Domestic Courts’ Reading of International Norms: A Semiotic Analysis

  • Veronika FikfakEmail author
  • Benedict BurnettEmail author


This article focuses on a number of cases in international law in which US domestic courts have produced judgments that conflict with those given by the International Court of Justice. The nature of these courts’ judgments has been extremely closely tied to the interpretation given by the US national Executive to a certain international norm. This situation raises a number of questions, which can be broadly categorized into two spheres: the legal (regarding the overall legality of the courts’ decisions) and the semiotic (regarding the manner in which a ‘meaning’ for the norm has been claimed by the courts). In this article we aim to provide answers to a number of these questions, both from the standpoint of international law and from that of a reader-response model of semiosis. We also analyse the level of interdependency that exists between the two spheres.


International law Reader-response Interpretative community Judicial independence Domestic court 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lincoln CollegeUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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