cavalier attitude towards the lives of others: an example other nations follow
The question that assails those who strive for a kinder world is always the same but endlessly surprising: how do we persuade others to care? The lack of interest in resolving our existential crises, expressed by the US Senate in particular, is not a passive exceptionalism. It is an active, proud and furious refusal to care about the lives of others. This refusal has become the motive force of the old-new politics now sweeping the world. It appears to be driving a deadly, self-reinforcing political cycle.
There are two extraordinary facts about the convention on biological diversity, whose members are meeting in Montreal now to discuss the global ecological crisis. The first is that, of the world’s 198 states, 196 are party to it. The second is the identity of those that aren’t. Take a guess. North Korea? Russia? Wrong. Both ratified the convention years ago. One is the Holy See (the Vatican). The other is the United States of America.
This is one of several major international treaties the US has refused to ratify. Among the others are crucial instruments such as the Rome statute on international crimes, the treaties banning cluster bombs and landmines, the convention on discrimination against women, the Basel convention on hazardous waste, the convention on the law of the sea, the nuclear test ban treaty, the employment policy convention and the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.
In some cases, it is one of only a small number to refuse: the others are generally either impoverished states with little administrative capacity or vicious dictatorships. It is the only independent nation on Earth not to ratify the convention on the rights of the child. Perhaps this is because it is the only nation to sentence children to life imprisonment without parole, among many other brutal policies. While others play by the rules, the most powerful nation refuses. If this country were a person, we’d call it a psychopath. As it is not a person, we should call it what it is: a rogue state….