Over at Opinio Juris, Julian Ku writes the following about a draft executive order on multilateral treaties being considered by the Trump administration:
The draft executive order on multilateral treaties is potentially more significant because the President has broad powers to withdraw from treaties. But the order itself simply creates another committee to review U.S. participation in all multilateral treaties that the U.S. is negotiating, in the process of considering ratification, or already ratified and joined. The committee is instructed to recommend whether the U.S. should continue negotiating, ratifying, or being part of those treaties.
The only unusual part of this process is to elevate treaty review to an interagency committee. But such a review process is reasonable for any new administration. The only real action in the draft order is a moratorium on submitting new treaties to the President or the Senate absent a committee recommendation. This might slow down the already slow treaty ratification process, but given the glacial pace of Senate consideration of most treaties, I doubt this “moratorium” will have much an effect.
The draft order starts off as follows:
In recent decades, there has been a proliferation of multilateral treaties that purport to regulate activities that are domestic in nature. For example, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women is an international treaty that, according to the international committee officially charged with interpreting it, would, among other things, prohibit the celebration of Mother's Day and require the decriminalization of prostitution. Likewise, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been interpreted to prohibit spanking. Whether one agrees or disagrees with these outcomes as a substantive policy matter, these are not appropriate matters for international treaties. To the contrary, these types of treaties are emblematic of a larger problem, whereby these treaties are used to force countries to adhere to often radical domestic agendas that could not, themselves, otherwise be enacted in accordance with a country's domestic laws.
One thing that I've been puzzling about in relation to trade agreements is how the Trump administration will view the inclusion of issues that relate to "activities that are domestic in nature." Some examples of this are intellectual property protection, labor rights, and the environment. Yes, these things do affect trade, but probably no more than, say, discrimination against women. Will the Trump administration pull back on using trade agreements to regulate domestic activities, or will they use the existing model?