‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility’: Implied Obligations and the Responsibility to Protect

In: International Organizations Law Review
Niamh KinchinSenior Lecturer, School of Law, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, nsw, Australia,

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The General rules of interpretation in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (vclt) do not only apply to treaties; they also apply to the constitutions of International Organizations (io). A holistic approach to treaty interpretation that combines a textual application of the vclt with a teleological approach to the constitution’s “object and purpose” responds to the need to consider it as a living instrument. However, traditional treaty interpretation is less able to respond to an io’s need to behave as an organization with values and responsibilities that reflect contemporary expectations of accountability. Such challenges could be addressed through the adoption of an extended teleological approach, being the extension of the doctrine of implied powers to implied obligations. The application of implied obligations to the ‘responsibility to protect’ transforms it from a norm to binding legal duty and in doing so, addresses accountability gaps in international governance.

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