Women’s rights: from bad to worse? Assessing the evolution of incompatible reservations to the CEDAW Convention

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The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women is the most important international human rights instrument for the protection of women's rights worldwide. It is, however, also one of the main UN human rights treaties to which the largest number of reservations has been made. As far-reaching reservations to human rights treaties are detrimental to the effective protection of human rights, this gave rise to the debate on the need to apply a reservations system to such treaties that allows for the efficient protection of their integrity. More specifically, it resulted in the severability approach and treaty bodies claiming their competence to assess reservations' compatibility. This article aims to contribute to the academic research on reservations to the CEDAW Convention, by studying the evolution of reservation-making to this human rights treaty from a comparative perspective from its entry into force until the present. Through this analysis, the article aims to identify trends and shifts in this practice over time, allowing for a more detailed assessment of the increasing number of incompatible reservations, the Committee's progress towards a more active approach on reservations, and State's increasing willingness to object to reservations they find incompatible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-65
Number of pages15
JournalMerkourios Utrecht Journal of International and European Law: Gender in European and International Law
Issue number77
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2013


  • Human Rights
  • Reservations


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