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Practising VirtueInside International Arbitration$
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David D. Caron, Stephan W. Schill, Abby Cohen Smutny, and Epaminontas E. Triantafilou

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198739807

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198739807.001.0001

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Contemporaneity and Its Limits in Treaty Interpretation

Contemporaneity and Its Limits in Treaty Interpretation

(p.449) 28 Contemporaneity and Its Limits in Treaty Interpretation
Practising Virtue

Epaminontas E Triantafilou

Oxford University Press

This chapter attempts to dispel the confusion created by the conflation of contemporaneity with other issues of treaty interpretation and so-called inter-temporal law. It explores to what extent contemporaneity is consistent with well-established principles of treaty interpretation, as enshrined in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Contemporaneity, as an enquiry into the common usage meaning of treaty terms at the time of the treaty’s conclusion, must be distinguished from the parties’ intent regarding the meaning of specific terms (since the intended meaning can differ from common usage); the parties’ broader intent regarding the treaty’s policy aims; and the question of which interpretation of the treaty may apply to certain acts depending on the time they occurred. Furthermore, there is no reason to presume that contemporaneity applies by default to the interpretation of treaty terms. There is no evidence in modern international law and practice that contemporaneity constitutes a primary rule of treaty interpretation.

Keywords:   contemporaneity, treaty interpretation, inter-temporal law

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