Jan 09 2019
Past event

Regional workshop on ‘Lifting religion-based reservations as a means of strengthening women’s rights’

Reservations to the core human rights treaties, entered at the time of ratification, are extremely widespread and, because they have direct implications for a State’s obligations under international law, have real and immediate consequences for the level of protection afforded to human rights at the domestic level. Questions over the compatibility of these treaties, or of individual treaty articles, with the tenets of the world’s major religions, are by far the most frequent reason, justification or basis for States’ decisions to enter reservations.

These restrictive legal acts have been extended by States from almost all regions of the world. There can be no doubt that these reservations have deeply negative implications for universal human rights in general and women’s rights in particular. They both reflect and perpetuate societal prejudices and discrimination, whether through law or practice.

However, URG analysis has found a growing trend towards the lifting of these reservations in a number of States, especially member States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Just as the extension of reservations has significant negative implications for human rights, so the lifting of reservations is extremely positive – both reflecting and embedding in law important societal changes and political realities.

The workshop in Tunis, organised by the Universal Rights Group with the the kind support of the Federal Republic of Germany, will consider these trends, and look at a number of case studies (e.g. Morocco, Tunisia) where States have been able to lift religion-based reservations, often as the result of campaigns by civil society. Participants will identify lessons learnt from these case studies, and look at how such success stories can be replicated elsewhere in the world.

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