'Three Grades of Evil': Nabokov, Wittgenstein and the Perils of Treaty Interpretation
EUROPEAN SOCIETY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, 10th Anniversary Conference, Vienna, 4-6 September 2014, Conference Paper No. 1/2014
18 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2014
Date Written: September 4, 2014
The article investigates the interpretative practice of investment tribunals in the light of Wittgenstein's theory on rule following and usage, to advance the hypothesis that arbitral tribunals run the risk to interpret the language of the treaties so as to effect a deracination of their terms. In order to do so, the article employs Vladimir Nabokov's reflections on the perils of translation, contextually arguing that the incorporation in investment treaties of language developed in specific domestic frameworks (i.e. United States' constitutional jurisprudence) is an example of semantic hegemony accompanied by hermeneutic conformity on the part of tribunals.
Keywords: Legal theory; law and linguistics; investment law; investment arbitration
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