This article was inspired by claims made by a number of participants at the Fifth Workshop on an ASEAN Regional Mechanism on Human Rights in Kuala Lumpur (2006) that because all ASEAN states were party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, they shared common legal obligations and so the path was clear for moving forward with the Hanoi Action Plan's Commission on Women and Children. At that time, it was not clear that ASEAN would go any further than this commission. This article is therefore an examination of the law on reservations, but one that has at its core an examination of ASEAN states' reservations to the six main human rights treaties in light of Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Analysis is situated in the on-going debate about reservations to human rights treaties, as well as assessment of the significance and impact of the ASEAN reservations in themselves, in relation to other state parties, on the proposed Commission on Women and Children, and on international law generally. Since this article was written, ASEAN adopted a new Charter for the organization, which, in Article 14, allows for the creation of a human rights body, to operate in accordance with terms of reference yet to be decided by the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN. The Commission on Women and Children has yet to be established.


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pp. 436-493
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