‘Codification by Interpretation’: The International Law Commission as an Interpreter of International Law
Dr Azaria argues that the United Nations (‘UN') International Law Commission (ILC) interprets international law.
In recent years, in documents intended to remain non-binding, the Commission has made interpretative pronouncements about a treaty in force, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, and customary international law reflected therein. She calls this development the ‘codification by interpretation’ paradigm. She argues that interpretation falls squarely within the ILC’s mandate; that the ILC’s interpretative pronouncements can trigger an interpretative dialogue with States whose reactions can lead to ‘authoritative interpretations’; and that ‘codification by interpretation’, especially in relation to the law of treaties, may be explained by the ILC’s vision to reinforce international law by instilling the rules on ‘law-making’ with clarity and certainty over time, thus convincing States to continue to use international law as a means for regulating international affairs. This last point is a significant endeavour at a time when some States seem increasingly keen to depart from multilateralism.
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