GoJIL Vol. 2, No. 2 (2010)
Reservations and the Effective Protection of Human Rights
Already since the first United Nations (UN) human rights treaties have been signed in 1966, it has been contested whether signatory states should be allowed to make reservations to different articles of the treaties. Many argue that reservation undermine the treaties and are not compatible with the universal application of human rights. One might hence ask whether reservations are compatible with human rights at all. Without disagreeing with these demurs, this essay will reverse the question: Is an effective protection of human rights possible without reservations? To answer this question, this essay will outline the current legal and practical framework on making reservations to UN human rights treaties in Part A. and will present a possible modification to this framework. In Part B. it will then demonstrate how reservations can be used to actually advance the effective protection of human rights. By being used as a starting point for the dialogue between the treaty bodies and the signatory state, reservations do not undermine human rights treaties, but support their purpose: the effective protection of human rights.
Download the full text as a PDF