WASHINGTON (May. 21)
Sen. Jesse Helms (R.N.C.) withdrew today his opposition to Senate ratification of an international treaty against genocide, as the Foreign Relations Committee in a vote of 9-8 approved it for the sixth time in 36 years.
But, in another turnabout, five long-standing supporters of the Genocide Convention abstained in the committee vote, in protest against reservations that had been attached to the ratification bill to overcome conservative opposition.
The committee approved eight conditions addressing conservative concerns over what they considered a threat to United States sovereignty. The two reservations vigorously pursued by Helms, who was able to block ratification on the Senate floor last autumn, are the limitation of World Court jurisdiction in cases of alleged genocide or attempted genocide brought against the United States; and the precedence of the United States Constitution over the Genocide Convention.
Supporters of the ratification have argued that these conditions dilute the spirit of the treaty, which has been signed by 96 countries. The Soviet Union and Eastern bloc nations have ratified the convention, with reservations, and consequently some West European countries do not recognize those nations as signatories.
The Reagan Administration, which came out in support of the convention last September, has recently come out in support of reservations, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Richard Lugar (R. Ind.) has said he would vote against the convention on the Senate floor if the conditions were not adopted.
The vote today on the reservations was divided along party lines, with the exception of Sen. Edward Zorinsky (D.Neb.) who voted in favor, and Sen. Charles Mathias (R.Md.) who opposed the reservations.
Sen. Christopher Dodd (D.Conn.), who opposed the conditions, abstained in the final committee vote on the bill itself, together with four other Democratic Senators. An aide said that Dodd would continue to fight the reservations when the bill reaches the Senate floor, which will probably be in early June.