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Concept of a Treaty in Decisions of International Courts and Tribunals

In: International Community Law Review
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  • 1 Queen Mary, University of London
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Abstract

This article investigates and analyses the work of the International Law Commission concerning what constitutes a treaty in international law, and the role of international courts and tribunals in developing the definition of treaty as enshrined in the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (‘the VCLT’). The definition of the treaty in the VCLT is the starting point of the discussion. The article argues that there is a whole host of new elements which appear in the practice of international courts and tribunals (including the International Court of Justice) that supplement the classical definition in the VCLT. However, judicial practice in international courts and tribunals is rather diverse which inhibits the formulation of a uniform and consistent general rule in respect of the definition of the treaty outside that of the VCLT.

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