Home Posts tagged "Reservations"

Qatar’s Reservations to the ICCPR: Anything new under the VCLT Sun?

Published on September 19, 2019        Author: 

On 21 May 2018, Qatar become the third country in the Gulf region to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This followed Kuwait in 1996 and Bahrain in 2006. Qatar’s ratification came with a long list of reservations and statements. That these reservations and statements have similarities to those of its two neighbors in the Gulf region may suggest that there was not much new in them. Yet, they are novel in two respects. First, they are the first ICCPR reservations and statements that can be assessed under the ‘Vienna plus regime’ adopted by the International Law Commission in 2011. There have been ICCPR ratifications post-2011, but none of these had reservations. Second, Qatar’s reservations have attracted objections from 21 states – the largest number to date. As such, the case of Qatar also provides an opportunity to consider the extent to which the objecting states cohere with the guidelines provided by the ILC.

Qatar’s reservations to the ICCPR

At the time it ratified the ICCPR Qatar entered two reservations. These are to Article 3 (equal rights of men and women to enjoy Covenant rights) and to Article 23 (4) (equality of rights and responsibilities of spouses as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution).

The reservation to Article 3 indicates that the line of succession to the throne is governed by Article 8 of the Constitution of Qatar. The Constitution only permits male members of the royal family to be in the line of succession. Qatar justifies its reservation to Article 23(4) under a presumption of incompatibility with Islamic Sharia, which is the main source of legislation under the Qatari Constitution.

Qatar also entered five interpretive statements to the ICCPR. These concern the definition of inhuman and degrading punishment (Article 7), freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief (Article 18), the marriageable age for men and women (Article 23.2), the definition of trade unions (Article 22) and the protection of the rights of religious minorities (Article 27).

For the first three of these statements, Qatar indicated that its interpretations of Articles 7, 18 and 23 will be guided by Islamic Sharia and, in the case of any conflict, the Sharia will prevail. Concerning the definition of trade unions, Qatar stated that this will be interpreted with reference to its labour law and national legislation. Qatar further stated that the protection of the rights of persons from religious minorities under Article 27 will be respected to the extent that ‘they do not violate the rules of public order and public morals, the protection of public safe[t]y and public health, or the rights of and basic freedoms of others’. Read the rest of this entry…


India’s Strange Position on the Additional Protocols of 1977

Published on February 5, 2019        Author: 

After four decades of their adoption, India continues to have an ambivalent position on the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977, and the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), 8 June 1977. India has not yet become a party to the two Additional Protocols (APs). While it has not explained anywhere its position for not becoming a party, its recent clarification in the form of an answer in the Indian parliament does not provide any reasons for not becoming a party to the APs. This clarification came in the way of a response by the Minister of State for External Affairs to a question posed in the lower house of the Indian Parliament on 02 January 2019. The question posed by a Member of the Parliament sought clarification as to whether steps have been taken to ratify the APs and if not, what are the reasons for not becoming a party, if necessary, with reservations. The question posed by a Member of the Indian Parliament is as follows:

(a) whether steps have been taken to ratify the Additional Protocol I and II to the Geneva Conventions;

(b) if so, the details thereof and the steps taken to bring domestic laws in compliance with the Protocols; and  

(c) if not, the reasons for abstaining in spite of the availability of the option of ”ratification with reservations”?

Read the rest of this entry…

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EJIL Reservations Symposium – Jean Monnet Papers

Published on February 25, 2013        Author: 

I am happy to announce that the EJIL will be publishing a symposium on the International Law Commisssion’s Guide to Practice on Reservations to Treaties.  The symposium was edited by Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos and myself, and features contributions from Alain Pellet, Michael Wood, Daniel Mueller, and Ineta Ziemele and Lasma Liede. It will most likely be coming out in issue 3 of this year’s volume of the Journal, but because of the symposium’s topicality we have decided to post the unedited drafts online in the meantime, as part of NYU’s Jean Monnet Working Papers Series.  Comments are of course welcome, and we will likely be hosting a further discussion on the symposium on the blog once the final papers come out in the Journal.

After a short introduction by the editors, in which we reflect on the Guide’s innovative approach to the validity of reservations, the Symposium begins with a general presentation by Special Rapporteur Alain Pellet, giving a clear (and often critical picture) of the process followed within the Commission, focusing both on its more orthodox aspects and on the specificities (and novelties) of the instrument adopted. The Special Rapporteur then gives us his own views on the main issues, the solutions adopted and any deadlocks within the Commission in respect of each Part of the Guide. He deals inter alia with the questions of the validity and invalidity of reservations, politically controversial cases such as general ‘sharia’ reservations, and the establishment of reservations. In short, the piece presents and defends the general conceptual framework and innovations of the Guide.

Sir Michael Wood, a member of the ILC who was very active on the issue of reservations, examines the institutional aspects of the Guide: the role of depositaries (regretting that the Guide to practice does not take a more progressive stance in this respect); assessment of validity of reservations by dispute settlement and treaty monitoring bodies (giving his own view about this highly debated issue); the series of nine conclusions on the ‘reservations dialogue’ (appearing as an annex to the Guidelines); and finally the ILC recommendation to the UN General Assembly on mechanisms of assistance in relation to reservations (an innovative idea largely inspired by the relevant practice of the Council of Europe).

Judge Ineta Ziemele of the European Court of Human Rights and Lasma Liede, a lawyer in the Court’s Registry, examine in detail a topic that we have already touched upon, i.e. reservations to human rights treaties. They focus on the specific characteristics of such treaties, on the approach adopted mainly by the European Court, but also by other universal and regional human rights bodies, before examining in some detail the response of the ILC throughout its work on the Guide, and how rather than being confrontational it ultimately adopted a conciliatory approach.

Last but not least, Daniel Mueller, researcher at the CEDIN and assistant to the Special Rapporteur in his work on reservations, skillfully analyses a technical but also very practical topic: reservations and time. He focuses on premature and late formulations of reservations as well as on premature and late formulation of objections. Mueller thus explains how the Guide tries to put ‘some order into the chaos and the uncertainties resulting from the Vienna regime.’ He regrets the ‘absolute position’ of the ILC to exclude all reservations formulated prematurely, while praising the Commission for adopting a more flexible stance in respect of late reservations. He also examines the so-called ‘pre-emptive objections’ (in fact a negotiation tool), while admitting that a late objection cannot unmake consent expressed or assumed according to the terms of the Vienna Convention.

We hope the contributions that follow will shed light on the debates that took place and the solutions adopted over almost two decades of work by the ILC. We are sure that they will be read for many years to come, and would like to warmly thank the contributors for their participation.

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