On the Nature of Interpretation in International Law
UCL Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Vol 4, No 2 (2015), pp. 225-249
25 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2015
Date Written: November 10, 2015
This paper seeks to provide a theoretical approach to the nature of interpretation to overcome some of the challenges of treaty interpretation in international law. By adhering to the approaches of Gadamer and Wittgenstein, it is argued that interpretation is a reciprocal dialogue between the reader and text with the mediation of the ‘tradition’ and ‘language-games’. Although it seems there exists no agreement among legal theorists on the nature of interpretation, reviewing their approaches reveal they have acknowledged the dependency of meaning to the tradition. This finding paves the way for providing a new reading for the system of interpretation provided by article 31 and 32 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. It is argued that VCLT rules, while integrate some of the elements of current interpretive methods, adopt their own approach. The nature of international law requires taking into account the ‘conventionalist theory’ to determine the meaning based on the acts of its subjects. Nevertheless, the nature of interpretation necessitate the terms to be understood with the meditation of the ‘language-games’ which is realized by the inclusion of ‘the relevant rules of international law’.
Keywords: VCLT, international law, interpretation
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