Qualified Ratification: Explaining Reservations to International Human Rights Treaties

Journal article

Neumayer, Eric (2007) Qualified Ratification: Explaining Reservations to International Human Rights Treaties, The Journal of Legal Studies 36 (2): 397–429.

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The legitimacy and role of reservations to international human rights treaties is a heavily contested issue. From one perspective, reservations, understandings, and declarations (RUDs) are a legitimate means to account for diversity and are used predominantly by those countries that take human rights seriously. From an alternative perspective, RUDs are regrettable at best and detrimental to the international human rights regime at worst. The first account predicts that liberal democracies set up more RUDs than do other countries, whereas the competing account holds the opposite, possibly after distinguishing among the group of liberal democracies. This article puts these hypotheses to an empirical test with respect to six core international human rights treaties. The results suggest that the revealed RUD behavior of state parties to the treaties examined is strongly in line with the first perspective, since liberal democracies have more, not fewer, RUDs than do other countries.

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