The Three Traditional Approaches to Treaty Interpretation: A Current Application to the European Court of Human Rights
iCourts Working Paper Series No. 141
34 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2018 Last revised: 10 Mar 2019
Date Written: August 30, 2018
The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties sets the rules of treaty interpretation in articles 31-33. Yet these rules are quite vague, and they leave a lot of room for judicial discretion. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has developed its own version of these rules of interpretation — a version that tracks the three traditional approaches to treaty interpretation: the textual approach, the subjective approach, and the teleological approach. Looking at the practice of the ECHR through the lens of these three traditional approaches highlights the logic of some of the court's interpretive choices, including its doctrine of deference: the Margin of Appreciation.
Keywords: Treaty Interpretation, European Court of Human Rights, Judicial Deference
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation