Tuesday 12 Oct 2021 | 14:54 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 12 Oct 2021 | 14:54 | SYDNEY

US jumps aboard the TAC


Fergus Hanson


27 July 2009 09:33

Last week there was a bit of a hoo-ha as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton declared America was back in Asia and signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. But there is a certain irony to America signing up to the TAC. Agreed in 1976 it contains some beautiful NAM-style language and even establishes 'as a continuing body' a High Council that never really got off the ground (it wasn't until 2001 that its rules of procedure were actually agreed).

The treaty is in several respects out of touch with recent developments in international law, like the responsibility to protect doctrine as well as far more accepted practices like commenting on human rights abuses in places like Burma. On top of that, it has two tiers of membership, so all non-ASEAN states get treated as second-class members.

All in all, it's not exactly the kind of treaty you would expect to be expanding its list of states parties. Despite all this, as Australia found under the Howard government, the TAC is symbolically important and if you want an invitation to join the East Asia Summit it's mandatory.

Photo by Flickr user US Mission Canada, used under a Creative Commons license.