The Extent of Adopting a Hierarchical Interpretative Structure by the ILC in Arts 31-2 of the VCLT to Remove the Legal Uncertainty from Treaty Interpretation

Ali Al-Zubi


Treaty interpretation is a matter of legal uncertainty because of not having a hierarchical structure to regulate implementing interpretative rules. Therefore, Some interpretative schools, such as the textual, the contextual and the objective and purpose are emerged; each school believes its approach the most effective to achieve the goal from treaty interpretation. Although the ILC sought to resolve this uncertainty through codifying interpretative norms in Articles 31 and 332 of the VCLT, it is argued that the ILC failed in achieving this goal because of not codifying a hierarchical structure to regulate applying interpretative norms. Nonetheless, reviewing ILC’s relevant reports and the United Nations Conference on the Law of Treaties 1968 leads to reach a hierarchical structure regulates implementing interpretative rules. This structure stipulates firstly resorting to the textual approach; however, if the text is insufficient, the contextual approach shall be directly resorted to. Regarding the purpose and objective approach, it shall not be implemented in isolation from other approaches to avoid exploiting it to achieve self-interests. Regarding supplementary means, they can be exclusively used to either confirm reached interpretations by the aforementioned approaches or to decide which meaning is correct when these aforementioned approaches lead to either obscure or ambiguous meanings or to unreasonable or unclear result.

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