Sources and Interpretation Theories: The International Lawmaking Process

Forthcoming in: Oxford Handbook on the Sources of International Law (Samantha Besson and Jean d’Aspremont eds, OUP 2017)

Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2016-44

Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2016-18

28 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2016

See all articles by Ingo Venzke

Ingo Venzke

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam Center for International Law

Date Written: October 3, 2016

Abstract

It is generally recognized that interpretations do not take meanings from norms but give meanings to them. In this way, the practice of interpretation contributes to the process of international lawmaking. The chapter takes this understanding as its starting point and then asks, first: How should interpreters justify their choice to give one meaning rather than another to a norm, be it in a specific case or more generally? Second, it turns from the rule of interpretation to the reality of the interpretative practice and asks: What do interpreters do when they interpret? The Chapter highlights how these two questions are linked. Understandings of what interpreters should do impact the possibilities of what they practically can do. At the same time, beliefs on how interpreters should go about their business are shaped by the power dynamics biases that characterize the practice of interpretation. A conception of interpretation as a practice of arguing about the meaning of norms invites further questions about the balance of reason, rhetoric and violence in that practice.

Keywords: theories of interpretation; legal argumentation; rule of interpretation; Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT), reality of interpretation, hermeneutics, bias, interpretative communities, rhetoric

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Venzke, Ingo, Sources and Interpretation Theories: The International Lawmaking Process (October 3, 2016). Forthcoming in: Oxford Handbook on the Sources of International Law (Samantha Besson and Jean d’Aspremont eds, OUP 2017) ; Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2016-44; Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2016-18. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2846965

Ingo Venzke (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam Center for International Law ( email )

REC A - Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
Amsterdam, 1018WV
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.uva.nl/profiel/v/e/i.venzke/i.venzke.html

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