Social Power and the Politics of Reservations and Objections in Human Rights Treaties Journal Article uri icon



  • Abstract; States often file reservations to human rights treaties with the goal of reducing their legal commitments under the treaty. Other states within the treaty have the right to declare objections in response to states making reservations. This is a potentially powerful tool for objecting states, and has numerous consequences for relations within and outside the human rights institution. So why do only some states lodge formal objections, while others do not? We argue that states consider the degree of social power they wield over a reserving state when formulating the decision to lodge an objection, because higher levels of social power amplify the effects of an objection. To evaluate our expectation, we gather data on all states’ reserving and objecting behaviors within the Convention against Torture. Controlling for a number of factors, we find that the measure of social power significantly increases the likelihood that a state will object to another state's reservation. This research calls attention to the power of objections as a legal tool, and suggests areas of future research for the effects of objections on the legality of human rights agreements.

publication date

  • February 9, 2022

has restriction

  • closed

Date in CU Experts

  • January 25, 2022 8:29 AM

Full Author List

  • Eldredge CD; Shannon M

author count

  • 2

Other Profiles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0020-8833

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1468-2478

Additional Document Info


  • 66


  • 1