New UN treaty signatures and ratifications reach four-year high

Patricia O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs

29 September 2009 – Sixty-four countries took 103 treaty actions at this year’s General Assembly General Debate – the highest participation in four years – in what has become an annual United Nations event to muster support for a whole raft of conventions ranging from protecting human rights to fighting terrorism to fighting climate change.

“2009 was a very good year in terms of progress towards a universal participation to international treaties,” UN Legal Counsel Patricia O’Brien said today. “My hope is that the support to international law will continue to grow during next year’s Treaty Event.”

There were 57 signatures and 43 ratifications, accessions and acceptances, two objections and one withdrawal of a reservation, with this year’s participation representing an increase of 20 States compared to 2008.

The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which opened for signature during this year’s Treaty Event, received the widest support with 29 signatures.

Ms. O’Brien expressed special appreciation for the overwhelming support obtained by this treaty, saying it “will put economic, social and cultural rights on a more equal footing to civil and political rights than was the case before.”

The Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea, which opened to signature last Wednesday in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, received 19 signatures.

Human rights treaties that received additional parties included the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

New members also signed on to the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the Convention against Corruption, the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court, the International Tropical Timber Agreement, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.


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