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012- Reservations to the Convention of Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide

On November 20th, 1950, the General Assembly put to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) a series of questions on the situation of a State which has made reservations to the Multilateral Convention on Genocide in the event that other States, signatories to the same Convention, object to these reservations.

In its advisory opinion of May 28th 1951, the ICJ stated that even when a convention does not contain any provision relating to reservations, it cannot be inferred that they are prohibited. Account must be taken of the nature of the Convention, its object and its provisions.

As to the effects of the reservation in relations between States, the Court held that no State may be bound by a reservation to which it has not consented. Everyone is therefore free to decide, for its part, whether or not the Reserving State is a party to the Convention. This situation has real drawbacks, but only an article inserted in the convention and relating to the use of the reservation procedure could remedy it.

A third question concerned the effect of an objection from a State which is not yet a party to the Convention, either because it has not signed it or because it has signed but not ratified it. The Court held that, in the first case, it is inconceivable that a State which is not a signatory to the Convention could exclude another. In the second case, the situation is different: the objection is valid but does not produce immediate legal effects; it is merely the definition and affirmation of the attitude that a signatory State will adopt when it becomes a party to the Convention. In all the foregoing, the Court has ruled only on the particular case before it, that of the Genocide Convention.

Advisory Opinion of-28-05-1951.pdf

This summary is provided for informational purposes only, does not involve the responsibility of Dome and should in no way be used as a substitute for a careful reading of the judgment and order of the case.