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United Nations: Treaty Signing Initiative Successful

(Oct. 5, 2009) The United Nations' annual push to have international conventions signed by a large number of countries was highly successful as of the end of September 2009, as 64 countries, 20 more than in 2008, took action on existing treaties. The documents involved covered a wide range of concerns, from protection of human rights to climate change and fighting terrorism. The actions included 57 signatures and 43 ratifications, accessions, and acceptances; there were two objections and in one case a reservation was withdrawn. (New UN Treaty Signatures and Ratifications Reach Four-Year High, UN NEWS CENTRE, Sept. 29, 2009, available at
; see also Constance A. Johnson, United Nations: Secretary-General Urges Signing of Treaties of Global Significance, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR, Sept. 24, 2009, available at

Commenting on the initiative, U.N. Legal Counsel Patricia O'Brien said, “2009 was a very good year in terms of progress towards a universal participation to international treaties. My hope is that the support to international law will continue to grow during next year's Treaty Event.” (UN NEWS CENTRE, supra.)

Two of the documents receiving attention this year were newly opened for signature. The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was signed by 29 nations. (Id.) The Protocol is designed to allow complaints to be received by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights from victims of violations of the Covenant. (Optional Protocol, unanimously approved by the General Assembly, Dec. 10, 2008, GA Resolution No. A/RES/63/117, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights website, (last visited Sept. 17, 2009).) Signatures were also obtained from 19 nations for the Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea, opened for signature in Rotterdam on September 23. (UN NEWS CENTRE, supra; see also Constance A. Johnson, United Nations: Treaty on Maritime Goods Transportation, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR, Sept. 25, 2009, available at

New signatures were added to 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, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, 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. (UN NEWS CENTRE, supra.)