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One third of governments lodge reservations

Iraq - some reservations on the Convention.

About one third of the 174 countries that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as at mid-April 1995, have done so while lodging reservations with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, thereby stating their intention not to be bound by certain of its provisions.

In some cases, reservations have been lodged by governments who do not think that the Convention goes far enough: Uruguay, for example, has stated that it would have been better for the Convention to stipulate 18 rather than 15 as the minimum age for participation in armed conflict.

More controversial are reservations which seem to allow wholesale exemptions from the Convention. The Governments of such nations as Djibouti, Iran, Kuwait, Mauritania, Pakistan, and Syria, for example, have reserved the right not to apply any articles in the Convention that are "incompatible with the laws of Islamic shariah."

The Holy See has similarly declared that "the application of the Convention should be compatible in practice with the particular nature of the Vatican City State and of the sources of its objective law."

The Committee on the Rights of the Child (see A conventional approach) regularly asks governments to withdraw reservations, pointing out that the whole purpose of the Convention is to establish a universally applicable minimum standard for the care and protection of children. In the case of reservations lodged by Islamic Governments. The Committee also point out that a number of Islamic nations participated in the redrafting of the Convention to ensure compatibility with the Islamic shariah. This led to Egypt's becoming one of the first 20 countries to ratify, and to the Organization of the Islamic Conference calling on all its members to ratify the Convention.

In some cases, governments have also deposited `declarations' to define positions on particular issues. Argentina, for example, has said that it understands "child" to mean "every human being from the moment of conception up to the age of 18," whereas the United Kingdom has declared that it "interprets the Convention as applicable only following a live birth." China, France, and Luxembourg have all said that they do not consider their existing family planning policies to be incompatible with article 6 on the child's right to survival.

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