US Citizens are not guaranteed that US Citizen Rights will be applicable in a foreign nation or that a nation will conduct business in the same or similar manner that business is conducted inside the US. When visiting a foreign nation, it is important to follow the rules and laws of that nation. This is a concept that is difficult to grasp for many US Citizens and they wind up getting in trouble while traveling abroad or overseas. In this case there are often treaties and agreements with foreign nations and those treaties and agreements become active when your US Passport is stamped upon entering a nation. However, a passport stamp does not guarantee that your Constitutional rights will apply inside a nation. To use a few examples, Freedom of Speech is not generally allowed in Saudi Arabia as they are under Sharia Law and insulting the prophet Muhammad is a grave offense, many nations also will not agree that a US Citizen has the right to bear arms within their nation and can prosecute someone for doing so.
Outside of Citizen Travel, there are free trade agreements which are considered treaties. As an example, USMCA was ratified by Mexico on 2019-06-19, by the US on 2020-01-29, and by Canada on 2020-03-13. The initial agreement was signed on 2018-11-30 at the G20 Summit.
As USMCA is a treaty, it should be registered at treaties.un.org. A international attorney, congress person, parliament member or member of a head of state cabinet should be able to search this database for publicly viewable treaties. Some treaties are secret documents and require confidentiality between treaty holders but still require a neutral third party to store a certified copy in a secure location in case of a dispute between treaty participants, these type of treaties might require a secure authentication to access by members of the UN Security Council only, something like SIPRnet. In the case of USMCA, this is not the case, it is a publicly accessible treaty covering trade between the nations of the United States, Mexico and Canada and other nations may want to review the terms of the treaty when deciding which country to open their first branch office in or which country to primarily import to and export from.
As we are in the information age and about to enter the automation age and/or space age, all publicly viewable treaties between member nations of the UN, should be deposited with the Secretary-General and searchable on treaties.un.org. At a minimum, treaties should be searchable by their published titles and pictures of the signing and ratification cermonies should be viewable on the UN Web Portal for International Treaties.
- UN Treaty Web Portal – Search by Title
- UN Treaty Web Portal – Full Text Search
- UN Treaty Web Portal – View Treaty Pictures
- UN Treaty Portal – Submission Guidelines
Ideally, the UN Treaty Portal would contain a feature similar to CIA Factbook where you can select a country to view information on that country collected by US Department of State, open reference methods, and by examining data from the UN and other world bodies.
In the case of the UN Treaty Web Portal, selecting a country would provide a list of international treaties that the country participates in. It would show treaties that are active and in force as well as treaties that are expired, superseded or that have been withdrawn and the treaty list would be sortable by those statuses as well as by type of treaty such as commercial trade, environmental cooperation, peace keeping treaties, natural resources, international travel and immigration as a start. There should also be no attempt to quickly expand or micro manage the list of types of treaties, the types of treaties list should remain short but cover a broad range of topics as a whole and remain concise individually.
When examining an individual treaty, it would be ideal to link to the participating nations legislation regarding that treaty.
In the case of USMCA, the internet provides a very disorganized interface for searching for the treaty text and applicable legislation. Searching for “USMCA” yields results that initially don’t appear related to the actual treaty but with some detailed review, the following links can be obtained from the internet.
- The Actual Treaty Text
- The US Legislation pertaining to the Treaty
- A history of the treaty from Wikipedia
Initially the internet points to the overview page of House Resolution 5430 of the US Congress which is titled the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act. This webpage states that the Treaty was passed as Public Law 116-113 and does not provide any text of any agreements upon first glance.
Clicking on the word “text” yields the legislation for implementation of the USMCA and one would expect that searching for Public Law 116-113 would yield results for the actual treaty text and a reference to the US Code. However it does not.
Searching for Public Law 116-113 yields House Report 116-113 as the first result on the search engines. This report is titled To Amend the Small Business Act to Require the Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman to Create a Centralized Website for Compliance Guides, and for other purposes.
Searching the 116th US Congress Directory for Public Laws yields a broken link for not only Public Law 116-113 but also for Public Law 116-92, Public Law 116-94, Public Law 116-117, Public Law 116-131 and Public Law 116-136. There is a link for each of those laws to the house resolution number as there is with USMCA but that is not readily apparent and it makes the legislative user interface inconsistent.
- First result on search engine for Public Law 116-113
- Public Law Directory for the 116th Congress (2019-2020)
In studying organization for international laws, it helps to study the legislative texts of other nations to see how this would fit into a UN Treaty registration process. There are other organization that may be interested in examining the legislative text of UN Member States. For example WIPO may be interested in examining the legislation of UN Member Nations regarding copyrights, patents and trademarks and make recommendations regarding adherence to the Berne Treaty for copyrights and any future treaties regarding trademarks or patents.
Legislative Search in the United Kingdom
The UK is one of the oldest nations that is a Member State of the UN. It is a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, parts of the Magna Carta, first written in 1215 are still part of UK Legislation and Citizen Rights, The UK has a Constitution that is filed within the Royal Household as a Secret Document and it lists all its modern legislation on the easy to find website legislation.gov.uk.
Their legislative website is very organized and it is simple to find legislation by searching by keyword or by the name of the actual act. Searching for the Landlord and Tenant Act provides an excellent example of why it makes sense to version legislation by year and give it an easy to remember title.
Right away, its noticeable that the last time the act was revised was in 1995 and that the act was first legislated in 1709. This allows a barrister or solicitor (the UK word for attorney or lawyer respectively) to research the legislation quickly and effectively without any tutorials for researching legal libraries. It also allows the barrister or solicitor to give the client a copy or link to the relevant law and discuss any questions the client may have before they go to court if the client does in fact decide to read the legislation for themselves.
It’s also noticeable that the act was passed by a UK Public General Act rather than by an Act of Parliament or by a UK Statutory Instrument. If I am a new solicitor in the UK I can research the keywords UK Public General Act futher right on legislation.gov.uk. The search results lead me to the Homes Act of 2018 which might be relevant in my case. I can then view the contents to see of the legislation to see if it pertains to my specific issue at hand. In this case the Homes Act of 2018 Amended the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985. The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1988 shows the full contents of the Landlord and Tenant Act with links to subsections.
In thinking about a Free Trade Agreement between the UK and US, it would be expected that the public law would appear on congress.gov and the legislation would appear on legislation.gov.uk. The treaty would then be registered on treaties.un.org with links to both websites.
This would need to be maintained long term across 194 Member States of the UN so it is a major project for subject matter experts.
In studying 1 more nation, Japan has its constitution and legislation online.
The Japanese Constitution can be found on
Note: the word diet is from the Greek word diaita and means way of life. The National Diet Library of Japan is similar to the US National Archives or the UK National Archives.
The Legislation of Japan can be found on the Cabinet Office of Japan Website
- Legislation of Japan (click “summary of related laws” on left navigation).
Here, Japan and the UK are already trade partners so it would make sense that there would be a place for international treaties on the Cabinet Office of Japan Website and that there would be an act that is searchable on the UK Legislation Website along with a treaty registered at the UN Treaty website that would link to the relevant legislation on both websites.
In the USA, the most obvious thing is to place these treaties into Title 22 – Foreign Relations and Intercourse or to create a new title named “International Treaties”.
Using these suggestions would allow international legislation to work more efficiently and for organizations like the UN or US Aid to be more effective in managing the environment, public health and facilitating economic trade. It would also allow peace keepers to work towards achieving peace through justice and order by being aware of when an international treaty was breached and having the ability to bring it to the attention of the UN General Assembly or UN Security Council if necessary.
Outside of international disputes and management of natural resources, this type of organization would allow governments to cease micro-managing their populations and allow citizens to achieve self-governance within the nations of their citizenship.
In the long term, major corporations and small businesses make economic decisions based on legislation and not just tax incentives or lucrative trends for popular items and services.