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Unity or Uniformity? Domestic Courts and Treaty Interpretation



The role of domestic courts in the application of international law is one of the most vividly debated issues in contemporary international legal doctrine. However, the methodology of interpretation of international norms used by these courts remains underexplored. In particular, the application of the Vienna rules of treaty interpretation by domestic courts has not been sufficiently assessed so far. Three case studies (from the US Supreme Court, the Mexican Supreme Court, and the European Court of Justice) show the diversity of approaches in this respect. In the light of these case studies, the article explores the inevitable tensions between two opposite, yet equally legitimate, normative expectations: the desirability of a common, predictable methodology versus the need for flexibility in adapting international norms to a plurality of domestic environments.



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1 Benvenisti, E., ‘Judicial Misgivings Regarding the Application of International Law: An Analysis of Attitudes of National Courts’, (1993) 4 EJIL 159, at 169.

2 Benvenisti, E., ‘Reclaiming Democracy: The Strategic Uses of Foreign and International Law by Domestic Courts’, (2008) 102 AJIL 241, at 242.

3 Slaughter, A.-M., ‘A Global Community of Courts’, (2003) 44 Harvard International Law Journal 191, at 192; Benvenisti, E. and Downs, G. W., ‘National Courts, Domestic Democracy, and the Evolution of International Law’, (2009) 20 EJIL 59, at 60–1.

4 G. Scelle, Précis de droit des gens: Principes et systématique, Vol. 2 (1934), at 10–12.

5 Shany, Y., ‘“Dédoublement fonctionnel” and the Mixed Loyalties of National and International Judges’, in Fontanelli, F. (ed.), Shaping Rule of Law through dialogue (2010), 28 at 40.

6 As is evident from the widespread use of the technique of ‘consistent interpretation’: see Cassese, A., ‘Modern Constitutions and International Law’, (1985) 192 RdC 331; Betlem, G. and Nollkaemper, A., ‘Giving Effect to Public International Law and European Community Law before Domestic Courts: A Comparative Analysis of the Practice of Consistent Interpretation’, (2003) 14 EJIL 569.

7 See Benvenisti and Downs, supra note 3; Francioni, F., ‘International Law as a Common Language for National Courts’, (2001) 36 Texas International Law Journal 587; Knop, K., ‘Here and There: International Law in Domestic Courts’, (2000) 32 New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 501; Parrot-Gilbert, K., ‘La jurisprudence interne, “source” de droit international conventionnel? A propos de L’application des conventions portant “loi uniforme”’, (2009) 113 RGDIP 19; Roberts, A., ‘Comparative International Law? The Role of National Courts in Creating and Enforcing International Law’, (2011) 60 ICLQ 57; A. Nollkaemper, National Courts and the International Rule of Law (2011); d’Aspremont, J., ‘The Systemic Integration of International Law by Domestic Courts: Domestic Judges as Architects of the Consistency of the International Legal Order’, in Fauchald, O. K. and Nollkaemper, A. (eds.), The Practice of International and National Courts and the (De-)Fragmentation of International Law (2012), 141.

8 One of the most comprehensive studies on this issue is still Schreuer, C. H., ‘The Interpretation of Treaties by Domestic Courts’, (1971) 45 BYIL 255.

9 For the position that influential courts should go ahead see Roberts, supra note 7.

10 See further Poiares Maduro, M., ‘Courts and Pluralism: Essay on a Theory of Judicial Adjudication in the Context of Legal and Constitutional Pluralism’, in Dunoff, J. L. and Trachtman, J. P. (eds.), Ruling the World? Constitutionalism, International Law, and Global Governance (2009), 356 at 359.

11 Lauterpacht, H., ‘Restrictive Interpretation and the Principle of Effectiveness in the Interpretation of Treaties’, (1949) 26 BYIL 48, at 53.

12 On the debate and its flaws see Solum, L., ‘On the Indeterminacy Crisis: Critiquing Critical Dogma’, (1987) 54 University of Chicago Law Review 462.

13 M. Koskenniemi, From Apology to Utopia (2005 reissue), 597.

14 Yearbook of the International Law Commission (1966, Vol. 2), 218, para 4. On this saying, see also Sorel, J.-M. and Eveno, V. Boré, ‘Article 31’, in Corten, O. and Klein, P. (eds.), The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (2011), Art. 31, para. 12.

15 On the importance of giving reasons, see Kingsbury, B., ‘International Law as Inter-Public Law’, in Richardson, H. S. and Williams, M. S., Moral Universalism and Pluralism (2009), 178, at 180.

16 On meaning as a social construct in the interpretation of international law, see Bianchi, A., ‘Textual Interpretation and (International) Law Reading: The Myth of (In)Determinacy and the Genealogy of Meaning’, in Bekker, P. H. F., Dolzer, R., and Waibel, M. (eds.), Making Transnational Law Work in the Global Economy: Essays in Honour of Detlev Vagts (2010), 34.

17 Cf. Fiss, O. M., ‘Objectivity and Interpretation’, (1982) 34 Stanford Law Review 739, at 744.

18 Koskenniemi, supra note 13, at 11.

19 A. Barak, The Judge in a Democracy (2006), 133.

20 An exception to this observation is the debate over the proper method of interpreting the US Constitution, leading to quarrels in the federal judiciary between ‘originalists’ and proponents of the idea of a ‘living’ constitution.

21 H. L. A. Hart, The Concept of Law (1994), at 94–9; on secondary rules in international law see further Nollkaemper, supra note 7, at 224–6.

22 In a sense, rules of interpretation help prevent the excesses of judicial activism by recalling that case law too has to be able to speak on behalf of the whole society and to society as a whole, cf. Kingsbury, supra note 15.

23 Schachter, O., ‘The Invisible College of International Lawyers’, (1977) 72 Northwestern University Law Review 217.

24 For this history see D. J. Bederman, Classical Canons: Rhetoric, Classicism and Treaty Interpretation (2001).

25 Lauterpacht, supra note 11, at 50.

26 See Case Concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America), Judgment of 31 March 2004, [2004] ICJ Rep. 12, at 48, para. 83; Case Concerning Sovereignty over Pulau Ligitan and Pulau Sipadan (Indonesia v. Malaysia), Judgment of 17 December 2002, [2002] ICJ Rep. 625, at 645, para. 37, with further references; Case Concerning Kasikili/Sedudu Island (Botswana v. Namibia), Judgment of 13 December 1999, [1999] ICJ. Rep. 1045, at 1059, para. 18; Land, Island and Maritime Frontier Dispute (El Salvador v. Honduras; Nicaragua Intervening), Judgment of 1 September 1992, [1992] ICJ Rep. 351, at 586, para. 380; see also Art. 2(2)(b) of the Resolution of the Institut de droit international on ‘L’interprétation des traités’, (1956) Annuaire IDI 359.

27 According to some, however, the general rule of interpretation embodies a compromise between objective and subjective schools of treaty interpretation; see R. Gardiner, Treaty Interpretation (2008), at 8.

28 M. S. McDougal, H. Laswell, and J. Miller, The Interpretation of Agreement and World Public Order (1994), xvii.

29 See, e.g., Vagts, D., ‘Treaty Interpretation and the New American Way of Law Reading’, (1993) 4 EJIL 472, at 491.

30 Cf. E. S. Yambrusic, Treaty Interpretation (1987), 144. See also S. Torres Bernárdez, ‘Interpretation of Treaties by the International Court of Justice Following the Adoption of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties’, in G. Hafner et al. (eds.), Liber Amicorum Professor Ignaz Seidl-Hohenveldern in Honour of His 80th Birthday (1998), 721, at 747.

31 See Jacobs, F. G., ‘Introduction’, in Jacobs, F. G. and Roberts, S. (eds.), The Effect of Treaties in Domestic Law (1987), xxiii, at xxxi, note 25.

32 See Knop, supra note 7.

33 R. Falk, The Role of Domestic Courts in the International Legal Order (1964), at 66.

34 See Hart, supra note 21.

35 Cf. Poiares Maduro, supra note 10, at 359–61.

36 MacCormick, N., ‘Risking Constitutional Collision in Europe?’, (1998) 18 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 517, at 527 et seq.; see further the conversation between Weiler and Halberstam in Weiler, J. H. H., ‘Dialogical Epiloque’, in de Búrca, G. and Weiler, J. H. H. (eds.), The Worlds of European Constitutionalism (2012), 262 at 288.

37 Daniel Halberstam, ‘Local, Global and Plural Constitutionalism: Europe Meets the World’, in de Búrca and Weiler, supra note 36, 113, at 167.

38 See N. Krisch, ‘The Case for Pluralism in Postnational Law’, in de Búrca and Weiler, supra note 36, 203 at 220.

39 Glashausser, A., ‘What We Must Never Forget When It Is a Treaty We Are Expounding’, (2005) 73 University of Cincinnati Law Review 1243, at 1335. On subsequent practice in international law, see the contributions in G. Nolte (ed.), Treaties and Subsequent Practice (2013).

40 Gardiner, supra note 27, 7.

41 In the words of Judge Learned Hand, who famously observed in Cabell v. Markham, 148 F.2d 737, 739 (1942): ‘[I]t is one of the surest indexes of a mature and developed jurisprudence not to make a fortress out of the dictionary’; but see for a different view A. Orakhelashvili, The Interpretation of Acts and Rules in Public International Law (2008), 309.

42 van Alstine, M. P., ‘The Role of Domestic Courts in Treaty Enforcement: Summary and Conclusion’, in Sloss, D. (ed.), The Role of Domestic Courts in Treaty Enforcement (2009), 555 at 588–9.

43 See G. van Ert, ‘Canada’, in Sloss, supra note 42, 166 at 181–2; D. Kretzmer, ‘Israel’, in ibid., 273 at 298; A. Nollkaemper, ‘The Netherlands’, in ibid., 326 at 362; L. Garlicki, M. Masternak-Kubiak, and K. Wójtowicz, ‘Poland’, in ibid., 370 at 389; J. Dugard, ‘South Africa’, in ibid., 448 at 464.

44 See also Nollkaemper, supra note 7, at 219: ‘there is ample practice whereby domestic courts apply principles of domestic (statutory) interpretation, apparently unguided by international principles of interpretation’.

45 These are Australia, Germany, India, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom; see Sloss, supra note 42.

46 See., e.g., Bederman, D., ‘Revivalist Canons and Treaty Interpretation’, (1994) 41 UCLA Law Review 953; Bradley, C., ‘Chevron Deference and International Relations’, (2000) 86 Virginia Law Review 649; Damrosch, L. Fisler, ‘Interpreting US Treaties in the Light of Human Rights Values’, (2002) 46 New York Law School Law Review 43; Glashausser, supra note 39; Moore, D. H., ‘Do US Courts Discriminate against Treaties?’, (2010) 110 Columbia Law Review 2228.

47 The general development of the American attitude towards international law has been thoroughly scrutinized in several studies: see, e.g., D. Moynihan, On the Law of Nations (1990), focusing on the politico-legal environment in which the process took place; for a survey of the US Supreme Court's case law see D. Sloss, M. Ramsey, and W. Dodge (eds.), International Law in the US Supreme Court (2011).

48 See the Supremacy Clause, Article VI, cl. 2 US Constitution: ‘and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land’.

49 H. Grotius, ‘On Interpretation’, De Jure Belli ac Pacis, Book II, Ch. XVI; E. de Vattel, Le droit des gens, Tome I, Chapter XVIII; a restatement of the traditional doctrines was provided by W. Hall, Treatise on International Law, 4th edn. (1895), §§ 111–13.

50 See The Amiable Isabella, 19 US 1, 68 (1821), where Justice Story stated that a treaty had to be interpreted in ‘the most scrupulous good faith’ in order to protect the government from the ‘disgrace’ caused by a possible violation of its international obligations.

51 Geofroy v. Riggs, 133 US 258, 271 (1890). The latter part of this quotation could be read also as an early formulation of the so-called pro persona principle, today so much in vogue in several Latin American courts, including Mexican tribunals. See infra section 3.2.3.

52 On consistent interpretation see Nollkaemper, supra note 7, Chapter VII.

53 Murray v. The Charming Betsy, 6 US 64, 118 (1804).

54 Cf. van Alstine, M., ‘The Death of Good Faith in Treaty Jurisprudence and a Call for Resurrection’, (2005) 93 Georgetown Law Journal 1885, at 1987: ‘Unfortunately, good faith has died. With no ceremony and outside the scrutiny of scholars, it was silently interred by the Supreme Court early in the last century’.

55 United States v. Alvarez-Machain, 504 US 655 (1992).

56 This reading of the treaty was pungently criticized in a dissenting opinion authored by Justice Stevens, who observed:

It is true, as the Court notes, that there is no express promise by either party to refrain from forcible abductions in the territory of the other nation. Relying on that omission, the Court, in effect, concludes that the Treaty merely creates an optional method of obtaining jurisdiction over alleged offenders, and that the parties silently reserved the right to resort to self-help whenever they deem force more expeditious than legal process.

To him, ‘the manifest scope and object of the treaty [implied] a mutual undertaking to respect the territorial sovereignty of the other contracting party (504 US 655, at 674–5).

57 504 US 655, at 669 (at note 16).

58 Sale v. Haitian Centers Council, Inc., 509 US 155 (1993).

59 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 189 UNTS 137.

60 Sale v. Haitian Centers Council, Inc., 509 US 155, 180 (1993).

61 Bederman, supra note 46, at 275.

62 Haitian Centers (Blackmun J. dissenting), at 193.

63 Abbott v. Abbott, 130 S.Ct. 1983 (2010).

64 130 S.Ct. 1983, at 1993.

66 See for experiences of different state parties with the implementation of the Hague Convention, e.g., Lowe, N., ‘The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abductions: An English Perspective’, (2000) 33 NYU Journal of International Law and Politics 179; Siehr, K., ‘The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abductions: Failures and Successes in German Practice’, (2000) 33 NYU Journal of International Law and Politics 207; Bailey, M., ‘Canada's Implementation of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction’, (2000) 33 NYU Journal of International Law and Politics 17.

67 130 S.Ct. 1983, at 1994.

68 Ibid., at 1996.

69 Ibid., at 1996.

70 Ibid., at 2009.

71 Ibid., at 2009 (at note 13).

72 Although the motives for adopting an originalist position under international law may arguably be different from those of constitutional originalists.

73 P. B. Stephan raises the same question in his brief comment on the case: ‘Abbott v. Abbott: A New Take on Treaty Interpretation by the Supreme Court’, (2010) 14 ASIL Insight Issue 24.

74 On this concept see Koskenniemi, M., ‘The Case for Comparative International Law’, (2009) 20 Finnish Yearbook of International Law 1; Roberts, supra note 7.

75 Blackmun, H., ‘The Supreme Court and the Law of Nations’, (1994) 104 Yale Law Journal 39, at 49.

76 See the Declaration of Independence (1776):

When in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.

77 On this protective judicial remedy of constitutional rights, originally from Mexico and common to several Latin American states, see A. R. Brewer-Carías, Constitutional Protection of Human Rights in Latin America: A Comparative Study of Amparo Proceedings (2008).

78 See J. C. Tron Petit, ‘La Aplicación de los Tratados Internacionales por los Tribunales Mexicanos’, in Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)/The American Society of International Law (ASIL) (eds.), El Papel del Derecho Internacional en América, La Soberanía Nacional en la Era de la Integración Regional (1997), 143 at 152–4.

79 Art. 133 of the Mexican Constitution establishes the ‘supreme law of the land’ formula:

This Constitution, the laws of Congress which are made in pursuance thereof, and all the treaties which are made and will be made by the President of the Republic, with the approval of the Senate, and which are in accordance with it [the Constitution], shall be Supreme Law of the entire Union.

See Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, available at (last visited 2 March 2013). Translation by the authors.

80 The reform was published on 31 December 1994, the same month President Zedillo took office, and came into force on 1 January 1995. See Diario Oficial de la Federación (DOF), 31 December 1994, 2. For an overview, see Fix-Fierro, H., ‘Judicial Reform in Mexico: What Next?’, in Jensen, E. G. and Heller, T. C. (eds.), Beyond Common Knowledge: Empirical Approaches to the Rule of Law (2003), 240.

81 See Navia, P. and Ríos-Figueroa, J., ‘The Constitutional Adjudication Mosaic of Latin America’, (2005) 38 Comparative Political Studies 188, at 196.

82 There is much debate about the different phases of this transition and when exactly it ended, if at all; see further J. Woldenberg, Historia Mínima de la Transición Democrática en México (2012).

83 SCJN, 9a Época, 2a Sala, Semanario Judicial de la Federación y su Gaceta (SJFyG), XVI, 292, Tesis CLXXI/2002 (December 2002).

84 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, 1867 UNTS 187.

85 See SCJN Tesis CLXXI/2002, supra note 83.

86 See Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, supra note 79.

87 Borrowing the expression from Knop, supra note 7.

88 See SCJN Tesis CLXXI/2002, supra note 83: ‘This [Article 31(1) VCLT] means that recourse to the methods of literal, systemic and teleological interpretation shall be made’.

89 Ibid.

90 See UN Conference on the Law of Treaties, Summary Records of the Plenary Meetings and of the Meetings of the Committee on the Whole (Official Records), First Session, Vienna, 26 March–28 May 1968, (1969), 167–8, paras. 38–50; see also Gardiner, supra note 27, at 303–6.

91 SCJN, Amparo en revisión 140/2002 (10 June 2003). See M. Becerra Ramírez, ‘El Caso Cavallo’, (2004) 4 Anuario Mexicano de Derecho Internacional (AMDI), 585; V. Thalmann, ‘National Criminal Jurisdiction over Genocide’, in P. Gaeta (ed.), The UN Genocide Convention: A Commentary (2009), 231, at 256. Ricardo Miguel Cavallo was sentenced to life prison by a federal tribunal in Argentina; see Tribunal Federal No. 5, sentencia 26 de Octubre de 2011.

92 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 78 UNTS 277.

93 See supra note 91.

94 SCJN, Amparo en revisión 237/2002 (2 April 2004).

95 1883 Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, 828 UNTS 305.

96 1994 Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, 1869 UNTS 299.

97 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, (1993) 32 ILM 289, 605.

98 See supra note 94.

99 For a different approach to this issue, see infra section 3.3.3.

100 SCJN, Recurso de Apelación 1/2004-PS Derivado de la Facultad de Atracción 8/2004-PS (15 June 2005).

101 See, e.g., Becerra Ramírez, M., ‘Comments on the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice Ruling on the Halcones Case’, (2007) 8 (Old Series) Mexican Law Review; Dondé Matute, J., ‘The Duty to Prosecute Human Rights Violations before the Supreme Court of Mexico’, (2009) 124 Boletín Mexicano de Derecho Comparado, 191.

102 1968 Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, 754 UNTS 73. The interpretative declaration can also be found at 754 UNTS 73.

103 The Convention was signed on 3 June 1969, ratified on 15 March 2002, and published in the official federal gazette on 22 April 2002; see DOF, 22 April 2002, 10.

104 The individual vote restated Justice Silva Meza's original draft of the ruling, which was rejected by the majority of the Court's Second Chamber on 9 March 2005. See Ponencia del Ministro Juan Silva Meza, Proyecto de Recurso de Apelación 1/2004-PS derivado de la Facultad de Atracción 8/2004-PS (23 February 2005).

105 Also relating Silva Meza's vote with the then emerging preference of the pro persona principle, see Dondé Matute, J., ‘El Derecho Internacional y su Relevancia en el Sistema Jurídico Mexicano: Una Perspectiva Jurisprudencial’, (2009) 9 AMDI, 191, at note 41.

106 See DOF, 10 June 2011, 2. For a first comprehensive study on the reform, see M. Carbonell and P. Salazar (eds.), La Reforma Constitucional de Derechos Humanos: Un Nuevo Paradigma (2011), 449.

107 See supra note 79.

108 Dondé Matute refers to a case of 2004 of the Fourth Collegiate Tribunal on Administrative Matters for the First Circuit dealing with the dismissal of a member of the armed forces who had been tested HIV-positive, supra note 105, at 205–8.

109 SCJN, Pleno, Varios 912/2010 (14 July 2011), reprinted in DOF (4 October 2011), Segunda Sección, 51. This resolution is not binding, but rather a sort of opinion of the Court as a whole, which exerts a strong persuasive power on Mexican judges.

110 Ibid., para. 27.

111 SCJN, 10a Época, Primera Sala, tesis aislada XXVI/2012, V SJFyG (February 2012), 659. Translation by the authors; emphasis added.

112 In a concurrent opinion, former Mexican Judge of the IACHR, Sergio García Ramírez, relates the pro homine principle contemplated in Article 29 of the ACHR to the object and purpose of the Convention by making express reference to Article 31 (1) of the VCLT. See IACHR, Case of the Mayagna (Sumo) Awas Tingni Community v. Nicaragua, Merits, Reparations and Costs, Judgment (31 August 2001), Series C, No. 79, Concurring Opinion of Judge Sergio García Ramírez, at para. 2. On pro persona beyond the Inter-American system, see Crema, L., ‘Disappearance and New Sightings of Restrictive Interpretation(s)’, (2010) 21 EJIL 681, at 688–91.

113 See, e.g., C. Binder, ¿Hacia una Corte Constitucional de América Latina? La Jurisprudencia de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos con un Enfoque Especial Sobre las Amnistías’, in A. von Bogdandy, E. Ferrer Mac-Gregor, and M. Morales Antoniazzi (eds.), La Justicia Constitucional y su Internacionalización ¿Hacia un Ius Constitutionale Commune en América Latina? (2010), Vol. II, 159.

114 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 596 UNTS 261.

115 See IACHR, The Right to Information on Consular Assistance in the Framework of the Due Process of Law, Advisory Opinion, OC-16/99 (1 October 1999), Series A, No. 16, in particular operative clause 2.

116 Primer Tribunal Colegiado del Segundo Circuito en Materia Penal, Amparo directo 98/2007. See Dondé Matute, supra note 105, at 211–15.

117 See ‘Hollande: “Une période particulièrement douloureuse prend fin”’, Le, 23 January 2013, available at (last visited 4 March 2013); see also M. Delgado, ‘Reciben a Cassez con Otro Montaje’, Reforma, 24 January 2013.

118 At the time of writing, the ruling has not been published; see, however, the records of the public hearings at SCJN, Primera Sala, Sesión Pública, Acta Número 3, 23 January 2013, available at (last visited 4 March 2013).

119 See Ponencia del Ministro Arturo Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea, Proyecto de Resolcuión en el Amparo directo en revisión 517/2011.

120 On that occasion, the ICJ stated: ‘Whether or not the Vienna Convention rights are human rights is not a matter that this Court need decide’. Case Concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America), Judgment of 31 March 2004, [2004] ICJ Rep. 12, paras. 124–125.

121 SCJN, Amparo en revisión 2424/2011 (18 January 2012).

122 1969 American Convention on Human Rights, 1144 UNTS 123.

123 Supra note 121, para. 28.

124 Ibid., para. 46, referring to the Mapiripán Massacre v. Colombia and Yakye Axa v. Paraguay cases (both 2005), as well as to the advisory opinion OC-16 of 1999.

125 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 999 UNTS 171.

126 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1577 UNTS 3.

127 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1249 UNTS 13.

128 See IACHR, Case of the Girls Yean and Bosico v. Dominican Republic, Judgment (8 September 2005), Series C, No. 130, paras. 181 et seq.

129 IACHR, Case of Las ‘Dos Erres’ Massacre v. Guatemala, Judgment (24 November 2009), Series C, No. 211, para. 192.

130 Supra note 121, para. 57. Translation by the authors, emphasis added.

131 See, among many other contributions, A. von Bogdandy, ‘Pluralism, Direct Effect and the Ultimate Say: On the Relationship between International and Domestic Constitutional Law’, (2008) 6 ICON 397, at 399.

132 Eckes, C., ‘International Law as Law of the EU: The Role of the European Court of Justice’, in Cannizzaro, E., Palchetti, P., and Wessel, R. A. (eds.), International Law as Law of the European Union (2012), 353.

133 See Fennelly, N., ‘Legal Interpretation at the European Court of Justice’, (1997) 20 Fordham International Law Journal 656; G. Conway, The Limits of Legal Reasoning and the European Court of Justice (2012).

134 Cf. van Rossem, J. W., ‘Interaction between EU Law and International Law in the Light of Intertanko and Kadi: The Dilemma of Norms Binding the Member States but Not the EU’, (2009) 40 NYIL 183, at 195.

135 J. Klabbers, Treaty Conflict and the European Union (2009), 11; Eckes, supra note 132, at 363.

136 See G. de Búrca, ‘The ECJ and the International Legal Order: A Re-Evaluation’, in de Búrca and Weiler, supra note 36, 105.

137 See Bronckers, M., ‘From “Direct Effect” to “Muted Dialogue”: Recent Developments in the European Courts’ Case Law on the WTO and Beyond’, (2008) 11 JIEL 885, at 894.

138 1986 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International Organizations or between International Organizations, (1987) 25 ILM 543.

139 Opinion 1/91, [1991] ECR, I-6079, para. 14.

140 Kuijper, P. J., ‘The Court and the Tribunal of the EC and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties’, (1998) 25 Legal Issues of European Integration 1, at 2.

141 C. Focarelli, International Law as Social Construct: The Quest for Global Justice (2012), 253; but see also R. Kolb, Interprétation et création du droit international: Esquisse d’une herméneutique juridique moderne pour le droit international public (2006), at 530 et seq.

142 Kuijper, P. J., ‘The European Courts and the Law of Treaties: The Continuing Story’, in Cannizaro, E. (ed.), The Law of Treaties beyond the Vienna Convention (2011), 256, at 260 et seq.

143 Case C-386/08, Brita GmbH v. Hauptzollamt Hamburg-Hafen, [2010] ECR I-1289, para. 39.

144 Ibid., paras. 40–41.

145 Ibid., para. 43.

146 Ibid., para. 52.

147 Though different in many aspects, it is interesting to see how the Mexican Supreme Court also relied on the method of systemic integration without actually justifying its outcome in the case of the right to have a name; see supra section 3.2.3.

148 Joined cases 21-24/72, International Fruit Company NV v. Produktschap voor Groenten en Fruit, [1972] ECR 1219.

149 Joined cases C-120/06 P and C-121/06 P, FIAMM and Fabbrica Italiana Accumulatori Motocarri Montecchio Technologies LLC et al v. Council and Commission, [2008] ECR I-6513.

150 B. I. Bonafé, ‘Direct Effect of International Agreements in the EU Legal Order: Does It Depend on the Existence of an International Dispute Settlement Mechanism?’, in Cannizaro, Palchetti, and Wessel, supra note 132, 229, at 230.

151 See Nollkaemper, supra note 7, at 124–9.

152 Case C-366/10, Air Transport Association of America and Others v. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Judgment of the Grand Chamber of 21 December 2011, [2011] ECR-I, n.y.r.; see on this case the critical analysis by Gattini, A., ‘Between Splendid Isolation and Tentative Imperialism: The EU's Extension of Its Emission Trading Scheme to International Aviation and the ECJ's Judgment in the ATA Case’, (2012) 61 ICLQ 977.

153 Case C-366/10, para. 49.

154 See, for instance, Case C-344/04, The Queen on the Application of International Air Transport Association and Others v. Department for Transport, [2006] ECR I-403, para. 40.

155 Kuijper, supra note 142, at 260.

156 1982 United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea, 1833 UNTS 3.

157 Case C-308/06, The Queen on the Application of International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko) and Others v. Secretary of State for Transport, [2008] ECR I-4057, para. 54.

158 Ibid., para. 58.

159 Ibid., para. 59.

160 Ibid., para. 64.

161 See Mendez, M., ‘The Legal Effects of Community Agreements: Maximalist Treaty Enforcement and Judicial Avoidance Techniques’, (2010) 21 EJIL 83, at 100. This was also the result arrived at by Advocate General Kokott; see C-308/06, The Queen on the Application of International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko) and Others v. Secretary of State for Transport, [2008] ECR I-4057, opinion of Advocate General Kokott, delivered on 20 November 2007, paras. 46–59.

162 Gattini, supra note 152, at 986.

163 O. W. Holmes, The Common Law (1882), 1.

164 Navia and Ríos Figueroa, supra note 81, at 196.

165 A tendency which is also reflected in the recent attention that the literature on transnational judicial co-operation has received by Mexican constitutionalists; see, e.g., S. M. Serna de la Garza, Impacto e Implicaciones Constitucionales de la Globalización en el Sistema Jurídico Mexicano (2012).

166 See Benvenisti, supra note 2.

167 See S. García Ramírez and M. I. Del Toro Huerta, México ante la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Decisiones y Transformaciones (2011), 218.

168 Cf. van Alstine, supra note 42.

169 See further Tzanakopoulos, A., ‘Domestic Courts in International Law: The International Judicial Function of National Courts’, (2011) 34 Loyola L.A. International and Comparative Law Review 153.

* All Humboldt University, Berlin, Faculty of Law [, , and ]. The authors would like to thank Georg Nolte, Thomas Kleinlein, Michael Waibel, Katharina Berner, and Christian Djeffal, as well as the anonymous reviewer, for helpful comments and discussion. Any mistakes are our own. Research for this article was carried out in the framework of the project ‘Domestic Courts and the Interpretation of International Law’, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and conducted in the framework of the European Collaborative Research Project, ‘International Law through the National Prism’ (10-ECRP-028).


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