16 Mar The Washington Post Endorses Withdrawal from the Optional Protocol
The Washington Post weighs in today with a surprisingly sensible editorial applauding President Bush’s decision to withdraw from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (which I discussed here).
Were the Optional Protocol a useful instrument in protecting Americans abroad, it might make sense to tolerate the international court’s presumptuousness. But the protocol doesn’t help much. Most countries never signed it, and the chief protection against treaty violations has always been diplomatic pressure, not the possibility of international litigation. Withdrawing from the protocol does not change U.S. obligations under the Vienna Convention or the reciprocal obligations of states toward American nationals. The Optional Protocol was never meant to regulate the domestic judicial systems of its signatory states. The administration is right not to stand for the international court’s attempt to do so now.
This editorial avoids the knee-jerk internationalism that one might expect from publications like the NYT and takes the right approach: if the Optional Protocol doesn’t really serve U.S. interests, and it is costly in terms of continuing litigation, then it is entirely reasonable to pull out.