Interpreting “Generic Terms”: Between Respect for the Parties’ Original Intention and the Identification of the Ordinary Meaning

  • Paolo Palchetti


The fact that the parties have used “generic terms” in a treaty is frequently referred to by international tribunals as an element which serves the purpose of establishing whether the parties’ intention allows for a dynamic interpretation of the treaty. This study aims at examining, in the light of the case law of international tribunals, when the use of a certain term can give rise to a presumption that the term must be interpreted in an evolutive manner. It argues that the problem of interpreting generic terms cannot be addressed simply on the basis of one presumption or another but, like any interpretative problem, must be assessed in the light of the means of interpretation set forth in the Vienna Convention.


Preparatory Work Vienna Convention Security Council Resolution Arbitral Tribunal International Court 
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Copyright information

© T.M.C. ASSER PRESS, The Hague, The Netherlands, and the authors 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Professor of International LawUniversity of MacerataMacerataItaly

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