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The Methodology of Formal Interpretations of Judicial Decisions by the International Court of Justice

In: Nordic Journal of International Law
Author:
Sondre Torp HelmersenAssociate Professor, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway, sondre.t.helmersen@uit.no

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Abstract

This article examines the International Court of Justice’s methodology in cases where it interprets its own decisions under the procedure in Article 60 of the Statute. The Court is constrained by respect for the res judicata of the previous decision. When interpreting the decision the Court and its judges strive to find the intention behind a decision, and emphasise elements that include wording, context, and object and purpose. A comparison with how the Court interprets treaties, resolutions from the United Nations Security Council, and unilateral declarations by States show that the instruments have important different but that their interpretation nonetheless have some basic similarities. On this basis it may be possible to formulate general principles of interpretation in international law.

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