The Law of Treaties
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The Law of Treaties

An Introduction

Robert Kolb

Permeating all facets of public international law, the modern law of treaties is a fundamental aspect of governance in the ‘democratized’ world. In this contemporary introduction, Robert Kolb provides a refreshing study that is both legally analytical and practical. Written in a highly readable style, the book explores the key topics through concise chapters, which are organized into two parts. The first of these gives a structured overview of the law of treaties along with practical examples. The second provides a critical engagement with the underlying issues and discusses the multi-dimensional problems raised by legal regulations, explored through specific case studies.
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Chapter IV: Reservations

Robert Kolb


Reservations are a peculiar feature of treaties, which is not replicated in internal law contracts. The issue is regulated in articles 19–23 of the VCLT (1969) and has been the object of a further study by the ILC under the lead of Professor Pellet. Why are there reservations in the law of treaties? The question is rooted in the context of multilateral treatymaking. In the modern world, universal conferences of codification of the law or of regulation of any important subject matter (for example, global warming) are based on the participation of almost all States of the world (more than 190) as well as some other entities (in particular international organizations). The negotiation seeks a common denominator. It is difficult to find such common ground at a conference in which so many different entities participate, each one having differing interests and different legal constraints of internal law, and most of which are sovereign and therefore legally free to assume or not to assume any obligation. The issue then boils down to the following dilemma: (i) States entirely satisfied with the result obtained will ratify or accede to the treaty in all its parts; (ii) States entirely dissatisfied with the result obtained or not able to accept some fundamental provision of the treaty will stay aloof from it and refuse ratification or accession.

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