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Treaties and Conventions: Reservations, Declarations & Understandings

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Introduction

States may make statements upon signature or ratification of a treaty that purport to exclude or modify the legal effect of a treaty provision with regard to that state.  These may be called reservations, declarations, or understandings.  Article 19 of the Vienna Convention of 1969 specifies that a state may make a reservation unless the reservation is prohibited by the treaty, the treaty provides that only other specified reservations may be made, or the reservation is incompatible with the object and purpose of the treaty.

UN & Multilateral Treaties

UN Treaty Database:  Status of Multilateral Treaties lists reservations and declarations by party. UNTS volumes list reservations with signatures.

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Human Rights treaties listed include links to reservations.

ICRC Geneva Conventions and humanitarian law treaties: See the state party lists with entries for individual states including their reservations.

UN Treaty Body Database: See the State Party Reports for human rights treaties to find reservations, understandings, and explanations.

 

United States Treaty Reservations

U.S. Treaties and Other International Agreements (S 9.12): Available online in Hein Online's Treaties and Agreements Library. Treaty signature pages include reservations and understandings.

Congress.gov Includes a tab for  the Resolution of advice and consent with declarations, provisos, understandings. Pending treaties are available on Congress.gov as Treaty Documents.

Senate Treaty Documents and Executive Reports: Available online in Hein Online's Treaties and Agreements Library, FDsys, and Proquest Congressional. Executive Reports may include understandings, declarations, and provisos. Reservations may be in the transmitting letter of Treaty Documents. And the Congressional Record may include text or excerpts of the Executive Report, and other debate on provisions of the treaty.

United States Code Service:  International Agreements volume: with the US Codes 3d floor, and on Lexis as USCS International Conventions. Reservations, declarations, and understandings are included with select major treaties.

Digest of U.S. Practice in International Law: Includes some US reservations, understandings, statements, letters, explanations of votes.

Treaties in Force: Available online via the State Department website and Hein Online. Includes notes on party reservations (U.S. and other party) with signatory lists.

Subject Guide