Domestic Courts and the Interpretation of International Law


The growing use of international law by domestic courts is usually seen as a positive development for the international rule of law. When domestic courts are faced with international issues, they do not, however, necessarily interpret international law according to the international rules of interpretation. These rules differ from domestic rules of statutory interpretation which are also different in the various domestic jurisdictions. This state of affairs is a challenge to the unity of international law. Diverging interpretations may lead to a further fragmentation of the international legal order. The rules of interpretation belong to the category of ‘secondary rules’ of the international legal system. These rules are considered to be especially important for the rule of law as they portray the systemic organisation of international law. In the context of the ECRP project on “International Law Through the National Prism: The Impact of Judicial Dialogue” (“DIALOGUES”), it is crucial to examine how domestic courts arrive at their interpretation of international law and to what extent they are informed by domestic traditions. The project will contribute to the creation of an empirical database with case law from a wide circle of jurisdictions. Furthermore, it will engage in a critical assessment of domestic practice and its contribution to the international rule of law.


Principal Investigators
Nolte, Georg Prof. Dr. (Details) (Public Law / Public Law and International Law)

Duration of Project
Start date: 10/2011
End date: 09/2015

Research Areas
Auslegung des Völkerrechts, dialogues between courts, Dialog zwischen Gerichten, International law and domestic courts, interpretation of international law, "rule of law", rule of law, Vienna Convention on the law of treaties, Völkerrecht und nationale Gerichte, Wiener Vertragsrechtskonvention

Last updated on 2020-30-09 at 12:57