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Reservations and Declarations. Reservations What Are Reservations? Unilateral statements made upon signature, ratification, acceptance, approval of or.

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Presentation on theme: "Reservations and Declarations. Reservations What Are Reservations? Unilateral statements made upon signature, ratification, acceptance, approval of or."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reservations and Declarations

2 Reservations

3 What Are Reservations? Unilateral statements made upon signature, ratification, acceptance, approval of or accession to a treaty. However phrased or named, any statement purporting to exclude or modify the legal effect of a treaty Entitled “reservation”, “declaration”, “understanding”, “interpretative declaration” or “interpretative statement”. (Article 2(1)(d) of the Vienna Convention 1969)

4 Time for Formulating Reservations Article 19 VCLT: A State may, when signing, ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to a treaty, make a reservation unless: (a) The reservation is prohibited by the treaty; (b)The treaty provides that only specified reservations, which do not include the reservation in question, may be made; or (c) The reservation is incompatible with the object and purpose of the treaty. Some countries have denounced treaties and reacceded in order to lodge reservations

5 Form of Reservations It is a limitation on the commitment undertaken. Must be included in the instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession or be annexed to it. If separate, must be signed by the Head of State, Head of Government or Minister for Foreign Affairs or a person having full powers for that purpose issued by one of the above authorities.

6 Treaty Provisions Some treaties specifically prohibit reservations. E.g., Art. 120, ICC Statute Art. 18, Montreal Protocol If made upon simple signature it is merely declaratory –must be formally confirmed in writing on ratification or acceptance. (Art. 23(2) Vienna Convention, 1969) Could be made on definitive signature –Need not be confirmed later.

7 Territorial Exclusion Some States exclude part of the territory from the application of treaties –United Kingdom, Netherlands, Denmark, New Zealand Not consistent with art. 29 VCLT –But treated as a regional practice Prof. Pellet does not endorse this approach.

8 The Depositary’s Role Where a treaty expressly prohibits reservations: the depositary makes a preliminary legal assessment whether a statement constitutes a reservation. –If it has no bearing on the State’s legal obligations, the depositary circulates the statement. –If it excludes or modifies the legal effects of provisions of the treaty, the depositary will draw the attention of the State concerned to the issue »will not circulate the unauthorised reservation.

9 –Where, prima facie, there is no doubt –if the declarant formally clarifies that the statement is not a reservation, the Secretary-General will formally receive the instrument in deposit –Where prima facie determination is not possible, and doubts remain –the Secretary-General may request a clarification »In such case, the State is estopped from relying on the statement as a reservation.

10 Reservations Not Permitted E.g., Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, 1987 China assumed responsibility for Macao in 1999 Macao was considered to be developed entity under Portugal – falling under art. 2, Montreal Protocol China declared that it will not extend art. 5 to Macao Art. 5 provided a phase out period for developing countries No objections

11 Treaty Expressly Authorises Reservations Where a State formulates a reservation that is authorised, the Secretary-General informs the States concerned. –Unless a translation or an in-depth analysis is required, such a notification is processed and transmitted by on the date of formulation. –Such reservation does not require any subsequent acceptance by the States concerned.

12 Treaty Is Silent on Reservations Where a treaty is silent on reservations and a State formulates a reservation, –the depositary informs the States concerned. Such reservation should be consistent with art. 19 VCLT –Generally, in human rights treaties. Prof. Pellet discusses this case –Supports the Secretary-General drawing the attention of States to a prohibited reservation. Not all States agree with proposal.

13 Who Decides Whether a Reservation Is Permissible? Whether consistent with the object and purpose –States parties? –Human rights bodies? –Depositary? A debate continues. The Secretary-General will continue with the current practice unless States agree otherwise.

14 ICESCR Declaration which could be a reservation (where the treaty is silent). –China made a declaration limiting the right of Hong Kong trade unions to confederate. –Depositary did not pass judgment on this. –Number of countries have objected.

15 Objections to Reservations Time for making objections –Where a treaty is silent, States concerned have 12 months to object, beginning –on the date of the depositary notification or –on the date on which the State expressed its consent to be bound by the treaty (See art. 20 (5) VCLT) –An objection lodged after the end of the 12-month period is circulated as a “communication”. –Notifications are circulated by .

16 ICCPR and CEDAW –Many States have formulated reservations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, These reservations have attracted a wide range of objections.

17 Effect of Objections Effect of objections on entry into force –An objection “… does not preclude the entry into force of the treaty... unless a contrary intention is definitely expressed by the objecting State” To avoid uncertainty, an objecting State specifies whether its objection precludes the entry into force. –If a State does not object to a reservation made by another State, it is deemed to have tacitly accepted the reservation. –An objection need not be signed by one of the recognized authorities.

18 Withdrawal of a Reservation A State may withdraw its reservation completely or partially at any time. –The consent of the States concerned is not necessary. –Must be formulated in writing and signed by the Head of State, Head of Government or Minister for Foreign Affairs or a person having full powers for that purpose issued by one of the above authorities. –The Secretary-General circulates a notification of a withdrawal. Objections can be withdrawn at any time also. – Art. 22(3) VCLT: a withdrawal of a reservation becomes operative only when a concerned State has been notified.

19 Late Reservations Formulating reservations after ratification, acceptance, approval or accession –The Secretary-General circulates the reservation. –Accepts the reservation in deposit only if no such State objects. On the basis of the need to receive unanimous acceptance. –The Secretary-General’s practice deviates from the strict requirements of the Vienna Convention.

20 Time Limit for Objections 12 months from the date of the depositary notification. –Originally 90 days. Same where a State withdraws an initial reservation and substitutes it with a new or modified reservation. Prof. Pellet’s report endorses the Secretary-General’s practice.

21 Modifications to Reservations An existing reservation may be modified so as to result in a partial withdrawal or to create new exemptions. –A modification of the latter kind has the nature of a new reservation. –The Secretary-General circulates such modifications and grants the States concerned a specific period within which to object to them. In the past, the practice as depositary had been to stipulate 90 days. On 4 April 2000, it was advised that the time provided for objections to modifications would be 12 months.

22 Declarations

23 Interpretative Declarations A State may make a declaration about its understanding of a matter contained in or the interpretation of a particular provision in a treaty. –Do not purport to exclude or modify the legal effects of a treaty. –Some treaties specifically provide for interpretative declarations.

24 Optional and Mandatory Declarations Treaties may provide for States to make optional and/or mandatory declarations. –These are legally binding.

25 Optional Declarations Many human rights treaties provide for optional declarations. –Relate to the competence of human rights commissions or committees.

26 Mandatory Declarations –Where a treaty requires States becoming party to make a mandatory declaration, the Secretary-General seeks to ensure that they make such declarations. Need to be signed by proper authorities. Some disarmament and human rights treaties.

27 Time for Formulating Declarations –Declarations are usually deposited at the time of signature or at the time of deposit of the instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession »Sometimes, subsequently

28 Form of Declarations Normally need not be signed by a formal authority Preferably signed by the Head of State, Head of Government or Minister for Foreign Affairs –or a person having full powers for that purpose issued by one of the above authorities. –This practice avoids complications in the event of a doubt whether the declaration in fact constitutes a reservation Optional and mandatory declarations impose legal obligations on the declarant –Must be signed by the Head of State, Head of Government or Minister for Foreign Affairs »or by a person having full powers for that purpose.

29 Notification of Declarations by the Depositary The Secretary-General reviews all declarations to treaties that prohibit reservations –to ensure that they are prima facie not reservations. Where a treaty is silent or authorises reservations, the Secretary-General makes no determination. –The text is simply communicated to all States concerned States draw their own legal conclusions.

30 Objections to Declarations Where the treaty is silent on reservations –States sometimes object to declarations relating to a treaty that is silent on reservations –The Secretary-General circulates any such objection


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