Remarks on Language and International Law


international law
interpretation of international law
autonomous interpretation

How to Cite

Wiśniewski, A. (2022). Remarks on Language and International Law. Przegląd Prawniczy Uniwersytetu Im. Adam Mickiewicza, 14, 57–83.


The main assumption behind this study is that the relationship between language and international law is particularly interesting due to the complexity and special nature of this relationship when compared to national law. The author focuses on some selected issues connected with the fact that from the legal point of view the multiplicity of languages in international law is an important factor affecting its interpretation. Due to this, apart from the issue of the dominant position of the English language in international law, the major focus of the study is on the specific problems associated with the interpretation of international treaties. The study suggests that there are certain intrinsic tensions and contradictions involved in the relationship between language and international law. The dominant position of English language in international law is at odds with the principle of sovereign equality laid down in the UN Charter, which entails equal opportunities for all nations to participate in the global legal discourse. Moreover, the interpretation of plurilingual treaties involves significant problems when it comes to the interpretation of authentic texts made in various languages, which need to be reconciled. In turn, the tensions between the meaning of terms used in international legal norms and their corresponding meaning in national legislation are addressed through the use of the autonomous method of interpretation. Moreover, considering the growing importance of the legitimacy of international law, the role of the language of international law in this context is also considered. The problems related to the problems of language in the context of international law outlined in this study confirm the need for further continuous and in-depth research in this field.


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