An Empirical Approach to Treaty Interpretation: International Cases referring to the Vienna Convention Rules on Treaty Interpretation and Interpretative Mechanisms in Regional Trade Agreements
Treaty interpretation is an important process through which meaning is given to what have allegedly been agreed between states. In interpreting international agreements, international tribunals often refer to general or customary rules of treaty interpretation codified in Articles 31 to 33 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. In the event states provide specific rules of interpretation in a particular treaty, such rules are applied. The following two separate research exercises show in what manner international tribunals and institutions such as panels and the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and International Court of Justice (ICJ) have applied Articles 31 to 33 of the Vienna Convention, and in what way the parties to regional trade agreements have designed rules and mechanisms for the interpretation of such agreements. For Research Exercise I, cases decided by WTO panels and the Appellate Body, ICSID tribunals and ICJ, and settled pursuant to the arbitration rules of United Nations Commission on International Trade Law that shed light on the meaning of Vienna Convention Articles 31 to 33 are listed. For Research Exercise II, RTAs notified to the WTO are reviewed in accordance with seven different categories.