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date: 18 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the relationship between international law’s sources and its theories of interpretation. Challenging assumptions that the two concepts are, at best, casual acquaintances, this chapter reveals and explores a much deeper, interdependent relationship. Sources set the nature and scope of international legal interpretation by delineating its appropriate objects. Interpretation, meanwhile, operates existentially to identify what constitutes the sources of international law in the first place. The two concepts thus appear mutually constitutive across a range of doctrines, theories, and authorities. Understanding these ties may offer a more nuanced image of the current international legal order. At the same time, they highlight future instrumental opportunities where efforts to change one concept might become possible via changes to the other. This chapter concludes with calls for further research on whether and how such changes might occur and asks if international lawyers should embrace (or resist) such a mutually constitutive relationship.

Keywords: Choice of law, General principles of international law, Sources of international law, Treaties, interpretation

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