How interpretation makes international law : on semantic change and normative twists

Title How interpretation makes international law : on semantic change and normative twists
Author Venzke Ingo
Publisher Oxford university press
ISBN 9780199657674
Subject Diritto internazionale Linguaggio
Branch of learning Diritto
Publishing year 2012
Abstract Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013
International lawmaking, sources of international law, interpretation, legitimacy, international institutions, semantic pragmatism, legal discourse, formalism, politics of international law
Index http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657674.001.0001/acprof-9780199657674
Collection Oxford Scholarship Online (OSO)
Publisher homepage http://www.oxfordscholarship.com.ezp.biblio.unitn.it/
Publisher abstract The texts of international law cannot talk — they are talked about. They passively submit to the need for interpretation and gain meaning in their use. Contrary to classic and still pervasive narrative suggesting that sovereign states make the law that constraints them, the book shows that in many and most constellations the contents of legal commitments is the product interpretation which shifts meanings and makes law. In the practice of interpretation actors compete over what the law really says and contribute to its making. What then matters in such discourse is an actor’s semantic authority — the capacity to find acceptance for interpretative claims and the ability to establish new reference points for legal discourse. The book identifies the practice of interpretation as a significant space of international lawmaking and draws specific attention to the increasing weight of international institutions in the struggle for the law. Past theoretical approaches come down with significant shortcomings in understanding interpretation as a bounded practice that has both the capacity to create as well as the faculty to control. The book leans on developments in linguistics and builds on semantic pragmatism to overcome old divides and to offer a fresh account of how the practice of interpretation makes international law. Its analytical ambition is paralleled by a discussion of the strong normative implications that immediately arise once received understandings of interpretation and sources doctrine are debunked as myopic and powerless in relation to semantic changes. The book thus closes with a discussion of the bittersweet taste of justice in legal argument, tests the potential of international law and its doctrine to respond to semantic change, and ultimately ponders the possibilities of democratic justification of semantic authority in a normative pluriverse.
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