According to the provisions laid down in Article 19 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties a state that consents to be bound by a treaty may not formulate such reservations to the agreement, which are incompatible with its object and purpose. This socalled 'object and purpose criterion' has long been puzzling actors of public international law. What does it mean for a reservation to be incompatible with 'the object and purpose' of a treaty? The answer suggested below is the following: a state may not formulate a reservation, if it means (i) that an application of the treaty as modified would run counter to a telos of the treaty; or (ii) that a remaining part of the treaty would be emptied of practical meaning.
This case-note analyses the international award recently published in the case of Philip Morris Asia Limited v. the Commonwealth of Australia. Engaging particularly with the application of the Arbitration Tribunal of the abuse of rights doctrine, the note addresses, in the light of this award, a series of questions that continue to perplex international investment lawyers. How should the concept of abuse of rights be defined? What is the status of the abuse of rights doctrine in international law? What is the relationship between the abuse of rights doctrine and the foreseeability test? What is the significance of the demonstration of bad faith on the part of an investor for the application of the abuse of rights doctrine?
To respond to the question of whose interest proportionality serves, this article enquires into the function of this important principle. As the article argues, proportionality functions in much the same way as any generally applicable pragmatic principle: it facilitates comprehension of communicative behaviour on the part of utterers, in this case international lawmakers. Thus, the principle of proportionality serves two important interests. First, it serves the interest of legal communication, helping international lawmakers to make themselves understood. Second, it serves the interests of legal efficacy – it facilitates the effective realisation of the objects and purposes conferred by international lawmakers on international norms.
Concepts are an important element of the way international lawyers think and talk about international law. They materialise as conceptual terms, such as ‘jurisdiction’, ‘self-defence’ and ‘abuse of rights’. To enable a critical evaluation of international law and legal discourse, it is important that single instances of use of such terms be fully understood. This task presupposes a full recognition of the social meaning of legal utterances. Conceptual terms are uttered not only to describe the law, but also to affect the beliefs, attitudes and behaviour of readers and listeners. International lawyers are acquainted with this social side of legal meaning but lack a theory firmly grounded in pragmatic research that can help them systematically describe and investigate it. This article provides precisely such a theory. Crucially, it also explains how the suggested theory of meaning may promote the rationality of international legal discourse and the work of legal scholars.
International lawyers ascribe to the lex specialis principle three distinctly different meanings. Thus, lex specialis is referred to, first, as a norm designed to resolve conflicts between entire categories of norms; secondly, as a norm designed to resolve conflicts on a case-by-case basis; and, thirdly, as a rule of interpretation designed to avoid the occurrence of normative conflicts, rather than to resolve them. Scholars have attempted to explain this divergent use of legal language. In so doing, they have consistently had their focus on the different mind-sets or inclinations of lawyers active in different branches of international law. Symptomatic is Marko Milanović, who pictured the divergent use of lex specialis as a reflection of a debate waged between “human rights enthusiasts” and “human rights sceptics”. This article approaches the issue at a different level of abstraction. As it argues, the divergent use of lex specialis is the result of users’ different conceptions of an international legal system. Thus, lawyers conceive differently of the lex specialis principle, depending on whether they take the position of a legal positivist, a legal idealist or a legal realist. In no case are lawyers equipped to conceive of this principle in all of its three senses.