From Problem to Opportunity?: An Analytical Framework for Vagueness and Ambiguity in International Law
59 German Yearbook of International Law (2016) (Forthcoming)
22 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2017
Date Written: February 15, 2017
As law hinges on the imprecise instrument that is language, legal norms or legally relevant acts, accordingly, often may be vague or ambiguous. International law is no exception in this regard. However, in international legal thinking on the interpretation of international norms or acts, vagueness and ambiguity (VaA) are usually perceived as a problem, an obscurity to be resolved. This contribution intends to take a fresh look at vagueness and ambiguity in this latter context. It will present an analytical framework systematizing five different categories of looking at VaA in interpreting international law and thereupon employ these categories to scrutinize, in descending order of abstraction, VaA’s implications vis-à-vis several issues of international legal thinking, including the exercise of authority and international adjudication. Thereby it seeks to demonstrate the benefits of moving vagueness and ambiguity from the periphery to the centre of international legal thinking on interpretation.
Keywords: Interpretation in international law, vagueness and ambiguity as opportunity, international law and language, international legal thinking, international law and authority, international judicial function
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation