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Part II Interpretation of Treaties, 6 The Rules on Interpretation: Misgivings, Misunderstandings, Miscarriage? The ‘Crucible’ Intended by the International Law Commission

Mark E. Villiger

From: The Law of Treaties Beyond the Vienna Convention

Edited By: Enzo Cannizzaro

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 07 December 2023

Travaux préparatoires — Treaties, reservations and declarations — Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties — Customary international law

This chapter concentrates on the means of interpretation as codified in Articles 31 and 32 of the 1969 Vienna Convention. It also deals with the misgivings as to rules on interpretation, namely as to whether it is at all possible to establish rules of interpretation and to elicit the ‘correct’ meaning from a treaty term. It further discusses certain misunderstandings, in particular as to the relative structure of the means mentioned in Articles 31 and 32. The chapter finds that Articles 31 and 32 are not only contractually binding, they also enjoy a solid basis in customary international law. Overall, it can be said that these two provisions are among the most important ones of the entire 1969 Vienna Convention. They offer the interpreting agency considerable flexibility to adapt the various means of interpretation to the different types of treaties.

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