Does Exposure to Preparatory Work Affect Treaty Interpretation? An Experimental Study on International Law Students and Experts

European Journal of International Law, Forthcoming

Hebrew University of Jerusalem Legal Research Paper No. 17-23

50 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2017 Last revised: 1 Jun 2017

See all articles by Yahli Shereshevsky

Yahli Shereshevsky

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law; Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law

Tom Noah

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Date Written: February 14, 2017

Abstract

Ample research has demonstrated that exposure to inadmissible evidence affects decision-making in criminal and civil cases. However, the difficulty of ignoring information in the context of legal interpretation has not been examined yet. Our study addresses the possible effects that exposure to preparatory work has on the interpretation of treaties. In the present article, we examine the ability of students enrolled in international law courses and of international law experts to ignore preparatory work when they are not allowed to use it. We found that exposure to preparatory work affected the students’ interpretation of treaties, while no such effect was found among the experts. These results reaffirm the practical relevance of the debate over the hierarchy between the rules of treaty interpretation. In particular, our study demonstrates that preparatory work can play a significant role in decision-making, depending on the legal rule that applies to the use of such materials. More generally, our study suggests that legal interpretation by students and experts is qualitatively different, and that international law experts might be better able than non-experts to discount irrelevant information in the process of treaty interpretation.

Keywords: International Law, Treaty Interpretation, VCLT, Experts and Students, Empirical Legal Research

Suggested Citation

Shereshevsky, Yahli and Noah, Tom, Does Exposure to Preparatory Work Affect Treaty Interpretation? An Experimental Study on International Law Students and Experts (February 14, 2017). European Journal of International Law, Forthcoming; Hebrew University of Jerusalem Legal Research Paper No. 17-23. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2916713

Yahli Shereshevsky (Contact Author)

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 31905
Israel

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus, IL 91905
Israel

Tom Noah

Hebrew University of Jerusalem ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, IL Jerusalem 91905
Israel

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