Importance Of Treaty Interpretation

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Treaty interpretation, generally speaking, is the the process of determining or arriving at the meaning of a text when parties to a dispute differ or disagree on the meaning of the text. Lord McNair says that interpretation is a secondary process which comes into play when it is impossible to make sense of the plain terms of the treaty or when they are susceptible to different meanings. However, as pointed out by Sir Humphrey Waldock, the last Special Rapporteur to the International Law Commission for its work on codification of Law of Treaties, process of interpretation is not merely mechanical and involves giving a meaning to a text. There are various ways through which one can interpret a treaty. They are textual interpretation (which relies on the text of the treaty), subjective interpretation (which requires one to ascertain the intention of the parties), teleological interpretation (which concentrates on the object and purpose of the treaty), and contextual interpretation (which relies on the wider context). Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969 (VCLT) is a fascinating amalgamation of all these and more. Article 31 of the VCLT contains the General Rule of Interpretation. It says 1. A treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose. 2. The context for the purpose of the interpretation of a treaty shall

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